Reservation: Made directly with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL). Got a large inside cabin (151 sf) using a military discount. Two tickets cost $857 which included taxes, fees and the fuel adjustment fee (FAF). The $70 FAF is crap! Price your fuel costs into your tickets RCCL!! All paperwork was handled on-line and very easy to do. This was our 3rd cruise with RCCL.
Dining - On Board: I don't know if it was because we bought the cheap seats or what, but, we were scheduled for the second seating. We're not late night eaters. It took a little effort, but we were able to get main dining seating. Had we not been accommodated we would likely have looked to another cruise line for our future trips. We love being waited on so we eat all supper meals in the dining room. Food was excellent, as we have come to expect from RCCL. Our waiters were not as good as we have come to expect. The chefs are darn good with excellent quality and great presentation and selection. RCCL does an exceptional job with food.
We ate some breakfasts and lunches in the sit down dining room. Food was good and service was average. We found ourselves eating in the Windjammer buffet for more variety and ease of getting in and out when it came to lunch and breakfast.
The Vision is a smaller ship and does not have specialty restaurants. That's unfortunate but we knew that in advance.
Interior Room: We've always gotten balconies in the past, but because of price we went with a large interior room this cruise. We spend very little time in our room. While it's great to sip wine on a balcony, I'm not sure it's worth twice the cost. We drank wine on deck and had a great time at a far less cost. I would do an interior room in the future.
Alcohol: We purchased several bottles of wine prior to the trip and packed them safely in our check baggage. They arrived in our room with no problems. It's against the rules, but, RCCL will not cancel your trip. If caught, they will take your wine and return it to you at the end of the trip. Carry-on spirits from ports will be stored and returned to you at the end of the cruise.
Ship amenities: No specialty restaurants. They do have a climbing wall, which is not used much. Shops are limited. Quite areas are plentiful. Computer area was more than adequate. Lots of daily scheduled activities.
Nightly Shows: The first nights show was ridiculous. They scheduled BOTH dinner seatings into one show. Someone should be fired!! Beyond the first night, the overall nightly shows were 8 out of 10. The Royal Caribbean Dancers were high energy and fun to watch. However, if you've cruised RCCL on other ships you will probably see one or two of the same acts. This is a good cruise for nightly entertainment.
Cabo San Lucas: The port area is active with lots of watercraft activity. There are no piers so you'll be loaded onto a large "tender" boat (life boat) and ferried into the marina. Waiting our turn took about an hour. Those on tours were let off first. You'll be able to walk into town along a pleasant and wide walkway around the marina. Town is about ½ mile or a ten minute walk. One of our party was in a wheelchair and we had no problem at all. There is a small 200 ft long cobble stone type alley into town that might give a fully wheelchair bound person a challenge. Once in town there are lots of little places where street vendors are set up. They are pleasant and not too persistent. There are also plenty of places for drinking. You can expect to pay $2.50 for a beer and $3 for a margarita. We did not take any tours since we were only going to be there about 5 hours.
Mazatlan: A rather dirty little town with lots of little manufacturing and labor intensive shops. We docked at a pier. We took the ships 7 hour Sierra Madre Country Tour. It was a good tour but pricey at $62 per person. We stopped at a roadside brick making yard, a small furniture and pottery shop and two small towns - Copala and Concordia. Both were pleasant towns with many interesting sites. We had complimentary refreshments at the first stop (beer) and a complimentary lunch and beer at the second town. Both restaurants were very clean. This tour gives you a good feel for how the local people actually live. In Copala we stopped at a very nice leather mask art shop and bought a nice masquerade type mask. Mazatlan Frank conducts a very similar tour for $52 with no lunch or comp refreshments. The shopping area of Mazatlan is fairly extensive and prices are okay. You'll need a taxi to get to town from the ship (cost?). If you walk on the beach you will be intensively solicited by local vendors.
Puerto Vallarta: This was the best of the three ports. We took the Town, Country and Tequila tour for $28 per person. The 5 hour tour was informative and fun. I learned a lot about Tequila. The town is large and bustling. We would come back and rent a condo for a week. The main part of town near the Lady of Guadeloupe church is your typical tourist area. LOTS of vendors. From there, go over the bridge to the south into a more artsy part of town with narrow sidewalks and fewer "tourist" shops (although still touristy and safe). Prices are good, if you're not afraid to barter. A taxi ride for 4 people from downtown back to the port was $10. Food in town is expensive, even for US rates. We paid $9 per person for all you can eat tacos. They were good though.
Summary: We would not take this cruise again. We just don't like Cabo or Mazatlan. We like larger cruise ships, the Vision is only 78,000 tons with limited special facilities. It's a good ship just the same. We will come back to Puerto Vallarta and rent a condo for a week. It's a nice port. We will absolutely cruise with Royal Caribbean in the future. They do a super job. Like money in a bank…..