First Cruise - The good, the bad and the stinky

Vision of the Seas Cruise Review to Caribbean - Western

Experience: 1 cruise (first)
Review: 1
Helpful Votes: 4

Overall Rating:

3 out of 5
Verified Review
7 Night Western Caribbean (Tampa Roundtrip)
Sail Date: February 13, 2016
Ship: Vision of the Seas
Cabin Number: 4542
Traveled As: Couple
Reviewed: 2 years ago

Keep in mind that this was my first cruise (age 45) so I have no basis for comparison. Also, neither of us drink, nor do we smoke, which I only mention because plenty of others do. One full side of ship, on certain outdoor decks allow smoking and have ashtrays placed every few feet. The casino, which had a small designated non-smoking area, reeks of cigarette smoke. I should also mention that The Vision is a small ship compared to many these days. I believe it accommodates around 2,000 passengers. My BF and I chose this trip for the itinerary, price and dates of travel.We booked the cruise nearly a year in advance and chose our stateroom (large oceanview ) based on advice from my BF, who has cruised multiple times.Be aware that wifi will cost you another small fortune with no guarantee that it will work (we did not purchase, but heard many others complaining). 


We left from Tampa with scheduled stops in Roatan, Honduras, Belize City, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico. Sadly we never made it to Roatan as the ship diverted to Cozumel in the middle of the night due to a passenger needing medical care beyond what the ship and/or Roatan could offer.


Prior to boarding the ship we had purchased excursions for each port of call through Royal Caribbean's site. Be prepared! This can be a huge ( $800+ for the 2 of us) expense on top of what the cruise cost. However, the excursions were the saving grace and worth every cent. We had originally booked a dolphin encounter in Roatan, so when we diverted we decided on the Royal Dolphin Swim and Manatee interaction in Cozumel at Chankanaab National Park. AMAZING!!!! We also took our own snorkel gear and took advantage of time left over after our dolphin experience at the park.We chose the Lamanai River and Ruins tour while in Belize (air conditioned, 45 minute bus ride then an awesome, fast speedboat ride in the rain and a tour of ruins followed by a wonderful meal!), a catamaran sail and snorkel in Costa Maya (gorgeous water, but ship sponsored excursion required us to wear life vests while snorkeling in a tightly packed group) and a Mexican cuisine class (we prepared and then indulged in a spectacular 3 course meal) at Playa Mia on our 2nd trip to Cozumel.  


Back to the ship experience. The onboard activities  were limited and many were an upcharge. Some things that were of interest went on too late at night and our excursions all started very early. We started to feel like we were being nickel and dimed to death. There was an evening that we went to the scheduled karaoke to find the venue closed to public due to a group of Elvis fanatics buying out the place. No activity was scheduled to replace and it was never removed from schedule. The explanation was that they had no time to schedule another activity. We only ate in the Windjammer (big selection, mediocre food and many items served were listed as menu items in the main dining room, as well), aside from one night of specialty dining at Giovanni"s. We have traveled to many places and it is very different to stay on a ship vs in a hotel room. Size, amenities, etc. I seriously over-packed due to the inability to do laundry on the ship myself (or pay a ridiculous fee to have it done for us). The ship seemed to be constantly rocking, making me somewhat seasick, which I DID NOT expect to feel. There was also a smell of sewage throughout certain areas of the ship for the entire trip. The staff was pleasant and helpful and our room steward, Daniel was sweet and kept the room tidied up throughout. However, I wish I'd seen more than 2 towel animals in 7 nights and a souvenir Coke bottle from Belize was thrown away when not in a trash can. 


I know there are a lot of negatives mentioned, but we did truly enjoy ourselves.  on this trip. The weather in February (coming from the Wash D.C. area) was superb! The water was warm and beautiful. The breeze on the ship was amazing. Watching the sun rise and set over the water was beautiful! Honestly, I didn't think I'd want to cruise again yet we are already booked for next Feb on a larger ship. 


Food and Dining

3 out of 5
Only ate in Windjammer ( it's a huge buffet, lots of choices, passable quality) and one night of specialty dining,

Onboard Activities

3 out of 5
Depends on what you like and what you're willing to spend.


3 out of 5
Watched two comedians while onboard. Not bad. Too much time spent pre-show trying to sell products.

Service and Staff

5 out of 5

Ship Quality

3 out of 5
Older ship that was revamped a few years ago. Issue with sewage odors throughout ship.

Cabin / Stateroom

3 out of 5
Our stateroom category was large oceanview. My BF insisted on a window and I am so glad he did. Every time I was in a completely enclosed area of the ship, with no ability to view the horizon, I was seasick. Would've gone for a balcony, but was warned that, although it is no longer permitted, people still smoke on their balconies. And they do. My :/ rating is due to size and lack of amenities mainly (think of an average hotel room and cut it in thirds). However, we were able to unpack all of our luggage and stash the suitcases under the bed and in closet. Staying organized is key. Only two power outlets in the entire room. One near bed and one near vanity in living space. No alarm clock, a hair dryer that was useless (bring your own) and no mini fridge. Also, half of the minimal desk space is cluttered with honor bar items. We had to stash them away as the room steward will not remove the items. We also had to dispute a charge when the guy in charge of honor bar stock didn't realize we had stashed the large water bottles in a drawer. Take pics of all you do and move. It saved us nearly $15. The shower stall comes with this horrible, clingy curtain. Ew! Ladies, you'll have to open curtain and risk drenching the bathroom to shave your legs using the toilet seat as a ledge. No amenities provided other than a tiny bar of soap. Also no outlet to use my Waterpick (which has a polarized plug and must be used next to sink) in the bathroom and we didn't have an adapter since we were told we would not need one). We had our towels replaced vs reusing after the first day. There was not enough airflow to dry the towels for reuse in 24 hrs. We were located in the center of the ship. Only real noise came from above where the walking track and lounge chairs were located. Easy access to elevators. Never heard noise from Centrum. However, you can hear everything in the hallway, but this is true in most hotels too. Foot traffic could get heavy making it tedious to navigate the narrow hallway to the elevators or main areas.

Ship Tip

Take lots of small bills into each port, as tips are customary and expected EVERYWHERE, incl bathrooms. Take extension cords, plan to use a device as a clock and know that the safe will only fit wallet/ passport sized items, not tablets! Take a carry on with necessities until luggage arrives.

5 out of 5
We drove and spent a couple extra days before cruise seeing the sights.
Never got there, Ship was diverted.
5 out of 5
Very friendly people and least expensive souvenirs of the 3 ports visited.
5 out of 5
Eating in port was expensive. Pushy vendors, but you can haggle.
5 out of 5
Both excursions were amazing!! Royal Dolphin Swim with Manatee interaction (expensive and the cost grows if you want the photos at the end. No cameras allowed while with the dolphins) at Chankanaab and Mexican Cuisine Cooking Class at Playa Mia. After the cruise and some research, I found that a day pass to Chankanaab is only $21 US and a short taxi ride away. We will spend a day snorkeling on our own next visit.
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