Royal Caribbean International
Vision of the Seas
by R. Timothy Carley
Vision of the Seas 11 Day Panama Canal Cruise
This was our fifth cruise, the fourth on Royal Caribbean. We've never experienced anything negative on RCI so we continue to cruise with them. We love the Caribbean but wanted something more, not only different ports, but a longer cruise. We chose the 11 day Acapulco to San Juan itinerary with the passage through the Panama Canal. This was the best cruise vacation we have had.
The ship was spotless. We had been on others this size but this was the best of this class, loaded with tasteful artwork and elegantly decorated. The sculpture hanging in the centrum, however, looks like the tail of the monster in the movie, "Alien!"
We made our own flight arrangements rather than purchase them in the Air/Sea program. It worked out better for us. We did purchase transfers to the ship. It is my observation that anybody may be able to follow the RCI representitive and board the bus. They never collected the transportation vouchers in Acapulco or San Juan.
Although the lines to clear customs in Acapulco were long and somewhat disorganized, it was not unpleasant. I would suggest that if possible you fly in the day before. It seemed most flights came through Dallas and, because of heavy rain, over 60 people missed the flight (the ship waited until after midnight to sail).
Our room, #7580, located next to the library by the centrum, had a balcony. I don't think I can ever cruise again without a balcony. Great for breakfast, relaxing in private, viewing the Canal transit, and all other ports. We left the door open at night to hear the waves! The room was spacious (right)! and had lots of storage. All luggage fit under the bed.
Our cruise included Easter/Passover week so there was a good mix of people. One thing I noticed right away was that you could sit at the pool anytime anywhere. It wasn't crowded. There were some very elderly people on board along with young families. We like the late seating in the dining room and did not miss any entertainment. The food was excellent. I have, however, had better on RCI. The theme nights are gone along with those great lobster tails and shrimp cocktails. They are there in a condensed version. I was surprised to see cabbage rolls and rice and beans on the main menu! You could always get anything you asked for and sirloin steak and chicken were always available as an alternative. The service in the dining room and cabin was the best we've had. Simply the best.
Our favorite place on the ship was the solarium. The most comfortable seats with great water views and a wonderful pool. Great place to read and sleep.
We drove through Acapulco to get to the ship and viewed the scenic harbor from the deck of the ship. I have no desire to go back there - it looked crowded and dirty. We didn't get off the ship in Costa Rica either. Again, beautiful view from the deck, but all tours were hours away on winding roads on a bus. I just couldn't do it. We didn't hear of any rave reviews so I guess we didn't miss anything. Costa Rica is beautiful but we'll save it for another year.
The Panama Canal is a fascinating journey. Watch and read about it before you go. It made the transit more interesting. It takes all day and you can view it from anywhere. The Vision was the largest ship through that day so it drew crowds of spectators which added to the fun.
We snorkeled in Curacao and did some shopping. Would highly recommend the snorkeling. We stopped in Aruba on a Sunday when all shops close at 1:00. We were out early to visit the shops before lunch. We decided to visit the beach in the afternoon. Across the street from the pier is the bus depot. For $2.00 round trip we went out to the Marriott and used the public beach there. The Marriott is a great facility (at $400 - $1000 a night, the cruise seemed like even a better deal). After the mandatory shopping in St. Thomas we took a cab to Megans Bay, voted one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. We enjoyed our last day relaxing on the sand.
Eleven days on Vision of the Seas went by too fast. We enjoyed every minute. Eat breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer Cafe, beautiful room with great views. The theater, casino, and dining room are first class. The entertainment was good, especially the comedians. Sign up at the pursers desk for a tour of the bridge on days at sea. Very interesting! Do everything from dance classes to wine tasting or do nothing. I would take this trip again tomorrow.
R. Timothy (Tim) Carley, his wife and three boys live in Monroe, Connecticut where he is a bank Branch Manager and his wife is in real estate. Tim can be reached at: RTimCarley@aol.com.
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