Vision Of The Seas
These ships are glitzy and exciting without going overboard, though they're on the frumpy side compared to their newer fleetmates.
Typical Per Diems: $70-$175
Enchantment sails the Caribbean (Jan-Aug, Oct-Nov), the Bahamas (Jan-Apr, Nov-Dec), Bermuda (May-Nov), and Canada/New England (Aug-Oct) -- all from Baltimore.
Grandeur sails the Caribbean from Colon, Panama (Jan-Apr).
Rhapsody sails Hawaii from Honolulu to Vancouver (Apr) & Vancouver to Honolulu (Sept). She sails Alaska from Seattle (May-Sept).
Legend, Splendor, & Vision are not currently sailing from North America.
It's a funny thing with cruise ships. One year they're the newest, hottest, biggest thing on water, and just a few cycles around the sun later, you look at them and think, "How quaint. How '90s." Still, they afford a decent cruise experience, but things have changed so fast in the cruise biz that even the best ships from the late20th century can seem dated. That's sort of the story with RCI's Vision-class vessels, which offer an open, light-filled feel and many of the same amenities as aboard the line's newer, larger ships; and to us, their relatively smaller size is a big plus. You won't feel overwhelmed or lost on these ships.
All the ships have been kept up-to-date (they were even retrofitted with rock-climbing walls after those proved so popular on the Voyager ships), but Enchantment of the Seas is by far the most modernized of the bunch. In mid-2005, RCI revisited a trend common in the mid-'90s, literally sawing the ship in half like a magician's assistant, inserting a new 73-foot midsection, and then welding it all back together. As a result, Enchantment offers a lot more than her Vision-class sisters. On the much-enlarged Pool Deck, there's an additional stage and midships bar for adults and an "interactive splash deck" with water jets that kids can control to spray each other or create their own water ballet. Additions to the nearby Sports Deck include four bungee trampolines where guests can bounce up to 35 feet above the deck, doing somersaults in midair. Disabled passengers aren't left out, with new accessibility features including pool and Jacuzzi lifts, access to the Splash Deck, a lift to the bungee trampoline area, and improved thresholds and ramps throughout the vessel. Below-deck changes include the addition of a Latin-themed bar, an expanded casino, a larger shopping area, and a new coffee bar serving Seattle's Best coffee and Ben & Jerry's ice cream -- features currently available aboard RCI's newer vessels. No word yet on whether Enchantment's sister ships will get a similar refurbishment anytime soon.
Generally, when these ships are sailing full, things can feel crowded. On a recent Rhapsody sailing with just under 2,300 passengers, lunchtime in both restaurants was not a pretty sight. Getting on and off the ship in port can also be a hassle with so many people to move.
Splendor is sailing in Europe and South America at least through mid-2010.
To be polite, cabins are "compact," with insides measuring 138 to 174 square feet and outsides measuring between 154 and 237 square feet -- larger than the staterooms on the line's older Majesty and Monarch, but smaller than those on the Oasis-, Freedom-, and Voyager-class ships and on many competitors' vessels. All cabins come with TVs, safes, and an impressive amount of storage space. Bathrooms are not the largest you'll ever see, with shower stalls that are a tight squeeze for anyone thicker than a supermodel. Expect an unmemorable decor with blond furniture and wood trim; on a recent Legend cruise, there were quite a few spots where the paint was peeling, and on a recent Splendor sailing, the bathroom mirror was held together with a wide piece of electrical tape. Overall, the cabins have seen better days. On the bright side, carpeting and bedding are in good shape, and the duvets and supercomfy bedding make sleeping a dream.
For something big, check out the 1,140-square-foot Royal Suites, which have a baby grand piano and huge marble bathroom with double sinks, a big whirlpool bathtub, and a glass-enclosed shower for two. For something in between, check the roomy, 190-square-foot category-D1 cabins, with private verandas, minifridges, small sitting areas with pullout couches, and tons of storage space. All told, about a quarter of each ship's cabins have private verandas, and about a third can accommodate third and fourth passengers.
Each vessel has between 14 and 17 staterooms equipped for wheelchair users.
The large dining rooms aboard these vessels span two decks connected with a grand staircase and flanked with 20-foot walls of glass. The rooms are of their era, with lots of stainless steel, mirrors, dramatic chandeliers, and a slight feel of a banquet hall. At lunchtime on our recent Rhapsody cruise, the whole operation seemed disorganized -- there was a long wait for tables and waiters seemed hassled to keep up. There's also a large indoor/outdoor buffet restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Again, on a recent Rhapsody sailing, the Windjammer buffet was a chaotic sea of humanity during lunchtime; it was hard to find a seat and crew seemed to struggle a bit keeping things tidy and bins filled. A small snack counter where pizza, sandwiches, and various salads are served can be a welcome respite from the frenetic Windjammer buffet at lunchtime.
Throughout each vessel, warm woods and brass, gurgling fountains, green foliage, glass, crystal, and buttery leathers highlight the public areas, whose ambience ranges from classic to glitzy to a bit dated. The bright, wide open, and easy-to-navigate Promenade and Mariner decks are home to most public rooms, their corridors converging at a seven-story atrium where glass elevators take passengers from Deck 4 all the way up to the glass-walled Viking Crown Lounge on Deck 11. Full musical revues are staged in glittery two-story showrooms, where columns obstruct views from some balcony seats. The ship's casinos are Vegas-style flashy, with hundreds of gambling stations so densely packed that it's sometimes difficult to move and always difficult to hear. Other nice spots include the Schooner piano bar (a great place for a pre-dinner drink or late-night unwinding, with a nautical wood-and-rope decor) and the Champagne Terrace at the foot of the atrium, where you can sip a glass of fine wine or bubbly while swaying to the two- or three-person band playing there.
In contrast to its showcase spaces, each ship also contains many hideaway refuges, including an array of cocktail bars, a card room and a library, though not a very well-stocked one. A couple of thousand original artworks aboard each ship (including the good, the bad, and the weird) add humanity and warmth.
For kids, there's a decent playroom stocked with toys, books, and games, and nearby is a roomy teen center and a small video-game arcade.
Pool, Fitness & Spa Facilities
The Steiner-managed spas on these ships offer a wide selection of treatments as well as the standard steam rooms and saunas. Adjacent Solariums have a pool, lounge chairs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a retractable glass ceiling for inclement weather. Designed after Roman, Egyptian, or Moorish models, these bright, spacious areas are a peaceful place to lounge before or after a spa treatment, or any time at all (well, except during lunch and pre-dinner hours, when the snack bar in the corner attracts a following which takes away from the serenity of the space). Gyms are surprisingly small and cramped considering the ships' size.
Each ship has a higher-than-expected amount of open deck space. The outdoor pool on the Sun Deck has the usual blaring rah-rah music during the day, along with silly contests of the belly-flop variety. A rock-climbing wall, minigolf course (on the Legend and Splendor), jogging track, shuffleboard, and Ping-Pong round out the on-deck options.