Our family of 4, two adults and two teens undertook a 7 day Baltic cruise aboard the Vision of the Seas sailing from Stockholm, Sweden July 21,2012. We had done 4 other Caribbean cruises but never before had we had so many ports in a 7 day time frame. This was our first trip to Europe and we wanted to see as much as we could in the time we had available and this cruise more than fulfilled that desire. We flew into Arlanda airport a day early and took a taxi to the Elite Tower Marina Hotel in Nacka. The taxi was about 550SEK, which works out to about 75US for the 4 of us and our 5 pieces of luggage. Nacka is across from Central Stockholm and the hotel was about 140US a night. The hotels closer to Central Stockholm was around 230-250 and since we needed two rooms,opted for the Elite Marina. Nice,clean hotel. We took a taxi to Frihamnen, the port, at 11 the next morning. Registration was very orderly and we were on board by noon. There was food available in the Windjammer Buffet and we had our first meal aboard. The buffet was fresh and the food tasted good. Our cabins were made available to us at 1:30pm and we went down to the 2nd deck. Cabins on the V of the S are on decks 2,3,4,7 an 8. Due to the cost of the cruise we opted for an outside cabin instead of our usual balcony cabin.
We also chose deck 2 because we were afraid the Baltic might be choppy and midship, deck 2 would be the most stable area. It was. Our cabins were comfortable enough for 2 people and the closet would accommodate quite a bit of clothing. There were only 3 medium size draws and 3 small draws in the desk. A couple more drawers or shelves in the closet would have been nice. The V of the S was built in the early 2000's and it is a smaller ship about 2000 passengers. Our room was clean but it did show signs of wear, on the furniture edges and in the bathroom. The A/C in the cabin had a knob for adjusting the temperature in the room but I am not sure that it really did anything. No matter how we turned it our room was cold and our kids inside cabin was too warm. I called maintenance and they said they would send someone up to check it. I don't know what they did if anything because that cabin continued to be too warm. Thank goodness we weren't in our cabins very much due to all the port excursions. The bed in our cabin was a bit hard to my standards and an egg crate would have been a nice option. The TV is a antique and programing is pretty limited. They repeat the same sitcoms every night and rotate the same 6 or 7 movies. Internet access is spotty. My husband found the best reception was in the Showboat lounge. Our cabin steward didn't introduce himself and I had to hunt him down to get the beds in our kids cabin separated. After finding him, he quickly took care of our request but we rarely saw him after that. I think RCL encourages the crew to try not inconvenience the passengers. I personally like to meet the crew. There are only two restaurants on board the V of the S. Windjammer Buffet and the Aquarius Restaurant. We ate breakfast most mornings in the Windjammer due to time limitations and it was the same items everyday, a fairly wide variety. Crowding in the cafe was probably the biggest problem. The last day we had to eat out by the pool due to lack of seating in the cafe. The waiters spent most of their time cleaning up so you had to usually fetch your own drinks. We were hardly on board during lunch and we had dinner in the Aquarius Restaurant. There was a good assortment of food, presented nicely and the servers went out of their way to accommodate any special diets. I am on a plant based diet and they provided me with a special meal every night, including dessert. Shore excursions were handled efficiently and we went on excursions in all of the ports except Stockholm and Helsinki. Frankly if they asked me which port I would chose to leave off the itinerary I would say Helsinki, not much to see or do there. We had one sea day and two formal nights. I would also change that. One formal night is enough, especially when you have so many ports of call. Stockholm is 6 hours ahead of the US east coast and you lose two more hours over the first two days of the cruise. Talk about major jet lag, add to that the sun not setting till 11pm and coming up at 3:30am, walking long distances on the shore excursions, two sea days would be nice just to catch up on sleep. There is a 3rd area you can get food. The Solarium has pizza, burgers and sandwiches, they are OK. There is a Ben and Jerry's and a Seattle coffee on the ship. You pay extra for that. They also have cookies and desserts but you can's buy them. They give them to you if you purchase ice cream or coffee??
Entertainment on board is limited. There were two variety type shows, singing and dancing, two celebrity impersonators, and a Russian folk dance company. I enjoyed The Beatles the most, the Celine Dion impersonator was good but the Beatles really brought me back. There is a casino and on the two formal nights it is smoke free. There is a library that doubles as a cigar store after 9pm and there is a card room. The weather was kind of blustery and wet the first two days and only the Northern Europeans were out by the pool. The solarium was nice because it is enclosed and both pools are heated to 86 degrees. Nice when the temps are only in the mid 60's. Overall we had a wonderful trip. The ship does need some TLC but she has a wonderful captain and crew.