We are Platinum with Carnival but decided to join friends who were taking a trip on the Vision. We were a little skeptical about being newbies on Royal and selecting an older, smaller ship on top of that, but we were pleasantly surprised.
Embarkation port was in New Orleans, very easy and quick process. We had no problems bringing a 12 pack of our favorite soda on board.
Cabins were ready promptly at 1pm, and our bags were delivered even before the muster drill. We stayed in a balcony room, 7542. Cabin attendant, Danny, was great and never missed a chance to greet us by name.
At night they closed doors between the Centrum and staterooms, which was a thoughtful way to keep the hallways quieter during the late night shows and live music.
Not a complaint but for those who are sensitive to sound, there were times when generally the noise was more than we have experienced on other ships. Most noticeably you could hear toilets flushing as you walk down the halls, and in our stateroom we could hear it when neighbors cough/laugh. Occasionally there was noise above us but it was not excessive. It was foggy on the Mississippi as we were getting back to New Orleans and the fog horn was quite loud and woke us up, while our friends who were at the front of the ship never heard it.
From the balcony you could often hear the live music from a distance, which I thought was great.
Service in the main dining room was always outstanding and we enjoyed most of the food. We were always able to find something to munch on. They don't state this on the menu, but they can usually whip up an Indian or Asian food entree in the main dining room for dinner, such as curry chicken or Adobo pork, if you give 24 hours' notice.
The majority of guests were ages 50+ and there were very few children, but it was a fun bunch and everyone was friendly. We easily found space in the Solarium and due to the mature travelers nobody overcrowded or overstayed in the hot tubs so we were able to hop in even on sea days. It was also surprisingly easy to catch elevators any time. Plenty of seating for shows, etc if you get there a few mins early.
We enjoyed the comedian and the band was great, but found the shows to be kind of average (show singers were pitchy, not many shows to see). Did enjoy playing Blackjack with the friendly dealers and passengers. Happened to luck out and pick a night to visit the casino when the smoking was not out of control.
Clean and comfortable room. Husband and I both slept very well. It was easy to keep the cabin temperature comfortable for us both, which is usually a struggle! Flat screen TV was on a flexible mount so we could swivel it. Mini fridge was empty and cold so we could put our sodas in without having to empty it out.
Bathroom had shampoo/soap provided. We had enough room for all our clothes (one of us used the drawers on the console/vanity opposite the sofa, the other used the shelves on the corner of the closet. In the closet itself there were plenty of hangers for our formalwear.
It was a very inexpensive taxi ride to Jaime's Blue Reef, which we booked prior to the trip. Drinks and excellent food were included, as well as water toys like kayaks and snorkel gear. Free Wi-Fi as well. This is not a traditional beach, with breaking waves, but a quiet refuge along a spot where the water is waist-deep in most spots. We waded in and saw a few stingrays and little fish just a few feet from the shore. There are tables and chairs and a lounger assigned to each guest. Jaime himself comes out to greet everyone and he is super friendly and proud of his resort. The service was excellent and everyone loved the food. The ceviche was about the best we have ever had, and the freshly made tacos/burritos, quesadillas, chips & guac/pico were all amazing. They had fresh fish brought on a platter for another guest who requested it. When it rained, we easily moved into their restaurant and continued enjoying ourselves until the sun came back out and we were right back on the sand.View All 389 Beach Reviews
We did this on the final day, since it was cost-effective to take the tour rather than arrange a van to the airport. Guide (Wolf) was fun and shared lots of anecdotes about the city as well as the effects of Hurricane Katrina and the adaptations the city made to ward against future storms.
Bus was comfortable, tour was 3.5 hours and the driver/guide are able to manage the time perfectly to maximize the sights but still get you to the airport on time, regardless of traffic conditionsView All 53 City Tour Reviews
Grabbed a taxi from the port to Mr. Sanchos, which we reserved prior to the trip. For $55 per person we had beachfront loungers and Armando brought us unlimited food and drinks. The beach was clean and beautiful, and there were also pools with swim up tables/bars, you could sit on a swing at a bar or swing in a hammock in the shade. There was music around and drinks were flowing but it was not rowdy or obnoxious. Lots of other activities available on-site from vendors for an additional fee (we parasailed and it was fantastic). Other offerings included horseback riding, ATV rentals, jet skis, snorkeling, and a water trampoline/climbing area. There were free lockers and restrooms. Just bring towels from the ship and the rest is all provided for you. Service was friendly and facilities were top notch.View All 696 Beach Reviews
When you are past the pier, the port itself had breathtaking views of the water from behind tropical trees and flowers. We walked along the main road out of the port and there were plenty of restaurants, each of which backs directly to the beach. Very easy to find a spot to have a beer with your toes in the sand. Lots of passengers continued walking to see the town but we were not completely comfortable and opted instead to have a $2 beer and walk along the shore back toward the port.