For those of you who have not cruised since the Love Boat was a TV regular, well... things have changed a bit.
The Cruise Line (RCI): Today, most cruises are heavily discounted, and therefore the cruise line must try any and all other ways to generate income. These include 'pay extra' restaurants aboard, non-inclusive drinks and even the somewhat poorly-considered practice of not supplying shampoo and specialty soaps in the staterooms. For some, these new 'nickle-and-dime' strategies by the cruise lines are irritating to say the least. For other travelers, the cheaper fares more than compensate for the lack of niceties, and the frugal passenger does not have to pay for the excesses of others (who may like to drink steadily for five days, for instance.) Be prepared to pay extra if you want to play extra. The towels at the pool are still free, as are the smiles of the cruise staff. And, and a special tip to us guys: spend a few bucks ahead of time, and buy the lady some nice toiletries like Crabtree and Evelyn. They may not say so, but the little luxury of special soaps is, for most ladies, a big part of their cruise experience. It is simply amazing to me that any established cruise line doesn't know this!
The Eating Experience: While food is still mostly in ready supply and great amount, the overall quality is not always what it used to be. When cruises were taken on smaller ships, menus were quite often a sales point. However, with the advent of ships that carry literally thousands of passengers, the menus have suffered from the necessity of being somewhat of a 'common denominator' in the food department. This seems to be especially true when it comes to spicy dishes. On Vision of the Seas, our experience in the inclusive Dining Room was above average, but if they need any one thing, it's a Cajun in the kitchen! (Fish was fried in tempura batter and served with mashed potatoes and peas - I mean, c'mon, who eats fried fish with mashed potatoes?!)
Comfortable, clean, pleasant, with a great Stateroom Attendent. Since it's near the bow, we noticed the movement of the ship in cross seas a bit, but nothing too severe. Also, it was quite near the elevators at the front, so a very quick and easy trip to the buffet or the theater.