We have cruised many times (on Royal Carribbean, Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity) so there is a level of quality and excellence that we have come to expect from cruise vacations. This cruise did not meet any of our expectations (with the exception of the entertainment which was very good!). First, the food was not only bad...it was AWEFUL! Just to give you an idea, on the way off the ship, we were chatting with first time cruisers and unsolicited, the wife told me she had stopped eating after three days into the cruise because the food was so bad! - now that's bad food!! Here are a couple of specific examples...The selection of food at the Windjammer was the same everyday. On previous cruises, the theme and selections changed daily. Not only was the selection the same, but it looked (and tasted) like they simply reheated and re-served leftovers from the previous day. The bread was stale, the hamburgers were rubbery and tasted like they had been microwaved, and the chicken tasted waterlogged. The fruit wasn't fresh and sweet and the waffles and french toast were stone cold! If we hadn't experienced it, I would have never believed the food could have been this sub-par on a cruise. The food was a little better in the main dining room, but still not even close to the quality of meals we have had on other cruises (including Royal Carribbean cruises). One very telling fact is that someone on the intercom giving accolades to the chef and staff were congratulating them for feeding us on a $300,000/week budget. If you do the math, that comes out to a budget of about $3.00/meal.
Ok, you get my drift with the food...now let's talk about staff/service. The crew/staff of this ship had very low energy and there was very little - if any- enthusiasm coming from them. There were a few members of staff who would greet you with a smile and friendly hello, but most were checking the box and doing their job as if they had been sent to purgatory. Again, very very different atmosphere from all other previous cruises we have experienced.
The condition of the ship was also sub par. We found out that the ship is going to Asia to be completely refurbished in the next couple of months (which is sorely needed). That being said it did not change the fact that for our cruise, the ships carpets and furniture were stained, the decks were rusty, ATM machines were down, arcade equipment was broken, and several pieces of gym equipment were broken. They can't get the Voyager to Asia quick enough for her much needed face-lift! Meanwhile those of us sailing between now and then are/were stuck with a tired ship.
Royal Carribbean should also revisit it's smoking policy. We sailed during the NFL playoffs and wanted to watch the game in a common area with a bar, food, etc. The only place to do that was in the Sports Bar in the Promenade . We assumed that smoking was not allowed in indoor common areas, but this was not the case. Smoking IS allowed in the sports bar which made it uncomfortable to us non smokers watching the game. (We did have an option of going back to our private non-smoking rooms and watching it there, but how fun is that?! Also, throughout the cruise the smoke from this bar permeated the promenade area so to say the common areas are non-smoking is like saying it's ok for folks to pee in one end of the pool, but don't worry....it won't effect you on the other end. Just saying.....
On a positive note, fortunately we traveled with friends that we enjoyed and we did get to relax and enjoy time at our destination ports, so the cruise wasn't a complete bust.
Prior to exiting the ship, we signed up for a cruise next year on Royal Carribbean's top of the line ship - The Allure. We thought for sure, the food issue would be better on that ship. Upon getting home and reading cruise critic reviews on the food on the Allure, we found it's not much better, so we will be cancelling our reservation on the Allure and choosing another ship line to cruise with next winter.