As Royal Caribbeans Voyager of the Seas
left the French Rivera and the towns of Nice and Cannes faded into
the salmon-colored sunset, I sat on my balcony taking in the scene,
resting after a long day of sightseeing. However, I was not to rest
for long. After all, there was a rock wall to climb and an ice rink
to explore, and my boyfriend wanted to check out the basketball
court, which seemed to be home to never-ending pick-up games.
Voyager-class ships were definitely built for travelers who like to
stay active on their vacations.
The vessel houses
an ice skating rink, a basketball court, a 30-foot rock-climbing
wall, a casino, a miniature golf course and a Main Street lined
with cafes and shopping. It was hard to find time to pursue it
This was the
first time a Voyager-class ship had sailed Europes Mediterranean
included Monaco, the romantic Italian town of Positano and the
ruined Roman city of Pompeii, which was buried under ash when Mount
Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D.
But on an
itinerary that offered so many sights and experiences on land, was
it really possible to fully enjoy the destinations and the ships
The answer was
How much of each
is experienced depends on the type of traveler. And what I found
most interesting on my voyage was the diversity in demographics.
There were honeymooners, families (lots and lots of families),
experienced cruisers and first-timers onboard.
As an energetic
traveler who tries to cram as much as possible into each day, I felt that I managed to enjoy
both the ship and the destinations, even though the shore
excursions I chose turned out to be long, averaging about 10 hours
To get the most
out of the destinations, I chose the more expensive exclusive tours
tours accepted a limited number of passengers so that travel could
be done in minivans as opposed to large tour buses. This allowed
drivers and passengers to go where big buses could not.
Positano, one of the highlights of the cruise, can only be explored
on the exclusive tours, as the towns streets are simply too narrow
for large buses to navigate.
Italys Amalfi Coast, our little minivan was able to stop for
bathroom breaks or shopping since our group was small and
In Pompeii, we
were able to cover much more ground and explore more ruins because
we were able to navigate the sites much quicker than a tour of 50
tours also allowed for more free time in the ports of
Sure, we saw
Michelangelos David in Florence and the Sistine Chapel in Rome, but
we also had free time to explore the piazzas, the local cafes and
the museums along the way.
Our lunches were
always at small restaurants with great views and delicious cuisine,
places that often could not cater to the large groups.
tours were perfect for couples, honeymooners and seasoned travelers
who wanted delve deeper into each port of call. Exclusive tours
were about $345 per excursion.
For families, the
shorter tours and those that offered flexibility were the bigger
For example, Rome
on Your Own provided transfers to and from the city with a few
hours of alone time in between.
excursions also allowed families time to explore each port then
return to the ship at their leisure to enjoy the amenities on the
Voyager of the Seas.
The ship had a
good youth program, which was broken down into five age groups:
Aquanauts, ages 3 to 5; Explorers, 6 to 8; Voyagers, 9 to 11;
Navigators, 12 to 14; and Guests, 15 to 17.
activities ranged from finger painting to teen karaoke.
has also teamed up with Fisher-Price to develop play groups Aqua
Babies and Aqua Tots for parents with children ages 6 months to 3
In short, there
was no shortage of activities for the youngsters aboard the ship.
Meanwhile, adults and kids alike flocked to the rock-climbing wall,
one of the highlights of the ship.
In fact, the
number of adults scaling the wall to ring the I-reached-the-top
bell outnumbered the kids two to one. But really, isnt that what a
vacation is all about -- bringing out the inner child in
The ice rink was
another favorite activity. It was crowded with kids of all ages.
The ice shows were a hit with both adults and kids.
Main Street, a
reproduction of a typical central thoroughfare consisting of a pub,
cafe, ice cream stand and shops, was also quite popular with both
kids and parents.
The World Cup
soccer tournament was going on during my cruise, and some guests
choose to stay in Main Street to watch the matches instead of going
What made this
cruise a success was the combination of amenities onboard the
Voyager of the Seas and the shore excursions, which enabled
cruisers to experience the culture and history of
spend a few hours touring Marseille in the morning and be back in
time to eat lunch at the Johnny Rockets restaurant on board. The
kids could then get their faces painted or go in-line skating in
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