Originally launched in 1998 as one of the last of its class of mid-sized ships offering big-ship touches, the Vision of the Seas thirteen years later has held up quite well.

While those who have enjoyed cruises on one of Royal Caribbean’s larger models will note the lack of alternative restaurants, or the sometimes overwhelming number of diversions available on the bigger classes of ships, the smaller size instead makes for a more intimate experience, allowing you to get to know the ship and her crew better – who at every turn managed to make our trip very memorable.

And because they really were some of the best staff we’ve ever had the opportunity to meet, whose efforts helped fill our cruise with wonderful memories, we wanted to single a few out and thank them for everything they did while we were on board.

Easily at the top of our list is Fernando from Guest Services, who always went the extra step for us – and even a bottle of champagne to celebrate our anniversary!

Thanks for thinking of us, and everything you did helping us keep the blog up and running while we were aboard.

Then of course there’s Maria, and our team of waiters who night after night tempted us with tasty dishes and deserts from the kitchen.

Thanks for accommodating our tardy arrivals, and late departures. We always felt like we had all the time in the world to savour our meals.

And last but not least, my favourite bartender Norman who introduced me to Pyrat rum.

Thanks for the great drinks.

Gratuities can be pre-paid in advance – which I’d advise doing if at all possible as it both front loads the cost onto your budget and seems to result in a greater likelihood of seeing people like your cabin steward more regularly – the only real difference I can figure between our first cruise where we never saw our steward, and the two subsequent cruises we’ve been on where the gratuities were paid in advance and our stewards seemed to always be on hand, and happy to do everything they could to make our cruise great.

Otherwise the gratuities can be added to your on board bill, or paid in cash at the end of the cruise.

Do remember that a 15% gratuity is automatically added to bar tabs. So my other tip is to find a good bar early on, and frequent the same bartender. They’ll certainly return the appreciation.

Per person/day Royal Caribbean suggests the following gratuities:

$5.00 for your cabin steward ($7.25 if you’re in a suite)
$3.75 for your dining room waiter
$2.15 for your assistance waiter
$0.75 for your headwaiter

Among the expected Royal Caribbean features on the Vision are the seven-deck-high atrium, the rock-climbing wall at the back of the ship – which there was sadly none of for me thanks to a busy port schedule, and the requisite solarium with sliding glass roof – kept closed for the duration of our voyage thanks to the inclement weather – and indoor pool, whirlpools, and cafe bar.

The Viking Crown lounge at the top of the ship also provides for a commanding view, and a quiet place during the day to catch up on some reading – or as in our case, practice your dance moves.

But what really makes the Vision of the Seas (and the Radiance class of ships that followed) stand apart is the use of glass walls to make the outside scenic vistas as much a part of the ship’s interior as possible.

While attracting a broad range of ages, the larger Royal Caribbean ships would probably be more suitable for families, having the capacity to provide a greater variety of family oriented facilities.

Dress code For the most part on the ship is casual, though many of the cruisers on our voyage were more likely to dress up for the main dinning room than was typical of our experience on the Caribbean cruises.

Certainly no need to break out a tux, but having a jacket or a couple of nice shirts on hand is advisable.