Great cruise with fabulous ports: Voyager of the Seas Cruise Review by mike@sea

Voyager of the Seas 5
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Great cruise with fabulous ports

Sail Date: October 2012
Destination: Asia
Embarkation: Beijing
We sailed on Oct 8th Voyager cruise from Tianjin to Singapore and truly had a wonderful cruise. It had a few negative aspects but overall we had a fabulous time.
I have sailed Voyager before in 2006. Did not like the condition of the ship back then (after only doing year long Caribbean cruises it was very rundown and tired in my opinion), but was pleasantly surprised this time. Our cabin 1624 was in excellent shape, with new TV, comfy bed, new sofa and a decent/clean bathroom with tub. Even the carpet was in good shape. Much much better than on Brilliance of the Seas in April. we did learn however later in the cruise, that not all cabins were in good condition. I guess we were just lucky being on deck 10.

Embarkation was probably the best ever. There was so much paperwork to do, so many forms to fill out, passport copies needed, but RCL was very well prepared in my opinion. Check In staff had their act together and made sure everyone had what they needed.

We More sailed late due to immigration officers not being ready to leave the ship in time. No problem , we reached our next port Fukuoka in time.

The demographics of this cruise probably surprised everyone, including RCL. Quiet a few cancelled the cruise months before ( as we learned here on cruisecritic ) due to the fear it will be a mostly Asian passenger dominated cruise. Well, it was not. Maybe 30% Asians, the rest from all corners of the world. A very diverse crowd. RCL was probably planning on having more Asians, the dinner menus at least reflected this the first 5 days. It was half Asian, half Western dining options. A welcomed change by all those experienced guests that are quite tired of RCL's never changing menu options. The food itself was OK. Sometimes good, sometimes less so. RCL really needs to improve their food in the dining room.
We had breakfast and lunch either in the dining room ( good ) or at Windjammer ( the usual ). There was an additional BBQ at the pool every sea day, which was a nice touch. Johnny Rockets was also good. So there was a lot of variety to choose from every day. Portofinos was excellent, much better than on other RCL ships.

We booked all our excursions except one through RCL before the cruise and were happy with them. They added a few options that were not available online and we had no problem changing one excursion. We received decent port information to the stateroom, there were also lectures about the ports/countries visited. I was amazed to see that many many people only booked their excursions sometimes only hours before reaching the port. The excursion desk was Always crowded, people often booked at the last minute. However as said, my experience was that RCL was very flexible and cooperative here.
Guest relations was always full as well. Mostly because a lot of people have obviously not heard of banks that sell you foreign currencies for a reasonable price. SO most people seem to have come unprepared and rather used RCL as a currency exchange at a very bad rate of course, blocking guest relations mostly every day.

Staff was trying hard to please everyone. I found them all very friendly and helpful, especially the Chinese ones. Our concierge was Chinese and very nice, so was our waitress and her assistant. They were brilliant!

Entertainment was good to very good. Gordon our cruise director could not have been better. His humour and energy were 100% right for us.

Organization in the different ports was excellent. Again kudos to the Voyager staff. The ports were all good, despite the fact that voyager had to berth in container ports nearly everywhere due to its size. That was maybe not so good in Vietnam (due to the long distance to HCM City) but also sometimes no problem at all like in Hong Kong due to the free and well organized shuttle to Ocean Terminal.

However, at the end of the cruise RCL, as well as everyone involved in Singapore totally dropped the ball. Disembarkation at the brand new terminal was rather a nightmare, mostly due to the fact that 2 big ships were in port at the same time. Singapore was not prepared for Princess and RCL at the same time. It was a total shame for everyone involved. Chaos everywhere, totally overwhelmed and unprepared tour staff, bus drivers etc. I have never seen anything like this before.
RCL had warned us before, that Princess would be in port and taxis most likely at shortage. That's why we booked a city tour with airport drop off. What a mistake!!!! Not only did we have to wait for the tout to begin over 1 hour, because luggage from the ship did not arrive for some passengers booked on the tour. In the end our bus was the last one, picking up passengers from the other 2 buses that had simply left with only little delay without the booked passengers. Our luggage did not go in the same bus we were in, but was said to be transported to the airport... We had mixed feelings about this, especially after seeing them marking the luggage tags with the needed terminal number ( there are 3 in SIN !!) at the very last minute by hand amidst all the chaos in front of the terminal. Did I mention everyone in charge seemed totally unprepared ?!?
To make a long story short, after an exhausting excursion through the Singapore heat, we arrived at the airport ( missing 1 hour of the e4 hour trip of course). Well, rest assured, they gave us that hour back by letting us search for our bags, which were not where they were supposed to be. Bags were just dropped curbside, unattended in front of each terminal. A lot of them in front of the wrong one. Some bags seemed to have been left behind at the port, despite having the respective luggage tag. Most passengers were really angry and in disbelief about the whole situation. A terrible ending to a fab cruise. Less

Published 10/28/12

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