Live From Voyager of the Seas: New Orleans’ Embarkation Better, but Far From Ideal

November 21, 2011 | By | 8 Comments

Voyager of the Seas‘ second-ever embarkation in New Orleans on Saturday was a healthy improvement over last week’s debacle, which many seasoned cruisers called their worst departure ever. But the Royal Caribbean ship still left 1.5 hours behind schedule.

It took passengers less than an hour to get through the check-in process the second time around, better than last Saturday, when cruisers queued for nearly four hours to board the Big Easy’s largest-ever homeporter. The general boarding security area a week ago, for example, was packed with passengers waiting in line for 1.5 hours; on Saturday, it was 95 percent empty, with queues of five minutes or so.
Clearly, port staff went through extra training to better deal with the 137,308-ton ship, which spokesman Harrison Liu says is sailing at 100 percent occupancy (3,114 passengers) for its Thanksgiving week cruise. But outside the Julia Street Terminal, it was a different story.
Some drivers reported crawling in traffic for two hours just to get close enough to the entrance to drop off luggage. The road running alongside the port was clogged all afternoon, and the two-lane terminal entrance remained ill-equipped to deal with hundreds of luggage trolleys, buses, cars and people, despite an increase in port staff, police officers and stevedores.
The port and cruise line certainly have their work cut out: They’re counting on a large drive-in crowd from the Gulf States to fill weekly Western Caribbean departures of the Voyager of the Seas through April, but the challenge of driving to the port could scare some off.
Our advice, if you’re able: Pack light, drive directly to the terminal parking lot a few blocks away (or park at a nearby hotel) and carry your own bags to the terminal.
Check out Elissa’s reports from Voyager of the Seas, including a rocky embarkation day in New Orleans, the gutsiest thing a woman can do at sea and her time test pitting cruise ship elevators vs. stairs.
Find out what more than 700 Cruise Critic members think of Voyager of the Seas.
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    8 Responses to “Live From Voyager of the Seas: New Orleans’ Embarkation Better, but Far From Ideal”

    1. KIM CRUDO
      November 21st, 2011 @ 7:10 pm

      Our advice, if you’re able: Pack light, drive directly to the terminal parking lot a few blocks away (or park at a nearby hotel) and carry your own bags to the terminal.

      I think not, I would use anoter Port…


    2. jan
      November 21st, 2011 @ 7:46 pm

      We sailed on Voyager twice from Europe and I can honestly say the service and food was amazing. Everything was well organised and the staff very helpful. I have sailed with Celebrity many times and was pleasantly surprised how well Voyager and Royal Caribbean compared.Our friends who had never sialed before were blwon away.

    3. Linda Morton
      November 21st, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

      Oh, once onboard, the staff made it an excellent cruise last week. And thank you for stating in the article that this is the second cruise for Voyager out of New Oleans this week. :)

    4. Linda
      November 21st, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

      We will be boarding the Voyages this Saturday. Can we carry on our own large suitcases?

    5. Elissa Leibowitz Poma
      November 22nd, 2011 @ 10:15 am

      Dear Linda: Yes, you can carry on your own luggage, provided it can fit through the metal detector at the security lines. I carried on my stuffed-to-the-brim large duffel on wheels (weighed 44 pounds) and was very grateful I did so. Other guests were without their bags for 8 hours or more. – Elissa Leibowitz Poma

    6. Gina
      November 22nd, 2011 @ 10:56 am

      We will be sailing out Saturday 11/26 and have booked parking at MachuPicchu’s parking lot. They will be picking us up from our hotel. Will be get caught up in a traffic snarl or do they \know\ how best to get through to the terminal? Another question – Will the sports bar be open immediately and is there access to major TV networks onboard? We’re diehard Bama fans and want to see the Iron Bowl that starts at 2:30pm.

    7. Elissa Leibowitz Poma
      November 22nd, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

      Dear Gina: There aren’t many good shortcuts to get to the port, unfortunately. On Saturday, I saw people embark in the late morning without difficulty, and they merely spent time exploring the ship, sitting on the pool deck, having drinks. Streets started getting jam-packed at lunchtime and after … As far as the sports bar, they will likely have the TVs on and playing the game that afternoon (even if they aren’t yet serving drinks). I bet there are lots others who will be interested, too. Have a great time!

    8. Amanda
      November 23rd, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

      We were on this cruise it took us over 4 hours to get on the ship after waiting in line to get to the parking lot and to get through security. It was the worst port that we have been to in all 8 cruises on Royal Caribbean. But we decided to give the port another chance and sail out of New Orleans in December 2012 on Navigator of the Seas. I am still working on my review to post on Cruise Critic on this cruise, definately was not one of the best.

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