5 Viking Ocean Viking Sea Cruise Reviews for Repositioning Cruises to Baltic Sea from Barcelona

The old saying "you get what you pay for" does not apply to Viking. We paid for a high-end, upscale cruise and got a 3 star experience. At the price point paid I expect to get personalised service as has been experienced on other ... Read More
The old saying "you get what you pay for" does not apply to Viking. We paid for a high-end, upscale cruise and got a 3 star experience. At the price point paid I expect to get personalised service as has been experienced on other ships at this price point. It is the little things that make a big difference and Viking seem to be missing this point compared to similar cruise lines. If I had paid less I would have had lower expectations and possibly been satisfied with the service provided. On the plus side, the ship was clean and spacious with plenty of areas for you to sit and relax. Decorated in Scandinavian style with lots of light timbers and shades of blues and taupes. The no kids, no casinos is a winning combination for me. The crew were genuinely very nice people who worked hard to provide us with a great service. Disappointed the cabin steward did not get to know my preferred name in 3 weeks yet many of the restaurant staff did. This is one of the little things that make a difference. Embarkation was quick but we were not welcomed to the ship. After travelling for 37 hours I thought a welcome drink and being shown to my cabin might have been in order! Disembarkation went smoothly but I felt like they could not wait to get rid of us. I know they have a quick turnaround for the next cruise but this is the last impression you are left with and if it is not positive then you have failed your passengers. Cabin - comments are below. Restaurants - Breakfast we either had room service or ate in the World Cafe. Both were fine and service was good. Lunch was mostly taken in the World Cafe which provided a buffet style venue and once at the Pool Bar which provided burgers and hot dogs. We found enough variety in the food offered over the 3 weeks and if you didn't like/could not eat the days menu then there was the choice to have a chicken breast or prawns grilled in a minute. We dined in the restaurants of an evening. Main restaurant you could opt to dine in parties of 2,4 or 6 which was a great way to meet other passengers. Menu was varied each evening with a destination inspired menu offered as well but there was little variety offered if you could not eat what was on the given menu. My main concern was the lack of detail for someone with a life threatening allergy. This was reported prior to boarding the ship yet every day I had to check and recheck what I was being given. As is usual practice on a ship, I was asked to complete a menu 24 hours in advance but there was no evidence that this was checked by anyone with knowledge of allergies. There were several times where I was served my allergen and when I quizzed the staff they advised it was OK for me to eat. Fortunately my fellow passengers would alert me to the ingredients so I was able to narrowly avoid the use of an Epipen. This is not how I wish to spend my holiday continually wondering if I am going to stop breathing. On other cruise lines I found that my menu was checked by the executive chef who would then organise for me to have a special version of regular meals including desserts, and I felt confident with the staff knowledge. Wines were offered with both lunch and dinner. Wine was free flowing and different wines were offered each day - One red and one white - from different regions. We went to Manfredi's (specialty Italian restaurant) on several nights and had very good service (hence why we returned). There was a variety of Italian dishes to try and the staff were knowledgeable about the dishes. I would make a particular note of Lorraine who was an absolute delight. She was friendly, knowledgeable and ensured that her guests had a positive evening by popping back to the tables to check everything was in order. She would also step up and explain dishes to guests when the head waiter was busy and she could others were ready to order dessert. This level of initiative needs to be acknowledged and rewarded. The Chef's Table (specialty set course tasting menu) was a huge disappointment. I was expecting silver service and a great culinary experience but it was way short of that. We were booked into dinner for 8pm (the ship chose this time) and had not been served our final course when the staff started to clean the restaurant around us including sweeping the floor. This was totally unacceptable and we were left feeling like we had to rush our final course and get out of the restaurant. We certainly did not experience "your expert hosts will enlighten every sip and forkful with fascinating commentary as you experience a thrilling synergy of aromas and flavors" as advertised. Entertainment was average. Some shows were good and they did provide variety each evening. The pianist and the trio were good in the Atrium in the early evening and the Viking band did a fantastic job in Torshavn each evening. The Cruise Director (Drew) did not interact with passengers as I would expect from previous experiences on other cruise lines. Enrichment lectures were most interesting. We had a great variety of guest lecturers on a broad range of topics and this is Viking's strong point. Meet and Mingle - great idea and one that Viking do really well most of the time. Again it is the little things that are missing. We were invited to 3 meet and mingles - 2 for cruise critic (11th and 25th April) and 1 for Australian and NZ passengers (22nd April). Now this is where the organisers could have liaised a lot better. The Aus/NZ night was held to commemorate ANZAC Day (which is 25 April). WHY oh WHY did they not liaise with both groups so that the commemoration was done on the correct day??? Such a missed opportunity which could have been so easily fixed with a bit of thought and negotiation. Included Tours - very superficial and did not cover the major sites. For example, in Helsinki we were not even told about Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Rock Church) even though it is regarded as a main attraction. The provided tours and maps did not encourage passengers to independently explore the ports of call. Viking could learn a lot from other cruise lines in this price bracket. In St Petersburg we opted to take a private tour with TJ Travel and I am so pleased we did - this company provided a comprehensive tour for less than half what Viking were charging. This is the only ship I have been on where the officers do not greet passengers when they pass them in the hallways. All in all a very disappointing time. I think I will sail with the smaller boutique lines again as they do provide value for money unlike Viking. In this price bracket I am unlikely to use Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We loved the two river cruises we took with Vikilng, and were looking forward to this ocean cruise. And mostly it fulfilled our expectations. But there were a few problems that should not happen on any cruise, much less one with a ... Read More
We loved the two river cruises we took with Vikilng, and were looking forward to this ocean cruise. And mostly it fulfilled our expectations. But there were a few problems that should not happen on any cruise, much less one with a reputation as stellar as Viking. The good was very good. Cabins are excellent, great bathrooms (especially the heated floors, which feel good for feet and helps hand washing to dry quickly), nice sized balconies with comfortable chairs. Beds are great, pillows fascinating - soft, yet can be squished into all kinds of wonderful shapes. Lots of plugs, both USB, American, and European - didn't need our power strip that we always travel with. Beware, the outlet in the bathroom is American, but does not accept polarized plugs (my waterpik wouldn't work). The TV is the only real drawback in the room - the menus are a bit confusing (especially finding the bridge cam and reruns of ship talks). And it doesn't swivel, so all but impossible to see from the desk area. Small fridge, with some snacks and drinks included, and may be replenished depending on the type of room. Public spaces are gorgeous, with plenty of seating for all, some in noisy areas, and a few quiet areas (on deck and in Wintergarden) for those who don't enjoy a lot of background noise. Public bathrooms are plentiful and beautifully clean, there is a walking jogging deck on 2, and a walking area on the top of the ship on the sports deck.There is a free laundry on each floor, which we used once - after a gentleman took out my laundry to wash his pair of pants, I went back to doing laundry in the sink. Watching your laundry during a cruise is not my idea of a vacation. There is a reasonable laundry and dry cleaning service you can also use on board. Our major problems were in the food areas. Food was generally OK, not great. Pastas were great, as were much of the meat. Desserts were generally pretty and tiny, but little flavor. Same breads every day, all ok, but not much flavor. It would have been nice to have a bread of the day. Soups were generally poor, which was a huge disappointment after loving all the soups on the river cruises. Ice cream and smoothies were a big hit. Mamsen's in the Explorer's Lounge was great, but needs a better pick up system on crowded days. The special Norwegian waffles take a few minutes to make, and someone who didn't know the system grabbed ours one day. They have great pastries up there too, much better than any of the other restaurants. Afternoons/evenings bring great open faced sandwiches and cakes. Chef's Table, horrible service, very fancy food and tiny portions. Pool Grill - do not miss the great hamburgers, hot dogs and steak sandwiches. Best on the ship, along with the French fries and coleslaw. Manfredi's is very good. Florentine steak I had was small and too much fat, but the rest was very good. Pasta was fabulous, and they had better breads than elsewhere on the ship. Loved afternoon tea in the Wintergarden. Best desserts on the ship. Scones are fabulous, and a big selection of teas, even for non-tea drinkiers. Loved the Aquavit Terrace, great place to eat from the food court on nice days. World Cafe (food court) food mostly good enough, has everything that is in Restaurant. Flow patterns are problematical, all directions, and you need to wait for soups, pastas, and special orders, which clogs up the traffic flow at busy times. Drink service at all locations was not good for much of the trip, especially in the World Cafe. It's not easy to get your own drinks, and I often finished a meal with no one stopping by. We complained, and it got a bit better by the end of the trip. Everyone seemed to be working hard, so I don't know if the problem was not enough staff on duty, poor assignment of duties, not understanding American expectations of service, or just poor management in general. Staff throughout the ship were friendly and helpful, especially the cabin stewards. Odd timing of some programs, not bad if you eat dinner early, but late diners will miss out. Theater was excellent with good acoustics - could have been a bit bigger. Movies by the pool had terrible sound and poor popcorn. Lecturers were a real mixed bag. A couple were great, a couple so-so, and one was terrible. Generally don't seem to have had much oversight. Slides overfull with data, disorganized. Entertainment was average at best, a bit embarrassing at other times. Cruise director not particularly good, shore excursions guy very wordy and hard to understand. The ports and even distribution of sea days is what attracted us to this cruise. We missed stops in Guernsey and Copenhagen, which was disappointing, but everything else went well, and we saw so many places we've never been. Gorgeous weather almost everywhere (unheard of for April). Shore excursions are primarily bus or walking tours, usually 2-3 hours, giving you the highlilghts, and none too strenuous for so-so walkers. All included some shopping/free time. Warning, this is a very homogenous clientele. Almost all white Americans, 60-75 years old, with a few Australians, British, and Canadians mixed in. Most are from smaller cities and suburban areas. Table talk is often about previous Viking cruises and grandchildren. Much fitter group than what we've encountered on larger ships - no motorized wheelchairs, and many were devoted to extensive regimes on the walking deck. All in all, I would go on a Viking cruise again, but would not rank them higher than our past experiences on Norwegian, Princess, and Celebrity. I would continue to pick based on price, ports, and timing. I don't think I'm the normal Viking customer who seems to have a blind loyalty to all things Viking. It's easy enough for me to bypass the photo ops, casinos, and other annoyances on big ships Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Needless to say, we love Viking. We have taken seven River cruises and this is our first ocean cruise. The ship was fantastic with a 2 to 1 ratio of crew two passengers. The food was great with a large variety to choose from. No suits ... Read More
Needless to say, we love Viking. We have taken seven River cruises and this is our first ocean cruise. The ship was fantastic with a 2 to 1 ratio of crew two passengers. The food was great with a large variety to choose from. No suits required! Even offered free room service without additional charges. The included shore excursions were a brief overview and we would often ditch the your and strike out on our own. If the boat was Park more than 15 minutes away from the city, they would offer a free shuttle service from the boat to the center of the city. We found that we often had to take the paid shore excursions in order to see the top sites in the city. In St. Petersburg, we found Alla Tours that were about half the price of the Viking tours and were very convenient and our guide Alex was very knowledgeable. They provide the Russian visa needed to tour the city and I would highly recommend them. Due to weather, we were not able to visit the Gunersy or Copenhagen but that’s the risk you take on any sea cruise. On board the ship, they offer incentives to book additional cruises and in fact we booked two new ones. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Wife and I have been cruising over 25 years. These days we prefer suites on longer cruises so we upgraded to the Explorer Suite. Well worth the money. Great room and largest balcony we’ve ever had. Viking Sea is only two years old so ... Read More
Wife and I have been cruising over 25 years. These days we prefer suites on longer cruises so we upgraded to the Explorer Suite. Well worth the money. Great room and largest balcony we’ve ever had. Viking Sea is only two years old so we were definitely spoiled. Ship is in great shape and many things on board are fascinating like the shower in the suite. It’s walk-in with no ledge. Great drainage via great design. Heated towel racks etc. were all as one would expect in the top-rated suites. Room came with lots of extras and as the brochures say, all is included. Room service was great for early breakfast when shore excursions were leaving early. Service was impeccable. Food was great. Entertainment was so-so. The night club was fun. The house band playing in the night club was probably the best musicians on the trip. Had a great couple singing just about anything you could name and they hit it out of the park. Bar tenders do the flippy thing with bottles which is fun to watch as well. Pools, gym, etc. was all new and great. This trip was Barcelona and Beyond, a three-week cruise I understand they will no longer offer. Itinerary hit the Baltic region where we’ve never been. I’ll be brief and say this was the best cruise we’ve ever been on in over 25 years, but there are a few things that surprised us. 1. Shore excursions: The literature says shore excursions are included. Wrong. One shore excursion is included at no additional charge at each stop, but that excursion usually consists of a 3-hour bus ride with the tour guide talking about a site as you drive by. These are also what you get if you take the transfers onto the ship and off. They use the 3 hours to kill while the ship gets ready for boarding or the hotel is ready for check-in. I’d probably take a taxi in the future. Plan on paying for excursions the old-fashioned way if booking through the cruise. You can book your own through somebody like Viator.com but if they don’t get you back in time you’re screwed and the boat leaves without you. One thing about Viking, they stick to a schedule as far as departures. 2. Tips: The literature states a daily rate is charged per person that goes to handle all tips. Not really. At the end of the cruise we wanted to help out the crew and give more money by charging it to our room account and directing that to be split between members of the crew. After I already made the payment, I was talking to members of the crew. Each individual told me the same story. They get the same amount in their checks regardless of how full the ship is with guests. They never see any variance in the amount which strikes me as unusual since I’m sure other guests probably had the same idea of adding more to the account. So, if you want to add to the base amount go old-school and get envelopes from the passenger service desk and stuff your cash in them for tips at the end for those you believe deserve the additional amounts. 3. Hotels for before and after: Viking did an excellent job picking hotels. At least 4 stars for each. 4. Before and after excursions: You’re on your own for these. Viking only books those that occur during the cruise. At least they did on this one. We arranged our own. 5. Web site: Very useful. Fill out all the information for express check-in in the My Journey site. Site also had good info and videos of stops etc. Study it well in advance of your departure. 6. Travel insurance: Viking offers insurance that is good for the trip, but could use more for medical. You might want to augment this coverage with a medical that offers additional coverage. For instance, in states I had to be airlifted after an accident which cost over $40,000. In Europe and other parts of the globe, should the unthinkable happen, anything that flies costs 4 or 5 times that, plus the additional cost to repatriate back to the states. Just something to think about Summary ….. it will spoil you taking other cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We select cruises based on itinerary and pacing, ship size and cruise line reputation. Viking Ocean did not disappoint! A big selling point for us was that the "Barcelona, Baltic and Beyond" cruise allowed us to stay overnight ... Read More
We select cruises based on itinerary and pacing, ship size and cruise line reputation. Viking Ocean did not disappoint! A big selling point for us was that the "Barcelona, Baltic and Beyond" cruise allowed us to stay overnight in several ports; Barcelona, Amsterdam, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.The Viking Sea provided a lovely atmosphere and exceptionally attentive service during this 21 day cruise. Dining offerings were varied and wonderful, with Manfredi's being our favorite and The Restaurant a close second. The World Cafe was fine for breakfast and lunch but service was a bit disorganized and the ventilation could be improved. We loved, loved Mamsen's! Wonderful waffles and pastries. The Wintergarden for tea and scones was a highlight for midday snacking. The best spot on the ship to enjoy the views and libations is The Explorer Lounge. It even has a fireplace! We took advantage of several of the included excursions and we're very pleased with them. We also purchased several excursions; very fine as well. On sea days we took advantage of the gym (our choices; rowing machine, weights and elliptical). This was a wonderful cruise and I look forward to our next adventure with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
Viking Sea Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.8
Dining 5.0 4.6
Entertainment 3.5 4.2
Public Rooms 5.0 4.9
Fitness Recreation 4.5 4.4
Family 1.0 4.4
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.2
Enrichment 4.0 4.4
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 5.0 4.4

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