Day 1 - Departing Tampa

Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas

My sister Tammy currently lives in Tampa so I flew in a day early and was able to spend time with her and her husband. It was wonderful! Thursday morning was the hand-off between Tammy and my Mom. I waved goodbye to one family member, hello to another, and the cruise had begun!

Mom and my stepfather, Len, drove us to a nearby parking lot with a shuttle. I took a few photos of the beautiful art deco buildings visible from the lot. It was fairly quick to have the shuttle driver take us over to the ship.

The last time we took a cruise out of Tampa, exactly a year and a week ago, it was Gasparilla. Pirates everywhere. Boarding was a breeze. This time, we were a week early for Gasparilla, but boarding was fairly strenuous. The Royal Caribbean systems were down, the lines were enormous, and poor Len was using a cane so this was rough on him. It was quite a while before we were finally up on board.

Hurrah!

I had my new FitBit with me and vowed to take the stairs whenever I could. I was down on the lower floor - level 2 - room 2588. The buffet and such were all up on level 9. So that meant I was doing lots of seven flight up and down walks.

We had beautiful weather and I explored the ship. While the art on the previous Royal Caribbean had been quite cool, here it was fairly bland. Still, I got some photos and I think I walked all of every floor by the time we were done (even the cabin floors) to see the art in the various hallways.

The evening sunset was gorgeous and we sailed beneath the massive Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay. Then we had dinner in the main dining room. Mom's friends Jane and John joined us. It was lovely.

By then I was exhausted. Time to tuck in, unpack everything, and get some sleep!

I had five cameras with me on this trip: My Canon EOS40D, my Canon S120, a Holga I loaded with black and white film, a Holga I loaded with color slide film, and then my cameraphone. So I took at least 240 photos today just with the Canon. Here's a few of them.

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My FitBit reported 6032 steps, 2.59 miles, and 18 floors.

A few brief notes.

Royal Caribbean doesn't automatically provide shampoo any more. You have to ask for it. The unlimited internet is $20/day and you get discounts for being a previous cruiser plus for signing up the first day. Absolutely I used this non-stop for all sorts of reasons, both from my phone while wandering the ship and from the laptop. The Skyline Bridge passing is worth seeing, so have a late dinner to account for this. We did about half main dining room (mytime) and half specialty restaurants. If you can afford it, the specialty restaurants are definitely worth it. I brought a power adaptor to turn the 2 plugs into multiple plugs with USB ports - this was a big help for me. Be prepared to take a while to resolve any issues. We had all sorts of challenges with dining time, excursions, and so on, and each time it took a while of people calling people and checking with documentation before it was worked out. Patience is the key.

Be prepared for itinerary changes. I really wanted to see Haiti and that was cancelled due to the unrest there. They extended the San Juan stay. But they cut the Key West stay short due to high winds. So you never know what will happen. Also, the overall organization of port days / sea days changed from when we first booked the cruise. Stay flexible.

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