Viking Sky – Bergen to Montreal – September 9-23, 2017
Why this cruise? There were two major reasons for selecting this cruise. First, we wanted to experience this new class of ships which had received such stellar reviews. Then ... Read More
Viking Sky – Bergen to Montreal – September 9-23, 2017
Why this cruise? There were two major reasons for selecting this cruise. First, we wanted to experience this new class of ships which had received such stellar reviews. Then there was the itinerary, especially Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, where we had never been and which I especially wanted to visit.
Unfortunately the stop in Lerwick was canceled due to bad weather, so we had a failure on one aspect. With respect to the rest of our cruise and the ship itself we can report a goodly number of high marks, coupled with some minor, but annoying lapses on the part of Viking.
The Ship. By any standard, Viking Sky is a beautiful ship. At 48,000 gross tons, with 8 full decks and a length of 745 feet, it is perfectly balanced, sleek and looking like what an ocean cruiser should be – a ship and not a hotel in the water. With only 930 passengers, the space ratio is 51.6 – very high and distinctly at the luxury level. The furniture and furnishings are eclectic Scandinavian, running to mostly light woods, with a few pleasantly contrasting dark brown pieces, and a variety of surfaces. One could move about easily, with no sense of crowding during the day, and with many seating areas. The overall concept is “light and bright”. It was interesting to note that there is no hotel style “front desk” for guest services. Instead there is a pleasant area off the atrium on Deck 1, with three office desks with facing arm chairs, and two to three guest service people at these desks. Similarly, the excursion booking center had two desks, also off the same atrium area. The complete absence of a casino was appreciated by one and all, I believe. The atrium is marked by a wide staircase leading up to Deck 2, and above the landing a huge “screen”, about 20 feet high by 15 feet across was used for an extraordinary variety of showings, from scenic photos to blow-ups of works by the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.
The Explorer’s Lounge on Decks 7 and 8 has two levels facing forward, although the upper level is smaller and without a bar. The Wintergarden room, just forward of the main pool on Deck 7, is delightful, with a glass ceiling providing nice light. It was used every day for tea, accompanied by music provided on a rotating basis by the classical trio, the pianist and the guitarist. The pool itself was covered during most of this cruise, only being opened on the last two days when warm weather made it suitable. It still did not get much use. The “Infinity” pool aft of the buffet on the Aquavit Terrace was never used, and the terrace itself was rarely used on this chilly cruise. Deck 1 also provided the site for many daily musical recitals by the trio, the pianist and the guitarist.
Our cabin. Our cabin was number 6069, labeled as a “Deluxe Verandah”; and was the most common cabin on board. At 270 square feet, including the verandah, it was a reasonable size, and while attractive, did have some design issues. Our principal complaint was the lack of drawer space. The “desk” with a lift up vanity mirror was not much use, and the refrigerator was also useless for us. There were two armchairs and a small table, but the set-up would not have worked out well for in room dining. The closet was next to the bed, which made for some inconvenience when dressing. The bathroom was spacious with plenty of room, but the shower head kept swiveling to one side, despite requests to fix it. We did appreciate the fact that the bathroom floor was heated, and that the mirrors did not fog up. The lighting system was very good, with nice reading lamps over the bed. There was a large TV-Information screen opposite the bed which provided a good deal of data about the ship location, weather, one’s booked excursions and specialty dining reservations, port talks, reprises of the enrichment lectures, movies, TV shows, one’s shipboard account and live television. This last was somewhat erratic, since it was dependent on the ship’s location, and many of the stations were in the UK. While the “map” of the ship’s location was very sketchy, the rest of the information was useful and entertaining.
There was one area which was confusing and not helpful. The telephone did not connect with the Guest Services front desk. Using the “Guest Services” button brought up a menu which was not helpful, focusing on services we did not need. Using the “Housekeeping” button often resulted in an unanswered ringing.
Dining Food is always a center of any cruise, both as to cuisine and the dining environment. In both these respects, Viking Sky scores very well. The décor, table settings, space and atmosphere of the main dining room, and the two specialty restaurants, Chef’s Table and Manfredi’s were all one could expect. The World Café buffet was also quite nice, but, as is not uncommon on all cruise ships, was crowded on occasion. Mamsen’s is a small purveyor of Norwegian specialties near the Explorer’s Lounge, and also was a very attractive venue. There is also a small pool grill with buffet offerings.
The quality of the food was generally quite high, with some lapses. For example, when we opted to eat dinner at the buffet one night, the veal roast I tried was not only tough, but cold. In fact, the purported “hot dishes” often were merely tepid. And on prior cruises we had become used to more than one soup offering in the buffet for lunch. The breakfast selections were all one could ask for as to selection and taste. As is the case on every cruise ship, the machine for toasting bread, English muffins and bagels was slow, and required two efforts to produce real toasting. Every cruise ship seems to use the same less than efficient toasting machines. Oh well!
The service in all aspects was quite good and friendly. Viking uses a unique system in its dining rooms. The waiters use small cell phones to send the orders to the kitchen, apparently in order to speed things up so that they do not have to go back and forth as much. It does seem to move things along, which we appreciated.
Overall we would rate the total food experience at 93-94 out of 100, a tad below both Crystal and Oceania Marina.
The Crew Overall the crew experience was very good, friendly and reasonably efficient. The Cruise Director, Aaron was very pleasant and usually informative as to events and happenings. He also has a very professional singing voice, having appeared on the Broadway musical stage.
The sailing experience and excursions left something to be desired. While the weather was not under anyone’s control, we felt that the management of the sailing time, which resulted in several port delays, left a lot to be desired. We were told that Canadian authorities insisted on slower sailing time in the St. Lawrence estuary due to whales, but we think Viking should have been aware of that and compensated accordingly. There also was considerable confusion concerning some of the excursion debarkation procedures.
The entertainment By and large, this was quite good. The six singers and two dancers did a nice job. The classical trio, consisting of a cello, flute and violin played very well, and the piano and guitar soloists also were good. There were five “enrichment” lecturers, all of whom had some excellent presentations. There was a comedian who we did not see.
The excursions. We lost two excursions due to bad weather. The first was a private trip with two other couples on the Shetland Islands, and the other a ship’s short tour on Nanortalik, Greenland. The ship’s tour on the Faroe Islands was quite good, but the short stay in Qaqortoq was pretty much a bust. At L’Anse aux Meadows we opted for a whale watching trip that was somewhat cold, but did give us good views of the whales. At Saguenay we again chose a special inland tour which was quite good; but delayed. So we were late for the included excursion. This was a live stage show, which was late in getting started and did not end until after 7:00 P.M. It was pretty bad. We returned to the ship in time for dinner at Manfredi’s. In Quebec we both did an included short morning tour around town. I then did an afternoon tour of a Huron Indian Village and follow up tour of Quebec, both of which were nice.
Conclusion. This was a largely excellent cruise, on a beautiful small ship, with quite decent accommodations, fine food, very good entertainment and enrichment lectures, and an overall fine cruising experience. The weather could have been better, but that was not Viking’s fault. Overall we would definitely recommend the Viking Star series of ships for memorable cruising. Read Less