First, a little about us. We are in our mid-30's and this was our 4th cruise. We tend to be active and enjoy cruising most for the ability to meet new people, try new things and be active participants in the fun, rather than passive observers.
The Ship - Voyager is a beautiful ship and it is very intuitive and easy to navigate through and among the various public areas. Yes, she is showing her age a bit but we also noticed throughout the cruise that the crew was constantly working to keep her clean, conducting maintenance and performing upkeep. The Royal Promenade is an awesome design feature and we also enjoyed the little touches and flair of the various bar and show venues. They were classy and well themed, not as loud (looking at you Carnival) or as spartan (Norwegian) as other lines we have sailed on.
The Room - We had a Promenade view interior stateroom. The room was a little smaller than some interior staterooms we have seen on other lines but there was plenty of storage. The bed was comfortable and the room was clean. It would be nice if RCI would upgrade to flat screen TV's in the staterooms. We liked the promenade view window, as it was fun to watch what was going on below. It was also amazing how little noise crept in from outside. However, we would probably opt for a balcony room on our next RCI cruise, as that room class appeared bigger and better appointed.
The Food - We ate all of our dinner meals in the main dining room and our other meals in Windjammer. We also tried Johnny Rockets for lunch one afternoon. We found the selection of food in Windjammer to be good and also thought that the quality was pretty good as well. Try the omelet station in the morning and they also have a great pasta station for lunch. Seating was plentiful. Also, for a late night snack, there is a cafe on the Royal Promenade which has pizza, sandwiches and dessert items. We enjoyed the milk and cookies on the way back to the room after attending various shows and events. The main dining room food was good but not the best we have experienced on cruises. We liked the beef and seafood dishes but found the lamb very fatty and the chicken dishes a little dry. Don't expect 5-star restaurant food (which, of course, you are not really paying for anyway) and you won't be disappointed. We loved Johnny Rockets. You need to try one of their milkshakes and sit inside, where they put on a little show every half-hour or so.
The Service - It is this aspect of the cruise that puts RCI head and shoulders above the rest. Each and every crew member we came across was friendly, welcoming and willing to do anything to improve the guest experience. These were employees who looked like they actually liked their jobs and loved interacting with guests. For main dining room seating, everyone should request waiter Javier, who was funny, attentive and always looking for ways to make your dining experience better. It's crew members like Javier that will keep people coming back to RCI. We also were very impressed with our stateroom attendant Angella (Room 8603) who had an infectious laugh and smile and gave us tips regarding the ship and excursions in Jamaica. I know some people are of the opinion that a stateroom attendant should be neither seen or heard. But we loved and appreciated the hard work and personality of our attendant.
The Entertainment - This is also an area that RCI really outshines the competition. There is more to see and experience than you will ever have time to do on a 7-day cruise. Can't miss items include the ice show and The Quest. We also had the pleasure of seeing two great comedians and an amazing Mo-Town singing group. The audience interactive shows and events were always high energy and fun. We didn't get to see the second production show because of technical issues, but thought that the production cast had more talent and energy than we expected to see on a cruise ship. Cruise Director Mike was funny, natural and engaging and I hope that RCI is paying him well because he also is a huge part of what makes the Voyager fun and entertaining. Also don't forget to check out Derek in the Pig&Whistle and anywhere the Utley band is playing.
Fellow Passengers - Ok, so I am a former Texan so I may be biased, but I think that Galveston is undersold as a embarkation port destination. It is a cool beach town and very organized port. Also, the majority of the passengers were Texans, which ensured that your fellow passengers tended to be very friendly and outgoing. The audience interactive shows and events were the best we had ever seen, owing mostly to guests who were never afraid to put themselves out there and, in some cases, drop their drawers in the name of fun :)
Conclusion - Great service, varied and fun entertainment, exciting ports of call and newly made friends really highlighted this cruise as one of our best vacation experiences we have ever had! We plan on sailing RCI again next year and certainly would love to travel on Voyager.
Also, Chanakaab is a beautiful nature park, with great snorkeling right off the beach, soft white sand, a botanical garden, free sea lion show, pool and multiple restaurants. It is a great place to spend the day even if you opt not to pay for the dolphin experience. We did not purchase the pictures of the dolphin interaction, which were ridiculously high priced. We took an underwater camera and got some great shots!
Cozumel also is a great shopping port and we enjoyed bartering and getting gifts for loved ones. Of course, there is also a lot of junk peddled but I guess you take the good with the bad. The port area is great and there is literally clear, blue, beautiful water right off the side of the boat, all the way to shore. We have been to Cozumel in the past and this is always one of our favorite ports of call.
The Moby Dick crew was knowledgeable, fun and really tried hard to make sure everyone had a great time. The tour was very reasonably priced and, actually, was the best value of our vacation. We snorkeled next to the barrier reef, where the waters were calm and crystal clear. Then we traveled to the sand bar and fed and interacted with the stingrays, which were both gentle and majestic. It was even better than the dolphin experience and a can't miss activity.
Grand Cayman also has some great restaurants and bars even close to the cruise port and we also found that the tendering experience to shore was well organized and easy.
As the port exists today, there are outdoor vendors in the port area and a free shuttle to the Rose Hall shopping area. Avoid taking the shuttle as they merely take you to an outdoor mall that you could almost find anywhere in the United States -- plus, there are no deals to be had.
We opted to book a private beach getaway tour with My Time 'N Place, a local beach/restaurant/bar area about 5-10 minutes away from the port. If you are looking for something simple, non-touristy and relaxing, this is the perfect tour. For $15/pp, they offer transportation and a full day pass to the beach area. The restaurant serves jerk chicken and other Jamaican food and the atmosphere is most definately relaxed, inviting and something of a local flavor. The owner Tony will come out and chat with you, telling of his crazy experiences and personal life stories. The beach water is shallow and clear and the sand white and perfect. Paradise.....we enjoyed our day.
Jamaica is getting a bad wrap from cruise passengers and we encountered several who noted that they were not even going to get off the boat. I think they are missing out. Sure, you need to use common sense and not wander off alone. You can certainly see that the country is poor right outside the gated port area. But we found that the Jamaican people appeared to be genuinely happy that we were there and they were friendly and humble. We did take some time to walk amongst the various craft and food vendors in the historic sections of the city outside the gated port area and did not experience drug peddlers, crime or negativity. We enjoyed the slice of Jamaica we experienced that day.