RCL- Vision of the Seas 7 day Mexican Rivera
Cruise number 17 and my 1st on RCL; my review will be short and to the point. Each reviewed category will be based on my own arbitrary experience using a rating system from 1 to 5; 5 = Outstanding, 4 = Excellent, 3 = Satisfactory, 2 = Marginal, and 1 = Unsatisfactory. I will try and stick to the facts while attempting to provide a neutral point of view so that you may draw your own conclusions. Read my bog of adventures on www.crusingbob.com
Embarkation: 4 3/4 Stars
I did all the pre-registration and Credit Card hoopla prior to port arrival. With my one printed form in hand, my wife and I arrived at main port building about 10:50. Dropped our luggage at the main building entrance and proceeded. Since I was early I was in no rush I was surprised to find no lines, in less than 3 minutes I was given a number for boarding. All I had to do was wait till the ship was cleaned, the waiting area was air conditioned and there where some snacks (I just admired as the crowds gathered to load up on free food). At about 11: 35 I was told I could board, after passing through a rather annoying/unnecessary harassment of the traveler security check, I was on board by 11:40.
Cabins: 2 1/2 Stars
I usually try and book the cheapest cabin, no need for all the expensive rooms since you spend so little time in your cabin. I had an large inside Cabin on deck 3, the cabin was a little smaller than other ships I have sailed, I only had two complaints; NO SMALL Frig and announcements were piped into your cabin, regardless if they where general or not. The storage space was a bit tight, there was a TV and it showed limited programming I missed the TV feature (on newer ships) of being able to view my room bill and the daily dinning menus on TV. The cabin bathroom was nicely laid out however; the “Commode” will be a problem if you are over 6ft tall as it sits at an odd angle. You are NOT supplied small amenities such as toothpaste, shaver, etc. Overall, nothing special or out of the ordinary.
Dining/Food: 3 1/2 Stars
The Vision has one dining room “Aquarius” and a buffet “Windjammer cafe”; there are a number of small places for a snack or a burger. The food at the windjammer cafe for all three meals was “average” at best; I found the food selection to be unimaginative and tended to be more of the bulk vice high quality. Breakfast in the dinning was much better than the buffet, eggs are cooked to order and everyday there is a chief special which I tried and it was tasty( one day is was pancakes filled with raspberries and strawberries/very nice/5 stars on that). The same goes for lunch in the main dining room, so I would recommend you eat all your meals in the main dinning room. At the dinner, the menu has a large number of items, from fish to the non meat Indian vegetarian, even though the food was nice and tasty I have had better. I thought that the 3rd and 4th nights’ on the cruise the food was superb, just my own discriminating taste. If you are a wine drinker suggest you buy the wine package before you board, you can even do it on the internet and you get a 25% discount.
Public Rooms: 3 1/2 Stars
Even though this is an older ship it was very well maintained and the color scheme on board where lovely. Basically Non-Smoking everywhere with the exception of the casino and outdoors. The usual design with the 5th and 6th decks as the main hubs of activity, i.e. shops (located in the aft/middle area), lounges, photo gallery, reception, etc. There where a few areas on the ship that I found confusing, as getting to the Viking lounge. Due to the cold weather the Solarium pool and deck was heavily utilized and I found it to be very nice vice the outdoor pool. Beware the usual towel on the saving the chair lives on.
Entertainment: 2 1/2 Stars
Nightly entertainment is held at the “Masquerade”, from the usual Broadway type productions to singer impersonation to the magician. Once again, I thought some of the entertainment was excellent and some below average, my big issue with the entertainment was the Masquerade theatre was just too small to accommodate the number of guest, so unless you arrived 30 minutes before show time, you where pressed to find a place to sit. The on board ship entertainment was lacking, the usual piano bar on deck 6, in the atrium there was a three piece band that was OK and at the Enchanted evening lounge there was a three piece band that was fair at best. The Viking Lounge (confusing to get to) featured disco starting at about 11:30pm, and the DJ was accommodating. The cruise staff put on a number of theme shows which where very good and fun, but all started at 11:00pm. So if you where on the go most of the day like me, I started to wear down about that time. The karaoke was well done and very popular, but was only held on three nights with the longest session being the final night when attendance was small.
Excursions/Ports: 4 Stars
This Mexican Rivera itinerary is one of my favorites as I have done it four times. As a rule I rarely take ship excursions, in Puerto Vallarta I was unable to book the “outdoor adventure” directly with the vendor (30% cheaper than the cruise ship for the same thing) so I booked this through the ship. This is an extremely exciting high adventure excursion where you will sample a variety of activities and you should be in decent shape as there is some steep uphill walking. Note: this excursion is listed as a level 1 when it comes to adventure and risk, let me warn you it is a level 3. At all the other two ports I did on my own exciting and unique adventures – email me for details or read about the ports on my blog (www.cruisingbob.com).
Activities: 3 Stars
The usual wide variety of activities is offered throughout the cruise. From the usual trivia to bingo to battle of the sexes. Once again, I thought that the cruise staff conducting the activities where simple wonderful, however, the activities where not spaced correctly, either bunched together or just too much dead time especially after dinner, on three different evenings I was “BORED”. The rock climbing wall is fun, but due to bad weather it was closed on the last two days at sea.
Disembarkation: 1 Star
I have been spoiled by other cruise line; I found the disembarkation on this ship to be the usual mass confusion with dozens of announcements. Breakfast buffet and the dining room are open till 8:30am but you must clear your cabin by 8; 00am so you figure. Prior to disembarking – a few days before – you get specific luggage tags color based on your transportation connections, and then you wait in the common areas.
I broke one of my rules of cruising “avoid older ships” when I picked this ship. I love the Mexican Rivera itinerary but the ship was average. I would like to emphasize that the SERVICE on this ship to include all staff members was SUPERB, everybody I encountered had a smile and a can do attitude. The tipping procedure is rather archaic in today’s cruising, if you want to charge your tips to your room bill, you first fill out a form saying that you will have tips billed to your cabin, then you are given a number of vouchers which you put into separate envelope and then give the envelope to your service staff, why not just charge my room? if I want to give extra I will do it. Bottom line, I plan to try RCL again, but so far I would rate them par with the competition. There is no such thing as a bad cruise! Post your comments on my blog. Happy cruising