Russell - Answered a Question by howard (29 Jul 08 16:18)

My husband and I have cruised several times now and enjoyed each one, we were worried about our last cruise, on the Ventura in June, because we had seen such terrible reviews, but we had the most perfect and marvelous time. If the Voyager of the Seas is visiting places that you want to see then your holiday will be great. The people who write the bad reviews are those who look for the worst and find it wherever they go, so be open minded and go with the flow. Look up things about each port you will be visiting, before you go, and decide what you would like to see, we walk around and visit churches, museums and gardens, which we have found on the internet. We have taken local buses and taxis a couple of times too, where things are further away from the port, talk to other independent minded people and ask if you can team up with them. I remember on our first cruise when we called at Sicily we were determined to take a bus to Tormina and we had eight other passengers following our lead. We only go on the excursions if there is somewhere that we really need a guide, ie: when we stopped at Naples we did an excursion to Pompeii. On our last two cruises we have paid tips in advance and not found it a problem, if you speak to the Pursers Office they will take it off your bill and allow you to tip for yourselves. Cruising is the greatest we were hooked after our first one, five years ago, so do not let these moaners and whiners put you off. Don't forget to write a review when you get back and I will look forward to reading it.

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Wilba - Answered a Question by howard (20 Jul 08 14:04)

First of all where have you read 'Bad Reviews', I've just gone through a few pages of Voyager reviews & there's one bad review (repeated). The rest are 5 & 4 star reviews in the main. I've been on a number of Voyager Class ships & if people don't enjoy them, it's they who have a problem & not the ship. Someone will always write a bad review about a ship, hotel or resort. Providing the majority agree, that's all most of us worry about. You've pre paid your tips so that's one less payment to think about on your cruise. Excursions on every cruise ship in the world, since cruising began, have historically been overpriced. Most of us who cruise regularly do our own excursions but there are pitfalls to be considered for the inexperienced cruiser. Maybe you could 'team up' with fellow cruisers when on board who know the ropes regarding DIY trips. I'm sure you will get a lot of positive response relating to a great cruise you have booked...Relax...Wilba.

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BLYTH - Answered a Question by howard (20 Jul 08 14:22)

Almost certain you will enjoy the cruise have you told them when booking that it is a special celebration as they usually present you with a cake and sing happy anniversary. Paying up front for tips is quite normal now I would be surprised if your stateroom attendant and waiters don't look after you. The cost of excursions is higher if you book via the ship and if you do go it alone it is a good idea to team up with ones who know the ropes. One major problem of not going with the ship excursion if your bus is late back the ship will wait if you went private and for some reason you were badly delayed the ship won't wait then it is your responsibility to get to the next port of call to meet up with the ship.

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Aldrich - Answered a Question by howard (20 Jul 08 16:29)

Awful reviews - about Voyager of the Seas - are you sure??? I am looking on the review site I use most and of the past 11 reviews 10 have been 4 or 5 out of 5. That seems pretty good to me. No it is not wrong to prepay tips. You either pay them before or pay them on board. Either way you have to budget for them so you just have got that minor expense out of the way early (as I always do). Wilba (who will no doubt post on this question too) and I are both fans of DIY in ports, we do not like being herded along with a crowd following the lollypop. It depends on your attitude and whether you want to go it along, or go with the security of the ships tours. You cannot go wrong with a cruise on RCI. Relax and enjoy and be overwhelmed by the size and sheer beauty of the ship and of the artwork on board.

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Spencer - Answered a Question by howard (29 Jul 08 17:51)

You'll have a brilliant time Most trips especially when on an American owned ship are reasonable Pre-paid tips can be cancelled at the Reception Desk when you' re on board(on the last day ) then you can tip as appropriate but pre-paid is easy and works well.

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DOLAN - Answered a Question by howard (29 Jul 08 18:18)

Don't cancel your cruise. Cruising has so much to offer. This is a very large ship you have booked but RCI is a very good product. There will be less children on board than you would have on July and August unless you hit half term. Even then this Ship is so bit with so much to do it can absorb the numbers. Fantastic entertainment including the ice show. I always feel as though I would need to go to the West End and pay a lot of money to see what is included in the cruise costs. Also remember that room service is included and there is no need to pay anything for this. I am always surprised how many people don't use it and will ask me almost at the end of the holiday how much it costs. I cruise now 3 times a year and I adore this type of holiday. I read some of the reviews but there are cruises and cruises! There are also people who no matter what you gave them would still not be happy. You will have a mix of Nationalities which I enjoy. You have not made the mistake of choosing a package with Island or Thomson but have opted for a good 4* product. I cruised a lot with RCI a few years ago and now cruise with either Cunard or Celebrity. RCI own Celebrity. On the issue of tips pre paying is just fine. You will not need to fuss about with trying to sort out $ on the final night. It is all done for you. You will be given envelopes with a voucher and you then give your Cabin Steward you Waiter and his Assistant these envelopes. They will already know on the morning of the final day that you have prepaid your tips as they will be given the money due to them. I used to do my own tips and now I have them added to my account on the Ship. Yes excursions can be expensive and it depends what you want to do and see. For me these days because I have been to the Med Ports so often I just go off and have a look around or take a bus or taxi to somewhere near at hand. I would say that if the Port is a long way from the city say Rome or Florence then you may want to do the excursion with the ship. Other than that get on to Cruise Critic or Holiday Truth and a lot of advice there about doing it on your own. You can get to Rome by train which takes over an hour+ and I think the trains run every hour. I have never done this trip by train but many have. If you go to Holiday Truth and go to Cruises and then go on to some of the topics there you will get all the information you need and want. Don't be frightened to ask questions as most of us who have been bitten by this BUG are only too happy to give any help we can. Enjoy the looking forward to the cruise by planning what you want to do or not do. You can just do a little and come back to the ship and enjoy it while it is quiet. My next cruise is on the 27th August in the Med. followed on the 17th by a prolonged holiday cruising around New Zealand and Australia and then staying on with my Brother in Perth until the 12th Jan. If I didn't enjoy cruising there is no way I would do it and I feel sure that you will have a fantastic time. Happy anniversary when it comes. Have you told RCI that it is your Ruby wedding? if not then do! Sue.

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Ashton - replied to DOLAN (29 Jul 08 19:40)

Regarding the train to Rome versus an organised excursion. The station is close to the docks at Civitavecchia and, depending on the service, like you say takes about an hour. Rather than going all the way to the Termini station, you can get off at San Pietro, (St. Peter's) and you are about a minutes walk from the Vatican. From here, you can take a leisurely stroll past Castel St Angelo, over the Tiber and into Piazza Navona. One of the benefits of doing this is having the ability to sit back and relax at one of the wonderful cafes, enjoy a bottle of wine and watch the world go by. You've then got some time to visit the Pantheon, Spanish Steps and a short stroll to treat yourself to an ice cream at the Trevi fountain. I would say that as long as you make sure that you are on the last but one train returning prior to embarking then you will enjoy a day in the Eternal City at a fraction of the price of the excursion. And don't be fooled into thinking that the excursion will have seen more than you - they may have wizzed past a few more monuments but you could spend a week in Rome and there would still be more to see on your return.

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howard - replied to DOLAN (03 Aug 08 11:56)

Thankyou so much for your comments, you have helped us so much. We are thinking of going on the "Scenic French Riviera" or"Nice and Cannes on your own" trip with Voyager of the Seas and "Panoramic Florence". Have you any thoughts on this?We have decided to visit Sorrento on our own using high speed ferry. We are so looking forward to our trip now.

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Ashton - Answered a Question by howard (29 Jul 08 19:17)

First of all, congratulations and I'm sure you will have a memorable aniversary. Please don't worry yourself unduly as, in most things, people are only too quick to write and complain about something but seldom put pen to paper to praise. Royal Caribbean do a splendid job on the whole and if the Voyager is half as good as the Vision, you will be in for a treat. The service is first rate and I'm sure you won't begrudge the tips whether you pre-pay or make other arrangements. The cost of the trips can add up, but you need to decide whether you are more comfortable having things arranged for you or whether you enjoy making your own plans and going off by yourselves (or, and this is something that you may consider, joining up with another couple to share taxi's etc.) My advice would be to research the ports of call and decide where you would like to go from there. If it is fairly local and can be reached easily by public transport then, you will undoubtedly save yourselves enough to enjoy a slap up lunch and watch your fellow passengers be herded past you on an organised tour. If the desired destination is more difficult to reach by independent means, then go with a tour and enjoy your day out. Put your confusion to rest and look forward to enjoying a wonderful holiday - you won't want to wait for your 41st anniversary to book another.

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mclean - Answered a Question by howard (29 Jul 08 19:29)

PLEASE dont cancel...we went on our first cruise last year came back and booked to go on another one later this year,my partner was very sceptical but now he can not wait,enjoy it and happy anniversary.

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