This was a week-long cruise out of Boston calling at: Bar Harbor, Maine; Portland, Maine; Saint John, New Brunswick; and Halifax. Nova Scotia.
I was particularly anxious to go on Voyager of the Seas. I had been on the other four ships of the Voyager class (Explorer of the Seas, Adventure of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas) and quite enjoyed these ships. I wanted to experience the original ship in the class.
At the same time, I had some trepidation about Voyager. She had spent most of the last decade cruising in Asia. Cruising so far from home is tough duty for a cruise ship. I knew that Voyager had gone through a major refurbishment before the pandemic brought the cruise industry to a standstill but how successful had that refurbishment been?
As it turned out, there was no need for worry. The ship was in very good condition - - clean, no signs of rust and no mechanical problems. In addition, the refurbishment had equipped Voyager with many of the features that had debutted on later Royal Caribbean ships.
Of course, cruising on Voyager is not the same as cruising on the Oasis or Quantum class ships. While Voyager is a big ship (137,276 gross tons), those ships are much bigger. (The Quantum class ships are over 165,000 gross tons while the Oasis class ships are more than 220,000 gross tons). Nonetheless, Voyager provides a good workman-like version of the Royal Caribbean cruise experience.
Even though Voyager is no longer the flagship of the Royal Caribbean fleet, the officers and crew were dedicated to performing their duties and making sure that the guests were satisfied. We encountered no problems with the crew. Rather, everyone was friendly and happy to be of assistance.
As is typical with Canada – New England cruises, the passengers on this cruise were mostly adults. Indeed, there were only a handful of children. As a result, Voyager's more action-oriented features such as the surfing simulator, the waterslides and the laser tag saw little activity. Also, the extensive family-oriented facilities saw little use. On top of that, the cool autumn weather kept most passengers away from the pools. In short, this cruise did not play into the strengths that Royal Caribbean emphasizes in its advertising.
Yet, there was a ship-load of happy cruisers. This is because there is more to Royal Caribbean rock climbing walls and surfing simulators. There is a good-natured, relaxed ambiance aboard. Voyager is not a luxury ship but the facilities are good quality and, as above, the service was good. The bars and lounges, the dining venues and the entertainment facilities provided more than enough to do in the evenings and on the two sea days of this voyage.
Dress was casual throughout the cruise. Even on the nights where passengers were encouraged to dress up, jackets were rarely seen. However, those passengers who wanted to dress seemed comfortable in their finery.
This was one of the first cruises after Royal removed the mandatory passenger vaccination and pre-cruise testing requirements. Masks were worn occasionally but not mandated.
Voyager's main dining room is a vast, grand room with two balcony levels overlooking the main floor. It is open for breakfast and lunch (sea days only) on an open seating basis. For dinner, guests can choose either the traditional cruise system with early and late seatings or a flexible system that allows you to come when you want. However, for the latter system, it is wise to make reservations beforehand, especially if you like dining before 7:30 in the evening as it can get quite crowded before then.
We had very good service and we enjoyed the food in the main dining room. The menus offer both dishes that change each night and favorites (e.g. salmon fillet) that are on the menu each night. Even though the itinerary had taken us to the heart of lobster country, clearly the most popular menu item was the lobster offered on the second to last night.
Even when the main dining room is good, it is nice to try the specialty restaurants for a change of pace. Voyager has Chops Grill (steakhouse); Giovanni's (Italian) and Izumi (Japanese). There is also a Chef's Table experience. Chops occupies the space originally allocated for a specialty restaurant on Voyager. Although you cannot tell by looking, Giovanni's is located on the upper level of what was originally a Gothic disco. Izumi has space in the Viking Crown.
I enjoyed the home-made pasta and the eggplant parmigiana in Giovanni's. My traveling companions were impressed by the sushi and the quantity of the food in Izumi.
Disappointingly, Voyager no longer has a Johnny Rocket's. These venues on other Royal Caribbean ships have tasty burgers and are entertaining when the waiters go into their dance routines. The space that was Johnny Rocket's on Voyager is now part of the children's area. You can get a burger in the Windjammer buffet but it is not the same.
While burgers were scarce, pizza was not. Cafe Promenade was producing a steady stream of a variety of pizzas throughout the afternoons. Inasmuch as the passengers were devouring them almost as quickly as they could be produced, they did not stay long under the warming lights and so were always fresh. Cafe Promenade is complimentary.
Voyager's primary entertainment venue is the Royal Theater. Unlike some of the other Royal Caribbean ships, Voyager does not have a version of a Broadway show in its entertainment line-up. Rather, the production cast does traditional cruise ship production shows that include a number of popular songs and dancing. In addition to the production shows, there were visiting performers including a comedian and a singer.
The highlight of the entertainment line-up was the ice show presented in the ship's ice rink. Performing to music and with beautiful lighting and costumes, the performers made the skating look effortless. Each performance was filled to capacity.
In addition to hosting various activities around the ship such as trivia contests, the cruise staff performed in the Royal
Promenade during a 70s disco street party.
There was live music in several of the venues. Of particular note was classical guitarist Josue Castro and classical piano with Inna Honcharuk.
Royal has what is perhaps the most passenger-friendly loyalty program. The more you cruise with them, the more you get. At the top level, the perks are quite worthwhile including free internet and more free wine and drinks than the average person can handle.
On Voyager, the room that was the cigar lounge has been refurbished to become the Diamond Lounge for guests at the Diamond and Diamond Plus levels. There, guests can have a buffet breakfast, snacks during the day and a complimentary cocktail party each evening.
Pinnacle level guests have access to the Suite's Lounge, which was once the 19th Hole Bar in the Viking Crown Lounge. Again, there are snacks during the day and a party each evening with drinks and snacks. (Suite and Pinnacle guests can have complimentary breakfast in Chops).
Bar Harbor was the only port on the itinerary where passengers had to tender ashore. The tender operation ran smoothly with the ship using its own tenders along with excursion boats that were hired from shoreside providers. The town is picturesque with a great path that takes one along its rocky coast line. Afternoon rain dissuaded us from exploring nearby Acadia National Park.
It was mostly sunny in Portland. Unfortunately, the city's excellent art museum, the Portland Museum of Art, was closed on the day we visited. Instead, we walked along the tracks of the narrow guage railway that runs along the shore.
It was a beautiful day in Halifax. After walking along the boardwalk from the cruise port to the downtown area, we climbed up the hill to the impressive 19th century citadel fortress that overlooks the city. Then proceeding down the other side, we visited Halifax's pretty Public Gardens.
In St. John, we walked to the reversing falls. This is essentially a gorge in which the tide coming in from the Bay of Fundy forces the current of the St. John River to reverse and flow back upstream at certain times during the day. The city has constructed a paved path that leads from the downtown area to the gorge. I was impressed that they have made a number of improvements to the path including adding more art and enhancing the reconstruction of the city's first European settlement.
Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly in Boston. We were on the ship and off the ship quite quickly.
Above: Voyager in St. John.
Below: A balcony cabin on Voyager.
Cruise ship review - - Royal Caribbean International - - Voyager of the Seas - - Canada and New England cruise 2022