Vision of a Great Time!: Vision of the Seas Cruise Review by Sparky_MN

Vision of the Seas 5
Member Since 2009
6 Forum Posts

Overall Member Rating

Vision of a Great Time!

Sail Date: November 2009
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Athens (Piraeus)
I think these reviews are generally a better reflection of the attitude of the cruiser, or the company they're with, than anything else. So in the interest of full and fair disclosure I have a fun-loving, do what I want attitude, and I'm only 28 so I don't complain all that much. Not to mention I was traveling with one of my best friends and we also met some really great people on this ship that helped make this one of the best travel experiences of my life. This was not my first cruise, but was my first time on RC and I was very impressed. Our steward was friendly and did a fine job keeping the cabin clean. Our waitstaff (Rodrigo and Charlene) were absolutely the best and did everything to make our dining experience great. The bar staff was great, too. The first day I ordered a Hendrick's & Tonic at the Champagne Bar from Alfredo, the barkeep. I asked for a cucumber garnish, but they didn't have any cucumbers. However, the next day and every day thereafter Alfredo made sure to More have a fresh supply of cucumbers for my pre-dinner cocktail. Jeandra was another great bartender, and was always made you feel welcome and appreciated. She could be found at the pool bar during the day or the Viking Crown late at night. It's amazing how by simply remembering your name and your drink they can make you feel so special. Perhaps it was all the time I spent in the bars that made the trip so great?

Was everything perfect? No. Dinner was disorganized the first night; the Cruise Director's awful jokes predictably fell flat; the band seemed to only know three songs; the juggler kept dropping things. But the staff was friendly and attentive, and I had the time of my life! I have already booked another cruise with them and am excited to embark next week. Less

Published 02/02/10

Cabin review:

Port and Shore Excursions

Crete was altogether unimpressive.

The population of the ship far exceeded the population of Katakolon. It’s just a really small port town, who’s claim to fame is its proximity to Olympia. Much like St. Paul’s best feature is its proximity to Minneapolis. We meet up with three friends we made on the ship and head to the only car rental place in town. I shrewdly negotiate with the proprietor to get a new Opel hatchback for 40 Euro. The five of us squeeze in. It’s a small town, so I decide that now is the time for me to experience driving in Europe and I take the wheel. A 1.3 liter engine powers the little red car as I steer it the wrong way down a one-way street, through a crowd of pedestrians. Good start.

Driving in Greece is actually pretty easy. The lines on the highway are more of a suggestion, as opposed to the rule. Slower traffic will hug the shoulder and allow you to pass them in the same lane while oncoming traffic is present. Probably not legal, but courteous.

Olympia is a whole lot of ruins. That’s about it, really. The Statue of Zeus, another one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, is at Olympia. Or rather, it was at Olympia. Like the Colossus of Rhodes, it’s no longer standing.

Of all the stops on our cruise, I was most excited for Malta. My Grandma on my Dad’s side of the family is from there, and I had always hoped to visit here some day. This was the only port where we booked an excursion through Royal Caribbean. The excursion would take us by coach across the island to the Blue Grotto for a boat ride, then to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk, and finally back to the capital Valletta. There were many of our friend from the ship on the same excursion. We were excited that they were still talking to us after how drunk we got during the day at see the day before, but I digress.

The Blue Grotto was natural beauty at its finest. It’s a series of rock caverns and arches on clear blue water. We took a small motor boat around it, ducking in and out of the caves and staring down through the water at the clearly visible sea floor. After the boat ride we went for a swim by the boat docks. I try impressing the group with my signature back flip into the water. I’m so cool.

Marsaxlokk was once a tiny fishing village, but has grown in recent years. It’s harbor is filled with small wooden fishing boats, all brightly painted in the same blue, yellow, and red color scheme. The front of each boat is dotted with a pair of wooden eyes, a tradition which dates back to Phoenician times. The water line is only a couple feet below the street, making it appear as if the town is floating.

When we made it back to Valletta, most of the group decided to head back to the ship. I was still hurting from the previous evening, but I wasn’t done with Malta yet. I teamed up with some other cruisers and we set out to explore the walled city. The people of Malta are very friendly and being a member of the Commonwealth, they all speak English. The city itself was breathtaking, and better represented through pictures rather than words.

As the ship pulled from port, we watched the sun set behind the skyline. I left Malta with a sense of pride in that part of my heritage. I will definitely be back for a longer stay some day, and would recommend it be placed on anyone’s list of places to travel to.

Our first port of call was the Greek island of Rhodes, once home the Colossus of Rhodes - one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Of Course the Colossus isn't there anymore, so we'd have to find something else to look at. We heard about a town called Lindos about an hour south of the city of Rhodes. It was supposedly the classic Greek Isle town that you'd see on postcards, with white buildings on a hillside above the sea with a maze of narrow winding streets. We decided to rent a car to go check it out. For 50 Euros, we would be rolling around in style in a Jimny. The Jimny was an old, beat to hell vehicle that looked like a Geo Tracker. It wasn't much, but it had a drop top and four wheel drive.

I have long been a believer that driving in Europe should be left to the Europeans. Before we got to the main highway, we would have to navigate the winding streets of Rhodes, filled with nutter Euro drivers. I left this task to my travel companion. The Jimny was woefully underpowered, as most European cars are, and it braked with all the grace and mechanical precision of a washing machine in spin cycle with an unbalanced load of laundry. But it got us there, and Lindos was perfect. We joked that it was just like Santorini, but not tarnished by excessive tourism. It was the Santorini for those seasoned travelers who knew where the real Greece was to be found. Neither of us has ever been to Santorini.

It was magnificent! We wandered the streets and climbed to the top of the Acropolis. We found out that acropolis basically means the high point of a city, and is not specific to Athens. From the view above the city, we spotted a beautiful beach and a cave along the rock wall a couple hundred meters out in the water. We also spotted what looked like an old lighthouse and another ancient structure on the next peninsula. We were going to have to check this stuff out. We made our way down, passing three large tour groups from the ship that had paid twice what we had to get out here. Tourists!

We made our way to the beach and went for a swim. We were of course the only ones swimming, as this is apparently not something people do there in November. I swam out to the cave - Black Bart's Cave as I called it - and then swam back in. We dried off and began our trek out to the second peninsula. It was about a mile along a path to get out to the lighthouse. We passed a few goats and quite a few heavily matted sheep on the way. When we finally made it to the lighthouse, we went inside and found it wasn't a lighthouse at all. It was an old windmill. We climbed up the spiral stairs, and found the large mill stone and a series of wooden gears. After taking a few photos we climbed back down and made our way to the second structure atop the hill at the end of the peninsula. This building was round and made of stone. It was about eight feet tall and about 15 feet in diameter. We went inside and, with our extensive archeological skills, determined it was some sort of sacrificial altar from medieval times.

When we left Lindos, we both felt that the rest of the trip could be horrible, but because of this stop it would still have been a great trip. We got back into Rhodes and walked around the old streets for about a half hour, and made our way back to the ship.

Read 388 Rhodes Reviews

We decided to travel in a big group this day. We were accompanied by six friends we met on the ship, and together we hired out a van to haul us to Carthage, Sidi Bou Said, the medina in Tunis, and then back to the ship. Carthage was once a very powerful city until its fall to Rome in the Third Punic War in 146 BC. All that remains now are ruins. More ruins. Moving on.

Sidi Bou Said was probably the biggest surprise of the trip. I’m not sure what I expected Africa to be like, but I certainly didn’t expect a picturesque village of sugar-cube houses with bright blue windows and doors. Again, we have never been to Santorini, but Sidi Bou Said looked like I imagine Santorini would.

Our last stop was the medina in Tunis. Now this is what I was expecting. A series a dark, narrow alleyways bustling with merchants and pickpockets. The air was filled with a haze of smoke from a vender who was grilling fish. It reminded me of that scene in movie "Bloodsport" when Jean Claude Van Damme was making his way to the Kumite. You know what I’m talking about. Anyway, you must try the mint tea here. I had two. The tea alone was worth getting off the ship for.

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