Background Information: Last year we traveled on Voyager of the seas on the Med and got the cruise bug! It was not long after our return that we realized Voyager was coming to Australia and was happy to cruise on her again! We arrived on Thursday night (4 nights ahead of cruise) to enjoy a bit of Singapore beforehand (Don't miss Singapore Zoo, Night Safara and Universal Studios!)
Hotel Info : Park Royal On Beach. The room was fine. The main disapointments was that I mainly chose this hotel for the Pool so we can cool down after the heat of the day. The Pool was closed though we were offered shuttles to their other hotels to swim (Which sorta defeated the Purpose) They were also constructions that pretty much denied any opportunity for a lazy morning sleepin as they were jackhammers going by 9am.
Embarkation: The Cruise terminal was so new our Taxi driver never even heard of it. The newness was clear as we arrived at the Terminal to disorganized Chaos. Leaving our luggage on the curb outside was a bit unsettling. Then ushered to a slow line to go through security. Then directed to a throng of people ( we got there around 11:50, listed Embarkation was 12). We just shoved to a line and it was at least 30 minutes later that we were actually told we actually were in the correct line (Purely by accident) Then had people spreading misinformation that we were in the wrong line. After another 1 and quarter in this line we finally checked in...then was sent to the immigration line. It was only at this point that they finally had people with placcards to show people which lines to go to. At least the immigration line went fairly quickly. This whole process took about 2 hrs. In Venice last year...maybe 30 minutes with drinks and refreshments while you wait.
I would like to think the chaos was due to the newness of the centre and not being prepared to handle quite so many passengers. (Princess Cruises was there as well)
Ship Info: Voyager was as we had remembered it. The Staff, the food and the service were top notch. (Except for Bar service during meals, we were often lucky to get our drinks by time we were ready to leave.) A lot of service issues were due to a crew changeover after their asian season, so we were happy to forgive our waiter not know where 1 out of a thousand tables had moved to. We were on Holiday after all! I found the atmosphere and the people much more relaxed than in Europe, probably cause there were more aussies on board! There was an outbreak of Novovirus on board, each day we were given updates and precautions to take (Though to my surprise I often saw people going into dining without using the disenfects providers or leaving toilets without washing hands) As risk management increased we saw all manner of crew, including the dancers, entertainers and such helping out around the dining room. Our Captain Charles Tiege kept us informed daily of health, weather, ship and other safety concerns.
We had a big celebration and fundraiser for 'Cross the Equator' we walked a mile for Make a Wish Foundation. The ship raising money by selling T-shirts for $10. There was such an exciting atmosphere as the entire jogging deck was filled with people walking in matching Shirts! (Voyager became the largest passenger vessel to cross the equator!)
Halloween was a hoot as we had a dance party on the Promenade!
The day after we left Porthedland we had a Medevac helicopter take a passenger from the ship. (A lady had fallen and broken her hip) It was definatly interesting to watch the preparations and they showed a video of the landing in the daily ship briefing.
The last day of the cruise was a bit rough as their were storms along the coast of Western Australia and the Captain took precautions for the safety of the passengers by closing the external decks as the ship rocked around.
Activities: I attended line dance classes, A jive dancing class, jewelry making and a awesome historical maps lecture. There was definitely a wide variety of things for people to choose from that at times I was suffering for choice.
I had wanted to go to the gym more, but the aircon was not working well in there and with a hot top smack in the middle...well I nearly fainted the first time I went. I found the gym girl a bit pushy with regards to product selling. I attended a class that I thought was be about healthy ways of dealing with sore backs and knees, which actually was just a sales pitch for some orthotics.
Service: For the most part the service was wonderful. Only downside was bar service in the Main Dining Hall was very slow.
Port & Shore Excursions: The biggest downside to the shore excursions were the distance from the cities. Due to the size of the ship we could not get any closer to the cities. That was something we knew when booking the ship and a small price to pay for cruising on such a large ship. The tours were led by interesting guides who gave us interesting cultural histories about the areas we visited. I would say our best guide was for Ayuthaya because his passion for his country and the areas we visited were clear! The buses were comfortable and we were provided cool wet towels and water bottles several times to deal with the tropical heat!
Port Hedland was a surprise, cause like many Australians I was not expected much from the port. It was chosen because it was a deep water port that could take in our ship. Despite it all, I enjoyed the port for what it was. It was a busy shipping port and we got to watch the operations of docking this ships, unloading and loading which is something many of us have never seen before. The town put on a market day and provided shuttle buses around the town. As we arrived we got an honor guard of two tug boats blasting their waterjets and leading us in (Though we never needed them for docking)
Stateroom: We chose an inside stateroom cause any light in the room wakes me up! It was a good decision, especially since they had curtains that blocked off the sleeping area from the living area. The new flat screens were nice to watch and since they were mounted on an arm we could watch TV from bed or the couch! We might have chosen a separate arrangement for the beds, cause it was just a touch tight getting around the corners of the bed. The Aircon was a little weaker than expected. Our Room attendant was a lovely man who was very helpful!
We had a problem with our phone and he helped us out, had someone from maintenance up within 10 minutes to fix it.
Dining: As an Aussie/American I loved the food. A lot of American style cooking that I had missed and got to catch upon! (Real bacon and Biscuits with white gravy, But I know some aussies weren't sure what to do with the white gravy! ;P) I found the food well prepared and tasty whether I ate at Windjammer or the main Dining Room. The food service was great!
Children's Clubs: I have no children, but from what I saw of the kids about the ship, they looked to be having a blast parent free.
Entertainment: I went to shows nearly every night and enjoyed every one of them! My only criticism was that the daily compass didn't really advertise the headliners really well and for some I waffled about going and dare say given the occupancy of some of the shows so did others, because we had no clue what kind of show it would be. "So and So: an interesting Performer" Is not a way to sell a fabulous Australian Singer who entertained us with Songs from every genre (Belinda Marks).
The Ship Shows were fun to watch though felt a little repetitive as they did some of the same sets as when I was on last year, though with some new sets mixed in. The singers sang well individually, but found they did not harmonize well together during the first show, but was much better on the second show. One of the dancers (Myles sp?) I could not take my eyes off of. He was amazing and put every ounce into each dance he performed. He wasn't just dancing, but got the feeling he really felt the music and the dance.
Disembarkation: We were gold members and were in group 4 to disembark. We had to be at our lounge at 7:05. We were outside waiting for our ride by 7:20, luggage in hand. It was a smooth procedure! They could have used more chairs in the waiting area. As I dare say there were people like us who ended up having to wait for our lifts, because the disembarkation was far quicker than we had expected!
BIGGEST NEGATIVE: Smoking being allowed in High Notes and not having doors between the casino and Aquarium/Schooner Lounge. I noticed only one smoker smoking in High Notes, but I noticed each time he lit up...4-8 people left. They loss business for allowing smoking in an area that many people use to relax and get a view of the world. Because the casino is smokers paradise...well smoke...being smoke it does not stay contained and I could not enjoy time at either Aquarium or Schooner bar because of it. I am asthmatic and cigarette smoke sets off my asthma. There were plenty outside areas to smoke that I could easily avoid that allowing it in enclosed areas seems unfair to those of us who do not smoke.
Also only one towel station was open and it was in an smoking section. So basically I had to inhale other people's smoke every time I wanted to swim!
Final: All in all I had a wonderful time and the problems encountered did not diminish my cruising holiday and I am already planning the next two cruise vacations!