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Voyage of the Sea and Empress of the Sea
from Cape Liberty Cruise Port

by Marcia Schonberg

 

It made sense to Royal Caribbean top execs to bring Voyager of the Seas to debut their new port, if only because she’s the ship that revolutionized the industry by introducing a rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink, in-line skating tracks and horizontal atriums, after-all. Now, she’s the first of the Voyager class ships to make a seasonal home at Cape Liberty Cruise Port, the only one that doesn’t sail from Miami or San Juan.

Aside from these highly publicized innovations, the Voyager offers nuances you’d only discover after walking each of the decks, like I did. You might choose different favorites, but here are a few of mine.
I envisioned an intimate ceremony in the Skylight Chapel, a 60-seat non-denominational wedding chapel on Deck 15. Its watercolor mosaic patterns would make a beautiful backdrop for a wedding at sea. One deck down is the 19th Hole, my vote for the most cleverly furnished golf-motif bar. It overlooks the sport’s deck, of course, for nine holes of miniature golf, inline skating or rock climbing. I admit I didn’t try the climb 200 feet above sea level, so I can’t tell you what that’s like, but I imagine it’s like looking out the window from the 19th Hole.

Had I included children on the cruise, we’d have enjoyed water-fun at Adventure Beach and burgers and shakes at Johnny Rockets ® where servers twist and shout while serving up 1950s style fare, just like they do all over the United States. There’s a teens-only disco nearby, and for pampering, I’d escape to the ShipShape Spa after a good workout in the state of the art fitness center a deck below.

Between activities, there are a host of pools, bars and dining options, including the Portofino (an upscale, reservation-only Italian restaurant) that serves tiramisu in a chocolate cup lined with fresh raspberries with a side drink of layers of Kaluha, Bailey’s and whipped cream. A well-stocked library on Decks 7 and 8 provides the computer stations for checking and writing emails 24 hours. I found myself on Deck 5 most of the time – that’s where the dining room is and also Main Street, a shopping, entertainment and dining boulevard. Time and time again, I’d find myself indulging on Ben and Jerry’s or a latte and freshly baked chocolate chip cookie at Seattle’s Best Coffee.

Not one for gambling, I strolled through the Casino to reach the Aquarium Bar, the Schooner Bar or the Theater for entertainment. I found the best entertainment on Deck 2 in Studio B, a two-story 900-seat arena with stadium seating, for evening ice shows. Again, had I brought the family, the ice rink would have been good entertainment and exercise during days at sea.

Even with all these decks and activities, getting around this huge cruise ship is a breeze. There are elevators aft, forward and mid-ship, but I used the stairs to ward off the effects of the tiramisu and too many scoops of Ben and Jerry’s. And while their land home might be new, crew aboard the Voyage of the Seas wore the same smiling faces as always, except now they’re even happier to point out what’s new.
Voyager of the Seas’ sister at Cape Liberty Cruise Port’s the Empress of the Seas received such a complete face-lift before arriving in New Jersey that she even changed names, so many repeat passengers probably won’t recognize her as the Nordic Empress she once was. Now, the 1,602-passenger ship sports the Portofino, a new Italian specialty restaurant like the one on the Voyager as well the line’s nautical-themed Schooner Bar, a newly created Card Room and a multi-leveled expanded fitness center and spa, for starters. New furnishings are in evidence in public rooms as well as upgrades in the Windjammer Café (that serves casual fare) and throughout the main dining room. A new night spot of note transformed the former High Society Lounge into Boleros, a Latin-themed bar mixing mojitos with live entertainment. Among a long list of additional refinements, all staterooms have new bathrooms, always an important feature, and some staterooms have completely new décor and furnishings.

Whether you choose Bermuda on the smaller Empress of the Seas, or the Voyager of Seas for a cruise to Canada or the Caribbean, you’ll be pleasantly impressed with both of these ships’ upgraded refinements and the ease of departing from their new seasonal port on the Jersey side of the New York Harbor.

Royal Caribbean International is a global cruise brand currently with 19 ships in service and one more under construction. The company also offers unique cruisetour vacations to Alaska, Canada and Europe. For more information check www.royalcaribbean.com or call 800-327-6700.

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