Susie and I chose this cruise as her birthday celebration. From the beginning and throughout the cruise we dealt with some of the best of cruising and some of the worst.
We flew in (Southwest Airlines) day of the cruise without issue. Uber to the port. There is construction going on at the port and poorly marked directions led us to having to walk about a block to enter the terminal. Once inside it was mass confusion, we had to ask several people where to go to check in. The actual check in was relatively uneventful and quick. We were sent to the waiting lounge (sans the privacy and continental breakfast promised as benefit of being Crown and Anchor members) and told there would be a two hour wait to board. Ten minutes later, while looking for food, boarding began. We were able to board rather quickly and then faced with not being allowed into our cabin until 1:00 (It was about 11:00 am). We headed to the Windjammer even though we had just spent money at a small kiosk in the terminal for a sandwich and drink. The Windjammer was the first of several great experiences of the week. The Vision is a member of the smallest RC cruise ships with the smallest Windjammer in the fleet. In my opinion, it is also one of the BEST Windjammers in the fleet. The food was fresh, hot, tasty and plentiful. The crew in the Windjammer was friendly, helpful and available. These qualities were consistent throughout the cruise.
Once we got to our cabin (3608) some of the negatives of this cruise began to appear. Our cabin attendant, Jason Morales, was not present and never came around to introduce himself (he left his card on the desk). Missing was our excursion tickets & robes. Calls to housekeeping were never answered (5 calls during the week). We had to go to the excursion desk to get our tickets. The cabin itself was clean and comfortable. During the week we saw our attendant exactly once. Several times during the week we had to find attendants to other cabins to get soap and toilet paper (we started out with less than half a roll). This lack of service was the worst we've ever experienced on any cruise.
After unpacking, I was originally planning on hitting the hot tub while waiting to set sail. A walk by the pool, which was closed, changed that. Both hot tubs outside and the two in the Solarium were packed, mostly with kids. As this was our second time to sail on Vision there was little to explore. Being that we were on board as guests of the casino, we wondered down to meet the casino host. That's when we were hit with the second negative, the casino would not open until the next day, 8:00 am. This negative was perpetuated by the 4 hours of cruising the Mississippi River just to enter the Gulf. Add the hour or so to reach the 12 mile limit and I guess the casino doesn't find it profitable to open for just a few hours.
Wondering back to our cabin we did notice how well the ship had been decorated for the holidays. Definitely a festive and joyful addition to the cruise.
First night dining was at Giovanni's as part of a BOGO dining package that proved to be well worth the cost. Our next night was at Chop's (a better than Ruth's Chris experience). We ate again at Giovanni's our last night we liked it so much. I could spend the rest of this review on the fantastic food and service in these restaurants. Do yourself a favor on your next cruise and experience at least one of these specialty restaurants.
We called it an early night since nothing was open as we sailed down the Mississippi.
Day 2 -The next morning I arose early (6:30) to hit the hot tub and watch the sunrise. Imagine my surprise to find them closed. I think they were to open at 8:00. The Solarium hot tubs were open, but it's not quite the same, so I just went to an early breakfast in the Windjammer. After breakfast we got read for the day and headed to the casino.
The casino on the Vision is just too small. We wanted to play 3 card poker but from that first morning on throughout the cruise a group of friends dominated the only 3 Card table in the room. No matter what time of day it was this same group was there. I even began to wonder if they ever ate or went to the bathroom. Most of the slots are older and few have jackpots over $1000. It was easy to get bored in the casino. Susie won a slot tournament only to find that her score was lower than the top five from other previous day's tournament, so booted from the finals. Didn't make sense. The drinks were free as a casino guest and were flowing well though we often had to go to the bar to get them. We rarely saw our casino host. Although we came out ahead, this was not one of our better casino experiences overall.
We went to the Meet & Mingle which we always find fun. Later the Vets gathering.
The first evening show was the Eagles tribute band "The Long Run". The only negative I have to say about it was the show was too short. These guys are phenomenal! I hope RC has contracted them for more shows on other ships. This concert was truly one of the best things about this cruise.
Day 3 - Cozumel. We have been to Cozumel too many times on cruises so we opted to sleep in and forgo our planned excursion. We ventured into town for a little while, mainly to get off the boat. Pretty much the rest of the day was lazing around.
Day 4 - Costa Maya. We booked the Power Snorkel excursion and had a blast. Although the reef in the ocean at Mahahual isn't the prettiest it was the perfect place to learn how to use a seascooter. Lots of fun zipping around looking at starfish, sea urchins and fish. An added treat (unknown at the time of booking) was the included use of the beach chairs, kayaks, freshwater pool, unlimited drinks, and a taxi ride back to the boat whenever we were ready to leave. I highly recommend this excursion.
Day 5 - Roatan, Honduras. We were really looking forward to this port after watching the HGTV shows of the ex-pats moving to Roatan. The first thing I loved is how the ship docks right there, just a minimal number of steps from the island. As far as the island, the locals and the ocean was concerned, it was all better than we expected. Our excursion was the only disappointment. The Three Stop Snorkel Adventure was bad. To begin with, after a 30 minute ride to the beach, we had to wait another half hour for the boat, which was out on an earlier excursion. The boat itself looked like a converted water taxi, not a catamaran, which is a much better craft to use for snorkeling or diving. The difficulty getting on and off this boat ruined the experience. Susie was left with a huge bruise on her thigh from entering the water. In addition, no safety equipment on the boat. It was also pretty scary to watch these guys power up the boat and navigate through snorkelers no farther than 5 feet from the boat. As for the three stops, they were close enough to swim. Overall, a very bad experience. I DO NOT recommend the 3 Stop Snorkel Adventure. Getting back late to the ship didn't leave any time for exploring. Will definitely go back to Roatan, though next time won't take an excursion. In the evening an announcement was made that due to inclement weather we were changing course a bit to avoid some of the worst of it's aftermath. (This decision on the Empress of the Seas made for a Christmas Miracle) Soon after the announcement we started to feel some churning of the seas. Dinner was in the main dining room, excellent meal.
Day 6 & 7 - Cruising. My favorite days normally. Day 6 started out fine, no early morning outside hot tub though. I opted for the Solarium hot tub and found it empty. Seems a lot of folks must have been sleeping in or were feeling too much of the sea's motion. Some time in the sauna helped start the day. Susie took to the sauna too, though she found underage children inside. Where is the crew and why aren't they enforcing the rules?
The rest of the day was spent between lounging around and hitting the Casino. We attended a Veterans luncheon in the main dining room as the ocean started to really get rough. By mid afternoon, we were getting swells of around 15 feet which grew to 23 feet by evening. Surprisingly, the ocean never discouraged our 3 Card Poker hogs. Otherwise, the casino was fairly empty. As long as I was sitting I barely noticed the movement. Susie felt a little queasy. I watched Christmas Vacation while Susie stayed in the casino. By dinnertime we decided to pretty much stay in our cabin since we felt less movement there, but we still needed to eat. Being formal night, which we usually don't attend, the dining room was out of the question. After much debate over room service, I ventured out of the cabin to scout out the Windjammer. There was some serious movement up there, but the food looked delicious and I was able to convince Susie to make her way up. Once we got our food and were seated the motion was less noticeable. The crew, about half of whom were getting seasick, offered up crackers, green apples and lemons to help us with our motion issues. After an excellent meal we slowly made our way downstairs back to our cabin. We ventured out for a little more casino time yet still unable to get on the 3 Card Poker table. Not even sure if there was a show that evening as after a short while in the Casino we called it a night.
Day 6 we awoke to some pretty serious seas. Breakfast in the dining room was great then back to the room until around noon. Spent most of the day in the casino with a little time taken later in the day in the Solarium as the sea started to calm. Dinner was back at Giovanni's (love the homemade gnocchi) and then a last few hours in the casino.
Day 7 - Back in NOLA, disembarking was fast and smooth. Easiest I've ever had.
Overall, this was just an OK cruise. Personally, I'm going to try to avoid these small ships from now on. Too few activities on board. Steve, the Cruise Director, was only seen on tv. Most of the crew lacked any enthusiasm, simply going through the motions. One other thing was that Susie became Emerald on day 2 of the Cruise. There was absolutely no acknowledgement. I also am going to avoid NOLA for an embarkation port. Too much time lost to sailing the Mississippi.
Hard to get to terminal. No continental breakfast at terminal. Very Poor communication.
Been there too many times.
Lot's of fun and added value after excursion by way of free beach break and drinks.View All 88 Snorkeling Reviews
Total disaster run by amateurs. Do not go on the 3 Stop Snorkel Adventure.View All 345 Snorkeling Reviews