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When Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s (RCCL) 3,114-passenger Voyager of the Seas sailed from New Orleans on Nov. 12, it was the largest ship to homeport in the city. The seven-night Western Caribbean itinerary departs Saturdays between November and April, and the line has committed to the 2012-2013 winter season as well.
Passengers were comprised of approximately one-third repeat cruisers as well as a large group of first-time regional guests. All were enthusiastic about the experience, despite a rocky start at the port. With personnel unfamiliar with handling a ship of this size and functioning in the drastically renovated Julia Street Cruise Terminal, delays in boarding passengers and their luggage were countered by speeding up the pace of the ship during the first night and the sea day that followed, so ports and shore excursions were right on schedule. RCCL and port officials immediately began working out the glitches, and guests had no trouble throwing themselves into activities on the landmark vessel that introduced features including the Grand Promenade and ice rink. Although the relationship with DreamWorks will come with the next drydock, the onboard entertainment is impressive; particularly the Motown show and the work of musician/comedian/psychologist Matt Yee, who packed the Schooner Bar.
Onboard, guests were already making plans for additional cruises with friends and family after experiencing the ship’s new dining offerings and the updated facilities for children onboard. A large contingent of British passengers also enjoyed the Pig & Whistle Pub.
RCCL’s return after a five-year absence is expected to generate more than 75,000 cruise guests annually, and Lt. Governor Mitch Landrieu, mayor-elect of New Orleans, called the event “another milestone in our recovery.”