First -- a little background. This is our 14th cruise. Our 3rd with RCI and our 2nd on a Voyager class ship. There were nine people in our group -- all seasoned cruisers with the exception of the youngest, who was on his 2nd cruise. Also want to say "Thanks" to everyone who contributes to the boards, and writes reviews on Cruise Critic. A lot of very valuable information is on there.
We were a little apprehensive going into this cruise due to the high number of negative reviews and comments we read in Cruise Critic about Voyager of the Seas. We lowered our expectations a little and hoped for the best. I have to say that overall -- we were all pleasantly surprised. Yes -- there was some wear and tear evident in some areas -- like worn carpet in the halls and some wear on dining room chairs, but nothing that really bothered us. The service was good to great in almost all circumstances. The food also ran from good to great. Overall, we were very happy with the ship and staff. The only downside was the weather -- high winds and rough seas.
Pre-cruise -- Wife and I drove down from Missouri to NOLA on Thursday to have some time to enjoy the city before our cruise. We stayed at Springhill Suites which is just behind the Marriot by the Convention Center and Cruise Pier. Lots of nice hotels in the area, but I picked this one because I had Marriot Rewards nights, and it had rooms available when we needed them. It's a pretty decent hotel, and the free breakfast was very good each morning. It's also close to all the things we wanted to see and do. Parking is an issue at this hotel, but we decided to use Fulton Street parking garage for the entire stay. I reserved a spot at the cruise rate of $12 per day for 9 days to cover our time at the hotel and the cruise. We really didn't need a car while at the hotel, so parking in the garage was fine. Its only 1.5 blocks from the hotel to the parking garage, so we unloaded luggage at the hotel at check-in, and I drove over and parked the car in the garage and walked back to the hotel. It was nice out -- around 80 and clear, so no problem walking around. We had made big plans for Friday, but I had come down with a cold 3-4 days back, and I was just getting to feeling better Friday, so we curtailed our plans quite a bit. I wanted to make sure I was back to 100% when we got on the cruise -- I want to enjoy it, and I don't want to pass it on to anyone else. We walked over to Riverwalk and spent quite a bit of time there shopping, having lunch, sitting on the riverfront and enjoying the warm weather (80's), and did a little shopping and site seeing around that area. We've been to NOLA before, so we have seen most of the area before, but had never been to Riverwalk before. For dinner, we went to Mulate's. It was about 2 blocks from our hotel, and its nice out, so we walked over. Since it was Friday, it was busy. We got there a little early to make sure we didn't have to wait. They specialize in Cajun, and the food was excellent. We slept in Saturday morning because there are some rain showers and its cooler, and then around 10:15 I walked over to the parking garage and asked if I could get my car out to go and pick up our luggage at the hotel. They gave me a free pass to get out, and I drove over to the hotel and loaded up the car, and went back to the parking garage. Its around 10:45 now and traffic is getting real heavy around the Convention Center and Cruise Pier. Glad my only driving was 1.5 blocks from hotel to garage. A porter from the garage took our luggage at the car and took it down to the shuttle, and we got on the shuttle for the pier. Traffic is crawling, and it took around 15 minutes to go the short distance from the garage to the pier. They dropped us off right outside the terminal door for the Voyager, and ship porters grabbed our luggage from the shuttle and took them to the ship. We are C&A, and we went thru the entire embarkation process and were in the Windjammer in about 25 minutes. Very smooth and quick boarding process. I guess we timed it just right (got to the pier around 11:20am).
Cruise Day One -- leaving NOLA. We had lunch at the Windjammer around Noon, and then explored the ship while waiting for our cabin to be ready. Cabin was ready around 1:15. Balcony cabin 7554. The room is about the average size for RCI, with plenty of storage for all our stuff. I did remember to bring an extension chord with 3 pluggins, because the only electrical outlets for the room are on the desk. This way I could plug in my computer and charge camera & cell phone batteries, etc at the same time. There is a hair dryer in the room. The balcony is not very wide, but deep enough to comfortably seat two people and get good views. We tested the bed and it was pretty comfortable. I had read other reviews that said Voyager beds are hard as a rock, but this bed was about medium firmness, and we had no issues with it. We dropped off our carry on stuff and went out to explore the ship some more. The ship is very impressive, and I did not see anything in need of repair. The rest of our group arrived on the ship around 2:00. They all live around the Baton Rouge area, so they just drove over today and parked in the Whale lot, and boarded the ship. We made another trip up to Windjammer/Island Grill so they could have lunch and we could visit. The food in Windjammer/Island Grill is pretty good -- about what we have come to expect from the buffet and serving stations on cruise ships. Also, staff came by several times to see if we needed drinks. They brought us tea and lemonade frequently. So far -- the staff has been very helpful and the service is very good. Then we explored the ship until it was time for the muster drill. It went of pretty smooth, but it was a little chilly and breezy while standing outside for the drill. Glad when it was over. We went back to our cabin and met our stateroom attendant -- Jessica. She asked if our luggage had showed up yet, and we said no. She said she would go find it -- and she did. She was back with it in a few minutes. I also noticed a sign in the room that "Ice" was only available on request (always was there on cruises before), so I asked her to if we could have an ice bucket for our room with ice every day. I drink a lot of ice water, plus I carried on a 6 pack of Diet Dr. Pepper(my soft drink of choice). So I like to have plenty of ice. She was back with that in no time. She is already on her way to earning an extra tip from me. By then the ship was leaving so I went out on the balcony to watch as we left. Someone had posted a narrative on Cruise Critic of what you will see as you leave the dock at NOLA and head south. I found this to be very informative and interesting as we headed won the river. Did this to about 5:30 when it started to get dark, and then headed for our assigned table for dinner. This is where we hit one of the few snags of our cruise. Somehow, our group of 9, who booked together with the same TA we always use, got assigned to 3 different tables in 2 different dining rooms. One person from our group got in line to try and get that straightened out, and I went and watched the riverfront pass by for a while. After about 20 minutes, we found out we were out of luck for tonight -- no table available for us. They will get it fixed by dinner tomorrow. We all then headed up to Windjammer for dinner. Not what we really had planned for our first diner together, but the food was pretty good, and it worked out OK. After dinner, we all went to the Promenade to watch a band perform for a while. Around 8:30 -- some of us went to a trivia at Schooners. We got 19 of 20 correct, but someone else got 20 -- so we were 2nd. This seemed to be a re-occurring theme for us on this cruise. We competed in several trivia's - but usually came in second. Oh well -- its usually only a plastic keychain prize anyway, and several of us just like to play trivia. After that we had a few drinks at Schooners and then the older half of our group decided to head in for the night. The younger generation in our group stayed out quite late enjoying what the ship had to offer.
Cruise Day 2 -- Day at Sea The winds picked up overnight and the ship is rocking and rolling today as we make our way south thru the gulf. After eating Windjammer for meals yesterday, we decided to try a dining room for breakfast. We went to the Carman dining room. Service was pretty good. They came by with pastry trays, kept coffee and juice filled, and even made me some chocolate milk. We had the special omelet of the day, and it was pretty good. After breakfast, we went to Studio B to get tickets for the Ice Show later today. We could only get tickets for all of us for the second show at 4:30 -- but that's OK with us. Went back to the room for a while and sat out on the balcony to watch the gulf go by. Between the sound of the ocean and the rolling of the ship, we both dosed off for a bit. It was very relaxing out there. Then is was time to hit the gym. Have to work off some calories since I always tend to eat way too much on a cruise. The fitness center was very nice -- all Life Fitness equipment. Previous Voyager posters mentioned broken down equipment -- but everything was working and clean. Got in a good workout and then headed back for showers. Then someone from our group called and said Trivia at the Whistle Pig. Headed down there and participated in another trivia, and got 30 of 40 correct. It was fairly hard. Some other team got 32 -- so we came in 2nd again. After that, we all headed up to Windjammer/Island Grill for lunch. Lunch was pretty good but nothing special. Visited all the shops and stuff on the Promenade after lunch for a while. The Promenade is really very nice, and is really the show piece of the ship. There is occasional entertainment on the Promenade, and we enjoyed most of it. By now, the ship is really rolling due to the high winds. It's funny watching everyone walk -- shift one side to the other and lean to balance. As we were getting ready for the Ice Show they announced that they had to cancel today's shows due to the rough seas. They also changed the evening show from the Show Tunes with singers and dancers to an Elvis impersonator due to the rocking ship. We were a little bummed about the Ice Show, but they told us our tickets would be good on Thursday. We then checked on our dining arrangements and found our entire group was now assigned to table 542 in the Magic Flute dining room. Glad to have that taken care of. Not sure who goofed -- the ship or our TA -- but it all worked out. Headed to dinner at 5:30 and met our waiter and asst waiter -- Anil and Gang. They turned out to be great. They really took care of us the rest of the cruise. Most of us had the Filet of Beef entree, and it was excellent. I also had 2 servings of Escargot, and the rest of our group thought I was crazy until I convinced a few of them to try it. They liked them, but still couldn't get past that it was snails. Oh well -- more for me. After diner we went to the Promenade and watched a jazz/big band play for a while. They were really good. Came up to the room for a bit to rest and then we're heading to see an Elvis impersonator. We were in the balcony, but had front row. The Elvis impersonator was pretty good, and the show lasted about an hour. He did early Elvis of the 50's, and he went into the crowd and wooed the older ladies and they were loving it. After the show, we were all tired, and we dock at 7:00am, so we turned in for the night.
Monday, March 5th -- Cozumel. We are docking as we get up and get ready for breakfast. It looks nasty outside -- cloudy, 70's and very windy, with winds at 40-50mph. Some of our party are playing golf today. The rest are shopping and walking around town. Breakfast at the Windjammer with the rest of our group today. We have been to Cozumel several times before, and decided to just stay on the ship and find stuff to do. About 9;30 we headed up to Island Grill for some juice and watched people and taxies come and go at the port. The wind is really bad on the pier, and about every 5 minutes you would see someone chasing a hat or something that got picked up and carried away by the wind. We then went down to the Cafe Promenade and got Chocolate eclair's. They were great. Walked around and explored the ship a while and then sat out on our balcony for a while. The high winds are really whipping up the ocean and we watched the harbor pilot boats get tossed around by the waves. Pretty rough ride for those guys today, but with 4 cruise ships coming and going today, they have a lot to do. We headed up to Island Grill for lunch about 12:30. Lunch was pretty good -- a lot of Italian stuff. An older couple joined us for lunch today. They were at the Elvis show last night, and she was on the front row, and one of the gals that Elvis kissed. She got a kick out of it. After lunch, we relaxed until 4:30 went we went to the Returning Guest reception. We are the only ones from our group who showed up, even though we are all C&A. It was OK -- free drinks and we met and talked with several couples. Went on over to the Magic Flute at 5:30 for dinner, and the rest of our group not there either. About 5:40 they started trickling in. They had gotten confused on the time and were late, and also missed the Returning Guest party. It was another good dinner. Most had either the Beef Stroganoff or Filet of Sole. The Crab cakes appetizers were excellent too. Very good service tonight -- we are very happy with our dinning arrangements for dinner. After diner we went down to the photo gallery to look at pictures, but there none posted of any of us. We asked, and they said they were quite a bit behind on a lot of the photos, and to try again tomorrow. After that, most of us headed for the main show in the La Scala theater. It was a Broadway musical show with the ships singers and dancers. It was OK, but was about the same as most production shows we have seen before on other cruise ships. They do have a couple of very talented singers in their cast. After the show, we went to Cleopatra's Needle for a TV and Movie quiz show. It was an individual contest, and a couple of people from our group tried out, but didn't make the cut of 12 who went on with the contest. Probably lucky for them they didn't make the cut. After that -- the "Lucky" 12 had to make animal noises and do other weird stuff while competing in the trivia. It was quite hilarious.
Tuesday, March 6th - Grand Cayman.. Still very windy outside when we got up and the boat is really rocking. Will be interesting to see if we can make stop at Grand Cayman. They warned us last night that the wind may cause us to not be able to dock at GC. We went for breakfast at Island Grill around 8:15. Sat by the window and had breakfast. We then went to the Service Desk to see about Internet package for us since we brought our laptop. They told us no package for our room -- no Wifi in the room and no wired access (even though there is a port at the desk). We went ahead and bought 60 minutes for $35, and just used the computers in the Library and checked email and stuff. Warning -- the internet access on the ship is extremely slow and tends to lock up sometimes. 60 minutes goes by very fast and you don't get a lot accomplished. We actually docked at Grand Cayman around 10:00. Its very windy and I thought we would miss the port, but we docked. Several other ships are in -- Celebrity Solstice, Carnival Legend and NCL Sun. Someone from our group went down and got tender tickets for the group, and we have tender 8 -- around 11:30. We got ready, then went down to Promenade Cafe and got some finger sandwiches, and then waited for them to call Tender 8, and we boarded. Some of our group had booked water excursions for GC-- but they got cancelled due to the high winds. So we all walked around town, did some shopping and site seeing, and went to the Hard Rock for drinks and snacks. We were working our way back to the dock when a brief downpour cut lose. We ducked in a shop to wait it out. It quit raining, but we decided to head back to the tender before the next downpour. Went to the Magic Flute for dinner at 5:30. We had Tilapia or Filet of Beef. Both were very good. We also had jalapeno potato soup and a tortellini with meat and white sauce appetizers that were great. Walked around after diner and shopped and stuff. No show tonight -- so we roamed the ship till 8:30 and then we all went to the High Note bar to hear the Synergy band. Had a few drinks and stayed till almost 11:00. Good party band for the boat, and lots of people were dancing and enjoying themselves. We were all tired, so we all turned in after that.
Wed, March 7th. Falmouth, Jamaica. At 7:30 we went to Island Grill for breakfast with the rest of the group. Stayed up there till about 8:15 when half our group left for tours or golf. The rest of us headed into the port to look around and shop. Just as we left the ship it starting raining pretty hard. We ran for the first building. Stayed in there and listened to a small Jamaican band till it stopped. Its around 80, very cloudy with occasional showers, and some wind. We ended up ducking rain showers all morning We shopped in the port area -- very nice and clean, and it has all the expected jewelry shops you see in every cruise port, some gift shops, and a local market with a lot of wood carvings and other souvenir type stuff. After a while of that we then ventured outside the gate, and into town. People do follow you and try to get you to shop and buy their stuff, but we just said no and kept going. We walked around town a bit -- some parts were nice, others we were a little leery of. We did do some shopping but prices were close to the same as in the port. We did buy some stuff right outside the gate at a small shopping village that we were able to bargain with the people. We then went back in the gate and shopped the port some more, and then headed back on the ship around 11:00. Went up to Wind Jammer, and they were still serving breakfast. We had to wait about 15 minutes before they opened for lunch. They had a pretty good pasta station in Island Grill, and we all got some pasta. One of the young couples in our group came in around 12:30 from their tour -- a 4 wheeling journey in UTV's. He loved it and she hated it. They got very wet and muddy. Around 1:30 we went back out to shop some more in the port. Its cleared up now, but very windy -- 40mph plus. It was tough shopping and walking in the heavy wind, but we still went into some shops in the port and got a bunch of T-Shirts to take home and add to the never ending vacation T-Shirt collection. It was very windy and stuff was blowing everywhere, so we only stayed out in the port area about 45 minutes. Getting back on the boat was an adventure. Where the gang plank goes into the boat, waves were crashing up between the boat and pier because of the high wind and waves. It was hard to try and cross the gang plank without getting splashed big time. I made it across dry, but my wife didn't make it -- she got soaked. Luckily, we were going straight to the room for showers. Took showers and watched TV till dinner time. Leaving the Port of Falmouth was interesting. Just as the ship undocked, a lot of the Jamaican port workers in their bright yellow shirts came out and starting waving and sanging. Then a Jamaican on a microphone started cheering the Voyager and Freedom of the seas (right across from us). He would say something about Voyager, and everybody outside would scream and shout. He would then do the same with Freedom. We were louder -- but since we were leaving -- probably had more people on deck. Then our captain blew the foghorn several times in salute to Falmouth and Freedom. It was loud. THEN -- Freedom (which our room is now directly in front of as we leave) blew her horns. It was amazingly loud, and was really neat to hear the ships trade salutes. Our ships traded horns for a minute and the Jamaicans were going crazy. What a way to leave port!!!! Went to dinner at 5:30. Most of us had the New York Strip. It was just OK. The beef has been great except tonight -- it was just average. Waiters did a little parade, and sang us the usual Italian song. The appetizers and desert were very good. After dinner we walked around a while and then most of us went to the production show in the La Scala theater. The two lead singers are very good, and the house band is very good. The production shows overall are just average. At one time I looked over at our group and half had dozed off. Those of us awake woke them up and ribbed them a bit. After the show we walked and talked a bit, but we were all tired and went to our rooms around 10:00. No night life for us tonight.
Thursday, March 8th -- Day at sea. Looks to be around 80, mostly sunny and of course windy today. Laid around room till 8:00 and went down to Carmen Dining Room. We wanted a sit down breakfast and I wanted Chocolate Milk -- can only get at meals when a waiter mixes it. The service was very good, and I went thru 3 chocolate milks. I had Eggs Benedict and Quiche, and the wife had French Toast and Fruit. I was very happy with the service and left a cash tip. Headed back to the room. Its really nice out on the balcony this morning. The wind is from the other side -- so there is very little wind on the balcony. The sound of the ocean is so soothing. We are going to work out around 9:30 -- got to burn up more calories from all the eating. For lunch, we all went to Johnny Rockets today. The fries and onion rings were very good, and so were the shakes, but the sandwiches and burgers were average. Pretty much a lazy day today. After lunch, we went back to the room and my wife sat out on the balcony and fell asleep, and got a bit of a sunburn. I was watching a movie on TV, and I also dozed off a while. We have tickets for the Ice Show today at 4:30. Some of our party got there early, and we had some really good seats. The Ice show was great!! Wish we could see it again. After the Ice Show we headed up for dinner. Tonight was Prime Rib (very good) and Lobster Tail (also very good) They also introduced the head chefs and did a little parade. After dinner, we all went down and went through boat photos and found most of the missing photos of our group. Then it was Showtime in La Scala. It was Kenny James -- someone I never heard of -- but he evidently won big time on the old "Star Search" TV program. He was very entertaining, and did a lot of soul and Motown. He also did some comedy and got some audience participation. It was a very good show. After, us older folks headed for the room, and the younger ones headed for the casino.
Friday. March 9th -- Day at Sea. Last full day on the boat. Went up to Island grill for a quick bite around 7:45. Went back to the room to start packing, and filling out custom forms, satisfaction survey, and worked on the tip envelopes. We did the pre-paid gratuities -- where they charge your account the suggested tip amount, and give you vouchers to put into the tip envelopes to hand out. The employees then turn in the vouchers for cash. We also added extra cash to the ones that provided great service during our stay. Its looks nice out today -- partly sunny and of course some wind. This has been the worst cruise for wind I have ever experienced. Luckily, no one in our group is prone to motion sickness, so no issues with the rocking and rolling ship. Not quite as warm -- probably 75-80 today. We're getting closer to the US and the temps will go down a little. We then walked around the ship to make sure we had seen all the rooms and venues, and we checked out the last day sales. They had nice T-Shirts on sale, but only Small and Medium size shirts are left. We went into the casino and I won a little money on a cheap slot machine. We decided to do lunch on our own today, so we went to Carman for lunch and got a table for two. Had some gnocchi for lunch and it was pretty good. Went back and finish packing what we could, and then some of us went down for trivia at the Schooner Bar around 2:30. As usual, we came in second again. Went back to room to get ready for dinner. Its really getting cloudy out -- looks like rain showers this evening. We will be hitting the Mississippi around 7:00pm tonight and making our way to NOLA. Went down to guest services and dropped off comment cards and WOW cards for our waiter and assistant waiter, and our room attendant. They were all excellent, and deserved the recognition. Then we all headed for dinner. The Chicken Marsala and Tiger Prawns were pretty good. The dining room staff did a little parade and sang a song -- but it was a little lame for the last night. Took lots of pictures and then we went to the room for a break before the last show. Then we headed to La Scala for the final show. The show started with a quick review of the DVD they made for the week -- some from our group were briefly in there, but none of us purchased the DVD. Then Lance Ringnald (former Olympic gymnast) did a show. His strength was unreal. Then a last farewell song by the singers, dancers and a lot of other employees came out. It was really a good send-off show.
Now its back to the room to put the last items in our big bags and set them out in the hall.
Saturday, March 10th. We all met for breakfast at 7:00 at Windjammer, and then went downstairs to our departure lounge. They are expected to call our group to disembark at 8:20.
They called our group around 8:25, and we proceeded off the ship. We quickly cleared customs, and found our bags, and were on our way. We walked out Door 1 of the terminal where they told us to get picked up by the shuttle for Fulton Street parking, and the shuttle was there waiting. They took our luggage and we hopped on board the shuttle. Had to wait about 5 minutes for everyone to load up and get aboard, and we were on our way to the parking garage. Traffic is not as bad this morning as it was for embarkation, so the shuttle got to the garage quickly. They parked out front and asked for one person from each car to ride up the elevator and get our cars, and they would unload our luggage while we were doing that. I went up and got our car, and drove down to street level and parked out front, and my wife was there with our luggage. We loaded up and were on the road home a little after 9:00. Very smooth disembarkation, and a quick and easy process to get the car from Fulton Street garage and get going. This turned out to be quite a good cruise even with the windy weather and rough seas. Now its back to reality and work.