DW and I took the New's Year's Cruise out of FT Lauderdale on RSSC Voyager. It was all-inclusive for drinks and speciality restaurants. That in itself makes it worthwhile if you hate that tipping and signing little scraps of paper all day and night long. Embarkation was a breeze at FFL, 20 mins we were from the airport and onboard the ship. They porter takes your bag at the curb the next time you see them is in the room, REALLY NICE. One of my bags took a little longer to arrive than the rest (I'm a bit edgy about my luggage). Ask the DW! :>) But over all the embarkation was the fastest next to our trip cruise on Oceania out of Athens (besides the taxi ride to the port, we stayed in central Athens overnight, 10 mins on the ship)
First impression(as well as 1st time on RSSC), immediately greeted by a crew member but they didn't offer us the champagne on embarkation, got the couple in front and behind us, but skipped us, didn't bother me much, but DW was ruffled slightly that they didn't even offer it to us. The Voyager is a nice ship, but since it had just been to dry dock, we heard and read on the boards that it was supposed to have carpeting, bedding (beds?) and some other appearance items changed out. I didn't see it, but the carpeting was clean and everything looked well maintained (still had the Christmas decorations in place). After a easy check-in onboard (stood in line about 15 minutes,other people were checking in, as well) at 12:15 PM, we were asked to go to any of the lounges or buffet on deck to have lunch. We had a light lunch and till we were finished and looked around for 30 minutes we were allowed to go to the room. The room was nice, about the size of mini-suite on Princess with a smallish verandah. Everything was clean and within 2 minutes of entering the room, we were greeted by our butler Ronny and Joanne, our room stewardess. They were both wonderful and deserved the extra tip we weren't supposed to give them! Storage in the room was more than than adequate for two overpacked cruisers.
Entertainment, I can't say much other than the casino is on the small size but not to the point that it was overcrowded except on New Year's Eve, the party was is in the main promenade which consequently is where the casino happens to be located. It didn't take anything away from the gambling experience, especially after the champagne and caviar were passed out. And I do mean caviar (Osetra and Sevruga by the kilo tins) and cases of champagne, the kind that gives you a killer hangover in the morning or was that because I lost count of how many of them glasses they gave me! Anyway we had a great New Year's thanks to the efforts of the Captain, his staff, and the great crew members everywhere. As for the shows, we met most the show attendees in the casino within 15 to 20 minutes after most of the shows started. The comments we heard first and second hand indicated they may not be up to par with some other cruise lines. The cruise director was always out and about and trying to get folks involved in the multitude of activities constantly going on. The DW and I liked the Chef's demonstration but weren't into the rest of the revue-style shows so we sat and donated to the casino's party fund! Excursions were good at all but one stop but RSSC reimbursed us for half the cost for the excursion in Belize that wasn't so hot. We rode on an beat up old city bus with no suspension (it had a Texas DOT sticker in the window with plastics seats) for almost 2 hours for a half hour walk in the woods and a visit to an old plantation with rusted out hulks (antiques of sorts) of lumbering and farming equipment. We were served a nice lunch and drinks. Then you could go down to the watering hole and swim if you wanted. Then we got to ride 2 hours back in the bus. The next day RSSC sent a nice letter apologizing for the quality or lack of quality of the trip and reimbursed us for half the costs. That was nice if them!
Food onboard for the most part was excellent in all the venues. I ate in everyone of them. Room service was no exception except I wasn't impressed with their pizza. I'm not a thick crust person and was even less impressed with the sauce. I grew up in the Northeast US and like a thinner crust with sauce that doesn't taste like Chef Boy R Dee. I know some folks enjoy Chicago-style crusts and a different tasting sauces so I won't say it was bad, I just didn't order another for the entire trip. They had other entrees on the room service menu that were superb. Latitudes Asian fusion food was to die for if you like asian-style cuisine. I couldn't begin to describe how much I enjoyed the food. The taste exploded in your mouth without any one flavor overwhelming your palate. The only regret was that they only had a one selection menu and it was the same every night (but I would have been more than glad to eat their food every night). I truly believe given the chance to vary the menu, the chef and his staff could have done wonders. We ate in the Cordon Bleu (sic?) style restaurant, again excellent food but I liked Latitudes better. The Buffet was changed each evening to an Italian restaurant with exceptional food. The appetizers and desserts were served buffet style or you could ask the waiter and he or she would get it for you. The entrees were ala carte. They had a Mediterranean night but we weren't able to make it, people we met onboard that did go stated it was excellent and couldn't wait for the next time they had it. It was only done for one night Mediterranean style, DARN IT ALL. The main dining room food was also very good but nothing to write home to Mom about. If you like Asian food, definitely eat at Latitudes.
As with all reviews you know there is some low points. This one is no exception. If RSSC does not fix anything else but this, I'd sail with them anytime. Their beds absolutely, positively, unequivocally(sic?), beyond any reasonable doubt, just plain SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!! The suite we were in had twins pushed together as a king. Well they forgot to tell us it was King's Mountain or was that the Matterhorn in the center. Any possible support left in those mattresses had long left the ship before we got there. They had placed a support plank or something under the mattresses trying to level them out, but the elephant that slept there for years had left its indelible mark on those mattresses. There was only one place to sleep it was at the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a very uncomfortable rock with eggcrate on top of it. Believe me there are not enough negative adjectives in the English language to describe the uncomfortableness of those beds. My DW slept on the couch after about 4 nights trying to get comfortable on the bed. The butler and stewardess tried everything they could think of to help but those bed were beyond any kind of help. Davy Jones would have thrown them back onboard if I had thrown them overboard!!!! Thank God I can sleep on a rock with eggcrate or that couch would have been overcrowded! The DW says I can sleep anywhere well RSSC almost lost that bet for her!
Overall, It was a great trip, as are all cruises when you're on vacation and not at work. The service, crew, ship, and food were excellent. I don't know if the extra cost for all-inclusive is truly worth it but it was nice not having to fuss with tips and slip-signing all the time. I'd definitely consider RSSC Voyager again (ONLY IF THEY CHANGE OUT THOSE LOUSY MATTRESSES). The quality of service was very good but having just come off of Oceania Nautica in November, Oceania wins for service, with a tie for most everything else. The only reason I marked the cabin a 3, I bet you can guess, YEP! the mattresses suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked! The room cleanliness and everything else was just fine. Don't get me started on those lousy mattresses again!
S10CatMan and DW