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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
We sailed on Viking Star last March and were hooked. This year we again wanted a port intensive, educational, small ship experience without the pushy, glitzy, and somewhat pedestrian atmosphere that many other cruise lines offer. We also ... Read More
We sailed on Viking Star last March and were hooked. This year we again wanted a port intensive, educational, small ship experience without the pushy, glitzy, and somewhat pedestrian atmosphere that many other cruise lines offer. We also wanted to be a part of a more mature clientele with no children or casino. We booked back-to-back Journey To Antiquities and Iconic Western Mediterranean. The upside to a February cruise was that, in most cases, you will be the only ship in port and excursion sites will not be crowded. The downside is you are rolling the dice regarding weather and rough seas. We got lucky! What an unbelievable experience this cruise was! Jupiter, a beautiful new ship, sailed its maiden voyage without a glitch. The weather was perfect (unusually warm weather in Europe this time of year), we made every port and the itinerary was way more than we expected. The wife and I have nothing but praise for the all involved in making this trip happen. From the time we got off the plane in Athens until we boarded again in Barcelona, we were expertly taken care of. Embarkation, debarkation and transfers were all quick and flawless. There was literally a representative every 20 feet to point the way. Nearly every time you board you are greeted with a smile, warm washcloth and a glass of campaign. We found the Viking Jupiter a gem with all members of the crew going out of their way to provide exceptional service. Captain Knutsen and his wife were great ambassadors making us and everyone else feel special. Our favorite relaxing place was the Viking Bar, although the explorer lounge is a popular option. We always found the young bartenders anywhere delightful,engaging and eager to share their stories. The Drink Package (($20 per person per day) is a great deal. Entertainment is average with several musicals. We tend to the cultural side and found the young guitarist and pianist to be very, very good. The Viking Trio was simply marvelous and they were a lot of fun to interact with. Enrichment talks were outstanding. Dr. Caroline Mallory's history lectures were comprehensive and educational as were the astronomy talks by Mr. Howard Parkins, whom I found to be a very entertaining speaker. The food was very good everywhere and the main dining room equal in quality to the specialty restaurants. The snails, ceasars salad, lamb shank, steaks and vanilla ice cream were our favorites. The pasta in Manfredi's is to die for. Portions were so large, we started splitting the entrees. Just about everyone uses the World Cafe' for breakfast were there are so many food options there it is hard to choose. The gym is fantastic for a good workout. The steam room, ice grotto and hot tub (a well kept secret and our second favorite place on board) were all free and a relaxing post tour alternative. The ¼ mile track is an excellent way to walk off a meal. We took several of the included tours: Athens Archaeological Museum, Ancient Olympia (one of the best tours), Panoramic Rome, Pisa (been here before but still breathtaking), and Monte Carlo which were more than adequate if one does a little research. We selected the optional tours to Knossos (do not do this tour if port is Chania; bus ride is 5 of the 8 tour hours), Ancient City of Tindari, Pompeii, Lucca, Avignon (must see), Carcassonne (another must see) and Gaudi Architecture in Barcelona. They were fantastic with the exception of Knossos. Overall, the optional tours were well worth the time and money. Guides were professional and subject knowledgeable. Vikings provided a bus shuttles in ports of Athens, Chania and Barcelona which was a nice touch. Of course with so much praise there has to be a few warts, albeit, not many. This is a “Thinking Person's” and not an entertainment cruise. The wine choices may be limit for some, but we are not sommeliers so it did not matter. Shore excursions were “snapshots” and time of some excursions we found to be too short: Athens Archeological Museum: 1 hour 15 minutes, Knossos: 1 hour 15 minutes, Pompeii: 2 hours. You cannot do Rome by bus and the only saving grace to this excursion was our guide planning sufficient free time for us to get in to Saint Peter's Basilica (beautiful). They were still good tours, just short. If you book back to back cruises, make sure you book the same room for both legs and be prepared for some minor hiccups: have to get new ship cards, re-register your credit card, specialty dining reservations may not take when booking online, tour booking issues on mid-cruise embarkation/debarkation day, shore excursion tickets not issued until second half of cruise. If you book Viking Air, make sure you have at least 2 hours in Charles de Gaulle and 2 1/2 hours in Miami (customs is a zoo) for connections. Other than the nitpicking above we found our overall experience with Viking to be outstanding and to the highest standards throughout. They want to get it right and ask for feedback on everything. The cruise line is quality, destination focused and trying to offer customers the best value for the money in the cruise market. The wife and I will sale with them again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
I just noticed that the top of this review it says 7 Night Journey to Antiquities. That is not what was sold to us by Viking. We bought a 14 day cruise called Mediterranean Antiquities Cruise. More about that later in my review. We ... Read More
I just noticed that the top of this review it says 7 Night Journey to Antiquities. That is not what was sold to us by Viking. We bought a 14 day cruise called Mediterranean Antiquities Cruise. More about that later in my review. We chose this cruise because we had been looking for a cruise that stayed overnight in Rome and Viking sent us an email about this cruise and it was exactly what we were looking for. This cruise left Athens, Greece and ended in Barcelona, Spain with stops in Athens, Crete, Katakolon, Greece then over to Italy with stops in Sicily, Naples, Rome, Florence, a stop in Monte Carlo, onto France with stops in Marseille and Sete and finally arriving in Barcelona, Spain. So far so good. We also booked the two day pre cruise in Athens. Arrived in Athens and as with Viking someone was waiting there to take us to our hotel. Viking was amazing. They made registering at the hotel a breeze and then Viking staff was very helpful with tips on tours and restaurants. When it was time to board the ship, again Viking did an excellant job. Picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the port and checking into the boat was again a breeze. Being it was the Jupiter's maiden voyage we were able to get into our rooms right away. Room Steward Fiery was amazing. Anything and everything you needed he made it happen. The ship was beautiful. Since we had cruised earlier in August 2018 on the Sky we remembered pretty much where everything was. On our last cruise I did not have the opportunity to try Tea in the Wintergarden but this time the opportunity came up and we went to Tea. I am not a big tea drinking but you must try Tea at least once. The Tea as so good. The use loose tea not bags and it makes such a difference and the scones served with cream and jam were to die for. The newest item on the Jupiter was the planetarium which unfortunately Viking did not utilize to the fullest. We had an astronomer on board you would have thought that he would have given some lectures or shows in the planetarium. Nope. The two shows that we watched in the planetarium were something you could have watched on Natural Geographic. The seats in the planetarium did not recline so you could not see the entire ceiling so you could not see the entire film. Both times I was in there people were falling asleep it was so bad. Viking really needs to rethink the use of the planetarium. Such great potential not being used. We were also disappointed in the entertainment. On our cruise In To The Midnight Sun on the Sky in August of 2018 the Viking Band with Vince and Jennifer were amazing. They were always playing somewhere. We so enjoyed listening to them and the singers in the production shows .were so good and they too would be always performing somewhere on the ship. We were so looking forward to hearing the same type and quality of music on the Jupiter. Our first night we waited with anticipation to hear the Viking Band in Troshaven. We were the first one in Troshaven and when the band and the singer started we just looked at each other and went HUH! The band acted like they did not want to be there and the singer could not carry a beat and we could not understand her. So disappointed we left after 10 minutes. You never heard or saw the Viking Band unless it was in Troshaven or during a production in the Star Theater. If there was music on the ship it was a string quartet or piano. Nothing upbeat. The performers for the theater productions was also disappointing after being on the Sky. It was like watching a "high school production". The entertainment on the Jupiter was very disappointing. Ok now for the part that Viking did to us and approximately 100 other passengers. They sold us a 14 day cruise and once we got on the boat we found out it was actually two 7 days cruises back to back. Ok you think no big deal right............wrong! The first 7 days of our 14 day cruise ended in Rome. 800 passengers got off and 800 new passengers got on and what did they offer the 100 passengers that we on the boat still.....NOTHING! There was no port talk for Rome like they do for all other ports they stop in. There was an including tour offered for Rome where they drove you into Rome showed you some of the sights (by bus no stops) and then dropped you at Vatican City for 5 hours of free time! WHAT! The reason we booked this cruise was to be able to see Rome. The reason we book with Viking is so they will escort me with a guide around Rome. I don't want to have to do the leg work to find the tours and organize everything. Again that is why I book with Viking. Every other port you go to they offer at least a dozen different tours you can select from. Not for us and not in Rome! We were very disappointed in Viking. We spoke with several of the other 100 passengers that had been sold this "14 day" cruise and they too were not happy. We ended up staying on the boat and even then we felt like we were under everyone's feet because they were trying to get everything on the ship ready for the new passengers. So ok Rome was a bust! Then think about it on a 14 day cruise you have 14 days of different entertainment and lectures. Hmmmmmm not on back to back 7's so on the second week of our cruise all the production shows were repeated and they were not good enough the first time to go see them again and only a couple of new lectures. We are still working with Viking to figure out why and how this happened. I guess the old saying "buyer beware" should be applied here. Unfortunately by the time we found out what was happening we had already booked and paid for the cruise. All and all the Staff onboard the ship were amazing! The ship itself is amazing. Viking Marketing and Office Management not so much. 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