Length: 915 ft
Passengers (all berths): 2,435
Officers: EuropeanBest For People Who Want
Plenty of windows for ocean view inthe public rooms and dining room.Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Balcony cabins; mega-ship sports facilities, huge casinos.Onboard Experience
The last of what are now called the Vision-class ships, also including Legend, Splendour, Enchantment, Grandeur, and Rhapsody of the Seas. These ships are all nearly identical with many things in common, the only difference being that each iteration gets a little bigger and carries more passengers. The all have the distinctive Royal Caribbean "Centrum", seven decks high on these ships, atop of which one finds the Viking Crown Lounge. The decor is light and contemporary, and mostly in good shape because the Royal Caribbean keeps it that way, though it isn't unusual to see some wear and tear in pockets.Decor
All of the ships of the class have public rooms full of large expanses of glass to let in glorious sunshine and sea views. She was hailed in her day as a large ship that still preserved the sense of being at sea. Today, she's an older ship, and actually considered small, but still elegant and classy enough to attract a younger clientele looking for sea escapes and action at night.Public Rooms
You'll find the Champagne Terrace at the bottom of the the Centrum, where live palm trees and a string embellish the ambiance of brass, marble & glass. This is also the shopping area, where three large duty-free stores offer plenty of browse time. There are light woods and marble set fountains throughout the ship, which along with the live foliage and open expanses of outside windows, give the entire ship a feeling of aliveness.
High atop the Centrum, on deck 11, is the ever popular Viking Crown Lounge, perfect for watching the scenery go by (a near 360 degree field of vision near the very top of the ship) in Alaska or the Panama Canal. It is also the place to be at night when it becomes the ship's late-night disco. There's more dancing in the evening in the Anchor's Aweigh Lounge, albeit at a less frenetic pace, while another popular bar is the nautically-inclined Schooner's. Vegas-style floor shows are presented in the That's Entertainment Theatre with generally good sight lines from all seats. And as if all that is not enough, Casino Royale has all the table games and slots a non-professional gambler could ever need.
There is a library as well as The Crown and Anchor Study, with computer assisted visual aids to show the ship's position and more information from the bridge. Nearby is a card room and conference center.Cuisine
Breakfast in the Windjammer Lido cafe includes cooked to order omelets, or scrambled eggs at the buffet, but fried eggs are not available. Lunch in the Lido is equally pleasing albeit a simple selection. Mosre interesting is the afternoon tea bread pudding or cobbler along with sandwiches, cakes, cookies and ice cream. Overall, passenger satisfaction ratings for the dining room meals are good, as well as for the Windjammer buffets for lunch and and afternoon teas. The option for a late night snack seems to vary on anightly basis.Restaurants
The two-story restaurant, amidships, with great views, features a raised platform for pianist or small ensemble. While large enough to handle a thousand people per seating, tables are far enough apart to preclude a feeling of crowdedness. The Windjammer, forward end of Deck 9, also has floor-to-ceiling windows.Service
It's obvious that the multinational staff and crew enjoy watching their passengers enjoy themselves. They're uniformly cheerful, knowledgeable, and eager to help. The wait staff in every restaurant is noticeably solicitous and conscientious.
Cabin service staff is efficient but unobtrusive. The purser's desk is notably responsive, especially in view of how much troubleshooting they must have to do on a ship this size. Room service, though, can be pretty slow.Tipping
Royal Caribbean suggests a per person per day gratuity of $3.50 for the stateroom attendant ($5.75 if sailing in a suite); $3.50 for the waiter; $2.50 for the Assistant Waiter; .75 Head Waiter. These gratuities may be paid in cash or charged to your onboard account. For children sailing as third or fourth passenger in the stateroom, tipping is at the parents' discretion.
A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Gratuities for room service, spa, casino and other staff are at your discretion.Entertainment
Royal Caribbean is one of the few cruise lines to offer "name" performers, and comedians. Lounge performers are also seasoned and polished.Cabins
Vision's cabins are cleverly designed to make them feel larger than they actually are; even the smallest feature a small sitting area, and there's a lot more storage space than you'd have any right to expect. Inside cabins start at a tiny 135 sq.ft up to 172 sq.ft. while Oceanview staterooms measure 154 sq. ft.. Family Ocean View Staterooms (237 sq.ft.) can accommodate up to six people. Standard amenities include TV with pay-per-view movies, CNN, safe, lighted vanity, individual temperature control, hair dryer; bathrooms have showers and medicine cabinets; minibars and tubs are found in the highest category stateroom.
Superior Oceanview with private balcony are 195 sq. feet plus a 41 sq.ft. balcony. The five categories of suites include the Junior Suite (241 sq. ft. 64 sq.ft. balcony) and the Royal Family Suite, accommodating up to eight people, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms (463 sq. ft., balcony 55 sq. ft.).Fitness/Spa
The gym's awfully small for a ship this size. The main pool on Sun Deck is adjacent to the Solarium, a stunning glass- enclosed second pool with whirlpools and comfortable lounge chairs. In the "ShipShape" fitness center, you'll find a spa operated by Steiner's of London (they of the notoriously pushy staff). A rock-climbing wall has also been added to Vision.Children's Facilities
In addition to separate play areas for kids aged three to 12, there is also a teen lounge that converts to a disco, making Vision an excellent choice for families with children of many different vintages. The "Adventure Ocean" youth program has age-specific facilities and programs supervised by youth counselors for Aquanauts (age 3-5, must be toilet trained), Explorers (age 6-8), Voyagers (age 9-11), Navigators (age 12-14) and Teens (age 15-17). The program runs year-round in the Caribbean, Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Hawaii and Alaska. Parents can leave their children at Adventure Ocean while they take shore excursions. For this purpose, the facilities open 30 minutes ahead of morning shore excursion departures. Otherwise, organized activities are offered from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., with group babysitting from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a fee. Teen centers are now open past 2 a.m. Teens will find their own private coffee house and disco.
A new program for infants and toddlers 6 months to 3 years, in partnership with toy maker Fisher-Price, offers 45-minute playgroups for children accompanied by an adult, involving storytelling, creative arts, music and a variety of Fisher-Price learning toys and games. Aqua Babies are six months to 18 months old while Aqua Tots are 18 months to three years old.
Private babysitting is offered from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m., provided sitters are available, for children from one year old. The rate is usually between $8.00 and $10 per hour depending on the number of children in the family. Cash payment is made directly to the sitter. Arrange through Guest Services at least 24 hours in advance.Attire
There are two formal nights per cruise. Maybe it's this ship's particularly festive reputation that induced most men to don tuxedos for formal nights, even though a dark suit would work fine. In general, though, this ship offers so much to do that you're likely to see fellow passengers dressed every which way.
This cruise was 11 days with stops in St John, Antigua, St Lucia, Barbados,St Vincent,Bonaire and Aruba. The ship is well designed but showing it's age and is due for an upgrade end of next year. Getting on and off the ship was a snap and RCCL seems to have this part of it down pat.
The ship is small and you really feel the waves for the first 2 days and last 2 days we were in rough seas and it was bouncing all over and made it very difficult to walk on the upper decks and the Windjammer cafe. I am used to the larger RCCL ships and this was the first time on such a small ship. Was on the Oasis just 2 months ago and this ship was a shock to me.
Food and service was very good on this ship and because it is so small the service seems better than on the bigger ships. Entertainment was just ok for some of the acts were pretty good and some were like out of the past when I started cruising 25 years ago. Kind of cornyfor a cruise ship for 2012.
I am a Diamond member with Royal but this ship has no Diamond club so every night there is a function in one of the bars but you can only get wine, beer and champagne free but must buy drinks at 25% off. They seem to be on a very tight budget on this ship compared to the bigger ships. I believe this is because with a longer cruise you get more retired people on board who just do not drink or do many of the excursions that younger people do and this is where Royal makes there money. Bingo on Oasis gives away $5000 and a free cruise where the biggest prize here was $500. And at the on board contests they would give away keychains and items like that.
Another good thing about being on such a small ship is that in a couple of days you will know and see many people on board where if this was a larger ship you could meet someone the first day and never see them again the rest of the cruise.
So if you are looking for an intimate ship that is easy to get around and has a super itinerary then this is the ship for you. I am retired but give me the Freedom and Oasis class ships for there is so much more to do and see and the shows are superb.
If you're reading this then you may be debating whether or not to take this cruise. Sea Dawg says you should because of the Holy Land itinerary - not because of the ship. Or you may have already booked and now you might be wondering whether or not you messed up. Sea Dawg says you done alright. Or you might be hoping to learn a few things from a salty dawg. Sea Dawg will try to do just that. Is Sea Dawg critical? You betcha. I call it like I see it. Criticism should not be equated with dislike of cruises.
Arrival: We flew into Marco Polo Airport, Venice, Italy and rode the city bus (3 Euros) to Piazza Roma hub - about a ten minute walk to the port.
Embarkation: We arrived and witnessed the Royal Caribbean port terminal in chaos. Advanced printout of our SetSail Pass and completed information failed to speed up processing. Though advertisements trumpet express check-in, hospitality room and priority boarding for Platinum & Diamond members - we found we weren't the only Platinum dawgs denied this "perk". Human error? Maybe - but there are no consequencesto those that made the error. It was "hurry up and wait" - we sat on a bare concrete floor with luggage waiting for our group number to be called for processing aboard - the first group began at 1:00. We were finally allowed aboard at 2:15. Sea Dawg rates Royal Caribbean embarkation all growls. Those who waited until 3:30 "breezed" through check-in.
Photographs: Photographers will greet you throughout the cruise. You should know in advance that these photographs are not complimentary or cheap. But you are not obligated to buy. If interested, stop and pose. If not, say, "no thanks" and be on your way. Sea Dawg has experienced a few times when photos go on sale or can be bargained down in price near the end of the cruise.
Welcome Aboard: Vision of the Seas, (1998), older and next to smallest class (78,000 tons; 915' length) than others in the RCCL fleet, is scheduled for an overhaul - and it really shows. Some salty dawgs familiar with mega-ships found Vision disappointing, but others found her a good size. Sea Dawg's experience has been bigger is not always better. You may have learned that sodas, bottled water, fruit juices, beer and alcoholic drinks are available for a price. Unless you can be content with free coffee, tea, lemonade and tap water, you may want to purchase a soda package. If you are keeping track - shore excursion expenses and soda packages are adding to the cost of this cruise you thought you had already paid for - and Vision hasn't left the port yet! If you aren't careful, RCCL will nickel & dime dawgs at every turn.
Cabin: Ours was an inside stateroom on Deck 7, forward. We found it convenient to everything. We are not ones to spend much time in the stateroom anyway. Our stateroom was quite small but efficient. Carpet, furnishings and bathroom were showing their age and heavy use. Two people had to choreograph moves to navigate the tiny floor space. One person standing in front of the closet could be caged in if another opened the bathroom door. The bathroom was something like an airplane restroom with a tight don't-drop-the-soap shower. Sorry, no bathtub except in luxury suites. Sea Dawg says it is a good idea to pack your own won't-fall-through-cracks soap and specialty shampoo. Be forewarned - our hot water was either scalding or lukewarm. We find that we keep a small stateroom neater than a larger one - have to or else the accumulated clutter immobilizes us. I think we would have felt less ship motion in a cabin more in the center of Deck 7.
A Day 1 Cruise Compass listing all the ongoing activities, information and suggestions was on the bed. The lifeboat muster stations are on your SeaPass card. We did not have to wear life jackets to the mandatory muster drill. Muts be warned not to skip drill because staff is checking your name on their roll.
Around the Ship: We had time to explore the ship. If you have time try to locate places where events happen. My advice is start at the top and work down using the stairs. You should at least know where the medical facility is (Deck 1). You might want to inquire if your medical insurance covers you - in most cases it won't.
We encountered faint musty odors and sewery smells wafting down the hallways on Decks 2 & 3. To us this indicates chronic plumbing problems hard to fix. If this might be an issue with you, book staterooms on higher decks.
Aquarius, the main dining room, has two levels on Decks 4 & 5. We met the Maitre 'd and got information on our table seating, attire and meals. At this time of year, the sun goes down before early dinner begins so there's not much advantage to getting a window seat. Windjammers only sometimes offered the same entrée as the main dining rooms at dinnertime. Windjammers is the buffet restaurant where one can spot chow hounds loading plates like they're about to be stranded on a deserted island for a month - only to eat half of it. And few appreciate line crashing hyenas who snatch away all the remaining servings forcing those whose mothers taught them better to wait until another tray arrives from the kitchen. Deck 4 is also home to the Centrum floor.
Deck 5 is where Guest Relations, Casino and Masquerade Theatre are located. By far the largest cash intake comes from the gaming in the Casino. House odds are higher than at Las Vegas. In other words, there are greater odds you will lose. So consider money lost gambling the cost of entertainment. To that end there are free gaming lessons offered. Be careful, the ATM machine is here, too.
Deck 6 has the onboard shopping. Think of the pricey little shops at upscale hotels and you'll have the right idea. Resist the temptation and don't pay "retail" just yet. There will be "sales" throughout the cruise and a few good values might be found. Deck 6 also has the Schooner Bar and Some Enchanted Evening Lounge.
Decks 7 & 8 are cabin decks. Deck 9 is home to Windjammers, the Main Pool, the Solarium (sheltered adult pool) and the Spa. Deck 10 is home to the jogging track, Fitness Center, and Ocean Adventure. Deck 11 houses the Viking Lounge.
Our cruise was not fully booked, so we were pleased few experienced long waits for an elevator. Even so, we found the stairs quicker at peak times. There were quite a few organized Holy Land tour groups aboard, notably from South Korea. The majority of passengers were mature dawgs 50 years up. There weren't many pups aboard and no frisky college canines. Not to worry, we had our share of incredibly loud and rude, line crashing, seat saving, argumentative Russian hounds aboard.
Dinner: We met our fellow tablemates - all new to us, about the same age and cruise experience, and truly enjoyable company. Kudos to RCCL table assignments.
I've read some reviews from Pedigrees complaining about dinners and I have to reply that it is completely unrealistic to expect 5-star dinners at RCCL's moderate prices. Sea Dawg found the quality and quantity of the prepared food consistently very good. No, it's not the best culinary offerings the cruise industry has to offer. - and RCCL no longer serves lobster. Pedigrees who want 5-star cuisine should book luxury cruiselines and pay their premium prices. For the rest of us, this is a chance to sample cuisine we don't often enjoy. If it's not to your liking, your waiter will bring you something else. Big dawgs can order a second entrée if they like. No, we weren't offered filet mignon or whole boiled lobster. But duck, lamb, veal and tiger prawns were. And, yes, you could order steak every night. Vegetarian, "lite" and Asian offerings were usually available.
Dinners are an event that shouldn't be rushed. If you are in a hurry, do your tablemates and waiters a favor and eat at Windjammers. If you want to know the chef's secrets, you can purchase the recipes.
Waiters come from all over the world. Their English proficiency varies but is generally merely functional. Most try very hard to please you and really do earn their tips. Wit and humor were in ample supply at our table and any pretense of formality fortunately disappeared the first night. Dinnertime became an enjoyable highlight of this cruise.
Dancing Under the Stars: Romantic sounding isn't it? Fortunately, on this cruise there were many opportunities for romantic dancing. Never learned how to dance? There are free ballroom dance classes available.
Day 1 - Venice If you've never seen Venice don't miss this opportunity.
Days 2 - 3 - 4 At Sea Vision has a long way to go and a short time to get there. Seas were moderate and the realized wind topside was about 40 knots. In order to make speed, the stabilizers didn't seem to be deployed. Vision maintained a slow undulation punctuated by jerks and vibrations. Seasick bags were hung on stair landings, and seasick pills were available at the Guest Services Desk for green dawgs. It serves as a warning. Dawgs prone to motion sickness are well-advised to be prepared to medicate. In rough seas Vision will definitely rock-n-roll.
The Shows: The Royal Caribbean Singers and Dancers productions were a notch above theme park shows. To their credit, the shows were performed live to music provided by a live band. Special kudos go to Tim, the sound tech - who kept the sound from becoming loud and distorted.
Headliner Guests were hit and miss. Our best performers were singer Bruce Parker and pianist Naki Ataman. Your cruise will probably feature different entertainers. Most of the others had show dawgs heading out the exits.
Day 5 - Haifa, Isreal This is the port for excursions to Nazareth, the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee. The city itself features the famous Baha'i Gardens. For those who plan to walk into Haifa, be forewarned to be met by taxi drivers promising the moon for a bargain but most will take you for a ride and demand more than you thought you agreed to pay. A word about shopping: make your shopping list before you leave home. Too often dawgs purchase items on a cruise destined for a yard sale. Record the local or internet price so you'll know whether you are getting a bargain. Bone up on U.S. Custom limitations before you leave or you might find yourself in the dawghouse.
Day 6 - Ashdod, Isreal This is the port for excursions to Jerusalem and area. Hopefully you took advantage of the free travel talks that should prepare you for what you will see. For most, it isn't like anything they pictured. The Jerusalem walking tours are strenuous. Many group tours throughout this cruise rush here and there with limited site visitation time and greatly restricted opportunity to purchase merchandise along the way. At the end of the tour you will be taken shopping at a "trusted and approved" but overpriced store. Be aware that the merchant gives a percentage of sales to the tour guide and to the cruise line. Many of the same items are sold for less in shops near the port. Also be aware that Jerusalem is not a good place to attempt to tour on your own.
Days 7 & 8 - Alexandria, Egypt This is the gateway to ancient Egypt and you will find a good variety of excursions to match your interests and budget. There are a few rules to remember here: (1) Nothing is free. (2) Bargain for everything. (3) If you make a counteroffer, the merchant understands you are serious about buying. (4) Stay with and in your pack. This is a place dawgs should consider risky to attempt to tour on your own.
Day 9 - At Sea After four straight days of excursions most welcome a restful day at sea. The seas were glassy calm and the weather delightfully sunny and warm. So why was Vision still jerking and vibrating, especially aftwards? Most salty dawgs suspected the engine room.
Day 10 - Kusadasi, Turkey This is the port to catch excursions to the amazing ruins of Ephesus. Kusadasi has a maze of shops at the port entrance worth investigating.
Days 11 & 12 - At Sea The weather turned windy and rainy, with moderate seas as Vision steamed back to Venice. As before, Vision rolled, jerked and vibrated as she had to average 17 knots and the stabilizers were probably not deployed. The seasick bags reappeared and attendance in the main dining room dropped considerably. Salty dawgs feasted on abundant quantities of truly giant shrimp.
There is a lot going on aboard as RCCL makes an all-out final effort to part dawgs from their money. Bingo jackpot's gotta go! Items in shops go on close-out sale! Book your next RCCL cruise now and get onboard credit! Haven't climbed the Rock Wall yet? Well "get out there!" while you still have the opportunity!
You'll have received your envelopes to stash your cash for tips to your cabin steward, waiter, assistant waiter and head waiter. RCCL's suggests tip guidelines for all of the above persons per passenger.
You'll receive a comment card. My thinking is that if you mark everything "excellent" then RCCL will have no incentive to improve anything. But what most want RCCL to improve is not even on the comment card. You'll have to write in comments like "enforce your rules", "need more crew checking SeaPasses and attending the Guest Relations Desk", etc. yourself.
Check your SeaPass account for charges and accuracy at Guest Relations today before the crowd forms a long line. You should get a statement of account in your stateroom tonight. That's when many discover their bar tab, purchases, casino gaming and excursions cost more than the stateroom!
We had a early flight out and only had carry-on luggage so we signed up for express departure.
Departure: We ate a final breakfast in Windjammers then got our luggage from our stateroom.
Departure went well. There were the usual rude line-breakers trying to beat the system and too few crew members assigned to stop them. I can't figure out why line-breakers think they're the only ones in a hurry or why they are more important than anyone else in the scheme of things. This is one area I fault RCCL - too few personnel assigned to handle so many passengers. This should be an "all available hands on deck" situation. There were handicapped passengers needing more assistance than they received. There were people who didn't know which line to get in (one went to Guest Relations - not the exit). Nor do I comprehend why everyone must pass through one and only one exit. (FYI - those who booked the grandest staterooms receive special treatment. The old First Class and Steerage Class steamship system can still be witnessed.)
Given the recent bad press RCCL has received regarding poor security and crime coverup, we thought we might see more security patrolling the decks and enforcing the rules during the cruise. Not so. Know what you are getting into. You are taking certain legal risks on a cruise. U.S. law does not apply on the high seas. That is to say, you don't have Constitutional rights once you leave US territorial waters. Maritime law applies and by signing your ticket, dawgs waive many legal rights. From what I have experienced, RCCL security is all about minimizing RCCL liabilities and protecting their interests (and casino profits) and not protecting passengers or their belongings.
We used express departure - and rolled our own luggage off the ship. Sea Dawg has learned there are many advantages to packing light.
Should You Take This Cruise?
Cruise lines would have you believe cruising is for everyone. It's not! Are you willing toeat and converse with people you have never met? tolerate long, slow lines to most everything? Line-breakers? listen to loud music and noisy, rude, often drunk people? tolerate unsupervised teens running about the ship? be herded like cattle here and there? accept you're getting ripped off paying high prices for sodas, juice and alcohol? be comfortable in cramped quarters? Do you like seeing new places and doing new things? Do you function well in crowds? If so, then cruising may be for you. If not, then it wouldn't take much to ruin your vacation. As for us, we are ready to go again - but not on Royal Caribbean. I have a question for the "Nation of Why Not?"; Why not treat your Platinum and Diamond members better?
Excited about visiting the Baltic, we set out for Oslo. FYI - Oslo is very expensive city. Boarding and checking in at the terminal was a breeze. However, our cabin was not ready and the hallways leading to it smelt of urine. This was just the beginning of our disapointment. The food was horrible - we were in the late seating and it seemed the food was cooked 2 hours before and left under a heat lamp. The service at the restaurant was great but service on the rest of the ship was lacking. Maybe it was because we were the first baltic cruise of the summer, but we would get different answers to questions regarding debarkment and embarkment depending on who we asked. While trying to reboard in Tallin, we waited nearly 2 hours - all the while ship staff went in another door.
All in all, the cruise was a disapointment. Although the itenerary was great, the service, food and overall experience was not what we were used to. Many told us not to rate Royal Caribbean by this experience because this was the smallest of their ships but it'shard not to.