My wife and I just got off of the Vision of the Seas yesterday and we would highly recommend this ship. This was my 3rd cruise and my wife of 3 year's 1st. I will break down my review into several categories. These will be Ship, Service, Food and Beverage, Entertainment and Ports of Call. At the end, I will leave you with a few tips.
Ship- One enters the ship on Deck 4 and you will be instantly enchanted by the Centrum, a 7 deck, beautifully decorated atrium with glass elevators. There, you will encounter the first of the 5 on board lounges, the Champagne Lounge. The Vision has a 2 story dining room called the Aquarius which is located on Decks 4 and 5. The Aquarius is lovely and although accommodating 1000 passengers never feels crowded. On Decks 5 and 6 you will find the Masquerade Theater, a beautifully two tiered showroom where your nightly entertainment can be found. On Deck 5 is the Casino Royale with many slot machines and about 10 tables for your standard casino games. Also on Deck 5 you will locate the Pursers Desk as well as the Shore Excursion desk. On Deck 6 you will find 3 lounges; the Schooner, Showboat and Some Enchanted Evening (one must go through the Schooner or Showboat to get to the Some Enchanted Evening). Also on Deck 6 are the duty free shops with everything from liquor to diamonds for sale at good prices. This is set up as if in an upscale mall and links the Centrum to the Masquerade Theater. On Deck 7 is the Library and Card room. On Deck 8 is the Internet Cafe (50 cents per minute of internet use) and also the Crown and Anchor study with an office for the Loyalty Ambassador (this person can book future RCI cruises for you and helps past RCI cruisers who have joined the club).
On Deck 9 is the Windjammer Cafe, a casual buffet dining room open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Also you will find both pools on Deck 9. Both pools are salt water and the spas are fresh water. The main pool is fairly small with an ample amount of lounge chairs around it. It also has 4 small spas and a bar area. On the other end of the ship is the Solarium Pool. This is also a small pool with a retractable roof (never saw it open), 2 spas, loungers, a bar and a cafe serving Hamburgers, Hot Dogs and Pizza as well as other snacks. The entrance to the Ship Shape Center and Spa Salon are near the rear. On the open Deck 10, just over the outdoor pool are many more loungers. On the other end is the entrance to the gym, and the Rock Climbing Wall as well as shuffleboard. On Deck 11, mid ship you will find the Viking Crown Lounge. This is a 360 degree, large glass windowed observation deck during the day and disco at night. The entire ship is beautifully appointed and clean.
Service- Absolutely top notch. From your room steward to your dining room staff to the fantastic Cruise Director's staff, you will be treated like a King or Queen. In the evening turn down service, your room steward will leave you the Compass, a newsletter describing all of the ships activities for the next day. Also, you will have a chocolate placed on your bed and some very interesting towel art (towels folded into the shapes of various animals). By day 2 our waiter from the Philippines and assistant waiter from Hungry knew us by name as well as what beverages we like with our meals. You will not even have to ask. Our head waiter from India would stop by every night to see how everything was going and to offer some tips on what to do in port or on the ship the next day.
Food and Beverage- We ate in the Aquarius Dining Room for all of our dinners except the night in Puerto Vallarta, where we had a dinner excursion. There are 2 (formal) nights, although most men wore suits over tuxedos. The women looked absolutely glamorous in their fine evening wear. These we nights 2 and 6 (both days at sea, so plenty of time for you ladies to get ready). Each night there are 4 or 5 different entree's offered as well as 5 standard alternatives, along with a choices of appetizers and scrumptious desserts. The food is prepared perfectly and almost everything was delicious. The portions tend to be small, but don't be afraid to ask for seconds or even order 2 separate entree's. The dining room has tables of anywhere from 4 to 8 people. We were assigned to a table for 8 and enjoyed the company of the other couples very much. We had asked for and were granted the 2nd seating for dinner (8:30 P.M.). Breakfast and lunch are unassigned seating. We had only 1 breakfast and no lunches in the dinning room. Most folks use the Windjammer Cafe for breakfast and lunch, as we did. For breakfast they have scrambled eggs, pre-prepared omelets, waffles, pancakes, French toast, cereals, breakfast meats, toast, english muffins and bagels, fruit, pastries and orange and passion fruit/guava juice. Lunch varied with some excellent soups and fabulous desserts. We did not try the buffet for dinner, but heard it was very good.
Day 5, after departing Puerto Vallarta, there is a pig roast and barbecue on the pool deck followed by dancing under the stars. Day 6 brings us the Gala Midnight Buffet in the dining room. Opens at 11:15 for picture taking (trust me, you want to do this) and at midnight for eating it all(WARNING-People who have a tendency to explode should skip this). Overall the food gets a 9 out of 10 on my scale.
Entertainment- All I can say is TOP NOTCH! There were 2 comedians, 2 singers, a ventriloquist/comedian and the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers who do production numbers on nights 2 and 6. Their voices are strong and their energy boundless. The Cruise Director John Blair and his wife/assistant Katrina and their entire staff were just fantastic. They run all the on board activities, from bingo to trivia games and game shows to the mens sexy legs (I won a medal), belly flop and horse racing contests by the pool, to Karaoke. These were the friendliest and hardest working folks you would ever want to meet. The Shari Cafaro trio in the Champagne Lounge were very good and Shari also opens for the ventriloquist. The show band in the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge (Breazen) was not very good at all. The Schooner Lounge is your piano bar and the guy cane really play. What he lacks in vocal quality he makes up for with energy and enthusiasm.
Ports of Call- We only booked one excursion through the ship and that was the Rythmes of the Night in Puerto Vallarta. In Cabo, we took a glass bottom boat tour out to th Arch and Lovers Beach and Sea Lion colony in the morning. This the the only place in the world where 2 seas meet (Sea of Cortez and Pacific Ocean). In the afternoon we walked and shopped. The town is all right there by the tender pier. In Mazatlan, we hooked up with a time share group. They took us out to a beautiful resort, fed us lunch and some great Mai Tai's. Only took 90 minutes of out time. No high pressure sales. No meant no and then we had the rest of the day to lounge and drink and eat at this beautiful resort. In Puerto Vallarta we went parasailing in the morning, walked the Malecon and shopped in the afternoon and took the Rythmes of the Night excursion that evening. If you have never parasailed, I highly recommend trying it. The Rythmes of the Night was fantastic. Boat ride with open bar out to Los Celatas (this was the home of Director John Houston and was where he filmed Night of the Iguana and also Predator was filmed there). We had a buffet dinner on the beach by torchlight, walked and toured the area and then walked up into the jungle where an ancient Indian ceremony was performed. Very beautiful. I may have drank too much Rum Punch though.
A Few Tips For You- On the ship, the only cash you would use is in the casino. For everything else you use a SetSail pass, a card that serves as your boarding document, room key and credit card. You set this up prior to departure with either a credit card or cash. You can pre-register this on line on the Royal Caribbean web site, saving you a lot of time. Cabo is a tendered port. This means the ship cannot dock at the pier. Small boats called Tender Boats take you back and forth from the ship. Tender tickets are handed out by the piano on Deck 4 in the Centrum starting at 9:00 A.M. on Day 3. Passengers start lining up for the tickets at 8:30. The earlier you get a ticket, the earlier you get off the ship and start your fun in Cabo. Note- If you have a shore excursion booked in Cabo through Royal Caribbean, you do not need a tender ticket. Gratuities- Royal Caribbean gives you a choice as to whether or not you want to use cash or charge these to your SetSail card. They will supply you with envelopes on Day 6 and if you chose to charge them to your card, they will deliver vouchers to place in the envelopes to your cabin. Otherwise, use the envelopes to place the cash in. If you chose to put it on the card, it is $68.25 per person which breaks down like this: $3.50 per person per day for both the waiter and cabin steward, $2.00 per day per person for the assistant waiter and $.75 per person per day for the head waiter. Watch You Liquor Consumption- Many times the motion of the ship and the booze do not mix well. Also it is very easy to runup a very large SetSail bill at the end of the trip. They are pushing booze everywhere. Rythmes of the Night- Book this excursion well before you cruise on the Royal Caribbean site. By the time we sailed, it was sold out. Many people were disappointed. Lose 10 pounds now, you will gain it back in this week.
In conclusion, this was the best vacation I have ever had. My wife says the same. I commend Royal Caribbean for their excellence.
Have fun and happy cruising! Feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org