We flew into Lisbon from Gatwick with Easyjet late on Sunday 17th. April. Stayed overnight at the Novotel for a comfortable nights sleep and a very good breakfast. Taxi to the Vision of the Seas around 11.30am. on the 18th..
Quick and easy embarkation and on board for Windjammer lunch by noon. Stateroom (or cabin as per the direction signs) available promptly as promised at 1.30pm.. The JS on Deck 8 was as spacious as expected with very generous cupboard and drawer space. Whilst very clean, light and airy the JS shows its age. Nothing to detract from its amenities but wear shows up on the chair and settee coverings. The curtains appeared to have been changed but not the pelmet.
My wife's suitcase showed up at 3pm. Cages of luggage came up to deck 8 throughout the afternoon and early evening but not mine. At 9pm. I went to Guest Relations to enquire for my suitcase - yes, I was told, it is on our list of those being held by security on Deck 1. "Why was I not told?" I asked - "you could have left a message on the JS phone." There was no answer to that.
Down on Deck 1 a security man was holding a clip board and looking at around twenty suitcases. "Your case must go through our scanner." "Fine" I said "there is nothing in there that shouldn't be, lets do it." "No these others have to be done first." "You've had the case for six hours." I protested. Very reluctantly he put the case in the scanner. I told the scanner operator "you are looking at a half full 200ml bottle of medication." She agreed and told me I could take the case. I offered to open up the suitcase - not necessary. Again I asked the question "Why didn't I get a message, there is a telephone just behind you?" Again no answer. The unique dimension of Gold Anchor Service. Hold your bag for six hours and make no attempt to tell you. There is not much point in advising Guest Relations if they don't tell you either.
Vision OTS has generous indoor and outdoor seating. The public rooms are all well appointed and sparking clean. With eight lifts there is only a few moments to wait for one.
The cruisers on board were from many countries, including from the Far East, mainly older rather than younger. Crown and Anchor members appeared to be from America or the UK.
The entertainers, especially the musicians, were very good. Any background music was pleasantly restrained.
We used the dining froom for breakfast to avoid the Windjammer crush but otherwise frequented the Windjammer mainly because we don't like long drawn out meals in the dining room.
It has to be said, sadly, that RCI's food is not what it was. Plenty of variety for salads. Chicken, pork, ham and turkey meats were enjoyable. The beef tough and mostly carved the wrong way which made it even tougher. The lamb appeared to be mutton. There was extensive use of commercial catering products. Gravy, for example, for whatever meat appeared to be based on a demi glace reconstituted. However full marks for whoever makes the soup. One day I asked the young chef what kind of fish was on offer - he didn't know what it was - neither did I.
The dining room waiters and cabin stewards unfailingly helpful, friendly and smiling.
We were surprised one day to find a Crown and Anchor crystal block containing a representation of an RCI ship. It must have weighed at least a kilo. We are constrained by air travel weight limits and my wife's disability so we sent it back with a note of appreciation but no thank you.
We are on the Mariner OTS out of Rome later this month and I sincerely hope that by then the promised Gold Anchor Service will apply to baggage handling.