Ajaccio, Palermo, Portofino and More with Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas - Part One
There was a time (not so long ago) when all I needed to satisfy a family holiday was to say yes, it has a pool, and yes, it has Wi-Fi.
So when I said we're cruising on Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas, and the response was, I've never seen it on TikTok, my jaw floored.
I'd spent weeks scouring cruise lines' websites and cruise booking agencies when all that was necessary was a scroll through TikTok.
Does it have slacklining? Does it have high diving? Does it have mini golf like the last one or waterslides?
The questions stay firing.
It's not one of those Royal Caribbean ships. But it has a rock-climbing wall.
I add and get that typical teenage shrug in return.
Where does it go?
I start to say, and I get another shrug.
What's the matter? I hear myself question.
I've been to Barcelona with school and with you.
The brain is slow on the first but not the second.
I say and continue.
I say with a little trepidation because the same teenager has visited Rome with school and with me, but I recall she enjoyed it both times.
Yes. We have to go to that gelato place by the Trevi Fountain again.
There are plenty of those gelato places by the Trevi Fountain, but I say 'OK', feeling plenty relieved because now the aversion is lifting.
I add, trying to keep the momentum up.
Ahh. Cool mom. Can we go back to the hotel with the restaurant over the bay?
The words left her mouth at the speed of an F1 car.
Joining in the positivity. But never mind anything else; holiday choices now need siding with the TikTok crowd.
Vision of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean International's earlier ships. Old school. Designed and built in an era that could only now be considered more traditional cruising. Then, it was all about the ports of call.
Evenings gave way to your very best dress game to sit around the same large table for dinner each night and converse with unknowns before a theatre show. And during the day, if not going into port, you may find yourself playing a game of shuffleboard with your now-new friends from dinner.
A time when all-inclusive truly meant it was all included.
And once back from the cruise, you printed your photos at Snappy Snaps and posted copies via Royal Mail's red boxes to your new friends across the seas. Yes, I've done that!
I say that to say, this good old ship's viral days were decades ago.
And though she remains on the anaemic side of bells, whistles and thrills, it's eight nights, fat and fused on the ports of call around the Mediterranean, secured this cruise. Not much change there. Its size too, mid-sized, allowing it to call at seaside towns of Villefranche-sur-Mer (we would not have necessarily given thought) and harbours such as Portofino where bigger ships would not dock, permitting more time in port.
It was plain sailing choosing this cruise line. Why? We hold good memories of the fun we had on the first Royal Caribbean cruise, of the friendships made, and of the very family-friendly communities they encourage.
I especially enjoyed the luxury of free child care until ten. Though I am yet to make full use of it.
And setting sail under an August sun, we watched from the top deck as Barcelona's city lights came on in the distance. Below on the pool deck, Spanish beats kicked in, moves not like Jagger's took to the pool stage, Pina Colada's flowed from the bar, and bikini-clad bodies began their bronzing ritual.
Sail Away Parties are these.
Back in our almost 200-square-foot stateroom, the decor is fairly nondescript. There's a bed, desk, chair, sofa and room extension.
That's the balcony. Mid-ship and deck seven, the sail is smooth, quiet. Still on deck seven, but moving towards the back of the ship was our other room. Here you knew when the engine kicked in. But regardless, the balconies made up for any misdemeanours of this old girl, with copious amounts of sea air and generous side helpings of sea views.
Generous, too, the storage areas. No complaints from Mr PWT for his sixteen shirts and t-shirts, ten trousers and shorts, seven pairs of shoes and his Lego Millennium Falcon because that's just how much wardrobe space there was.
Wardrobe cruise ready and packed away, the only concern was which pair of heels to pair with the outfit to take me to dinner, followed by an after-dinner show and maybe the nightclub. After all, this is the first night. I only want to dip my feet in, not knock myself out.
Nevertheless, we started as we did, with no intention to continue. Because at 11:30 pm on another holiday, we'd be angling for the covers. With Royal Caribbean, entertainment is non-stop, and it carries over to this ship. But prime time on this cruise is from 7 pm onwards, where the soaring atrium or the theatre becomes the ship's heartbeat.
And this carried over to the Viking Crown Lounge, where each night, practice of our two-stepping routine says we stayed up past midnight. The house music and reggaeton tracks in this club keeping the dance crowd wild until closing. Such was life.
Even now, some two months since we've cruised and finalised this blog, I've got one of the said tracks in my ear, head nodding to the beats, the two steps as clear as the nights.
But it was the days molded by the itinerary that shaped this cruise. We no longer identified days by the day or the date but by the ports we docked. An itinerary that saw us rediscovering the likes of Portofino and Rome and uncovering new, idyllic Mediterranean ports.
And with each new day, we'd be up at an un-holiday-like early, drinking in the views and coffee for two under the morning sun. Watching as the Mediterranean sun lit island-dotted horizons into our Mediterranean port of the day. All from the pleasures of our balcony. Then back to bed.
There was no mini golf on this ship. We doubtless didn't climb that rock wall. But had there been zip lining, we'd have given it a zip. Nevertheless, we had good wholesome Royal Caribbean fun.
I'm now aware that for the next Royal Caribbean cruise, we need a less low-key, much more exhilarating bigger sister of Vision of the Seas. I'm thinking of surf simulators, bumper cars, ice skating. A city at sea. Have you cruised or wanted to move on any of those ships?
But following this itinerary, I'll take you to the Mediterranean ports we woke to each day, Portofino, Ajaccio, Palermo, Toulon, Rome, Villefranche-sur-Mer and Barcelona.
This review is part one of two. But until then, tell me, which port are you most looking forward to and why?
Be sure to return next week for part two and the port reports.