This is the boat. Sorry, the ship. The Vision of the Seas holds 2,000 passengers and 765 staff.
As a first-time cruiser I had two main concerns. My biggest fear was that I would arrive at a port, fall in love with it, and want to spend days, not just hours there. Having always traveled independently before, if I wanted to stay somewhere an extra day or two, I could make that happen. Although I enjoyed each of our stops, there was nowhere I felt heart-broken to leave after one day, with the notable exception of Lisbon, which I'll get to in a few posts. So worry number one was unnecessary (as so many worries are.)
My second fear was that I would feel crowded, like a sheep being herded from place to place. For this reason I resisted the "excursions" run by Royal Caribbean, thinking I would prefer to explore most places on my own without a big crowd and a bossy tour guide. Julie and I set off for Rhodes on our own, unencumbered by an annoying tour. The first thing we saw were these Medieval walls. I was instantly charmed.
This is an eight-foot tall poinsettia bush that blew our minds.
This is a pretty building and ruin. I'm sure a tour guide would have been able to tell us its significance.
Though we had a lovely day, at the end of it, I understood the wisdom of the organized tour. When I travel independently, I do research before leaving home, and have a guidebook with me to help me navigate a new place. For this trip, I hadn't done that. So Julie and I wandered around, not really knowing what we were looking at. We spent two hours looking at shards of pottery in the archeology museum before finding the amazing sculptures on the second floor. We got lost in some sketchy very-off-the-beaten-track alleys. For the rest of the trip, we signed up for tours. Sometimes a girl has to admit when she's wrong.