Go for the ports and use the ship as your hotel!: Voyager of the Seas Cruise Review by firstxcruiser1001

Voyager of the Seas 4
Member Since 2009

Overall Member Rating

Go for the ports and use the ship as your hotel!

Sail Date: November 2009
Destination: Europe - Western Mediterranean
Embarkation: Barcelona
We flew into Barcelona and stayed in the city for 2 days before the cruise. It really helped us acclimate to the time change and an added bonus we had a great time in the city. Barcelona has a very modern and clean subway system that made getting around very simple. Many shops and restaurants spoke a bit of English and with our limited Spanish it was very easy. The tapas and sangria cannot be missed! Embarkation was fairly easy and well-organized. Do as much as you can online ahead of time and it goes very smoothly. Make sure to utilize the duty-free shops after you check-in but before boarding. The bottled water can be taken directly on-board and it is a fraction of the ship's package. In addition, you can put a few bottles of wine or liquor into a carry-on(again in the duty-free area) and it is the only time they don't screen your bags as you board. Our room wasn't ready so we were all "herded" into the Windjammer Cafe until around 2. It was really crowded and hot and not a good More start for first-time cruisers. Our room was a family suite and was bigger than we expected. We had a second small bedroom in addition to a pull-out and larger(queen)bed as well as a sitting/living room area. It was plenty of room for the 5 of us. Our other family members had a balcony stateroom that was a good size and had a nice balcony. The rooms are dated and bit worn but clean. The cruise line did a nice job having lots of hand sanitizer around the ship with the threat of H1N1. Our attendant Vincent was great and our bags arrived before we did.

The "muster" drill was pretty painless and was well organized. We wandered around the ship later that afternoon-it's huge but easy to get around. The ship is over-the-top in a lot of ways but what we expected. The constant money-grab gets to be a bit much but you can steer away from it. Our dining was the late seating which worked out well with the excursion days-it gives you time to relax before dinner. Food on the ship is not a strong-point ranging from cafeteria-like(Windjammer) to mediocre at best in main dining room. Our server, Anna, was great but the "head waiter" did nothing at all! Our first day was at sea and it gave us time to explore the ship and relax. One big problem RCI needs to address is the smoking on-board-the casino is so smoke-filled and many of the lounges are, too. Be sure to get ice show tickets-they did a nice job and the earlier tickets go fast! Day 2 was Napoli. We did extensive research before the cruise and did every shore excursion on our own. It went very smoothly, they got us back to the ship in plenty of time and it was so much better than what we heard other's did with the ship's excursions-the cost is also a fraction of what you'd pay through RCI! Amalfi Coast was amazing! See port reviews for details. Day 3 Rome. It's impossible to do everything in one day but by using our own private tour we saw so much and had a van that took us around the city. Day 4 Pisa and Florence. Pisa isn't much other than the tower but good to see.

We again had a private driver and got a tour of an olive-oil factory, a drive through Tuscany, and shopping in Florence! Thanksgiving dinner that night was REALLY BAD-the food was terrible! Day 5 Villefranche/Nice. We were tendered in and found the train to Nice or Monaco with relative ease. Do your research and it's easy to do. Nice has a nice outdoor market in the morning and tons of cafes for lunch. Day 6 Suppose to go to Marseille but strike caused us to dock in Toulon. Only time used ship's excursion-took a motor coach into Aix en Provence. Cute little town with cafes and shopping. Make sure to know some French-not many speak English at all. That evening we sailed back to Barcelona and it was very rough-we really felt the waves throughout the night. Disembarkation was very easy-we had early flights out of the airport and got there in plenty of time. Luggage right there and we had a private company take us to airport-it was a breeze! Overall it was a great family trip. We really used the ship as our "floating hotel" and loved seeing all the ports. It gave us a taste of the areas we want to return to-would cruise again only to see another region in the same fashion. Less

Published 12/08/09

Cabin review: FS Royal Family Suite

Much bigger than anticipated. Worn furniture and carpet-outdated. Balconies great. Lots of storage-more than you think.

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Port and Shore Excursions

We actually stayed in Barcelona ahead of the cruise for 2 days. We were glad to get use to the time change and had a great time exploring the city. We stayed on Las Ramblas-lots of activity, shopping, and restaurants. It is noisy but we knew that going into it. Everyone told us to beware of the pick-pockets so we took extra care and it was fine. We did see one "ring" operating while we waited in line for dinner one evening. The sangria is amazing-nothing like it in the States at all! We saw Gaudi's work and buildings-a must see. The subway system was very easy to navigate, very clean, and very modern-don't be afraid to use it. Most people at the shops and restaurants speak some English and with our little bit of Spanish we easily got by.

Read 1758 Barcelona Reviews

We again used "Rome-in-Limo" and had an outstanding tour. Our driver was Lara-she was so knowledgeable and friendly. She really personalized our tour-we had a much more relaxing day than the busy day in Rome. We went to Pisa to do the obligatory pictures, it was very touristy. She then drove through Tuscany to a quaint olive-oil factory. We got to see the entire process as it was harvest time. She personally toured us through the factory. We all got samples, local wine, and bought some beautiful local pottery. The Tuscan countryside is beautiful and we will definitely return! We stopped at a great spot outside the city and got incredible photos. She then took us around the city and we had another amazing lunch(thank goodness because the cruise food was so bad!) We then did some shopping and went to the Ponte Veccio bridge. Our last stop was a small gelato shop just across the bridge. It was homemade and really inexpensive(1.3Euro per cup!) We got back to the ship in plenty of time.

We actually docked in Toulon as there was a strike in Marseille. We did the ship's excursion to Aix en Provence-a motor coach ride then "on-our-own." The drive was quite a bit longer as the port is so much farther away-a little unexpected. The bus was really small and cramped-wishing we had our nice van like the other ports! The city itself is very quaint and had an open-air market that we got some beautiful linens at. We shopped and ate at a cafe-very good food and wine. Make sure you know some French as this was one town where there was very little English spoken. As long as you try they are very good to you. As a general rule, do excursions on your own-with research we did so much more for so much less money!

We used "See Amalfi Coast.com" and had an amazing day. Our driver, Vito took us to a cameo factory(bypassing all the tour groups and having a private guide), then to the Amalfi Coast. We saw so many beautiful, quaint towns and had a crazy ride up the cliff! He took us to a family-run AMAZING restaurant on the top of the cliff overlooking the sea! The food, wine, and limoncello were incredible-we even got to meet "Mama!" We got back to the ship with plenty of time to spare. We had 7 of us in a big, comfortable van and the cost was around 60Euro/pp plus tip! We will most certainly be back and will use their services again.

Read 1174 Naples Reviews

We used "Rome-in-Limo" car service and had a wonderful driver, Mauricio. He had so much knowledge and made the most of a one-day visit to Rome. He got us tickets and into the Colesseum very quickly. We then toured around the city and saw so many amazing sites. We went to lunch at a local restaurant and had more amazing food. He then took us to the Vatican museums and gave us insider tips how to get through. We had to go at a good pace but were able to see the museums and St. Peter's-it's so inspiring no matter what religion you are. We even had time for some espresso and gelato before heading back to the ship! We spoke with people who did the ship's excursion and they had major complaints and didn't see 1/4 of what we saw. We again had a large, comfortable van that waited at each area for us-it's the only way to go. Per person we spent 1/3 of the amount that the ship's excursion cost!

The port is beautiful and we were tendered into town. The train is fairly easy to find and you can go to Nice or Monaco in very short time. We walked to the coast-not too far and there was a great open-air market there. We had fun people-watching and sampling some local favorites. We had some wine on the beach-amazing! We shopped around Nice and ate at cute cafe for lunch. We didn't go to Monaco but many did. It was great just to not have a schedule. We went through Villefrache on the way back-very cute little village with cafes but not much shopping.

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