Vision of the Seas - 4 Night Amsterdam Cruise
When Royal Caribbean released their itineraries in 2010, one gorgeous Vision of the Seas appeared to be doing another four night cruise from the UK.  This time she would sail from the place she was named and set sail on her maiden voyage- Southampton!  Wooooo!!!!!!  Yes, my wonderful Ducky would be coming home!!!!!  The date was the 29th April-3rd May so would be at sea for her 13th birthday on the 2nd (it's also QE2 and Indy's that day) which a similar itinerary to May 2009 from Harwich except there would be less time in Amsterdam and it would end in Copenhagen.  My friend Fay would be going with me on her very first cruise and what better ship to start on?  Okay I'm biased but I LOVE Vision sooooo much and have since I first set foot on her in March 2008.  It's a shame RCCL aren't looking to the past for the newbuilds instead of more of the same with bells and whistles.  Many people don't want that, just a ship and a cruise, being able to connect with the sea.  Smaller ships can also have more interesting ports of call if bods in Miami et al used their imaginations instead of the same boring milk runs.  But I digress.  Knowing how low the fare went in 2009, we decided to wait only this time it wasn't dropping as fast.  Finally, on the 19th February 2011, it was £179 so we took the plunge.  It turned out it HAD got almost as low as before.  They now included taxes so the actual cruise fare was £112, a mere £14 more than I'd paid in 2009.  Less than half an hour after booking they owed me nearly £60 by removing gratuities and online discount, something which vanished the week before boarding.  We booked the flight back on the 24th February, luggage labels arrived on the 9th March and booked hotel in Copenhagen the 10th.  One slight problem after the e-docs came on the 28th February. VTS listed us in Mayflower while Royal Caribbean said City even though Eclipse would be in there.  They send an email on the 21st April with the correct information.  The 29th April was the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton so it would be interesting to see if many people would be out and about.

And so the day of Fay's first cruise arrived.  Would Black Watch's engines be repaired so she moved out of Mayflower and finally sod off?  Would it bloody rain?????  Well we had the answer to one question by the time the ship arrived - Black Watch was STILL there!  She'd been moved from 106 to 104 at 11.30pm on the 28th because Vision would be bedding down there less than six hours later!  I took the ferry over to wait for Fay on Town Quay, managing to avoid the wedding on telly of Prince William to Catherine Middleton.  Only seems five minutes since he was born!

Rather than go via Mayflower Park and walk, we decided to get a taxi to Mayflower.  Unusually, the driver went through Dock Gate 8 instead of all the way to Dock Gate 10 so that cut some journey time down.  Now I'm a Platinum member of the Crown & Anchor Society, we had priority check in and embarkation.  No queue was great!  Usual security but we took time to get photos of Vision alongside before handing over our green card and headed onto the gorgeous one!
Cabins weren't ready until 1.30pm and didn't they make sure we knew by closing the fire doors!  We went to the Windjammer for food as I began to show Fay why I loved this ship so much.  They seem to have stopped the fruit drink always available at meal times which was a shame.  The choice was water, iced tea or American lemonade.  After we'd finished we had a wander around the ship to kill time before finding the cabin.  Once we got there we discovered housekeeping had put the beds together instead of apart so Fay phoned to get it changed.
Up to the deck to see if Black Watch actually moved or if it was another false alarm and would be changed again.  Fay spotted an ambulance on the dockside, as did some others who were talking to a friend or relative aboard the Fred Olsen vessel.  Also people were disembarking.  Nearly ten past three and the gangway was removed and ropes thrown.  With one loud blast, she was off, heading towards the Upper Swinging Ground before getting on with her revised cruise, passing us as she did so.
We bought the soda package, which was $6 a day for unlimited soft drinks.  Muster was 4pm because the Compass said we were sailing at 4.30pm instead of 4.45pm. You also weren't required to wear your lifejacket.  We went down before the eight bells to lifeboat 14 and, unlike previous times, there was no one checking your name off the list until we were all standing there.  Up for sailaway - yay!!!!  It had been a long almost thirteen years since she last departed these waters on a one way trip.  Well there we were waiting and waiting and waiting with bow activity then everyone buggered off.  A woman near us was talking to someone on Eclipse, saying Vision was smaller than Artemis!  It's just under twice the size!!!!  Meanwhile, Eclipse was throwing her lines just before 4.30pm and as she moved, Saga Pearl II slipped away from her berth at QEII.  I wish that bloody haze had gone but the photos are as conditions were.  I'm not going to photoshop what was bloody difficult to photograph in the first place.  Once Eclipse passed Ventura, she backed out.  Eclipse had at least given a few blasts.  Then we had movement - double yay!  Four minutes to five we singled up then waddled away from the dock, one solitary blast - meanie Captain!  I was hoping he wouldn't be as tight with blasts as the last one in 2009.   Sailing down Southampton Water on one of my all-time favourite ships I rarely see was amazing and at least the Met Office had been wrong about the weather as usual so it stayed dry.  A drunken young lad (we were told they were on a stag party) threw a lit cigarette over the side as we passed Fawley.  What is wrong with these people????
 


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© Patricia Dempsey 29th April-3rd May 2011
Not to be reproduced without permission