Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Vision of the Seas
Sailing Date: May 2nd, 2004
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
We got to the San Pedro pier around 12:30pm and were into our cabins before 1:30. There was a buffet lunch waiting for us and after we ate we explored the ship. After the mandatory muster drill at 4:30pm, the ship left the dock around 6pm.
Sunday, the first night was casual dress. We met our waiter and assistant waiter who were both very friendly and professional for the duration of the trip. One tip – the friendlier you are to the waiters, the more fun you will have. Ask them anything including what they think about the ship and the ports of call. They do have helpful tips to pass on if you ask.
Monday, the first day at sea. The daytime was laid back. The weather was nice and we spent the day around the pool. Monday evening was the first formal night. Before dinner, the captain had a welcome aboard party where all of the officers and management were introduced. Captain Gary was very friendly and pleasure to meet. He regularly made rounds throughout the ship and asked everyone how they were doing. He always made himself available for pictures and Q&A. He was one of the highlights.
Tuesday – Cabo San Lucas. As we pulled into Cabo and dropped anchor, the view was stunning. Since they tender you into town from the ship, the tender process can be time consuming. They hand out tickets with numbers on them and you have to wait until your number is called before you can go down to deck one and get on the tender boat. If you want to catch one of the first tenders, get to the deck four Centrum early and get your ticket. We did not and didn’t get into town until 1:30pm. We only had a few hours to check out the town before we had to get back to the ship. When you first get off of the tenders and walk up the dock into town, you are swarmed by people pushing boat rides and other merchandise. I found that the water taxis were the best way to go. They can get you anywhere in town in a few minutes for about $3 US per person. They will also take you out to the arch and to lover’s beach for the same price. We saved a lot of money by not purchasing the shore excursions from the ship. The water taxis take you to the same attractions for a lot less money. The only problem we found with the water taxis was that if they take you to the main beach, the water can be rough and it is hard to get on or off these small boats. My wife had a difficult time getting onto one from the main beach, but they are so convenient for getting around town. Don’t pay more than $3 US per person; they will all accept that price. At night there was a casual dinner and a show.
Wednesday – Mazatlan. The ship docks in Mazatlan, so there is no wait to get to shore. When you step off the ship, they shuttle you off the pier and out to the street where there is a small flea market. They don’t want people walking around the pier here. When we got there, the first person to approach us was a pretty girl pushing a timeshare sales pitch. If you want to sit through this 1.5 hour presentation, they will pay for any shore excursion you want to go on. The only problem was that our time is so limited since we have to be back to the ship by 5pm. Since we had no clue as to what to do here, we thought we would check it out. They took us in a van for about 20 minutes to the most beautiful resort I have ever seen. I can’t remember the name of it right now. When we drove through town, it was pretty dirty. I was thinking that maybe we did make the right choice to do the timeshare thing. They showed us around the resort and took us to one of their private restaurants. This is where they brought in the ‘hard sell’ closer. We stood our ground and told him we did not want to purchase. He got frustrated and left. They said we could spent the rest of the day there. There was a full open bar, all the best food from a great restaurant, and a private cabana on the beach. We never saw Mazatlan, but had a great time there. If you stand firm, some of these timeshare free gifts are pretty good. Don’t make the mistake of purchasing a timeshare while on vacation. There are so many hidden fees they do not tell you about, that it is better to get hotel rooms. You don’t have to deal with any long terms obligations that way as well. Also you can find and purchase the same timeshare locations on the Internet for less than half the price they quote you on site. At the end of the day they also paid for our taxi to get back to the ship on time. It was a good day. In the evening it was another casual night. We had a great dinner, saw a show, and went dancing afterwards.
Thursday – Puerto Vallarta. When we woke up, the ship was already docked at the pier. This is a beautiful town. When you step off the ship, there are taxis waiting to take you into town. We walked around the Malecon shops and beaches and took pictures. Be very careful when walking around this town. They drive crazy. It can be very dangerous if you are not paying attention. Around 5pm we returned to the ship. The taxis here are the best way to get around town. They will take you into town for $3 US per person. The yellow taxis are cheaper than the white taxis. The white taxis are more comfortable. The yellow taxis are small Nissans. The white taxis are air conditioned mini-vans and SUV’s. They run about $6 US per person to take you to town. Again, in the evening it was another casual night. We had a great dinner, saw a show, and went dancing afterwards. The ship left the dock at 11pm. There was a midnight sail away party and buffet on the pool deck as we left Puerto Vallarta.
Friday and Saturday are sea days. That is a very good schedule. After seeing three towns in three days, we really needed a rest. Two days at sea is very peaceful. They had a lot of on board activities to keep everyone occupied. There are pool games, dancing lessons, bingo, and many other activities throughout the day. The captain even had a few informal Q&A sessions and very cheerfully explained all of the workings of the ship. Friday night was the second formal night. It was also the night of the midnight buffet. The display of food was incredible. They turn food into art. Be sure to take pictures of this one. We were winding down by Saturday and did not do much. We spent the day relaxing and looking at the ocean from one of the quiet lounges. Since we were approaching LA, it was starting to get a little cooler outside. It was a casual night; we had dinner and saw the farewell show. And packed…
Sunday debarkation was easy. There was a line getting through customs, but that is unavoidable. As we exited customs and went to get our taxi to LAX, we saw the captain again one last time on the way out. He was cheerfully and individually bidding everyone farewell and goodbye. I have been on three cruises so far and have never seen the captain as much as this guy. He is truly a nice person.
Miscellaneous – The entertainment was very good. They had the singers and dancers, comedians, and a magician. The lounge acts throughout the ship were very good. I’m not very picky about food and I loved everything the main dining room had to offer. It was all so tasty. Alcoholic beverages are 5 dollars each at the bar. That kind of adds up after a week. Fortunately they have a duty free gift shop on board that sells all kinds of wine and liquor. If you want to take liquor back to your cabin during the cruise, you are charged $9.50 premium. That is not bad. When I bought a 5th of Smirnoff for about $7.50 and paid the $9.50 the total was only $17.00. This is about the same price as Safeway.