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When was delivered she was the fastest cruise ship in the world capable of covering more ports in a week than any other ship
Arturo Paniagua Mazorra (January 18, 2005)
The Fast Monohull Design Born
In 1995, the two main independent Greek cruise ship owners, Sun and Epirotiki, both of which were well known for transforming second hand liners into cruise ships, merged and formed Royal Olympic Cruises (ROC).
The new company soon made plans to built new cruise vessels, and selected a German design, the fast monohull concept, a completely new hull concept that allow fuel savings of up to 20 % at high speeds, and also features excellent manoeuvring capabilities and seakeeping behaviours.
For ROC, this combination of mono-hull design, powerful diesel engines and large propellers, means a vessel that would be able to achieve a remarkable 27 knot speed in an economical way.
This high speed signifies an expanded weekly Aegean itinerary: many cultural and historical wonders to offer; a new and different proposition to new potential passengers. The three continent cruise was born.
When was delivered, the Voyager (then the Olympic Voyager) was not only the fastest cruise ship in the world, but also she is capable of covering more ports in a week than any other ship.
In 1998 the Cyprus owner Louis Cruise Lines bought the majority of shares in ROC, reforming it as Royal Olympic Cruise Lines, Inc.
The Voyager, which entered service in the summer of 2000, was followed in summer 2002 by a slightly amended sister, the Olympic Explorer, which was originally due in the spring of 2001. ROC has delayed acceptance of this second ship due technical differences with the yard. In the meantime, because of a claim by the US Olympic Committee, the name Olympic must be replaced with Olympia in the ROC fleet.
2002 and 2003 was the only complete summer seasons that see both sisters sailing together.
The decline in Mediterranean cruising due to the WTC attack and the Iraq war means a fall in reservations, and the ROC financial situation deteriorated.
But in the winter US based season, both cruise ships were arrested in US ports. Her cruises were cancelled, and ROC filed for bankruptcy protection both in USA and Greece. In the last March week, both ship were sold at auction, and purchased by the German bank Kfw, who are also the mortgage holder.
Her plan was re-sold or chartered to other operator.
And both fast monohull soon found owner interested. The Explorer was purchased by Semester at Sea to become a floating university. And the Voyager was chartered to Iberojet Cruceros, a Spanish based tour operator, who sell more than 40.000 cruises in 2003 in her two ships then: Bolero and Crown Mare Nostrum.
Now, hopes to reach 46.000 passengers on board her two cruise ship fleet, the Grand Latino, the former SuperStar Capricorn, and the Voyager.
The Voyager was based late summer in Valencia, offering seven nights Western Mediterranean cruises.
Her speed means that she was the only cruise ship to access Dubrovnik for a Spanish base port, and was a complete success, sailing at full capacity. This winter she will be based in Barcelona offering seven nights Western Mediterranean cruises.
An AMK Design
The famed Greek design firm, AMK, coordinates the Voyager's stunning interiors. They used, as in her other former works, mainly blue and wood in her decoration. Also, mirrors are used to make the rooms roomier than they actually are. The use of only one designer result in an harmonious ship because the same sensitivity is applied everywhere.
AMK has a long history of working for Festival Cruises and Celebrity Cruises. Her style aren't characterised by extremes but instead balance their elegant appearance with friendly touches.
The Voyager has a friendly, European sophistication that runs throughout the ship, making it impressive in some places, such as the atrio, but also friendly in other, such as the cigar room.
Overall, the Voyager has an atmosphere softer and warmer than found in many recent cruise ships.
External Shape and Outdoor Decks
The external shape of the Voyager is very classical, dominated by a great funnel of streamlined shape, that was found situated almost in the center of the ship, against the today tendency of located the stack as aft as possible. Two sloped mast, located both ends of the superstructure, and are another classical detail, which are raked at a similar angle of the funnel. The medium sized German designed cruise ships usually have the classic lay out of two masts and a big funnel, as found in the HDW built Deutschland.
The fact that the superstructure is a bit short, mainly forward, due to the lower bridge lay out. The terraced shape aft confers the ship a yacht aspect, but the whole shape the same time transmits fortress and speed.
The absence of balconies, replaced by large windows, helps this impression.
Overall, her outside architecture is nonetheless streamlined and pleasing to the eye, far from today "apartment block afloat" of huge superstructure and fat hull.
The location of the funnel dictates the pool must be located aft.
As on the first generation cruise ship, which need more engines power because they doubles as ocean liners (such as QE2, Vistafjord, etc) the engines must be located amidships for better trim. So, the main lido space and outdoor pool are usually located aft.
The latest liner, the QM2, follow also this trend. The lido deck on the Voyager is located on the aft section of the Helios deck, and offers 535 square meters of space adjacent to the swimming pool. Forward of the pool is located the Bodeguita del Medio bar, with a splendid counter that houses a mural of the Italian artist Ignazio Moncada, mainly make in yellow tones.
On the port side there is a buffet line and grill. The Helios bar is sheltered from the wind by glass screens both sides, and from the sun by a large canvas and stainless steel structure. There are forward ample amounts of glass tables, fitted with uncomfortable metallic furnishings, and the roof is made in Astroturf that try to feel like teak.
Aft is located the pool itself, that is small, and has two depths (children and adults). Unusually, there aren't Jacuzzis here, and teak is found only around the pool. Aft the pool are located two fresh water showers, also sheltered from winds with a spiral screen also decorated with mosaics. It feels like a sail. This area is crowned on full navigation days and I think is very small for a full load of passengers.
There are also two unsheltered forward facing decks, both sides between the balcony suites and the lido deck aft. These spacious decks are full of people when she is arriving or departing a form a harbour. The deck don't work as promenade deck because isn't possible to walk completely around the outside of the ship.
Voyager has terraced afterdecks that contain further space for lounging and sunning as well as finite promenades on either side of Helios (6) and Selene (5) decks.
The bar on aft Apollon Deck adjoins the Garden Lounge, which is the Voyager's informal buffet dining area.
Voyager's uppermost passenger deck is called Helios Deck also contain a splendid inside room: the Anemos Lounge/Disco. It is located above the wheelhouse and work in day time as forward observation, but in the evening and night it convert in the most vibrant place on board. Forward has a rounded facade with picture windows fitted with white stores, which provides a fantastic 270 degree view.
Inside it has a long blue sofa around her semicircular front, conical stainless steel and glass tables and revolving chairs also of conical design and green and blue upholstery.
The tapestry is make also in green and blue tones, with wave motifs. The walls are blue. The marble dance track is located in the center, and the brushed metallic ceiling around the center of the room is of vaulted shape. At night, its brushed surfacing reflecting vivid fiber optic lighting.
The bar is located aft, with a nacre and marble counter. A stainless steel visor is located above the counter, fitted with violet lights. The DJ box is located starboard, close to the outside door.
Her decoration is too cold for an observation lounge, and it work mainly as the last space that the Spanish passenger left at the break of day.
Also on Helios deck is located the Jade Spa, aft of the top suites. This is an outstanding place, very different from most Spas at sea. The decoration is elegant, but also airy and gay. All health places are located here, around a splendid central hall with four classical pillars that support a lighting device, and a corridor, both with green marble floor, and mosaic tiles in walls and on the floor between the pillars.
The hall houses a splendid reception counter and a green half circular sofa. The small gym is located in the port side, and has only six weights and multipurpose equipment, but no space for aerobics. Four massage rooms, in addition to a mudroom, a steam room and a thalasotherapy treatment room, occupy the forward part of the Spa. The decoration here is mainly in green tones, with Indian and Greek influences.
Also are found here wooden trellises. A beauty salon rounds out the facility in the starboard side.
The adjacent lateral promenades will work properly as aerobics space, but are usually crowned.
The Main Lounge
The 380 seat Main Lounge is located forward of the Atrium on Apollon Deck (or Deck number 6), a deck entirely devoted to public rooms. The small stage is located forward, close to the brushed wood dance floor. Newly, the green is the dominant colour. The tapestry is green, with spiral details.
This place has only one deck of height, and so lacks the space feel found in multi decks theaters and show rooms on board larger cruise ships.
But the designer gives this deck a bit more height that the cabin's ones, and the result are excellent. It has a slightly terraced lay out, with concentric banks of fixed honey colour wood veneer seating intersperse with mobile mauve, blue and red chairs.
There are a lot of pillars, which are integrated in the concentric banks and means obstructed views. The tables are of different shapes: circular, elliptical, etc.
The brown ceiling also follows the form of the concentric banks. The Main Lounge, which doubles as a showroom, has some mirrors to improve spaciousness, features large picture windows both sides, and has aft two large naïf paintings by Aldo Mondino.
It is wheelchair friendly, with no stairs on corridors.
The intimate 14 seats Cigar Lounge is just aft of the Main Lounge on the starboard side of Apollon Deck. It is based on the style of the old country clubs of the 19th century, even a fireplace. But it isn't roomier than other similar places found in Celebrity ships, and hasn't the isolated location found on other cruise ships, that means there is a lot of circulation close her doors.
It's a square shaped room, with entrance doors port and the lounge's ceiling is a beige painted dome, which gives her a sense of spaciousness.
The walls are green and beige painted and the tapestry is green.
The lounge is presided by a faux fireplace and has two classic wheel tables used to serve delicatessen. It has only a window, and I think is too dark.
Close Cigar Lounge and spanning all six decks, is the forward main stair towers. It acts as kinetic literary sculptures, the half landings feature painted glass panels. One stair tower features the poem "Ithaka" by Kafavis while the other displays "Let's Say" by Papadopoulos.
Both poems served as inspiration to AMK in the selection of materials and colours in the Voyager's design, most notably "Ithaka", which describe Phoenician markets with "mother of pearl, corals, and amber". The calligraphic lettering is by Rosella Garavaglia.
Other Public Room on Deck 6
Aft the atrio is located the Ulysses walk, a serpentine corridor that gives access to several small and intimate public rooms. The forward part of the Ulysses corridor is the photo gallery, and later is found a circular marble decked place, which contain all shops on board: souvenir shop, photo shop and duty free store. A circular designed ceiling crown this place.
Walking aft on Ulysses corridor find the small library.
The inboard wall is glass made, and is located opposite a curved stone like made wall, with has a lot of niches that contains art works. The whole effect is roomy (some people like that the corridor is inside the library) and airy, because both library and corridor seems bigger.
In the forward wall there are three pc, with Internet access. The decoration is mainly in green tones, found in walls, curtains, furniture and carpet.
Aft is found the Card Room, with share the same decoration. There is full beam furniture forward, which houses TV and all the games. All the square tables has a reversible green top.
Last, the "L" shaped piano bar, with two different atmospheres. Port side is located an ample lounge, with mirrored walls, ample windows and several ship models. All chairs are green, as well as the carpet, whereas the tables have a glass top.
All three places aft the atrium, and the Ulysses walk, shares the same carpet and wood panelling, that gives they a whole concept for her first intended role: destination cruises. For me, this are the better designed spaces on board, but Iberojet is a budget market operator and her clients don't enjoy these places.
Aft the forward stair is located the two deck high atrio. This space is small by comparison with those found on mega ships, but work well as a meeting point on board. But I think is too cold, mainly due her two deck high metallic and white marble mural forward and a back lit circular ceiling (with golden elliptical framework) and a glass and stainless steel railing.
On her upper level of the atrium, on deck 6, is located starboard the small casino. The slots area is adjacent the Cigar Room, and aft there are only three tables, a roulette and two black jack. The decor features white marble floor and has a capacity for only 78 passengers.
The port side serves as one of the signature spaces on board Voyager. Here is located Asteria Bar, with her blue tapestry, stainless steel and glass tables, and orange chairs. The area serves as piano bar, and has a siren tile mosaic, close the piano and glass walls to isolate it from the casino noise. A "S" shaped wood made bar is located forward, with blue seats. The walls share the same wood of the bar counter. The ceiling has halogen and fiber optic lighting.
The lower level of the atrium houses both information desk and shore tour desk, both make in white marble.
The Garden Lounge
The aft room on deck 6 is the 210 seat informal buffet, called Garden Lounge. It doubles as a 24 hour self service coffee and tea counter. This place is raised from the forward part of the deck to give more headroom to the dining room bellow. As consequence, it has low headroom.
But her red decoration is clever. It has a "U" shaped indoor section, around the pool basin, which is concealed by burled veneers and tubes with bubbling water. Forward are located the two buffet lines, near the starboard entrance. The drinks station is located aft, bellow a big circular lighting .The wall behind the lines has also tubes with bubbled water. The tapestry here is red, and the walls have light woods with ample windows, fitted with red stores.
The furniture is also excellent: all marble tables have circular shape, and the chairs have green upholstery. To separate the lines form the dinning section, the designer used curved red sofas, with the back in white. The corridors are decked in red marble.
The Voyager has a terraced after decks that contain additional sunbathing space. On Apollon deck, here is located the outdoor section of the buffet. This is the place of the Gambrinus Brewery, which has semicircular wood make counter, and share the same furniture with the pool one deck high. It lacks some kind of sun protection, and can house 110 passengers.
The Dining Room
The 470-seat dining room is located aft on Selene deck. This room has an asymmetrical "L" shaped lay out. The entrance hall has a splendid white marble (as well as the ceiling) and is located starboard.
The dining room itself has three zones: port, starboard and aft, each with her own Murano chandelier. All has blue carpet, as well as blue curtains and half the chair's upholstery. The other half of the chairs is brown upholstered. The aft zone is raised, with stainless steel lighting and ceiling adorns.
The frontier between zones aft is market with the waiter stations, make of brown wood. But forward an opaque glass wall also serves to divide the room up into smaller section. This panel has some translucent polycarbonate artworks make by Erietta Vordoni.
This room is very inviting, with her rich blue carpet and the blue and brown chairs. It's attractive in its decorative simplicity.
There are large picture windows in the sides, and the walls between then are brown wood. The room has mainly indirect lighting in the perimeter of the ceiling zones, and halogen devices anywhere. There are four pillars each side, and two central ones. The other two central pillars are disguised into the artwork panel.
The negative side is that there isn't an alternative restaurant, a facility usually found aboard all modern cruise ships.
The Voyager's cabin accommodation has 292 double occupancy cabins, 72 triple occupancy and four quadruple occupancy staterooms of the same size. It ranges from the 35 square meters Sky Suites with their huge terraces, the small 13 square meters inside cabins. Two-thirds of cabins have an ocean view. All cabins have mini-bar, television, hair dryer, full length mirror, and vanity table. Each can be converted from two single beds to one double.
The most expensive cabins on board are the twelve Sky suites located on the top deck. The suites features separate bedroom and sitting area, separated by a glass partition. But I think the most enjoyable feature of this suites are her private balcony, which has extra room for deck chairs and even a small table and chairs.
The second highest category is comprised of the sixteen Bay Window Suites.
The floor to ceiling window make this cabins roomier that a conventional one. It has less than 20 square meters of surface, but I think the sitting area is projected over the side of the ship, to see an enclosed view of the seas. They have a pleasant blue decoration. The forward and aft suites are slightly larger, affording unobstructed views down the length of the hull or forward past the bow.
The beautifully finished bathrooms in the top two categories are slightly larger and offer tubs in addition to showers. All offer marble floor and vanities.
The third grade of suite accommodation is the junior suites. It has a surface of 17 square meters, with large windows. I think the word suite isn't properly used in this room. The average cabins on modern cruise ships are larger than this so called suites.
There are four junior suites prepared for families, with an additional sofa bed. The bathrooms are pretty much identical in all the cabin categories.
The standard cabins averages 13 square meters and are only adequate in size for a seven night cruises, but they look airy and attractive. The inside one has large mirror back the bed to feel bigger. And the ocean view cabins featuring large portholes. The decoration is Spartan, and I think
The four handicap-access cabins are located on Midships Selene Deck. They features extra floor space for a greater wheelchair radius and specially placed fixtures, such as wider doors and higher beds, and larger, specially modified bathrooms.
For further information: Iberojet Cruceros