Each night of the cruise features live entertainment in the Masquerade Theatre (Decks 5 and 6, forward), from comedians to Broadway-style shows featuring the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers. The Masquerade Theatre seats 870 people in tiered seats, which are comfortable, and have cup holders and few obstructions throughout the two decks. The space is fairly simply decorated in blue, green and tan hues.
On our cruise, shows included "Boogie Wonderland," a throwback to 1970s hits featuring singing and dancing, and several comedians. The main evening production is usually performed at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. to accommodate the two main dinner seatings, and there is often another late-night performance, as well, such as an adult comedian, or the "Love and Marriage Game Show." The comedians and audience interactive shows were popular, though it wasn't typically difficult to snag a seat or two.
* May require additional fees
On some sea days, the Masquerade Theatre hosts afternoon movies.
You'll receive a paper schedule, dubbed the Cruise Compass, in your stateroom each night outlining the variety of activities scheduled for the next day.
The daily schedule usually begins with a variety of fitness and recreation activities in the morning, such as water aerobics or morning stretch, and a poolside movie. Later in the morning and into the afternoon, the cruise director's crew hosts several line dance classes, either poolside or in the Centrum. These activities are particularly popular with younger passengers and families.
Around lunchtime on sea days, there is usually a poolside event, such as the Men's International Belly Flop Contest or the World's Sexiest Man Competition. When there's not an event going on, you can usually hear live music poolside throughout the afternoon. Doesn't sound like your cup of tea? Head to the Solarium, where it's a whole lot quieter.
Some of the most well-attended activities during our cruise were the trivia and quiz games hosted in the Schooner Bar several times a day, typically in the morning, afternoon and evening. Families and groups traveling together really seemed to enjoy hanging out in this space, enjoying a cocktail and working together on games such as a Michael Jackson music quiz, blockbuster movie trivia and Harry Potter trivia.
Feel like staying inside? Check out the live string music played in the Centrum throughout the afternoon and evening. Daily trivia, sudoku, cards and board games are always available in the Book Nook (Deck 6), and there are usually a few open play card games scheduled in the Aquarius Dining Room. Bingo is frequently offered in the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge.
Passengers can attend classes on napkin folding, cooking or learning a new language. The spa and art gallery also hosts several talks promoting various services or upcoming events.
Besides the theatrical productions onboard Vision of the Seas, evening entertainment abounds throughout the ship. Before or after dinner, start out with a round of evening trivia in Schooner Bar, followed by a whirl around the dance floor in the Centrum to tunes from the live band performing there.
After that, consider taking in a poolside movie. Or join the cruise director staff for the latest wildly popular passenger-powered game, from "Finish That Lyric Game Show" to "The Quest Scavenger Hunt" to the "Love and Marriage Game Show."
Karaoke lovers will want to take their singing skills over to Some Enchanted Evening Lounge, where karaoke welcomes young and old each night. Microphones at the ready onstage and lyrics on the big screen, the dance floor is transformed into a place where adoring karaoke fans can join in on the chorus.
Casino Royale, a glitzy, star-themed casino, offers a range of gaming offerings, from roulette to craps, Texas Hold'em and dozens of slot machines. Complimentary gaming lessons are offered here regularly, as well as poker tournaments (check the Cruise Compass). There is a bar inside the casino and smoking is allowed.
Glorious sea views can be had in the glittering seven-deck atrium, the hub of the ship. Indeed, the only place you won't find sea views on this ship is in the Boutiques of Centrum shopping area on Deck 6. There, passengers are clearly encouraged to feast their eyes instead on a wide range of fashion and logo goods, jewelry, perfume, and chinaware -- actually at quite reasonable prices. Also on Deck 6 are the art gallery (adjacent to Latte-tudes) and the photo gallery. Just below, on Deck 5, you will find the reception area and shore excursion desk.
Vision of the Seas is equipped with bow-to-stern Wi-Fi, although some service in some areas might be spotty. Internet can be found in the Royal Caribbean Online lounge (Deck 8), which offers access to the Web 24/7. You can pay as you go for 65 cents per minute or purchase one of the available packages: $35 for 60 minutes, $55 for 100 minutes, $75 for 150 minutes, $100 for 250 minutes or $150 for 500 minutes.
A peaceful haven is the ship's library, set opposite the Card Room on Deck 7. It's is a lovely room with highly polished, inlaid wood walls, deep leather sofas, nautical memorabilia and -- as a quirky touch -- a life-size figure of Pinocchio, carved (of course) from cherry wood. Conference rooms are located on Deck 4, and the medical facility can be found on Deck 1. Self-service laundry is not available.
Added during the refurb, the Concierge Club and Diamond Club are exclusive hangouts for top-tier loyalty program members. The Concierge Club (reserved for Diamond Plus and Pinnacle Crown and Anchor Society members, as well as select suite passengers) is accessible via the Viking Crown Lounge and Nightclub. Although spacious and surrounded by windows bringing the views in, the decor is not as impressive as that found in the new Diamond Club, located off the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge on Deck 6, exclusively for Diamond members (and higher).
Considering the ship's smaller size, Royal Caribbean really took advantage of the Diamond Club space. It's sleek, sophisticated and easy to move around. The decor is neutral -- from light woods and beige chairs to mahogany leather booths -- with pops of turquoise that complement the ocean. It's located just steps away from Giovanni's Table and the line's signature steakhouse, Chops Grill.
R Bar (Deck 4, midship): This bar is located on the bottom floor of the Centrum. The granite-topped bar has just a handful of high-top chairs arranged in front of it but there is plentiful seating throughout this area, which comes alive in the evenings when the cruise director's team leads games, dance events and more. R Bar tends to stay busy during these times, but is quieter during the day.
Schooner Bar (Deck 6, aft): Your prime location for all things quiz- and trivia-related, this nautical themed bar also hosts piano entertainment, and has several intimate tables and booths to cozy up in and enjoy a drink.
Solarium Bar (Deck 9, aft): Located at the Solarium pool, this bar continues the antiquities-themed decor of the rest of the Solarium and stays busy serving up ice cold beers, daiquiris and other frozen poolside creations.
Pool Bar (Deck 9, midship): The Pool Bar gets a lot of traffic during the peak hours of midday sun, serving cold drinks to all the sun worshippers.
Viking Crown Lounge (Deck 11, aft): Appointed in rich red and gold, this lounge is located near Izumi and goes basically unused during the day, so it's a great quiet place to curl up and read or enjoy a quiet conversation while overlooking the ship and ocean. At night, it's the hot place to dance and enjoy a cocktail.
There are two pool areas on Vision: the main pool and the Solarium. The main pool is the loudest and most popular of the two, since it's open to all ages, while the Solarium is for adults only.
The main pool features four hot tubs near the shallow ledge of the pool. There is no splash area, so this ledge is where most of the younger kids play. The deeper end of the pool is where passengers swim and occasionally play water volleyball. There are lounge chairs encircling all sides of the pool, as well as tables and chairs in the shade on both sides, and loungers on the upper deck. We never had a problem finding a lounge chair, though if we needed more than two together, it could be challenging at peak times.
The Solarium is a designated pool space for passengers ages 16 years old and up. The area is enclosed in glass, with a glass roof and decorated with faux pre-Columbian artifacts. The pool has soaking ledges on either side, and there are two hot tubs. The lounge chairs here are padded, and as with the main pool, it's usually quite easy to find a spot to sit.
Note that Royal Caribbean ships ask cruisers to sign out pool towels using their SeaPass card to avoid lost or stolen towels. There is only one station on Vision, located at the main pool area, which can be a little inconvenient if you're lounging at the Solarium.
Passengers line up daily for a shot to get to the top of the rock climbing wall (Deck 10) aboard Vision of the Seas. The wall is 30 feet tall, and there are different levels of challenge. Climbers must be at least 6 years old, and a waiver is required.
There are several shuffleboard courts on Deck 10, and table tennis tables are near the main pool on Deck 9.
Stay tuned to the daily Cruise Compass printed schedule for programmed games of pool volleyball, line dance classes, balloon tennis and other fun outdoor games.
Deck 10 features plentiful lounge chairs directly above the pool and also a few near the shuffleboard courts at the ship's forward. These tend to be quieter and less popular than the chairs closer to the pools.
Tip: If you want an even quieter space, head to the door just near the spa, on the starboard side. There are several lounge chairs there facing the ocean that we found to be a great spot for relaxing.
Passenger services are mostly grouped together near the Centrum area on Decks 4, 5 and 6.
Starting at the Centrum on Deck 6, you'll find a few computer stations to connect to the internet. You can also sign up for VOOM Wi-Fi service onboard to allow you to access the internet on your mobile device (fees range from $13 to $20 per day, depending on which speed you choose).
Head over to the small Book Nook (Deck 6, midship), offering a minimal library (most of the books we saw were not in English), as well as cards and games available to borrow. In this same general area, you'll find the Photo Gallery and Art Gallery.
Continuing forward on the ship on Deck 6, you'll see a small collection of five shops -- these stores sell liquor, jewelry, sundries, clothing and souvenirs, and often offer special shopping events, discounts and raffles throughout the cruise.
Head down a level to Deck 5 and you'll see the Shore Excursion Desk and Guest Services Desk side by side. On Deck 4, behind R Bar, you'll find the NextCruise office, a small space staffed with sales agents to entice you to book your next cruise before you leave the ship.
Self-service laundry facilities are not available, but washing and pressing services are available -- ask your stateroom attendant for details and pricing.
The ship has three dedicated conference room facilities, ranging in size from 24- to 56-person in capacity; other public spaces are available for reservation by large groups as well.
The Vitality Spa (Deck 9), a light-filled sanctuary located at the ship's aft, at the back of the Solarium, is decorated in soothing cream and taupe colors and is generally open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The pre-Columbian motif of the Solarium carries through here, with stone statues, mosaics and soothing music.
You'll start your spa time with a brief stop in the Relaxation Room, with a large wall of windows facing the ocean while you sip hot tea or lemon-infused water. Treatment rooms feature warm massage tables and showers. A couples massage room features windows overlooking the ocean.
Treatment option specials onboard ranged from a 50-minute package with Swedish or deep tissue back, foot, neck and shoulder massage with eye collagen treatment for $129, or a 75-minute full body massage with skin brushing and an Elemis facial for $149. There are also Botox, teeth whitening and other skin rejuvenating treatments from the medispa.
There is a separate salon space that also faces the ocean and offers manicures ($50), pedicures ($70) and hair services ($39 and up). There are specialty beard grooming treatments just for men (ranging from $45 to $95). Teens can enjoy specially formulated facials and pedicures, called YSpa treatments ($45 and up). Keep an eye out for regular spa specials offered throughout the cruise (particularly on the first day and port days), and you get a discount if you book three treatments at once.
Note that there is no thermal suite or pool in the spa. Everyone is welcome to use the locker room area, located within the spa, but at the base of the stairs to the gym. Here you'll find saunas, showers and changing areas. We actually preferred the showers here to our interior cabin -- the towels are fluffier and you have a bit more space to change.
The Vitality Fitness Center (Deck 10) is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Located just above the Vitality Spa, it features a small number of weight machines, free weights and cardio equipment such as treadmills, exercise bikes and elliptical machines. These are stationed near the windows facing the ocean, while the weightlifting area is sectioned off by a mirrored wall.
There's also a space for classes. Throughout the day, there are usually a couple of complimentary fitness classes, such as Fab Abs or Vitality Stretch, but most of the classes such as yoga, Pilates, boot camp and indoor cycling are fee-based ($12 per class, or you can buy a pass for about $10 a day that covers all classes for the duration of your cruise).
Passengers must be at least 16 years old to use the gym, but parents or guardians may accompany a child 13 to 15 with a signed liability waiver.
We found the gym to be well-maintained and though there was a steady flow of fitness enthusiasts, it was never overcrowded. We also loved the amount of natural light in the space, much like the rest of the ship.
Just outside the gym, you'll find the walking/jogging track on Deck 10, where 4.3 laps equal 1 mile.
Royal Caribbean earns high marks for its family-friendly programming throughout its ships, not just within the kids' clubs (which are typically very good), but also for family-friendly shore excursions, kids' dining menus and a daily slate of planned onboard activities, including family scavenger hunts and trivia games.
On Vision of the Seas, for example, one of the best family activities we saw was the egg drop in the Centrum. Families had to engineer various creations containing a raw egg that could withstand a fall from Deck 8 to Deck 4 -- with impressive and occasionally hilarious results.
Families enjoy the complimentary Adventure Ocean child care program for kids ages 3 and up (kids must be potty-trained), plus a special teen space. Royal Babies & Tots is a drop off nursery for kids under 3, available for a per-hour fee.
Kids must be at least six months old to set sail on Vision of the Seas, and children must be potty-trained to use the pool -- no swim diapers are allowed. For families with babies, there is a pre-cruise stateroom delivery option to order supplies like diapers and wipes.
Adventure Ocean (Deck 10, forward) comprises three age groups -- Aquanauts, 3 to 5; Explorers, 6 to 8; and Voyagers, 9 to 11. Parents can choose to allow their child to "self-sign" in and out of Adventure Ocean starting at 9 years old, but on port days, they are required to be dropped off and picked up by a guardian who is at least 18.
It is generally open for four sessions throughout the day when at sea: 9 a.m. to noon; 2 to 5 p.m.; 7 to 10 p.m.; and, for an extra fee of $7 per hour per child, 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Port hours are usually more flexible to accommodate parents seeking child care while they go into port, with the center being staffed from the time of the first excursion to the last excursion, plus an evening and late-night session.
Royal Caribbean also offers My Family Time Dining, which allows families to enjoy the first part of dinner in the Aquarius Dining Room with kids. At 6:40 p.m., Adventure Ocean staff will escort children from the dining room to the Adventure Ocean facility so that parents can enjoy some kid-free time at the end of dinner (and maybe catch a show). Kids can also choose to have dinner at Adventure Ocean. It's free, but you must sign up in advance.
Programs vary depending on the day, but there is some overlap between the age groups. For the youngest children, themes such as "Little Chefs" and "Knights, Dragons and Princesses" inspire creative play like pretending to be in a restaurant or practicing not waking up the dragon. There are opportunities to make art and listen to stories, too. A Muffalo Potato TV program, shown in staterooms and at Adventure Ocean, is a puppet-led art class that our kids seemed to enjoy.
Middle age children play organized games like "Blind Man's Bacon" and "Pizza Ball" -- our 7-year-old, generally not one to join in group activities, loved the creative games here. Likewise, the oldest group also plays similar games -- and occasionally these two groups are combined. An evening session might include a "Rock & Roll Party" with line dancing and limbo.
There are also autism-friendly toys available for lending at Adventure Ocean, and onboard activities area designed to be accessible to children of all abilities -- autism-friendly activities are sometimes designated with a special symbol on the daily Cruise Compass.
Note that there are limits to the number of kids who can use Adventure Ocean at one time, and on our cruise, we bumped up against that limit several times. Be advised that during high-capacity cruises with families (such as during school breaks) you might face long lines to check your child in, and if your kiddo doesn't love crowds, this may pose a challenge (it did for us).
The teen space, located on Deck 10 on the opposite side of Adventure Ocean, has a small gathering space with a dance floor, DJ booth and a hangout space. Teenagers from 12 to 17 years old can use this space and can come and go as they wish (no signing in/out required). Anyone 18 and up is not permitted.
Staff-hosted programs generally go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m., plus late-night activities on sea days and morning till late night on port days.
There is a very small arcade located outside the teen room on Deck 10. The game selection is quite limited -- and also expensive (you must charge tokens to your SeaPass card).