This was only our second cruise, first was a Disney 3-nighter which we loved; but usually we do timeshare weeks in the Caribbean. This cruise was a lifelong dream for my husband, and after seeing the movie "The Bucket List", he decided not to wait to do it any longer.
The Voyager is a very large ship, generally very nice, beautiful public areas such as the Royal Promenade with clubs and shops; 3 story elegant formal dining room, richly decorated and well stocked 2-story library with a good selection of books and computers to use (for 61 cents/minute-send your kids to Club Optix where they can log on for 35 cents, which they don't advertise too well). The cabins are a bit worn and dated, in a peach and aqua color scheme; our cabin door was really beat up looking, the hall carpet needs a good cleaning. But, the ship overall is kept very clean, the food is excellent everywhere on board, the spa and fitness centers are terrific and beautiful. The main pool deck, level 11, was pretty crowded and noisy, but the deck above, and the small chaise lounge area on deck 13, were better for watching the view, reading and relaxing. (Watch out for the topless women on level 13, that's mentioned in the brochure but there are no signs there to warn those with kids).
Recommendations-unless your kids are small, do not expect them to sleep on the sofabed-it's really a futon and is hard. The ice skating is fun, but you have to escort your kids there to sign waivers, and stay if they're under 12. Most of the entertainment, even for teens, is late at night, 10-midnight, and most of the shore excursions require meeting in the theatre at 7-7:30 AM, eating breakfast before-so we/they were too tired to do any partying.
The shipboard entertainment was OK; the broadway style shows have very talented singers/dancers but are a bit cheesy; the Beatles show was very good, even our teenagers enjoyed it; the magic show-some people we talked to really liked/bought it, but we thought it was pretty amateurish. I think in general it depends on the level of entertainment you have seen in the past; "lower your standards" and you'll enjoy it more.
One really annoying thing was everything is repeated over and over for the multiple languages of the passengers. What was great was the experiences we had at several of the ports-and by the way they do a very good job getting you on/off the ship at the beginning, end and all the excursions.Our ship was sold out, and the weather was really hot all week, and there was a gaggle of teenage girls (apparently a summer camp for girls from Spain) that somewhat took over the ship and kept one of our dinner mates up all night running up and down the halls; all of which probably detracted from the overall experience. The "my time" dining system does not work smoothly, I recommend you pick a dining time preboarding and stick with it, or you will get placed at bad tables, have to eat with others-our tablemates were all really nice, but after the exhausting excursions it's hard to keep up the small talk.All this is small stuff but good to know. Read on to our excursion experiences-we will have memories of a lifetime from these.
This tour disappointed me somewhat; we mainly just saw historical buildings from the outside, drove through the fantastic clothes shopping area, did have another really nice lunch, then were left on our own in the leather shopping district for an hour. Again, it was boiling hot, who wants to buy leather? We sat on church steps in the shade most of that time. Then, on to Pisa, a long drive, fairly long walk; the tower is located in the town square, you pass about 100 people selling really ugly knockoff purses and other knicknacks, the square itself is very pretty with lots of green grass-rare to see here-a nice church, and the tower lives up to its billing. Again, time left on own, nothing much to do. I personally might either just take a cab to Florence, shop and sightsee on own with a map; and/or take a train straight to Pisa.This excursion was the most expensive and least interesting.
A big letdown after Villefrance. The port is heavily shipping oriented, very ugly, far from anything to see or do; the area was smoggy. The tours did not sound interesting. We stayed on the boat all day-good day for fitness center, pool, tanning, spa services.
Mainly this excursion was an escorted trip and tour of Pompeii. It was so much larger and more interesting than I imagined; the guide is essential to understanding the place. We walked around Naples, not too far from where the ship docked, on our own with a map; not really with anyplace in mind; had a very nice time finding churches, plazas, fountains, parks, cafes-quite doable and fun.
What a beautiful and amazing city. Our guide expertly took us through the Forum and Coluseum, bypassing horrible lines-both of those were awe-inspiring; then we had a lovely lunch in a nice restaurant with delicious pasta, champagne, wine, and panna cotta; then on to Vatican City and St. Peter's Church. We toured the latter, it is quite ornate, the art is unbelievable. Again, horrible lines there unless you're with a tour, then you just go right in.It was about 90 degrees with a burning sun all day,you walk for miles, climb many steps at the Coloseum; (was the same at Pompeii)-these tours are not for small kids, those with difficulty walking, etc. We drank tons of water, paused in shady spots whenever possible, the magnificence of what we saw overshadowed how otherwise exhausted we became. Truly memorable.
Oh My Go-oodness. This is an unbelievably beautiful area. The French Riviera. Just like a scene from a movie. A beautiful bay; the ship anchors at the mouth of the bay, parallel to the center of the village, which is in a semicircle, going up a steep cliff; adorable homes and shops in beautiful colors, the sapphire blue waters, sailboats and yachts everywhere. Make sure to have your photo taken by the ship photographer as you step onto the pier (a launch takes you from the ship to the pier). This was our best photo of the trip. Our tour of Monaco and Monte Carlo was led by a lovely and funny Frenchwoman named Monique. In Monaco, you walk through the grounds of the palace, by the homes of Stepanie and Caroline (when they're in town, apparently have other homes elsewhere); the grounds and gardens are beautiful, then to the palace square, surrounded by charming cafes. Lots of incredible photo spots of the bay and surrounding hillsides. Then a bus ride along the coast through more charming villages, including where Bono and the Edge from U2 live; then to the incredible harbor of Monte Carlo, with dozens of incredible yachts; up a number of steps (they make it sound harder than it is) to the main square with the big casino and all the elegant luxury shops etc, and more gorgeous gardens. Ferraris, Bentleys, Maseratis everywhere. Oh, to be rich. If you want to go inside the casino, take the afternoon tour-doesn't open till 2, need proper clothes and photo ID. For the drive back to port, they take the higher road and you see all the villages down the cliff to your left, again, gorgeous. We spent the afternoon back on the boat on the top deck just gazing at the whole scenery. This day will be my "mental picture" that I go to whenever I need to escape life at the moment!Do not miss a moment in this port.