Fabulous trip: Vision of the Seas Cruise Review by vanvleckeren

Vision of the Seas 5
Member Since 2012
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Fabulous trip

Sail Date: July 2011
Destination: Baltic Sea
Embarkation: Stockholm
I took this cruise in July 2011. It was my second cruise on Vision of the Seas, an exact repeat of the one I took the year before that departed from Stockholm and visited Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Riga, Gdansk and Visby.

Though some people prefer the newer ships, I really liked Vision due to its somewhat smaller size. We didn't have some of the problems that I've heard about on other ships with crowding and not having enough deck chairs, seats in the Windjammer, etc.

This is a port-heavy cruise, with only one day at sea, and ports that generally take a whole day to sea. For that reason, I didn't partake as much in the ship's entertainment as I might have on a cruise with lighter ports. I found the service in the bars to be very good, as was the dining room and cabin service.

My least favorite part of every cruise is embarkation. I don't blame the cruise line for it, but it seems such an arduous process of waiting in long lines to embark. But once on the More ship, everything went smoothly.

I really liked the demographics on this ship. I favor a younger demographic, and a mid-summer cruise is good for that. There were a good number of young adults that add life to the cruise. I also liked that there were a lot of non-Americans on the cruise; I did not want to go to Europe and then only hang around with Americans. It was a really nice mix of younger, middle-aged and older passengers, and a good international mix.

The trip through the Stockholm archipelago is my favorite part of the cruising itself. I got a nice seat on a high deck up in front of the ship and just watched the sights for a couple of hours. The seas were pretty calm the whole time other than the last night, when we had a windstorm that precluded going out on deck.

The solarium and gym were very nice. I loved to swim in the solarium pool at night, and I spent a lot of time before dinner in the gym. There was a certain "crew" of the same people who were in the gym every day, and I got to talk to a few of them. Nice guys.

The ports were fantastic. It was so interesting to see the Russian influence in Helsinki. The tour in Helsinki was so-so. We missed seeing the Rock Church, and for some reason, we were only given about 5 minutes to look at Senate Square. Luckily, I had time to go back and spend some time in Senate Square on my own.

St. Petersburg came next. We had a very interesting tour guide whose family had been high up under the Communist system. She seemed less than enthralled with developments under the current regime there, but I thought it remarkable to be able to voice these misgivings to foreigners in Russia. That in itself was very interesting. We saw Catherine's Palace outside the city, which was fantastic. And then we took a tour of the Neva River and saw a lot of beautiful landmarks from the water. St. Petersburg is the most "alien" feeling stop. You can't go off on your own because of visa restrictions, so the visit there is much more controlled.

Riga was my "sleeper" favorite, in that it wasn't an original destination, but accepted because it was part of a larger trip. I was due to go to the Auto Museum, but the tour got cancelled and I just toured Riga on my own. It is a stunning city. So many parks, churches, and beautiful buildings. It had a very friendly, open feel. One would never have guessed that it was so recently part of such an oppressive regime and how much suffering had taken place there since 1940. It was really nice to see how well it seems to be recovering.

Gdansk is a bit of a misnomer for the next port. The ship docks in Gdynia, an unremarkable place, and it's necessary to travel from there to other places. Gdansk is about 30 minutes from Gdynia. This year, we chose to go to the Malbork Castle, about a 90 minute bus ride from the port. It was a fantastic choice. The castle was beautiful as was the surrounding area, and the Polish people were so friendly. They reacted especially well if you tried, as I did, to address them in their own language.

Last stop was Visby. This was the only stop where we weren't blessed with beautiful weather. This is a great stop and we took a nice tour here.

This was a trip that I tremendously enjoyed, both from the standpoint of the ports visited as well as life on the ship. Less

Published 12/31/12

Cabin review: G Large Ocean View Stateroom

Cabin was small with a window. The window is important to me. I've taken interior rooms in the past, but won't do that anymore at this stage of the game. Balcony is not that important to me, since balconies are small and I'd rather go up to the fifth floor deck if I really want to look at the ocean. I had no problems with the location of the cabin. My only "complaint" is really size of the shower. I am not a heavy guy, but even I had trouble moving around in that shower. I can imagine how uncomfortable it would be for somebody who's heavier.

Read All Large Ocean View Stateroom (G) Reviews >>

Port and Shore Excursions

The previous year, I had been to see the Stutthof Death Camp and the city of Gdansk. This time, I opted to see the Malbork Castle, the largest baroque-era castle in Northern Europe. It was a great choice. The castle was really beautiful and very interesting to see. It was substantially damaged during World War II, but mostly rebuilt. It was interesting to see the church section that was not rebuilt to see what kind of damage was done. The people in Poland are so warm and friendly. One girl selling food lit up when I spoke to her in Polish (I only speak a few words). I loved the Polish take on hamburgers, which are served in a cone-shaped wrapper with a fork, and filled with cole slaw and Russian dressing.
Read 59 Gdansk Reviews

Helsinki is a great place to spend a day, though I'm not sure I'd want to spend a whole lot longer. It's pretty sleepy. But it's interesting to see the Russian influence here. It's completely different from the other Scandinavian capitals, and the language is also completely different. The Russian Orthodox church there is interesting to see. One of my favorite parts of this port was the boat tour we took of the harbour, where we got a great view of the city from the water and a look at the (failed) defenses that Finland had erected in the 19th century to keep the Russians out.
Read 638 Helsinki Reviews

Beautiful city. Absolutely storybook. The previous year, I had taken a tour related to Latvian history, with a heavy emphasis on the period of Soviet-German occupation from 1940-1991. I found that very interesting. This time, I was supposed to go to the auto museum, but the trip was cancelled so I just toured Riga on my own. I climbed to the top of St. Stephen's church and took pictures of the beautiful views of the city. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed into the landmark Russian Orthodox church for a tour because I was wearing shorts. But I loved this city and would love to go back.
Read 49 Riga Reviews

Amber Room

This was part of Catherine's Palace. A stunningly beautiful room, different than what I had expected for some reason. My only regret is that they didn't allow us to take pictures.

Catherine Palace

Beautiful and overwhelming palace. Great to see how it was rebuilt from near-total destruction by the Germans in World War II. I was very surprised to be serenaded with "America" when we got off the bus. Imagine that, right in the heart of Russia. Russian singers serenaded us in several places during this tour. It was a really nice touch and made us feel welcome.

Neva River Cruise

It was wonderful to see St. Petersburg again. This time, I opted for a trip to Catherine's Palace and Neva River cruise. The previous year, I had seen the Hermitage Museum and Peter & Paul fortress. The river cruise was beautiful and relaxing, and we saw a lot of the major sites from the water, got a great feel for the city, and heard a lot of the history.

This was our port of embarkation. I loved just about everything about Stockholm, except for the prices...:) We stayed at the Stockholm Sheraton, a very nice and well-located hotel, for 3 days prior to the cruise. There were so many great things to see in Stockholm, including medieval churches, Djurgarden, the Vasa Museum, Skeppsholmen, the Engelbrecht Church and the Drottningholm Palace. A really great stop.

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