Not one of the best cruises I've been on. Will probably stick to Uniworld and Avalon for river cruising.
First the Good:
1. A great staff - almost across the board. Everyone was first class, with the exception of some of the restaurant servers. In the mornings it could take quite awhile to get some fruit juice, tea or water. Unless you drank coffee (which I do not) - coffee came right away. The breakfast food was buffet style, but the drinks were not. You had to flag down someone and hope you got your drink before you were done with your breakfast. But all other staff just could not do enough for you. Reception staff was incredible.
2. New ship just months old so everything was fresh and clean.
3. Home-made soups and dinner meals were excellent. Some of the best fish dishes I've ever had.
4. Very comfortable beds with nice linens.
And the Not So Good:
1. Staterooms are SMALL. We were in a group and checked out friends' rooms in other categories, and they were all on the small side with teeny-tiny showers. Except for the Suite which will be described later.
2. Don't take Cabins 100 and 101! Viking should not even allow paying passengers in these cabins. The gangways are deployed right above you, and whoever designed this vessel did not believe in soundproofing. The noise at 11 p.m and 6 a.m. could wake the dead when crew was deploying the gangway. Also, whenever a passenger with hard soles or heels traversed said gangway coming or going, it sounded like Fred Astaire was up there. And when in port, the window looks directly onto the side of the dock. That's all you see six inches in front of you - concrete, metal or dark wood.
3. Apparently, from the lower deck waste water must be pumped upward. Which is fine, but the pumping system sounds exactly like an old coffee percolator from the 1970's. It is loud in the room and WILL wake you up. I could hear my neighbor's pump, and I am sure they could hear mine. I could also hear my neighbor's TV, closet hangers banging, etc. Again, did someone not want to spend a couple dollars in some soundproofing? This was the noisiest vessel I have EVER been on.
4. The showers in everyone's room drained slowly...and I mean slowly to the point where you need to cut short your shower because you think it's about to overflow.
5. Wine choices at lunch and dinner are very limited. The first few days the white wine offered was Chablis and the red wine offered was Merlot, neither one of those varietals that I care for. Thank goodness that changed after a few days. And fruit juices and sparkling water are not offered between meals - you'll have to pay for those. I know Viking wants you to buy the optional premium beverage package, but it was REALLY overpriced, and if only one of you drinks in the room and the other occupant does not drink, you still have to buy the package for both room occupants. That's ridiculous! The good thing is you can take your own liquor and wine on board with you, which I would definitely recommend.
6. LOTS of buffet food on this cruise. Breakfast was pretty much buffet only. You could order a couple egg dishes from the kitchen, but you were still stuck with all accompaniments coming from the buffet. I never once had any hot breakfast potatoes or hot bacon, just kind of lukewarm at best. Lunch buffet dishes were usually nice, but again, not real hot. I personally don't like a lot of buffet foods - it's germ central on all the shared serving utensils, as many guests do not avail themselves of the hand sanitizer. And sure enough by the end of the cruise half of our party either had colds or were coming down with one.
7. Let's talk about the expensive Suites. Beautiful rooms, well-designed, beautifully appointed, nice, large wrap-around balcony, BUT, oh-my-gawd, one night it felt like you were sleeping in the engine room. If you are deaf and rich, this would be the room for you. Some nights it was quiet, some nights it was deafening. It's surprising that Viking put the two most expensive rooms on the boat right where the engine noise is. Again, who dropped the ball on designing in some sound-proofing? Viking apparently has 4 more boats like this on order, but I'm surprised they are buying these before the jury's in on how well this ship has done.
8. This is a WALKING trip. There is LOTS of walking on the tours. Be prepared.
9. There were some interesting presentations in the Lounge, but if you were sitting on the starboard side towards the back, good luck hearing what was being said. When they were using just a mic and an amp it did not come through the ceiling speakers on that side. Very poor design and execution leaving many passengers frustrated.
10. The Lounge can get a little crowded if inclement weather prohibits use of the upper outside deck. If it's too cold to go outside, it can feel uncomfortably tight in that lounge area. Solution: Avoid cold weather cruises!
11. Where's the bartender??? Sometimes you couldn't buy a cocktail to save your life. Is he doubling as a steward and changing sheets somewhere?? What?? I once tried to order a Martini at 4 pm and was told the bartender will have to do it as no one else knows how, but no one knew where he was. It's a Martini, guys! One of the easiest drinks to make. I offered to walk her through it, but no, couldn't do that. Waited 20 minutes for the bartender. Some employee cross-training might be called for.
12. Lastly, there was unanimous disappointment by all in our party about the itinerary. This cruise was marketed as a Christmas Market cruise. However, Christmas Markets were certainly not plentiful, nor was there ample time to explore the few that were available to us. Unusually high water levels contributed to some port visits being cut way short, which was also very disappointing, and we did not seem to make up that time somewhere else.