VISION OF THE
November 8, 2002
By Brian Stutzman
just returned from a 4-day weekend cruise on Vision of the Seas and
found it to be a great ship! This
was my 8th cruise, first on Royal Caribbean.
In the Fall of 2002, the Vision sails from Los Angeles to
Ensenada Mexico. I am very
analytical, so this will contain some information not found on many
We flew into LAX and were met by a ship representative. After
gathering our luggage, we waited about 20 minutes for the bus to come,
as we bought the ship’s transfers. A
full size bus took us the 30 minutes to San Pedro.
The driver and porter took our bags (and tips) and we went
around to the front of the terminal and found a fair sized line, the
wait being 45 minutes. But the
actual check in took less than 2 minutes, then we went and found a 5
minute line to actually board the ship.
afternoon buffet in the Windjammer’s lounge had a wide variety of
food. Royal makes the lines
faster than other ships by having drinks already poured and silverware
and plates already on the trays. The
Windjammer is the neatest “café” we have eaten in, with better
furnishings and more of an upscale feel, it feels like a real
restaurant and has a wonderful view with floor to ceiling windows.
We had a balcony on deck 7 and found the drawer and closet
space more than enough for the two of us. The room sleeps 4, so it
might be a little tight, but the room had as much storage as any cabin
we have ever had. There were
both 240 and 110 outlets on the desk. A
safe and TV were also in the desk area.
The TV had 3 music channels, TNT, CNN, ESPN, a cartoon channel,
a Retro TV channel, and several movie channels.
The current movies for the fall of 2002 included the Count of
Monte Cristo, Spiderman, and the Majestic.
Also, a view off the front of the ship was shown.
Last, the dining room menu for lunch and dinner were shown all
day, which helped us decide how much lunch to eat (a great dinner
merited a lighter lunch).
We felt we had the best service we have seen, compared to Disney,
Princess, and Carnival. For
example, it was the first cruise where our cabin steward made a point
to give us a “tour” of our cabin, showing how everything worked,
including the weird controls on the shower.
On some ships we hardly saw our steward, let own get a
personalized tour of our room. Very
few times were we hounded to by drinks or play bingo.
Our waiter was friendlier than what we had experienced
elsewhere, and the head waiter actually came by each night and
chatted. On other ships, we
only saw the head waiter on tip night.
Ship: We felt the ship
had many extra things other ships did not have, or have as nice.
For example, the library was twice as large as any we have
seen. The solarium (indoor
pool) was phenomenal! We hit
some cooler weather on our cruise and the heated, indoor pool was
heaven! It had whirlpool jets
that gave the sound of the ocean, and because it was salt water you
could float easier. The first
night I had the pool to myself, and the glass ceiling acted as a
mirror as I floated on my back. The
shifting of the ship caused the water to act as light waves that
pushed me around the pool. It
was a very unique swimming experience!
show lounge was the nicest afloat, and very large with very few
blocked seats. The dining room
was also well appointed. The
ship was very well marked, with the floor number outside of each
elevator, and a model of the ship and each floor by the center
elevators on each floor. A snap
to find any part of the ship! Also,
they actually change the carpet in the elevator each day, with the day
(Sunday, Monday) in the middle of the carpet.
Food: Above average for
a ship! The first night was
Italian. It was pretty good.
The second night was shrimp and Filet Mingon, and the last
night was shrimp and Prime Rib. Of
course you could order other things, or more of the same.
I had two complete dinners on night 2 and 3!
The deserts were good, the Chocolate Soufflé on night 2 was
the best. Breakfast and lunch
were more typical cruise food fare. Beside
having the menu on the TV, they post it outside the dining room each
day so you can choose to eat there or elsewhere.
Vision has a dance and song group that was typical ship stuff.
Good but not my style. Rock
on Broadway, the last night show, was better.
The second night was the best show by far, a singing
impressionist “Finese” somebody. It
was first class, as he did everything from Michael Jackson to Dean
Martin to Willie Nelson to Martin Luther King.
A must see show!
was outside calypso music, inside live disco dance music at night in
the Enchanted Evening lounge, but I fell in love with the music at the
Schooner piano bar. Elle Silver
plays until March of 2003 and she is awesome!
Perhaps one of the most talented keyboardist in the world, Elle
plays over 1000 requests from complete memory, including keyboard,
drum machine, and synthesizer. From
the Eagles and Bangles to Louie Armstrong and other standards of the
50’s 60’s to today, Elle plays them all on request.
She plays two sets in the later evening, including a few off
her own CD. See www.ellesilver.com.
I never pictured myself at the piano bar over the disco, but I
stayed 'til cosing each night Elle played, and she played over 20 of
my requests! Don’t miss her.
Route: The ship left on
time out of San Pedro at nightfall. The ship hugged the California
coast, about 10 miles out, but the lights of the mainland could be
seen. Coming into Ensenada was
a treat. It is quite a job to
park a big ship, and do a 180 in the harbor.
Seals make the harbor home and “barked” constantly while
coming into port. Ironically,
we did not even get off the ship while in port.
The weather was rainy, and we had been there before.
Nothing really to see, so we napped and hung out at the indoor
pool! The second day is a sea
day. The ship goes up between
Catalina and Isabel Island and parks in the afternoon, just in the
channel. The ship activities go
on, but the ship just sits. Then
in the evening it makes it way up to San Pedro for docking the next
morning. You can see land
nearly the entire voyage.
ship to shore calls can be made from your room for $8 per minute, cell
phones also work the entire way, with most of the route covered by US
Carriers. In Mexico, be aware,
they charge what ever they want for calls.
I heard as much as $5 per minute to the US from your cell
phone. Text messaging, if you
have it, works on most of the cruise except in Mexico.
One has to remember that a 3 night cruise out of Los Angeles is
going to be less exotic than one out of Miami.
The waters of the Caribbean are significantly clearer and
prettier than the murky west coast waters.
Crowd: Perhaps the only
less than average part of the cruise was the weekend crowd.
We went on this shorter cruise because of time constraints.
We noticed this weekend cruise attracted a different type of
clientele than a 7- or 10-day cruise. Many
came to make this a “booze cruise” and were not as sophisticated
as the groups we have seen on longer cruises.
For example, in the dining room for dinner we saw many people
wearing T-shirts! On formal
night, there were several men wearing golf shirts!
Someone called it a largely “blue collar” crowd (there
words, not mine). Perhaps the
mid week cruise attracts the usual crowd that actually has a suit to
wear to formal night! This was
beyond Royals’ control, but just be ready to see T-shirts for
the ship was clean, easy to get around, and had some great features
not found on others. The food
was above average (but no lobster on the shorter cruises) and the
service was the best we had ever had. The
destination was fair but we knew what we were getting when we signed
up. The only disappointment
were the few “booze cruisers” a weekend jaunt like this attracts,
complete without suits for formal night.