Coming from Western Canada, the airfare to Panama was about the same as Miami or Puerto Rico but the cruise was better priced than the others so we chose this cruise. We rented a car at the Airport in Panama City and stayed overnight at the Mariott Metromall. We were lucky enough to buy a toll card from the attendant at Thrifty. The drive to the hotel and the drive out of the City was a challenge. The roads are poorly marked and the maps lack detail. It was nice to have the flexibility of a rental car to stop where you want. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Miraflores for 2 days at the end of the cruise.
We have previously cruised on the Carnival Valor and were expecting a step up ith RCI. We found that the Carnival Valor had better food choices that are included with the price, better on ship activities (eg. basketball and mini golf) and the room was slightly larger. Eventhough the ship had a recent reno, it is showing its' age. It lacks much of the extras that they have on their other ships. Eventhough the RCI website indicates they have added Coca Cola Freestyle machines to all their fleet , the Vision of the Seas does not have it. (Apparently because it is not based in the USA). You still get the basic RCI ship and service but no extras - thus the name of the review RCI LITE.
Our room was at the back of the second level on the starboard side. We called it the sewage section because of the heavy smell of sewage when you walked down the hall. Given its location you expect engine noice but this was more than expected.
As mentioned in other reviews, the majority of passengers on this cruise are Spanish speaking. We enjoy the Spanish culture and this was one of the highlights of the cruise.
Our favorite ports were Cartagena because of the old City and Curacao for the architecture. We went scuba diving on Aruba and Bonaire and prefered Bonaire because of the amount of sea life and the history behind the salt ponds near the diving area.