This was our 12th cruise but 3rd on RCCI, we originally chose the Vision of the Seas a year previous to the trip as the refurbishment was going to be early 2013 so we were hoping for a newer remodeled ship. However that changed when the refurbishment was rescheduled for late September 2013, literally the day we left the ship.
Overall the ship is in good condition, clean and some areas probably won’t need to be changed. The itinerary was excellent as our ports included Oslo Norway; Glasgow Scotland; Inverness Scotland; Cork Ireland; Dublin Ireland; Cherbourg France and finally ended in South Hampton London. We flew in on Air Canada from the West Coast and the flight to Copenhagen Denmark (where the ship departed from) was excellent as well as the flight home. We did a pre-cruise stay at the Hilton Copenhagen Airport hotel which was exactly what I expected. We were able to check in early and the hotel upgraded our room as we were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, after check in they send up champagne and chocolates courtesy of the Hilton. Great night stay, we purchased a transfer from the airport to the ship which was very convenient since we were staying right at the airport hotel. We walked over to the arrivals area and the RCCI representative was standing with his sign waiting for all his passengers.
We boarded the bus, took a 30 minute drive to the pier and they took our bags, we walked in and literally walked up the counter with zero wait times. We checked in and walked on the ship (this was the fastest most efficient check in)
We were on the ship around 12:00pm and our cabin would not be ready till 1:30pm so we headed to the buffet which was actually closed so we sat around waiting for thirty minutes until they opened the buffet around 12:30pm and we sat down and ate a light lunch. The food on the ship overall was just ok, this included the buffet and the dining room. The breakfast menu does not change in the dining room as well as the lunch menu only has two different menus for the entire 10 day cruise. So no real selection or choices in the dining room for lunch. Surely not like other cruise lines that have different lunch menus daily, this was a downside. There were times during the cruise they ran out of items, such as orange juice on the 8th day. We were told by an employee who worked in the buffet they had to purchase a no-name brand in Ireland as they ran out. The morning juices were warm as they sat in large plastic containers with no ice.
The service was good; (room steward, head waiter and assistant waiter) I would suggest to RCI that daily someone should walk the cabin hallways as we consistently saw dirty plates and cups left outside on the rugs or near the elevators. At times the same plate/cup was there for over two days.
WE had a family ocean view cabin I did like the larger size cabin it had double sinks in the bathroom, with plenty of room in the medicine cabinets to store your items, very small shower which is typical. It had a separate little area with bunk beds, large coach and king bed. The TV was a 13 inch Sony tube TV (old white TV that worked only 50% of the time) the mattress was the worst mattress I’ve ever slept on, it was like sleeping on a 4x8 sheet of plywood. There is not much closet space in this FOS cabin which was surprising I had to use the shelf space for a lot of our clothes. That is my only real complaint about the cruise the horrible bed. I sure hope that they exchange the mattress during the refurbishment.
Entertainment on the ship, the guest entertainers where very good we enjoyed all of them, the RCCI singers and dancers were ok. There was very little to do during the day on the ship, the variety of options were limited, we had 3 sea days in a row due to bad weather we had to re-route our trip and we missed Inverness Scotland due to a bad storm in the sea. We were disappointed of course but had no choice otherwise we would have had to deal with 50 foot swells if we attempted to go there. So during these three sea days there was not much to do on the ship for activities during the morning or afternoon. The highlight of our cruise was being invited to eat with Captain Lis during Captains night. The food was excellent at her table and we met four other very nice couples. That was a memorable evening; we had photos taken with the entire table which we were given a copy as well as the menu with our names on it. A nice surprise was the waiters came over and sang happy anniversary to us and a beautiful cake was given to us.
We were able to take advantage of the special unlimited photographs package. I was not aware this even existed, for $199 you can have every photo taken of you while on the ship. So if you wanted to take your photo nightly with the backdrops that they had available you could potentially go home with over 100 photos for only $199 or about $2.00 a piece which is a great value.
They offered laundry service twice during the 10 day cruise, where you fill up a small bag of laundry for $25.00 buyer beware you can’t wash pants. This was a first for me…the clothes check list did not allow for pants to be laundered so if you had jeans, slacks, khakis’ you had to pay $5.00 each to wash them, no pants allowed in the laundry package. Our previous cruise on the Allure had pants on the checklist to be washed however this check list was extremely limited which I could not understand why they would not allow you to wash pants.
Ports of call were very good, the excursions we booked were all thru RCCI and overall it was good. What I didn’t understand is why RCCI packed everyone in the lounge area first, and then had us walk through cabin hallways to get to the gangway to board our bus. This seemed a bit ridiculous as we’ve never done this before on other cruises. We always met outside the ship on the dock and looked for our tour guide.
The weather overall was good for 80% of our trip as it only rained when we were in Glasgow Scotland and sprinkled in the afternoon in Oslo Norway.
Disembarking was smooth as we literally walked off with our luggage and met our driver who drove us to London from South Hampton. We planned an additional three days of vacation doing a post cruise trip for 3 days in London (1 in Paris by taking the Eurostar train) we stood at St. Ermins hotel in London which was amazing.