At the time of this particular sailing, the Vision of the Seas was a 15 year-old, classically beautiful ship without some of the amenities that many cruisers seem to expect these days. However, I found that this well-designed ship is just the right size, it lacks nothing that is necessary for a wonderful cruise experience, and it is very easy to find one's way around on. The Vision of the Seas is meticulously well-maintained, and is staffed by a cheerful, friendly, and accommodating crew. Despite its age, one would have to look very hard to find signs of wear on this very well-maintained ship.
Embarkation was delayed for more than 2 hours. The reason that was given was recent budgetary cutbacks affecting U.S. Customs and Border Protection staffing, but it seems that the real reason was a decision that the ship would undergo a thorough cleaning by a special sanitation team, because some of the passengers on the preceding cruise had experienced gastrointestinal diseases. We were contacted beforehand via e-mail and advised not to arrive at the Ft. Lauderdale cruise terminal prior to 12:30 p.m. However, from the time we arrived at the terminal, it took us less than 30 minutes to board the ship. Because of continual warnings about personal sanitation, very few passengers on our cruise experienced any gastrointestinal illnesses.
Our stateroom included a queen-size bed, sofa, desk/vanity, adequate closet space, compact bathroom, and a private balcony.
Dining facilities on the ship included the beautiful, two-tiered Aquarius Dining Room, and the Windjammer Cafe which features the customary food buffet service. The quality and presentation of the meals were uniformly excellent, both in the the main dining room, and also in the Windjammer. In addition, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, and other sandwiches were also available during afternoons and late evenings in the Solarium Cafe.
Onboard activities included all of the organized fun that we usually find on cruise ships: trivia contests, karaoke, bingo, scavenger hunts, line dancing, card playing, art auctions, napkin folding, Wii games, various game shows, port lectures, and the Quest. In addition, because our itinerary included 10 "at sea" days, there also were numerous enrichment lectures, various arts and crafts workshops (jewelry making, scrapbooking, card making), ballroom dancing classes (waltz, rumba/cha cha, salsa, polka, merengue, and jive/swing), belly dancing, and flash mob dancing. During several afternoons, movies were shown in the Masquerade Theater. Worship services included daily Catholic Mass, non-denominational Sunday Christian communion services, and Friday evening Jewish Shabbat services. Many of us used the Vision's Fitness Center every day.
Evening entertainment in the Masquerade Theater was outstanding. Of course, we enjoyed shows by the Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers ("Boogie Wonderland", and "Broadway Rhythm and Rhyme"), as well as headliner variety performances by comedians, several singers, pianists, a magician, a comedic string quartet, a rock and roll guitarist, a motown singing quartet, and others. In addition, the ship's company included four instrumental music groups which performed for the passengers' listening and dancing pleasure: the Vision of the Seas Orchestra, the City Lights Trio, the C Wind Band, and Lightning Wave (a caribbean reggae/calypso band, which also played light jazz). And there also were two or three delightful solo pianists.
The unusual itinerary for this eastbound transatlantic cruise included: Portugal (Ponta Delgada, Azores), Ireland (Cobh/Cork), France (Le Havre/Paris), Belgium (Zeebrugge/Bruges), Netherlands (Amsterdam), Norway (Oslo), and Denmark (Copenhagen).
This was a wonderful cruise! The Vision of the Seas is scheduled to undergo major improvements and enhancements later in 2013. In my opinion, the ship already is excellent, but the expected enhancements will provide some of the popular features which currently are found on Voyager Class, Freedom Class, and Oasis Class ships. Those improvements should make Vision even better!