We joined Vision of the Seas in Stockholm for a 5 day short cruise to Helsinki and St Petersburg.
We have cruised many times before on RCI, Celebrity, Oceania and Cunard, we did not have particularly high expectations, especially since Vision had not yet had any major refurbishment. We have been on a number of the Voyager ships and were wondering what the smaller and older Vision would be like.
Embarking on Vision in Stockholm was very easy, we arrived at 11.30 and the only queue was a short one to drop off the bags. Check in and
security were very smooth and we were on board in well under half an hour.
We had a Grand Suite which was very nice since the weather was not the best. The large glass patio doors and a large balcony were great for viewing the spectacular sail out through the Stockholm archipelago.
We need not have been concerned about the condition of Vision, whilst she does have some signs of wear and tear, notably the lifts, Vision is a great ship and is in reasonably good condition. We loved the light and airy spaces and the amazing atrium. Decor is warm and comfortable and made all the better with the huge areas of glass, especially in the Viking Crown lounge which was particularly good for watching the world go by with a glass of wine.
We took most of our meals in the main dining room where we found the food to be better than our recollection of other RCI cruises. Our two waiters were also very helpful but they did have a large number of tables so service was not always as smooth as it could have been.
We tried the buffet a couple of times, when we were late for the main dining room, and it was acceptable but not very inspiring in terms of choice.
We did not see any shows on this short cruise as the 23.30 sunsets were very spectacular so we took the option of the natural show.
We took some RCI excursions in St Petersburg and they were very good. The only challenge was the horrendous traffic which resulted in us getting back over an hour behind schedule. The best part of our visit was the boat trip on the river and canals of St Petersburg as you get great views without the endless traffic. We used the very good shuttle service in Helsinki and did our own thing in this beautiful city.
Our return to Stockholm was as spectacular as our departure and the disembarkation was equally smooth. Using the Arlanda Express, we were checking in for our flight less than an hour after walking off the gangway.
Overall we had a great short cruise on Vision, if anything it exceeded our expectations of RCI and Vision is a much nicer ship than the large Voyager ships. We will certainly be looking out for this class of ship in the future and we would like to try Vision again once she is refurbished next year.
If we have one complaint it is over RCI's approach to dress code. Our joining instructions said one formal night on this cruise. Knowing that it was a short cruise and Scandinavians preference for a more casual approach I spoke to the RCI booking office to check that there was in fact a formal night. I was assured that we would be expected to wear formal on one night. We packed black tie etc. and incurred the cost of an additional suit case on our flights to Stockholm only to find that the dress code on board was "suggested" and needless to say less than 10% of the guests followed the suggestion. We wore formal attire on the designated evening only to share our table with folks in polo shirts and jeans. We do not mind what dress code is applied, we dress formally on Cunard and casually on Oceania, so are happy either way as long as there is consistency. Those who did dress formally on Vision felt very much out of place. I do believe that RCI need to get their act sorted out, as there are very different messages being given out in their literature and on board. They appear to be trying to be something that they are not? I have written to RCI asking for clarification but needless to say I have not had any response.