This cruise turned out to be a bargain and so was the airfare to and from Istanbul. I spent a few days before the cruise in Istanbul since hotels were ridiculously cheap. Unfortunately the weather was miserable for the entire stay. Transfer to cruise ship was very easy and boarding took no time at all. I was on the Vision about 12 years ago and it was nice to see that it has held up very well. I love the Centrum with all of that daylight. Much better than the Royal Promenade design which to me is like a shopping mall. The Vision, being one of the older ships in the fleet now, doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles but it has an honest to goodness solarium with a glass roof which came in handy the first few days when the outdoors was too cold. If only the pool temperature was as warm as the tv report claimed it was. The spa area was also nice with decent sized sauna and steam rooms (separate for ladies and gents). The "secret" relaxation room nearby is wonderful but was already full on the 2nd day. How did everyone find out?
My cabin was a standard ocean view cabin located on Deck 4 a stones throw from the Centrum. There was a door to keep out the noise but when there was a big music event in the Centrum you would hear the music each time the door was opened. But it really wasn't a problem because the music did not go on for all hours. The cabin was smallish but comfortable. One thing that was annoying is that you had to request ice. It wasn't automatically placed in the cabin by the steward. But in my steward's case, it probably would have been forgotten anyway. He was the worst in 74 cruises. He operated in a very passive aggressive manner and seemed to ignore whatever I asked. I found that most of the staff were friendly but incompetent on this ship. Same was true of the dining room staff. On a port intensive tour breakfast needs to be served quickly and this team just wasn't capable of it and kept making excuses about the galley being slow. But that doesn't explain waiting 10 minutes for a waiter to take your order.
Due to the schedule I actually chose sleep over dinner and skipped a number of meals. But I ate well in port where you could sample some wonderful Middle Eastern cuisine. The food on board was nothing to write home about anyway. Oddly enough, I had been on another RCCL cruise (Explorer) a month earlier and the food was much better and service was exceptional.
The ports of call were all excellent. Once we left Istanbul the weather improved dramatically. I did most of my tours with independent tour companies and saved a bundle compared to the RCCL tour prices. This was especially true in Israel where I booked all my tours with GTI. Ephesus in Turkey is another must see site and my tour arranged through Kusadasi.biz was excellent. I had extra time left over in Kusadasi after the tour and enjoyed a seaside lunch accompanied by some cute kittie cats (glad I didn't eat the bread on the table as the kitties liked to sniff around it).
The entertainment on board is something I really can't comment. Again, being exhausted after touring, I skipped the shows. I only saw one on the last night of the cruise which was a juggler who was okay. Kind of on the sloppy side. I did, however, enjoy the music played by various bands in the Centrum. It was nice to sit around before or after dinner and hear the music. Everything from classical, to big band, to land, to rock and roll.
Activites and shopping on board were also things I didn't show an interest. The activities on shore were more important and the solarium and spa was all I needed. By the way, the spa cafe had a pretty decent selection. They even served up humus, pita bread, stuffed grape leaves and olives on the salad bar. In my opinion, it was nicer than the Promenade Cafe on the Voyager class ships.
This was a very international crowd of passengers and everyone seemed to enjoy each other's company. I met some wonderful people from the UK, Denmark and Germany. Of course, the announcements in several languages got to be a pain but it kept everyone happy and was kept to a minimum.
The cd, Simeon and his sidekick Urkey, worked their tails off and were always seen walking around and socializing with the passengers.
Considering the reason to take this cruise was for the itinerary the cruise itself wasn't so bad either.
I ended the cruise by taking the ship's sponsored tour of Istanbul which ended at the airport. It was the best way to spend the day and not have to be concerned about the luggage. The weather made up for the pre-cruise weather and I got to see most of the sites I had on my list. The price of this tour was reasonable considering it includes your transfer to the airport. It was the perfect way to end a most memorable cruise.