Having sailed into the pacific on other cruise lines previously, we chose Voyager of the Seas to try a new cruise line, try a different itinerary and to take advantage of a fantastic deal on a suite. We travelled as a married couple in our ... Read More
Having sailed into the pacific on other cruise lines previously, we chose Voyager of the Seas to try a new cruise line, try a different itinerary and to take advantage of a fantastic deal on a suite. We travelled as a married couple in our 30’s with no children.
We have commented below on the positives, the so-so’s, the negatives and the things we didn’t use and couldn’t comment on. We've also included some info on the ports we visited and our cabin.
Crew: The crew on board were fantastic. They were extremely friendly, positive and efficient. Nothing was ever too much trouble and communication was never a problem. When issues did pop up they were quick to remedy them and make things right. All rooms were also ready from 1pm on the first day which was truly amazing given the last cruise had only vacated the rooms at 8am that morning. Crew were a definite 10/10
Food: The food was plentiful and options abounded. The buffet was kept clean and offered a good variety for casual dining. Some meals were themed (e.g. Mexican/German) offering a bit more variety, but most days had wide variety of the “staples” of a cruise buffet. The possible only downside was the massively overworked one ice-cream machine which always had a queue but was well serviced by staff to always be running! Being in a suite we had “free” room service (all other ordered carried a $7.95 USD delivery fee) - we made use of this on a number of occasions, especially for a hot breakfast on tender days, and the service was always efficient.
Entertainment: Night Activities: The entertainment on board was quite good – the band was excellent and the ice skating shows were phenomenal. The quality of the other shows were above average but were often poorly timed with other ship activities forcing guests to make choices. It also wasn’t made clear that when the ice skating shows were advertised with muster numbers, that that was the only show you had guaranteed access to (you could try for the others by waiting in line 5 mins before start time). Of the shows we did attend we really enjoyed. The cruise director, Carlos, was entertaining and had a great sense of humour.
Extras: The Behind the Scenes tour was fantastic and our tour guide Jason was very knowledgeable and kept everyone engaged. We cancelled our Galley Brunch after this tour though, as we saw this being run in tandem and it looked like a total disaster.
Disembarkation: Disembarkation was well explained and many guests made use of the self disembark program. We left at our designated time of 7:15am and were off the ship and at our airport transfer point within 30 minutes and then at the airport in another 30 beating Sydney’s morning traffic. One point to note – Royal Caribbean charge $35USD for a transfer to the Sydney Airport – this is a TOTAL RORT. The train (which you can take from Circular Quay) is $19 AUD or if you simply stroll off the ship past the Royal Caribbean transfer bus, a number of entrepreneurial transport companies were offering competitive rates – we paid $15AUD for a transfer to the domestic terminal in a small mini-bus and waited only 10 mins for it to arrive. Virgin Airlines had also set up a check in counter near the terminal offering to take your bags if you were connecting to a virgin flight (not sure how this worked though as we were flying Qantas).
Some “in the middles” second:
Embarkation: Embarkation was pretty efficient given the number of passengers but signage was TERRIBLE. Thankfully many passengers were happy to help each other to get everyone going in the right direction – drop your luggage off first (they did have stapplers if you needed), then join the MASSIVE queue to get checked in. Some further information before hand, or even signs at the terminal would have been helpful. Have everything ready because the desks upstairs are tiny and you will be basically on top of one and other signing things. On the plus side you can take two 750ml bottles of wine or champagne on board per stateroom (in hand luggage only) which we did and had no dramas with. We also placed a 6 pack of bottled water in each of our suitcases which were not confiscated and saved us a BUCKET load on bottled water (charged at $4 USD a bottle). Powerboard however had had war declared on them and they were being confiscated all over the place (We did see them all laid out when we got off though so you would get them back).
Entertainment – Day Activities: These were generally good although very clearly not catered to an Australian market. For example, trivia is a very popular activity in the Australian cruising market, and yet it was very poorly run (i.e. the host didn’t have the correct answers or failed to maintain control of the activity) and it was often scheduled in the wrong venue, or without enough pencils/paper meaning there weren’t enough seat to accommodate those wishing to participate or that some people missed out. There were plenty of other activities to replace those missed out on if needed though, definitely no excuse for being bored!
Extras: The Mystery Dinner was a bit of a pain to organise – we thought we had it booked on day one but never received confirmation and had to follow up multiple times to get a solid answer from the restaurant (Giovanni’s Table). The performance was ok, but the food and company were great – worth going to but not at the price currently charged ($79 USD), particularly as the menu is set, and more limited that the restaurants normal offerings. The acting was a bit cheezy but fun but the concept was never really explained – it just sort of started and everyone was left a step behind.
And finally the negatives:
Age of the Ship: The ship is due for a dry dock refurb in 2019 and it is in desperate need. While the ship would have been glorious at first launch it is easy to spot its age – furnishings and flooring were faded and many maintenance issues popped up throughout the cruise (e.g. out of service elevators, out of service public bathrooms, out of service exit doors to the external walkways on deck 11). The crew do do what they can with what they have and the ship was kept as tidy as possible, but a refurb is definitely due. This didn’t detract too much from our experience – we just ended up using the stairs a lot more and taking detours – it might impact those with accessibility concerns.
Americanness: We understood the ship operated in USD and had a very American culture on board before booking but having sailed previously on other lines which have done more to cater for the Australian market we did find this a bit confronting sometimes. The food is definitely not quite tailored to Australia’s tastes and was often over salted or full of sugar – we will never get used to sweet bread! We also witnessed an incident in the gym on the treadmills – some operated in miles per hour and other kilometers – we watched a poor lady fly off the back of one after thinking she had programmed it to 7 km p/h only to find it was in miles – a simple sign alerting users to that fact or highlighting what setting the machine was in would have stopped this. The plugs in the wall are American/European – all good we knew that – but all the plug holes are indented so you will need the circular adaptors. We also noted a very large number of power boards were confiscated at check in – but the TV in our room ran off a US powerboard which we used with adaptors to overcome the indented plug situation.
The upsell: Perhaps part of the American culture of the ship but there was ALWAYS an upsell – everywhere. Drinks packages, internet, dining packages, tours, casino promotions, bingo etc. The amount of space dedicated to things you had to pay extra for in the cruise compass, the constant announcements and staff pushing package documents on you was a little ridiculous. While everyone was quite polite if you said no, having to continually say no did dampen the mood on occasion. Be prepared for massive upsell!
Cleanliness: While our room was kept spotless the public areas of the ship were left a little wanting. Part of this was to do with the passengers, many of whom have clearly never been taught manners or common decency (e.g. knocking cups of sticky drink over and just walking away without altering anyone, kids spilling cereal over carpeted areas, kids having food fights with left overs from room service trays). Part of this was to do with just never seeing any cleaning staff outside of room attendants and dining staff. We never saw public toilets being kept clean, railings being cleaned or ever elevator buttons being wiped down (and wow did they get festy fast).
Children: The biggest biggest negative of this cruise, and perhaps the main reason we would reconsider sailing with Royal Caribbean again were the children. We purposely chose this cruise outside of Australian school holidays to actively try and avoid a ship overloaded with children. We have sailed on cruises before where the number of children was far to high, but this cruise took this to a new level.
There were very clearly a large number of families with children in the 8-16ish bracket who clearly got on board and set them loose with the view to picking them up before they got off and not interacting with them in between. While it may seem unfair to blame the cruise ship for the actions of these children (and there totally negligent parents), we failed to see any action taken by Royal Caribbean to address the issues they were causing which is why we are raising it here.
The large number of unsupervised children resulted in some rather poor behaviour over the course of the cruise – especially given their partaking in a number of “fun activities” including – pushing all the elevator buttons and then bolting, ringing room doorbells at all hours of the day and night (we personally had one at 5:30am), making prank calls at all hours of the day and night (we had them at 2am) having food fights with cereal or yoghurt, pillaging room service trays which had been left in the hallway for collection and throwing things around, running around the ship and often sending people flying or running into them and knocking drinks over, moving furniture or knocking things over and leaving it that way, leaving plates of food/drink on the stairs, underage drinking in the cabin hallways, unsociable language and screaming and physical fights/wrestling in confined spaces which other guests had to walk around to avoid.
For some reason Royal Carribean also determined the curfew for under 18’s is midnight!!! This meant security were “powerless” (or claimed they were powerless) to stop this sought of behavior from children who were unsupervised before midnight. Despite multiple complaints (we personally overhead several while at guest services to make our own about a series of 2am prank calls) nothing seemed to be done about this.
We aren’t sure how this could be fixed but we have NEVER encountered such poor behvaiour or such large numbers of unsupervised children on another cruise (e.g. Carnival, P&O, Celebrity, Princess). We can only hypothesis that the offered “kids club” activities were simply not suitable and as a result of there being no consequences for the bad behvaiour it was simply allowed to continue.
Things we can’t comment on:
- We didn’t make use of the casino but it was always packed and had lots of promotions.
- We didn’t make use of the internet (VOOM) but heard lots of positive things from those who were using it, although heard some interesting things about trying to make use of Netflix noting georestrictions getting confused about what country we were in. We were going to purchase 24 hours at one point of the cruise, but were a bit shocked to learn the advertised $17.99 USD price (for streaming level internet) was not available as a “day rate” – only if you bought a whole cruise worth of internet. One day was $29.99 USD which seemed a bit silly to us. We did make use of free wifi in Noumea and Villa.
- We didn’t buy the drinks package as we felt we couldn’t make use of the price. The soda only package was $10USD a day and a soft drink was $3.50 a glass. We were in a suite, so if we purchased a soft drink we were given a can for $3.50. Other guests were provided a glass (poured from a bottle, not fountain drink) for the same price. If you don’t buy a drinks package you have access to free tap water (desalinated on board and without the weird after taste), milk, tea, coffee, lemon cordial, iced tea, raspberry cordial (or something red flavoured). In addition at breakfast you also have access to orange juice, apple juice and chocolate milk. There were also two additional packages available, one for soda/water/coffee and one for unlimited alcohol.
Noumea – We had never been before so booked a shore excursion “city to the bay” which was a great little 3 hour tour with an excellent tour guide. This also included coffee/tea and a French pastries at a restaurant which had free wifi (bonus!). A number of other guests made use of the hop on hop off bus ($15 AUD per ticket). or the choo choo train tour – both of which were highly rated. The ship also offered a free shuttle service into the city to the ferry terminal. There is a little supermarket (Casino) right near there which offers free wifi and a great assortment of snacks if you need to stock up. We did have coke confiscated from us returning to the ship, but they were fine with the bottled water we bought.
Lifou – We detoured to Lifou after our Mystery Island stop was cancelled due to safety concerns given the weather. This was handled quite well and communicated clearly to everyone via a note in the stateroom which included the new tours available. Anyone who had booked a tour for mystery island had this refunded by the onboard account system. The ship operated a tender out to Lifou – no tender tickets needed until about 9am but lines did get long. The beach was beautiful but very rocky (10/10 recommend reef shoes if you want to go swimming). There were lots of little stalls set up with hair braiding, massages and food – the prices got cheaper the further along you walked.
Vila – We didn’t leave the ship for Vila as we had been on a number of occasions – but can 10/10 recommend the mud-buggies – a GREAT adventure for the whole family. If you do go on any tours in Vila many stop by the villages and the children are extremely grateful for small wrapped candies, stationery etc. We took a pack of 24 pencils from Kmart (pencils with erasers in funny shapes on the end) and wrapped starbursts last time and they went over great!
Mare – The ship tendered again for Mare – there is a small market when you first disembark the tender which was nice, but had most of the same things already seen at other ports. The main “attraction” was the one shore excursion offered by Royal Caribbean - $15USD a head (same price for adults and children) return bus transfers to Yejele Beach. We did this, as we were only two people, but many more savy families realized they could offer a taxi AUD and all be transferred to the same place for much cheaper. The beach was set up with many stalls offering hair braiding, massages and lots of food (BBQ lobster, corn etc). Beautiful spot and well worth the trip – not much to do on Mare otherwise.
Overall, we had a good time and enjoyed the experience in the main. The perks of the suite were great and the service was world class. Unfortunate that the behaviour of other passengers (mainly the unattended children) damped the overall experience. We would be unlikely to book a Voyager of the Seas cruise again, but may consider a newer ship(e.g. Ovation). Read Less