Arrived in Stockholm the day before departure and enjoyed a brief look at the charming old town. Although a large city Stockholm retains a town atmosphere and is beautifully positioned on a group od islands connected by bridges and ferries. Sin taxes are high to help[ pay for a cradle to grave welfare state do drinking and eating out can be very expensive as are admission fees for most sights. The reasonably priced Arlanda Express is the beat way from the airport to town if you are staying near the Central Station.
Cab transfer to the pier from our hotel near Central Station was easy, quick and cheaper than expected. Boarding was well organized and a breeze.
Vision is an older ship but in good shape - better than I expected given some previous reviews. My bed was more comfortable that the one on my recently completed trip on the completely renewed Grandeur. On that note most of the so called "enhancements" on the Grandeur were either the conversion of public space to added cabins, a cheesy high wire act and 3 added price restaurants to help you spend your money. I liked Vision much better. Sadly it is to be "enhanced" just like Grandeur. Too bad.
The sail out from Stockholm is one of the great events of cruising. You sail though an archipelago of rocky islands for nearly four hours. Some are so close you can see the occupants of nearby cottages having dinner as the vast ship glides by. As dusk settles lights twinkle and a mist rises from the water. Pure magic. You are much closer to these islands than the Concordia was from shore. Unlike the Concordia you have an expert Swedish pilot who knows how to do it.
Helsinki is a pleasant city but one day is sufficient. The port is in the middle of nowhere so you need to use the overpriced shuttle. The huge department store Stockmans near to where the shuttle drops you provided better maps than the ship and English speaking advice. The central city is safe and walkable.
St. Petersburg is just a treat, much cleaner and in better nick than we expected. We had Visas and so spent day one and three on our own we no problems. The cruise port is new and well organized. The 158 bus takes you to the nearby subway (Metro) station for 75 cents. The station is the end of the Green (#3) line so getting lost is hard. Signs are in both the Cyrillic and Latin alphabet. The fare is 75 cents again and in three stops you are near the Hermitage on the Nevsky Prospekt. We had no trouble getting around, getting service or getting fed. At no point did we feel threatened or unwelcome.
On day two we bought a ships tour of both the Catherine Palace and the Peterhof. Both are out of town. The tour was well organized, included a good lunch and was in our opinion good value for money. This day was the highlight of the cruise. The Peterhof takes ones breath away.
Tallin was enjoyable and easily reached on foot from the ship. The nest two ports, Visby and Wallemunde were also charming in different ways and again the ship docked in the center and we just walked ashore and to town. Copenhagen has many charms but is very, very crowded and the central city is half dug up for a new subway line.
Our cabin was neat and clean and the attendant was first rate. We never wanted for anything and she was always cheerful. It is well located on deck four and we had no problems with noise from neighbors, ship activities or mechanicals. Everything worked.
Rommell, our dining room steward was efficient and gave god advise on what looked good since we were 2nd sitting and he had see all the dishes in the first. The section head waiter was more visible and active than they usually are and kept a careful eye one everything. Food was generally good to very good with maybe two misses in 10 days. The Windjammer was fine for breakfast. We usually lunched ashore.
We enjoyed another Rommell, our bartender in the Viking Crown, interesting, funny and a just good bartender. All of the staff from the Captain on down were affable and engaging.
The cruise staff were all about and events and entertainments were happening but on such a port intensive cruise we didn't pay much attention.
The weather save for two hours of rain the final day in St. Petersburg was 75F (23C)and sunny every day.
Just a terrific cruise. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat!