AS this is my second Viking Cruise I had high expectations and once I got to St. Petersburg and on the boat everything was excellent. The Boat, the crew, the food, the drinks, the entertainment... it was all top notch. I'll get back to that later as I want to tell everyone about the hassles with booking flights. Viking offered 'free airfare' and I politely refused, but they insisted the free airfare was wonderful. I said I normally upgrade, and they told me that once an airline was assigned I would be able to upgrade with no problems.
So 30 days before our sailing date I called Viking and was told that I was assigned to Aeroflot and I could call them to upgrade or use the Viking partner link to do the upgrade online. I went to the Viking link page and guess what. Aeroflot was not even listed as a partner of Viking on that page. So I called Aeroflot and they said it would cost $385.00 per segment to upgrade, but only my travel agent, in this case Viking, could do it. So I called Viking back and said that Aeroflot had it all wrong and that they could not upgrade me. I called Aeroflot again and they confirmed everything I had been told earlier and I called Viking and they insisted they could not upgrade me.
Sooo.. I wrote a letter to Viking headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. They faxed my letter back to the California office of Viking and I received a call from the travel manager. She said in fact I could upgrade for $3800. So for a total of $7600 I could upgrade my flights. I politely said no and asked to cancel the trip. I was told there would be sever financial penalties and I pointed out that I was lied to when I booked. Guess I should have had Viking sign something. I grudgingly traveled with my nose up against the seat in front of me for 10 hours, cursing the trip, the cruise, the flight and Aeroflot. I was glad to arrive in Moscow to get the short hop to St. Petersburg.
I met other people on board, and they had no problems upgrading with American airlines companies, the problem was just Aeroflot.
OK, now to the actual cruise. It was wonderful, much more than my wife and I expected. The Hotel Manager, Wilheim was great, entertaining, and quick to react to anyone's problems. Jeffrey and Elvira were great in the restaurant. As I said the food was great, and on my wife's birthday I spoke to the chef about a surprise cake and said it was all taken care of. I guess they looked at the passports to get her birthdate. The most tasty cake was prepared, and the 6 people at our table each got a piece.
My wife and I learned more about Russia, it's history and it's language in those 12 days then we ever could have imagined. We also visited a Russian commune and we surprised at how they lived. We were glad to hear that they were being phased out. We also visited a Russian home in Yaroslavl and it was very much like an American home.
Conversations with the Russian people shower we had the same interests, a happy life, good and smart children who are successful, and a long life.
Saint Petersburg was beautiful and the museums, cathedrals, and canals were all noteworthy. Moscow was also wonderful. It was clean, seemed safe, and Red Square (Red means beautiful by the way), was very impressive. I would definitely go back to Russia to learn more.... But I would NOT book or accept free airfare from Viking. They treat you like cattle to get to the ship and to get home. That kind of degrades from the rest of the trip.
Excellent cabin amenities and service.
Excellent and very informative.View All 226 Catherine Palace Reviews
Beautiful and lots of vendors around it.View All 210 Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood Reviews
I stood 12 inches away from a DiVinci painting and was able to photograph it. Yes, you can use your camera in the Hermitage.View All 377 Hermitage Museum Reviews
Everything was better than I expected for all excursions.View All 114 Peter & Paul Fortress Reviews
No pictures in the building, but the fountains were beautiful. Be there at 11AM when they turn on the fountains. It is quite a show.View All 231 Peterhof Palace Reviews
Excellent dancers and music.View All 99 Russian Ballet Show Reviews
One more cathedral. It does give a good look at the city from the dome.View All 113 St. Isaac's Cathedral Reviews