My wife and I took back-to-back cruises to Hawaii on the Vision of the Seas beginning 22 April and ending 15 May, 2000. We flew to Acapulco on the 21st and spent the night at the Hyatt Regency Acapulco. Accommodations and food were very good.
Royal Caribbean had a representative at the hotel to answer any questions and to give any assistance needed. RCI also has representatives at the hotels the day of embarkation to check you in. It took about 5 minutes to get our combination boarding pass, shipboard credit card and room key.
An Acapulco city tour, with a stop to see the cliff divers, was given to us on the way to the ship. We arrived at the dock about 2:00 and walked right on the ship. Two pieces of luggage were already in our cabin and the other 2 pieces arrived shortly thereafter.
CABIN:The cabin was category D with a balcony. We have had this category before, so we knew what to expect. There was plenty of room and hangers for all of our stuff, even our golf clubs. The cabin was very quiet and comfortable. We had no problem living in it for 22 nights.
CRUISE ACTIVITIES:The first 6 days were at sea. There were many activities planned - Exercise, dance classes, lectures, pool games, horse races, bingo, etc. (all the normal things). There was also something new since we were so many days at sea called "Academy at Sea" seminars, where you could sign up for 2 of the 5 offered"
FOOD:Dining Room: We ate most of our meals in the dining room and overall the food was very good: 3 appetizers, 1 hot soup, one cold soup, salad, pasta, fish, chicken, beef and vegetarian with a choice of 4 desserts (one sugarless). You could also get a strip steak, chicken breast or salmon if you didn t want any of the other 5 entrees.
Windjammer: We only ate a couple breakfasts there. Typical buffet line: pancakes, french toast, potatoes, sausage, bacon and scrambled eggs. If you didn t want scrambled eggs, there was always a choice of 2 omelets.
Solarium Cafe: Hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken and pizza. The hot dogs were big and juicy and the pizza was good.
ENTERTAINMENT:By far the best of any cruise we have been on.
Champagne Terrace/Centrum: Moe Keale Trio Hawaiian music. Very good. When they played, that area was always full of people sitting and standing around just listening.
Champagne Terrace/Centrum: Verosa Strings Classical/easy listening. Ditto above.
Pool Deck: Hot Sands Calypso: Also very good. Always had people dancing on the pool deck. One of the best calypso/steel drum bands I have heard.
Theater: Vision of the Seas Orchestra. Excellent. Played backup for the headline singers (sometimes with very little rehearsal) and never missed a beat.
Wave Revue Singers & Dancers: In conjunction with the orchestra, far and away the best we have seen on any cruise ship. All the comments we heard from other passengers supported this assessment. The music, choreography, costumes, singing and dancing were outstanding.
The Masquerade Theater: Very well planned. Only a few seats behind columns. The acoustics were excellent and included surround sound (you could hear the helicopter coming and going).
There was also an excellent special dance show on board the ship in Honolulu by local school children.
CRUISE DIRECTOR & OTHER STAFF:The cruise director, Allen "Bobby" Brown was one of the best. When he wasn't busy with other duties, he was walking around the ship and always had time to say hello and talk for a minute.
Shore excursion staff: Again, excellent. Allen Herring, the shore excursion manager was always available to answer questions and was always ashore to make sure everyone got on the right bus and everything went smoothly. The rest of his staff was also very knowledgeable and helpful.
Purser's Desk: Always ready to help and answer questions. One example: We purchased the "Luxury Romance" package for the 2nd cruise. The package included a bottle of Perrier Jouet Flower Bottle Champagne in our cabin. What we got was a cheaper bottle of Moet & Chandon. I went to the purser's desk and explained the problem. The correct bottle of champagne arrived in our cabin shortly after that.
SHORE EXCURSIONS:We got all of the excursions we planned on. We played golf 4 times thru the Golf Ahoy program and everything worked as advertised. All other tours were thru the ship's excursion desk with Roberts of Hawaii (Grey Line). Robert's is excellent. The buses are new, air conditioned and comfortable. The drivers/tour guides are knowledgeable (they knew the history of the area, the flowers & trees, and generally answered all questions). They were also good drivers. (This is important on the Haleakela Crater tour!)
DINING ROOM SERVICE:Our waiter, Dodjie, was so good that when our head waiter asked where we wanted to sit for the second cruise, we said wherever Dodjie is. That request was honored, so we had the same waiter for all 22 nights. One example: a gentleman on the 2nd cruise requested papaya for dessert the first night. From then on, Dodjie asked if he wanted Papaya for dessert. That's just one example of the service Dodjie provided.
CABIN ATTENDENT:Our cabin attendant, Suzanne, was also excellent. The cabin was always spotless and she kept us supplied with ice, soda and bottled water. When we saw her in the hall, she always had a smile and a hello.
THE SHIP:Well organized deck plan, very easy to get from place to place and plenty of elevators. Lots of public areas, we never felt crowded, even with so many days at sea (6 to Hawaii and 5 to Vancouver). The ship was very stable. We had 50-60 MPH winds and 13-foot seas one day on the way to Vancouver and it was still a comfortable ride.
We would do this cruise again and we will cruise RCI again. We have been on RCI nine times, Holland America Line - Statendam - once and Norwegian Cruise Lines - Norway - once, but we still like Royal Caribbean the best.
Photos courtesy of Bart de Boer.
Paul Nock and his wife are both retired and living on the Gulf coast of Florida. They play a lot of golf and cruise at least once a year. Paul may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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