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Voyager of the Seas review: What it's like to cruise on Royal Caribbean's oldest Voyager Class ship

17 Oct 2023
Angie Vognild

Voyager of the Seas was the first ship built in the Voyager Class by Royal Caribbean. Although Voyager of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s oldest ships, you shouldn't dismiss her as an option for your next cruise vacation!

Voyager of the Seas docked in Costa Maya

When Voyager of the Seas debuted in 1999, she turned the cruising world upside down.  This was the ship that introduced the idea of having an ice-skating rink at sea, rock climbing wall at sea, and indoor promenade.

Voyager was instantly the largest cruise ship in the world when she debuted (only until Explorer of the Seas entered service the following year).

Last month, my dad and I went on a five-night Western Caribbean sailing that visited Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico from Galveston, Texas. We had never cruised out of Galveston, so we were excited to see what it was like versus cruising out of Florida. This was also our first cruise on Voyager of the Seas! 

Angie and dad selfie in Costa Maya

Here’s what you can expect when sailing on Voyager of the Seas in 2023.

Royal Amplification

Built in 1999, Voyager of the Seas was a trailblazer in the cruise industry.

20 years later, Voyager of the Seas went through a $97 million Royal Amplification in October of 2019. During this refurbishment, the following venues and features were added:

  • The Perfect Storm waterslides
  • Battle for Planet Z laser tag
  • Updated Vitality Spa and Fitness Center
  • Redesigned kid and teen spaces
  • 72 new inside and balcony staterooms

Read more: I went on Royal Caribbean’s upgraded and regular Voyager Class ships. Here’s what I liked about each.

Flowrider and waterslides on Voyager of the Seas

Embarkation process

Because this was my first time cruising out of Galveston, I was unsure what the embarkation process was going to be like, but I was eager to see the new Royal Caribbean terminal.

After flying into Houston, my dad and I decided to get a hotel in the area and then the next day, we would get an Uber or Lyft to Galveston. We got a hotel in Houston because it was approximately $50 cheaper than staying in Galveston.

On embarkation day, we requested a Lyft and made our way to Galveston. During the drive, we were able to complete the mandatory safety briefing, so this was a great way to make the hour-long drive go by faster.

Terminal in Galveston, Texas

Upon arrival at the terminal, we saw a huge line of people waiting to get inside. This was due to the fact that there was a Coast Guard inspection that day, so the entire embarkation process took longer than it normally would. This long line made sense because passengers were not able to board until after the inspection was complete. Royal Caribbean emailed me multiple times about this inspection, so I knew it was going to happen.

Line of people waiting to get inside the terminal in Galveston

Our check-in time was at noon so we arrived at 11:30 a.m., but we could’ve come even earlier because of the long line.

After waiting outside for about 30 minutes or so, suddenly the line started to move much faster as we entered the terminal. It was a beautiful terminal, but I didn't have much time to admire it because the line was moving so fast when we went inside.

Galveston, Texas terminal inside

Once inside, the check-in process was a breeze and probably only took about 15 minutes. We were impressed!

Read more: I cruised Royal Caribbean from Galveston for the first time. Here’s what a cruise from Texas is like.

Spacious ocean view cabin

When I originally booked this cruise, I selected an interior guarantee cabin for me and my dad. This type of cabin is usually what I select for my cruises because it is the cheapest option. I’d rather spend my money on other things, like specialty dining or activities, than pay for a larger or balcony cabin.

Well, I kept receiving emails from Royal Caribbean about participating in their RoyalUp program. For those not familiar, RoyalUp is an opportunity for cruisers to bid on a nicer and bigger cabin. I usually ignore these emails, but since my dad was coming with me on this cruise, he said, “Why don’t we try it?” He is more particular than I am, so I think he wanted a different cabin!

Four days before embarkation, my dad and I placed bids on four stateroom categories. The next day, our bid was accepted! For an additional $130 per person, we upgraded to a spacious ocean view cabin.

Spacious oceanview cabin

Read more: I paid $130 extra to upgrade my interior cabin to a spacious ocean view on Voyager of the Seas. Here’s a tour of my cabin.

Our cabin was in the very front of the ship, overlooking the helipad. We were on the ninth deck, which was ideal because we weren't far from public venues. I was worried about being in the front of the ship motion-wise, but we had such smooth sailings that I rarely felt the ship move when I was in the cabin.

Helipad on Voyager of the Seas

As implied by its name, our upgraded cabin did indeed feel quite spacious at 211 square feet. Comparatively, our interior cabin would've been 160 square feet. The additional space was noticeable by the window and bed area.

Voyager of the Seas oceanview cabin

The cabin had everything we needed and more! We had more space than we knew what to do with. One of the benefits of upgrading to this cabin was the extra large couch. It was so big that I thought it was a sofa bed (it wasn’t). Nonetheless, it was nice to have another place to sit other than our beds.

Another advantage to being in the front of the ship was that it was quiet due to low foot traffic. We did, however, feel and hear the bow thrusters in the mornings when we were docking.

The bathroom felt a little more retro than the rest of the cabin because of the color scheme, but it was just fine for our five-night cruise.

Voyager of the Seas cabin bathroom

Dining onboard

Voyager of the Seas has three complimentary dining venues onboard, the Main Dining Room, Windjammer, and Cafe Promenade, and three specialty dining restaurants, including Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, and Izumi Japanese Cuisine. Chef’s Table was also available.

My dad and I splurged and enjoyed dinner at Giovanni’s Table and Chops Grille (my dad’s favorite Royal Caribbean restaurant). The other three nights, we ate in the Main Dining Room for dinner.

On the first day of our cruise, we were so excited to see that we were assigned a table right by a window in the Main Dining Room! This view was wonderful to admire every night when we had dinner. 

We were able to enjoy these three themed meals:

  • A Taste of France
  • A Taste of Mexico
  • A Taste of Italy

My personal favorite was A Taste of Italy because I love Italian food, including arancini, lasagna, and tiramisu.

The Main Dining Room had really fast service. Most meals were only an hour and a half long, sometimes shorter. All of the food was hot which I greatly appreciated. When I cruised on Adventure of the Seas, my food was either a hit or miss in regards to the temperature. My dad and I truly had no complaints about the Main Dining Room.

Read more: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas review: What it’s like to cruise on this ship today

We noticed that more people participated in the formal night onboard (around 70%), but there were no tuxedos or prom dresses. It is much more casual. 

Another thing we noticed was how The Windjammer always seemed to be packed, especially for breakfast. I think this is because there are only three complimentary places to eat on the ship. We were able to find clean tables every morning (around 10 a.m.), but we had to hunt for them.

Giovanni's Table was excellent! This was the first time I went to Giovanni's Table where they didn't bring the desserts out on a cart. Instead, they brought it out plated like the rest of the meal. This was changed due to the pandemic.

“Chops Grill is hard to beat,” my dad said as he happily ate his food. He enjoyed the filet with peppercorn sauce. I agreed - our meal was super delicious. I was so full by the end of the meal that I could barely stand up!

Chops Grille was actually quite busy the night that we went. There were about 40 people there. This was vastly different than Giovanni’s when there were only about 15 of us dining.

Chops Grille dessert

Activities and entertainment

I’ve seen a few comments online from people saying that they thought Voyager of the Seas was boring, but I have to disagree. I thought there were some great entertainment options!

Voyager of the Seas Royal Theatre

I went to every production show in the Royal Theatre, and I enjoyed the variety of acts. My favorites were the ice skating show, “Ice Odyssey,” and the comedy showcase featuring Derrick Cameron. I also liked going to the game shows in the Star Lounge. Almost every activity here was very busy, especially the Disney trivia, “Battle of the Sexes,” “Majority Rules,” and “Finish That Lyric.”

The music productions were also fun. We saw three shows, “Broadway Rhythm & Rhyme,” “El Gaucho (described as a “must-see show packed with laughter from the very start and featuring fiery music and unusual skills”), and “Music in Pictures.” 

The Adult SHUSH! Silent Party is one of my dad’s favorite activities on a Royal Caribbean cruise. I also really enjoy this event because usually between the two channels, I can find music I like (modern pop) and dad can find music he likes (70s and 80s hits). 

I will have to say I was disappointed about one thing. While cruising on Voyager of the Seas, I noticed at the trivia games, there were no prizes for the winners. My dad and I played on a team during the Rock Hits trivia and we ended up winning, but we didn't receive a prize. All we got was a “Great job!” from the host and claps from the other participants. I personally don't like this change because I feel that there should be some kind of award for winning trivia, even if it is just a key chain or highlighter.

I am not sure if this is considered an activity, but my dad likes to work out while on vacation, so we frequently visited the Fitness Center while on Voyager of the Seas. We both found it funny how the TV was behind all of the equipment. My dad wanted to watch what was on while he was exercising, but the TV location didn't allow for that. I wonder who decided this was the best place to put the TV?

Ports of Call

Like most cruises that leave from Galveston, we visited the Western Caribbean. This included stops in Cozumel and Costa Maya. Other cruises from Galveston also visit destinations like Roatan, Honduras; Nassau, Bahamas; Belize City, Belize; and even Royal Caribbean’s private island Perfect Day at CocoCay.

Costa Maya, Mexico

What was interesting about our itinerary was that we didn't dock in Costa Maya until 12:30 p.m. I liked this because that meant we could have a quiet night’s sleep and not have to hear the ship docking in the early morning. 

As soon as we could disembark, my dad and I decided to walk around and do a little shopping. There is a convenient shopping area right off the dock. My dad was on the hunt for some Mexican vanilla and cigars, while I was fine tagging along.

Cozumel, Mexico

My dad and I have been to Cozumel more times than we care to admit, so all we did was get off the ship, take a few pictures, and then get back onboard to enjoy one of our Diamond Plus drink vouchers.

Voyager and Adventure of the Seas in Cozumel

It appeared that many people had the same idea as us and decided to stay on board. It was a hot day, so a lot of people were using the pool. This was smart because the public venues aren’t nearly as busy while docked in port!

Disembarkation day

Like the embarkation process, disembarking Voyager of the Seas was straightforward. We easily found our luggage and then we did the facial recognition scan.

We took a Lyft to Galveston, so I was planning on doing the same to take us to the Houston airport.

On the last day of the cruise, we received a “Tips for an Easy Departure” document from Royal Caribbean that stated, “Taxis are usually readily available outside the terminal. Lyft is the only rideshare available in Port of Galveston.” I thought it was odd how Uber was not included. 

Coast Guard inspection line at Galveston

On disembarkation day, I tried to request a Lyft to the airport. After at least 15-20 minutes of waiting around, I tried to request an Uber instead. Within just a few minutes, an Uber picked my request and picked us up.

So for those wondering, you can request a Lyft or an Uber at the Galveston terminal. The ride was an hour to the William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) airport.

A few final thoughts

Overall, Voyager of the Seas was in great condition. There were a few dents and scratches, but that is to be expected on a ship that is over 20 years old.

Voyager of the Seas in Costa Maya

I had no problems with the Wi-Fi, however, my dad had some issues getting connected. We believe this had something to do with his phone trying to connect to the VPN network. He brought his phone and iPad to the Wi-Fi help desk and they were able to assist him.

I noticed a lot more people wearing masks around the ship. There were also a lot of bridal parties and recently married couples celebrating. 

It seemed there were football games playing everywhere, especially in the Tavern Bar on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The crowd was especially rowdy during the Texas and Alabama game on Saturday because there were lots of Texans on the Voyager! 

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