Royal Caribbean’s ship Voyager of the Seas was docked in Sydney Harbour last weekend and we jumped at the opportunity to go on board and check out the facilities. Ships have a quick turnaround with passengers disembarking in the morning and a bunch of eager guests ready to hop on board for departure the same day. Unfortunately, the speedy turnaround meant we didn’t get to see the accessible cabins but I hope to one day. Lucky for me we have a great community over on Facebook and Jen, one of our lovely Facebook friends, has sent me information and photos about her experience staying in an accessible stateroom. This is invaluable to anyone deciding on which ship may suit them. Many others in our community also had many complimentary words about cruising on the Royal Caribbean line in general.
We toured many areas of the ship so we can share a virtual tour via the blog.BJ was at respite for the weekend so we took along our little 8-year-old friend, Miss H. It was her first time on a ship and it was interesting to see her wonderment at the size and logistics of on board life.
If, like our kids, your family are fans of the Dreamworks stable of movies, they’ll be thrilled to learn that many of the characters from Madagascar, Shrek and Kung Fu Panda have made their home on Voyager of the Seas.
Princess Fiona greeted us on arrival and happily posed in a Princess-like manner for snaps with all the kids. During cruises the characters take part in photo opportunities, entertain in parades and play host to families at breakfast (an additional charge applies to breakfast with the characters).
Wide walkways and lifts make navigating the ship accessible to all.
Lifts are a speedy way to get between the decks. We didn’t need to wait long but I presume, like hotels, there are busy times of day when there’s a longer wait.
You know you are relaxed on holiday when you forget which day it is. Don’t worry, Voyager of the Seas has you covered by putting the day of the week in the lift. If you meet someone who has no idea of the day, you’ll know they’ve taken the stairs!
There seems no shortage of entertainment on the ship with shows, organised activities and plenty of opportunities for my favourite activity – people watching.
AJ, who takes ice skating lessons, couldn’t wait to check out the ice rink. I’m not sure she believed Hubby when he told her there was a rink on board. Wheelchair accessible seating’s available for guests wanting to watch the spectacular ice skating shows or for anyone wanting to supervise a child taking a spin on the ice.
POOLS & SPAS
I’m always disappointed by the size of the pools on ships however Voyager of the Seas has several options. The adults only pool and spa area doesn’t appear to have a hoisted seat but there’s one in the main pool area.
On the day of our visit the pool supervisor, who operates the pool seat, was having a day off so I’m not sure how this operates but reading the Royal Caribbean website it seems it assists with access into the pool and spa.
The wooden seat has arm rests which lift out of the way for transferring and has a strap to clip around the torso of the person using the seat. I was so pleased to see this is available on the ship.
On a 39 degree day in Sydney the girls loved spending time in the pool while watching music videos on the giant screen on the deck. Please note children using the pools must be fully toilet trained. Swim nappies are not allowed.
The ship provides life-jackets for children who are not confident swimmers.
My obsession with checking accessible toilet facilities landed me in hot water when I opened the door on some poor man mid-stream. Thankfully I found a vacant bathroom to show you. The unisex stand-alone facilities are excellent on all the decks. The bathrooms are spacious, have grab rails and lever taps.
Some of the bathrooms have button operated automatic opening doors which is excellent. There’s also an emergency call button in some bathrooms.
Jen shares her recent experience on Voyager of the Seas –
“My whole cruise was absolutely delightful with ALL of the staff being super friendly, helpful & thoughtful [even the shore staff at Circular Quay]. What a wonderful holiday for a single disabled lady in a wheelchair (with no carer) who does everything for herself at home!
There wasn’t a single thing that I could fault. It was bliss for ME!”
Arriving in her room Jen says, “I knew that I was in for a treat when I opened my stateroom door for the first time & there was a perfect view of the Opera House right in front of me!
I had chosen to get an accessible balcony room this time & I’m ssssssooooooooooo glad I did. I would almost insist that anyone with a wheelchair get one as the views are to die for & there was heaps of floor space for my BIG electric wheelchair. Heck a woman in the accessible balcony cabin next door had a big mobility scooter & even she didn’t have a problem on the balcony!”
“The room had a wall to floor to ceiling glass with wider than normal sliding glass door which opened onto the balcony. They had even made a ramp for the open doorway which covered the slide track at the bottom so that anyone in a mobility device would have a smooth and easy time when using it. It’s those kinds of small things that they do which I love.”
“My room attendant & any other staff member who saw me would go out of their way to help me [always with a friendly smile] .
I ate dinner in Windjammers [buffet] most nights as it was easier for me. It is located on the pool deck at the back of the ship [aft to be technical!] & it has huge glass walls on all 3 sides. I would recommend that you get food from the buffet that is hidden from view at the front of the room as it has a bigger selection of food to choose from & is far less crowded than the first two . There is a wheelchair designated area at the first buffet [RHS or starboard side] but if you’re after a decent water view then you should be able to get a table with decent wheelchair access in the normal eating area [more so in the hidden part].”
“Not being able to use a tender boat or do any shore excursions [because of my need of an electric wheelchair] was a blessing in disguise for me. I enjoy lazing around and doing nothing in peace and quiet [sounds like a blissful dream doesn’t it!] so whilst we stopped and most of the passengers were off doing things on the island, I pretty much had the ship to myself. Ahhh!”
“The balcony was the best. My disabilities require me to have plenty of quiet time so I would often escape to my own private sanctuary whenever things got too full on for me to handle.
I would sit out there & just chill or put on my earphones and listen to music whilst taking in the gorgeous scenery.”
ACCESSIBLE STATEROOM BATHROOM
Jen says, “The bathroom was great. Plenty of room to move around with grab bars everywhere, a roll in shower & fold down wall chair and a moving hand shower.”
“The sink was roll under and just the right height for a wheelchair, it even had a lever tap which was off to the side, and there were huge mirrored vanity cupboards in 3 directions.”
“It was also re-assuring to know that there was an emergency assistance button below a telephone if I never needed it.”
“My experience with Royal Caribbean was truly fantastic yet again and I would strongly recommend it anyone with mobility issues as they really cater for your needs well.
- My other tip – if booking a room with a balcony or outdoor view, take the time to work out which side of the ship will approach the islands you’re visiting, then insist on a stateroom on that side. That way you’ll always have a spectacular view. The bed was placed at the windows so when I opened the curtain first thing every morning there was a different view to see!”
The FlowRider was particularly popular on the day we visited. This has height and ability restrictions but I still think it’s worth mentioning as we know our readers have varying needs and abilities.
Guests can take part in surf or body boarding lessons. The pros make it look easy and graceful.
Judging by the people that gave it a go after the demo, it takes some time to get the hang of it.
I was pleased to see wheelchair access to the viewing area on the deck via the lift below.
Active kids can use up their excess energy shooting some hoops on the basketball court.
Mini-golf is popular with our family so AJ was keen to have a game with Miss H. I imagine choppy seas would add to the skill level required to complete the course.
Kids 6 years and up can try their skills on the rock climbing wall on deck.
Being such a hot day we welcomed the cool air conditioning in the kids clubs. The bright lights of the games arcade dazzled our girls. So many games in one room.
Kids club programs are divided into age groups with no-one missing out –
Aquanaut program 3-5 year olds – please note children must be fully toilet trained to participate in this program.
Explorer Program 6-8 year olds
Voyager Program 9-11 year olds
Babies and toddlers can attend open playgroup sessions which include art, music and games. There’s even a toy lending service if there isn’t room in the luggage for all the toys that keep babies and toddlers happy at home.
Teens have their own space with appropriate games and opportunities to socialise with their fellow passengers. We noted that this area isn’t completely wheelchair accessible due to some fixed seating in the room.
The ship offers activities for children of all abilities. Families are encouraged to consult with staff regarding any special needs that their children may have in order to identify which activities are appropriate for their child and any possible modifications.
The Grand Dining room on the ship is indeed grand but there’s no need to eat in the same restaurant every night. Various options are available to suit all tastes.
While I would be drawn to the Titanic-style elegance of the Grand Dining room, I imagine the kids would love to groove away to music of their choice from the table-top jukeboxes in Johnny Rockets. Booth dining and the jukeboxes taking them back to fond memories of our trips to the US.
Johnny Rockets offers inside and outside dining.
Dining in some restaurants incurs a surcharge and I notice that savvy return guests arrive on the ship and start booking restaurants and activities immediately. It pays to spend some time researching online prior to arrival so you are aware of the options and the ones you don’t want to miss out on, book quickly.
Some of our community have mentioned that they book shows before arriving on the ship.
Throughout the ship there are touch screen maps and information for guests.
Complimentary hand santiser stations are dotted throughout the ship to help stop the spread of illness.
WHY IS CRUISING POPULAR?
We haven’t been on a cruise since BJ was 2 and cruises have changed a lot in that time. From what our readers tell us, they love cruising because once they are on board, everything is in one place, including restaurants, shops and entertainment. Many cruise ships offer accessible tenders and port visits. The cabins are generally spacious, have good accessible features and allow people to take their own commode chairs, shower chairs, hoists and other medical equipment without the usual luggage restrictions faced when flying.
There are medical facilities on board. Please read my post on taking travel insurance when cruising and be aware that although there is a hospital on the ship, for serious ailments or injuries passengers will be evacuated to a hospital once the ship arrives in port. Hospital costs and flights home will be at the passenger’s additional cost. Keep in mind the cost of staying in the ship’s hospital is also significant and therefore travel insurance is recommended. Read more here.
Read a comprehensive list of wheelchair accessible features on the Royal Caribbean website here.
To read about the Accessible Staterooms, including size, door width and other features, click here.
For information about orientation of grab rails and door width on individual staterooms on Voyager of the Seas check out the website here.
Make sure you fill out the Guest Special Needs form here.
One of our lovely Facebook community shared photos of the accessible cabin and information about her cruising experience on Ovation of the Seas here.
If you’ve been on a cruise and have photos or information we’d love you to share them with us. The information is invaluable to our readers.
Thanks to Royal Caribbean for showing us Voyager of the Seas and to Out & About with Kids for sending us.