We had a great cruise. None of my fears were realized. Max, the two year old, was so well known on the ship that people were still giving him high fives at the airport. I don't know who they were, but they knew Max by name.
We were on deck 4 and right around the corner from the Fun Factory. (Not that I'm recommending that your cabin be down there. We were over the engines and you definitely knew when the ship was changing speed.) It's open to toddlers 9-10 and 19-22. It was a nice space with blocks, books, toys and music for him. There weren't many kids on the cruise (1 other baby, three other toddlers and maybe 10 kids between 4 and 15). That meant that the space was pretty quiet and there was no feeling that anyone was in anyone else's way. And it became part of our routine that grandma and grandpa would meet us there. We'd leave Max and Finn(4months) and run away to have a coffee or something for an hour. The dining room is directly upstairs, so Max would go and play in his fancy clothes right after dinner until bed time.
The elevators and stairs were great fun. The pool deck is where he wanted to spend most of his time. There are walls around this deck (11), so it felt the safest. One day Dad got a volleyball and Max had great fun kicking and tossing it around for a couple days. I would also recommend the basketball court (Deck 14). There are games played there, or so the daily schedule said. I only saw people up there once. It's covered in rope netting and gated. We would take a ball up there to kick around to get him tired. It also has a great view. Beware that it's also very windy.
I tried to balance shore days between what we wanted to do and what Max would like. In Copenhagen we took public transit (Bus!) to the zoo. It's an OK zoo in general, but the kids' area perfect. You know a place takes kids seriously when there is a washroom dedicated to changing (Three at a time). Max was able to pet bunnies and put them in their cages, hold onto goats in their enclosure and play on the jungle gym in the middle of it all. Unfortunately, this meant that we didn't go into Tivoli Gardens or see the Little Mermaid. We spent too much time walk back into the centre from the zoo.
In Stockholm we saw the Vasa ship, then went to the changing of the guard. Max loved the marching band, but it was 45 minutes we could have spent exploring. The old town is beautiful.
In Helsinki we met friends. Can't recommend anything there.
In St. Petersburg we used Anastasia(www.anastasiaworld.com
). She arranged everything according to what we wanted. She even managed to arrange for car seat in our van (We travelled with 4 others). In the worst case scenerio, we had even discussed having the kids and me driven back to the ship while the others continued at museums. Didn't need to, but it was nice to know we could. And Anastasia is nice, knowledgeable, prompt, and professional.
Tallinn is beautiful. We tried the ship's walking tour, but Max was too interested in running around.
I don't think many people liked Klaipeda, Lithuania, but we loved it. We took the local ferry (Boat!) over to the island where the Maritime museum and dolphinarium are located. When you get off the ferry, it's still 2km to the dolphins. You can take a bus/train (Train!) or horse drawn carriage (Horse! Horse!). It was really difficult to get him away from the horses. The dolphin show got Max so excited that he forgot to clap or bounce up and down. I would also recommend the restaurant just past the ferry landing (Left as you arrive to the island). Not the snack shack, but a really good restaurant under trees.
I think it's obvious-we had a great time. The staff on the ship were outstanding. Many were missing their own babies and toddlers, so Max and Finn received much love. The children's menu changed every dinner, which was good and bad. Know that you can ask for ANYTHING. As long as they get enough notice, they can make anything you want. There are tons of high chairs on board. We never went without. I found out later that you can have them empty the minis out of the bar fridge so there's enough room for what you need. We also had the ice bucket removed (Max became a bit obsessed with ice) and glasses placed up high. There's some safe space in every cabin. Bring a power bar. Our cabin had only two outlets. One NA, one Europe.
I have written way too much and the boys are about to wake. Enjoy your trip. Ask for anything you think will make things easier. You probably won't be the first.