June 2015 - 12 Night Mediterranean & Greek Isles (Barcelona Roundtrip) Cruise on Vision of the Seas
An inconsistent experience
The itinerary was great and well-balanced
Ship was well sized and spotless. The balcony stateroom on deck 7 was spacious with lots of storage, well laid out, comfortable and accessible to dining areas and pool deck. Pool area was crowded and noisy. Solarium area was too hot due to lack of open windows, and had heavy chlorine smell. Neither area was appealing.
Shore excursions were decent and well organized, but not as good as those we purchased from Cruises only.
Dining room waiters and cabin attendant were bright, personable, efficient, helpful and eager to please. Food in dining rooms was creative, tasty, attractively presented. Decent variety of offerings most nights. Portions at times could be larger, especially appetizer salads. Breakfast and lunch buffets at Windjammer offered a very good variety of offerings, and were of generally good quality. Park cafe was adequate, but opening times were inconsistent and varied from day to day. There were times of day when lemonade (my wife's go-to drink) was the only unavailable beverage.
Daily newsletter at times had incorrect operation times of the restaurants listed, and staff was misinformed as well. Guest services staff ranged from clueless to highly helpful and competent. Upper Management (hotel director), however, was very responsive when we came to them with legitimate concerns. The captain was a gem, and management personnel were approachable, helpful, and eager to please.
Gathering procedure for shore excursions on tender days was not as well organized as advertised, and importance of obtaining a tender ticket, even if an excursion was not planned, was underrepresented.
Culture of upselling, especially during first 3 days, was insulting and annoying. Subtlety was nonexistant. We were constantly approached by staff pushing packages for the specialty restaurants. Bottled drinks were offered for sale at the exits during departures at ports. Placards were everywhere offering drink packages, specials and sales, etc. We could not escape the concept that we were there simply to enhance the profitability of the cruise company.
Had it not been for the ports, the cabin, and the service people with whom we interacted daily, the experience would have been more negative than positive. I would do it again because of the special itinerary, but would alter my approach and expectation. I might look for a slightly more expensive and upscale line to avoid the annoyances which tarnished our experience. Had this been a Carribean cruise, it would have been more negative than positive.