Saturday, December 9, 2017

Vision of the Seas - Mexican Caribbean Cruise December 2017

Just The Facts:
Captain: Marek Slaby of Poland
Cruise Director: Steve Davis of Milwaukee USA
Embarkation: Galveston, Texas   December 9, 2017
Ports: Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico - Cozumel, Mexico
 

This is my 26th Royal Caribbean cruise, first time on the Vision of the Seas, and my 134th cruise overall.  I am sailing as a solo, but have friends on board.  

Day One  -  Embarkation  -  Saturday - December 9th
Seawolfe Park - Pelican Island - Galveston
I had been doing the later later arrive of late when driving to Galveston, but I woke early so decided to leave early and was off about 6:15 am from the ranch.  I stopped to check air pressure, get gas, and to buy a tire gauge,  but still arrived at EZ Cruise Parking by 11:00 am.  It went from 30° to 58° from Waco to Galveston and traffic was fine.  Good timing on arrival as by the time we were shuttled to the terminal the early birds were already boarded.  There was no one in front of me at security, check-in, or boarding.  Once I had my card I basically just walked on board and was at the Windjammer by 11:40 am.  Perfect timing.  I didn’t even have a problem getting a table, ship must be not full or most guests will be late arrivals.  Just off the sister ship Rhapsody and noticed the Windjammer is not as large.  Buffet begins just as you walk in so I think may be a bottle neck but fine this morning.  After lunch I went to the Solarium and got a table to open computer and sign up for the Zoom Wifi.  I’m doing the ‘Surfer’ package and not the ‘Streamer’ package this cruise.  Price less than $20 with my Diamond+ discount.  I used my Galveston duffle  (largest that will fit in security scanners) so I carried my bag on board and could begin cabin set up as soon as the cabins opened at 1:00 pm.  I really like this cabin and balcony, it’s the fifth or sixth different Royal Caribbean ship that I’ve enjoyed this location with the special extended balcony.  Boat or Safety drill was about 3:15 pm.  I was a good guest and went although I sat in the old folks area after I checked in at my station.  Very few in the comfy chairs and drill was very short and sweet, I probably could have stood on the cool and sunny deck.  It was maybe all of five minutes…I was back at cabin by 3:30 pm.  I'm doing sail away from the aft facing balcony for a good view of the dolphin escort.  One of the sail always in many years: perfect weather and so much activity today.  Cargo Ships, Cruise ships, small craft, ferries, dolphins, Pelicans, sport fisherman off Pelican Island, and great weather and view.  (Photo: Sea Wolfe Park with WWII submarine the USS Cavalla and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart. The remains of the tanker S.S. Selma, the largest concrete ship constructed, can be seen in background-click photo to enlarge).  I went to the Diamond Lounge about 6:00 pm., it was not busy at all, not many Diamonds sailing on a 5-day cruise on an older ship.  I enjoyed a few Cosmopolitans and enjoyed great table service.  I have late dining @ 8:00 pm and dinner was interesting.  My friends are at next table, they messed up link, but should correct.  I ordered the Strawberry Kiwi Pineapple Medley, Seafood Spaghetti (my pasta as starter tradition), and the Slow-roasted Prime Rib with Baked Potato entree.  The Prime Rib was as tender and delicious as I have had on a cruise ship…pleasantly amazed.  I ordered a Carrot Cake for dessert.  I skipped the Welcome Show @ 9:45 although I would have time to attend, our waiter service was prompt.  I was anxious to hear who won the 2017 Heisman Trophy tonight so retired to the cabin after dinner.  Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma won so I’m very pleased with that selection. After updating my blog I turned in early after a busy embarkation and travel day.

Day Two  - Cruising -  Sunday - December 10th
Vision of the Seas- Centrum
Predominantly smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  It’s a mostly cloudy day and cool enough to get nice sea air through the open door of the balcony.  I went to the MDR for breakfast.  They are serving the Daily Specials (they did not on the Rhapsody) and I did order one: the Country Omelette.  Fortunately I also ordered a side of fried eggs and bacon as the omelette was only fair.  Rommel my cabin Steward was cleaning my cabin when I returned so I started my balcony time early today.  I did a walkabout on the ship and it is decorated very nicely for the Christmas holidays.  A very large tree in the lobby area and decorations throughout with a very large ten foot Santa and Snowman in the Windjammer.  I did use my $5 D+ voucher in the casino today… lost the $5 but cashed out with $6.20 so I can apply the big winnings towards my tip money.  I went to the Windjammer and they had Pork at the carving station.  I also had some nice Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Corn on the Cob.  As on the Rhapsody the Cutlets & Chops are consistently good on Royal Caribbean.  The sun came out in the afternoon but it remained somewhat cool.  Still very nice balcony weather.  They delivered a bottle of wine on ice and later some very nice Petit-Fours.  This is the formal night and the Captains reception this evening, I no longer do dressy, but I have a nice Christmas shirt…who doesn’t like Santa.  Tonight I went up to the Concierge Club on deck 11 for cocktails, it was not too busy either and the Cosmopolitans were a little better IMHO.  Just not as many VIP’s on this older RCCL ship.  I went to dinner and sat with my friends.  They had messed up the dining link but corrected it this evening and same waiters and staff.  I ordered the Bay Scallop Gratin, Artichoke filled Crepe au Gratin (as starter), and the Roasted Sirloin of Beef entree.  It was good, but not as good as last nights dinner.  I know I could have had that same Sirloin sliced to order upstairs in the Windjammer, the better choice for dining on formal night on RCCL in my opinion.  But it was nice to visit with my friends in the MDR ad the Pistachio ice creme for dessert was good.  The production show Boogie Wonderland was tonight at 10:00 pm in the Masquerade Theater, but I had a short walkabout then retired to the cabin.  Guests were enjoying the evening especially the Battle of the Sexes finale in the Centrum was most impressive.  A very nice sea day on the Vision of the Seas.


Day Three  - Puerto Costa Maya, Mexico -  Monday - December 11th
El Faro from Costa Maya Pier
Smooth seas overnight and I slept very well.  It’s a bright and beautiful day today. We are scheduled to arrive in Costa Maya about noon so off to the MDR at regular time (8:00-9:30) for a nice breakfast.  I ordered the Huevo Rancheros from the special of day AND an Eggs Benedict knowing not all specials are special.  Both were good, but glad I ordered the EB too.  The very efficient Rommel had my cabin cleaned by the time I arrived back…thanks.  It was a bit breezy this morning but great on the balcony.  We arrived about 11:00 am and guests were off right away.  I decided to wait a while.   We ended up backing in on the shore side so I have a front row seat of the pier, port area, El Faro, and the village in the distance.  Soon some xylophone players set up on the pier so I enjoyed music while on the balcony too.  The breeze dropped and the weather is perfect so I prepared to go to town for at least Guacamole and beer: Walking shoes, Pesos, Sunglasses, check.  I went up to the Windjammer just to see what was available about 12:30 before leaving.  Guess what? Mexican on the buffet including Guacamole.  The best item was the Sirloin Steak on the carving station and it was cooked medium well…perfect for me.  I had several slices with freshly Grilled Vegetables and Mashed Potatoes…excellent.  After eating lunch I fixed a nice Mexican snack plate and some steak sandwiches for later on the balcony.  So a great view, great weather, food, cokes, and music in the afternoon in a relaxing spot on my balcony.  So easy.  I went to get some cokes from the Diamond Lounge when it opened at 4:30 pm and continued balcony time through sunset.  At 6:30 I went to the Diamond Lounge for cocktails then met friends at the Schooner Bar at 7:00 a fun evening. For dinner tonight I ordered Summer Fruit Medley, and two entrees: Chicken Cordon Bleu and Braised Beef Duo.  The waiters also brought cheese plates for the table and Hearts of Palm for me to enjoy.  Super.  Cherries Jubilee was my choice for dessert.  The entertainment was a Journey cover band Resurrection, but skipped for comfort of my cabin.  It was an easy day on the Vision of the Seas.

Day Four  - Cozumel, Mexico -  Tuesday - December 12th

New sign in the main square
Smooth seas overnight for the short sail to Cozumel.  We docked early at the International pier. Very windy today. I woke early and went to the MDR for a nice country breakfast just after 7:00 am.  I watched the Carnival Dream struggle to try and dock at the Costa Mayan pier with eating.  It took them over a half hour to get in due to the wind.  We know first hand the thruster problems on the Dream class.  I decided to go ashore early to avoid the crowds as we have the Liberty of the Seas sharing our pier later this morning.  I made through the shops and no lines at security or taxi stand.  I was at the main square in San Miguel by 8:30 am (9:30am local) and just enjoyed the improved square for a while while waiting for the opening of the barber shop at 9/10. I visited Iglesia de San Miguel the church as usual as Martin is usually late by a few minutes.  After another great haircut I went to my Cozumel HQ: Woody's Bar and Grill just off the main square.  I visited with Nelly and soon some friends sailing on the Dream came by to share a few drinks.  I enjoyed my favorite Mexican beer: La Bohemia and some great guacamole & Pico de Gallo with chips.  The music was good and weather perfect.  Later Nelly insisted we share a Christmas lunch.  She's thinking of adding Bacon-wrapped shrimp so we shared one: very good.  I enjoyed the traditional beef (steak) tortillas.  Thanks Nelly.  We sailed away about 5:15 pm...very interesting being docked next to the other RCCL ship from Texas.  The Vision was dwarfed in size next to the Liberty of the Seas.  I went to the Diamond lounge about 6:30 then to the Schooner Bar about 7:00.  It was surprisingly busy for a Cozumel day. The Captain who is an excellent singer joined a group in the Centrum before dinner, my second singing Captain on Royal Caribbean.  Tonight was Italian night in the dining room (MDR). I ordered the Insalata Mista salad and added my special Hearts of Palm.  Also  the Lasagna del Forno (with two sauces) as a starter, and the Chicken Marsala entree.  I had Pistachio Ice Creme and an excellent Sticky Bun & Pudding served with Ice creme for dessert.  A nice dinner but I had nice food all day.  I retired direct to cabin after a busy day.  It was a great day in Cozumel and on the Vision of the Seas. 

Day Five  - Cruising -  Wednesday - December 13th
Busy in the Galley Bakery
Smooth seas overnight, but I was up a lot overnight but got enough sleep.  Beautiful sunny day today.  I went down to the MDR for a nice MDR breakfast about 8:30 am.  I then had the one hour VIP Galley Tour at 9:30 am.  The galley is not that large although on both decks four and five.  I enjoyed the Baking Area as I have experience there and the breads are so good on Royal Caribbean.  When DW sails she always orders room service  breakfast and about half the time they deliver coffee cup although we don’t order nor drink it.  As I suspected the room service trays are preloaded with certain items including coffee cups…thought so and tour confirmed it.  Lots of morning sunshine on balcony upon return.  I’ve enjoyed the Captain’s noon announcements (a regular thing on all RCCL ships) and port announcements, he lists guests and crew birthdays and has interesting messages.  I went to the MDR for lunch just because I saw the prep for the unique salad bar they set up during the galley tour.  I had the Seafood Risotto and Fish Enchiladas.  They were good, but I think the Windjammer may be better option.  Balcony time in the afternoon, nice sun going north bound yet cool enough to make it very nice.  Several friend came by to check out it out as well.  I do plan to cruise less but better in the future when it comes to cabin location and ship selections.  I went to the Diamond club for my final Cosmopolitans there then to listen to the Piano music in the Schooner Lounge until dinner.  Dinner ended up being a feast.  I ordered Pan Seared Bay Scallops (2), Shrimp Cocktail (2), a Green salad with Hearts of Palm, Rigatoni Pasta (as starter), and the Rosemary Lamb Shank entree.  All very good, the Scallops excellent, and the Lamb outstanding the best I have ever enjoyed.  For dessert I had Key Lime Pie and Ice Creme.  Yes a feast and it was served promptly as our servers other tables were a no show.  Romeo, from India, was an excellent server all week.  The big Thriller dance was this evening in the Centrum, I had been seeing guests rehearse all week…they really looked good.  I again retired early as I know I’ll be up early to pack the next morning.  It was a very nice day on the Vision of the Seas.

Debarkation -  Galveston, Texas -  Thursday- December 14th
Smooth seas overnight and I was up very early as the ship approached Galveston.  I had my final MDR Eggs Benedict as they opened at 6:30 this morning.  After breakfast I returned to cabin and packed, then left the cabin about 8:10 am.  No wait for an elevator, no line on deck four or at 'ding-out', fast moving line to Border Control, brief 1 minute wait at customs, then out the door.  I was on the EZ Cruise shuttle at 8:30 am.  Amazingly smooth debarkation.  I stopped to put air in my tires and was on the bridge by 8:45.  I took I-45 through Houston and stopped for a great lunch at Billy B's in Groesbeck.  At the ranch at 2:00 pm.
 

Cabin
I had cabin 7152 an aft facing balcony cabin located on deck seven on the port side corner.  The room is the standard size for a balcony on this class ship (a bit larger than same on newer ships). It has the following: key pad safe, hair dryer, large couch, vanity/desk, nice standard shower, storage in cabinets and vanity, flat screen TV, and good lighting. There is an empty small refrigerator and they offer and they offer mini-bar service for drinks, etc.  Well designed.  The air conditioning & water pressure worked well.  Excellent service from cabin steward Rommel.  The key feature is the aft corner balcony (see photo below)

Crew

All service people have been excellent, they have an obvious ‘guest first’ attitude and it shows in service and attitude.  My cabin steward Rommel and waiter Romeo were very good.  Excellent Captain, he even wished all guests a Merry Christmas on the gangway as all debarked the ship.


Food / Bar

Overall very good food, better than recent Mariner and Liberty cruises and perhaps even better than the Rhapsody. Amazing that the better food is on the smaller ships. By far.  Excellent: Cookies, Ice Creme, Breads, Mashed Potatoes and entrees.  Continental Breakfast is complementary but a charge for Room Service meals delivered to the cabin. 

General Comments

I really enjoyed the cabin, it does spoil one and all other activities are different due to availability of your own nice balcony.  Great food, easy embark and debark, very nice crew and Captain, the Diamond Lounge was very hospitable, it was a very enjoyable cruise.

 

the End - Aft - fin

 

 

  ~~ Click on photos to enlarge ~~