Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Ship: Vision of the Seas
Sailing Date: December 11th, 2005
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
Vision of the Seas Cruise Review
My buddy and I sailed on this 7 night cruise in an interior cabin for a great price. We chose this particular cruise because we live a few hours from the port, and the price for RCCL was the best compared to Carnival and Princess (who also offer a very similar cruise). Overall, we had a great experience. In my opinion, you cannot beat the value of a cruise when compared to taking another trip. One of my friends easily spent 3 times as much for a week in Puerto Vallarta, and he was stuck at one location with no entertainment, social activities, or other planned events.
We elected to leave the day before so as to make sure not to have any travel related issues. This worked out well. We parked my car at The Inn of Long Beach which is about a $20 cab ride to the port. This worked out better than paying the $12/day for parking at the port, and my car was fine. The rate for one night (including parking for the week) was $70. This ain't the Ritz, but it's a fairly clean place to hang your hat for a night and park a week for free. We made it to the port around 11am, and we were on board by 12 noon or so. No sweat waiting to get on board - I just used my cell phone to contact some of my family and friends for the last time in a week. The Windjammer was open for a lunch buffet which we went to right away. I should mention that I went on 3 previous cruises, but all as a child. I remember the food being good, but as a kid, I think I dined on pasta and Frosted Flakes. I sampled a wide variety of offerings at this first meal, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The food was outstanding.
I won't go into a chronological listing of exactly what happened, but I'll try to cover the highlights. As alluded to, the food was awesome. The service was exceptional, and the ability to order multiple appetizers, entrees, or desserts was great. I didn't have one bad meal, or even one bad dish. We ate all our dinners in the main dining room, most lunches and breakfasts at Windjammer (maybe 2 in the dinning room). No complaints at all. These guys and girls work very hard for a lot of people. The cabin, although small, was perfectly adequate. I don't understand people who complain about cabin size, nor do I understand people who pay 2, 3, or more times as much for the exact same trip, just to have a larger room with a window or balcony. This is my best advice for first time cruisers - the idea is to spend as little time as possbile in your room, so why pay more for it? We used our room for sleeping and cleaning up/changing clothes. I mean why pay extra for a balcony - the whole ship is one big balcony! Sorry to get so worked up - just trying to save you some money. In summary, the cabin was fine, and our attendant was excellent and really looked out for us.
Now for the ports - all three seemed a lot alike for us. We didn't really do any excursions... our main goal was just to see some of the city and do a little shopping. We met a nice young lady and her mother, so thus the shopping angle, although it was a good way to see the town. I don't know if this is obvious or not, but you should definitely not pay the first price offered when shopping. You can often get something for half as much if you barter. In Cabo, we walked the wharf to the beach, and then got a water taxi back. This worked out well, as we saw the sights and then got back to the tender boat in time. We rented kayaks here. This was quite a challenge, but fun nonetheless. Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta were more of the same - each city had it's own personality, but our agenda was the same - shopping and beaching.
Activities on board were great. I enjoyed the sports offerings, although I did miss not having a basketball/volleyball court. The rock wall was great to have though - and it is free of charge. The pools/hot tubs were more than adequate. The entertainment options were excellent. We saw all the shows, and everything was great in my opinion from the singers and dancers to the comedians, to the South American group. Karaoke Idol was a blast too - some pretty talented folks on board! The one thing I was a little disappointed about (although not totally surprised) was the lack of single folks in my age group. My buddy and I are about 30, and we saw maybe 20 single women from 18-35. I guess singles tend to go for the weekend cruises. Nonetheless, we had a great time on our own. I should also mention the weather was pretty poor during the sea days. It was only around 70 and cloudy, and the wind made it pretty uncomfortable. In Mexico, however, the weather was about perfect. Mid 80s and sunny - not too hot to walk around town, yet still warm enough to sun and swim in the ocean. If you want it hotter, simply avoid the winter months, although I've noticed the cost can be considerably higher outside of December and January. I'd rather spend less, and hey - it's still warmer than it was where I left.
I would definitely do this cruise again, perhaps I'll do more on shore in the way of activities to change things up a bit, but the truth is you could do the same cruise on the same ship and the changes in waiters, guests on board, entertainment, food, etc. would make it a new experience. Think about people who have a summer home or timeshare and go there every year - surely a cruise has more variety. For about the cost of a hotel room each night (far less in comparison with some cities), we got all that a cruise has to offer. Can't beat the deal - I've vowed to go on at least one cruise a week for the rest of my life! Hope you enjoy your trip!