Number of Cruises: 12
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Vision of the Seas
Sailing Date: n/a
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation was painless and a bit faster in San Diego than it has been in cruises we have taken that depart from Los Angeles. The pier and ticketing staff was extremely courteous and helpful, very friendly. Baggage handling was efficient.
We have taken several trips to the Mexican Riviera on Carnival ships and naturally we must judge the one by the other, but Royal Caribbean fares better than Carnival on a few fronts. In other regards, Carnival comes out on top.
The on-board staff was friendly and helpful, including the waiter in the dining room, the cabin steward and the casino personnel. We had one occasion to use the purser’s services and we found them to be a little more friendly, helpful and a bit ;less stuffy than the Carnival folks.
The Cruise Director and his staff were Canadian and American, and without stereotyping anyone, I prefer the Australian and Brit cruise staff on Carnival...a little more enthusiastic. The male cruise and entertainment staff on Vision all seemed to have just graduated top-40 disc jockey school, very forced, while the Carnival staff seemed genuine and direct, with great senses of humor. Evening entertainment was a bit more lavish on Vision than on carnival, but not being too much of a production number fan, I can’t comment very we’ll as I saw only a few minutes of the shows. The musicians all over the ship were very good. Since I never got to the disco, I can’t comment there either, but every comment I heard aboard was favorable. The pace on Vision is a bit slower than Carnivals frantic schedule of activities and deck parties. Deck activities during the day were well attended but in the evening deck parties were slow and uninspired. The deck band, a steel/reggae group called “Flash” I think, was very good.
The food on Vision was, I think, a cut above Carnival, especially the “Lido Deck” eatery, which was infinitely better. It was a warm and interesting room with a fantastic view, with a buffet that often closely approximated the regular dining room, with always a carver doing some sort of beef or fish, sometimes ham. Carnival too often offers merely hot dogs and burgers in the equivalent room. Breakfast was extensive. Lots of fresh fruit.
The hot dogs and burgers, as well as pizza are available in the separate Solarium pool area, a nice touch when the weather gets a bit cool.
There is a single main dining room rather than two as on other ships. There is a main floor surmounted by a mezzanine dining area, equally as elegant, from which the entire main floor is visible. Service was fast efficient and pleasant. The staff is obviously well trained and attentive.
This trip took the ports in the reverse of the usual order and we called at Cabo San Lucas first. The ports of call are well known to us by now, but this time we did take some tours. Avoid the “countryside and coastal” bus tour in Cabo San Lucas. It is merely an excuse to carry you to “selected” shopping. If that’s what you want, do it on the dock or in town. Why pay $40 for the privilege? I wished I had gone snorkeling on the Pez Gato catamaran again , a trip I highly endorse.
At Mazatlan, we took a cab into town and shopped around the good old “Golden Zone.” It was beastly hot so that didn’t last long. There are some good deals to be had at Pardo Jewelers where they are friendly, knowledgeable and seem to be honest. There’s a refreshing little outdoor café in a breezeway next door to Pacific Jewelers. We stopped for lunch and a beer. Don’t miss Seashell City. The cab ride along the seashore back to the ship is very nice if you can get the little VW cabs to go slower than the speed of light.
In Puerto Vallarta, we had a nice tour of the local Tequila Factory, run by Porfirio... something or other. The place is set out in a park-like setting with little pavilions containing each of the steps in the process. Very expensive tequila though, starting at over $45 a bottle and going up quick. We got a discount for cash. The “back country” tour is interesting. We visited a little town named Ixtapa, went by a prison and stopped at a “ranch” out in the boonies. As usual there was “time to shop”, but I thought a half hour at Pacific Jewelers was a little much, especially on an empty stomach at 3pm.
I can’t figure why they don’t give you some lunch on 5 or six hour tours. I’m eager to come back and visit the monster Sam’s Club and Walmart being built side by side just across the street from the PV pier.
It was a rough ride home to San Diego , bucking the northwest winds and ten foot swells, but a lot of fun. The cold and wind kept the upper decks empty for the last two days but there were a lot of inside activities. The casino was average and the slots seemed pretty tight.
We had a comfortable but unfortunately located cabin, on Deck three, second from the bottom, and in the tip of the bow, and between the anchor chain pipes, just over the side thruster motors and right under the stage of the main showroom. We were awakened every morning by either the anchor chain rattling out or the thrusters roaring as the ship pulled into port. The drums in the showroom shook the cabin at all hours. Fortunately, I’m a sound sleeper and stayed exhausted all week, so it didn’t bother me. My wife, on the other hand wound up with a migraine.
All in all a wonderful cruise, and we would travel Royal Caribbean again. I’ll be going to Alaska this August on Celebrity. I’ll let you know how it went.