Spice of Asia cruise: Onboard the voyager of the seas-A A +A
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
THE Voyager of the Seas of Royal Caribbean Lines was only a few months old when my siblings and I decided to invite our parents to a Caribbean cruise for their 60th wedding anniversary. It was the “newest kid on the block” then, the biggest and the most modern, and definitely the Queen of the RCL fleet. Needless to say, the seven-day Caribbean cruise was one lovely experience for all eight of us siblings and our spouses, and for our loving parents who proudly declared that it was “an anniversary gift like no other.”
That was 12 years ago. Our Papa died four years later and Mama followed in another four years.
Middle of last year, I got an email from RCL announcing the deployment of the Voyager of the Seas to Asia for the very first time since it made its debut in Miami, Florida in late 1999. I couldn’t contain my excitement. Then and there I emailed back asking for the schedule and itinerary of the ship. I could not pass the chance to bring my whole family, including the grandchildren on a cruise onboard the magnificent ship because, though there are other cruise ships plying around Asia, a cruise on the Voyager is an altogether different experience. Trust me, I’m a cruise veteran.
Actually last month’s cruise was my ninth (five of them on Royal Caribbean).
My wonderful memories of that long ago Garcia family cruise onboard the brand new Voyager keep coming back and with the recollection, an accompanying feel-good state of mind.Yes, happy memories can never be erased because they are invaluable. So the hubby and I have resolved to see to it that our children and grandchildren will get the chance to collect beautiful memories of their own while we are still around.
After countless emails with Royal Caribbean’s general sales agent, I was finally able to book cabins next to each other on one wing of Deck 9 for my family of 14; my sister Elma’s family of nine; my two Garcia nephews, and some friends - a total of 38 persons. We boarded the Voyager at the spanking new cruise terminal in Singapore for a five-day cruise to Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Phuket, and the hubby and I happily celebrated our wedding anniversary last June 5 during the cruise.
The Voyager of the Seas is a 15-deck, 140,000 ton-ship with a guest capacity of 3800.
It has a lively boulevard four-decks high called the Royal Promenade (lined with shopping and entertainment options), a skylight chapel, an ice-skating rink, a rock-climbing wall, a mini golf course, a sports court and sports bar, a solarium with indoor pools and whirlpools, a family pool area with water slide, business services and a conference center, in addition to the cruise ship staples like a theatre for nightly entertainment, a screening room for movies, a jogging track, a library, the Casino Royale, bars, nightclub and disco, sun deck, gym and spa, and various dining options. In fact, the ship is in itself a destination.
Family bonding was the name of the game during the cruise. Everyone would meet at the Windjammer Cafe for breakfast and then get off the ship for sightseeing and to have lunch in a resto serving the typical food of the place. Dinner time found all of us on three adjoining tables at the Carmen dining room planning the next day’s sked.
We made sure to bring the kids to the Petronas Twin Towers in KL which was once upon a time the tallest tower in the world. Historic Fort Siloso in Penang was another must-see, and definitely not-to-be missed was the elephant ride in Phuket. And yes, shopping was part of the game too!
The Captain’s Night (a formal affair) was exciting for the first-time cruisers. It was a thrill for them to see the Captain and listen to him talk about his ship and then introduce the key people on his team.
Something for everyone
The young ones had the time of their lives exploring every nook and cranny of the ship, taking part in the various activities onboard, choosing entertainment options, eating to their hearts’ content either at the Windjammer Cafe or at the 24-hour Cafe Promenade. Indeed there was never a dull moment for everyone!
The five nights just flew and then we were back in Singapore. This time around the young-at-hearts concentrated on Universal Studios while the shopaholics had their shop-till-you-drop day. It was a good thing that we had spent three full days in the Lion City before the cruise so that the sightseeing was over and done with...an afternoon at the Merlion Park which had a lovely view of the Esplanade-Theatres by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands; a bumboat ride along the Singapore River; a sally up the Sands Skypark at Marina Bay Sands for an over-all view of the city; a whole morning at the ArtScience Museum for the Harry Potter exhibit; shopping around the bustling Orchard Road; dinner at Newton Circus for authentic Singapore food, and more.
And as luck (bad?) would have it, there was the Lady Gaga show which the teenagers in the family insisted on watching, to the dismay of the parents who had to shell out quite a bit for the tickets.
Just as my late parents happily announced to relatives and friends that our 60th anniversary gift to them of a Caribbean cruise was a gift like no other, our four sons, two daughters-in-law and six grandchildren gratefully proclaimed that the Spice of Asia cruise on board the Voyager of the Seas was a vacation treat like no other.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 05, 2012.