We booked the boat trip and our air fare with Viking. Paid an additional $100.00 which allowed us the choice of air lines. We chose Air France for their lie flat seats and their food. We got Delta which operates some of the AF routes. The seats and the food were not what we specified. We called Viking immediately when we were advised of the selection by Viking. We live two hours from the airport. In order to make our 7:00 AM flight we would have to leave home at 3:00 AM.We found an Air France flight that left at 10:30 AM still making the connection to Moscow with a three hour overlay instead of six hours. Viking said it would cost more than $1000.00 to cancel and rebook. We spent the night before our departure in a hotel near the airport and still had to get up at 4:00 AM. It might be that Viking travel only has booking access to the less attractive departure times. This was certainly not we expected nor what we paid for.
The Ingvar was spotless.Not a sign of rust or dirt anywhere. The rooms were also spotless. and orderless. Our first meal on board was not promising. The dining room staff was cheerful and friendly. The food was at best institutional. A Caesar salad was served with the lettuce lying in a wilted mass on the bottom of the bowl. Our table of seven had all ordered the salad and all of the servings were the same. The wine served with the meal was good. Breakfast was a buffet which was the freshest and the best meal. Except the bacon was deep fried and presented in a square mass which still had the shape of the packaging. Hollandaise sauce on the eggs Benedict was a congealed dark yellow mass which tasted like a pre-made mix.
Breakfast was the best meal of the day. Lunch and dinner food selections, were not interesting and some times not at all appealing.
During the cruise we saw the Captain and his officers one brief time at the meet and greet reception where they were in a receiving line which they left as soon as everyone had shaken hands. We noticed the crew members stationed at the gangway when we boarded or left the ship never looked up or broke off a conversation with another crew member to meet our gaze or to recognize or presence.
One night several guests declined the visit the the ballet to see a late evening rehearsal and stayed on board the Ingvar. We found the dining room had closed when the ballet tour had been fed at six o'clock. The front desk told us we could dine on the sister ship Helgi.Unlike the crew on th Ingvar the crew on duty at the gangway of the Helgi smiled and greeted us as we boarded the ship. We introduced our selves at the front desk and the first officer who was standing there offered to escort us to the dining room. It was a remarkable difference in attitude in the ships crew. This was the first night of a tour that began in St Petersburg. The dining room was serving the same menu we had on or first night in Moscow. It was an interesting contrast. The food was better presented, better prepared and tasted better.
It seems there may be a connection to the indifferent food and the indifferent crew on Ingvar with the better looking and tasting food and an engaged crew of the Helgi. Attitudes in companies always come from the top.