Vision of the Seas - 7 Night Copenhagen to Southampton
Royal Caribbean changed the usual South American cruises for the winter 2012/3 season of Vision of the Seas.  Instead she would be sailing the Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, as well as doing a couple of Panama Canal trips to and from San Diego, her first US cruises since 2009.  As a result of this, they altered her repositioning from Copenhagen on the 14th September 2012 to end in Southampton instead of Lisbon.  I'd looked at it a long time but with my bad back and other factors, daren't put a deposit down.  Unusually, by May, it was completely sold out!  It was a shame.  Having done a shorter trip the other way in 2011, it would have been nice for her to bring me home.  On the 31st May, while looking up something else, I just searched for Southampton cruises on Vision and to my surprise some cabins had become available!  I immediately tried to book online but it never lets me do it.  I think it hates me!  So I phoned Royal Caribbean and spoke to Matt Browne, who was incredibly helpful and hilarious.  I went for an ocean view this time, having had a balcony and insides before, and got H-3512, which was starboard and forward.  If we're going to get bouncy, I want to see it!  He also said I had $50 onboard credit so hoped that was true.  I paid it off the 12th June.

The day of flying to Copenhagen arrived.  When Vision returns in 2013 she will have had the 'improvements', which is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.  Why can't they just leave each class of ship as they are instead of trying to turn older into something they're not, thus removing valuable SPACE?  I dreaded what they'd do to her so was glad to have one more trip with her as gorgeous as she was when I first fell in love with her in March 2008.  My taxi to Heathrow T3 was early, which was fine.  At least I'd be there.  I used Andy's Private Hire again and would definitely book again.  SAS have no check-in desks, only self, which I hate.  Nothing wrong with people, especially if there's a problem.  Thankfully, there was someone helping dumbos like me then it was to the bag drop.  Since these are people, why can't they check you in too???  Queue's just the same.  It was a long wait until our gate, 5a, was announced.  As I waited after doing some shopping, I was talking to a Welsh couple, who were part of a group of six.  They were flying to Vancouver to board Diamond Princess for a cruise to Asia.  It sounded wonderful!  For a Friday, it was unusually quiet in the airport but I quite liked that, especially having plenty of places to sit for a change.  My seat was 25D and I had masses of leg room because the cabin crew chair was directly in front.
We took off about 10.10am BST and landed in Copenhagen at 12.30pm CET.  It's a very odd airport and unlike other when you pass through immigration to baggage reclaim.  You were let loose in departures, signs were rubbish and you actually had to go down to another floor to collect your bags.  Before you went to the carousel, a Royal Caribbean rep was waiting, ticking your names off the list and telling you to wait by the currency exchange.  Once all on my flight were assembled, we had to wait for an American flight before we were then led outside and on to the buses and then it began to rain - boo!  Once we arrived at the port, they offloaded the luggage from the buses while those who didn't have to attach labels went to check in.  What a nightmare that was!  Many went though the baggage reclaim area, back into the wet, through a makeshift passage and into a tent where you went through security first.  By now it was around 2.30pm so you would think everyone not coming via transfer would have been already ensconced in their cabins, leaving check-in relatively bare.  WRONG!  It was absolute chaos with no one around to help.  Being a Platinum Crown & Anchor member, I had priority embarkation but had to fight my way through the massive winding queue to find the dedicated check-in, which was right at the end.  As turnarounds aren't new for Copenhagen, this should be better organised.  Once you got to the desk, you were informed they keep your passport and ask if you have another form of photo ID.  Why couldn't Royal Caribbean warn you of that before you leave?  As I don't drive, I don't have anything else so the bloke photocopied my passport.  The photographers were by the exit to the dockside but there was even a queue to go into the rain.  You walked to the gangway, waited again, had your card checked then after several wet minutes, were allowed onto the ship.  There was yet another queue and here you had to show your photo ID as well.  When I finally got to have my mug shot taken, the bloke said he'd been to Southampton a long time ago.  The time was almost 3pm so I went to find my cabin which was two decks up.  It was nice with two portholes and massive window ledge.  My steward was Orlando, who continued with his spiel despite me telling him it was my fourth time on the ship.  There was a mistake in the Cruise Compass, saying we would be sailing to Bergen instead of Oslo on one page but did mention the correct port on the next page.  Eating places would be packed, thanks to the embarkation farce, so I skipped lunch and wandered around the Prom deck for a while.  Despite the cold and wind, at least it had stopped raining.  I hoped it would be the same for our 5pm sailaway.  AIDAcara was the only other ship with us, due to leave at 6pm and had a Norwegian frigate docked in front.
Muster was 4.30pm minus lifejackets, which I find ridiculous.  First timers won't have a clue and we couldn't see the muster guides demonstrating how to put one on.  At least they still had you go to your lifeboat.  It was over fairly quickly so back to the cabin for my coat and up for sailaway.  It was really weird sailing from Copenhagen, since I'd left her there in 2011.  This time she'd be taking me home via the scenic route.  By the time we entered the breakwater, it was raining again so I went in.  I only waited as long as I had for the horn to blow but it didn't.
My case hadn't arrived so I went to the Conference Rooms.  Here was where those carrying goods to be confiscated where stored.  The vast majority had a label on saying "Alcohol" while one said, "Iron" and they wouldn't let the owners take them without handing over the prohibited items and signing for them.  Mine wasn't in either room so I went to Guest Services and was told to wait a few more hours and it there was still no sign to report back.  No sooner had I returned to the cabin than Orlando knocked on the door and had my case - wooo!
I was very tired after a long day but Orlando was impatient to get all the rooms done so he could knock off at 8pm.  That really is no way to treat passengers.  So I had to clear the room to stop him moaning and kill time until dinner.  I was the only one to turn up at the table, which isn't unusual for the first night when people are knackered.  It was the first time I'd been in the upper part of the Aquarius and I liked my view!  Sadly though, this Anytime Dining had ruined the atmosphere in the dining room and I hoped the ridiculous number of empty tables was only because it was the first night.  My waiters were Francisco and Francisco while Mr Capocinno was the head waiter.  My dietary requirement hadn't got through but they did well for the first night.  I also had it confirmed they put salt in the tap water so I was right poisoning myself with Coke rather than have my feet balloon and be unable to walk.  I was so tired I went straight to bed afterwards.
Morning was Oslo and it looked like a gorgeous day.  I was up at 8am and headed to the Windjammer.  I stupidly pressed 10 in the lift instead of 9, probably because I had been on Constellation a week earlier and her buffet it on deck 10.  The junior Francisco was working there (other in Aquarius).  Then I went outside for some photos before grabbing my coat as we neared the dock.
I had booked the walking tour of Oslo, since, despite going there a few times, I'd actually seen sod all.  This year I couldn't help that, due to my back, but the tour I'd chosen in June when on MSC Opera was crap, spending far too much time at the bloody ski slope.  As things appeared to be improving slowly, I decided to take a chance.  The theatre had a massive queue of people collecting their tour stickers but it moved reasonably quickly.  There were three groups on my tour and we were split up on the dockside.  Ours began across the road at the fortress minus a few people.  It gave great views of the ship but the inclines started making my back twinge so I told the guide I was wimping out before it got worse.  So the group carried on while I went for pictures of the ship before returning aboard.


© Patricia Dempsey 14th-21st September 2012
Not to be reproduced without permission