In 1999, Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas entered service as the largest cruise ship in the world at 138,000 tons. And carrying more passengers and crew than any other ship before her time (passengers 3114, crew 1180). It was lauded as the most revolutionary ship ever built, changing the experience of cruising with features never seen before, such as an ice skating rink/television studio/concert arena, rock-climbing wall, in-line skating track, horizontal atrium, and inside cabins with promenade views of the shopping and activities down below. The rock-climbing walls are now aboard every Royal Caribbean ship and the ice skating rink, along with other features can also be enjoyed on the line’s other four Voyager class ships as well.
Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas was in dry dock during May 2004, giving it a newer feel. Spinners, the site of a revolving arcade and four deck high roulette tower on the Royal Promenade was replaced with a perfume shop. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop was added recently on the Royal Promenade area, while everything else is as it was in 1999.
Punctuated by two atria, Voyager of the Seas’ most compelling space is the Royal Promenade, a horizontal atrium that has the look and feel of an upscale shopping mall. There are designer boutiques, a sidewalk cafe, a British style pub, and even a red Morgan sports car, which used to belong to Richard Fain, Royal Caribbean’s chairman and CEO.
The Royal Promenade is four decks high, longer than a football field and wider than three lanes of traffic. There are no windows, but it’s always dazzlingly lit up and sets the scene for street entertainment and festive Mardi Gras style parades complete with stilt walkers, a swaying inflatable dancer, streamers and confetti, with music from the likes of New Orleans, Rio and other hip places.
A $10 million dollar art collection graces the Promenade, Centrum atrium, lounges and other public spaces. A notable piece in the Centrum atrium is The Dancer & The Tutu by Larry Kirkland, consisting of two integrated sculptures of stainless steel, aluminum cable, acrylic, glass and gold and silver leaf with transmitted lights.
Also on the Voyager of the Seas are the nautical inspired Schooner Bar (a staple on Royal Caribbean ships), the Champagne Bar, and the Viking Crown Lounge, located on deck 14 for panoramic views of the sea, port arrivals and departures. The Skylight Wedding Chapel is on the highest point of the ship, located above the Viking Crown Lounge.
The Aquarium Bar has tanks that are filled with 56 tons of saltwater.
The Casino Royale has nearly 300 slots and tables for blackjack, craps, roulette and Caribbean Stud Poker. Other public spaces include a two-story library/Internet Cafe (charge is a per minute fee, or internet access is available in the cabins for a flat rate fee for the entire cruise).
Staterooms are attractively decorated in soft tones with fine light woods and two artworks on the walls. Of the 1,557 cabins, 939 are outside (with 765 having balconies). There are 618 inside cabins, but of those 138 have promenade views. All staterooms have two beds that convert to queen size, private bath, phone, interactive TV, mini bar, hair dyers and air conditioning/heat controls. Bathrooms have a shower enclosure as opposed to a curtain. Veranda furniture has two chairs and a table.
Voyager of the Seas has a variety of suites, including Royal Family Suites with a balcony that can accommodate eight people and offer two bedrooms with twin beds that convert to queen size (one room with third and fourth Pullman berths), two bathrooms, and living area with double sofa bed. The most lavish accommodation is a Royal Suite with balcony featuring a separate bedroom with king size bed, private balcony with hot tub, whirlpool bathtub, living room with queen size sofa bed, wet bar, dining table, entertainment center and even a baby grand piano.
The three decks of the ship’s elegant main restaurant are named for famous operas — Carmen, La Boheme and the Magic Flute — and feature themed decor including lavish opera costumes, a crystal chandelier and grand staircase.
Portofino is an alternative Italian restaurant serving an array of delectable dishes from antipasto to tiramisu. There’s a per person cover charge, and reservations are required; reserve early in the cruise — or online pre-cruise — or you may miss having the opportunity of dining in Portofino.
Johnny Rockets, the 50s-style diner with red Naugahyde booths, jukeboxes at the tables and Formica counters, is a popular restaurant for lunch or a snack. It dishes out freshly made burgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches and chili cheese fries, plus scrumptious milkshakes and malts. There is a per person charge to eat at Johnny Rockets — whether you eat in the restaurant or order for take-out. Beverages (such as the fabulous milkshakes) are available for an extra charge as well. Johnny Rockets has outdoor seating, but if you sit inside, you will have the chance to catch the impromptu mini shows put on by the waiters and cook.
The Windjammer Cafe on Deck 11 offers casual, quick, out the door buffet breakfast and lunch. Casual dinners are served in its aft section, the Island Grill.
Cafe Promenade on the Royal Promenade is a sidewalk cafe that serves continental breakfast, sandwiches, pizza and pastries. Royal Caribbean does have a free, 24-hour frozen yogurt station, Sprinkles, next to Ben & Jerry’s on the Royal Promenade.
Royal Caribbean’s room service options are available around the clock via 24-hour menus that offer a range of snacks and sandwiches. At breakfast, continental dishes, along with a handful of egg entrees, are available both in cabins and suites. Items off the main dining room menu can be ordered at dinner.
The gorgeous La Scala Theatrer is a state-of-the-art 1,350-seat show lounge. Decor elements include a Murano glass chandelier and a stage curtain in velvet with jewel-like embellishments. It sets the scene for excellent Broadway-style production shows with a cast of 16 singers and dancers. The ice skating show is outstanding and should not be missed as well.
Things are jumping late into the night at The Vault, a two-level dance club with a futuristic theme. High Notes is the aptly named club housed in the Viking Crown Lounge where a quartet plays cool jazz until the wee hours. The Rosario Strings, a classical trio, entertains in the main dining room and the piano bar. For those who want to catch a big sporting event, Scoreboard on the Royal Promenade and the 19th Hole in the Viking Crown Lounge area have satellite TV.
So many activities can be done on board, you can skate in the ice skating rink, go in-line skating on the rollerblade track, play basketball, volleyball or paddle ball in the full-length sports court, climb to 200 feet over the sea in the rock-climbing wall, miniature golf, golf simulator, three pools, six whirlpools, and a jogging track (five times around equals a mile).
The 15,000-plus-square ft., Steiner-operated ShipShape Center and Day Spa has 14 massage and treatment rooms; relaxation area with sea views; full-service beauty salon; ocean view workout area with stereo and TV monitors; 66 Reebok machines including 20 treadmills; free weights; and an aerobics area , with a mirrored wall, two large-screen TV monitors and wrap-around windows. One of the spa’s nicest features is its round hydrotherapy pool. The spa offers a full menu of exercise classes including various levels of aerobics. Adjacent to the spa is the spacious, 10,000-square ft. Solarium, themed to ancient Greece with statues and mosaics, a pool and two whirlpools.
The ship’s Adventure Ocean Club rates as one of the finest children’s facilities afloat with indoor and outdoor play areas. Indoors are computers, a rock-climbing wall, videos, Sony PlayStation systems, books, video arcade, crafts area and more, and outdoors the children have shuffleboard, deck checkers, tricycles and tic-tac-toe. Adventure Beach has a pirate ship splash pool and water slide. Teenagers have their own club and disco, Optix.
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure Program is a free, year-round children’s program for kids 3 (must be toilet-trained) to 17, organized into five age groups. “Edutainment” programs include Adventure Science with hands-on experiments such as Wacky Water Workshop, and Adventure Art by Crayola including such crafts as cultural masks and pottery.
Group babysitting is available from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Adventure Ocean center. Children must be at least 3 years old and toilet trained. In-Cabin sitting is available through the Guest Relations Desk and must be booked at least 24 hours in advance with available ship staff members supervising in-cabin sitting. Children must be at least six months old. There is a two-hour minimum requirement. All of the babysitting options do have a fee so check while on board.
A soda package for children up to 18 years of age allows unlimited soft drinks (prices vary with cruise length).
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