Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Vision of the Seas
Sailing Date: April 25th, 2004
Itinerary: Mexico 7 day
This was my second cruise and my significant fourth cruise. We had taken a cruise on Holland America to Alaska in May 2004 (see review under Amsterdam) and had chosen Royal Caribbean only because they fit into our schedule this time. Our cruise was to Mexico with stops at Mazatlan, P. Valarta and Cabo. We didn't do any excursions at the ports. We were disappointed at the lack of literature on the excursions especially compared to Holland Americas extensive color brochure on our Alaska cruise. The ports were on the television in the room with mediocre reviews on what you would see when you took them.
Our embark at Los Angeles Port was wonderful. You drop off your bags at the curb (we drove our own car) and then go and park your car in a lot very close by for long term parking. By the time that I had returned (10 minutes by walking, 5 minutes by shuttle bus) our bags were checked and we were walking directly up to the counter for check in. We checked in at 1 pm, in our room by 1:20 pm. We were not shown to our room but had no problem finding it ourselves. Our bags took a few hours to get to the room but we didn't feel that was a problem, we had them by the time we left port. We were promised by RCL personnel by telephone either an upgrade or that the cruise people onboard would "do something for us" because of a prior mistake by RCCL however this didn't happen. We found later that first time cruisers were given free upgrades while people who had cruised up to 8 times before were refused. Unusual since the ship was only 75 percent full. We were treated coldly when we asked for our upgrade.
Our room was tiny compared to Holland America both in the room and the bathroom. We noticed immediately many small but significant differences in the two cruise lines and this seems to be the concurrent theme for us the entire cruise. However, the room was adequate for what we were using it for. sleep and cleaning. Let me say that both times we took inside cabins to save money so we are comparing like items.
Food was being served and we ate a light lunch in the welcoming buffet. The food on RCCL was far inferior than what we had on Holland America both in the buffet and the formal dining room. The breakfast buffet items were the same day after day and not very good. The line for specially cooked eggs or omelets was long each day and closed during the later part of the breakfast times. We found the lunch and dinner buffets were mediocre other than the deserts and the pastries and rolls which were superb. Lots of sugar free options for those who need it, lots of vegetarian options as well. The dining room was loud and we felt rushed each and every night at second seating to finish up so that the crew could clean up. The food arrived cold sometimes and it was nearly impossible to get a second cup of coffee. The food was uninspired fare, nothing to rave about. Our head waiter was a joke, coming around only twice, each time with a list in his hand and asking us our name...our waiter wasn't much better, however our assistant waiter was attentive to our needs as much as he could be.
The woman's public bathrooms smelled all over the ship and we found the cleanliness overall on the ship to be lacking. Tables were not cleaned off after dining outside by the pools, glasses were left next to the elevators hours after we saw them on our way in or out of our room.
I was not impressed with the overall pushiness of the personnel in wanting us to buy pictures or drinks every time we were out of our room. The library was stocked well and we were able to sit in there 24 hours a day as well as the gaming room. The shows were about the same as you get on most cruise ships I heard from other passengers, we didn't partake having lived in Las Vegas in the past.
I had researched all the ports with travel guides before the cruise and I recommend this to all who are going there for the first time. One thing to note: There is a Wal-Mart within sight and walking distance (10 minutes) or cab ride with a Sams Club attached at our third stop at P. Vallarta and we made the mistake of walking there after docking thinking we could find inexpensive gifts and souvenirs. Big Mistake!! The prices there were the same as stateside or higher and we could find nothing that we were looking for at any decent price. We returned to the ship and went into the small flea market next to the docks and found everything we had been looking for. We had been told to wait till we got to PAVE. to buy our things as Cabot and Malayalam were far too expensive and this was correct. We purchased beautiful lace and cloth tablecloths for $12.50 each after bartering them down from $45.00 each, we found lovely silver (make sure it is stamped .925) jewelry relatively cheap and came home with 12 bottles of pure vanilla for $8 per large bottle (made in Mexico and highly prized and requested by my friends who bake). I dislike bartering but everyone treated us well even when we didn't purchase from them.
Disembarkation was about the same, tags were given colors and our were the last off the ship as we didn't have a plane or train to catch. We didn't spend the waiting time on the deck we were told to go to as it was standing room only, we went instead to the upper pool deck and enjoyed the fresh air for the 2 hours waiting time. Once our color was called we stood in a line for about 15 minutes to get thru customs, we had a passport but others who didn't were in a very very long line and I would think they were going to be at least 1.5 hours longer. Recommend a passport to all who cruise.
Overall we were disappointed in Royal Caribbean especially compared to Holland America in cleanliness of the ship and overall food quality along with itineraries offered at the ports. While having said this we had a great cruise and enjoyed the lack of children aboard. On Holland America we had an after dinner drink each night in the Crows Nest and listened to music however the RCCL lounge was empty with no music after dinner. I would rather not cruise with them again if I have any other options. I enjoy reading the reviews posted here at cruise reviews on the different ships. We don't want much in a cruise ship, peace and quiet, good meals, clean ship and non pushy staff. The cruise itself was a joy and we will look upon it as a favorable time but next time to the Mexican Riviera we will try another cruise line.