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Voyager of the Seas

Seeing Italy on Royal Caribbean


Robin Robinson of the Toronto Sun recently took a cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas and liked it as a great way to see Italy.  She took notes on her cruise and shared her tips from her cruise as well as why she enjoyed the entire vacation as well.

Distances between Italian ports are short, so on a seven-night itinerary -- like one I sailed recently aboard Royal Caribbean International's Voyageur of the Seas -- a ship can visit a different place each day. Add the numerous architectural masterpieces and ruins, must-see museums and art galleries, and more World Heritage sites than any other country on Earth and it's easy to see why exploring Italy from a cruise ship is attracting not only North American travellers but also an international crowd.

It's been well documented that Royal Caribbean has been adding more ships to Europe and Royal Caribbean public relations representative Celia de la Llama mentions that this year Royal Caribbean has seven ships sailing in Mediterranean waters but next year the total will jump to 11 ships sailing a broad range of different itineraries from European ports.

Some highlights of her cruise included

  • A drive along the steep and winding Amalfi Coast road -- dubbed the "Mamma Mia Road" because Italians are known to exclaim "mamma mia" while taking in the breathtaking views along its hairpin turns
  • A visit to Tuscany's Varramista wine estate
  • Ogling multimillion-dollar yachts along the St. Tropez waterfront

Mediterranean cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas


In terms of cruise lines going to Europe, there is no bigger player right now than Royal Caribbean.  Royal is increasing its European presence from eight to 11 ships next year and will cover 27 countries and 78 ports. Ann Tatko-Pterson of the Times-Colonist tried out a seven day, 12 city cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas to get a sense of what a Mediterranean cruise is like and shared highlights from her cruise in a recent article.

From ports like Barcelona, Rome, Pisa, and Genoa, Ann took time to do a lot of different excursions that were available to her.  She seemed especially intrigued by the customizable half or full day plans made available by Royal Caribbean, "For our first port of call, we joined a small private tour, one of three excursion options offered on Royal Caribbean's European cruises. These tours allow guests to design customized half- or full-day excursions for up to 10 people."

For our third day in Italy, we opted for an On Your Own excursion -- transportation is provided but visitors determine their own itinerary.

First up: Pisa, or more specifically, Piazza del Duomo. I was charmed by a scene straight out of a storybook. The walled square had lush green grass and a cathedral, baptistery and the Leaning Tower constructed of mostly grey marble, white stone and coloured marble accents. All three looked surreal. No wonder Italian writer Gabriele d'Annunzio dubbed the square the Field of Miracles.

Want to see Europe? Try a cruise


Lots of Americans say that sooner or later, they are going to "see Europe" and hop on over "the pond" to see "the old world" but to be honest, Europe can be a little daunting if you aren't an experienced traveler but the Mercury News recommends trying a European cruise to get a sampling of Europe without the hassle of trying to figure all the details out yourself. 

Taking a cruise offers the chance to cover a lot of territory in Europe without the hassle of finding hotels, restaurants and transportation. It's the sampler approach to visiting Europe.

For fans of Royal Caribbean, seeing Europe is easy considering the cruise giant is increasing it's European fleet from eight to eleven ships next year, which will cover 27 countries and 78 ports.  If that isn't enough of Europe for you, Royal Caribbean also offers pre- and post-cruise tours for extended visits.

You can read a great report by the author's experience aboard Voyager of the Seas on her Mediterranean Cruise.

But we were more enthralled with Port Grimaud. The port is nicknamed the Venice of France because homes and business are built on canals, complete with boats and bridges. Kitschy jewelry and apparel shops line the canals, most of the restaurants feature outdoor seating, and boat tours show off the seaside town created by architect Francois Spoerry in the 1960s. A sandy beach is also the ideal spot to rest after a long week.

Royal Caribbean organizes day to promote sports for disabled athletes


On a recent cruise aboard Voyager of the Seas, Royal Caribbean used the ship as a showcase to educate the public about the virtues of sports that people with physical disabilities can participate in.  The special day, organized in conjunction with the UESC Foundation, was called "Everyone can" and held in Barcelona, Spain last Sunday.  A total of one hundred people enjoyed meeting with the athletes as well as participate in some pickup games.  The goal of this is to boost Royal Caribbean's integration and awareness to smaller physical disability using sport as a vehicle.

"Royal Caribbean is committed to both the environment and the community and is a reflection of this initiative," said Bethlehem Wangüemert, CEO of Royal Caribbean in Spain. "This time, our company has shown its concern for the company to disclose to the great work UESC Foundation is carrying out in the field of social integration of disabled people through sport and what better way to do it aboard the Voyager of the Seas, a ship that, like the rest of our fleet is 100% accessible for disabled people.. "

Royal Caribbean joins other cruise lines in adding toys to older ships

These days it seems all the focus is on the newest generation of mega cruise ships, such as Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, that Royal Caribbean and other lines are rolling out of the shipyards.  A recent article by the Orlando Sentinel shows that when older ships go in for rehabs, they are getting more than their carpets and upholstery cleaned and updated, cruise lines are investing more money in the big ticket item amenities to keep them as viable competitors to their own bigger and more glamorous ships.
One ship that is used as an example is Voyager of the Seas, a ship that was launched more than 10 years ago in 1999 and was the first ship in Royal Caribbean's fleet to feature a rock wall.  The rock wall was so popular that it was subsequently installed on all the other ships in Royal Caribbean's fleet.
Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch, chairman and CEO of Grand Bahama Shipyard, which has done much of the refurbishing of these older ships notes that these updates are integral in keeping older ships relevant,, "Quite a few novelty features have been included on the new ships, like champagne bars, Johnny Rocket, surf machines . . . and the old ships suddenly start to look very old because they don't have those features."
It's funny how the cruise line can have a perfectly great ship but the newer ships debut and you can feel like in a way that by going on the older ones, it's the cruise line equivalent of driving a green '72 Dodge around town.  These older ships are still wonderful vessels to vacation on, but they can be a little blurred behind the glitz of what's newer and prettier.  This is how the auto industry keeps consumers wanting to buy new cars when their older cars are still perfectly viable.  Cruise lines are adding fun things like giant movie screens and other upgrades to to keep the older ships still relevant and intriguing to consumers.