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).