Vision of the Seas - 7 Night Mexican Riviera Cruise
Back in October 2006 Amy and I discussed going on a cruise when I was over there.  Monarch of the Seas was ruled out for being too short and we wanted to avoid the boozers.  Dawn Princess from San Diego to the Mexican Riviera was vetoed after Princess wanted to charge me the higher UK rate.  They can sod off!  Vision of the Seas doing the same cruise from San Pedro because the 30th March coincided with the QE2's annual visit.  Royal Caribbean don't care where you're from.  Perfect!  Or would have been if there wasn't a chance of missing the departure as Amy had seen them all.  So we opted for the 23rd, little realising it was actually Easter.  That way we would arrive with her.  We booked an Oceanview but in March 2007 decided to upgrade to a balcony so we could see the QE2 if she was behind us coming in.  So Amy contacted her rep at Vacations To Go who told us D1-7152 on the portside of the stern was the only one left.  We didn't hesitate and took it.  Our excitement turned to sadness on the 18th June that year when it was announced the QE2 had been sold, meaning it would be her very final call to Los Angeles.  They slapped a fuel surcharge on us because Americans were no matter what whereas other countries didn't have to pay it if they already had a reservation or had paid it off whch was incredibly stupid.  We did have a bit of a panic in the weeks leading up to the cruise when in March, British Airways pilots threatened to strike.  Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!  They can't do that to me!!!!  It would have been over Easter as well.  Then we received two excellent pieces of news.  The first was Royal Caribbean would refund the surcharge after a Florida judge's ruling.  The second was the pilots union said they won't strike over Easter.  Hooray!!!!  So on the 21st I headed to Heathrow and encountered some weird weather.  As the taxi left my house, there was hail.  By Totton it was raining.  Twyford we had snow and Winchester for the rest of the journey there was sunshine.  I was leaving from Terminal 1 and when I returned it would be via the brand new Terminal 5.  I was too early so able to check in but had to go back to do my luggage.  Surprisingly I was only taking the one case. Perhaps it was due to it being so hot where I was heading but I can take more for two nighters!  I got chatting first to a girl from Coventry and then, when I rejoined the queue, to Val and John who were heading off to LA to cruise on Island Princess through the Panama Canal to Fort Lauderdale.  I noticed they had a letter with the Princess logo and I am a nosey so and so.  Then it was time to wait until the gate opened.  Since giving up smoking at the end of January this was the first time my duty free only comprised of chocolate and a double adaptor.  I met Val and John again a while later.  We had our gate but the flight was delayed nearly two hours.  It was finally time to board at 4.10pm, an hour after we should have taken off.  When we did leave at getting on for 5pm it was pouring with rain.  During the flight I met many people who were on Island Princess, including the two elderly Scottish women next to me.  Nice as they were, they were pretty hard going so I ended up spending much of my time talking to Val and John.  They introduced me to Neville who was sat beside Val.  It was nice talking to them, especially Neville who is interested in ships and has sailed on Canberra five times.  Lucky thing!  We all exchanged details over Canada but at immigration we lost Val and John so only Neville met Amy.

The following day we did the usual Hollywood tourist things before going down to see
Island Princess and Golden Princess off down at San Pedro.  We also went to see the Queen Mary at Long Beach before the light faded.  However the day of the cruise we would see the Queen Mary proper and we passed Vision of the Seas and Norwegian Star as we drove over the Vincent Thomas bridge en route to the grand old lady.
After lunch and hoping they'd blow her horn again at 1pm, we headed back to San Pedro.  As we had e-tickets there were no luggage labels meaning we had to get them there.  The porters are good though and go to you with their large trolley rather than you go to them.  Check-in was a doddle despite the girl being fairly new.  The same couldn't be said for the people at the next desk because the woman's children had different surnames to her but she couldn't prove they were hers.  We walked through the terminal and they ban you from taking photos.  Even after you've done the x-ray machines and security and are walking towards the gangway you're banned from even taking a photo of your ship.  The very ship you've paid money on to sail on and have already been checked by security.  It's all very stupid. You don't have that problem over here thankfully.  93 is a very nice terminal.  Better than ours, apart from the QEII.  Bright and airy.
Once boarded on our home for the next week, we went to find our aft cabin.  When we walked through the door we couldn't believe the size of the balcony and realised we'd got lucky.  The deck plans show the corner balconies to be no larger than the ones between but they are significantly bigger.
Norwegian Star was due to leave at 4pm with us an hour later.  Lifeboat drill would be at 4.30pm so that wouldn't be a problem.  We could watch her sail then go down.
As Amy's mum Carolyn and hubby Jason weren't staying for the sailing we went to the Promenade Deck so they could get a photo of us.
A webcam!  Not the greatest angle in the world but there so why not put them online?  It was noticeable on all their TV information the date was the way we write it rather than American, albeit in reverse.
Despite waiting on the balcony for Norwegian Star to move it and chatting to our neighbours, she didn't and it was time for our muster.  We went to lifeboat 16 and had the shortest drill possibly ever.  The shortest either of us had attended anyway.  Lined up, little spiel then off in all under five minutes.  Not that we were complaining.  The only drawback was we had heard Star blast as we were lined up.  We dashed back upstairs and Amy caught her backside disappear from our view.  Grrr!
We went to buy a sailaway drink and as we were in the middle of paying for our delicious Bahama Mama, Vision blasted!  So unfair of Captain Stein Bjorheim to do that when we weren't ready.  We were at least ten minutes early.  We blasted a few more times as we made our way towards Land's End.
We followed Norwegian Star out and spotted Carnival Pride fresh from Long Beach heading up behind her.  We also saw the Queen Mary in her permanent home.
We were on late sitting for dinner so were able to watch us catching up with Norwegian Star and Carnival Pride.  Pride was doing the same trip as us but the other way round.
So off we went to the Aquarius for dinner.  It was casual night.  We were on a table for six and had the most marvellous dining companions.  Maria and Jack were from Chicago while Claude and Georges were French-Canadians from Montreal.  Our head waiter was Rainer Jaya from Indonesia, assistant waiter was Nataya Downer from Jamaica who wants to go on Independence of the Seas and head waite Roscoe Pereira from India who actually talked to diners and is moving to Liberty of the Seas.  He was the best head waiter we've had.  One thing about late sitting is there's no real rush to leave so we enjoyed a nice chat over coffee at the end of the meal.  Afterwards we went to the shops to look for souvenir tat and postcards.  The shop assistant was called Lisa from Manchester who had been working on Vision three months.  They had a bear!!!!!!  Now why couldn't they on Navigator last year?  They were a little pricey but I bought one anyway.  We were told they hadn't unpacked the postcards yet so they had to wait.  After picking up the boarding photo we returned to the cabin.  Grand Hotel was on TCM.  I love Garbo but fell asleep as the lack of snoozing was beginning to catch up with me.
The next morning we were up at 8am and had ordered room service.  I felt lousy from the draught coming from the air conditoning near my bed rather that hot air.  It was nice having breakfast on the balcony despite being a bit nippy and watching where we'd been.  It was 18 degrees (64F) and we were doing 21 knots.
As it was a sea day we decided to take the opportunity to explore our home after breakfast.  Also we hoped most people would be on deck sunbathing so the public rooms would be fairly empty.  As we walked along the corridor we saw loads of Post-It notes about this Darlene.  They were everywhere.  By the evening the crew had stuck everything on her door.
We had a snooze in the afternoon.  Well I did.  Apparently Amy couldn't sleep.  I think this was when she did her hair and caused a mess everywhere in the bathroom, using almost all the towels too.  We had a gorgeous sunset as we dressed for dinner.  It was formal night and the Captain's Gala Party.  I'd enjoyed the one on Navigator so wondered how this would be.
The party was in the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge.  Unlike Navigator, you just said hello and had your photo taken.  There was no formal introduction or brief chat as I'd had on Navigator.  Many things were different on Vision.  His speech was very funny though, especially the part when he said the weight of the ship and it was without our luggage.  He must say the same thing week in, week out and get very bored.  Many nationalities onboard so I wasn't the only Brit.  Then we went to dinner slightly merrier than before with all that champagne they kept pouring.
After dinner we went to the Masquerade Theatre to watch Boogie Wonderland as it was 70s night.  It was an excellent show and sadly the only one we saw.  Afterwards it was up to the Viking Crown Lounge for the 70s disco.  John the cruise director was dressed as John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever and we also had an almost Village People as well as a Love Train.  It was fun but the glow shots are really a waste of time.  Great booze inside but as the glow can't be turned off so burns out overnight they are slightly pointless.  We returned to the cabin after 12.35am after a great night and discovered we were surrounded by fog.
When we got up the next day the fog was still there but slowly thinning.  We had room service again but this time ate indoors.  Then we went up on deck after taking the following few photos from the balcony to see us arrive at our first port of call, Cabo San Lucas where we were due to arrive at 10.30am.
Dawn Princess, which had sailed from San Diego, was already anchored in the bay.  They definitely look better without the screen her sister Sea Princess was given.  Just before 9.30am we blasted and thought Dawn was replying.  It was only when we did it again a few minutes later and much closer we realised it was an echo.
We entered the bay and dropped anchor.  Having a bow like that makes it almost as good as watching them work on the QE2's.  It's not the same when the little men are on docking platforms.
We watched a tender zoom off to the shore to perform all the customs duties ensuring we could all disembark.  As we were returning to the cabin there was an announcement about a seal on our portside so we returned to the deck to look.  He was a quick bugger so we didn't even manage to get him on video or a photo.
From our balcony we saw three tenders (there was another to the left of this lot) and two boats.  That looked like plenty to take everyone ashore who wanted to go plus excursion people.
We headed up to the Some Enchanted Evening Lounge to await calling for our Coastal Highlights Tour.  We had to be there for 11.30am.  Unfortunately this a black mark against Royal Caribbean or possibly just the way they do things on this ship.  So many excursions were called at 11.30am and there was already an enormous queue for tenders going up several flights.  It really was terrible organisation. Excursions didn't have priority and you had to take your chances among those with tender tickets.  We finally got through.  They were selling bottled water near the exit and handing out info about shopping in the port.  Then it was time to board the tender.  The sea was a bit on the rough side and as the top was full, we sat at the back down below.
And then we were off, slowly at first, moving away from our beloved ship.  Then we picked up speed and didn't half get a soaking.  The cameras, videos and my glasses were covered in salty sea spray as we zoomed towards shore.
When we arrived at the dock, it was absolute chaos trying to find where we were meant to go for our exursion.  There were just too many at once and too many people on the dock either from Dawn Princess or doing their own thing from Vision.  Another black mark I'm afraid because if it's this badly organised for something a small as Vision, what the hell will they do for Mariner next year?  Our guide was Marco and the driver was called Pika.  Our first stop was at a glass blowing factory.  It was amazing how fast they would create what they were demonstrating but I guess they've done it so long it's nothing to them.
We then drove to the Sunset Da'Georgio restaurant for refreshments.  I got water while Amy bought a beer.  It gave a beautiful view of the ships - I mean the bay.  We weren't there that long though before being hurried back to the coach for our next stop.
Shortly before we left, Amy spotted a Carnival ship coming around the rocks like a Great White shark so we did the theme to Jaws.  We realised it was Carnival Pride, which we'd passed two days before. We were quite relieved she was just passing and not about to turn into the bay.
The next place on the tour was San Jose del Cabo for shopping.  However most of us were hungry so Marco took down orders then phoned through to a little restaurant behind the church.  It was marvellous.  Tacos and a really spicy dip as an appetiser then we had a meal of fresh sea bass with veg and a tortilla washed down with a margarita and all for $10.  Excellent value.  I'm not keen on any fish besides cod but this was delicious and I'd have it again.  Marco sat next to Amy because he fancied her until she mentioned a husband.  He went off her fast then.  Can't think why.  Hehe.  She was often being mistaken for a Mexican because of her darker complexion and that she knew how to eat tortillas.
After that marvellous lunch, we made our way back to the coach and went to our final stop, Cacti Mundo, which has 750 varieties of cactus.  You could also buy cactus candy which was very nice but also very sweet.  They had samples to try.
Then it was time to return to the port.  We sang along to Guantanamera and La Bamba.  Despite having to take our passports for security, they let us through just by checking our cruise card.  This was the passenger shopping area.  It was very nice and clean but we just headed for the tender dock.

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© Patricia Dempsey & Amy Blume 23rd-30th March 2008
Not to be reproduced without permission