This year’s cruise was outstanding! So many fantastic experiences and excursions. By in far our best trip to date. Well worth the sacrifice, time and effort to arrange.
Oh, let’s just say that I was “trash keto” these last two weeks.
So let’s talk about this cruise.
- Size and age of the ship: This was a much smaller ship. Though that was good there were still a lot of things that weren’t upgraded. The RC wifi was great, but the app that allows you to see your daily schedule hadn’t been upgraded. The TV service that allows you to see your daily bill wasn’t upgraded either. The kids pool area wasn’t up to date and it really was just a huge family pool area, certainly good and bad. Oh and they didn’t have those cute elevator signs to tell you what day it was. I was lost a lot more than I was found.
- Busy, busy, busy: This was a very excursion heavy trip so you rarely were able sleep late in the mornings. You were always going to something. Except for days at sea, I found we were always up to something. This almost lead me to miss some of the last ports of call. Thankfully I did get off the ship, because the last two were the best.
- International chargers: I don’t get it and I am sure someone can help educate me on the charger thing. However, they never seemed to work as well as our normal chargers. Just annoying to have to keep checking the connection and make sure it was working.
- Water: I am not used to paying for water and having to get a bottle of water everywhere we went. This really made me think about how we recycle. Since most of the places we went were tourists traps and it was so hot, there were thousands of empty water bottles overflowing every trash can. We had some small foldable canteens, but they just couldn’t keep up with our water consumption.
- Costs: Things aren’t cheap overseas. You just have to either pinch pennies, or euros or just suck it up and just pay.
- 2 Rooms: It was inevitable, but we’re going to look at getting a suite next time or start getting the girls their own room. Or just leave them little buggers at home!
- This kind of trip is what I call a heavy excursion trip. It’s not like you have a beach which you can go to and do beach stuff. You’re going to be walking, touring, or shopping. With 7 ports, that can wear on you and really give you “excursion fatigue”. By day 8 I was tired and we still had 2 more ports of call!
- Drink packages: Man, RC got me this year. I didn’t buy the ultimate drink package, because I didn’t think I’d make out with it. Looking back I probably should have since the basic drink package wasn’t spectacular. The downside is this ship didn’t have the automatic drink fountains. That made the souvenir cup kind of useless. They had a small, albeit nice coffee shop on ship, but my package didn’t cover for that. I will do a better job researching that before I take our next cruise.
- Ship size and amenities: I kind of addressed this earlier, but some of the things you expect on a big ship aren’t there and their absence was glaring in some cases. One example is…
- After hours food: The food on the ship was amazing! That being said WHERE the food is located leaves something to be desired. The “Solarium” is the infamous “adult chill” area on the ship. It’s closed in, great chairs, quiet and very, very relaxing. It has an adult pool and hot tubs. No kids or anyone under the age of 16. Ok, pretty cool. However, on the Vision the Park Cafe is located in the Solarium. So around 10 pm when the hoards of teenagers are looking for food they come to the Solarium. Sadly they don’t come in tip toeing to get a chocolate cookie and leave, nope. They come in as you would expect a group of unsupervised teens to come in. When you and your spouse are just wanting to relax, unwind and chit chat the late night Solarium raid can be a huge disappointment.
- Packing: though we did a nice job packing for a two week hiatus, we didn’t do a fantastic job. We had entirely too many clothes and didn’t wear everything we took. There is certainly room to improve here next time.
- I wasn’t a fan of the live shows on this ship. I have found them to be a pleasant surprise in the past, but there weren’t any that I liked this time.
- Ports of call and sights: We were able to visit 7 ports and 3 countries. Every one of which could have been a full on experience and vacation. They were so amazing. RC really out did themselves with these amazing ports of call and tours. I think I will do an entire picture post of each, because clearly they all were outstanding. This is an advantage to a smaller ship as well. A larger ship wouldn’t have been able to get into some of these ports. And given the sheer amazingness of some of these ports the “W” goes to the smaller ship.
- 12 days! Spot on. Just enough time to really let the vacation sink in and enjoy the ship and ports. I am not sure how I’ll get back into the groove of a shorter cruise.
- Cruise friends: Taking a family with us was a phenomenal idea. Being able to pair up and hang with my friend Eric, while his wife and mine chilled was perfect. Then to meet back up for dinner and catch up on what everyone did, priceless. Plus our girls had another child to talk to. Though they could and would talk to themselves it did help. I’m not sure we’ll do solo family cruises again.
- Planning: I keep telling her, but my wife did a great job arranging all our port of call shenanigans. This trip would’ve been much different, in a bad way if it were left to me to plan like she did.
- I only speak English: It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. There were so many bilingual people willing to speak to us on shore. It was great. I can’t let that keep me from trying to learn a new language, though.
- Self-tour vs. Shore Excursion vs private car: Each of these have its place, but I think I would vote for a private car with a knowledgeable driver from now on. Having someone get you into the nice restaurants, museums and the such is well worth it. Walking around with no idea what you’re doing isn’t bad, either. But you have to know when one is an option vs another.
- Shows: Wait, didn’t you just say you didn’t care for the shows? Yes, I did. The movies on the pool deck every night, however were pretty good. There were none that I had to see, so curling up in a deck chair with my DD1 watching a silly movie in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea wasn’t too bad.
- The food: I honestly think this is an area that the smaller ship has the upper-hand as well. The meals were outstanding…everytime! Maybe because of the volume they had to make, I don’t know. However, I didn’t have one solitary meal that I didn’t, couldn’t or wouldn’t have eaten several times. The food selections were excellent. Just about every night there was a dish that was inspired by the port of call. Oh and lots to keep me keto. #SeafoodCakes!
- Staff: I am not sure if RC is on a particular push or if this is just the way they’re doing things now, but the staff was so attentive and kind. It didn’t seem like work for them. Each time I asked a crew member a particular question I walked away feeling as if I had in fact been heard and my question answered. Though they asked me multiple times how I thought their service was, I didn’t feel like they didn’t deserve it.
- Pre planning: Our planning was on point. Though we went over on clothes we still lined up some amazing trips, tours and sights. The walkie talkies were perfect. Didn’t need them as much as I thought, but they did come in handy.
- Days at sea: I was torn on this trip. Though I like days at sea, a lot I also could have stayed at some of our ports of call much longer as well. Days at sea allow you to experience the ship a lot more. And get some extra sleep cause you don’t have any where specifically to go.
- Older kids: Now that our girls are older it’s so much easier to tell them to go there by yourself or meet me here at a certain time. Next time we’ll test them on allowing them to use their Sail card to make purchases.
- Ocean Adventure: DD2 was smitten by the Ocean Adventure (Kid’s club) on this ship. Maybe she’s getting older and just wants to be her own person. I don’t know, but the OA was a hit with her indeed.
- Fitness center: Really good and not packed. They had your typical “hotel set up”, but there were enough classes and equipment for everyone to get what they needed.
- Embarking and Disembark: We’ve had magnificent experiences at all our ports. Getting on and off the boat has always been a simple process. This really speaks to RC being consistent with the customer experience.
- We did karaoke and I have to say I liked it a lot. No, I won’t post the videos and I certainly hope it didn’t auto upload to Flickr! Excuse me while I go check.
As I’ve said before in reference to cruises, I think everyone should check them out. Well worth the cost as well as effort. Please check out my daughters’ take on it on our 1st Whitaker Talk Show YouTube effort.