Voyager of the Seas -â€" Comments after time to consider then make the following comments: Transatlantic Barcelona to New Orleans -â€"
Pre-cruise: We used a travel agent and found that RCCL really didn't want us to communicate with them directly at all. Their customer service folks were often downright nasty when I called, both in providing information, or taking orders. Their web service was much the same. They had a really hard time providing information such as, "How many and when are the formal nights?" and "I need a medical provision in the room." It seemed, if I got a gal she was probably in the US and helpful, but if I got a guy he was somewhere at a call center in ????? or somewhere and basically nasty.
Barcelona (Stay there at least a week -â€" much to see and experience -â€" three days weren't enough): Embarkation was a breeze. Even though we stayed at hotel of our choosing rather than a RCCL hotel we simply went back to the AirPort and used their service. It was fast, efficient, and we basically walked right on the ship from the bus. Everyone was pleasant and helpful shipside in Barcelona. We were on ship by 13:00 and had our luggage by 18:00.
Cartagena: Neat port, would love to go back and see some more of it.
Pillars of Hercules/Gibraltar Straight: The on line brochure made it sound like this 'passage' would be in the daylight and would be a cruise 'highlight.' It was daylight somewhere, but not when we went through at 02:00 in the morning. Couldn't even see the lighthouses on both sides which was disappointing.
Cadiz: Really near port and nowhere near enough time to see it; will go back and see more.
Cabin: We had an 'Inside Bay Window Cabin' (bay "overlooks" the inside Royal Promenade). The diagram on RCCL's website, makes it look like a real bay window, you can sit in. You can perch there, but the 'bay' part is all of 3-4" deep. Unless you have a really small head, don't expect to look up or down the promenade. There was virtually NO storage in the cabin; four tiny drawer (8X8" maybe) plus two tiny ones by the bed. On the plus side, the cabin was located above the sports bar where smoking was allowed. We never smelled smoke (Yea!) and rarely heard noise from below. They do provide body and shampoo in the bath as well as a hair dryer (conveniently located in a drawer under the mirror in the vanity in the cabin where my lady can sit and dry her hair leaving the bath open for my use. Good idea. However, I'd NEVER book another 'inside cabin' on RCCL overlooking the promenade (or anyone else for that matter) They did raise the head of the bed for me as I asked (acid reflux), but (here we are back at the call center; he really didn't want to take the request, then wrote it down wrong apparently). I'd asked for 3-5" rise, and when we walked into the stateroom, it was more like 30" high. (The risers would have made great chocks for a 747 to hold the wheels on the tarmac.) It was fixed by bedtime, but was a funny introduction to the room.
Food: We ate in the dining room almost all the time. The food was uninspired, often arrived warm only (never hot), and the selection was minuscule at best. (Disclaimer: I normally cruise on HAL and their menus and food are Outstanding). Always two or three vegetarian meals; then only three real food meals offered. You CAN order a steak anytime; but mine arrived overcooked, tough, and cool. The buffet was A-OK. We only ate there for breakfast -â€" breakfast in the dining room is a S---L---O---W process - and (again even with a tiny audience) food arrives 'warm' only.
Our table waiter was terrific and tried hard to please us. We were pleased; he could sail on HAL anytime and be considered a terrific waiter there too. Deserts were a disappointment too; no hard choices (ice cream several nights) there. Be sure to look at glasses, cups and silverware before using them. The dish washing machine is apparently not working just right. I found dirty silver several times and cups with cigarettes/garbage in them in the 'clean' rack in both the buffet and dining room.
Ship Itself: Being used to HALs great promenade decks, the 'walk up stairs and then down' while taking a walk, was a disappointment. Worse, part of the time you can't use the foredeck walk area. Maintenance on this ship is an ongoing problem it appeared (felt) to me. There was a wet spot on the carpet in the hall all the time and the hall carpet was dirty on our deck. Every time we came back the warm tubs (not hot) or pool it was there, cold and wet. Apparently the water was leaking from someone's bath (hopefully the shower -â€" I did immediately wash my feet - after every hall walk. I reported it to the desk; reaction, "really?" I mentioned it in my feedback form; I've never heard back from RCCL on any of my comments.
Class Society: RCCL is certainly within their right to treat frequent cruisers better and provide more perks than the rest of us. Starting dances with, 'only for gold card holders' the first hour, rather than everyone smacks me in the face -â€" hard! I totally understand having events and special times for frequent cruisers. But, segregating out dancing availability? None of the groups were great and they didn't play early either. Parts of the deck chairs are also 'reserved' only for the gold card crowd. No loss to me, I'm not working on a tan anytime, but it did seem petty.
Spa: The equipment available is nice and well documented with placards explaining use. There was no attendant to assist you though. The huge hot tub in the spa had three (3) jets working in the entire (15" diameter?) tub. Pretty simple fix if they'd bother to fix it. The massage I got with reflexology was terrific. The floor in the men's side of the spa was slippery and dangerous. The showers seemed to have two temperatures: Too hot or too cold. Plenty of towels, soap, etc. Dirty showers (one of three broken down) don't improve the spa though. Great view off the bow of the ship from the spa too.
Entertainment: So-so. The Broadway Musical Night show had two (2) songs my wife and I recognized (one from Chicago which I don't like). I wondered if anyone in RCCLs entertainment team had ever heard of any of the GREAT musicals, like South Pacific, Oklahoma, Hair or Hairspray for that matter. I enjoyed the magic show (I love those), but the rest was pretty much just so-so. They did have the NFL games on TV, and they did have FOX News as well (after the third day?), so we could stay current with the world.
Summary: RCCL isn't what it used to be. It has become more of a mass - Carnival type cruise. Yes, it was a lovely ship (sorely in need of some maintenance), and it was at sea (God doesn't subtract days on a boat (ship) from your life time, I've read somewhere) , but all in all, I doubt we'll take another cruise on RCCL. Would we sail Transatlantic again? You bet'cha we would! It was everything I'd ever dreamed it would be. Days and days of lovely time to find a deck chair and just watch the ocean go by. We didn't see a single ship for days at an end (may have been on the wrong side) and that was impressive.