47 Istanbul to Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Viking Ocean Viking Star Cruise Reviews

We booked our cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean with 2 other couples about 18 months prior. The time flew by, and before we knew it November 2015 had arrived and we were in the air on our way to Istanbul! After trouble-free flights ... Read More
We booked our cruise of the Eastern Mediterranean with 2 other couples about 18 months prior. The time flew by, and before we knew it November 2015 had arrived and we were in the air on our way to Istanbul! After trouble-free flights (stopover in Frankfurt) we boarded the Viking Star! Beautiful ship, spacious and well appointed stateroom with balcony! (Every stateroom had a balcony!) We explored the ship and found the pools and hot tub, the entertainment venues, the lounges, and the restaurants! Throughout our cruise the food was unfailingly plentiful and delicious! The wine and beer (included at meals) enhanced our dining experiences. Each day (except the one day at sea) we participated in the included shore excursion. We found that this was sufficient for our needs and didn't book the extra cost ones, except for the trip to the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus (which was well worth the cost). The views from the ship were marvellous--personal highlights were the sunset at Santorini, Greece and the hidden harbour at Kotor, Montenegro. We were blessed with very good weather, with only one day without sunshine. Service on board the Viking Star was excellent. Entertainment was engaging and of very high quality. At the end of the cruise we enjoyed an easy departure from the ship and an uneventful journey home. Viking provided air transportation at an excellent price and we took advantage of the free transfers to and from the ship. If we were to do this trip again, we would arrive in Istanbul a few days ahead. We felt we didn't really get to see the city up close and were disappointed about that. The only thing I can think of to be aware of about the ship is that wifi access was spotty, especially while we were at sea. Overall, an A1 adventure with four great travel companions! Would recommend it to anyone who likes to travel in comfort with everything taken care of. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Viking Star has raised the bar on ocean cruises. This was our first Viking Ocean cruise and our nineteenth overall ocean cruise and it not only was the best but it was worth the wait as every detail on board far exceeded our expectations. ... Read More
Viking Star has raised the bar on ocean cruises. This was our first Viking Ocean cruise and our nineteenth overall ocean cruise and it not only was the best but it was worth the wait as every detail on board far exceeded our expectations. We choose Viking travel and therefore the trip from home to the Viking Star was as expected, effortless. Staterooms are comfortable and housekeeping was impeccable. There are four included dining rooms to choose from, ranging from including self service, one main and two speciality. The menus had a wide variety of entrees and both the quality of the food and the waiters at each were the best of any cruise line. Entrainment was quite personal as there were great cabaret performances alone with solo musicians in various public areas. There is at least one shore excursion that is included at each port of call and also other special interest ones at additional cost. All of the included far exceed any other cruise lines as Viking seems to understand their customers excursion expectations. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Sailing on the Viking Star was like being on a 5* floating hotel. We knew it was a relatively new ship but it seemed most of the kinks had been worked out. There is ample space and we never felt crowded.The restaurants from the Buffet Bar ... Read More
Sailing on the Viking Star was like being on a 5* floating hotel. We knew it was a relatively new ship but it seemed most of the kinks had been worked out. There is ample space and we never felt crowded.The restaurants from the Buffet Bar to the Restaurant to the Pool Bar to the Chef's Table and finally the experience at the Kitchen Table were extraordinary-the service was impeccable and the food just wonderful. Every attempt was made to meet any special needs. We grew quite fond of our servers and they felt like family. Our only disappointment was the included excursion in Athens. Would have opted for an extra excursion. Otherwise the way the folk were moved about on buses was seemless-no waiting. I would suggest if some folk are not back on the bus at the designated time, the bus should leave. Adults need to be responsible. We were very pleased with our stateroom, much larger than the river cruise line and a very nice sized bathroom. Services at the spa more than met our expectations-and the facilities were beautiful. Entertainment and the speakers were unique and quite a surprise. About the only thing I would improve upon was the variety of on-board shopping-very sparce. This was our 5th Viking Cruise and I look forward to the next one! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
My husband and I traveled with another couple on the "empires if the Mediterranean" cruise. We were impressed with all facets of the cruise. ALL of the staff with whom we came in contact were always polite and friendly. Food was ... Read More
My husband and I traveled with another couple on the "empires if the Mediterranean" cruise. We were impressed with all facets of the cruise. ALL of the staff with whom we came in contact were always polite and friendly. Food was excellent as well. The state room was well appointed and we always had fresh towels. Plenty of storage also. On board lectures far exceeded our expectations. It was nice to be on a cruise with like minded passengers and not have the gambling/bar crowd. Most of the excursions were quite good. Would have like more time in Istanbul. All the tour guides were very capable and easily understood (despite the frequent headset issues). The old town of Dubrovnik was surprisingly unbelievable tour. Parthenon was extremely memorable. But I think Santorini - Oia - was the most breathtaking place! On board we really enjoyed spending time in the Viking living room and visiting. We had nice meals in the Italian dining room and chef's table. Wine tasting event was good also. BUT the Nordic spa was my favorite on board activity! Had the best pedicure ever! Absolutely loved the sauna/snow room experiences. It was a fabulous amenity. Well done Viking! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
I rated this cruise as Very Good only because we had no other cruise to rate it against. The Viking Star was great. Our cabin was surprising in how spacious and comfortable it was. Embarkation and disembarkation was very ... Read More
I rated this cruise as Very Good only because we had no other cruise to rate it against. The Viking Star was great. Our cabin was surprising in how spacious and comfortable it was. Embarkation and disembarkation was very painless. The Staff were all very friendly & obliging. The service was very good, nothing was too much trouble and any little "wrinkles" were ironed out very quickly. The food onboard had only problem - it was so good you just wanted to eat more. The entertainment on board was varied, interesting and enjoyable. We only went on the included shore excursions and found them to be very informative with good and knowledgeable tour guides. Leaving the ship each day for our excursion was easy, very organised and well managed by the staff. As I said we are only novice cruisers and apart from a short Alaskan cruise and a river cruise (with a different Company) this was our first big cruise and we loved it. We loved it so much we are planning our next cruise as at this time. We would like Viking to cruise down the west coast of America, through the Panama Canal up to New York. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Viking Star impresses with its excellent food, spacious and beautiful Explorers Lounge, multiple pools and stunning spa. The attentive, friendly staff excels at providing service above and beyond expectations. We enjoyed the very talented ... Read More
Viking Star impresses with its excellent food, spacious and beautiful Explorers Lounge, multiple pools and stunning spa. The attentive, friendly staff excels at providing service above and beyond expectations. We enjoyed the very talented entertainers, who performed diverse shows nightly. We signed up for all the included tours, most of which were quite well done and interesting. The cruise offers many fascinating lectures and port talks. There is plenty to do, and we could not fit as much of it into our schedule as we'd have liked, even without opting for additional tours. The inclusive nature of the cruise allowed us to enjoy lots of amenities at no additional charge including a tour lasting generally 4-5 hours in each port, dinner in Manfredi's Italian Restaurant, alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages, use of the spa (not treatments) including the thermal pool and snow room as well as the sauna and other facilities, 24 hour room service, daily high tea, movies on demand, self service launderettes with detergent, stateroom robes and slippers. The ship's facilities are lovely with lots of spacious and beautiful public lounges for reading and relaxing.The stateroom is comfortable with plenty of storage areas and a more than adequate bathroom with a glass enclosed shower. The larger than expected tubes of nice quality toiletries include shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and bar soap. We experienced occasional minor glitches but nothing disconcerting. The coach transfer between the airport and the ship could be enhanced by having a bit of a tour en route. The Viking representative on our coach spoke minimal English and, therefore, could not answer our questions as to what we were seeing along the way. The Explorers' Desk staff were very helpful when we stopped by with questions, but they were apparently too busy to answer the phone on numerous occasions. A word of warning: Be prepared to pay to use toilets during many of the tours, generally 1/2 - 1 Euro, something I find annoying but no fault of Viking's. When shopping, plan to negotiate the price. Currency varies from country to country, but most merchants accepted Euros and often dollars, even if another local currency existed, and guests gave guides and drivers gratuities in all of these currencies. We were pleased with our Viking Star cruise beyond our expectations. Relax, explore, enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The magnificent new ship, the Viking Star, was a luxurious travel experience. There are so many areas to gather and socialize or wonderful spots to sit and quietly read or doze. The two-level Explorer's Lounge is a particularly ... Read More
The magnificent new ship, the Viking Star, was a luxurious travel experience. There are so many areas to gather and socialize or wonderful spots to sit and quietly read or doze. The two-level Explorer's Lounge is a particularly comfortable location for relaxation with its bar, easy chairs and sofas and soothing nighttime musical entertainment. Perched high at the bow of the ship, it gives one the feeling--at least during daylight hours--of being 'king of the world'. The main dining room was divided into sections so you don't have the feeling of dining in an immense room with many distractions. We met a lot of new friends simply through impromptu conversations with our neighbors at the tables either side of us. Speaking of dining, the food was excellent at all venues on board with choices to satisfy everyone. We tried both specialized restaurants, The Chef's Table and Manfredi's (Italian cuisine). They were both superb and provided wonderful supplementary dining experiences. The dining room staff was very personable, extremely attentive and very accommodating of personal preferences and any food allergies. Our deluxe stateroom was very comfortable and the bathroom was even more spacious than I remember our river cruise accommodation--which was fine anyway. I would suggest, however, that firmer pillows be provided for those of us who prefer or need them. I loved to sit on the veranda as we entered a port or were berthed dockside, just observing the activity in the harbor, taking pictures and relaxing. The shore excursions were basically well planned and extremely informative thanks to our excellent guides. I was very pleased by their vast knowledge (even when asked about topics that weren't part of their prepared narrations), their enthusiastic personalities and their excellent command of English. We both had spinal surgery a number of years ago and are not as limber or resilient as we used to be. Therefore, some of the longer walks that involved many stairs we found to be somewhat taxing. I realize this is a very personal consideration, but some of the ratings in the descriptions did not seem entirely appropriate regarding the level of difficulty. Over 1200 stairs to visit a monastery is not, in my opinion, an 'easy' tour. Of course, we had the option in that case of staying on the bus, which is what we did for that one stop. I was disappointed that weather and sea conditions cancelled the visit at Pula, but in light of the fact it was rated as 'moderate' in difficulty, it may have been a (physical) blessing in disguise. Overall, I was in awe of the ancient history, remarkable and magnificent architecture and geographical uniqueness of each place we visited, especially Santorini, Kotor and Dubrovnik. These excursions were nicely supplemented by the live and in-room programming of more detailed descriptions of what to expect from each shore visit. The entertainment available was, for the most part, fun even if not quite at a professional level. The singers' and dancers' enthusiasm made up for it. I would have preferred more of a variety of entertainment, perhaps an illusionist, impersonator, comedian or a variety of 'game show' type programs. The final disembarkation was very efficiently handled. We had a window of time in which to do it and retrieve our luggage, which avoided the wait and backup with massive groups we've experienced in the past on other cruise lines. My one complaint about Viking's organization and distribution of travel information was the oversight of not letting us know well in advance that a visa is required to enter Turkey. After spending 45 minutes in line at the passport windows, we were denied entry due to the lack of a visa. This meant we had to leave that area, go to where they were issuing visas (which was a mere stamp--that cost $30--on the passport), and they didn't even look at any travel documents. I guess that was a way for the Turkish government to get more money from uninformed tourists. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We flew direct to Istanbul [ I was not aware I could have stayed a few days prior to sailing - which I would have done as I had not visited Istanbul & by the time we got from the airport to the ship there was no time to venture out to ... Read More
We flew direct to Istanbul [ I was not aware I could have stayed a few days prior to sailing - which I would have done as I had not visited Istanbul & by the time we got from the airport to the ship there was no time to venture out to explore before dinner]. I was not impressed with the way our transfer from the airport to the ship was handled. We were at passport control for about 2 hours altogether it was very hot - no air con. On a previous cruise I did not see my cases until on board the ship but on this occasion our luggage was treated with no respect [ my case was put at the very bottom of an overly large pile so I requested it be removed as I feared it would buckle under the weight. We walked along side our luggage & had to cross a road & then across a large car park to get on the coach. My husband did not have wheels on his hand luggage & had to carry it for himself!! So not a great start. However once we got to our cabin & freshened up things became so much better - we were very happy with out cabin. Deluxe balcony. Dinner was excellent [although there was a problem with our booking time - which was resolved in due course & we had to wait 30 mins]. Things dramatically improved from the next day onward & then for the whole duration of our cruise. We enjoyed every day, the excursions, the entertainment, the food [ absolutely fab every time]. The staff were amazing - most couldn't do enough for us. I couldn't fault a thing! The Viking Star was beautiful - I was so impressed with her - a truly beautiful & classy ship. It was a pleasure to sail on her. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This cruise was the best ever. The ship was beautiful and the staff very helpful and polite. They went the extra mile to make sure that we had everything we needed to make it the perfect cruise. The food was superb, both in the ... Read More
This cruise was the best ever. The ship was beautiful and the staff very helpful and polite. They went the extra mile to make sure that we had everything we needed to make it the perfect cruise. The food was superb, both in the restaurant and the two speciality restaurants. At lunchtime we went to either the casual dining on the top deck or to the speciality burgher bar next to the pool and there was plenty of variety to choose from. The cabin was lovely and light, and every cabin has its own balcony with comfy chairs which we used a few times but, to be honest, the seating areas around the pools were so comfortable that we made full use of them and, at no time, did we struggle to find anywhere to seat - it was never crowded. The excursions were very informative and varied and, with the electronic hearing devices that we wore, could hear every word without needing to congregate around the tourist guide. The entertainment in the Theatre was an eye opener, with visual affects second to none. It is amazing what they can do with all this new technology. The cinema experience was great as well, as we had special nights where we could collect our packs of freshly made pop corn from the bar before taking our seats. Good variety of films too! All in all the perfect cruise - we will be back! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have only gone on two other cruises with other cruise lines, but the Viking Star ocean cruise spoiled us in comparison. The spacious room was very quiet and had lots of storage, very comfortable furniture and king bed, a veranda, and a ... Read More
We have only gone on two other cruises with other cruise lines, but the Viking Star ocean cruise spoiled us in comparison. The spacious room was very quiet and had lots of storage, very comfortable furniture and king bed, a veranda, and a large bathroom with a heated floor, plenty of counter space, soft-close toilet lid, etc. Housekeeping was wonderful about keeping the towels and bed linens fresh, the mini refrigerator restocked, and the snacks replenished. The free self-serve laundry (with detergent) on each deck was quite convenient. We appreciated that there were no hard sales for jewelry, art, photos, shopping, etc. The ship had plenty of room for relaxing. We were never crowded or rushed. We particularly enjoyed the lounge chairs in the pool area that looked out at the ocean through floor to ceiling windows. The live music was quite good. The exercise room had high-quality equipment and the spa was impressive. We also enjoyed the high tea each afternoon in the Wintergarden. The restaurants provided a large selection of gourmet meals. It was nice that wine was included with lunch and dinner, although we thought the white wines were of higher quality than the red wines. Service and attention to dietary needs were superb! When I asked a server if it was possible to change a lunch offering, I was quickly assured that everything was possible and the requested changes were made with a smile. The Istanbul, Ephesus, Athens, Santorini, Kotor, Dubrovnik, Venice itinerary and excursions were perfect with just enough time to explore at each port. The scenery was better than we expected. The tour guides were very knowledgeable and added a lot to our trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have just returned from an Empires of the Mediterranean cruise on the new Viking Star. We travelled with four friends, two of them were from Canada and two, like us, from the UK, there were six of us all together, all seasoned Viking ... Read More
We have just returned from an Empires of the Mediterranean cruise on the new Viking Star. We travelled with four friends, two of them were from Canada and two, like us, from the UK, there were six of us all together, all seasoned Viking River Cruise passengers. We all booked Deluxe Veranda cabins, originally in a line but our Canadian friends who booked through America were moved up a deck, their cabin was identical to ours lower down and we all decided that these cabins gave us what we wanted and a larger cabin would have been no better. What an amazing ship the Viking Star is, never did we consider that it was crowded or couldn’t cope with the almost 1000 passengers on board. There are probably not enough superlatives to describe the whole 10 days. There were many different dining opportunities, none of which are formal but the Chef’s Table and Manfreddi’s are smarter than other eating places. There are more informal dining opportunities around the swimming pool, the Explorers lounge and in the World Café, with a set menu (which changes each day) with three or four options and a standard steak, chicken, salmon option in The Restaurant. The message from every member of the crew is…if you want it it can be done…We ate burgers and hot dogs, one day, in the swimming pool area and raided the ice cream in the café afterwards. The on-board entertainment was terrific and should have suited every need. There were exceptional speakers who were historians, scientists and diplomats. The musical team were amazing…Beatles, Abba, Opera, The Rat Pack and Spoof James Bond themed shows. The versatility of the entertainment team came to the fore when additional lectures were put on for an unscheduled day at sea. The shore excursions were well organised with good briefings re what to expect re walking and weather. Some of the guides were better than others and unfortunately there were just far too many people in our group for The Acropolis in Athens, the guide rushed on, and there seemed to be thousands of other visitors that day too. The Viking Star has been well thought out, with lots of public areas. We never felt we were in an area and waiting for a seat or that any area was crowded. The Scandinavian edge is evident with well-designed and comfortable chairs and sofas everywhere, with wonderful art adorning every wall and surface and some quirky items of furniture. Our arrival on the ship was not a smooth as it could have been, the port authorities adding to the angst as well as the rain…but the problem was dealt with and compensated for immediately. A planned stop in Pula did not happen because of high seas but the sail into Venice in daylight more than made up for that. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Excellent trip aboard the Viking Star from Istanbul to Venice. Superb staff and excellent tour guides. Diverse lectures gave context to visits with perspectives on social, cultural, and political aspects of each port/country. Informed and ... Read More
Excellent trip aboard the Viking Star from Istanbul to Venice. Superb staff and excellent tour guides. Diverse lectures gave context to visits with perspectives on social, cultural, and political aspects of each port/country. Informed and interesting lecturers speaking on topics ranging from art, history, politics, and even aqua engineering were an added bonus. The food was abundant without being excessive. Beautifully prepared, tasty, and healthy and a variety of venues in which to dine. The Viking Star was spotlessly clean and every staff member was alert to cleanliness. Viking sets high standards of courtesy for staff. We have previously traveled on a Viking River Trip on the Rhine. We cannot recommend Viking travel highly enough. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The ship is fantastic! Our first Viking experience, this was the centerpiece of a 45 day "Grand Tour". The crew is outstanding, friendly, attentive and eager to please. The cabins are very comfortable and quiet. We had one of the ... Read More
The ship is fantastic! Our first Viking experience, this was the centerpiece of a 45 day "Grand Tour". The crew is outstanding, friendly, attentive and eager to please. The cabins are very comfortable and quiet. We had one of the suites on the top deck with a huge balcony and the views were spectacular. Note: Remember the adage POSH because the coastal views entering ports are awsome. The F&B was in the top 3 of all cruises we have done. The spa was awesome, got massages every 4th day, the entertainment was ok, but we don't take cruises for high school musicals...the only negatives were the shore excursions. In a word - awful. Poorly organized, WAY OVER PRICED, amaturish guides (I actually had to correct one guide on facts), bad food, a real rip off. We canceled all our add on extra tours after the first 4 ports and hired local guides, cars and drivers for the remaining 19 days. Also some of the ports are a total waste, like Tulon, just a stop for stop sake it seemed...nothing there, not even decent dining. Would book the ship again but just for the crusing...I'd do a Trans Atlantic before doing another multi-destination with them, or a river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This was our first cruise so I do not have a comparison. However it met or exceeded all my expectations. Our cabin was well appointed with adequate storage space. The bed and chairs were very comfortable. We had access to laundry ... Read More
This was our first cruise so I do not have a comparison. However it met or exceeded all my expectations. Our cabin was well appointed with adequate storage space. The bed and chairs were very comfortable. We had access to laundry equipment which we used as we were traveling after the cruise. Our attendant, Arya was very thorough in keeping our cabin clean and well stocked. In fact we were impressed with the quality of service we received in every area. The restaurant managers, waiters, and wait staff were very friendly and attentive. All the members of the staff were helpful, courteous and accommodating. We were very impressed with the food in the World Cafe. We actually enjoyed it more than the specialty restaurants. In fact one meal at Manfredi's was unappetizing and the fish at the The Restaurant was flavorless. But otherwise the food was very good with a wide variety and some dishes were made to order. We thought the excursions were excellent with the exception of the Underground Cisterns. Although the Cisterns were unique and interesting , we only spent 30 minutes there and the rest of the tour was just wasting time. I did not think it was worth the money. The others were great. The Complimentary ones were as good as the optional. Loved Kotor and Dubrovnic. All the guides were wonderful. We were disappointed we missed Pula. We did not take advantage of visiting Venice at 5:00 pm as a replacement of Pula as we were going to stay two night after disembarking. We had made our own arrangements prior to the Cruise in Istanbul and in Venice. In Istanbul, we stayed for two nights in the old City at the Seven Hill Hotel. It is small older boutique hotel with a fabulous rooftop restaurant. We stayed at a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel that was charming. The Cruise was an experience of a life time and we would definitely consider another Viking Cruise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We signed for this cruise because of the areas the cruise covered, especially Istanbul and after doing a Rhone River Cruise we were anxious to try the new ocean liner.....we were not disappointed. The crew was amazing and the food was ... Read More
We signed for this cruise because of the areas the cruise covered, especially Istanbul and after doing a Rhone River Cruise we were anxious to try the new ocean liner.....we were not disappointed. The crew was amazing and the food was outstanding. Being on a small ocean liner made the trip just that much better. The real treat was entering Venice during the day. We sailed past many of the famous landmarks including San Marco Square. Because of rough seas we were not able to go to Pula. If we had gone to Pula, we would have entered Venice in the middle of the night, so this was an added value we had not counted on. We enjoy cruising on Viking, whether it is on the river boats or ocean liners. We are already planning our next cruise which will be on the Viking from St Petersburg to Moscow. Cruising is our favorite way to travel, and with the outstanding tours that Viking includes in the cost of the trip, it is not a hard decision to choose Viking !! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We did the Empires of the Mediterranean tour with a couple days under Viking's care on each end. Prior to the cruise, we arrived in Istanbul and were bused another 6 hours out to Turkey's Aegean coast. It was a very long day, ... Read More
We did the Empires of the Mediterranean tour with a couple days under Viking's care on each end. Prior to the cruise, we arrived in Istanbul and were bused another 6 hours out to Turkey's Aegean coast. It was a very long day, Philadelphia through London to Istanbul and then the bus ride. Nice hotel, what I saw of it. The next morning, up and at 'em, we toured the ruins of Troy, and then the Gallipoli Battlefield National Park. Eye-popping, both of them. The next day, back on the bus, back to Istanbul, with stops at the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, then finally to the ship. Stateroom was great, but we could have used a tip that you put your key card in a slot by the door to work the lights! The next day, we took a cruise up and down the Bosporus. What vistas, what history! When we returned, our luggage had finally caught up with us. This was a weak spot in the travel arrangements. Viking booked us through Heathrow, with a change of airlines, and only one and a half hours layover. We made our flight (barely). Our luggage did not. If you have Viking make air arrangements (generally a good idea since it includes airport pick-up and return) don't let them do this. More layover equals more luggage. Once at sea, our stops included Ephesus, Athens, Santorini, Kotor and Dubrovnik. We were unable to dock in Pula due to high seas and arrived in Venice a day early as a result. The Viking Star is brand new and a marvelous boat. It hosts about 950 passengers, medium-sized for an ocean liner. All rooms have ocean balconies. The food is tremendous, in the buffet and the specialty and sit-down restaurants! The staff works like mad to please the guests. There are fitness rooms and other equipment here and there on board. There's a theater in the bow where they put on live shows and also lectures by some very interesting folks, the themes generally tied to our ports of call. One exception was a talk on the history of the British colony Gibraltar, which was off our route, but the guy who gave the talk used to be the territory's Governor, so we cut him some slack. Each cabin has a wall-mounted flat screen TV with some video-on-demand and replays of the lectures, in case you missed one. Access to news from the outside world was iffy. Most of the shore excursions, both included and optional, were excellent. Athens was the least: we were driven around town at breakneck speed to spend ten minutes here, and another ten minutes there. The optional dinner tour was changed without notice, to something not quite as nice but Viking refunded half its cost so all is forgiven. With two Viking cruises under our belt, my experience is the passengers are an older demographic so I'm not sure how you'd occupy children. There's a nightclub open until the wee hours for those with restless energy. I needed my rest so I'd have some energy. Post-cruise we were taken to a canal-side hotel in Venice, where we enjoyed the sights and foods. Keep in mind, all transportation in the central area is by boat. Buses are boats, taxis are boats, limousines are boats. There's a lot of water traffic wakes and you can get bounced around but good. I found it unpleasant. And San Marcos Piazza floods at high tide much of the year. That was a surprise. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We have taken 6 Viking River cruises but this was our first ocean cruise with them. Cabins and public areas are lovely; free Laundromat is wonderful; Wi-Fi works well; staff was very polite; entertainment and lectures were fist class; food ... Read More
We have taken 6 Viking River cruises but this was our first ocean cruise with them. Cabins and public areas are lovely; free Laundromat is wonderful; Wi-Fi works well; staff was very polite; entertainment and lectures were fist class; food fabulous. However, time in ports especially Athens and Istanbul is VERY limited. If you have not been to these cities, (or Venice) extend your trip in Istanbul and/or Venice and take a day long tour in Athens. Included tours in those cities are "superficial" to say the least. Full day Santorini tour was a waste. We had lunch in a lovely restaurant and then stayed over an hour for Greek dancing. Would have rather seen more of the island. Walking in Santorini is not for anyone with physical challenges- many, many stairs. The surprises were Kotor, and Dubrovnik- both had good included tours. Many times, we could not just get off the ship unless you had a booked tour and many of these started quite late in the day. Wish someone had told us about booking restaurants on ship. There is no fee for Manfredi's and the Captain's Table. Book these ahead (if you have an expensive enough cabin) or as soon as you get on the ship if you have a cheaper cabin. I did feel that everyone should be treated the same and that some should not have privileges such as pre-booking of restaurants. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
What a nice ship and aside from some glitches due to a learning curve, this was a great trip. The cabin was clean, roomy, well appointed and had lots of closet and drawer space. The bed was comfortable and the balcony a nice addition. ... Read More
What a nice ship and aside from some glitches due to a learning curve, this was a great trip. The cabin was clean, roomy, well appointed and had lots of closet and drawer space. The bed was comfortable and the balcony a nice addition. The bathroom was the largest of any cruise I had been on and there was plenty of room for two. There could, however been more towel hangers but we managed. The shower was very large- most shower areas are so small that one cannot move around but this shower was roomy and the water always hot. We especially enjoyed the port talks and lectures which gave us more information both present day and historical about the ports of call. The food was fabulous and we enjoyed eating outdoors near the infinity pool. What impressed us the most was all the lounge/sitting areas all around the ship to just relax. It seemed that there was ample room everywhere on the ship. We were able to make reservations at "The Restaurant" for several evenings but found that the same menu was in the World Café and that was where we preferred to eat. We enjoyed the infinity pool and the sauna area with a current pool, hot tub, dry and wet sauna rooms, a snow room, a rain forest shower and a cold bucket of water shower to dump cold water on a hot body. There were separate men's and women's locker rooms stocked with bathrobes, slippers, towels and a locker. It was every bit as nice as a expensive spa. We found that we wanted to see more of the area than was available with the included tours so we ended up spending about $400 more on optional tours but it was well worth the money. All of the optional tours included what was seen on the included tour so we didn't miss out on anything by doing something extra. All in all we thoroughly enjoyed this trip and will definitely book another cruise on the Viking Star. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We are sold on the river cruises because we like to see and visit places, not stay on the ship and veg. So we tried Viking's new ocean cruise somewhat reluctantly. It turned out to be great. We were in a port and seeing great cities ... Read More
We are sold on the river cruises because we like to see and visit places, not stay on the ship and veg. So we tried Viking's new ocean cruise somewhat reluctantly. It turned out to be great. We were in a port and seeing great cities and sights every day but one. We got what we wanted. And when we were sailing, Viking did offer great food, entertainment and a nice well-equipped gym - so I could keep in shape for all the exploring! Viking takes good care of you. And this is important - they don't nickle-and-dime you on everything. Yes, there are some extras for a few options, but you can do plenty with the complementary excursions, so the extras are truly something extra. Looking forward to cruise seven! Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
On board from Istanbul to Venice for the first leg of the 'maiden', there was no particular fanfare or sense that we were part of something special. Too bad, since the ship itself is beautiful. The technical glitches of a maiden ... Read More
On board from Istanbul to Venice for the first leg of the 'maiden', there was no particular fanfare or sense that we were part of something special. Too bad, since the ship itself is beautiful. The technical glitches of a maiden were understandable, albeit annoying, such as non-working TVs, a cabin safe locked open for two days, plumbing issues, etc. We were often in the dark as to what was going on, as the Viking Daily provided limited info and no way to issue updates on any changes in schedule, anything on menu details, etc. But, there is no excuse nor explanation for the poor communication and inconsistent service. We sought information, which proved to be a huge source of frustration, given the very spotty response, if any, at the Explorer Desk, Housekeeping, or Room Service. Or the fact that Viking totally dismissed our anniversary, despite alerting the rep through whom we booked, and also Ana, the maîtresse d' in the main restaurant three days prior. Or the unexpected and unnecessary delays disembarking for the many private excursions I had booked. Or the inconsistencies restocking the fridge, fulfilling a request for fresh fruit (4 day wait, really?), or the bizarre practice of providing one tiny bar of soap for the entire bathroom. Or change in format for restaurant seating with no clarification. Or running out of food at afternoon tea. Or changing the price of spa treatments, with no explanation, that were already booked. Or vapid port talks, which amounted to presenting tired snippets from the website in an attempt to fill unsold Viking tours. Those who lament the poor communication, or worse yet, the deception in some cases, are spot on and not necessarily high maintenance. When Viking repeatedly tells me I'll be blown away, I look forward to stellar service and a little pampering, especially on a maiden voyage. Good thing we are independent travelers and happy to map out our own itinerary, so we chose not to rely on Viking for much of anything and had a great time on a lovely vessel. (Our trip was enhanced by three days in Istanbul beforehand and three days in Venice at the end.) It's unfortunate that the company's level of service doesn't match the charm or comfort of the Viking Star itself. The shortcomings appear to come from the top, from corporate, and certainly not from most of the hardworking individuals who work onboard. Viking's lack of attentiveness, the sense that they will only go so far to ensure your comfort, leaves me a bit puzzled. How much does it cost to place a piece of chocolate on the pillow at night? Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
I will cut and paste my daily log.VIKING STAR APRIL 2015 For the past two years I have been planning this cruise. I read about Viking River Cruises planning to construct an ocean going cruise ship, and get into the ocean cruise ... Read More
I will cut and paste my daily log.VIKING STAR APRIL 2015 For the past two years I have been planning this cruise. I read about Viking River Cruises planning to construct an ocean going cruise ship, and get into the ocean cruise business. I went on line and booked the maiden voyage of the yet to be built ship, the prices were cheap but we were required to pay for our cruise in full when I booked. It took a leap of faith, but I went for it. I had been on several ships on their final voyage to the scrap yard, but never on a maiden voyage. April 9, Thursday: I booked the Super-Shuttle to pick us up at 4:05 p.m. for our 8:30 flight on Turkish Airlines, business class, non-stop from Houston to Istanbul. The van arrived at 4:30 p.m. and the traffic was heavy, but we made it to the airport at 6:30 and because there were no lines at the ticket counter or at security we were at the United Club lounge by 7 p.m., giving us time to relax before boarding our flight around 8 p.m. April 10, Friday. We flew over Labrador, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Poland while sleeping (more or less) in our lay flat bed seats. Over Romania I looked out to see the mountains of Northern Romania were we visited Vlad’s castle last October on our Viking River Cruise. We landed on time, and spent the next hour and a half going through Immigration and Customs which was slow but painless and got a taxi to take us to our Hotel Sultania which was downtown in the Fatih (old part) section of Istanbul. The taxi over-charged us, but I was too tired to argue and we got to our beautiful hotel before sunset. We had a corner room on the 4th floor with balconies on both sides, the best room in the house. We walked outside to the pedestrian street in front and found a small local restaurant a few blocks down (there were many restaurants on the street but Ines chose this one) and I had a lamb shiskabob and she had a whole fish. It was a good meal, and they even served me a beer in a paper cup because they were not supposed to serve alcoholic beverages there. We returned to our hotel and went to bed, still tired from the trip. April 11, Saturday: We both woke around 2 a.m. because of jet-lag, but managed to stay in bed when we got to sleep around 5 and slept until 9 a.m. We had breakfast in the lobby, and then packed our bags and left them in the lobby while we walked around the old city. I fell down and twisted my left ankle on an uneven sidewalk, but managed to continue our walk. We walked to the Railroad station and then took a taxi, again overcharged (no meters in Istanbul taxis) to the Blue Mosque. It was a beautiful sunny day, fresh but not really cold. We walked past Santa Sophia back to our hotel, got our bags, and took another taxi to our ship, the Viking Star. We were not overcharged for this taxi, it was about a quarter of the price we had paid for the other taxis. There were no lines at the check in when we arrived about 1 p.m. and we were on board for lunch. We were among the first paying passengers to ever board this ship. We walked around the ship and ate at the buffet in the World Cafe. Our room was ready before 3 p.m. Ines booked some spa treatments, and I booked a tour of Ephesus that included a visit to the house where Mary the mother of Jesus was supposed to have lived in her old age. The ship is decorated in a Scandinavian modern décor, not a traditional maritime type of ship with mahogany and brass, but I like it. All the rooms, even ours on deck 3 have balconies. I got the cheapest room, cabin 3023, but it is above the weather deck and three decks below the bridge. There are 8 decks in all. At 5 p.m. we had an abandon ship drill, everyone mustered on deck 2, theater forward or dining room aft. The crew are new as well as the ship, and when Ines showed her room card to a crew member they told her to go to deck 5, not a good sign of proper crew training, since the card was for muster station 5 for lifeboat 5 which was in the theater. She did find the right place anyway. Lifejackets are stored next to the boat embarkation on deck 2, not in the cabins which is permissible under IMO regulations. Only about half the passengers boarded today thanks to delays in air travel due to a strike at Charles de Gaule airport in Paris, a major European hub. There will be another drill tomorrow before sailing for late arrivals. The dining room was not very full for dinner, and we went to bed early since there was no show this evening and we were still tired from jet lag. We were sorry we did not make contact with our friends who were arriving in Istanbul from Buenos Aires today or tomorrow. April 12, Sunday (Sailing Day). Again we woke up in the middle of the night, but were sleeping soundly when our alarm went off at 6 a.m. for our 7 a.m. tour of Istanbul and the Bosporus. We had a cup of coffee and a croissant for breakfast and met in the theater for our tour. The tour is included in the price of the cruise. We were on the first group to leave, and our guide was good. We took a bus around the new and old sections of Istanbul, and stopped by the spice bazaar which was still closed, so we took the boat ride on the Bosporus down through the bridge and past palaces and villas along the shore, down to the second bridge at the narrowest point where Europe and Asia are only 800 meters apart. The boat returned along the Asian shoreline and docked again in the Golden Horn. We spent another 40 minutes at the spice bazaar which was now opened and I bought a kilo of pistachios. We were the first bus to return to the ship, which was good since we were seated and served quickly for lunch, which got crowded later when the other buses returned. After lunch we took a nap until sailing time, which we watched from our balcony. At 4 p.m. we had a Cruise Critic meet and greet party and met the captain and Viking officials as well as the editor of cruise critic. It was a nice meeting and I saw people who I had communicated with these past two years since booking this cruise. Almost all the passengers were the retired demographic, but a few younger ones. After the meeting Ines went to the spa and I went to listen to the piano and the trio of young women who played the viola, cello, and flute with light classic music. We went to dinner at 7:30 but the service in the dining room was slow, I guess our waiter forgot, the galley was not used to a full load of passengers, or our order was lost in cyberspace, but after a 40 minute wait I complained and they bought out a bunch of food that we did not order as well as what we ordered immediately. We wanted to finish in time to make the 9 p.m. show in the theater, which was a nice musical and the theater was not crowded. We walked around a little after the show, and went to bed by 11 and slept well for the first time since arriving in Europe. Monday, April 13 We awoke around 8 while sailing down the Aegean sea to the port of Kusadasi, Turkey which is a passenger ship port for the Greek ruins of the city of Ephesus where we arrived at 11:30. We were booked onto a premium excursion that included the house of Mary, the mother of Jesus, rather than on the included excursion that only went to Ephesus. Therefore we got to leave earlier than the others. The weather remains beautiful, sunny with temperatures in the 60’s. Our guide was good, and we went directly to the place in the park like hills above Ephesus where it is said that the mother of Jesus spent her last years, having traveled there over 1000 miles from Nazareth. Maybe she went with Paul? Or perhaps it is just a legend, but I was here when a cadet with American Export Lines in October of 1962. Later the pope came to this spot and it got to be more famous because of his visit. Now there is a spring of holy water below the house and souvenir shops at the parking lot, it is more developed than before in a Moslem country that recognizes the value of tourism. After Mary’s house we went to the lower gate of Ephesus and walked around the ruins of this city that dated from 600 B.C. when it was a Greek, then Roman seaport on the Western coast of Turkey. It has been reconstructed over the years, much more impressive than my visit 53 years ago. After visiting the city we returned to a mandatory visit to a carpet factory where we were given a weaving demonstration and sales pitch, and later made to walk through the building, which reminded me of Ikea furniture stores, where we had to pass jewelry and souvenirs on our way back to the bus. It was too much of a hard sell for most of us on the tour, but one man did buy a rug. We returned to the ship and sailed soon afterwards at 6 p.m. After dinner the captain and chief engineer were introduced in the Atrium lobby where the ships musicians were playing. We went to bed early Tuesday, April 14: We both woke up in the middle of the night, still jet-lagged. Ines was worried about her office, and needed to write a letter, so I helped her type a suitable letter and send it to the office to print and mail. We were tired when we awoke when docking in Piraeus, the port of Athens, Greece. It was the same dock where we left our Azamara cruise a couple of years ago. Again we were on a premium tour of the country side, not the standard visit to the Acropolis which we had done on several previous visits. We got on the fist bus with only 11 other passengers and left town towards the southern part of Greece across the Corinth Canal (which is too small for all but yachts and coastal ships) which is dug into a vertical cut across the isthmus between northern and southern Greece. We visited a number of ruins on the eastern part of this peninsula where king Agamemnon had his palace and is buried. Again we had a long bus ride back to Piraeus, and I saw a liberty ship in the harbor just across from our ship. After dinner we sailed at 9 p.m. when we were in a lounge called Torshaven where some great singers entertained us, but it was really overflowing with passengers. We went to bed just after the show and are sailing for Santorini, our next port. Wednesday, April 15: Tax day! I’m glad we sent our tax forms and payments in two weeks ago before leaving on this trip. We slept better last night, and are ready for Santorini. I got Ines up a little before 8 for her Zumba exercise class. I went to the dining room for breakfast, and watched our arrival into the caldera of the volcano that exploded here about 3500 years ago and wiped out the Minoian civilization that existed here. What is left is a ring of islands surrounding the original crater. Perched on the peaks of each of the islands are white houses with blue roofs, all hanging on the sides of cliffs to get good views of the sea. There are some flat lands that are cultivated, especially on the Southern parts of the islands. We did not book a tour here because we have been here before with Azamara and did not want to be with a group. Although we arrived on time the crew seemed to have a bit of trouble getting the tender platforms rigged up, so that we got off about 30 minutes late, but that was not important. Viking gave us tickets for the cable car that takes us up to Thira, the major town of the island. We waited aboard for our tender and talked with the Viking owner’s representative, a guy from Kirkness, Norway who was about my age and knew a lot about ships but most of the last few decades he was working ashore in management. We got the first tender ashore for those without tours, and rode the cable car to the top, although you could ride up on donkeys or even walk up the 1400 feet if you wanted to, like the Grand Canyon trail only paved, but still well covered with animal dung. I got Euros out of the ATM at the top, and we walked through the town and had a nice lunch in a beautiful spot overlooking the ship and harbor as well as the town. After lunch we walked around the town visiting shops, and Ines bought a lot of souvenirs. I had a beer, and finally we returned to the bottom on the cable car and took the tender back to the ship. We picked up the anchor and sailed at 6 p.m., and our next port will be Kotor, Montenegro on the Adriatic sea on Friday morning. April 16, Thursday, our day at sea. I like days at sea to just relax and watch the sea go by, but Ines loves the activities in ports, so our next cruise will probably be a river cruise. This year we have scheduled a trip to Florida with the Brauns on May 15 to 20, and our “camino” trip to Spain in late June and early July, as well as a trip to New York for my 50th reunion for my class at Kings Point. David called us at 3:30 a.m., unaware of the time difference. He said that all was well, so that I told him to call us in the morning his time and that all was well with us. Otherwise we slept well and got up around 8. Ines went to the gym, and I went to hear an enrichment lecture about the Geology of the region, the volcanoes and earthquakes that formed this region. We had lunch in the cafeteria called “World Café” on deck 7 where many people were hanging around the pools. It was a bit cold so not many were in the water but were sunbathing. Ines has a 1 p.m. massage scheduled at the spa. I will take it easy at the lectures and bars around the ship. Later we had tea together, and then I went to an Explorers Society toast with the captain and cruise director. This was a function for past Viking customers where there were free drinks and I got to chat with other customers and the cruise director. Then Ines and I had dinner in the main dining room and attended a song and dance show in the atrium. After that we went to bed. April 17, Friday: We set our clocks back one hour during the night and were told to wake up at 6:30 to see the sailing into our port of Kotor, Montenegro. It is at the end of a fjord that twists and turns through high mountains with small villages hanging onto the hillsides near the water’s edge. It was really spectacular. Kotor is a walled city similar to Dubrovnik, our next port. We booked a tour of the countryside for the morning and a walking tour of the city for the afternoon. Our tour this morning took us down the coast by bus to an overlook of a resort hotel called Stefan, which costs a minimum of 800 Euros per night (breakfast included) and has suites about ten times more expensive. It was on an island connected by a viaduct and on a stony coastline. Maybe Liz Taylor and Sophia Loren stayed there, but if so, they had more money than they had brains. We then returned up the coast to a walled town called Budva and spent an hour or two there walking around the narrow streets and visiting a few churches. We then went back to the ship for lunch and left on our walking tour of the city of Kotor, which was nicer than Budva. We saw a maritime museum as well as a cathedral. Kotor is really not on a fjord, but rather a river valley that was sunken into the ocean by earthquakes or melting glaciers, but since the river valley was surrounded by high mountains, it now looks like a fjord of Norway. It has a lot of twists and turns, and it was impossible for invading navies to enter the harbor without getting sunk by shore batteries or defending warships. The residents of Kotor were probably pirates who attacked trading vessels heading towards Venice. There is a wall all around the city and up to the top of a mountain in the background, and stairs lead past monastaries and churches to the very peak of the mountain, about a 1500 foot climb. We returned to the ship about 6 and had a dinner at 8:30 at Manfredi’s Italian restaurant aboard the ship. The food was good and portions were large, much larger than the main dining room. The service was better as well, but reservations are hard to get unless you book one of the premium priced rooms on the upper decks, and we bought the cheapest cabins. We sailed about 10 p.m. for Dubrovnik, our next port, and we went to bed. Saturday, April 18, During the night you could, for the first time, feel the ship move in a swell, it was gentle but it woke up Ines. I woke up just after 6 a.m. and watched our arrival in Dubrovnik, which I had visited when captain of the Letitia Lykes back in 1992. It was during a war between Serbia and Croatia, and the Serbs were on a mountain top overlooking the city and lobbing mortars down on the ancient walled city. There were no tourists at that time in a town famous for tourism, and was called the “pearl of the Adriatic”. We docked early on a cloudy, hazy day, but it did not rain. Our Dubrovnik by land and sea tour was cancelled due to weather, so we booked the all day tour that included a walking tour of the port and then a bus trip into the mountains to a restaurant along a river with a restored water wheel and grist mill. It was a very nice trip, and we had the best guide of our cruise, his English and his humor were very good. We missed the bridge tour, but the captain and his wife met me in the lounge and offered me a private tour and we chatted a while about ships. There were free drinks on a farewell party by the pool and most of the crew attended, including the entertainers and the captain. The weather improved all day, but there was a cool breeze. We sailed at 6 p.m. for Ploce, which is near Venice at the head of the Adriatic. Sunday, April 19 we were in a moderate sea last night, and some people complained about the motion, which was not really very much, nothing fell down or broke, but you could tell we were moving. The stabilizer fins were out so we only rolled a few degrees. We arrived in Ploce about 8 a.m. but there were some delays, and we didn’t get into the tender until 9:30 and then had about a 50 minute ride in the lifeboat from our anchorage into the port. The boat handling wasn’t really very good, the Philippino boat crew had not much boat handling experience in my opinion. We had a 2 hour walking tour of the port, which had many Roman ruins, including the stadium which was in pretty good shape. Most of the stores were closed because it was Sunday, so after the tour we took the tender back to the ship and started packing up for our disembarkation tomorrow morning in Venice. Ines saw the ship’s doctor and is trying to arrange an MRI for her knee and using our trip insurance for it when we get to Venice. We will see what happens. Monday, April 20 Arrival in Venice. I awoke very early, around 4 and saw our entrance into Venice from our balcony door. As always it was beautiful, even at night passing the Lido and the Grand Canal heading for the cruise terminal on the Western end of the island. It was too bad that this arrival was not scheduled for daylight hours. We got up at 7 because they had to make the room available to the next passengers who were arriving at noon and we had to vacate by 8 a.m. It’s a hard life for the crew of cruise ships. We had our two big suitcases sent down last night to unload on arrival, so we only had our two carry-on bags to take with us when we left the room and ate breakfast in the cafeteria. Disembarkation was a breeze, they told us we could leave at any time so after breakfast we left the ship, picked up our bags in the terminal, and got a taxi to Plaza de Roma, the closest cars can get to the city. Our hotel is near the railroad station, but getting there was not easy. Rolling luggage is not really useful in Venice because of the many bridges, all have many steps to climb and descend. We finally gave up and got a porter to take them on a cart designed to handle the bridges. It cost us 20 euros but it was worth it. Just one bridge wore us out. The hotel Grand Canal is beautiful but expensive, the room was not ready on arrival but they took our luggage into storage and told us we could come back in an hour. It seems that there are many African immigrants, all selling the same thing, selfie sticks. We walked to Rialto bridge, where we bought two day passes on the vaporetti taxi boats, a good investment. We went to Saint Mark’s square where we had a couple of capuccinos and some biscotti in front of an orchestra and again it was expensive (40 euros with the cover charge) but really a pleasant way to spend an hour. We took the vaporetti back to the train station and walked back to our hotel, where our room was ready, a beautiful corner room overlooking the canal and railroad station across the canal. In the afternoon we took the train to Mestre, the city on the mainland where Ines wanted to visit the hospital d’ella Angeli, and ask about her knee pain. We got off at the wrong stop and had to take a taxi, but we got to the hospital and after a 90 minute wait she was seen by an orthopedic doctor who could not do an MRI scan but she was satisfied. The charge for this visit was only 25 euros, but the machine that collects the fee could not take our American credit cards. We will have to go to another place here in Venice to pay. We took the train back to Venice and went out to dinner at a nice restaurant in the area. After dinner we took a series of vaporetti that after a few changes of boats got us to Saint Marks square via the East end of the island and even the Lido. The square which was packed with tourists, mostly Americans taking advantage of the strong dollar-euro exchange, was after dark not very crowded. We walked around awhile and took another boat back to the hotel. 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Sail Date April 2015
Viking Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.8
Dining 5.0 4.7
Entertainment 3.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 1.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.2
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 5.0 4.4

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