Our cruise review from Vision of the Seas – April 2-9, 2016, sailing from Tampa to the Western Caribbean
Why did we choose this cruise? In all honesty, I wasn’t planning on taking a cruise for a while. We were sort of “burnt out” after the last one. One evening I found myself on the Royal Caribbean site, and noted that the Family Oceanview room was available on Vision of the Seas. We had sailed in that room on Vision previously in November 2012, and really enjoyed it. RC usually reserves these for families of 5 or more, but I was able to book it for my family of 4 in 2012, and it was available to us again. Next thing I knew my credit card was in hand and the room was booked.
We live in central Michigan, and our place is exactly half way between Chicago O’Hare and Cleveland. While we usually fly out of Detroit, and sometimes smaller airports near us, I do check all the other airports to see if I can get a better deal. Flying from Cleveland saved us enough to pay for a night at a Radisson near the airport, gas, plus leave a couple hundred extra in my pocket. I’ve never been to Cleveland so it added a little to our adventure.
Other than a bit of construction at the airport, it was an an easy flight to Tampa.
Tampa is a wonderful, world class city. It has a free bus service in the downtown area during the morning and evening. They also have a trolley service that goes from downtown to the Ybor City area, a Cuban/Arts area. We used both to get around town.
We stayed at the Westin Harbor Island for the two nights we were in Tampa. For a number of reasons I won’t go into, I cannot recommend this hotel. We were comped one night due to a number of issues.
We watched Brilliance sail out, and watched RCBlogger Michael Poole’s Periscope from the ship, as it was sailing away – so we got to see the ship from two perspectives at once!
On our first night we had dinner at Jerk Hut, a Jamaican restaurant in the International Area downtown. It was absolutely fabulous!!!. We shared goat curry, Jerk Chicken and pork, and a sweet BBQ chicken. I will return here every time I visit Tampa.
The next day we visited the Florida Aquarium, which just happens to be next to where Vision docks. The kids loved it, and I thought it was very interesting. We also selected the dolphin tour option, where they take you on a boat into Tampa Bay to look for dolphins. We only saw a couple, but the trip was nice nonetheless.
In the late afternoon we took the trolley to Ybor City for dinner and ate at Gasparilla Grotto, then back to the hotel for some sleep.