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30 Royal Caribbean Istanbul Cruise Reviews

All in all the cruise was really good. The ship is good only for port intensive cruises. I would avoid it for a transatlantic crossing. This was our first time on the Rhapsody. We had been on many other Royal Ships before including the ... Read More
All in all the cruise was really good. The ship is good only for port intensive cruises. I would avoid it for a transatlantic crossing. This was our first time on the Rhapsody. We had been on many other Royal Ships before including the Splendor, so we thought we knew the ships but this one stood out because there was no golf course. My own fault for not checking before booking, but be aware. In general the ship does not offer much by way of occupying the day. The Jacuzzis do not work and they put a note in the daily program saying that this is for our health. Does that mean on the ships where the Jacuzzis work they do not care about our health? Just tell us the truth: cannot be repaired until dry-dock. Same thing about the massage shower in the ladies sauna / steam bath area. I was told it was going to be fixed but until the end of the cruise there was only a trickle of water coming out. When the ship is in port there are hardly any planned activities. It might have had to do with the great itinerary; they knew most people would be out in the ports. But since it was very hot, people tended to come back early and the pool area was very crowded. On sea days, people had to lie on the floor because there were no more deckchairs available. This is the first time I ever saw that on a Royal ship. The food in the dining room was great, what a pity they had real problems organizing my time dining. We ended up eating at 6.30 every day or going to the windjammer, because 7.30 or 7.45 bookings meant long long waits. BUT once you got into the restaurant the food was lovely and the service really great and speedy (our reason for going to my time dining). My husband did not think that the Asian flavored dishes had any Asian flavors, but the rest was good. Windjammer at dinner was really good: mostly the same food served in the main restaurant plus local dishes. We had Döner Kebab and similar things. Also they had additional desserts every night, freshly made crêpes, cherries jubilee etc. and the service was very good. Windjammer at breakfast was poor. We have been traveling with Royal since 2006 and we are used to having the same breakfast every morning of every cruise, but this one was so reduced in selection that it was not even worth going to. I finally ended up asking about smoked salmon, one of the cooks gave me a couple of slices which he had hidden under the cold buffet. How embarrassing!! Of course there were no capers and lemons to go with them. Lunch was a very limited selection when the ship was in port, but they did have an extra poolside service with barbecue on sailing days. To stay on the negative: I have never seen so much rust on a Royal ship. We were docked next to an OLD Costa ship and even she was better taken care of. Now finally to the positive, because we did have a really great cruise: the inside of the ship does not show its age. The cabin was in really good shape, the corridors clean, no strange smells (at least not in ours); the public rooms just great. The shows were astonishingly good for such a small ship. The singers were a bit off-key but the rest was really nice. We liked the guest entertainers (except one). The bars were generous and the service great. Let’s not mention the casino more than that the bar service was great. My own fault for doing more there than drinking. The excursion manager tried to sell her excursions but she also gave information on how to get along on your own. This was a first time for me with Royal. We only booked one excursion to Knosos (Crete) and we absolutely loved it. They guide was great, he kept us entertained / informed on the more than 2 hours trip there and back again. It would have been even better if we would have had 30 minutes more free time so we could have had a sit down lunch instead of eating a sandwich walking. In Rhodes we took a taxi to Lindos. The taxi drivers in the port were not interested / available to take us, so we walked towards town and flagged down a taxi. He was more than happy to take us for 120 Euros there and back with waiting time includes. We felt this was a great deal, the published fixed price is 55 Euros one way, but without waiting. Without having to ask, he stopped at some scenic points so we could take photos. The only regret we had, we had not taken swimsuits, there would have been a nice little beach directly in Lindos to cool down a bit. In Santorini we took a speedboat to Oia and the bus (included in the ticket) back to the port where the ship was parked. Oia is so much more beautiful. Better than in the movies. We took the first speedboat there and the 12 a clock bus back. The traffic was already so bad he had trouble getting the big bus through the narrow roads. By the time we came back to where we wanted to take the cable car down to the ship the waiting line was more than an hour (4 ships in port), no shade available. So we ended up walking down. Careful, even though it is less strenuous than walking up, the heat still gets to you. Make sure you buy cold water while still in town so you have something for the way down. There was one shelter area (unfortunately other people had used this as toilets before) and one shady tree (the photographer was standing under it) on the way down, the rest of the way was in bright sunshine. The first part of the descend you have to push the mules out of the way, the second part you just have to be careful not to slip on the mule droppings or the flat stones. The heat made the descend nearly unbearable. In Athens we took the x80 bus for the first time and it was super easy. However, there are many more bus stop than mentioned on the cruise critic threat that discusses this bus. A lot of locals took the bus to go to work. Athens was the only place in Greece were the economic crisis was visible. There were a lot of empty store fronts. The islands seemed very prosperous, lots of construction going on nice cars. We had already spent a couple of days in Istanbul before the cruise so we took a Bosporus cruise all the way to the black sea. For 25 lira they take you on a 2.5 hours trip, you have some free tome to visit a ruined castle and have lunch and then the ship returns to Istanbul in 2.5 hours. We had taken the Audoguide and had a really great day out. Departure was great (a bit early). You walked off the ship, followed the signs to immigration, picked up your suitcases (on shelves, so much easier to see than if everything is standing on the floor) and walked out. Embarkation was just the opposite: hours of waiting without shade, passengers for 3 ships had to go through one hallway and have their passports checked 3 times before check-in. Unfriendly and unhelpful und outright dangerous (we had to stand in the taxi drop off lane and taxis kept arriving. I am astonished that no-one was hurt) Once we were in Royal hands, everything went smoothly, but while we were in the port staffs hand, we were treated like cattle. Just one more word regarding the hotel we had taken in Istanbul. It is called Seres, 3 stars, great staff, nice rooms, great breakfast and (this is the reason why we booked this particular hotel) direct view onto the cruise port from the breakfast room and from our room on the 7th floor. I got up one morning while it was still dark and there was our ship, all lit up and waiting for us. What a great view. This hotel is worth more than they are charging. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Just returned from a cruise ,our third and probably our last ,it just continues downmarket The destinations, general condition of the ship was fine but in our cabin the 3rd person, our daughter, was perched on a mattress on the sofa ... Read More
Just returned from a cruise ,our third and probably our last ,it just continues downmarket The destinations, general condition of the ship was fine but in our cabin the 3rd person, our daughter, was perched on a mattress on the sofa and made the cabin look like a teenage sleepover The food, I am happy to accept that breakfast and lunch buffets are mass catering and was fine, but a bit more effort should go into the main dinner dining room ,poor starters lacked taste quality and imagination the menu changed daily but still consisted in the main of tasteless roast beef and roast pork described in glowing terms ,when it was beef on the main menu the always available menu still had two beef options complete with the ever faithful and cheap salmon!, little other decent fish being available ,the sweets were in keeping with the rest of it.They really are cutting corners and the service was poor as well, finally for the first time on five cruises we didn't have a lobster night To add insult to injury the wine was overpriced 36 dollars for the cheapest plus the usual 15 per cent ,a beer 7.5 dollars plus the usual and cocktails at 14 dollars plus, It really seems that this hitherto excellent product is determined to go down the cheap mass market route ,we will have to look elsewhere Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We just returned from a 9 night cruise of the Mediterranean on the Rhapsody. Compared to other ships I've sailed on (Princess and Disney), it was fine. Not spectacular, but not bad. The staff was really great (always friendly and ... Read More
We just returned from a 9 night cruise of the Mediterranean on the Rhapsody. Compared to other ships I've sailed on (Princess and Disney), it was fine. Not spectacular, but not bad. The staff was really great (always friendly and helpful), and the service was good. I was also impressed by how well organized things were. This was the easiest embarkation and disembarkation I've ever experienced, and I thought the shore excursions were very well-organized. Also, we arranged a pre-cruise hotel and pickup from the airport, as well as transfer to the pier. All of this went extremely smoothly and we were very happy. We had an interior cabin. I had never stayed in an interior before, and I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much room we had. Not alot, but more than I had expected. There were 3 of us in the room, and we never felt too cramped. The dining was hit-or-miss. The buffet was a typical cruise ship buffet, and it was fine. The dining room was a little disappointing. Not a lot of variety, and we had some dishes that were just bad. By about night 3 I started ordering vegetarian entrees because the meat just wasn't that great (tough steak, fatty roast beef). However, some items we ordered were really good. So, it was just hit and miss. Entertainment and activities on the ship were okay - again, nothing that blew me away, but it was ample and enjoyable. One thing I didn't like about the ship was the number of times staff members would try to up-sell something (we were approached multiple times with a speech on how we should eat in the specialty dining rooms), and we were also approached multiple times about the survey we'd be receiving at the end. Everyone wanted to remind us to fill out the survey. It got annoying. The main reason we chose this ship was the itinerary (Istanbul to Rome, including Greece), and we were not disappointed. We loved every port, and as I stated before, the shore excursions were very well organized and we had great tour guides. If your main concern is great ports and scenery, than this is a great cruise to take. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Overall we were very happy with the ship. It was clean, the staff was excellent, the Captain was great. The ship was easy to navigate, the food was very good and in the Windjammer Café they offered a lot of variety. It did not seem ... Read More
Overall we were very happy with the ship. It was clean, the staff was excellent, the Captain was great. The ship was easy to navigate, the food was very good and in the Windjammer Café they offered a lot of variety. It did not seem that there were many activities going on during the day and other than rock climbing, table tennis and shuffle board I do not believe there was anything else for children. Since our itinerary had us in port most days this was not an issue for us. Embarkation was a bit long in Istanbul but after that getting on and off was very efficient. At the ports with tenders they used a number system. Not really a fan of that because you have to get in line to get the number the same morning as the tender but several hours before arrival. If you have an excursion (not thru cruise ship) and need to get off on one of the first boats you need to get in this line at least 30 min before it starts. It seems it would have been easier to just get in line for the tender boat. The kids club did not work out for our daughter age 11. The children that are 3-11 are in one club and 12-17 in another. Because it is a smaller ship they do not have a 3rd area to put the 9-11 year olds. Given she would have been in the area with the small children I did not even register her for the kids club - she had no interest. She would have been more interested in the activities offered to the older group but we were advised that trying to put her with that group would not be wise because there were many teenagers on board. I also do not believe they would have allowed us to switch her - so beware if your child is at the upper range of the young kids. We did not book shore excursions through the cruise line but used roll call to find a group before sailing and booked directly with companies that had received good trip advisor ratings. This worked out very well and we met a great group of people that were sailing with us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I had read very negative reviews of this ship ranging from dirty carpets to fetid odors. I found the ship to be very well maintained for an older ship and, fortunately, odor free. The staff was wonderful, and entertainment was good ... Read More
I had read very negative reviews of this ship ranging from dirty carpets to fetid odors. I found the ship to be very well maintained for an older ship and, fortunately, odor free. The staff was wonderful, and entertainment was good although, for the first time on any cruise I have taken, I did not care for the RCL stage shows featuring the singers and dancers. Food at the Windjammer was as expected. I don't expect gourmet food at a mass buffet but the variety and quality was good enough so that I didn't starve! Quite the contrary. I found the food at the Edelweiss dining room to be a bit disappointing. There were some nice dishes but, on the whole, the food was just OK. I found the chicken to be chewy, the beef so-so, the appetizers not very memorable and the desserts looked a lot better than they tasted. One day I ordered a bread pudding with a caramel sauce that was so sweet it was, for me, inedible. I took a very inexpensive cruise on Carnival this past winter and not only was the food better but the desserts were outstanding. On sea days, a few more activities would have been appreciated. I was especially impressed that RCL has instituted a special patrol to discourage chair hoggers. If you leave your chair for more than half an hour, you may come back to find your belongings removed. I really enjoyed the ports of call, especially Naples (Pompeii, Poisitano, Ravello) & Thessaloniki. All in all, I had a wonderful time and the negatives were just a tiny part of our overall positive experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
The ports on this cruise were amazing. Unfortunately, the ship was not. While the food quality was as good as can be expected, the entertainment was poorly scheduled at 7pm & 9 pm making both dinner and seeing the show difficult. ... Read More
The ports on this cruise were amazing. Unfortunately, the ship was not. While the food quality was as good as can be expected, the entertainment was poorly scheduled at 7pm & 9 pm making both dinner and seeing the show difficult. There were movies on deck but no blankets or hot chocolate were provided. Amenities such as little bottles of lotion and shampoo are gone. (Even the chocolate on the pillow I never ate!) Entertainment venues were few as were activities. There were no enrichment activities. Many cruisers were very happy but I think this had more to do with the free beverage package offered when booking than with the activities themselves. Being boringly sober (and taking the cruise credit instead), there was little to do during the day but play trivia or go to the ever-present art auction. Even my "top tier" event for being at the platinum level was only held at 9:15 am - they couldn't care less if I came. The bed was unusually hard and it took 3 days to get an egg crate despite generously tipping the cabin attendant. This is a smaller, older ship that, while clean, is out-dated. The balcony was unusually small with room only for 2 small upright chairs and a small table. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Myself, my wife and 3 year old daughter had a wonderful 12 days on the Rhapsody around Turkey and the Greek Islands. The itinerary was great in that there was a nice place to go to everyday except for two sea days. Istanbul, Chania, ... Read More
Myself, my wife and 3 year old daughter had a wonderful 12 days on the Rhapsody around Turkey and the Greek Islands. The itinerary was great in that there was a nice place to go to everyday except for two sea days. Istanbul, Chania, Mykonos and Santorini are must-see's and we loved these places. We didn't get off at Athens as we had been there before so we had a rare chance to just relax by the pool whilst it was quiet and everyone was in Athens. There was a fight for sun beds on the sea days however but we have had this same thing on our other cruises, it's just one of those things. We felt the ship was in great condition for an 18 year old ship and didn't feel dated. I don't understand those who moan that the ship looks tired, they are very wrong. The entertainment was excellent and far better than what we had experienced on Celebrity or Holland America. The cruise director was great and there was always something going on at any time of the ship. Our daughter loved the kids club for 3 to 5 year olds. She didn't want to spend all her time with us in the end as she loved the kids club so much. The staff there do a great job all day entertaining all the kids from 6 months to 17! Our cabin was on the 8th deck and we felt the air con was very loud and there was no way to turn it down. Our stateroom attendant also wasn't the best and would leave unwanted rubbish in the room instead of removing it. Other than that we loved our cruise, the food was amazing, the service was great, and would definitely book RCI again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
RCL are clearly lowering standards to accommodate the economy cruise market. The trouble is, having persuaded the more discerning passenger to trade up to Celebrity X, those standards are also plummeting. But back to the Rhapsody.....On ... Read More
RCL are clearly lowering standards to accommodate the economy cruise market. The trouble is, having persuaded the more discerning passenger to trade up to Celebrity X, those standards are also plummeting. But back to the Rhapsody.....On the plus side, with the exception of Athens, we found this to be a wonderful itinerary. The ship is dated but our balcony cabin, 7540, was adequate and comfortable. Meals in the main Eidelweiss restaurant were average, service less so. Up to 20 minutes for a glass of wine and a bread roll. The menu was structured to look far more enticing than the plates delivered. Given this combination, we elected to dine in the Windjammer on half of the nights where the quality and choice of food was far better than the main dining room and with the added benefit that service was as fast, or slow as you wanted it to be. Entertainment levels hit both ends of the spectrum. Some of the guest headliners were brilliant whilst the resident troupe were distinctly average. More like a Glee High School production than West End. The performers seemed to enjoy the food though, judging by the manner in which they filled and stretched their costumes. The Cruise Director's staff were equally varied. Alex and Jemma were constantly undermined by a rather annoying and totally useless woman who conspired to ruin every event to which she was foolishly entrusted. The Cruise Director himself was standard fare until he let himself down very badly at the end of the cruise by a cringeworthy foul mouthed attempt at stand up comedy. Don't give up the day job. Drink prices were extortionate, even without the compulsory 15% service charge, making many standard cocktails $16 each. Still, it achieved the goal of forcing guests into pre paid packages. To be fair, having cruised over the past year with Celebrity, Princess and RCL, they are all battling against budgets and unfortunately, you get what you pay for. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Pluses: * EXCELLENT Service from: Stateroom Attendant: Daniel Tomagan Waiter: Robert Canlas Assistant Waiter: Archie Almari These men MADE OUR CRUISE! * Stateroom size and cleanliness * Ship cleanliness * Shore ... Read More
Pluses: * EXCELLENT Service from: Stateroom Attendant: Daniel Tomagan Waiter: Robert Canlas Assistant Waiter: Archie Almari These men MADE OUR CRUISE! * Stateroom size and cleanliness * Ship cleanliness * Shore excursions and guides were excellent! * Serenity room at the back of the ship was welcome * Steam and sauna open to all passengers Negatives: * Food both at buffet and dining was FAR below acceptable - boring, tasteless, small portions * Inconvenient hours of food services - buffet closed too early - leaving few choices for food on board * Entertainment was amateurish - some nights hardly anything - MUCH better shows and entertainment on even a week end cruise with Carnaval! * library was non-existent - just a small collection of books * internet service options were very over priced - should have had options for 1 or 2 hours * Incorrect information from guest services as to opening hours of shore museums, and de-boarding instructions. * Incorrect information from booking agent who advised that balconies adjacent to ours could be open to provide access to friends' cabins * LONG wait in line (over 30 mins) to get a fried egg at buffet breakfast - and when I complained, staff replied in snippy manner. * No high tea provided as on most cruise ships I have heard the complaint of poor food services on Royal Carribean from many others since my cruise which I shall certainly add my voice to. Comments: I was SO looking forward to this cruise with friends - we had planned it for several years and booked three superior staterooms with balcony. We chose Royal Caribbean because of the itinerary - my first time. I was NOT disappointed with the the itinerary, shore excursions, shore guides (EXCELLENT!), and on-board crew service, naming again, Stateroom Attendant: Daniel Tomagan, Waiter: Robert Canlas, Assistant Waiter: Archie Almario. these men gave us what pleasure we had on board - thank you to THEM! BUT, those things I look for in a cruise, e.g., food and shows, I was TOTALLY, SADLY DISAPPOINTED! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
True - we had a terrific deal through our agents Cruise Nation, paying only £699 for a 10 night cruise (including flights and a 2nt stop in Istanbul). I'm glad we booked via an agent, as any queries I had prior to boarding went ... Read More
True - we had a terrific deal through our agents Cruise Nation, paying only £699 for a 10 night cruise (including flights and a 2nt stop in Istanbul). I'm glad we booked via an agent, as any queries I had prior to boarding went unanswered by RCI. (On land customer service = 0) Check in at Istanbul was "organised chaos" and took almost 2 hours (with some passengers claiming a 4 hour wait). In fairness to RCI - this was largely due to the Turkish immigration staff. That said - by the time we boarded, our stateroom was ready and our luggage had arrived. Odi, our stateroom attendant, soon introduced himself and remained discrete and helpful throughout our stay. The room, whilst small, was well equipped and spotlessly clean. We did notice the absence of a fridge and kettle though. The dressing table area was laden with sweets, chocolates, crisps, drinks and large bottles of water (at an extra charge of course!) Despite asking guest services for these to be removed, they remained there for the duration of our cruise.... Generally: Room 2617 was a quiet inside stateroom, towards the back of the ship and near the lifts. No problems as such. Compared to our previous cruise with P&O (Ventura), the Rhapsody was a lot smaller and lacked many of the facilities we enjoyed last year. However we felt the public areas were in a good state of decor. Other contributors refer to it as "tired", but personally I feel the lack of energy is due to the entertainment crew rather than the ship itself. Let me explain... The shows were below average. There appeared to be a lack of organisation - choosing to use the Centrum area rather than the lovely theatre for their big productions. This led to the area being very congested, a lack of seats, and difficulty in getting drinks from a bar that was too small to cope with the volume of people. To their credit, the aerial shows were impressive - but by the time we jostled for a viewing point, the shows would finish within 20 minutes. As I mentioned, the theatre was lovely. Sadly the resident entertainment crew didn't do the space any credit. The dancing team were excellent but the resident "gang of four" singers were awful. The 2 female "vocal coaches" (honest!) made my ears bleed! It was like a cat's chorus... Unfortunately they featured in every show. The shows were going well - and then they would appear :( Now I know what Simon Cowell means when he talks about "cruise ship singers". In fact the best artists were confined to the bars and lounges: One Love (reggae band) were brilliant, as were Rock Port who had a varied repertoire and were able to get everyone dancing. They clearly understood their audience - something for everyone. We did enjoy the professional act (name's gone, but he starred as Simba in the Lion King), and also the end of cruise variety show which featured a young fella doing tricks on a BMX bike. The world ballroom & Latin champions also performed, and they were delightful. However, generally the shows failed to live up to the West End/Broadway promise. On the plus side, all shows were recorded and shown on your stateroom tv - which I thought was a good idea. The day time activities were sadly even worse. There was a complete lack of events - unless you were willing to endlessly put your hand in your pocket. This is my biggest gripe.... I felt all announcements and most activities were geared towards selling you something. Drinks packages, spa "not so specials", art auctions, speciality restaurants, meal upgrades in the main restaurant, charity donations, certain classes and activities. They appeared to have no shame in pushing this. In fact, it was a more aggressive stance than the guys in the Turkish bazaars! The bars were generally good, with an extensive choice of drinks. There was always a cocktail of the day offered at $9.50. No complaints here... The food was generally good. The buffet at the Windjammer, was chaotic at breakfast times as expected, but nevertheless offered every option possible. Food was always well stocked and well presented. We preferred to take breakfast in the Park Cafe by the solarium pool. Although choices were more limited, it was much quieter and leisurely - and the egg muffins were to die for...! The main restaurant was good. The timings were ever so slightly off (6pm 1st sitting and 8:30pm 2nd) - one being a bit too early and the other slightly too late. That said, the service was excellent, with extra touches like the waiters song and dance show, and the head waiters magic tricks. The menus were fairly,limited, and there were a few occasions where we both struggled to make a choice. However the quality and presentation of the meals was very good. The shore excursions were very good and were well organised. The guides were extremely helpful,and knowledgeable. However, we booked a river cruise and shopping trip back Istanbul, which featured the Grand Bazaar, only to be told it was closed on that day. Ideally they should not advertise knowing this. We had a few encounters with guest services - queries rather than complaints - and were surprised to find a bottle of wine delivered to our room for the "inconvenience". Unexpected and very grateful. We do have an outstanding concern in that our final bill is yet to manifest, and requests for a breakdown have gone unheard. All in all, we enjoyed our cruise. The ports were wonderful and the weather was kind. The staff were great but there's an underlying culture at RCI that I dislike. I appreciate the travel industry is under pressure - but there appeared to be a bit of corner cutting and the relentless sales pitches were tiring. Sadly this would make me question a future cruise with this particular company. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Imagine Cruising sourced this vessel for our 60th birthdays. Package inc 2 nights in a hotel that felt like it was located in Albania...so far from old city Istanbul was it.Joining the ship was a bad experience but on reflection is ... Read More
Imagine Cruising sourced this vessel for our 60th birthdays. Package inc 2 nights in a hotel that felt like it was located in Albania...so far from old city Istanbul was it.Joining the ship was a bad experience but on reflection is probably in keeping with a 3rd world country. After scrambles and much queuing we got our cabin on deck 7. It was fine considering this is not a young ship. Yes we were warned by the ship that there would be plumbing problems & so it was but once reported were soon fixed. There was an odd smell but it was starboard side so we avoided that. The other difficulties revolved around dining & accessing seats/loungers on the sun decks. Nice people don't obey the rules: hog seats/loungers all day even if not using them...in fact gone ashore for the day. The rules are writ large for all to see but rules are for losers & not enforced. We'd anytime dining meaning queuing more than average. (900 for 300 seats allocated for anytimers we were told) Main dining in the Stinging Nettle or Edelweiss restaurant was designed (3 courses of OK - drinkable coffee 8USD extra) to force you to choose the 3 speciality restaurants which charge significantly. The food was better there. The buffet was like eating in a supermarket before a national holiday. In proper cruising the evening meal is the main social event. But you only felt that in the specialities. In the Main you were out in less than an hour. The food was described by RC as "sumptuous....gourmet" ....they must've been having a laugh. The wine was expensive and all bottles we got were plonk complete with blinding headaches. Excursions were beyond our budget. Entertainment was cruise typical & OK. Pitch-selling onboard was a bore as was photos. 2 pools, too small & boiling like broth with kids. Yet the Greek isles were wonderful & worth the ordeal. Next holiday land based......likely the Greek Islands...Santorini...Rhodes....Mykonos....Crete..... Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This cruise was from Istanbul Turkey to the Greek Islands and Athens and back to Istanbul. good itinerary (just what we wanted) and all in all the ship was good with a vary friendly staff. We chose MY TIME dinning as we thought we could ... Read More
This cruise was from Istanbul Turkey to the Greek Islands and Athens and back to Istanbul. good itinerary (just what we wanted) and all in all the ship was good with a vary friendly staff. We chose MY TIME dinning as we thought we could go down and eat when we were ready, however this option only allowed you to choose a half hour window to go to the dinning room. We did eat in the dinning room the first night but found the food only so-so there and they keep asking if you want to buy drinks. Coffee was not good!! My wife had a Pina Colada that was over priced (twice what we paid on other cruises $14.00 to $6.95 and she said it was too sweet. We ate at the Buffet the rest of the trip - selection was OK but the Asian (Chinese and Indian) seemed to have the same taste even though the description was different every day -- Port were fine and the stay time in port was longer the most normally 7am to 6pm. We did not take any of the excursions as we could do ourselves at much less cost although no guide, but also not too structured so we could spend as much time as needed at a location. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
My husband and I took 11 Night Aegean Sea Exploration Cruise, from 1 - 12 June 2015 with the ship The Rhapsody of the Seas. Apart of wanting to visit some of the Greek Islands and few Western Turkish Coast towns, our main intention was to ... Read More
My husband and I took 11 Night Aegean Sea Exploration Cruise, from 1 - 12 June 2015 with the ship The Rhapsody of the Seas. Apart of wanting to visit some of the Greek Islands and few Western Turkish Coast towns, our main intention was to see Ephesus, in particular The Library of Celsus. In this respect, we have paid the tour through our travel agent the very same day when we paid the cruise. On the 1 June when we entered to our stateroom which was very small, there were cans of coke and sprite and chips, on the makeup table. The room did not have a fridge. All of a sudden a waiter came with a bottle of champagne. He said it was from the captain of the ship. When I asked do we have to pay for this, he confirmed that the amount will be deducted from our credit card. Then I requested to remove the champagne, and also cans of coke and sprite, and chips because the room was small and we needed to place our cosmetics on the makeup table. I have also requested to have additional cover. In the meantime, we were required to follow the steps to participate at the safety measures presentation. We were guided to a specific deck where we stood in rows and listened to safety measures. Although I am tall, I could not see anything that was presented. What was the purpose to go to the presentation when majority of travelers could not see it? As being advised by our travel agent, I went to the Fitness Centre to book a spa for my husband and I since we had a AUD$100 voucher. There I met Grace, who told me that I could not use my voucher while the ship was on the sea. I could only use it the very same day we came to the ship or some other day in the evening. In other words, having a voucher meant we were less significant customers for Grace. She also told me that my husband and I could have Swedish massage and would have to pay only US$40 in addition. We accepted, but to our surprise it turned that we had to pay US$180.84 in addition. After Swedish massage, we checked our room, the champagne was not taken away, neither cans of coke and sprite, and chips, nor was additional cover available. I had to intervene four times to get what we needed. Finally, the additional cover was there dirty, so were robes. I complained to the customer counter. The additional cover and robes remained dirty all the time while we were on the cruise. In the evening on the 2 June we found our tickets for Ephesus in the room where it said that we were not going to see the Ephesus, but would go to a hill where we could see from distance Ephesus. I went to a Customer Counter for the explanation. I was told that we were going to have tablets. I explained that the main purpose of our cruise was to see Ephesus, in particular The Library of Celsus. I was then advised to take another tour, but since I was canceling the first tour within less than 24 hours I might not get reimbursement. Then we gave up. In this tour we saw on a hill, far away from Ephesus a sculpture of a God Mother that was erected by some wealthy American. Further, they took us to a pond where it was a pillar so called Aphrodite pillar with five-six stones on each other. We had dinners in a restaurant where we were told the very first night that if we wanted fresh and healthy water we have to pay as well as for the better quality of coffee or tea. The menu was the same all 11 nights. The choice was modest. The bread roles that were served with a butter before the dinner were most of the time steal. We realized four days before taking off that there was dinner available on a dock nine and we transferred there. In the Travel Summary it was clearly noted that in Mykonos we were going to have tendering. But the night before arriving to Mykonos we were informed that the ship was going to deck. At the Customer Counter we were told that the only way to reach the Mykonos village from the port was to pay US$15 per person for return ticket, which we did. To our surprise, when we went out of the ship there was a huge announcement that travel (return ticket) to Mykonos village organized by locals was €2 (equivalent to US$2.20). We made clear to the Customer Counter that we did not intend to pay gratuity. They apologized and offer us a letter with 20% off if we take another cruise with the Rhapsody of the Seas within a year. I doubt I will ever cruise again with the Rhapsody of the Seas. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
I have travelled on other cruise liners in the past and always had positive experiences and recommended them. It is therefore with a great deal of disappointment that I write this review. The culture of the boat was one of up sell up ... Read More
I have travelled on other cruise liners in the past and always had positive experiences and recommended them. It is therefore with a great deal of disappointment that I write this review. The culture of the boat was one of up sell up sell from orange juice at breakfast to restaurants at night. There was no interesting cultural talks or discussions and the general attitude was "well you can watch the talk on TV". There were no buses supplied at ports to get to towns. Everything was an add on and not well explained or signposted. Confusion was not uncommon. Having had a bank ATM swallow my card, I then had to fight with the finance person on board to explain why my card could not be charged even though providing another. This fight went on over days despite numerous customer service visits and emails. I wrote a review on the ship and it was never acknowledged. Extremely dismissive customer satisfaction indeed. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Not expecting this to be an outstanding cruise from the other reviews we were not disappointed! Fairly experienced cruisers, we have been on much better ships ,and sadly for the price paid we were not impressed with the quote ... Read More
Not expecting this to be an outstanding cruise from the other reviews we were not disappointed! Fairly experienced cruisers, we have been on much better ships ,and sadly for the price paid we were not impressed with the quote "Beautiful Rhapsody of the seas"as we were reminded every day on the ships messaging announcement! The ship is generally older and all the less impressive for that with no wow factor at all,save for the new Centrum ,which doesn't work particularly well due to the tiny dance area and the lack of seats.We did not sit there once during our cruise ,lingering occasionally to listen to a catchy tune standing at the railing on one of the levels.We did attend the aerial show which was brief and not that enthralling to be honest,securing a seat on the side of the Centrum plagued by passive cigarette smoke travelling from the casino indoor smoking area.This was a major bugbear for us as it affected the coffee stand and the customer relations desk,the smell travelling and drifting to all levels .Needs to be discontinued immediately IMHO. Our cabin 2121 was a small interior ,we never bother with frills as you only sleep and shower there,clean but a little rickety and basic by today's standards.But fair enough the beds were comfortable and our annoying issues with the air conditioning and the door lock were addressed during our cruise with efficiency.The in- cabin announcement system did not work and there was only tennis ,news and cruise propaganda on the TV in English,which seems like a very penny pinching cut back.There was a cartoon channel for the kids,of no interest to us.Fair enough you do not go on holiday to watch TV ,but my husband had a couple days feeling ill mid cruise and something for him to watch would have been welcome whilst taking it easy in cabin.We had a quiet cabin with little passing footfall, and although we had engine noise it was constant and you soon filtered it out .In general a good cabin choice.Lack of a fridge meant constant trips for ice water to deck 9. Our cabin steward James was an absolute peach ,always helpful, polite and we thank him for his unfailing services and the towel animals.These guys are very underrated for the job they do and deserve recognition. Food was better than expected in the main dining room. Maricel our waitress very friendly, portions small but sufficient and generally well cooked.The buffet restaurant was a bit chaotic in its set up with people milling in all directions and we avoided it mostly .The food was not to our taste personally , but the big eaters could be seen at lunchtime with the "Haystack" plates .Quantity vs quality really .We used the cafe in the solarium where the menu was limited but a seat was always available at lunch .We are not big eaters so we preferred to do this. We used all the speciality restaurants during the cruise for a change of venue ,but again were of the opinion that they were not as good as those experienced on other ships. Alcohol and wine are expensive on this ship,and bottled water extortionate . Entertainment was pretty average ,but a couple of headliners could be described as very good .There was one evening mid cruise with only a movie in the theatre, and the last night only movie re-runs(which we had already seen).We never went on deck to watch a movie as times were the same as the shows ,and generally got the theatre practically to ourselves for the afternoon ones . The picture quality was very poor ,and they started repeating the films halfway though the cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation ran pretty smoothly ,but as said before we had problems with the cruise cards which was a nuisance and had to have our cabin lock fixed.One day we could not go ashore as we had been given back the cancelled cards,and we had to go up and get new ones (Yet again) All in all not a bad ship for first timers maybe ,but we had too many better ones to compare it with. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We have just returned from a wonderful cruise and have the obligatory air con cold to prove it. We booked an internal room as we have found as its so dark this is the best sleep we ever get. We never sleep in long at home. We took the tip ... Read More
We have just returned from a wonderful cruise and have the obligatory air con cold to prove it. We booked an internal room as we have found as its so dark this is the best sleep we ever get. We never sleep in long at home. We took the tip of another reviewer and brought a tiny torch so we could find the loo in the night. Great Tip. We felt no vibration and at times forgot we were at sea. Only port we were disappointed in was Messini - very graffiti ridden and dirty so came back quite fast. At kusadissi we went to Ephesus as we had booked our own private trip before we left from England through www.ephesusshuttle.com Two of us in a minibus and Ali our guide was great, (even managed to find me a toilet away from all the crowds) The Centrum was lovely and the music was great. The shows at the centrum were brilliant. Simeon Baker and Erky are brilliant Ringmasters. Boogie Night, Parade of Flags etc etc brilliant fun!! Disco on top deck brilliant, even though a tad cold as it was November, we soon warmed up by dancing. However on previous ships usually the dancers take part and dance with the guests The in house dancers and singers had two big nights in our 11 nights. Never saw them in between. Dancers wearing laddered tights on the final night wasn't a good look either! The guest entertainers especially Geronwy Thom were excellent! SPECIAL AWARDS to Hott Stands on top deck playing in coats hoods and gloves!! Our Cabin Attendant was excellent always there. Our toilet blocked 3 times and he attended to it instantly. We liked the cards you placed in the key inlet to indicate DO NOT DISTURB or Make Up Room. The Aquarius Dining Staff were excellent and staff remembered your favourite foods or allergies. The food was wonderful. At night time we used to go the Smoking Area on top deck (as non smokers a horrible area anyway) to get our coffee walk across the top deck and into the Solarium Bar for our snack. The hot coffee and tea should be next to the food. And yes the coffee is vile but I need the caffeine! We did have a soda package and when we were in the Enchanted Evening area we were forgotten three consecutive times by the same Waiter on consecutive nights. You could see his face drop when we ordered a diet pepsi or coke. Thomson in the Champagne bar was completely the opposite and a joy to chat to him and sit in his Bar, our drinks at the ready before we crossed the room. Our £100 on board credit was not forthcoming. We asked three times at Reception and was told the computers were not working. Warley from Reception on the fourth day took charge and sent 8 emails to the UK and it was finally sorted on our 11th night on disembarkation morning. Normally Muster day is a bind carrying lifebelts and this was a greater controlled and pleasanter experience as per the new Safety regs you don't have to wear them on the Muster practise. At Captains Corner a lady asked why didn't we have to practice wearing our lifebelts, my thought was I never practise on a plane so why should I practice on a ship? The Crew and staff were wonderful and helpful and smiley all the time. Its a shame some guests couldn't be the same. I actually heard one woman complain she had to wash her hands before eating! Another woman complained that the dining ought to be structured according to class (hints of Titanic there) LOLS We noticed queuing was a novelty at times for some people but the rest of us sorted them out and the staff didn't let people jump ahead of the line either!! We took part in the Quizzes and as only 20 per cent of the guests were American we gave up at times as the songs were and the answers were American orientated. Who wants to be a Celebrityaironnaire 100 top answers as favourite car was a Chevrolet?? Erky and Simeon excellent quizmasters. Simeon Baker and Erky on Channel 14 are hilarious their rapport is wonderful. And we braved the wall!! The two guys were excellent! A great cruise a great time and we are now dieting madly Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Overall: I had an enjoyable vacation. I was never "wowed" on board, nor was anything terrible on board (well, except for the coffee, which was about the worst I've ever tasted). This was my 6th cruise in 7 years, so I ... Read More
Overall: I had an enjoyable vacation. I was never "wowed" on board, nor was anything terrible on board (well, except for the coffee, which was about the worst I've ever tasted). This was my 6th cruise in 7 years, so I do not fall into the category of avid cruiser. Previous cruise experiences included 3 Celebrity, 1 Royal Caribbean (Radiance), and one NCL. Embarkation: Embarkation in Istanbul was fairly quick, and the agents were pleasant and friendly. Our luggage was delivered to our room quickly. Ship: The ship seemed well maintained, sailed smoothly, and everything seemed to be in working order. I could not feel engine vibrations. There are tons of windows and acres of glass, which I believe was the prime design element in the Vision class ships. I believe the ship is beautiful, although this is subjective. Stateroom attendant: She was extremely friendly and personable. She always kept the room clean and tidy. I rarely saw her though. The attendant for neighboring cabins always seemed to be around. Whenever I needed something, I usually found myself asking the other attendant, as she was usually present. Stateroom: Large outside category. The furniture is old, with many nicks and blemishes, and the drawers didn't exactly glide in and out, Most of the drawers seemed as though they had been broken and repaired, requiring special care to open and close them. Nearly one third of the "vanity" under the mirror in the stateroom was covered with over priced "mini-bar" items, including $4 bottles of water. On previous cruises I recall the stateroom attendant leaving ice and a pitcher of water at least once daily. It seems this practice has been discontinued in an attempt to get passengers to pay $4 for a drink of water. I would rate the stateroom as satisfactory overall. Public areas: The public areas of this ship are beautiful and well maintained. I was impressed with how nice everything appeared in the centrum, on deck, and in the lounges. The appearance of the public areas is the one area in which this ship was above expectations. Pool areas: There are two main pool areas, one outdoors and one inside a solarium. The solarium pool is supposed to be reserved for adults only. There were not many children on board, however, those that were on board were often found in the "adults only" pool in the solarium. If these children were even somewhat well behaved, it would not have been too big of an issue. Unfortunately, the children often found in the solarium pool (usually with their parents), were very poorly behaved, constantly screaming at the top of their lungs and running around the deck disturbing the mostly adult crowd trying to enjoy some peace and quiet. One day it got so bad that a father of some of these children nearly came to blows with another passenger who was rightly complaining that the children should not be using the adults only pool. Numerous signs are posted stating this pool is for adults only. Complaints to the staff members were ignored, they clearly didn't want to enforce the rules nor get involved. This was a major failing of Royal Caribbean. Security should have intervened and enforced the rules set by Royal Caribbean. Dining: There are not many dining options on this ship, the MDR and the Windjammer Buffet being the only places one can have a meal. There were also small sandwiches and terrible burgers and pizza usually available from a grouchy cook at a small corner of the solarium. Main Dining Room: Service at dinner was very good. Menu selections were adequate, but not impressive. Feed seemed to be of hotel banquet quality. Cheap cuts of beef (a nice cut of beef was available for an extra $15), no lobster, no crab, shrimp was available a couple of evenings. Nobody ever left hungry, as there was plenty of food, and if the waiter ever sensed I didn't like something, he quickly brought something else. The quantity was definitely there, but the quality was lacking. I would gladly trade quantity for quality. The appetizers were typically the best part of every meal. Service in the MDR for breakfast or lunch was terrible. Nearly impossible to even get a glass of water. After enduring the poor breakfast and lunch service in the MDR a couple times, I decided to eat those meals in the Windjammer only. Also, dining times are inconvenient, either 6:00PM (too early, especially when in port) or 8:45 (too late, making dinner last until 10:30). In the cruise compass (daily program) and posted on the video boards near the dining room, there were always announcements for Royal Caribbean's "My Time" dining, which allows passengers to eat when they want to eat. The announcements all said to see the head waiter to be moved to "my time" dining. On the third day, I waited in line to see the head waiter to inquire about "my time" dining, his response "that has been full for two months". If it has been full for two months, please stop advertising it, or better yet, there is clearly demand for more - open a larger section for "my time" dining". Windjammer Buffet: The food here was pretty good for a buffet. Nothing to get excited about, but I never had any trouble finding something good to eat. Finding a table, or getting a beverage was another story. My guess is that most passengers learned that service in the MDR was terrible for breakfast and lunch, therefore opted to take those meals in the Windjammer. Two large buffet lines emptied into one small area for getting juice, coffee or water and always resulted in a terrible traffic jam. Coffee: The coffee on board was TERRIBLE. Likely the worst I've ever tasted. I mentioned it to several crew members in the restaurants, and the response was always the same, "Yes, I agree - the coffee is terrible and I wouldn't drink it. " Several of them added: "it is American coffee", so it would seem that if the crew told any of their superiors that the coffee was bad, they were told "that's American coffee". Coffee was for sale at a small "Seattle's Best Coffee" stand. I don't think I'm being cynical in believing that the reason for the TERRIBLE coffee in the restaurants was to force passengers to pay extra for a decent cup of coffee. Ice Cream: On Celebrity ships, home made (ok, ship made) FREE ice cream was available in the afternoon. On the VOS, passengers could PAY for Ben and Jerry's, no free ice cream anywhere. Orange Juice: In the Windjammer Buffet, I saw a machine making fresh orange juice. When I went to get a glass, I saw that they were charging $4 for small glass of juice. I stuck with the free reconstituted frozen orange juice. Entertainment: I was impressed by the almost constant live music. This was a pleasant surprise, as the musicians were talented. The band in the main showroom was very talented as well. The live music was a highlight of the cruise. Guest entertainers were also very good. I give the entertainment 5 out of 5 stars. Great job here!! Overall: I enjoyed myself, the ship was nice and there was plenty to eat. I pick cruises by the port calls, rather than by the ship. The port calls were outstanding, and the ship was fine. Next time, my first choice would be a Celebrity ship, but if all that was available going to the ports I wanted was Royal Caribbean, I would do it again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Due to a lack of proper sanitation/hygienic conditions on the ship, there was an outbreak (publicly announced throughout the ship) of a gastrointestinal virus which I contracted. My immune system was not up to battling the bug, I could not ... Read More
Due to a lack of proper sanitation/hygienic conditions on the ship, there was an outbreak (publicly announced throughout the ship) of a gastrointestinal virus which I contracted. My immune system was not up to battling the bug, I could not function nor eat for one full day and thereafter medically quaranteed for 24 hours. Unfortunately, the virus struck at a very critical time so I missed what I traveled half way around for, a visit to Jerusalem and Bethlehem in Israel. As soon as the crew took corrective actions via sanitizing most areas, the virus abated, but it was too late for me as I had already suffered 2 real bad days and two more functioning at half speed. I was furnished superior medical care by the medical clinic doctor and the nurses. Although I was furnished no info by ship personnel, I was able to take care of the medical bill and the $380 I had paid for the Jerusalem/Bethlehem shore excursion was refunded without great hassle. When I arrived back in LA, I contacted the post cruise guest relations section in Miami re issues dealing with the norovirus. Unfortunately, an indifferent disinterested advocate answered my call and e-mailed back in two days telling basically that he could not or would not help me. My responsive e-mail was never answered. Since I have spent my adult life as trial atty, I could not let this slide, and after two weeks, a very friendly lady from the executive staff called me, apologized and offered me a very-very small voucher (what I consider a bone) off a future cruise. A written apology would have been preferred. RCI is headed for a class action lawsuit re the Norovirus caused by its lack of proper maintenance. Remember, the bug abated when the crew took corrective action, so it mi9ght have been preventible.As to the positives about the cruise, the staff was excellent and not just the cabin steward and dining room waiter and his assistant, but everyone. They were friendly, polite and helpful. As I said, the medical care furnished was superior. I have been on many cruises, but the evening entertainment in the main showroom was the best I have seen. Although the breakfast menu was the same each day in the main dining room, it was extensive and it rates a an A minus rating. The negatives are extensive. I sailed on the very same ship, Vision of the Seas, last May to the Baltic, so I am comparing the two sailings. First off is the price gouging. RCI charges $31 per person each way for airport transfers for a total cost of $124. I used a cab for a total round trip cost of about $51 to $52 and I had fast private service. I live in California where wine is inexpensive. However, what they charged plus a 15% tip for one bottle of wine, I can buy a full case or 12 bottles here in LA. Usually free, but here there was a $150 per person charge for a ship tour. The prices for the shore excursions were about double the cost of those offered in the Baltic in May, 2011. Remember, the Baltic northern europe) is a very high cost area for everything The shore excursions were awful with the emphasis being on the tour guide wasting time in souvenir shops where they obviously get a kick back. Over this, there was even an argument in one shop between one guide and tourist over the amount of wasted time. This souvenir shop stopping was on all the shore trips. There was a complete lack of management of quality over the shore trips and their guides. In May, the dinner menu in selection and quality rated an A. By October, in the main dining room, the choices were meager and the quality was not close to gourmet. In fact, it was below average except for service. The buffet (Windjammer) where we rarely ate was mediocre. It was like a very cheap all you eat cafe which are abundant here in LA. This is all for cost savings. There is a dearth of activities on the ship on the at sea days. There was 2 sessions of a napkin folding class which my wife enjoyed plus a scrapbook class. Other activities appeared to revolve around the spa which was a front to purchase services or the casinos. Of course, sitting in the sun or using the pool were available and free. Due to a lack of customers probably because of the cost, at the spa, the attendant threw in a facial for the cost of a massage. My wife accepted the offer. Unlike May, when we disembarked and there was plenty of staff outside the ship to assist, there was a sole lady and exit door. Although, the luggage was neatly arranged, exiting the terminal was a nightmare because RCI's transfer buses clogged the way and but for a porter, were we able to find a taxi. Of course, these were not cabs that used meters so the price was triple what it should be. I knew the correct price and eventually found an honest driver. RCI has an obligation to direct you via personnel or signs to other modes of transfer apart from their overpriced (as described above)transfer service. RCI, since May of this year, has made the bottom line its primary focus. I am reasonably sure that this principle is applicable to all their ships and sailings. Please note airfare from LA to Istanbul, Turkey is not cheap, so when I add that cost to that of the cruse's shortcomings, I was at best disappointed with the cruise. I suppose that if the cost of the RCI cruise is very cheap and you live close enough to the start off point so air is cheap, I would recommend an RCI cruise, but always be wary of the Norovirus. If you are lucky like my wife, you may have an immunity to the virus so this potential malady should not scare you off. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Royal Caribbean Vision of the Sea Istanbul and the Holy Land departing 28 October 2012 Grand Suite 8518 The three star rating is based on the experience of a suite booking. Had a lower grade been booked the rating would have been higher. ... Read More
Royal Caribbean Vision of the Sea Istanbul and the Holy Land departing 28 October 2012 Grand Suite 8518 The three star rating is based on the experience of a suite booking. Had a lower grade been booked the rating would have been higher. This voyage was selected for its chance of a first visit to Israel at a time that suited me. We have cruised before, on Cunard, Silversea, Fred Olsen and Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas The Grand Suite category is the lowest grade offering Concierge benefits on this Vision Class ship. Check in was brisk although there was no dedicated line for Suite guests. We were allowed to find our own way to the suite and the nearest lift was not signposted from the entry on deck 1. On the Cunard Queen Mary we were once fortunate to be upgraded to Queens Grill status and we found the suite cabin on Vision of the Sea equally good if not better than that on QM. However, that was it and from then on it was not clear what benefits Concierge status had for us. Newer and larger Royal Caribbean Ships have a dedicated lounge staffed by an officer who gets to know and assist her passengers. On Vision and its class of ship this is not so. When I asked at reception the day after joining if I could meet the Concierge officer I was met with a puzzled stare but eventually the right person did appear and was helpful, though I saw her only once again on the last sea day when she delivered an invitation to visit the bridge. We were first assigned to a table of eight for dinner. Two places were unfilled and the other four were occupied by young women who had not met previously but were loyal RC cruisers who had earned enough points to be upgraded to Concierge status even though occupying inside cabins. They had much to share with each other and though polite and friendly it was pretty obvious that two 70 year olds were oddities on the table. I think the ship was incompetent about this placement, this was about feeding, not dining. Our one meeting with the Concierge officer the following day had us moved to a table for two. Special lunch menus for Concierge Guests were published in the suite literature but lunch in the restaurant was by open seating only. We joined a queue to be seated at tables of 8-10. Showing our Gold Sea pass cards at the restaurant entrance at the first lunch was again met by puzzled staff who were not aware of any special menus and we were made to feel rather like queue jumpers. The tables for ten were pretty miserable. Some passengers brought a book and read, couples sat in silence and there was never a communal feeling to meals shared this way. The Windjammer Cafe provided buffet meals. It was crowded but adequate though the staff look gloomy. Cabin 8518 is located right below the Windjammer entry. Other reports here have mentioned that the cabin may experience undue early morning noise as the Cafe is set up for breakfast. This was not a problem. From time to time heavy footfalls could be heard during the day, probably made by younger passengers running, but any noise would not have been commented on except to say that the main problem seems to have been sorted. There was no vibration nor engine noise in the cabin and almost none in remainder of the ship including the auditorium over the stern. It was a very stable ship even in the moderate seas we experienced for a day or so. In the cabin, the restaurant and the auditorium you could not be sure if the ship was tied up alongside, or at sea. The ship is clean and well maintained. The carpets look new and the underlay is thick and springy, feeling freshly laid. A large amount of space has been allocated to the shopping arcade but it seems odd that no simple goods like toothpaste, aspirin or reading material were available. The casino too is large, perhaps even oversized. I tried to count the number of slot machines and came to numbers between 150-200, so many rows, columns and arcs of banked machines I gave up on accuracy, but the numbers do indicate that RC is doing all it can to separate passenger from their dollars. There was a general grumble of recognition that this was something resented but tolerated. The Captain announced on day three that there was some diarrhoea on board and regular videos about hand washing were shown on cabin TVs and encouraged at all food outlets. After this announcement I avoided the Windjammer buffets where there was so much exposed food and restricted dining to the restaurant, even with its shared tables for lunch. No one I came across had any problems with the norovirus, nor did they know of cases personally. There was a special morning reception for suite guests, about 40 were there. At least ten officers were present to circulate and were introduced to us. They including the Finance Controller, Communications, Marketing, HR, Inventory and so on but oddly missing was the officer dedicated to suite guests. There were three formal nights but no tux for us even though up to now we have always taken formal gear. It was a good decision as it was poorly observed. I estimated fewer than 20% of men were in black tie. Some in black tie were not wearing coats and nearby one in the full kit set it off with a baseball cap, black of course. At the next table to us, on all three formal nights the man wore a black T-shirt. (a young man who looked more elegant than many others of us) It would have been disappointing to have compromised our 23k baggage allowance for the flight out and then back to have packed tuxedo. Tuxedos were available to rent on board but why bother? Concierge guests have access to a reserved section of the Viking Lounge between 5-8pm for free drinks. I asked for a sauvignon blanc on my first visit and was told that that wine was too expensive and the choice was a house red or white. I had the white but did not finish it. Later on I found that you could order any bar drink at a 25% discount though service was still added. On previous RC voyage with access to the dedicated concierge lounge a good bar was maintained and canapés and other hot dishes were available too. When I did ask if they were serving any canapés I was told that they were off because of the viral problem. The Vision's evening lounge arrangements are a poor compromise and I did notice that most of the users of this facility seemed to be upgrades with an absence of suite guests. I used the facility only twice, mainly because it was inconvenient, ending at 8pm while second seating dinner was not until 8:45pm. A cocktail before dinner was not the function of this service. The food on board was average standard but there is special mention of the pastry chef whose work was outstanding, and I usually avoid desserts. But nevertheless it was best to avoid desserts that involved alcohol. A superb savaran had a light delicate texture but the Gran Marnier based syrup it was to absorb saw little if any Gran Marnier and instead was an unpleasant rather bitter/sour substitute. Later a black cherries with kirsch suffered much the same way, so instead I kept to his varied creations that outshone the remainder of the galley's output. Had we booked a lower grade which did not offer a Concierge service this could have been a cruise offering good no-frills value. The passengers looked contented and were having a good time. Our Concierge experience on Brilliance of the Seas encouraged us to repeat it on Vision. RC's advertising does inform that the full Concierge experience is not present on Vision class Ships but the offered service is unnecessarily patchy with a lack of attention to detail and my advice would be to forget it, though we did get a really nice cabin! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
The ship stayed in Istanbul the first night. This made for a pleasant embarkation. I arrived at 2 pm (12 noon opening) and walked right on the ship. There were no lines and my luggage was in the room in an hour. We explored the ship ... Read More
The ship stayed in Istanbul the first night. This made for a pleasant embarkation. I arrived at 2 pm (12 noon opening) and walked right on the ship. There were no lines and my luggage was in the room in an hour. We explored the ship and ate at the WindJammer. Please note that if you are talking the Metro (formally Tram-1), don't get off until the second to last stop. I got off just past the Golden Horn bridge and my poor wife about died pulling her luggage a mile through Istanbul. We enjoyed the first show and found the meals throughout the cruise enjoyable. Occasionally, we ordered the steak when nothing looked to appetizing. I like on the Texas coast where there is a shrimp fleet. I am used to fresh shrimp. The shrimp on the boat was not good IMO. I did not find the seafood on the ship (with the exception of the Scallops) up to par. However, I enjoyed lamb and duck and most of the fish dishes. Don't miss the salad bar at lunch (Brassiere 60) on sea days. The ship was a little dirty (carpet on stairs was stained) but the staff worked hard and was always cleaning. I was impressed with my room steward and the waiter/assistant waiter gave us good advise about ports and what to do. I enjoyed the rock wall and ran a few miles on the outdoor track. There was something in the swimming pool water that burned your eyes. The weather was good and the only shocking thing was I didn't gain more weight than I did. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Chosen for its interesting itinerary, this cruise from Istanbul went to Haifa, Ashdod, Athens, Kusadasi, back to Istanbul. And it gave good shore time, including overnites & evening departures. We're Brits, we booked late ... Read More
Chosen for its interesting itinerary, this cruise from Istanbul went to Haifa, Ashdod, Athens, Kusadasi, back to Istanbul. And it gave good shore time, including overnites & evening departures. We're Brits, we booked late through a T/A who had an excellent eye for an opportunity. The ship had obviously been under-booked, so with RCI slashing prices but no flight availability, the T/A had lined up flights for a day ahead & an overnight hotel in Istanbul. Add Heathrow hotel/parking, direct flights by BA, and ship's auto-tips taken care of, and we couldn't resist this attractive package. Early-morning flight no problem with a Heathrow hotel - we even slipped into central London for the evening. A private transfer booked at €20 to our Istanbul hotel, on the fringe of Sultanahmet, gave us the afternoon & evening exploring. We later met folk who'd booked ship's fly-cruise from Heathrow. Via Amsterdam. Took all day. Left us feeling smug. Next morning, transfer to the ship. Hotel was near the tram line. Port was near the tram line. 2 Turkish lire pp by over-crowded tram, or ten times as much by taxi? No contest for cheapskates. With all our luggage, getting on the jam-packed tram was errrrr ..........interesting. No matter, a tenner saved is a tenner saved. Warm welcome on Vision of the Seas. And at the CC meet-and-mingle Some reviews had suggested that the ship needed a re-fit & that crew morale was low. Nonsense Cabin very acceptable, decent size, clean & up-together, though no fridge or hot drinks. Older-style TV with no access to our on-board account. But all OK & no issues. Excellent public facilities, indoor & outdoor pools, two theatres, varied bars, very poor library. The multi-floor atrium looked like a triumph of design over utility, but the entertainments team knew how to use it, and they laid on some hot-hot evenings. Way better than the theatre offerings, though they had their good moments too. Food in the MDR was very acceptable. We'd chosen my-time, met one couple at dinner & booked together for the next night. Ditto other couples later, & we finished our cruise as effectively fixed dining for 8, without the lottery of fixed-dining companions. The Windjammer was also very acceptable, reasonable choice though some was rather bland, including excessive use of tasteless buttercreams, etc. Nice surroundings, table-clearing mebbe a shade slow if I want to be picky, but no bunfight for seats. Staff were pretty good - cheerful, willing, helpful. Negatives. There were a few. RCI's high drinks prices are notorious, certainly amongst Brits. But to compound that, RCI were very cagey about disclosing prices. Drinks featured on table promos were un-priced, as were the cocktail-of-the-day being touted by the tray-full, and the printed wine suggestions on the dinner menu. If I have to ask the price, they can keep it. Cheapest wine was the unmemorable but drinkable "La Terre" house at $30 incl service charge. But this wine was not offered everywhere, and other more expensive wines were quoted as the house wine, causing confusion. Except in the Schooner bar, where the cheapest wine was, from memory, $60 plus 15% service. Never bought a beer or a soft drink aboard, and drank more water, tea and coffee than I've ever drunk on a cruise. Rationing meant we spent about the same as on other cruises, and the under-worked bar staff touting for business suggests others were doing likewise. Minimal extra profit at the expense of significant customer dis-satisfaction, and self-imposed rationing because we hate being ripped-off is not the way to fully enjoy any vacation. Entertainment staff. Way too much of the "Hey, hey", "whooooooo-yeahhhhhhhhh" and, worst of all, "remember, I looooooove you" from the tannoy. Cringeworthy at first, then comical, then downright boring. But cruise director Simeon, perhaps a little too in-your-face life-and-soul for us despite his Welsh ancestry, did know his stuff, was full of enthusiasm, did inject life into the activities, and was interesting to talk to in a quiet interlude. The guy is well-worth a 9+ Stuff like the belly-flop competition. Ugh. But we're plebs, it was a bit of fun. Rather more fun is "Quest". Don't ask. If it's promoted on a cruise just go along and see. Then roll about laughing, or walk out in disgust. Ships' excursions. Last-minute we took ship's over-priced Piraeus-Athens transfer, after learning of a 24-hour transport strike incl taxis. Shame we hadn't known that the ho-ho buses included a transfer route from port to city centre, at €20 they were about half the cost of RCI's transfer. In other ports we did our own thing, for the usual reasons. RCI's promo for their Bethlehem excursion made us laugh. It went to great lengths to berate the fact that in Bethlehem, which is a Palestinian enclave, a Palestinian guide will take over & will direct clients to chosen outlets. Thus time spent ....... "is solely at the discretion of the local guide who may receive a commission for any purchases. .....this is beyond the control of RCI." This from RCI !! - the cruiseline with perhaps the world's worst reputation for wasting their excursionists' valuable shore time by diverting them to commission-earning shops etc. Which in the case of this cruise included an awful lot of carpet demonstrations !!! But the positives outweighed the negatives, and all in all a good cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We booked this cruise about a year out because it had 3 areas we really wanted to see: Istanbul, Egypt and Israel. Unfortunately due to the "Arab Spring" Egypt was dropped as a port so we got one more port in Greece and they ... Read More
We booked this cruise about a year out because it had 3 areas we really wanted to see: Istanbul, Egypt and Israel. Unfortunately due to the "Arab Spring" Egypt was dropped as a port so we got one more port in Greece and they added an overnight in Israel. A plus was that due to the unrest in the region the price of our cruise kept dropping and we ended up with a really good deal, almost a quarter of what it was originally priced. I was getting a really hard time from on online travel agent in answering emails, calling me back or getting the price reductions so I ended up cancelling with them and rebooking with my regular online agency. Our fellow passengers were a good mix, very few children and seemed like us to be intent on exploring the ports and not partying the night away. Service overall was excellent, always smiling and room steward was great. Ship was in good condition, well maintained. Food was good, not great, it would have been nice if we could of have had some ethinc/ cultural foods served while in the area, we were in the eastern med after all, where were the Turkish and Greek specialties??? We were disappointed in the lack of fruits and fresh baked products too. If I have any complaint it is in the variety of foods offered, it should have been much more varied. What was served was well prepared and tasty and the dining room/windjammer staff were first class all around. The ports were fantastic, embarkation and disembark were fast and easy, all the crew knew there jobs and performed them well, the whole cruise came off very well and I know personally how hard it is to make something like this happen so smoothly that you don't even notice. We enjoyed our RCI cruise and wouldn't hesitate to sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Unable to resist the almost ridiculously low rates for this voyage and the availablity of very reasonably priced air from NY to Istanbul, my wife and I decided to return to the Mediterranean. Let me state - unequivocally - that this trip ... Read More
Unable to resist the almost ridiculously low rates for this voyage and the availablity of very reasonably priced air from NY to Istanbul, my wife and I decided to return to the Mediterranean. Let me state - unequivocally - that this trip met or exceeded all expectations. The ship, while obviously older (1998), was in very good shape. It does show some age with some of the design and furnishings, but this did not in any way deter our enjoyment. Our cabin - large outside - was absolutely perfect for the two of us. The only signs of wear were a few "dings" in the furniture, but everything else was absolutely fine. Sure....we missed the interactive flat screen TV's that we have experienced on newer ships, but this was a minor issue. Staff was unfailingly polite and attentive. Our cabin steward kept the stateroom in very good shape and the cleaning was meticulous. Dining in the main dining room (Aquarius) was very good - there was never a time that we could not find something to enjoy for dinner. While the food was definitely not "gourmet," it was as good as any main dining room food we have had. It is clear that the lines have cut back on the higher end choices - no lobster tails, no crab legs, generally lesser cuts of meat (filet mignon was available at a $14.95 upcharge), but again, absolutely adequate. We DID miss the optional dining experience we had on Royal Caribbean a couple of years ago, but we knew that it would not be available and it was not a major issue. Complaints? It was very apparent to us that in the past two years, RCCL has significantly raised the price of "extras." Wines were offered at 3 - 4 times retail. $10 bottles were routinely offered at $35 - $40. I would expect this at a NY restaurant, but not onboard. Glasses of wine ranged from $8.00 to more than $15.00 - really overpriced. Most mixed drinks were in the $8.50 - $10.50 range. Keep in mind that all of these were given a mandatory 15% service charge. Spa treatments were absurdly expensive - 50 min. massages for $150! I guess that the reality of the marketplace dictates that the cruises have to be deeply discounted but every attempt is made to recoup the lower margins by charging close to outlandish prices for onboard services and purchases. The thing that stands out most was a "special behind the scenes tour" of the ship for $150 a person. This is NOT a mistake - $150!!!!! In the past, these kinds of tours were routinely given for free. All in all, a wonderful cruise and a very nice ship. The only real negative was an outbreak of the Norovirus and a fairly large number of people (including my wife) getting sick onboard. To their credit, the ship made every effort to avoid the spread of the virus and care for those who had contracted it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My husband and i have just returned from the "Vision of the seas " holyland cruise. This is the first cruise we have taken so needless to say we boarded with some trepidation. Our first impression was how friendly and helpful ... Read More
My husband and i have just returned from the "Vision of the seas " holyland cruise. This is the first cruise we have taken so needless to say we boarded with some trepidation. Our first impression was how friendly and helpful the security staff were as we boarded it was all so painless. We were shown to our stateroom which I have to say exceeded our expections everything was spotlessly clean and very welcoming. We had done some research on the cruiseliner and was disconcerted to see so many negative reviews however as we wanted to visit the holyland we decided to go ahead and book. The reviews in our opinion were totally unfounded the staff were wonderful the food out of this world a truly wonderful experience.In fact we can,t wait to go on another one. There was something to do on board for everyone,the shows were entertaining and all the artists so professional. I would like to say a big thankyou to "Erkie from Turkey" we are still laughing at some ot his turns of phrase. To all of you who are thinking of a cruise but are unsure I would say don,t hesitate, it is such a wonderful experience. Many thanks to the "Vision of the seas" and all it,s wonderful staff for one of the best vacations we have ever had Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This cruise turned out to be a bargain and so was the airfare to and from Istanbul. I spent a few days before the cruise in Istanbul since hotels were ridiculously cheap. Unfortunately the weather was miserable for the entire stay. ... Read More
This cruise turned out to be a bargain and so was the airfare to and from Istanbul. I spent a few days before the cruise in Istanbul since hotels were ridiculously cheap. Unfortunately the weather was miserable for the entire stay. Transfer to cruise ship was very easy and boarding took no time at all. I was on the Vision about 12 years ago and it was nice to see that it has held up very well. I love the Centrum with all of that daylight. Much better than the Royal Promenade design which to me is like a shopping mall. The Vision, being one of the older ships in the fleet now, doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles but it has an honest to goodness solarium with a glass roof which came in handy the first few days when the outdoors was too cold. If only the pool temperature was as warm as the tv report claimed it was. The spa area was also nice with decent sized sauna and steam rooms (separate for ladies and gents). The "secret" relaxation room nearby is wonderful but was already full on the 2nd day. How did everyone find out? My cabin was a standard ocean view cabin located on Deck 4 a stones throw from the Centrum. There was a door to keep out the noise but when there was a big music event in the Centrum you would hear the music each time the door was opened. But it really wasn't a problem because the music did not go on for all hours. The cabin was smallish but comfortable. One thing that was annoying is that you had to request ice. It wasn't automatically placed in the cabin by the steward. But in my steward's case, it probably would have been forgotten anyway. He was the worst in 74 cruises. He operated in a very passive aggressive manner and seemed to ignore whatever I asked. I found that most of the staff were friendly but incompetent on this ship. Same was true of the dining room staff. On a port intensive tour breakfast needs to be served quickly and this team just wasn't capable of it and kept making excuses about the galley being slow. But that doesn't explain waiting 10 minutes for a waiter to take your order. Due to the schedule I actually chose sleep over dinner and skipped a number of meals. But I ate well in port where you could sample some wonderful Middle Eastern cuisine. The food on board was nothing to write home about anyway. Oddly enough, I had been on another RCCL cruise (Explorer) a month earlier and the food was much better and service was exceptional. The ports of call were all excellent. Once we left Istanbul the weather improved dramatically. I did most of my tours with independent tour companies and saved a bundle compared to the RCCL tour prices. This was especially true in Israel where I booked all my tours with GTI. Ephesus in Turkey is another must see site and my tour arranged through Kusadasi.biz was excellent. I had extra time left over in Kusadasi after the tour and enjoyed a seaside lunch accompanied by some cute kittie cats (glad I didn't eat the bread on the table as the kitties liked to sniff around it). The entertainment on board is something I really can't comment. Again, being exhausted after touring, I skipped the shows. I only saw one on the last night of the cruise which was a juggler who was okay. Kind of on the sloppy side. I did, however, enjoy the music played by various bands in the Centrum. It was nice to sit around before or after dinner and hear the music. Everything from classical, to big band, to land, to rock and roll. Activites and shopping on board were also things I didn't show an interest. The activities on shore were more important and the solarium and spa was all I needed. By the way, the spa cafe had a pretty decent selection. They even served up humus, pita bread, stuffed grape leaves and olives on the salad bar. In my opinion, it was nicer than the Promenade Cafe on the Voyager class ships. This was a very international crowd of passengers and everyone seemed to enjoy each other's company. I met some wonderful people from the UK, Denmark and Germany. Of course, the announcements in several languages got to be a pain but it kept everyone happy and was kept to a minimum. The cd, Simeon and his sidekick Urkey, worked their tails off and were always seen walking around and socializing with the passengers. Considering the reason to take this cruise was for the itinerary the cruise itself wasn't so bad either. I ended the cruise by taking the ship's sponsored tour of Istanbul which ended at the airport. It was the best way to spend the day and not have to be concerned about the luggage. The weather made up for the pre-cruise weather and I got to see most of the sites I had on my list. The price of this tour was reasonable considering it includes your transfer to the airport. It was the perfect way to end a most memorable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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