We booked our Viking Mediterranean Odyssey cruise and pre-stay in Venice We traveled with another couple, two close friends, who also booked with the same agency, Cruise Planners. In just about every aspect, this trip exceeded our ... Read More
We booked our Viking Mediterranean Odyssey cruise and pre-stay in Venice We traveled with another couple, two close friends, who also booked with the same agency, Cruise Planners. In just about every aspect, this trip exceeded our expectations. Our pre-stay in Venice was perfect. What a wonderful city for exploring the maze of narrow streets, canals, shops, and restaurants. Viking put us up in the Hilton Molino Stucky hotel in Venice. The hotel was beautiful with very clean and spacious rooms, a great location away from the crowds, and just a short complimentary water taxi ride to St Marks Square. With our pre-stay and overnight in Venice on the ship, we had a total of three days in Venice - a great beginning to a great cruise.
Our ship, the Viking Star, immediately impressed us. This ship was Viking’s first ocean ship and therefore its oldest, but you wouldn't have known that. With its modern, bright Scandinavian decor, it was one of the cleanest ships we have ever seen.
Viking included complimentary wine and beer at lunch and dinner, transfers, and two on-board specialty restaurants. Wi-Fi was free and unlimited, and it worked well in cabins and public areas – better than any of the other ships we have sailed. At sea, we were even able to use the Wi-Fi for face time and Wi-Fi phone calls, which is impossible on most cruise ships.
One of the most enjoyable complementary inclusions was the Nordic spa, which had a salt water thalassotherapy pool, a steam room, a hot tub, a sauna, heated ceramic lounge chairs and a cold plunge pool, as well as a unique "snow grotto". We also enjoyed the unique infinity pool with a great view from atop the stern of the ship as we cruised along. The ship layout was easy to learn, and navigate as it had a nice, common sense flow to its design.
Before our trip we attended a Viking presentation and were told that a ship of this size would normally accommodate about 1200 passengers, yet Viking reduces that to 930 passengers, giving the ship a less crowded feel. This isn't something I put a lot of faith in. After all, when is the last time you cruised and the ship didn’t feel crowded, especially around the buffet? However, Viking was right. The ship really didn’t feel crowded at all. It was easy to relax and enjoy the ship amenities, and we never had a problem getting a lounge chair like many other ships.
We had stops in Split, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Naples, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Marseille, and Barcelona with a day at sea. At each port, Viking supplied a free included tour. Most of these were walking tours with some better than others, but we were able to break away from the tour at any time and always had ample time to explore on our own. In addition, there were opportunities to book additional tours at cost. One of the best was an all-day small group tour with a separate tour provider, the Shore Excursion Group, that we did of the Amalfi, Positano, and Sorrento coast with two other couples – a remarkable day that we will always remember.
We felt that the food on the ship was OK – not bad but not outstanding either. The important thing to note was that there are several venues for eating, so finding something to our liking was never a problem. As an example for dinner, we had choices of the two specialty restaurants (with reservations), the main dining restaurant, the world café (buffet) and a themed buffet provided at the pool-side grill.
The onboard entertainment was very good, with a solo guitarist, solo pianist, string duo, house band and a house vocalist quartet. There were two occasions when local entertainment was brought onboard and we felt that Viking has the opportunity to improve their shipboard entertainment by bringing more good off-Vegas talent onboard for short periods in a manner similar to other cruiselines like Celebrity.
The service from the crew was outstanding and the staff seemed genuinely cheerier than what we have seen on other cruise lines. One crew member, who had worked the cruise industry for many years, on several of the major cruise lines told us that Viking was the best company to work for. He told us they really took care of its employees and in his opinion life with Viking was much nicer than any of his other gigs. This positive attitude showed from all of the staff that we encountered throughout the ship.
We had a wonderful cruise experience from Viking and Cruise Planners and look forward to more in the future. Read Less