My wife and I cruised from the 7th to 19th September 2013, on the Voyager of the Seas, a 12 night cruise around Japan and South Korea, leaving and returning to Tianjin in China. We have cruised before and this was our 10th cruise. We have sailed on Rhapsody of the seas twice before and other cruise lines, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian and Celebrity, so we can compare ships and lines. We were very excited about the ports in Japan and South Korea. We have cruised Asia before in Vietnam and Cambodia. Sadly this cruise did not stand up to ROYAL CARIBBEAN standards in many areas. We did have a good cruise and a good time, but there were many things that we felt let down by. We may have obtained the cruise at a good price, but it was never mentioned there would be poor food, poor shows and poor organisation at the ports.
Embarkation at Tianjin was good and we were on board and in our cabin by early afternoon. We had a Balcony Suite, which was great and all we expected. Our cabin attendant was fantastic and did everything at a high standard. We spent the first two sailing days exploring the ship and had a good time. Sadly though the daytime entertainment was scarce to nonexistent to what we expected and have experienced before such as games, events and trivia. The Disney shows were great, but mainly aimed at children. There would only have been about 40 to 50 children on the ship. Very limited passenger participation activities and the ones they did have were poorly run. At times it felt like it was the activities staff first day on the job.
A big disappointment was the evening shows. We have come to expect great shows, but were sadly let down. When every announcement has to be said in 4 different languages, it makes for a very boring setting. On one evening when there was a medical emergency the Captain continued to give updates on the persons condition, but this interrupted the shows and the band ended up stopping the show altogether. You would think the passengers do not need a running commentary on a person’s medical evacuation. One announcement at the end is sufficient.
We chose the early dinner sitting and did so every night. The meals were way below our expectations. On 4 of the evenings they did not have what is mentioned on the menu, and had to have an alternative. I have never had this on a cruise ship before and was VERY POOR. The meals were average to good, but not up to the Royal Caribbean standard. It is POOR when the advertised meals on the menu are not available. We only tried the Windjammer twice for lunch and found it O.K. but trying to find a seat was difficult, but I do understand that can be expected. The formal nights were O.K, but again the food let it down as nothing special for these formal nights. There was also no special shows or events around the ship for these nights. The staff in the dining room were very good and in particular our table waiters were excellent.
Organisation at ports of call was VERY VERY POOR and I could see a number of arguments between passengers waiting for shuttle busses as people pushed into the very lengthy lines, due to no ROYAL CARIBBEAN staff on hand.
BUSAN, TOKYO, AND SUPPORO were very badly organised. As shuttles and taxis were random and no ship staff were there to organise queues and orderly conduct. We requested exact port details from RCCL so we could plan to self explore. We docked at different ports in Toyama & Tokyo. The queues for Customs clearance, Guest Relations and Disembarkation were lengthy (often over an hour standing) as passengers largely disregarded crew instructions. Port transport options in Muroran and Busan were sadly lacking resulting in limited available time to explore these ports. There was very limited information prior to the ports’, as we normally expect pamphlets or tourist information onboard prior to arriving at the Port. This was POOR.
The professional entertainment on the cruise was at best average. On many nights there was only one show and on one occasion the show was cancelled and the dancers did an extra show. Nowhere near the expected standard. One exception was the ICE SKATING SHOW. This was FIRST CLASS and easily the best show on the cruise, and I may even say one of the best shows we have seen on any cruise. Well done for this show as it saved the cruise.
Disembarkation at Tianjin at the end of the cruise was also chaotic. We waited for 2 hours at our designated muster point only to find out that the delays were not caused by customs clearance as advised by the crew, but again by wayward passengers disregarding crew instructions. Then a further 1 hour wait standing in a queue on deck to disembark. Our port transfer was subsequently 3 hours late. One passenger either had their luggage stolen whilst waiting for the shuttle bus back to Beijing or it was placed on the wrong bus by a very disorganised and chaotic staff outside the terminal.
I would say this POOR CRUISE was an exception to Royal Caribbean cruises and I would like an explanation from Royal Caribbean as to why this cruise was below standard. This ship arrives in Australia in late 2013 and we were considering a cruise to New Zealand, but will now look at other ships.