We would rather NOT recommend this ship, especially if it’s your first cruise vacation, you might not want to repeat your experience again with any cruise lines - for the rest of your life.
For the last years, we have been true cruise lovers and this was our third cruise. The first was with Holland America, the second - with the Carnival Spirit and the last was with the Royal Caribbean, the Voyager of the Seas (VOS). The ship is beautifully designed, LARGE (3000+ passengers) and they keep claiming themselves as one of the largest ships in the world.
Unfortunately, the ship’s customer service, organisation and guest managements – compared to the previous two experiences - were really disappointing. Guest service staff seemed to be rather poorly trained to properly manage the large number of passengers. Guess what the staff’s argument always was when people complained about poor service – “too many people” !!
It’s hard not to enjoy a cruise vacation in general and a lot have been said about the ship’s features and amenities. So, we’d better let you know about issues we experience during the trip.
Disembarkation for shore excursions: the worst experience out of the three.
At Wellington, we got stuck for an hour or more in a long queue to exit. There was ONLY ONE exit for passengers with only one local Customs officer, checking EVERY bag. In New Caledonia, 40 people were selected for security check by local authority and we happened to be among those. We were told to come by 7:45am sharp for an interview with the local officers. For 45 minutes 40 people were kept in a windowless stuffy room without any information about what was going on. The staff responsible for this exercise was unhelpful and hopeless. In addition to this, a few people had shore exertions booked and paid for and were late. Staff assured us that no one would be able to step off board before the security check is over and that they have informed the extortion staff about all those passengers who had been selected for security check. That was a lie! The security check was delayed and the local officers were 40 min late, actual check took only a few minutes. We rushed to an extortion check-in desk to learn that our group was gone! No one waited for us, no one knew about us, no one cared about us! We begged the exertion lady to call the group leader, she did and told her about us - obviously, it was then that the miracle happened: the bus was stopped to wait for us. If you are on the VOS and you happen to be among those selected for security check – your bad luck! – you’ll have to take care of yourself: ask your friends to make sure the group organisers wait for you, otherwise they won’t and you will miss your exertion!
Shore excursions: choices were not exciting really.
In Fiji we chose Combo island because that was the only option which would allow you to stay on the island for a few hours, all the other options involved more than an hour trip and maximum 1 or 2 hours on the island. For us, there is no point in getting off the ship in order to go for a whole-day trip in an overcrowded boat. I have been about 7 time to Fiji and can say that the Beachcomber Island is far from being the best Fijian experience. It’s a nice little island but, unfortunately, poorly maintained: polluted water and beach, practically no snorkelling opportunities. There was a little stretch of beach cleaned for swimming – our main purpose there – but even the swimming was a bit problematic as we had constantly watch out for many-many motorboats and water-bikes not to be drowned by them. Still swimming in the gorgeously warm tropical water was relaxing and unforgettable.
We loved having our queen-size bed next to the window/balcony and our relatively spacious and nicely designed room, small but cosy balcony; furniture simple but comfortable, many mirrors. Linen was clean in general, but carpet was dusty and not particularly new, not sure if they ever vacuum cleaned it during our cruise, window drapes/curtains were extremely dusty.
We liked the Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11, it has panoramic ocean views. But, most of dishes almost always were oversalted(!), practically all soups and salads. If you are on a healthy or non-salt diet, it might create a realm problem for you because food choices, including vegetarian, were quite far from being exiting at all. For the first two or three days, smoked salmon smelt really badly! So, we had some doubts about the quality of the dishes altogether. The number of tables/seats at the Windjammer Café are limited and we often happened to be among those wandering around trying to find a vacant table in vain… Plus a strong smell of disinfectant everywhere!
They claim to be a non-smoking ship with a limited number of designated outdoor smoking areas. But in fact, this policy was not properly enforced. Some people smoked even in their rooms and balconies, in our corridor there was a strong smell of cigarette smoke. The first thing we inhaled - when opening the balcony door or opening our room door or stepping out onto any ship deck - was cigarette smoke: 24 hours a day. If you hope you’d enjoying only the ocean breeze blowing at your face and the sound of waves while relaxing on your private balcony – you’ll be really disappointed!
VOS does not have self-service laundries, you’d have to give your clothes to their laundry staff. Be aware: clothes missing in laundry is “normal”. That’s what we were told by guest service staff - "too many people!" We used their laundry service just once and they return our bag with one item missing – it was never returned to us!
Ice skating: was opened for 4 days only out of 14.
Rock climbing: personally have seen only once being opened.
Adults-only sun deck: always overcrowded with no vacant chairs.
We managed to buy a couple of warm clothes as found ourselves unprepared for the cold part of the trip to New Zealand, but compared to the other two ships, shopping opportunities were really boring even for browsing.