A great winter getaway: Vision of the Seas Cruise Review by bellevillecruiser
Overall Member Rating
A great winter getaway
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Colon (Cristobal)
All announcements were made in English, so for us it was much like any other cruise.
We stayed over in Panama City at the Metromall Courtyard Marriot, which was excellent, and booked a transfer online with Panama Travel Unlimited ( air conditioned van, 120.00 US for 2 people) for transfer to the port which is about 1:15 hr away. The driver spoke little english, but we had no difficulty, as the both the hotel staff, and a staff member at the pier were able to More translate for us. Our transfer was approx 1/2 hour late arriving at the hotel due to traffic, and the bellboy at the hotel was very helpful, calling PAnama Travel to find out where he was.
The best ports were definitely Cartagena and Curacao. Bonaire and Aruba were more of the typical Caribbean tourist ports, although I we didnt do too much exploring in either.
In CArtagena, we started out just wanting to take a taxi to Old Town, 20.00 US one way. It seems this is a fixed price, however once we were in the car and out of earshot of the organizers at the taxi stand, the driver offered us a 3 hr tour for 60.00 total. He took us to the monestary, the fort and to old town shopping district. He then took us on a walking tour through old town, explaining things and making sure we were not too badly harassed by the vendors. HE also gave us a sticker with his name on to were to indicated we were under his supervision/protection. We thought it a very good tour, more local in flavour and more economical than the cruise shore tours. Our guide's english was enough to explain the sites to us. A prolonged English only conversation would be difficult.
Curacao is a great place for walking, lots of European Dutch influence, shops galore, and apparently great beaches, although it was so windy the day we were there that some complained it was like a sandstorm on the beach.
The biggest (pleasant) shock by far for us was going from -25C in Ontario to +30C in Panama in one day! Don't let the LAtino culture intimidate you! Although a few words of Spanish are definately helpful, you can get on just fine without it, and don't need to know any once aboard.
A great cruise! Less
Cabin review: 4025
Typical interior stateroom. Clean, comfortable, and perfectly adequate, given that we were there only for sleeping.
Port and Shore Excursions
Panama Canal Tour
THis was an excursion to the MInaflores locks, then to the Albrook MAll for shopping, before being dropped off at the airport. The canal and locks are amazing, Albrook is HUGE if you like shopping ( we were at the mall for about 3 hours) and the cost of the tour is comparable to a straight airport transfer. This tour only works if yof you have a late afternoon flight.
Also, be aware, at the airport, we had to go through 2 security checks, one as per usual on the way to the gate, and then another, complete with metal detector and bag screening, at the gate itself. It seems , however, that as flight time approaches and they have to get the plane loaded, this get check becomes more cursory, and the line moves much more quickly.
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