We have cruised with NCL and Princess several times before and this was our first cruise with RCL.
Pre-cruise information from RCL was very scarce compared to NCL and Princess. Since we were going on consecutive cruises, we needed additional information on how this will be handled. It was difficult to get an answer from RCL representatives.
Day of Embarkation - We booked airport transfers since we do not want the hassle after an overnight transatlantic flight from Canada to Oslo. We were met by a representative and were informed to wait at a designated area for other passengers. This was the only information we received. It was disappointing and confusing to hear from another passenger that she checked her e-mail and there was an advisory from RCL that due to the public sector strike in Oslo, the Vision of the Seas is actually in Gothenburg and that we will be transported there. We could not get any information from any RCL representative to confirm this. When we reached the port, there was no one announcing anything to the passengers and it was total chaos. We were only told to go through the embarkation process and pick up a sandwich/drink for the ride to Gothenburg. Again, no one from RCL was providing any additional information.
The ride was very tiring - after a transatlantic flight - and we had babies who were crying non-stop throughout the long drive. Simply, not a good start to a cruise.
Stateroom - We had a large interior stateroom. It was difficult to find it first since it was tucked in another side hallway. However, it was very quiet and the interior arrangement was great for the long days of light. The size was good for two adults but it is not recommended beyond that number. Also it was very noisy at the end of the cruise since it was near the service elevators used by the stateroom attendants to bring the bags down. The amenities were barebones - shampoo and soap. No refrigerator and ice was only available on request. Turn down service with no chocolates but our stateroon attendant made up for it with nightly towel art display. Our attendant, Christian, was very helpful, reminding us to wear our raincoats for potential rain and to wear additional portection for the chilly weather.
Dining Options - The Vision of the Seas is one of the older ships of RCL so it does not have alternative restaurants on board. We selected early dining at 6:00 p.m. and the menu choices were actually excellent. Portion servings were pretty decent-sized. We prefer eating at the main restaurant, Aquarius, even for lunch since the menu choices are also quite excellent.
The buffet restaurant, Windjammer, has the same selections as the main restaurant. However, it was almost always crowded. It closes at 10:00 p.m. - and that is the problem. There is no other non-paying option except the Solarium Cafe. The Cafe serves only pizza and sandwiches. One can get pretty hungry at nights at the Vision of the Seas.
However, you get what you pay for - Vision of the Seas was bare bone cruising compare to the other cruises we have taken before but the price was reasonable.
Entertainment - Relatively decent and acceptable for the price. Lots of choices for dancing, karaoke and afternoon trivia games.
Ship Information - Although relatively old, the Vision of the Seas has retained its old world elegance. The Centrum has beautiful views of the sea. The Masquerade Theater has pretty decent seating arrangement, the lounges and bars are decorated in understated ways. The Solarium is a haven for chilly days at sea. The Library is designed in the old sea days kind of vibe.
Service - This seems to be a happy crew. Everyone is quite accommodating, most especially the Guest Relations and Port Excursions staff. I like to especially mentioned Denis He from Guest Relations - no questions were left unanswered and he accommodated all our requests within reason. It was easy to cancel trip excursions or make last minute changes.