We booked our very first cruise with RCCI onboard the Voyager of the Seas in January 2012, leaving out of New Orleans. We loved every minute onboard the ship and would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, we are already trying to pick out dates for our next cruise vacation. Having stayed before at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, I can tell you that cruising gives you more bang for your buck and is an all around better experience (and that is saying alot because we still do love our all-inclusive resorts.
Our cruise can be summed up in the following statement. We loved the ship, loved the food, loved the entertainment, loved the ports, and most of all loved the onboard staff, who always seemed to go above and beyond for us. More thoughts include:
Organization: From the moment we booked to the moment we stepped onto the shuttle taking us back to the airport and reality, RCCI did a fantastic job of having everything organized. We chose RCCI because its website was the most organized and easiest to follow. Booking was easy and after creating a login to its website, RCCI kept us constantly apprised of critical deadlines we needed to meet like making our dinner reservations and checking in online. We booked our hotel thought RCCI and that was easy because upon check-in, the desk staff handed us a letter with the times we needed to have our luggage downstairs to the time that our ride to the port would arrive. Check in was organized and went smoothly - far more smoothly than veteran cruisers told me it would. Disembarking from the ship in ports was also smooth including in Grand Cayman where you have to tender into the pier. Hint - If you book a shore excursion in Grand Cayman you do not have to wait in line to get a tender ticket. Finally, the ship handled disembarking from the ship and finding your shuttle to the airport was also very organized and we knew exactly where to go.
New Orleans: NOLA is a fun port and we went a day early so that we could explore. When you get on the ship you will have a great view of the downtown and sailing down the Mississippi was fun although you will stay on the river until after midnight. It was cool and foggy in January so we did not stay on deck very long.
Entertainment: We attended the shows every night and consisted of comedians as well as RCCI productions with their singers and dance staff, all of whome were very talented. Our dinner reservations every night were at 6:45 and most shows began at 8:30. At that time we typically had to sit in the back of the theater so if you want a better seat, make earlier dinner reservations. Other types of entertainment included the piano bar and live entertainment in many of the bars. My favorite non-night entertainment consisted of the captains and first office talk. The Ice show was great!
RCCI Compass: The Compass is the RCCI Voyager daily newsletter that summarizes all the days events. You will receive this in your stateroom the night before so you can plan your day plus it has useful information on the ports as well as instructions.
Food/Dining: The food and dining were excellent! The Windjammer Cafe is the buffet restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It has ample selection with the only issue we faced is trying to find a seat, especially on days when the ship was not in port. We also loved the dining room for dinner - there are two formal nights requiring a jacket and tie for men and cocktail dresses for the ladies. Other nights you can get away with polos/dockers. Eating in the dining room was like eating at a high-end restaurant every night. You will typically get seated in the same area every night so your waiters will get to know you. Service is typically quick and the quality of the food was very good! We loved our wait staff. There is also a Johnny Rockets on board, which we did not try and the Promenade cafe is open all the time and serves little sandwiches, desserts, and pizza. There is also a Ben&Jerry's at the Promenade.
Staff: The staff is an asset to the RCCI Voyager. They worked so hard and always had a smile. Many of the staff got to know us and would use our name when they greeted us plus. They work so hard so that we could have a great vacation.
Services: I used the fitness center everyday, which is bigger than my gym at home. There are ample treadmills, elipticals, and bikes and free weights and weight machines. All the machines were in good working order and we never had to wait. You can also run on board since the ship has a track and you can ice skate too.
Staterooms: We had a window view statroom. The bed was excellent. I slept like a rock, which is rare for me to do in beds not my own. The bathroom is small but functional. You can stow your suitcases under the bed for extra room. Staterooms come equiped with a safe that you can program and a mini bar stocked with various items, which we did not use. We tend to be night owls and after staying our for a long time, we turned on the TV but channels are limited on the ship. There are a few movie channels, CNN/Fox News, and mostly RCCI channels, which are useful for providing info. You can also order services through the TV.
Condition: The ship was in great condition! It was clean and maintained really well. No problems here.
Internet: Internet was slow and cost .65 cents/minute to connect to the ship's wifi.
Shopping: There are plenty of shopping opportunities on board. Make sure you bring sundries like toothpaste, meds, and other items since the store was very limited in supplies.
Decks: The first couple of days, it was cool and windy on board but warm in the sun. As you get closer to the ports it warms up. It is always easy to get a deck chair although it might not always be in the shade. The pools were cold the first couple of days but warmed up later.
All in all, we loved every minute of our cruise!