9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This was a last minute booking as it fitted with time off work and was inexpensive. We are Elite on Princess but have cruised with P&O several years ago and were not expecting it to be of the same standard, however we were ... Read More
This was a last minute booking as it fitted with time off work and was inexpensive. We are Elite on Princess but have cruised with P&O several years ago and were not expecting it to be of the same standard, however we were pleasantly surprised. The ship is small so easy to find your way around and very nice inside, quite different to other ships we have been on, more like a modern Hotel. Our room was a ocean view on deck 4, all we could get at that late stage, but it was quite large compared to some of the rooms we have been in on other ships. The only issue was machinery noises from below at night and the air conditioning that had a mind of its own and no matter where the controls were set varied between freezing cold and hot. We normally take the traditional dining option on Princess but did enjoy the options of the different dining rooms - Angelo's, Dragon Lady and the Waterfront. The food was what you can expect on a cruise ship and remember it is not expensive. Some meals were very good and some not so good. It was necessary to book well in advance if you wanted a specific time, in order to see the shows and while this was ok on a short cruise we would still prefer the Traditional dining option - same time, same table, same people, same waiters on a longer cruise. There was no shortage of variety as although the menus were quite small they changed every 4 days. We only ate in the Pantry at lunchtime and breakfast on shore days when we had early starts. There was a huge variety to choose from and generally the food was good. It was a little disjointed though having to go to different stations to put a meal together. Best to find a table then check out what you want, and then get to the stations with the longest queues first otherwise the hot food will be cold. The entertainment was excellent, the production shows, guest artists and live music was as good as any we have seen on a cruise ship. Sideshow alley, the magician/singer duo, and the Hawaiian Comedian were stand outs. Embarkation and disembarkation was very well organised, as good as we have come across. The Tendering process was poor, we gave up in Lifou after waiting over 1 1/2 hrs in the morning. And when I finally went ashore in the afternoon it took over 2 hrs from the time I joined the queue for the return journey, all the time standing in pouring rain - not pleasant. It is a small ship and therefore there are not the facilities we are used to. There is no hot tub in the adults area and as the main pools were freezing cold the two hot tubs in the main pool area were always full of children. It was the school holidays and we understood that the capacity of children allowed on board was maxed out. There are no wine lists in the bars - only in the restaurants and although there was a good range of wine in the restaurants it was very limited in the bars and there was different availability in the different bars. Bottled wine was in the $30 to $60 range with reds in Angelo's generally more reasonable than a good Chardonnay anywhere on the ship. It was good to see the ships security policing the R18 shows and adults only areas and crew removing towels from loungers that had been left by lazy and thoughtless passengers. The Unesco Heritage site snorkelling trip in Noumea was a highlight despite poor weather conditions. Expensive but well worth it, one of the best snorkelling sites we have been to in many years. Sharks, turtles, lots of tropical fish both small and large, moray eels and great coral. Having a guide with us made it feel much safer and they knew the best spots to go to. On a sunny day this would be stunning!! The shore excursion to Mare was also good, nice beach with easy swim to some coral reefs with some brightly coloured tropical fish. Due to poor weather we did not get to visit Mystery Island. Overall a good cruise and certainly value for money. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
4th cruise, 3rd with Celebrity, 2 others on smaller Constellation & Millenium. Value of cruise good but inclusions very expensive. Had balcony midships level 8, excellent. Internet usage $55US per day, Drink Packages ridiculous ... Read More
4th cruise, 3rd with Celebrity, 2 others on smaller Constellation & Millenium. Value of cruise good but inclusions very expensive. Had balcony midships level 8, excellent. Internet usage $55US per day, Drink Packages ridiculous prices as well. $25US corkage if you bought your own wine to dinner. (1 bottle per person allowed onboard first day). Food in main dining ok except for 2 nights when the choice was inedible. Ocean View cafe ok but again some of the meat dishes were a bit dry & unappetizing. Trying to find a seat at breakfast was a challenge. Solstice is getting a bit tired & needs a refit which is happening next year I think. Captain Tasos is THE best & he & his staff of many could not be faulted. Dining room staff were exceptional & really looked after you. Ports of Call on this itinerary were great, especially our sail through The Sounds. Much prefer to cruise on smaller ships. 2200 pax & 1200 staff just not as personal. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Found the cruise relaxing staff were very helpful. Didn't enjoy the meals tried twice in the restaurant on Deck 3 or 4. Because we don;t consume alcohol and don't put on airs down to earth couple didn't really feel welcomed ... Read More
Found the cruise relaxing staff were very helpful. Didn't enjoy the meals tried twice in the restaurant on Deck 3 or 4. Because we don;t consume alcohol and don't put on airs down to earth couple didn't really feel welcomed there. After that experience used the Ocienveiw Cafe for all our meals and the Mast Grille nice presented food. Enjoyed the show put on most nights in the Solstice Theatre pity they were only a hour long. Enjoyed the outdoor movies pity they repeated them over and over especially The Black Panther and Skycraper. Enjojed watching the girls on deck 15 working with the glass very pleasant and customer looked happy with their items. Bands that played were good normally listened to them in the library. Really not a lot to do at night if you don't gamble or drink. The ship looked nice and clean Indra did a good job making and tiding our room. A few issues with wind blowing thru the door at night whistling, broken tiolet seat cracked T.V. losing signal when watching it otherwise okay.Choose excursions thru the ship 1st not to be left behind and 2nd not to indated by the locals if going ashore. Went on the Nausori Farmers Market Drive hard to hear the person talking as microphone kept cutting in and out. The third excursion I didn't do due to illness which was spreading thru-out the ship coughing, sneezing runny nose and sore throat, as no opening windows in our room think it was spread by the air conditioning.Older couple early 60's no children. Yes we have booked again for same trip 2021 with a room at back of ship with opening balcony hopefully to prevent illness. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We loved the itinerary, but were so disappointed to find that our excursion had been cancelled last minute by Princess with no offer to help replace it. So we were on our own in Wellington. Then the ship had a delay with fog in Dunedin ... Read More
We loved the itinerary, but were so disappointed to find that our excursion had been cancelled last minute by Princess with no offer to help replace it. So we were on our own in Wellington. Then the ship had a delay with fog in Dunedin and could not dock an hour later because the tides were too low for this immense ship. The one Princess excursion to Waitupo and Rainbow Springs that was not cancelled was excellent! We also loved the Milford Sound fiords day. The entertainment on the ship was also very good, with Magic, Encore, and musical productions. It’s important to get there at least 30 minutes ahead if you want a seat though. Restaurant service in Anytime Dining was good with Ferdie as our favorite waiter. We were also extremely frustrated with erroneous bar charges that took multiple trips to the desk over several days, along with phone calls. Each time we were assured that it was corrected only to find that was not true. ( We had ordered just two glasses of wine one night but were charged for six!). These were finally corrected just an hour before we debarked. All of this left a very bad taste with Princess! We have never experienced problems like this on other cruises including Norwegian, Holland America, Gate One, or Azamara. We have already scheduled future cruises with Azamara and Celebrity, and will probably not sail on a large Princess ship again. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
Could not get the flight I wanted, even though I took Air Plus. Flight home was delayed 2 hours, so United dumped all luggage at LAX stopover and cancelled all connecting flights. We had a scheduled 3 hour layover, so there was plenty of ... Read More
Could not get the flight I wanted, even though I took Air Plus. Flight home was delayed 2 hours, so United dumped all luggage at LAX stopover and cancelled all connecting flights. We had a scheduled 3 hour layover, so there was plenty of time to catch our original flight. But, instead we had to rebook and ended up with crummy seats in the back of the plane. Many excursions were filled up before I was allowed to sign up. Much waiting in line for everything; this ship could not accommodate this many people! Had to go to everything a half hour early to get a decent seat. Restaurant service was very slow - waited in hall half an hour to be seated - by ourselves (we wanted to meet other travelers and the best time to do this is at dinner), then another half hour to order, then another half hour for food to arrive, for a total of 2 hours to eat - ridiculous! On previous river cruises, we had open seating (seated ourselves) and had food in 10 minutes, except France (took about a half hour). Why do you wait until 7:00 p.m. to open the restaurant? If you opened earlier (5:00), people could be served more efficiently. Food was not all that good either. We were so frustrated with all the waiting, we resorted to the World Cafe to eat the remainder of our meals, where the food was even less tasty - resembled cafeteria food, and there wasn't much variation in the menu. When I go on a cruise, I want to be pampered and waited on; not serving myself - I can do that at home.The only thing I had that was good was the stir-fry (offered only once). Breakfast was always the same. The apple pie in the explorer lounge was very good, as were the burgers at the pool grill. I liked the room arrangement - plenty of storage space. Entertainment - not much variety. I'd prefer something different each night. Bring in more local talent. Not much to do on sea days. Lectures were boring; Aida movie put me to sleep. Slow computers; difficult to use - took me 2 hours to print air check-in for return flight so I missed sailing into Sydney Harbor - something I really wanted to see. More help needed in the future cruise area - could not get an appointment until the second last day - best rooms were already gone. Also more help needed at help desks for booking excursions - another line to wait in. Very pricey for what we got; I could have gone on this same cruise with another cruise line for half the cost. I did book another cruise on this ship, so I hope you'll forgive my negative comments; I offer them as areas that could use improvement. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We wanted to visit New Zealand and Australia. Tasmania was a terrific surprise. We selected a mid-size cabin due to the length of the trip and that there would be days at sea. Everything was exceptionally well done from the housekeeping ... Read More
We wanted to visit New Zealand and Australia. Tasmania was a terrific surprise. We selected a mid-size cabin due to the length of the trip and that there would be days at sea. Everything was exceptionally well done from the housekeeping staff to the entertainment staff. The food was amazing and the surprise birthday cake was a special treat. We would go on this trip again if we didn't have such a long air flight at each end-we are traveling with the same company to a different location(Baltic) A special treat for us was the educational courses and being able to interact with the educators for further information. We were given information about the area, history, & astronomy so we understand what we would see and be part of the for the next day. The food was terrific in all locations and had no problems with reservations for the smaller restaurants. Often we ate in the main "cafeteria" location and were able to make many new friends at nearby tables. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people ... Read More
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people and a remarkably intelligent, attentive crew visiting an itinerary of a lifetime on an impeccable, smallish ship, read on. We are just back from Viking’s Grand Pacific Explorer cruise that traced all around the Pacific, roughly following the Ring of Fire from New Zealand through Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Russia (Siberia), across the Bering Sea, and down through Alaska to Vancouver. Portions of this 93-day itinerary were also available in smaller chunks of 15 to 23 days. As we came to realize, the guests on shorter legs were taking a cruise on the ship. We lived there. And it was fantastic. There were roughly two dozen of us who traveled the entire way and another fifteen or so who embarked in Sydney for 79 of the 93 days. All tolled, we traveled 19,919 nautical miles on the ship. Convert to statue miles and add on the air travel, and our adventure went far beyond the distance around the globe. What we learned: You can be happy on a Viking Oceans ship for a long time and still be happily married. Although our Penthouse Veranda was not the smallest stateroom, several of the Grand Voyagers were in the standard size (all veranda) staterooms, and there was at least one couple who survived and celebrated their 50th anniversary just afterward. The secret is the many varied public spaces on the ship. The Explorer’s Lounge is great 24/7, and you don’t have to order any booze to just sit and enjoy the view and read. Or converse in comfortable seating clusters. Add the quiet reading area in the deck 1 library, the exterior wings outside the Winter Garden, and various nooks and crannies. There is always somewhere to go. Crossing the equator and the International Dateline can be fun. Viking made sure we celebrated on both occasions. May 14 happened TWICE (thus 93 days, not 92)! The seas are never what you expect. Yes, the Tasman Sea can be “lively,” as can the Bass Strait above Tasmania, but even the Bering Sea is not necessarily going to be bad. If you count on good or bad seas, you won’t get them. It’ s pure luck. Siberia did kick up a ruckus for us for one day, but the Bering Sea was crazy calm! You will get to know the crew very, very well. They will bring you just about anything, anytime. Room service delivers ANYTHING on their menu for free anytime. Ask for the things you don’t see but crave. This applies to those on the ship for two short weeks or for three months. “Another latte, madame?” “A scone from tea in the Wintergarden?… sure I will get that for you.” The only cost is if you elect to drink alcohol from the bar. Those with the Silver Spirits package pay nothing. Others like us paid very reasonable prices with no added gratuities if we chose to drink. Of course, the minibar in our PV cabin had standard level booze and mixers of our choice, so we could always carry our own drinks to the lounge. If we had brought a bottle of our own on board-- no problem. They’ll even provide the glass and ice. No nickels. No dimes. There is a bar waiter, Ardel, who introduced me to an excellent formula for a top shelf margarita, now dubbed the “Ardel Margarita” by several of us who enjoyed it! The senior officers are incredible. Kudos to the general manager for most of our cruise, Joaquim Scherz, and to the restaurant manager Gerome Venon, for making our group of voyagers feel especially welcome and for preventing monotony from EVER setting in – as if that could happen with such a rich itinerary! Even the entertainment team added some new performances so we could enjoy the talents of two different Viking Bands who were onboard during our tenure and especially the excellent ensemble of four young Viking Vocalists Aoibhin, Jorgen, Dan, and Beth, whom we got to know quite well. (These four, by the way, were the first to be awarded a new contract by Viking to stay together on their next cruise in the Caribbean.) Kudos to cruise director Spencer who rose to the role on this, his first cruise in the position. When Viking says they are a family, they are serious. That includes the passengers. They know you. They figure you out within a few days, and they are all eager to make the cruise p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Your cabin steward knows when you are likely to be out and about or when you have an excursion scheduled. The ice is there every day on time. The things you store in you bathroom are arranged exactly as you like them. After a few days, people know your names. (The general manager told us he actually looks over each guest list in advance and learns names and scans for those he has met before.) We learned much about the way Viking hires, trains, and rotates its crew and senior officers. We boarded Viking Orion and saw crewmembers we had met four years ago on Viking Star, now promoted to higher positions and happy in “the family.” The family extends to all the ships. When the Viking Sky encountered rough seas off the coast of Norway (while we were in Australia), every crewmember on Viking Orion was paying attention, praying, and even helping to send a video to the crew of Viking Sky in support and thanks for all their efforts. Family goes both ways. We Voyagers truly got attached to Joaquim and gave him a Viking umbrella salute send-off as he departed for a well-earned vacation. There were tears. Viking is truly fortunate to have such amazing people, and Joaquim is one who has been with VO since its launch. If he has any say about it, the quality will not diminish as the company expands. We sincerely hope his influence will keep things as good as they are! Speaking of family, our group of “Voyagers” definitely became one. People who take Viking cruises are fascinating folks with endless interests and stories. When you meet new people at home, you may see them once a week or a couple of times a month. When you make new friends on a ship, you see each other as often as three meals a day plus an excursion. Yes, we could avoid seeing them, but we enjoyed getting to know each other—really well! We avoided talking politics -- which was a refreshing change for over 90 days! We compared notes about our days (what excursion did you take?), drank a LOT of free wine (opened and closed the World Café many times), and watched out for each other when someone was “solo” on an excursion. These friendships will last for sure. We learned about the tons and tons of food they bring on board and when. We noticed that the chef went into town to pick up a few things while we were out on excursions – but only if he can find provisions that met Viking’s strict quality and safety standards. Within a couple of days, the cook at the breakfast fruit and yogurt bar handed me a bowl as I walked in each day and several times kept a few strawberries aside when the stock was dwindling before the next provisioning. He found the plain Greek yogurt that I like if it is not out on display. He was genuinely apologetic when the strawberries ran out in Siberia! If it wasn’t perfect, all we had to do was ask. Just when I was muttering to myself that there weren’t any chocolate options on the desert bar in the World Café, one of the supervisors offered to go down and get a chocolate mousse from the sit-down Restaurant downstairs…. “And where are you sitting, madame?” Or if the buffet choices were not exactly what we wanted, the chef custom-prepared a strip steak (“Medium? Four minutes, please.”) and delivered it to our table, with a potato and sour cream if that was what we wanted. All this in the “buffet” style World Café, our favorite venue for every day. Manfredi’s, the Italian specialty restaurant, is a gem. People seem to figure this out quickly, so be sure to book reservations as soon as you can. Book before you embark, as we did or stop by the laptop at the entrance to the world café to add more or make changes. We also learned that they will make every effort to change your numbers as you meet people and want a larger table. (Thank you, Ian!) Yes, we also ate in the Chef’s Table, but after trying each of the (mostly delicious) menus, we found we preferred the less formal and more flexible options elsewhere. We aren’t “The Restaurant” type people, though many of our friends were and enjoyed it just as much as we enjoyed the free-ranging exploration of the world Café – the same food, but you can graze and get up from your table at will. (Just hide your fork…. They clear TOO quickly!) The only nights I personally did not enjoy as much were the Indian Buffet theme nights, but my husband loved them. I just ordered a strip steak and tasted a few other things. I made the suggestion that perhaps not EVERYTHING had to be Indian… like the weird gelato flavors. We learned SO MUCH. The itinerary was loaded with places we had always wanted to see, and Viking offered many ways to learn about each one. The guest lecturers were great, and word gets out about which ones are REALLY good. The naturalist in the north Pacific and Alaska, the historian in Southest Asia, the archaeologist in New Zealand, the reef pilot on the Great Barrier Reef, and many others were terrific. If they can keep you awake in a darkened theater on a gently rocking sea, they must be good! The video replays on demand in the cabins were a MUST to keep up with the many things to learn. What we saw: It is a challenge to summarize forty-seven ports, but there were recurring themes: wildlife, history, religions, World Heritage sites, gardens, wine/beer/whiskey. We chose to take many optional excursions, mostly because we don’t like touring on buses much. A bus to GET somewhere is fine. We tend to like walking tours better. When we compared notes with our fellow travelers, we learned that by skipping some of the included excursions, we missed some good stuff. Some of the descriptions did not make it clear just how much time would be spent on or OFF the bus. As my husband says, the descriptions are a bit like real estate ads. Example: “Enjoy a panoramic tour.” Translate: bus ride. As Viking continues in these ports, we are sure the excursions will be refined and the descriptions edited for a better match to what is actually there. In the first season of a new itinerary, this is tough. We took this cruise knowing that would happen. Our priorities for tours may not be yours. My husband is a photo buff—both wildlife and street scenes, and I tend to enjoy culture, art, crafts, and people. Sometimes we split up to see what we liked best. We did not need to stay together every day of a 93 day cruise! Don’t miss the onboard cultural visitors. There were local groups who came on board in several countries to perform music and dance. ALL were amazing. Sometimes we did not find out about them until the day before or the day of. READ the Viking Daily! Port/excursion highlights: (Unless otherwise stated, all excursions/tours were VIKING offerings) Everything in New Zealand. Lots of wildlife and Maori culture options. We especially enjoyed visiting a sheep farm outside Napier, a foodie tour I did in Wellington, a seal watch my husband did outside Wellington, and wildlife cruises outside Christchurch and Dunedin. Others went to interior locations such as the Hobbiton tour. This may not be the best way to see interior New Zealand. I wish I’d had more time at Rotorua at the native (Maori) center there. Australia: Hobart, Tasmania. This port is right in town and we wish we had stayed MUCH longer. Just walk off the ship, and you were in a pedestrian area filled with shops and history. (Think Viking River Cruises.) We took a tour outside of town and visited a winery and the charming town of Richmond. Wish we could have done BOTH. We’d like to go back to Tasmania. The koala and kangaroo sanctuary outside Melbourne. Unlike many “sanctuaries” where the animals are caged or restricted, this one has animals on their own in the wild and shows visitors how to find and follow them respectfully. No koala cuddling, but fantastic naturalists who teach and let you participate in finding the animals. Sydney: Did a pub crawl in The Rocks on a HOT day. Saw lots of local color: weddings, crazy young professionals out having fun, and of course the Opera House right at Circular Quay. Since Viking Orion is small enough to pass under the Harbor Bridge, we were docked a short shuttle FERRY ride from Circular Quay. This could have been a pain, but it’s much more fun than a shuttle bus! We had a day on our own while others disembarked and embarked. Viking did offer an excursion for the in-transit passengers, but we elected to spend time with some new friends from Sydney whom we “met” here on CC. (They joined our cruise later in Hong Kong.) Great city. Almost anything you can do would be fun. Whitsunday Islands and Cairns: both are portals to the Great Barrier Reef. We went on a smaller catamaran out to snorkel in the Whitsundays and a very large one (but well managed) in Cairns. We are not experienced snorkelers and have never seen the reef before, so we enjoyed these. Experienced GBR visitors might like more private or selective tours, but these are hard to find and schedule within port time limits. Viking did managed the tendering in Cid Harbor (Whitsundays) very well. Thursday Island--- skipped because of an incoming cyclone! Darwin: wildlife options again. We saw Jumping Crocs, which we thought would be really touristy. It actually was fun. The Territory Wildlife Park was also good, though VERY warm. Take lots of water with you! Be sure to visit the aviary. Weaker Australia ports: Newcastle, Townsville. These are perhaps good ports for their access to other places inland, but we did not find the actual towns as interesting. Maybe with time? Indonesia: In general, Indonesia has bad traffic, hot weather, and lots of temples. The blend of religions is fascinating and varies from island to island. Get a taste by seeing some of everything. Komodo: The national park is going to be closed for 2020. We were lucky to see the dragons. Very hot, and the most aggressive vendors we saw on the entire cruise were in the tent as we left the park. Be prepared to be tough and to haggle. Otherwise just duck and keep on walking! TAKE WATER. Viking did an outstanding job of managing the tendering and keeping guests hydrated and safe. They were on the dock with COLD towels and drinks as we finished the tour. The really wanted everyone to drink and stay safe. Bali: another disembarkation/embarkation port. On the day on our own, we traveled by cab into Denpasar to visit the fabric street—a MUST for any quilter or sewing enthusiast. We did an evening dinner and performance that evening which was fun, though touristy. We enjoyed seeing Batiks being made and wood carvers in action on a Viking excursion the next day. Surabaya: We visited a temple that is actually within an amusement park. Though it looked like we were entering Wally World, the temple, right next to the water, was interesting. The seafood lunch served on the way was excellent though a bit crowded. Our highlight was a stop at a T-shirt place that had graphically bold shirts at very low (fixed) prices. Thanks to a good tour guide. We’ve gotten compliments on those shirts everywhere. Semarang: Entre to a daylong trip to Borobudur, a must-see. Don’t do the included tour. Not much there. The Rainbow Village is not as enthralling as they say. Those who went to Borobudur said the long ride was definitely worth it, especially with the police escort that accompanied the bus caravan, stopping the challenging traffic. Think presidential motorcade. Viking managed an unfortunate bus accident between two buses that were following too closely pretty well. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Jakarta: Interesting but not worth two days? Went on a tour that included an inside visit to a large mosque and Catholic cathedral and a walk through Chinatown Had some time on the second day to go into town on the Viking shuttle to a shopping mall that offered great shopping for authentic batik shirts and much more. I think half the ship bought batik shirts. Weaker ports in Indonesia: Lombok? We actually did not go into this tender port. Those who did said we did not miss much. We really should not judge. Singapore One day, and not enough. Unfortunately, immigration stole over 90 minutes of our day—through no fault of Viking. If there were way for the ship to stay two days and not have to do this each day, it would be worth it. We did a walking “Odyssey” tour and saw little India, Chinatown, and an area called Arab Street. I’d do that tour again. We had time to explore on our own, which we always like. I’d like to have seen the gardens at Singapore Marina Bay, but we did not have time. I’d REALLY like to swim in the world’s largest infinity pool on the rooftop there, but you have to stay in the hotel to do that… unless Viking has connections? Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) Our one day was a quick stop. My husband and I did separate tours. He enjoyed the Batu Caves and Pewter factory tour, managing to avoid having his hat stolen by the monkeys. I did the Blue Mosque tour, which was a misnomer. We saw a view of the mosque at a GREAT distance. We did enjoy a tour of several sites in the city and a FANTASTIC lunch at the Renaissance Hotel. Of course, the last thing we needed was more good food! We honestly cannot say whether Kuala Lumpur is worth more time. Thailand Bangkok: The port is VERY, very far from the city, at least two hours drive if traffic is not bad. We had three days in Bangkok, the middle one a disembarkation/embarkation day for other passengers. We did Viking’s Bangkok After Dark tour, which was twelve hours long! The heat was oppressive, and the guide kept a pace that was a bit too enthusiastic for the heat. It did take us to great things and included a much appreciated foot massage after a lot of walking. We had a local dinner of SPICY pad thai and time shopping in the iconic night market. The tour is good, but plan on being totally soaked with sweat. Pace yourself and carry water. We took a private tour on the ship’s changeover day, and that was smart. We had a small van with great A/C and endless water. We could get back into the cool van often. We split the tour cost with three other friends, so it was quite reasonable. We visited locations our first tour did not include. Day 3 took my husband on the Viking tour out to the Summer Palace and Ayutthaya. He declared that tour to be excellent, including the golf carts! (I rested and did much-needed laundry out of the heat.) Cambodia Sihanoukville: This is the toughest port to talk about. It is not pretty, and the people lack hope. This port sparked great debate among our friends onboard. In my opinion, Viking needs to be honest about what you will see (poverty, loads of trash, hopelessness). The contrasts of the hotel where Jackie Kennedy stayed (a claim to fame in this miserable town) and the life in a local fishing village are painful. The Cambodian Cuisine tour we took involved riding in tuktuks through dusty, dirty streets. I did not initially appreciate the mask they gave me to wear, as I have never had respiratory issues. In the end, I actually needed it. The market offered a realistic view of what people buy and eat. The beachfront barbecue food attracted too many flies for us to taste it. Then we went to the Jackie hotel and had delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks while feeling hollowly fortunate. The second day we took the included tour, but we were warned by our friends to expect very sad scenes and sickening smells. They were right. The little children who should have been in school -- but had never even been REGISTERED to attend -- bore witness to the lack of hope of the Cambodian people. Yes, Viking should let us all see the realities, but the descriptions also need to be accurate. This port is a place to learn and think, not to enjoy. If the corrupt government is benefitting from Viking’s visits, perhaps this is not a good idea? Sadly, the countryside beyond the city has exceptional natural beauty, and the guides were very honest about their plight. Vietnam What a contrast to Cambodia. There is hope, and education is highly valued in this rapidly-growing economy. VERY. VERY. HOT. Ho Chi Minh City (known to the locals as Saigon): Three days. A fair distance from the port -- about an hour. Fantastic city to visit! We did the Saigon Cooking Class, which was excellent in both organization and fun. We shopped in the market, cooked, learned a lot, and enjoyed our own cooking. The next day we enjoyed a special visit to the Hotel Reverie with our fellow Voyagers (NOT an excursion) for high tea. This was arranged by the general manager and restaurant manager just for our group. WOW. If you have a chance to do this high tea on your own, DO IT. We’ve never, ever seen anything like it! Try the iced Vietnamese coffee. It’s addictive. The third day we did Viking’s “Iconic Ben Thanh Market” tour which was disappointing. We spent more time being served food than exploring the market (allowing NO time for this). I expect Viking will be clarifying expectations with the tour operator on this, as several of us spoke to the ship about it. Chan May (near Danang): Excursion to Ancient Hoi An. This city was swamped with tourists, and the tour was too commercialized for us. We had hoped for an interesting walking tour. We were herded into places to buy things, stopped ever so briefly amid the crowds to take pictures of landmarks with said crowds. Little to no time on our own as was advertised. Other guides were apparently more flexible, and our friends enjoyed their tours. Ha Long Bay (overnight): Wow. This place is drop dead gorgeous. Even the included tour is amazing. We did a longer, slightly different boat tour of the bay, including a stop at a floating village. Great tour! We also went outside the city to the mountains and Yen Tu Monastery. What a wonderful change of pace. We meditated and talked with the leader of the monastery, a man with remarkable charisma. The tour also included a delicious dinner at a resort hotel in the mountains. A winner! Hong Kong (3 days) Another changeover port. The included tour was good- Victoria Peak (in clouds), sampan ride in Aberdeen, and Stanley Market with free time. Spent our “off day” on our own with a friend who lives nearby then did more exploring on the third day with some fellow travelers. We then did the Hong Kong by Night tour which was OK but went back to some places we had already seen on our own. It would be great for people just starting out in HK. Taipei (Keelung port)- one day We did the tour to Yehliu Geopark with its amazing rock formations. Great photo op if you can go early enough for smaller crowds. Then went to mountain village of Jiufen. Cute, though filled with tourists. There were some nice places to have tea with a great view. The Taiwan landscape is very pretty! JAPAN! Japan was perhaps the biggest “surprise” of our trip. We had heard that it was beautiful, but it was MORE beautiful than we thought. We had also heard about the crowds during Golden Week—extended this year due to the installation of a new emperor. It was more crowded in some places than we could ever imagine. AVOID Golden Week. This was Viking’s first visit to the Japanese ports, so ALL of them did something special at the port: bands, dancers, etc.! Lots of fun. Japanese weather was a welcome relief from the heat in previous ports. Kagoshima: Great tour to Kamikaze museum and Chimai samurai historic district with classic Japanese gardens. Terrific intro to just some of the subtleties of Japanese culture. Nagasaki: (separate excursions). Imari and Arita pottery tour was outstanding. Learned a LOT about the aesthetic, the history, and the processes. Beautiful scenery en route. Husband did Historic Nagasaki tour for the atomic bomb story and more. Korea (a one day stop in Busan in the midst of Japan ports): Beomosa Temple and Fish Market tour was good. Lots of walking up hill. Fish Market is a true cultural experience, especially on the weekend! More Japan Hiroshima (2 days): Sobering as you would expect. The included tour to the Peace Park is good at hitting highlights on foot, though it was pouring rain. The museum would have been interesting, but the line stretched around a half mile! Optional tour to Itsukushima Shrine was great. Crowded because of Golden week. Go as early in the day as you can. We were on the 7 am ferry. Great photo ops of the floating torii gate you always see on brochures. Be sure to try some maple leaf shaped cakes. Osaka (Kyoto): We took the tour that traveled to Ancient Kyoto. Worst crowds we have ever seen. Heel to toe and shoulder to shoulder in a mob. Easy to lose the guide. (Others shared pictures taken by friends on “regular” weekdays showing NO crowds.) DO NOT GO during Golden Week. Very long path of thousands of torii gates, but too packed to enter. Scary crowded! The Golden Palace late in the day was less crowded and saved the day for us. Shimizu: (day and a half): Nice city with very friendly people. They had quite a welcome for us at the port since this was Viking’s first visit there. Amazing views of Fuji that cleared off for us. I went to Hiroshige Utagawa Museum. Speechless how good it was. Included tour also good… good photo ops. Tokyo ( 3 days): Port is immediately next to the Olympic Village they are building for 2020! This was our last disembarkation/embarkation port getting hundreds of new passengers onboard. Kamakuri tour to three shrine and temples very good but again crowded. 43 foot Buddha! Took Viking’s shuttle to downtown on the middle day, a Sunday, and discovered that NO ONE was in town during Golden Week. Walked to Iperial Palace Grdens (beautiful) and around the area near Nihonbaski Mitsubishi. The department store is worthy of a visit on its own, very old school and filled with amazing things, including a full basement are of food. See where people custom order their $50K silk kimonos! Third day took Edo-Tokyo Museum and City Tower tour. City tower not that great. The sky tower is better, I think, if you like that sort of thing. Museum and smaller local garden were nice. Tokyo is a gorgeous city, and SOOO clean! Be sure to try every Japanese bathroom. After Indonesia and others, they are a delight! Sapporo/Otaru: Beautiful location on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. We took the optional tour to Nikko whiskey. Lots of fun. It SMELLED of whiskey when you walked onto the grounds. Friend told us the included tour was also very good. Much cooler here. The cherry blossoms were out, as this part of Japan is weeks behind the more southern areas. Russia (Siberia) Koraskov: Did the included tour. Damp, cold, and cloudy/drizzly. Not much here, and quite sad after Japan. The people are clearly longing for the good old days of the USSR. The performance was fun, and the vendors selling crafts there were very genuine. Most are happy to take USD, though they may cheat a bit on exchange rates! Petrapavlosk-Kamchatsky: This city benefits from the large Navy base (out of sight from the port). Volcanoes abound. We did the military history tour. Too much talking at you. Choose a different one, perhaps just the included. Orthodox cathedral is less than ten years old! Someone showed us video from the helicopter tour over the volcano, and it was amazing. (But I don’t think I’d go with a Russian pilot in a Russian-maintained helicopter! Very pricey, too.) USA Dutch Harbor, AK: No tours offered, but there was a shuttle (school) bus into town. The locals are VERY friendly and talk on the buses. Go to the Alaska Ship Supply for fun, and perhaps to Safeway just to see how the locals live. Bald eagles everywhere—like pigeons! Take a hike or a walk. If you’re an American who’s been away for a long time, stop in a local bar for American bar food… nachos or a cheeseburger? If you watch Deadliest Catch, you’ll recognize many locations. Kodiak, AK: Nature photo cruise was a real highlight. Small boat with only 6 guests and a very knowledgeable couple guiding it. WELL worth it! Small town with simple self-guided (walking) tour and a shuttle bus. Very genuine. Seward, AK: Kenai Fiords cruise was incredible. Whales, dolphins, eagles, and a glacier thrown in. Entire pods of orcas! This was a MUST MUST MUST DO, even on a drizzly day. Stay in town for a visit to the Sea Life Center or some shopping, A regular shuttle goes back to the ship. Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), AK: This small town with its native tribe of 760 people owns the port through a small corporation that benefits the tribe. They market it well, with many activities and tours. The whale watch cruise we took was actually done by a separate company that cooperates with the corporation. It was excellent. Great photos of humpbacks, including mama and baby. Sea lions, and more. Another keeper! Warning: the bridge you walk across into the port area is COLD because of the wind, but the temps are much nicer around the corner and out of the wind. Wear layers. Friend did the zipline and loved it. Sitka, AK: Busier port with another ship in port at same time. Cute, smallish town. Walking tour went 5+ miles to see historic sites, totem area, and Raptor Center. All are worth seeing. Wish we’d had longer in totems and Raptor Center. People who took included tour said it was good, too. Note: if you are looking for the post office, you have to go outside of town, They closed the location right next to the port! Ketchikan: VERY, very touristy. We saw a total of FIVE other ships in one day, one of whom was waiting for us to pull out. Downtown is all shops, some owned by other cruise companies. We went out of town to a Fishing lodge for a crab feast. It was fun, including the boat ride out to the island. Good wildlife and newspapers-in-the-picnic-table crab boil. Dress for the weather because you are on an outdoor deck. You also get a walk in a temperate rainforest at the lodge. If you want nothing but shopping, stay in town and walk off the ship. Some ships dock a bit outside of town. Vancouver, Canada: Kudos to Viking for handling the challenge of disembarking over 900 passengers by tender! It went quite well. We were off the ship and on our way to the airport ahead of schedule. We hope everyone’s bags went to the right place. Ours did. Viking, you made a difficult good-bye palatable by keeping it smooth and easy. Suggestions for Viking: Consider changing the itinerary for Jakarta and Singapore. Maybe steal a day from Jakarta and add it to Singapore? You could play with some of Indonesia, perhaps. What about Lombok? Semarang is not great, though you need it for Borobodur. Think about solving that? Think about how you want to “sell” your port call in Cambodia Continue to refine the excursions. We know you do this because of wise changes that were made after Viking Ocean’s first summer in the Baltic. Suggestions for future Grand Voyagers: Plan for HOT weather and extreme high humidity on this itinerary of traveling Feb-May as we did. We live in the southeast US and know humidity, but this is FAR worse. Plan to change your clothes from the skin out 2-3 times a day in many of these ports. Take enough clothing so you can do that. If you are on a long cruise with people getting on and off for various shorter :legs, “ ask the management to gather the “voyagers’ for cocktails and /or dinner and get everyone’s first names and cabin number while they are at that first gathering, That way you will know where to find each other! Emails help, too, if you want to be able to contact everyone. The ship management cannot give you this info. Thanks to TL from our group who spearheaded this! A long cruise is a marathon, not a sprint. If one excursions or day is lousy, just look to the next one. Share your feedback in a constructive manner. It goes much further, and the crew will always want to help you. Vary your excursions. Don’t book too many temples, street market visits, or anything else. You’ll get tired of it! READ the Viking Daily—before you go to bed! Get accustomed to giving laundry advice in Viking’s free launderettes. You know how they work, and you don’t want the newbies to break the machines! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
My wife and I have been on 55 cruises, the shortest 11 days, the longest 28 days. We have sailed with NCL, Holland America, Princess, Azamara and Celebrity. On Celebrity we are Elite Plus members with 2000 points. Our most recent cruise ... Read More
My wife and I have been on 55 cruises, the shortest 11 days, the longest 28 days. We have sailed with NCL, Holland America, Princess, Azamara and Celebrity. On Celebrity we are Elite Plus members with 2000 points. Our most recent cruise was a back to back on Celebrity Solstice. Here are the pros and cons.  The pros: Friendly Crew and excellent service though out the ship. Good meals. Nice casino. Wi-Fi is good. The daily get together for Captain's Club members in the Sky Lounge was very enjoyable. The music played at the pool wasn't deafening. The cons: Because the backs lounge chairs in the Solarium can only be raised about 45 degrees and we found them too uncomfortalbe to just sit and read. The ship is starting to get a "tired" look. I noticed a lot of rust. Maybe Celebrity should attend to the fleet before more building new ships. Unrelated pet peeves:: Cruisers who come to breakfast for the gym or track wearing their sweat soaked work out attire. They obviously don't have any respect of their fellow travels. Maybe a security guard should be posted at the entrances and deny them entry. This happens on all the ships. Cruisers who linger chatting or reading after breakfast and lunch while others are searching for a table. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose this cruise because it was hubby’s bucket list trip to go to Australia and I wanted to go to NZ. Solstice is showing her age a bit...things are just looking a little worn...some holes in our cabin drapes, chairs in the public ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it was hubby’s bucket list trip to go to Australia and I wanted to go to NZ. Solstice is showing her age a bit...things are just looking a little worn...some holes in our cabin drapes, chairs in the public areas are a worn...that type of thing. If you look passed all those types of things then Solstice is still a beautiful ship. Food this time out for me was a bit of a disappointment. Had to send one dinner in the MDR back all together. There was a good mix of choices. They were free with the lobster on the night they served it which hubby was quite happy with. Staff were marvellous, Joaquim our cabin attendant was very good with our request to get the night light in the bathroom fixed and sorting out a different appie plate for us in the afternoon. He was very helpful and pleasant and attentive to all our needs. Martini Bar staff were lovely too. Thank you Alin! MDR staff were wonderful although I gave them such a bad tim*e trying to get them to stop calling me madam...had fun though. Entertainment wasn’t an attraction for us...we previewed the early show after dinner to see if it was something we wanted to see. Over a 16 night sailing I think we only took in maybe 4 shows. There were special ABBA or Queen music nights in Sky Lounge we attended instead. Ports were all good. Excursions for the most part were good. Some narratives were better than others. The Adelaide excursion we went on the commentator sort of stammered and repeated himself. The sound system on the bus wasn’t working right or he wasn’t talking loud enough but half the bus couldn’t hear him. I was quite surprised by the number of people with walking/travelling aides on this cruise. I know I am not a spring chicken but I found it frustrating trying to move freely sometimes because of the number of people with scooters etc. I understand now that the longer the cruise the more chance you have of that happening. So if you are young and want more action.....think on. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Our previous experience with Viking was the Midnight Sun. We were pleased with the quality of services and ship. We arrived 3 days early in New Zealand and stayed an extra 4 days in Sydney. Time allowed by Viking would not have done ... Read More
Our previous experience with Viking was the Midnight Sun. We were pleased with the quality of services and ship. We arrived 3 days early in New Zealand and stayed an extra 4 days in Sydney. Time allowed by Viking would not have done justice to these cities. We planned our own package with the help of our TA. We were very happy with the ports visited. Shore excursions need a little work - you almost have to book paid excursions to see what you want. Tours overlap so you must choose; you might take two if timing was better. Christchurch is still recovering from the earthquake. Many of their monuments will never be rebuilt. We appreciated seeing what they have accomplished. The tram ride and botanic gardens were very good. Even included a surprise tea in the trolley. We found all guides to be very friendly. Some were more informative than others. Tour times/departures were well organized. All were walk-off - no tenders! We especially enjoyed Napier (Art Deco-car ride) and Dunedin (Taieri Rail Trip). Our first trip to this area of the world. Would definitely consider again if it weren’t so far!! Viking should do a better job at getting detailed information to passengers BEFORE the online booking date. The online experience is tedious and requires that you print your own info. We did receive a detailed list, but too close to our departure. Tours should also include meals and snacks when offered. We had several tours that included a meal (large snack) ther we weren’t expecting. A tour that left at eleven a.m. required you to purchase a meal. Better if we know ahead what will be provided Room service was excellent. Juan Carlos deck 4 - did a great job. Moved the coffee machine to a higher cabinet as we don’t use the machine in the room. Dining room staff still seems to be learning their way. The automated ordering system seems to have some slip ups. Bar and lounge service was great. We are husband and wife traveling with 2 friends. Manfredi’s-dined there twice. Found the food to be good quality both times. Second service was a little sloppy. One in our party received his pasta as a separate course-the rest had theirs included with the main course. I think this is a problem with the way the menu appears on the ordering app. Chef’s Table-also dined there twice. Xiang and Asian Panorama. Both meals were good; wine pairings well-suited. Portions were not huge, but gave a good idea of flavors. Was a full meal. The Restaurant-we found a good selection of food. Meats were excellent. What is missing is any local seafood. Now that Viking is around the world, the need to offer seafood beyond the waters of Norway. Ship needs to fix the dinner in the second to the last night. Two shows plus the Captain’s Farwell meant that almost no one could eat in The Restaurant after the first show. World Cafe - we found a good variety of selections for each meal. Varied offerings for many cultures; you could always find something to eat. Nice to add in special grill offerings every few days - chicken schnitzel, lobster, etc. Back by the pool area. Entertainment /Activities - good variety in entertainment for us. Varied from night to night. Lectures available if you wanted and a good selection in your cabin if you missed a port talk. Sea day activities sufficient for us. There were 8-9 activities scheduled - we did expect Viking to be more in the quiet side. Embarkation/disembarkation-very smooth for us. Arrived 15 min. prior to scheduled time and were let right on. Less than 10 people waiting. Short wait in the ship-sipping champagne-and our room was ready. Luggage all delivered within 30 min. Same for leaving the ship. We were independent travelers. Had breakfast and left the ship by 8:30a.m. Taxis readily available and we were at our hotel in 20 minutes. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We have been on a Viking River cruise and really liked it. Have always had Australia/New Zealand on our list, so decided to try their ocean cruise. It was a great trip. It did not have the high budget shows, or casino or big parties, ... Read More
We have been on a Viking River cruise and really liked it. Have always had Australia/New Zealand on our list, so decided to try their ocean cruise. It was a great trip. It did not have the high budget shows, or casino or big parties, but had the level of entertainment and activities suited to what we like. They had a wonderful pianist, creative guitarist, violin/cello duo and fun singing group, all who entertained every day somewhere on the ship. We took all the included tours, which are mostly city tours, which are all considered easy, and fit our walking ability. Mostly ate on the 7th floor buffet so we could look out at the cities. Got really lucky and started in Auckland on their anniversary day which was celebrated on the pier next to the ship. Lots of music and fireworks. Learned a lot about New Zealand on the trip, which was our main objective. Watched the Super Bowl in the middle of the Tasman Sea, which was technologically cool. The one suggestion we would make to Viking would be to have scheduled seating times in the Restaurant, and assigned seating with other couples. We have done that on a number of cruises and found it a great way to get to know other people. The best part of our trip was the post cruise extension, Best of Australia, where we want out to Uluru-kata tjuta National park and Alice Springs. Had a great tour guide and lots of interesting sites to see. Learned so much about Aboriginal culture and history, as well as geology. Overall a very relaxed, enjoyable trip. We liked the smaller ship and hope to take more Viking River and Ocean cruises in the future. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Having cruised all major shipping lines over the past 30 years, I was thrilled to find Viking Orion cruising from Australia 30th December, 2018. Having heard the standard of this ship was equal to the best I had travelled on previously, ... Read More
Having cruised all major shipping lines over the past 30 years, I was thrilled to find Viking Orion cruising from Australia 30th December, 2018. Having heard the standard of this ship was equal to the best I had travelled on previously, I booked & paid top price for our accommodation onboard. By the end of the cruise, I was so disappointed with so many aspects of the cruise, I actually cancelled another booking I had for later in the next year. My biggest disappointment was that, because it was a New Years Eve cruise, a date I cruise every year, to celebrate, I couldn't believe how little was offered on the night. There was a countdown clock on the outside deck pool screen showing the time & then the wording Happy New Year displayed - & that was it. No balloons, no party hats, no whistles, no deck food etc - all the little things that go into making it a great night. The worst NYE I have ever experienced onboard a cruise ship. No flowers, fruit, chocolates on pillow in stateroom. Buffets with so little choice, it was difficult to find something worth eating. 2 ports of call were missed out due to "bad weather". I feel so sorry for people who had travelled halfway around the world to see Australia & New Zealand & ended up mainly having sea days. Why, when we couldn't get into Lyttleton (for Christchurch) didn't we go to the safe harbour of Akaroa near by - as did one of the larger Princess cruise ships on the same day. Viking, you have a great reputation with River Cruises - perhaps you should stick to them. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
This was our first Princess cruise. We chose it because we are booked for the 2019 World Cruise on Sea Princess, and this was a kind of "dry run" -- if one can have a "dry" run at sea! We are pleased we did it, as we ... Read More
This was our first Princess cruise. We chose it because we are booked for the 2019 World Cruise on Sea Princess, and this was a kind of "dry run" -- if one can have a "dry" run at sea! We are pleased we did it, as we learned a lot. We joined the Cruise Critic message board for this cruise, as well as the World one, and are so pleased that we did. At the meet and greet, it was great to fit faces to names, and have people to wave to in the corridors. We called ourselves the three C's -- Cool Christmas Cruisers -- and the three CCCs certainly fitted this ship -- though I am going to add more. It was Cool (the AC worked overtime, despite the cool weather), Clean (sparkling, in fact), and Colossal (it took us four and a half minutes to walk the corridor from our cabin the bow to the sternmost exit, which was the only way to the Allegro restaurant). It was also Confusing. By the 12th day people were still getting lost, myself being one of them. This can be blamed on a very poor interior design. The Piazza should be the heart of the ship, as the Atrium is on most ships we have sailed, but instead it is an impediment. It is also very noisy, as loud classes, such as Zumba, have to be held there, for lack of entertainment space. And the shops are not in an arcade, but scattered like an airport duty free area, making it very hard to walk through, when there is a crowd. I don't think they were doing much trade; I certainly didn't pause to browse. And then there is Culture -- lack of, that is. There is no card room, and the "library" is a set of shelves in the internet room. Bridge boards and bidding boxes were kept in the entertainment department, and put out in restaurants on sea days, for guests to use, unhosted. Games were played on the dinner tables, on top of the tablecloths. There was also a market held in a restaurant. I have strong reservations about this, which I have reported to the head Princess department in the US. Norovirus is the bane of cruise ships, and carrying publicly used material into the place where food is served is very risky indeed. There was little else of cultural interest. Two theatres, but no enrichment lectures. Each show is performed three times, two night sessions and the next in the middle of the day. I felt sorry for the entertainment department. It is a very hard ship for them. On the other hand, the internet is excellent, with an affable and helpful young man in charge of the internet cafe. Surprisingly, it was CHINESE! There must have been a big promotion in mainland China. If they were expecting a tropical cruise, they were disappointed. The Chinese from Australia and New Zealand were equally amazed, especially as everyone assumed they could not speak English, like their mainland counterparts. So that added to the fun. One night we shared a table with a lovely family. Their daughter, who lived in Melbourne, translated freely, but it was easy to "talk" as her mother had such an expressive face. I was informed that the ship was designed for the Chinese market, which explains a lot, including the interior design (very like a top Chinese restaurant in Beijing), and the double signage. The worst aspect was Cost. The cruise itself was a promotional bargain, but the accounts department is a disgrace. On disembarkation day everyone was talking about how they'd had to fix their accounts. One dear old lady with a cane said she had been charged $299 for a spa treatment! We drink only moderately -- and cut down even more when we found that two single Scotches (blend, not fancy) with water on the side cost $38. We only found this out when we checked our stateroom account, as this is the first ship we have ever experienced where there is no spirits menu, with prices, and where there is no chit presented to be signed in any of the bars. Chits are presented in the restaurants, but even though I added the price ($10 per glass on the menu) to the chit before signing, I was consistently charged $12. And, while it is cheaper to buy a bottle, to cover the next two or three dinners, the bottles seem to be very easily lost somewhere backstage. And now comes a strong warning. I used a debit card linked to my checking account, to avoid the surcharge that comes with using a credit card. The my horror, when I checked my bank account after getting home, I found that while the total on my shipboard account had been taken out on disembarkation day, throughout the cruise TEN other charges had been made, ranging from $8.62 to $130.47. None of them seemed to relate to the actual shipboard account -- the figures simply didn't match. All ten were "pending" so when I phoned my bank, I was able to freeze them. Then I phoned Princess, as the bank officer urged me to do, and was told that these were "holding" charges, and that I would be repaid after the next five working days. Well, I shall be watching my bank statements, meantime, and unfreeze the card if what I was told turns out to be true. But a checking account is an everyday one, with other charges coming in, which makes the reduced balance a problem. Worse still, if this happens during the long world cruise, this double billing is going to really snarl up the finances back home. It is a crazy policy, as it means that we will be doing as little shopping as possible, and definitely cutting down on drinks. Meantime, I will inquire further. If this double-billing does not happen with credit cards, then I will change from debit to credit, and swallow the extra cost. Unfortunately, as my husband says, it has soured our experience on Majestic Princess, and made us nervous about the next one. I am glad to have Cruise Critic to air our concerns, and strongly recommend their cruise roll calls, with their friendly and useful message boards. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Chose this cruise because it had an associated land tour after the cruise. The major issue was neither the cruise or land tour. It was what Princess did during booking. We booked a room almost one year before the cruise on deck 14 (room ... Read More
Chose this cruise because it had an associated land tour after the cruise. The major issue was neither the cruise or land tour. It was what Princess did during booking. We booked a room almost one year before the cruise on deck 14 (room 505) with a balcony on the starboard side after much research. After everything was paid and approximately 45 days before the cruise they gave our room away without our knowledge or permission. We didn't learn this until we were printing the boarding pass which showed a room on deck 9 starboard aft. We called both Princess and our travel agent requesting our original room back. Princess said this was an upgrade and refused to give it back and our agent said she would have to get permission from the new people. They didn't get our approval why theirs? Anyway after many calls and arguments they finally gave us a room on deck 14 but it was not a location we wanted. It faced the aft of the ship and the location was similar to one we had on another cruise and didn't like. We couldn't cancel for two reasons, the cancellation charges and other plans we had booked before and after this cruise. So we accepted their room offer, but they will never get another cruise out of us. Now for the ship itself. Food was mediocre at best in the buffet and the La Mer restaurant which was the only specialty restaurant we visited. The buffet started shutting down food lines around 6:30 pm each night. They also closed off 1/4 of the buffet twice during the cruise for a Crab Shack specialty night restaurant. Next one port required tenders. There wasn't enough tenders to get the 3500+ people off the ship in a timely manner. Also it took an extra hour beyond the posted return time to get the people back on the ship. A ship this large doesn't need to do ports that require tenders. During the cruise and land tour we discussed these issues with travel agents and people which have done many Princess cruises, most of them were appalled with this cruise. We have done over ten cruises with different cruise lines and this was the second worst ever. Never again! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We choose this cruise ship because of its very interesting itinerary. It stops at all ports in New Zealand and most of the Sothern/western Australia. We booked both segments, one 13 days from Auckland to Sidney and thence 16 days to Perth. ... Read More
We choose this cruise ship because of its very interesting itinerary. It stops at all ports in New Zealand and most of the Sothern/western Australia. We booked both segments, one 13 days from Auckland to Sidney and thence 16 days to Perth. But we made an error to book into a 29 days journey on a 25 years old boat, a small ocean liner by today's standard. In my mind, the age and the size by themselves is not a problem, giving HAL is known for its great service and food. Well, how wrong we are. Our ordeal started immediately upon boarding. On the surface, the ship had a cosmetic makeover and our stateroom is pretty updated and we do not have a complaint about it, even it is an inside cabin, room 744, on the lowest passenger deck, deck 4. However, the devil is in the details. My major complaint, and it is real, is that I got locked in a toilet in the Ledo Deck men's public. That bathroom is divided into two sections, the toilet and the uraine stall plus the washing sink. between them there is a sliding pocket door, that public bathroom has no emergency alarm bottom as the other public bathrooms do. HAL did not bother to install a new sliding pocket door when they renovate the ship most likely it is expensive and involves opening up the structure which may affect integrity. So, not only it will not latch, but when I got into the toilet side, the door got stuck and I could not open the door after using the toilet. I am physically a very fit person, I tried everything I could to either open the door or tried to signal my wife who was reading a book only 20 feet away out side on a lounge chair. Because the structure of the door and the bathroom, my phone could not receive any wifi signal and my bang on the wall or door was not heard. Finally, after struggled for 15 minutes, some one came in to use the bathroom and was able to call a crew member to release the door. I was saved. I did report the incident to the front desk immediately. The lady at the desk was kind enough to accompany me to the bathroom the examine the pocket door, Of course, by that time, the crew had "repair" the door so it opens and close properly. I know it will fail again, if it is not replaced or disabled. In the few days after the incident, no warning sing was posted on the door. Only after a week or 10 days after, I saw the door had been disabled by the management. Apparently, there are enough incidents in that bathroom similar to my experience. My bad experiences on this ship did not stop with the incident. Bad management shows every where in my 29 days with the cruise. Here are a few major ones that I can echo most of the problems from the people I have talked to and my own obersercation. 1. The quality of the cooking. Please note that I am NOT complaining about the food ingrediances, but the cooking. With few exceptions, the food are very well overcooked. That includes, almost all the fish, sea food, vegitable and meat. My wife incidentally met the chef and compalint about the over cooked fish, so it did improve after 10 days of hard "rock fish" meals.She failed to mention that "rubber band" asperigus knife cannot cut through, so we stopped to order any thing that has asperigus in it. You get the same thing over and over every day in Ledo buffet, the main dining room has more veriety, but because of the cooking, most of the time, it is not a very enjoyable dining. I've heard rave reviews for the hamburger joint next to the pool, but we are not a fan in hambergers and those high salt conent greesy french fries. 2. Lack of entertainment. From MANY four-five HAL stars(over 200 days on HAL) curisers including the lady at the future cruise desk who represented HAL told me that this cruise had cut back entertainment and replaced it with EXC or enrichment talks. It was such a boring ship, there is no music on the ship during the day, lots lots of "talks" or EXC presentations and movies. Its like a dead ship. After 6pm, some "entertainment" is provided, but everything is like from the stone ages. Music is from the 70's or older, good singers on stage are few and far in between, "Avita" was provided three times. Piano bar is handled by only the same person for the entire 29 days from 8-close, he is over worked and ran out of voice. The lone comedian gave the same "jokes" night after night, even after "new material" was announced one night. However, people flock into the theater 1/2 hour before the show starts because there is nothing eles to do on the ship. The Library has the most crowd because it has the most game and book to kill time. 3. Over priced excursions. You can find the same excursion from other providers at half or third of whats offered. I am so sorry that we did not know that the members of the cruise critic have organized excursions on this ship, but you live and learn. All in all, I will not join HAL again given the knowledge that HAL and Carnival, its parent company, had severly cutting corners in recent years. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
We cannot travel far from home at the moment due to family commitments so the 12 day around NZ was ideal. The boarding in Auckland was the easiest I have ever done and basically we just walked onboard with a few ID checks and the key card ... Read More
We cannot travel far from home at the moment due to family commitments so the 12 day around NZ was ideal. The boarding in Auckland was the easiest I have ever done and basically we just walked onboard with a few ID checks and the key card issuance. The ship was not full, about 900 passengers when she will take 1200, so there was a real feeling of space. We stayed in the Neptune 043 suite and loved it - heaps of room, a balcony to die for and nicely appointed throughout. This also gave us access to the Neptune Lounge, which I initially doubted we would use much, but as it turned out we became addicted to our quiet time in there with a decent cup of coffee and some nice snacks. It also came in handy when work intruded on the holiday and I needed something printed out and then scanned - this was the easiest I have ever managed to do this at sea. The food was of good standard - although a bit cold at times in the LIdo, service was faultless throughout and the activities were all well organised. The only criticism is that they seemed to be 'short' an act or two; there was no main production troupe so no dance shows and a couple of the entertainers they had were asked to do two or more shows, and quite frankly their material was not strong enough for this. Despite this, we felt entertained (mostly) and there was a really happy, friendly feel to the cruise, all the passengers were smiling and always ready for a chat over food, and the trivia teams were always happy to let others join in when they didn't have a full quota. Jonathon, the cruise director did an excellent job running these and just about any other entertainment. John in the piano bar was fabulous and the stools around his piano were always filled with people who had drunk enough to think they could sing (including us). Great fun there at night. We missed one port (Norfolk Island) due to rough weather and questions were asked as to whether ships should even go there as the success rate is not good apparently, but the captain circumnavigated it and took us off to see another island (no landing), and the tour charges were quickly refunded in full with no fuss. I would travel again on the Maasdam, she is probably not the newest ship out there but we enjoyed the layout and found everything we wanted. The shopping was a bit limited compared to others - not everyone wants high end jewellery, but this is minor and probably saved us some money. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
It was a wonderful cruise, we visited some remote islands which we found very interesting, the lectures were informative relating to the region. The food at all of the restaurants was very good with a good variety, the wines were of ... Read More
It was a wonderful cruise, we visited some remote islands which we found very interesting, the lectures were informative relating to the region. The food at all of the restaurants was very good with a good variety, the wines were of excellent quality and we particularly like the caviar service which was available 24/7! The premium restaurant was very good, no cover charge, was an added bonus, however you must book this venue. Our cabin was in a very good location for us. It was spacious and well appointed, with walk in robe, the bathroom was a good size with a full size bath and glass door type shower (no shower curtain!). The ship and crew were excellent at all times, no hard sell of tours, for that matter did not push any agenda, and were most helpful if you wanted to do your own thing. Nothing was too much trouble. Can’t wait to get back on Seabourn! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Everything on board was what we expected and more Ship was amazing no trouble finding our way around Cabin was excellent as was our cabin steward Dinning room and staff were great Overall everything was beyond what was ... Read More
Everything on board was what we expected and more Ship was amazing no trouble finding our way around Cabin was excellent as was our cabin steward Dinning room and staff were great Overall everything was beyond what was expected As we try to cruise at least once a year we highly recommend Princess The captain and his crew were very helpful and kept us up to date with the running of the ship.The Buffet area very clean and staff were helpful and friendly .We dinned at the Harmony dinning area and found that to be good although food couldbeen a little warmer.We found the outside eating area was well serviced and food was good We discovered the Hollywood relaxation area on deck seventeen and it lived up to its nameand again we found the service there excellent All around the ship the entertainment and activities were also good Ports and excursions were good and run well Looking forward to our next cruise with Princess Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise as it provided something different from Asia and the South Pacific. The ports of call were all excellent and recommended. Our wait staff in the dining room were a great combination and made the cruise for us. On ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it provided something different from Asia and the South Pacific. The ports of call were all excellent and recommended. Our wait staff in the dining room were a great combination and made the cruise for us. On the downside we found that the drink prices (particularly spirits) were grossly inflated for this cruise when compared to other Princes cruises that we have been on. By example, so if you like a shot of Bundaberg rum and a can of Coke , it will set you back AUD $17.25 ( almost enough to warrant a royal commission). It was alo very disappointing to find out that the "Happy Hour" is no longer available. This was a big let down as it provided a great opportunity to interact with other guests on a daily basis. They also need to look at the minimum bet on the roulette as $10 is unrealistic as was evidenced by the empty table most of the time. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We started in Auckland, NZ and ended in Sydney. There were three stops in Australia and we wanted to see as much as we could. This is a wonderful trip but do not wait until you are too old ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary. We started in Auckland, NZ and ended in Sydney. There were three stops in Australia and we wanted to see as much as we could. This is a wonderful trip but do not wait until you are too old to do things because the tours can be pretty walking intensive. Scenery in these countries is wonderful. Auckland is worth an extra day. There are many beautiful beaches, parks and gardens to visit. A trip up the Sky Tower is also fun. Tauranga is the second port and a chance to see the native Maori tribal village. Also there are the thermal wonders and geysers. Wellington is easy to get around and do by yourself. Go up in the Cable car and walk down in through the botanical gardens. Also the Te Papa museum is worth a look. Great exhibits. Shopping is good here also. We went from Akoroa to Christchurch to see the area and the Cardboard Cathedral. At Dunedin there is a half day train trip to see the gorge which is great. Again the countryside is beautiful here. Then the ship travels through the Fiordland National Park and we had a sunny clear day and it was really a highlight of the trip. In Hobart, Tasmania we elected to go to Mount Fields Park for a walking tour of Russell Falls and the tall trees. If you love animals, go to Bonorong Wildlife Preserve to actually be close to the animals,..wombat, kangaroo, tasmanian devil, cockatoo bird, kookabura, and koala. In Melbourne there is plenty to do. You can go to the wineries or just visit the town or head up the Ocean Road for spectacular scenery. Sydney is also work and extra day as you will see lots of history if you go on a walking tour. Get out and meet the locals these countries are full of lovely friendly people. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I didn't pick this cruise; I was dragged into it. I suppose cruises are ok if you don't mind all the people and waiting for stuff. This ship is showing its age (chipped finishes, torn carpets, etc.). We had a balcony cabin; my RV ... Read More
I didn't pick this cruise; I was dragged into it. I suppose cruises are ok if you don't mind all the people and waiting for stuff. This ship is showing its age (chipped finishes, torn carpets, etc.). We had a balcony cabin; my RV has more space, including the kitchen. It was hard to figure out what to go do, as they didn't post the day's activities until the morning of; we missed a couple of things because they weren't posted (found out about them later from other folks). Went to a couple of "Production" shows; they were ok, but geared to really old folks (we're 70). All the crew is very polite, but really clueless as to what's going on outside of their area; we couldn't find anyone to tell us about the activities on board. Instructions for the shore excursions were very minimal - you better show up at the designated spot and get in line; very few details about the excursions themselves. I guess the best part was the food; very well done and presented, sit down service was excellent, although a little slow at times (I suppose that's the point). They did have a fitness center, but no trainers. The pools were closed most of the time, and cold when they were open. This did it for me, I'm never going on a cruise again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
The cruise from Auckland to Sydney was a piggy back on the tail end of the Sea Princess around the world cruise. So for us it was a alternate way of travelling back to OZ after a couple of weeks in Nth Island of NZ. Boarded at the main ... Read More
The cruise from Auckland to Sydney was a piggy back on the tail end of the Sea Princess around the world cruise. So for us it was a alternate way of travelling back to OZ after a couple of weeks in Nth Island of NZ. Boarded at the main Auckland harbour and able to get on earlier than scheduled with only a fairly short wait. No fuss and pretty straight forward baggage drop off and processing as only a couple of hundred guest embarking at this port. Spent 4 nights crossing the ditch to Sydney at a leasurily pace with a little bit of bump at one point but hardly noticeable. So uneventful trip over. We really liked the ship's layout and decor, the boat is probably an older generation but we found the condition whilst not Premium Luxury was at a very good standard. we also found the size/capacity to be about right for our tastes - not too large (as the trend) but also not to small. As Goldilocks would have said "just right". Generally, throughout the ship we found the service by all staff to be excellent and no complaints. The captain did make a regular 12 midday announcement which was a nice touch and informative. The bulk of guests on the ship had completed 102 days of their around the world cruise almost entirely Aus/NZ mix. Most were getting off at Sydney or Brisbane and from chatting with a few of them - I think the cruise was well received and enjoyed. A few had enough but some didn't want to get off the boat. We found the dinning experience on board at the main dining rooms was very good and substantially better than on the Norwegian Jewel (christmas cruise) or Carnival Spirit. We travelled on the Ruby Princess to Alaska and found the dining on that ship was slightly better the the Sea Princess but still a nice experience. The Whisky Bar was a nice touch and we availed ourselves of the opportunity to try a few different offerings. The entertainment on board - from our view seemed to be selected to cater for the passenger demographics - and we managed to enjoy a couple of the shows that were well patronised. We did find a bit of an issue trying to locate a good seat around the boat to relax/read - I think this was due to the less than inviting weather (cooler/cold) that discouraged use of the main outdoor decks/pools etc. But this was not a big issue. Overall we had a lovely relaxing few days on board the Sea Princess and very happy with the service and comfort provided. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
We sailed from Auckland to Southampton to get away for the winter and visit place we had never been. The ship had been recently refitted and was in a very good condition must better than I had expected which is always very nice. Although ... Read More
We sailed from Auckland to Southampton to get away for the winter and visit place we had never been. The ship had been recently refitted and was in a very good condition must better than I had expected which is always very nice. Although the cabin are small it was OK, we started off with a Queen size bed but after a couple of days we had then change the configuration to twin beds which gave us more room. The cabin was in a very good condition and met our needs, With Princess the Dining in the dining rooms is always very good, very pleasant dining room, good food and very helpful waiters. The entertainment was a mixed bay some shows were excellent and other not so especially the comics's, overall it was good and getting top acts each night on a world cruise I expect could be difficult. The on-board enrichment lectures were very good as were the daily activities, we took part in art classes, the pop choir, Zumba, Trivia and the daily bible studies. We could not fault the service we were well looked after. We went on quite a few shore excursions and found them to be very good, going on the ships excursions are quite expensive but worry free. The Middle East in the Northern Summer was very hot up to the mid 40's and Europe was also quite hot. I'm not surprised the World Cruise is booked up early, mainly it seems with people who have done I a few times, because it was excellent. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was a reasonably priced cruise recommended by a friend and our first cruise. We loved it and the staff were extremely courteous, helpful and friendly and couldn't do enough for us. Our disappointment was the fridge in our cabin ... Read More
This was a reasonably priced cruise recommended by a friend and our first cruise. We loved it and the staff were extremely courteous, helpful and friendly and couldn't do enough for us. Our disappointment was the fridge in our cabin was not working and could not be repaired and so we had no way of keeping our water cool as the ice bucket provided did not take the size of the water bottles. We received a mere $30 room credit for the inconvenience but we felt this was a bit poor as we couldn't even take any food back to our cabin that needed to be kept chilled. We would certainly do another cruise as it was so relaxing being waited on etc. We were very disappointed with the Waterfront Restaurant meals apart from the breakfast and it was only talking to other passengers who made us aware that you could order extras eg. fried tomatoes, extra bacon, marmalade or jam etc otherwise we wouldn't have known this. Would like to make special mention of the waiting staff at Shell and Bones, particularly Bruno, the Maitre'D, the lovely thin Indian waiter wearing a cap, and the dear Indian waitress (Judy?) who were very special and so welcoming and entertaining. You made our trip very special. We look forward to doing our next cruise sometime in the near future. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2018
I took 18 elderly(70 up to 98) folk on the 4 day cruise as a real treat from our club. We choose the one that just went to sea as a lot had no passports and most importantly once on board it was safer than going to ports as 4 were on ... Read More
I took 18 elderly(70 up to 98) folk on the 4 day cruise as a real treat from our club. We choose the one that just went to sea as a lot had no passports and most importantly once on board it was safer than going to ports as 4 were on walkers. I found the staff were so helpful and pleasant BUT the ship was terrible. 1.No toilets on reception floor 5 th deck. 2.Shampoo ect in cabin were in big containers and some folk could not handle using them. 3.The food in the Waterfront restaurant was not pleasant mostly pasta last night I purchased a nice steak for dinner out of desparation. The selection (3) of food on the menu I felt was poor. 4.The plantation room food set up was terrible it was risky for the elderly as it is set up like a food stall area and you have to move from one to another to see selection and then stand in line to be served with children running around and folk dropping food fighting for this and that it is the worst I have ever seen. They only had one area to get it from. All other ships I have been on have had 2 smorgesboard areas to get your food from. By the time you got your food it was cold but the time you got back. I saw not trays either to carry your lunch back on and one place for utentsils. 5. There was no fresh fruit ie apples ,bananas .watermelon ect ect at all on board. I got the feeling this is a training ship as it was shabby rust appearing in places the showers ect. Though it was a great experiance for the folk that went I advise elderly to check the ships out before they go on and the Jewel give it a wide berth. P.S. Entertainment was wonderfull until the last night when a comedian it was the most disgusting performance of filth I have had to endure on any cruise I have been on the the ladies did not like it one bit the F & C words plus all the others and many groups of folk got up and left which he ridiculed it was the most discusting show I have ever had to sit through. God knows what the comedy cruise is like and glad we weren't on it. Read Less

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