Viking did an amazing job. Was it perfect? No. Was it above expectations? Absolutely! This was a belated 40th anniversary celebration and it was obscenely luxurious-- fit the bill!
Ship: Flawlessly beautiful, smooth, and gracious. From the Explorer's Lounge with loads of glass to the tip of the infinity pool and from the window seating in Manfredi's to the Deck Nine ports area, the views were great and the amenities wonderful. The piped in sounds of birds in some of the public area bathrooms were a bit surprising at first. Our stateroom (Penthouse Veranda) was HUGE and had a wonderful outdoor space. Wishes: I wish there had been a few more places to sit in the comfortable lounge areas with feet up after a long day. The few wing chair/ottomans combos were snapped up immediately! Also wish I had realized they have to drop the water level in the infinity pool while underway. No pics of me "swimming" in the Baltic with the water flowing over the top of the glass. Oh darn.
Food: Incredible. The best were the surprises like Shanghai dumplings (as would be served in the Chef's Table) and specialty pastas (as would be served in Manfredi's fine Italian rest. ) showing up on mini-plates at World Cafe (buffet rest.) at lunchtime. If you kept your eyes open, the World Cafe was sometimes a sneak preview of the best dinners to come. Amazing Ravioli with lemon sauce. Sounds mundane, tastes unbelievable! Chef's Table fixed menu (every 5 days) great for foodies and wine lovers. Manfredi's is very popular for good reason: fine Italian food, impeccable service, and no huge plates full of red sauced spaghetti. The real deal for fine Italian-- EXCELLENT food. No extra cost for ANY restaurant. Make reservations early once on ship for popular nights, like last few days! We got everything we wanted just by asking, including our favorite window seat at Manfredi's. Oh, room service took no more than 5 min when we ordered (also free), though our requests were not "cooked" items.
Service: As you can tell from above, it was outstanding.
Excursions: Costs were typically more than DIY, and these were a bit heavy on motor coach tours (not our fav). Where possible, take the WALKING tours. DO NOT take the included trip to Berlin. This was Viking's major faux pas. 3.5 hr each way PLUS time "touring" sites in Berlin -- still on the bus! And ours had broken A/C on a 90+ degree day. Scott, the Excursions director, told us they are evaluating how to handle Berlin. We suggested dropping it entirely and just staying out near the port. Viking did offer included options closer to the port, but we, like 600 others, were lured by the prospect of seeing Berlin. Resist the temptation! We also had two much-anticipated excursions in other ports cancelled the day before due to tour operator issues or lack of sufficient interest. We have no experience to know how "normal" this is, but were disappointed. Rescheduling another option was made easy for us. Still waiting to see how quickly they process our refunds. (It has not been 10-14 days yet.) Best excursion: Chocolate making and Old Town in Tallinn.
Conveniently one flight down from World Cafe. Easy access to deck 7 where much of the "action" is. Occasional sound from cleaning World Cafe above our heads around 9 pm, but lasted only 15 min. HUGE space and loads of storage in drawers, closet, and bath.We could watch the harbor pilots board/leave from our veranda... fun!