We flew from Edinburgh to Copenhagen via Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. We were met at the airport by Royal Caribbean staff and a coach took us on a short drive through centre of Copenhagen to the port. Easy journey, no delays. ... Read More
We flew from Edinburgh to Copenhagen via Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. We were met at the airport by Royal Caribbean staff and a coach took us on a short drive through centre of Copenhagen to the port. Easy journey, no delays. Security clearance and registration was also efficient and quick. Fantastic.
The Ship The Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas was built in 1998. I was told that at the time it was one of the largest in the world. Now days, it's one of the smallest in the RC fleet. Looking at the RC website I was fascinated to discover it is 78,491 tons and the beam is 32.2m. Ok I wasn't fascinated and it probably doesn't help you either. I will try again. The ship is white. It is 23 double-deckers long and weighs the same as 17,063 African elephants. The passenger capacity is 2400. (1950 on our cruise).
The Cabin My wife and I were on the lowest deck at the back. We were expecting the worst if truth be told. In fact, I had thought being so close to the engines would mean there was a distinct possibility that I would be asked to lend a hand. I don't know, perhaps to tighten a huge oversized bolt or something like that. Anyway it wasn't to be, the cabin steward proudly told me that there had never been any complaints from previous occupants and the lower down and further back you are, the more stable the ship is. Incidentally two of our dinner companions were also on the second floor but in the middle of the ship. When the ship used its side propellers the vibrations were so bad that my friend's watch bounced off the shelf above the bed and hit his wife's head. Luckily there was no damage. The watch was fine. The cabin was roomy enough and very clean. The dressing table and bathroom looked a bit dated but all in all, very pleasant. The cabin steward was friendly, changed the towels twice a day and provided us with animal shaped towel every night. Full marks for the elephant and the scorpion, I will admit to being less impressed by the headless monkey!
The Facilities The ship was well laid out, the centre of the ship being a fantastic huge shopping mall like atrium which stretched vertically from the 4th deck to the 9th deck. The pool deck at the top had four hot tubs and a small swimming pool. There was also a solarium which housed another small swimming pool and two hot tubs under its glass roof. There was a gym and sauna, a two tier theatre, a casino and let's not forget the all important rock climbing wall. Talking of which, I would love to have been at that marketing meeting when they concluded that what customers really needed was a big jaggy wall with wee holes in it! (I used the wall several times and really enjoyed it, but it does make you think, what's coming next? What are they dreaming of right now in the RC board room? ......well maybe on second thoughts, we don't need to know).
Food There were two restaurants, one formal waiter serviced and one buffet. There was also a room service option. Room service: There was no charge unless you ordered food in the middle of the night. And why would you do that? We used it three times for breakfast. First time they forgot a bowl, the second time they forgot milk. Third time, I had a croissant. Buffet: Good choice and good quality. There was also an endless supply of water, ice tea, lemonade and tea and coffee to wash it all down with. The desserts were a bit hit and miss. Also the buffet restaurant closed between 11am and noon. Not good for the late sleepers. Formal dining room: We were allocated a rather late 8:45pm dining time (the second sitting). We probably could have switched to the earlier sitting if we'd asked, or we could have paid extra for any time dining but 8:45 worked out perfectly. We were on a table with two American couples and it was great to meet up with them to swap stories and to have a laugh about the day's events. The menu was excellent every night- always a choice of about 8 starters, 5 or 6 mains and a few desserts. The rare steaks came rare, the fillets of fish came large. All dishes well seasoned and well presented. Our waiter Edvin was brilliant. He was happy to chat and he provided us with a number of little puzzles over the course of the voyage. He was good at his job too.
Drink If you like wine with your dinner, a pre-cruise booked wine package is a must. Wine is very expensive on board RC ships (£25 and upwards). Choice is also an issue, the Argentinian Malbec ran out after the first 4 days, and when the waiter managed to track down suitable alternatives these inevitably ran out as well. This brings me on to the bars. There were 5 including the one in the casino. All alcohol was expensive, cocktails about £6 and pints of beer about £5.50. So if you consider yourself a moderate social drinker, (yes, your friends are heavy binge drinkers, but not you) then factor these prices in to your budget. If you are a heavy drinking compulsive gambler then you may as well put your budget calculations in the bin. Maybe you should wait until RC add Las Vegas to one of their itineraries, so you can really go for it (perhaps that's what they are dreaming of in that board room!...Las Vegas).
Entertainment Excellent during the day, quizzes and dancing lessons were always popular. Evening shows probably worked out better for those on the first dinner sitting. For those on the second sitting some days the shows were before dinner (7:15) and other days after dinner (10:30), whichever way they did it, I always missed the start. The individual shows were of a high standard, but for me variety gave way to complete randomness. Elton John one night followed by a juggler the next! Entertainers are flown in for one night only, for a show that lasts an hour. I think the cruise director could improve things by interacting more with guests and by conducting a more coherent programme. The on board orchestra were excellent but I think I saw the singer/dancers once in thirteen days, so good ingredients, we just need a better recipe.
Itinerary Copenhagen to Venice as you can guess is a transition cruise, the aim of course, to bring the ship in from the cold over winter. It makes for a fantastically relaxing holiday. Several days at sea, as well as the opportunity to explore a few well known destinations such as Amsterdam and Paris, together with lesser known places such as Cartagena and Split. We didn't go on any of the organised tours, simply because all of the places we wanted to visit were close to the ports. RC provide a lot of information on the ports and organised excursions via their explorations desk and their in house TV channel. They even had a dedicated port and shopping guide. But you should know that when the "expert" spends longer talking about where to buy Swiss watches than on the entire history of Paris, well you know he's about as much use as a (Swiss).... chocolate teapot. Unless of course you are one of that rare breed of people that finds the watch buying process so stressful that you need to build a holiday round it.
The verdict RC offers a great product, but there were a few niggles along the way. Perhaps it's the commercial angle that you know RC are seeking to exploit from every available opportunity, perhaps it's the clipped impersonal language used by the cruise director and his staff, perhaps it was just the dining room staff dancing to the Royal Caribbean corporate song. I don't know. Rather than moan, which I would never do, maybe we should see it from their side. I mean how would you handle these actual customer queries?
1. How small does my face have to be for the mini facial? 2. Does this elevator go to the front of the ship? 3. The microwave in my room doesn't work? (It was the room safe!) 4. Does the crew sleep onboard?
OK I take it all back. We were very well looked after throughout. Anyway all that a side, I have worked out the difference between what makes a very good cruise and what makes a great cruise. It's not the boat, it's not the itinerary and it's not the food. It's the people you meet, the people you have dinner with every night. We had a great cruise. Read Less