Sail Date: November 2018
From the moment we stepped in to the embarkation lounge in Miami we could tell this cruise was different from others we'd taken with other companies. First of all, there were no lines!! We breezed right through. And no Welcome Aboard ... Read More
From the moment we stepped in to the embarkation lounge in Miami we could tell this cruise was different from others we'd taken with other companies. First of all, there were no lines!! We breezed right through. And no Welcome Aboard photo to purchase later either. Instead we were welcomed aboard with glasses of champagne. Clearly a different kind of cruise line! How wonderful!! The ship is airy and bright and easy to navigate. There is no casino and the shops are small but well stocked. There are lots of spaces to sit and read or play board or card games while watching the world go by outside the ship. And every afternoon and evening there was lovely music being played somewhere- near the pool, at the pool, in the Atrium. Our stateroom was equally bright and airy. And our steward was waiting for us to give us a tour of it so we would know where everything was and how everything operates. How thoughtful! He knew us by sight by the end of the first day. There are plenty of dining options aboard and we managed to dine in all the venues at least once during the week. The staff was, without exception, friendly, attentive and professional. The choices in the Main Dining Room and the World Cafe are largely the same but in the Cafe, you choose how many things you want to try and how much of each you want. When we went to the Main Dining Room the first night right after the lifeboat drill, there was a line. Not to worry, here came a waiter with more champagne to keep us all amused! And the line moved very quickly. Dinner at Manfredi's was an immersion into Italy. Delicious!! The Chef's Table is a dining event - with five courses paired with different wines all explained by the staff. Experiential dining at its best. The two full days at sea allowed us to explore the ship, swim and hang out at the pool, play games, go to tea in the Wintergarden (the scones are fabulous!), try out all the exercise options and go to the lectures. The lectures are another thing that set Viking apart from other cruise lines. We actually came home a lot better informed about Cuba, Cuban history and the history of US Cuban relations than we were when we left. It's a good feeling! The port excursions were extraordinary as well. Other than the first day and the last day, the process of clearing Customs and Immigration each day was quick and seamless. The first day, the additional paperwork and the lines to exchange money caused the process to take longer. And the last day, all of the trips arrived back at the terminal at the same time causing a delay. That wasn't the plan but it is what happened. We went to Trinidad de Cuba, a day in Havana, a walking tour of Cienfuegos and the trip to the coffee plantation near Santiago de Cuba. All allowed us to glimpse different bits of Cuban history, Cuba today and the people who live there. Only at one stop were we surrounded by local people selling souvenirs and trinkets. The tour company is owned by the government. The buses were all brand new air conditioned coach buses with a bathroom if necessary- very comfortable. The tour guides were all knowledgeable and spoke good to excellent English. It was clear that there were times when they could be frank and other times when they were less forthcoming. That in itself was a lesson. None of these trips were overly strenuous. The trip to the coffee plantation was the most walking over uneven ground that we did. There were water bottles provided as we left the ship each day and more on the buses so we were able to stay well hydrated in the heat. The meals that we ate on the tours off the boat (Trinidad and Havana) were good and gave us additional insights into Cuban culture and cuisine. Each tour seemed to include a cocktail somewhere that seemed a bit superfluous. But it was fun. And then we got another full day and half sea to process what we'd seen and heard, and to enjoy the activities and the ambiance that is Viking. Ahhh! But alas, all good things come to an end. Even though we wanted to linger, disembarkation went just as smoothly as embarkation. We breezed through Customs and Immigration and almost before we knew it we were back on the bus headed to the airport. I have recommended this trip and Viking to everyone who will listen to me since we got home. And we're already pouring over the catalogs to plan our next voyage. Viva Viking!!! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
The titles tells it all - This Is Not Your Typical Review Spoiler Alert: I was born in Cienfuegos 67 years ago, left in 1961 and had not returned in 57 years.But my memories are still fresh. The three day stopover was just long ... Read More
The titles tells it all - This Is Not Your Typical Review Spoiler Alert: I was born in Cienfuegos 67 years ago, left in 1961 and had not returned in 57 years.But my memories are still fresh. The three day stopover was just long enough to see what has changed in 57 years. Answer: Nothing! Think...What if nothing had changed where you live in the last 57 years. How sad. What price to be paid for supposedly "free" healthcare (no such thing - bring your own toilet paper, sheets, food, medicines, etc. to the hospital)? The real price: Your liberty. It was also sad to see many of my fellow passengers fawning over the old cars, decrepit buildings and the absence of any aspects of modern life. They thought these things were "quaint". Many also bemoaning "The Embargo" they know little about: "The Embargo" does not prevent Cuba from buying anything it wants in world markets - even food and medicines from the US can be had. But the problem is that Cuba does not make a thing of significant value that anybody wants to buy - rum and cigars do not a modern economy make. As to the cruise and itinerary. Overall, as always, 5 stars to Viking! Ship: Been on the Star 2 times and both have been superb experiences. This was the original ship (2014) of the Viking ocean fleet. It set the standard for all to follow to this day. Perfect size for this cruise. Cabin: Ample and sleek: Scandinavian functionality combined with style. And superb attention by the staff. Dining: Viking is the only cruise line where going to the main dinning room is as good or better than the specialty restaurants. Variety, extensive, high quality and attentive service. The specialty restaurants: Italian and a Chef's table (ever-changing menu) are fantastic. And don't forget the World Cafe - the best buffet presentation I have experienced in a luxury liner. And custom order anything. Yes, they'll accomodate just about any requests No kidding. Services: All your needs are covered, and more. Excursions: Extensive selection to the right places. Have fun deciding which to take. Hard choices. So don't read this review the wrong way. If you really want to see what Cuba is all about - this is the cruise for you. Just remove the rose colored glasses and take a hard look. You'll be glad you get to return to the Viking Star every day and enjoy the very best the world has to offer (on-board). And don't forget: You're free. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We enjoyed a previous Viking Ocean cruise and wanted to see Cuba. The major drawback was that the ship did not dock in Havana. There was a 12 hour, rather expensive, excursion into Havana. We enjoyed that excursion but thought that it ... Read More
We enjoyed a previous Viking Ocean cruise and wanted to see Cuba. The major drawback was that the ship did not dock in Havana. There was a 12 hour, rather expensive, excursion into Havana. We enjoyed that excursion but thought that it should have been an 'included' excursion since most people visiting Cuba want to see Havana. Both ports required 'tendering' so this cruise isn't for the 'disabled'. We usually cruise with Crystal cruises so our evaluations may be biased. Viking Ocean uses the river boat model....basic entertainment, etc., assuming that you will be in port most days anyhow. Our cabin was noisier than on our previous cruise (newer ship), but I understand that that will be corrected when the SKY is refitted in 2020. The dining is very good in all of the restaurants and reservations were not difficult to obtain. The wine selection is limited...a white and a red each day. On our previous cruise with Viking, they would serve one of the wines from another day if you found one that you particularly liked. The staff on this cruise weren't willing to do that. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise to spend time with group of friends and experience Cuba. Our group of 10 were accommodated at all restaurants with group seating ( twice with private dining rooms!) I was pleased to see a wide variety of gluten free ... Read More
We chose this cruise to spend time with group of friends and experience Cuba. Our group of 10 were accommodated at all restaurants with group seating ( twice with private dining rooms!) I was pleased to see a wide variety of gluten free foods available! The service level matched that of Silver Sea...perhaps even better in several venues. Aaron Syfert was one of the best cruise directors we have experienced.....all activities and excursions were executed well! The highlight of the trip was the overnight Havana excursion....at first I was reluctant but don't regret! We enjoyed several unique features of this ship.....thermal spa, infinity pool, and putting green. Since we partied quite a bit, I was glad we spent the extra money of the drink package. I'm not sure if it was planning or luck but the flight travel arrangements, transfers, etc. were seamless! I will certainly include Viking in my searches for our next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We were very interested in seeing Cuba, now that we finally had a way to get there. We were somewhat disappointed, however, in the destinations. Since Viking does not dock in Havana, we were at the port of Cienfuegos for 2.5 days. We ... Read More
We were very interested in seeing Cuba, now that we finally had a way to get there. We were somewhat disappointed, however, in the destinations. Since Viking does not dock in Havana, we were at the port of Cienfuegos for 2.5 days. We did arrange a private tour for our group of six to Havana, so we were able to see Havana, but it was a 3 hour drive from Cienfuegos. The excursions (except for our private Havana tour) were all provided by the official government-owned tourist company, and were clearly influenced by the government. Quality of excursions seemed to vary depending on which group you were in. We did the Streets of Trinidad tour, but it was the first day onshore and the line for currency exchange was long and slow. My group was last to leave for the tour. They took us to a small town far past Trinidad where we spent a little time, and by the time we got back to Trinidad, we hardly had any time left, and it was a lovely town where I would have really liked to spend more time. This was similar on the "walking tour" of Cienfuegos, which turned out to be much more of a bus tour. Since a tour of the cigar factory was included, again my group was among the last to get in; by the time we got back to downtown Cienfuegos we had hardly any time left and did no walking tour at all. The ship itself, however, was very nice. We were happy with the food, the ship itself and everything onboard. I would do an ocean cruise with Viking again, but wish our experience with the Cuba excursions had been better. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Selected this cruise because I had done a river cruise. The price was right. The greeters at the airport were right there and saw to everyone's needs. When we arrived at embarkation, boarding the ship was a breeze. We found our ... Read More
Selected this cruise because I had done a river cruise. The price was right. The greeters at the airport were right there and saw to everyone's needs. When we arrived at embarkation, boarding the ship was a breeze. We found our cabin with no difficulty and the accommodations were excellent for two people. Our room steward, the restaurant staff, excursion desk were all outstanding. The enrichment lectures were informative and well presented and attended. It was enjoyable in the evening to have music in the public areas. We enjoyed the game tables - with no casino. That certainly was an added plus to this trip. We had wonderful shore excursions with local guides who went above and beyond other guides I've had when traveling others companies. There isn't a negative thing I could share about this cruise. I've told friends thinking of traveling to Cuba - "This is the one for you!" If you are thinking about a trip to Cuba, "This is the one for you, too." Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
I never saw the notice for the Meet and Mingle in the daily happenings in the ship's program although I did see the signs for the get together, but did not know when it was happening. Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba were most ... Read More
I never saw the notice for the Meet and Mingle in the daily happenings in the ship's program although I did see the signs for the get together, but did not know when it was happening. Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba were most interesting and more vintage cars than I expected, The ship was perfect, as were the staff and food. Manfredi’s and The Chef's Table were such a treat, as were the many buffets. We met so many nice people on this cruise, everyone with such different backgrounds and perspectives. The onboard lectures were fantastic as were our guides on the excursions. The infinity pool was nice as was the regular pool, and the Aquivit Terrace was so nice and casual. I enjoyed being in my swim suit/robe and eating on the terrace. What a treat! Anastasia is a gifted piano player, and we enjoyed listening to her in the evenings. The launderette on our floor was nice to have. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Travelled in a group of 12 and we all were exceptionally pleased! Group included first time cruisers and seasoned cruisers. Exemplary food, service and off-shore tours! Staff is superb in their professionalism and service,always with a ... Read More
Travelled in a group of 12 and we all were exceptionally pleased! Group included first time cruisers and seasoned cruisers. Exemplary food, service and off-shore tours! Staff is superb in their professionalism and service,always with a friendly smile! Staff Attention to detail is amazing! Staff can remember you name, cabin and details about your preferences. Off shore excursions are excellent. We did upgrade some of our tours and they were with the extra expense. The pre-destination informative sessions were very helpful before each port. We have been on many cruises and Viking’s food exceeded expectations. Wine parring was fabulous. If we ate off ship food schedule, sometimes it was difficult to find a food option when returning to the ship after a tour. Down side is the main entertainment. Same performers with different themes every nite led us to retire to our rooms too early. Ship was always very clean no matter what time of day and in all weather conditions. When crew had to scramble to change a port due to bad weather, the result was very organized and a positive experience. Already have another cruise scheduled! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
I chose this cruise for the Cuba itinerary. I have taken over 100 cruises with all the premium and ultra-deluxe cruise lines and I have never encountered significant problems. First, I would like to address what I consider ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the Cuba itinerary. I have taken over 100 cruises with all the premium and ultra-deluxe cruise lines and I have never encountered significant problems. First, I would like to address what I consider "significant problems" and then mention "irritations" for which I think there is room for improvement and additional training. Significant Problem> When I got to the cruise terminal I could not pass security because I was not on the manifest. A supervisor allowed me to go upstairs where there was a Viking check-in desk. They could not find my name. Ambra (I think that is her name) was called. I explained to her I had people waiting in a car outside in case I could not board and explained my BP was extremely high and I was ill. She told me to "wait right here" while she went back to the ship, After about ten minutes I was lightheaded and dizzy and asked if I could sit and have a drink of water. Any elderly (I am age 75) person, let alone ill, should be offered a seat. Finally, I was boarded. There is no dedicated guest services staff.One calls the Explorer Desk. Four times I was unable to get an answer. When I asked the guest services representative why the phone is not answered he stated they are busy with other customers. There is no recording to indicate that and no option for a callback. The table on patio very dirty with standing water. Housekeeping did come and clean it when I called. I could not connect to the internet. Went to guest services for the third time. They could not help. A third person came to my cabin(after two others tried and I waited in the cabin for two hours) who had IT expertise and fixed it. Guest services called me three times to have me bring my passport. I had to go to the desk and give my passport for the third time. No remote for the TV in the cabin. I called housekeeping and they brought one but could not get it to work.Another person came and explained the safety video had to run first before the TV would work. Surprised to find the main dining room is not open for lunch, I was tired of buffets and wanted to sit down and be served. There are no trays so each course had to be carried to the table with no one to help. My spouse uses a walker so if anyone is traveling with a disabled person the other person has to make multiple trips to the buffet to get food for two people. The buffet (World Cafe) is extremely busy since it is the only place to eat for lunch and the wait staff is unable to provide adequate service. The cruise was advertised as "airfare included." I live in the Ft. Lauderdale area so air was not necessary but no credit is given for local travelers. Other cruise lines I have sailed deduct $300 per person from the fare. Solo travelers seem to be overlooked. I was seated behind a pillar in the Chef's table specialty restaurant and forgotten. This was a wine pairing dinner. The waiter forgot the initial wine so later brought two glasses of different wines, Voice mail service was intermittent. I could not retrieve my messages for a whole day There was a lot of complaining about Viking on the ship. I addressed my concerns with the hotel manager but he stated he is not empowered to do anything about my concerns. He stated that all concerns must be forwarded to corporate. The ship is beautiful. The spa is spectacular and the food is on par with other premium cruise lines but service is inferior to most mainline cruise lines and grossly lacking compared to the other "ultra deluxe" cruise lines such as Seabourn, Crystal and Regent.. I do think there is much more training needed; particularly in guest services and the wait staff in serving solo passengers. My cabin attendant was excellent and housekeeping could not do enough to address my concerns. Thesupervisor of housekeeping came to my cabin several times to make sure everything was OK. And when I asked about some snacks for an "election night party" the offerings exceeded my expectations One final comment. The itinerary was for three days in Cienfuegos and three hours in Santiago. It should be reversed. Everything of interest can be seen in three hours in Cienfuegos but Santiago is a large citywith many more points of interest. I did not do the Havanna tour dueto the 31/2 hour bus ride and the fact that I can take a five daycruise which overnights in Havanna for about half the price of the tour by Viking. In summary, Viking Ocean has beautiful ships but I hope the level of onboard services will be significantly improved. There seems to inadequatestaff; particularly since there are no exclusively guest services representatives. I paid $1100 a day for my cruise but I have had far superior experiences for cruises less than half that amount. Furthermore, if you are a solo traveler, over 65 or have a disability this cruise is not for you. Viking Ocean Cruises marketing targets younger, able bodied affluent travelers who enjoy such things as the "snow room" on board. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Cuba with luxury was the style on this wonderful ship. The personal touches and finishes provide a visit to a challenged country in grand style. We enjoyed everything on this cruise; however, the highlight was Havana cruising down the ... Read More
Cuba with luxury was the style on this wonderful ship. The personal touches and finishes provide a visit to a challenged country in grand style. We enjoyed everything on this cruise; however, the highlight was Havana cruising down the streets in vintage auto. The history of the chalenges faced by this 3rd world country are daunting. Many guides were willing to share their life experiences with all as well as the triumphs they have enjoyed. The vision of this country with it's future will be something I will remember for. The cruise gave us the chance to see many years ahead and envision the opportunities that can be experienced by the beautiful country. Our ship was new and fresh, everyone was dedicated to providing us with a pleasant vacation. The ship design is almost flawless in enhancing our experience. I would recommend this ship, crew and vacation to all of my friends. Read Less
Viking Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 0.0
Dining 5.0 0.0
Entertainment 3.0 0.0
Public Rooms 5.0 0.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 0.0
Family 1.0 0.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 0.0
Enrichment 4.0 0.0
Service 5.0 0.0
Value For Money 5.0 0.0

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