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Vision of the Seas~B2B~Spanish Immersion~Feb. 8th & 15th~My Diary


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Greetings once again, Cruise Critic Family!!

 

Retirementland is wonderful! We can watch prices and pounce on the deals last minute and that's exactly what we did for these fabulous two cruises on the beautiful, recently refurbed Vision of the Seas. We found Junior Suites for these two dates at incredible prices, so we booked and away we went! This cruise left from Colon, Panama and was a Spanish Immersion cruise. No problemo......we lived in Mexico City for two years, so we figured we could handle this!

 

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Our adventure began on Feb. 6th when we left Raleigh/Durham and flew to Panama City, Panama. It was a total day of traveling and we arrived in Panama at about 10 PM. We're old geysers, so we were pretty pooped when we got there. We grabbed our luggage.....but first.....we had to go through immigration. That took a little bit of doing. Fortunately we were one of he first off the plane. We were photographed and fingerprinted, then welcomed to Panama!!

 

We took a taxi to our hotel.......the Courtyard Marriott near the airport and a huge shopping center called the Metromall. It took a while to find a taxi with a reasonable rate. The first guy wanted $30....the next one wanted $20.....and we finally found one that would take us for $15. It was only 7 Kms. away!!

 

Check in at the hotel was very easy and we crashed!!

 

Friday ~ February 7, 2014 ~ Panama City

 

We just took it easy all day today. Like I said.....we're old.....so we like to rest a lot!! We had breakfast at the hotel. Sat by the pool a little. Walked over to the mall and had lunch. Had an interesting time trying to find a drug store. We speak a little Spanish and thought we were doing very well......but the Panamanians looked at us like we were speaking Martian!! Anyway we finally found the pharmacy.

 

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We did a lot of reading in the afternoon, then went back over to the mall for dinner. Lots of places to eat there. There was a Food Court and a Bennigan's. We turned in early tonight.

 

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Oh......I forgot to introduce ourselves!! We are Jane and John from North Carolina. We are Diamond Plus Crown and Anchor members and have been cruising with Royal Caribbean for almost 29 years. We are in our 60's.

 

Saturday ~ Feb. 8, 2014 ~ Colon

 

We were, of course, up early today We had arranged for a driver to pick us up so that we could be on the road to Colon by 9:30. It's about an hour and half drive. Eric was our driver.

 

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He had a little Hyundai SUV and it was just perfect for the two of us and our luggage. Some friends of ours did this same cruise over New Year's and Eric was their driver. He did a good job for them, so they called him and arranged for him to take us to the port and then return on the 22nd and pick us up.

 

Eric got to the hotel early so we were off by 9:20. He stopped at a local grocery store so that we could get a case of water. We took the toll road to Colon, so there was hardly any traffic. It was really a pretty drive.

 

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We got to the ship by 10:30. They charged Eric $5.00 just to get to the ship and drop us off! Don't know why. He also had to show them all kinds of paperwork.

 

The porters were right there to take our luggage. We had to check ALL of our luggage. They would not let us carry anything on but my small canvas bag that I was using as sort of a purse and they let John carry on his backpack. We found out later that their x-ray machines were broken and they had to hand search all bags, so that's why we were limited.

 

When we got into the terminal, the check in desks weren't open yet, but after we filled out our customs form and health form, they were ready for us. We were the first ones in the priority line. After we got our sea pass cards, we went through security.....which wasn't much of anything......then we had a short walk over to the ship and were on board around 11:00 or so. Pretty cool!

 

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We made ourselves comfortable on the Centrum on Deck 5. We met Janear, the Beverage Manager. She stopped to chat with us for a while and was very welcoming, as were ALL the crew!!

 

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Edited by max'smom
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I am so excited! I have been waiting for this review! Where will you be sailing next?

 

Hey!! LOL!! That's the beauty of being retired......we don't have anything booked right now, but keeping our eyes open for any and all cruises in April and May. I'll let you know!

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I made our Chops reservations for tonight right after we went through security. Some guys were right there trying to sell the Restaurant Package ....which is great, by the way.....$50pp for all three restaurants. We decided instead to use our BOGO for Chops and then then book Giovanni's separately. Then try two more next week, still using the BOGO.

 

John sat comfortably on Deck 5 while I went around and made all other reservations including My Time Dining. Cabins weren't ready until 1:00. The dining times on this ship were 7:00 and 9:30. We chose to eat in MTD at 8:30. No problem getting that.

 

Around noon we headed for the Solarium and the Park Café. The place was deserted!

 

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We totally avoided any crowds by eating lunch here. There was no one around!! I know where we are going next Saturday on Turn Around Day!!

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After lunch.....of course.....we found the frozen yogurt machine and then found our way to our cabin on Deck 8......a Junior Suite....8580....aft starboard side. Nice cabin. Lots of storage space. We will have to move to 8568 for the next week, though. Everything was new.....carpet, drapes, upholstery, beds, bathroom. Really nice.

 

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We rested here for a while. It was unusual that we saw no other passengers in the hallway, no luggage being delivered.....everything was so quiet!! Very strange.

 

After a while....I looked out into the hall and there were no pieces of luggage in the hallway as usual. So I walked down to the Centrum area and lo and behold......all the luggage was piled up there! I spotted ours, so I grabbed them and brought them back to our cabin. Our water was also there!

 

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I've never seen anything like this......self serve luggage delivery!!! Ha!!

 

The next 45 minutes or so was spent unpacking. Always nice to get that done.

 

We had a VERY small roll call......only a handful of folks chatting. Only one person said they wanted to meet, so we decided to do that at 3:45 in the Schooner Bar. So off I go to meet Julie and Joel from California. I'm so glad they showed up, because we had such a fun time with them all week! We had some refreshing drinks and chatted for a while. They were in a GS and would be in the Concierge Lounge that evening, so we made plans to meet each other there later.

 

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I had a Frozen Mojito......one of my favorite cruise drinks.

 

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Soon it was time for muster.....5 o'clock. We walked down to Deck 5 and found our station. It didn't last too long, thank goodness!

 

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We sailed away right on time......5:30. Not much to see for sail away.......a few rusty cargo ships and a small levee.

 

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Most passengers on this cruise were from Panama, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. All announcements were made in Spanish first, then English. There were a fair amount of folks from the Netherlands as well, since we were going to the Netherlands Antilles.

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We got ready for dinner, but stopped off first at the Concierge Lounge for drinks at about 7:00. Here we met the Concierge, Betsy Medrano. She was so happy we came in because the place was so empty! There was only one other couple there. Quite a contrast to our latest cruises.....all from Florida.....where the CL's were standing room only! Betsy was absolutely wonderful to us for the whole two weeks.

 

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We also met Carolina.....our bar server in the CL for the week. Another delightful crew member that we enjoyed getting to know.

 

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Julie and Joel soon joined us and we had a nice time chatting and getting to know them.

 

Tonight's dinner was in Chops and our reservation was at 8:30. I had my usual Chops salad, the petit filet, and of course......mud pie!! Our dinner was exceptionally good tonight. We sent our compliments to the chef and he came out later to visit with us.

 

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They brought us some kind of special coffee that was just delicious and they didn't charge us for it.

 

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And of course......no cruise is complete without Mud Pie!!!!!!!!!

 

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They were all so very nice to us in there!

 

Next up we stopped into the Casino where we each won just a little bit......so we thought we had better cash out and call it a night. it had been a long day.

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Always a pleasure to read your reviews. 83 short days until our Oasis cruise, come join us.

 

Hey There! You just never know when we might show up these days!!!! Would love to go on Lady O in the near future.

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Hello from Durham NC!

 

I'm sailing on Vision later this year. With your cabin on Deck 8, can you comment on if you are experiencing any noise from the pool deck above? I'd be very interested to hear if your friends from the Grand Suite as well. Thanks!

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Hello from Durham NC!

 

I'm sailing on Vision later this year. With your cabin on Deck 8, can you comment on if you are experiencing any noise from the pool deck above? I'd be very interested to hear if your friends from the Grand Suite as well. Thanks!

 

Hey Patrick! I didn't realize that you were from Durham!!

 

The very aft cabins don't get any noise because they are under the spa. Our friends in the GS did not mention any noise at all, and we met others in GS's on the second leg. HOWEVER.......we moved just a little bit towards center....actually we were under the aft end of the Solarium on the second week. OMG!! The noise was unbelievable!! I'll elaborate more on that when I get to the second leg of the review. But yes......there is plenty of noise in that area particularly. I am guessing it is probably about the same under the main pool area......but we have been in JS's under the main pool area on other Vision Class ships and didn't hear the noise.....not like under the Solarium....that's for sure!

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Hey Patrick! I didn't realize that you were from Durham!!

 

The very aft cabins don't get any noise because they are under the spa. Our friends in the GS did not mention any noise at all' date=' and we met others in GS's on the second leg. HOWEVER.......we moved just a little bit towards center....actually we were under the aft end of the Solarium on the second week. OMG!! The noise was unbelievable!! I'll elaborate more on that when I get to the second leg of the review. But yes......there is plenty of noise in that area particularly. I am guessing it is probably about the same under the main pool area......but we have been in JS's under the main pool area on other Vision Class ships and didn't hear the noise.....not like under the Solarium....that's for sure![/size']

 

This is a big help. Thanks very much for your quick response. I look forward to the rest of your review!

Edited by GMoney
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Great review Jane. We are taking this cruise on April 19. We have an aft js and booked an ocean view for our 3 teenagers. Yes we too got a phenomenal price plus it's their spring break. Thank you for giving us a preview of what's to come. Great photos too.

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So happy to see your review Not much is written on these boards about the Vision. And your pictures are beautiful.

We sail on Vision in May

Thank you-------------

 

Great! I can't wait to see what happens when the Vision comes to Florida. The CL and DL will be much different then......I'm sure!! I hope we can book the Vision again soon. What a fabulous ship!!!! You will love it!

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Great review Jane. We are taking this cruise on April 19. We have an aft js and booked an ocean view for our 3 teenagers. Yes we too got a phenomenal price plus it's their spring break. Thank you for giving us a preview of what's to come. Great photos too.

 

Oh.....you will absolutely love this cruise. One of the best we have taken in a long time. Great itinerary. You can have the big ships!!!! This ship's size is just perfect. We enjoy ourselves on the big ships, but on this ship.....we were made to feel so special. Everyone knew who we were and called us by name. I don't recall a friendlier crew. All the ships are great, but this one was really special!!

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Oh.....you will absolutely love this cruise. One of the best we have taken in a long time. Great itinerary. You can have the big ships!!!! This ship's size is just perfect. We enjoy ourselves on the big ships' date=' but on this ship.....we were made to feel so special. Everyone knew who we were and called us by name. I don't recall a friendlier crew. All the ships are great, but this one was really special!![/size']

 

Jane,

 

Great to see you here again, but it would have been better in person. It's been awhile since SR out of SJU.

 

Anyway, I agree with you. Vision class is by far my favorite class. It's like a pair of old, broken-in shoes which I refuse to throw away. I consider these ships much more manageable than the big boys! Plus, the crews are great throughout the VI class.

 

As evidence of sharing your opinion, I'm flying to PTY this Friday and I'll be on VI for 2 weeks.

 

Two questions, if I may, both about the CL. Is Gustavo Butcher there, or DL, or still on vacation? 2nd, with dinner so late have they adjusted the CL hours?

 

Looking forward to your next installment. Hope to see you soon.

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I've been taking a break from tax season every day to check and see if you started your review yet. Since Vision is our next cruise in June, up from Fll to Charleston SC and Bermuda, I'm really enjoying your photos.

 

Our trip sold well so I doubt if there are any bargains left.

 

I'll be checking in later.

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Sunday ~ February 9, 2014 ~ Cartegena

 

The sea was a little rough last night, so there was a little rocking and rolling. At some point, our shampoo, etc. fell into the bathtub with a big "clunk"!

 

I was up around 7:30.......my usual routine is to go to the Concierge Lounge for coffee and journal writing while John is showering and getting dressed. Most mornings there was not a soul in there. Betsy would come in and we would visit. This is the CL on this first morning:

 

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After I was in there for a little while this morning, Betsy and a female officer walked in. They were in search of some coffee. The female officer looked a little familiar to me, but I just couldn't place her. When she left, Betsy said that she was her new boss that just got on yesterday to be the new Guest Services Manager and she was from Turkey. OK.......my memory started to kick in and I remembered that she was the Concierge on the Adventure for 8 years, and we cruised with her a few times. Ding ding ding!! That was DeDe!!! We just loved DeDe as a Concierge. We'll have to get up with her later to chat. I'm sure she's pretty busy....just getting on a new ship!

 

We went to breakfast around 8:45. Last night, the Maitre 'D was in the CL and invited us to eat in the area on Deck 5 for Suite Guests. It was wonderful. There was hardly anyone in there the entire two weeks and we had great service. What a difference from the Independence in December where we could hardly find a seat or get served. We had a very relaxing breakfast and everything was perfect.

 

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Vivek and Angelito were our waiters at breakfast the whole two weeks. Great service......we never had to order......they always knew what we wanted. We didn't have to explain that every morning.

 

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We went back to the cabin where we finally met our cabin steward, Ashton, who was just finishing up in our cabin. He is a veteran with RCI of 14 years. he stuck around for a little while and we just talked and talked! Good guy!

 

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Jane,

 

Great to see you here again, but it would have been better in person. It's been awhile since SR out of SJU.

 

Anyway, I agree with you. Vision class is by far my favorite class. It's like a pair of old, broken-in shoes which I refuse to throw away. I consider these ships much more manageable than the big boys! Plus, the crews are great throughout the VI class.

 

As evidence of sharing your opinion, I'm flying to PTY this Friday and I'll be on VI for 2 weeks.

 

Two questions, if I may, both about the CL. Is Gustavo Butcher there, or DL, or still on vacation? 2nd, with dinner so late have they adjusted the CL hours?

 

Looking forward to your next installment. Hope to see you soon.

 

Hey Beth! Great hearing from you! Betsy has just gone on vacation and Gustavo will be in the CL for your sailing. He is usually in the DL. And yes....the CL hours are adjusted. I believe they are from 6-9. Believe me......you will be treated royally on the Vision!!

 

I love your analogy of the Vision being old broken in shoes. That's just perfect!

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I've been taking a break from tax season every day to check and see if you started your review yet. Since Vision is our next cruise in June, up from Fll to Charleston SC and Bermuda, I'm really enjoying your photos.

 

Our trip sold well so I doubt if there are any bargains left.

 

I'll be checking in later.

 

Dave,

 

Glad you can take a break every now and then and spend some time with me!! Don't work too hard.

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Jane- loving the review. I'd love to do this cruise.

 

The Big Booper- isn't it amazing how little time we spend on CC during tax season? Here's to being 6 weeks out from 4/15. I need a vacation ASAP!

 

Oh....this cruise is just the best. Unfortunately, they are not going back to Colon. It's not a very convenient place to embark. We would definitely go back and do it again, though.

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