Others have critiqued the boarding and disembarkation schemozzle so I won't repeat what they have said. I have cruised on the Voyager of the Seas some 18 months previously and found it to be a good experience. Maybe I was lucky that time as there was a very bad outbreak of Norovirus which affected some 800 people but which I managed to avoid.
When I boarded the ship with my partner there was a terrible smell in the cabin. The crew seemed unable to assist so we simply left the balcony door open to help dissipate the smell. On day 6 of the cruise we were abruptly moved to another cabin for 'maintenance' to be carried out on our cabin. We were asked to move by a senior member of cabin staff just after lunch. 5 minutes later a luggage trolley arrived and we were questioned as to why we had not packed yet. I thought the whole idea of a cruise was that you only unpacked once... We were moved to a cabin at the absolute rear of the ship above the propellors. This was not on a par with what we had paid for - it was much smaller and the location was very noisy. When we asked for an equivalent cabin we were told that none were available, but that instead of not being able to move back to our original cabin as we were first advised, we were told that we could move back the next day when the 'maintenance' was completed. Another pack and move.
We returned to the cabin on that first day as in our hurried departure we had left a pair of shoes behind. The cabin had been totall stripped of all soft furnishings including the curtains and bedding. These had been placed in zip locked plastic bags in the bathroom. The bed had been pulled apart and was stacked in the middle of the room. The air con also appeared to be in the process of being cleaned as was the carpet, parts of which were pulled away from the wall. There was a strong chemical smell in the cabin which made us abandon the search for the shoes. It seemed to be very strange that the whole cabin had been stripped down..
When we were allowed to return to the cabin the following evening, new curtains had been fitted and the cabin appeared to have been scrubbed down from top to bottom.
On our return flight to Australia my partner and I became very ill. We spent the next two nights in a motel unable to move from our bed. We went to a nearby doctor who thought that we had contracted Swine Flu. On our return home we were still no better even though we had been taking antibiotics. Our local doctor enquired which ship we had been on and when we told him it was the Voyager of the Seas he produced a warning from the infectious diseases section of the Health Dept advising that there had been an outbreak of Influenza A on the Voyager between Adelaide and Fremantle immediately prior to our boarding the ship. We had both been infected and my partner is still struggling with pneumonia almost a month later.
Call me suspicious but I strongly suspect that the sudden need to sterilise our cabin may have been due to a previous passenger being very ill in that cabin. We have not been in contact with anyone else with the flu except for on the ship where a large number of people appeared to have the flu and were being given antibiotics by the ships doctor.
Other issues on the ship that have turned me off ever sailing with this company again were to do with the overall lack of cleanliness and maintenance. The pools were peeling, I found what appeared to be baby poop in the pool one day and surfaces in the bar and restaurants were often sticky and unclean. A walk of the 12th deck in the mornings usually revealed a number of half empty beer bottles or cocktail glasses that had not been gathered.
We have been offered a discount on our next cruise with Royal Caribbean, but at this stage we are looking at other cruise lines for our next holiday.
Shore excursions were pretty average. We booked a tour to Vung Tau in Vietnam which was particularly disappointing. The bus stopped briefly at each of the promised locations but apart for a temple where we were overrun by hawkers, we did not get to see very much. The tour brochure advised that participants must be able to walk 350 metres, however a number of the people on the bus required assistance or walking frames. This limited the amount of exploration that could be done by the group as the operators needed to after to the needs of those who were not well enough to walk the required distances.
Dining in the Windjammer Cafe was nightmarish. The buffet does not have the ability to cater for the number of people on the ship. Meal times were crowded and finding a table was a feat in itself. The self service facilities in the Cafe were poorly monitored with some areas not having enough food and others bountiful.
Formal dining in the evenings was good although a little repetitive in the. Homie of courses - unless you paid for the Chefs Specials. At lunch, tables were allocated in a first come first served basis which allowed a different group of people to dine with each day if you took this option.
To summarize, I was very disappointed with this cruise and in comparison with the cruise that I took on the same ship 18 months ago was nothing like I expected and I am bitterly disappointed.