We had not been on an ocean cruise for many years, although we have done 3 River Cruises with Viking. Flying to Europe from Australia is a long haul and we like to stay overnight in Asia to break the trip up into manageable "chunks". While Viking booked our flights, we had to find our own accommodation and transfers.
Because of the flight schedules, we arrived in Istanbul 2 days ahead of our pre-cruise tour to Gallipoli and Troy. Again we had to find our own accommodation and transfers. We felt if Viking had made sure we were all in Istanbul at least a day before the tour and had booked us into a hotel of their choice, we would have been collected from there at an earlier time and had more time on the tour instead of wasting the entire morning waiting at the airport and not getting on the road until about 2.30pm.
We also found the ground crew in Istanbul very difficult to communicate with - problem solving was not their forte.
The ship itself was beautiful - simple and elegant design, well furnished and easy to get around. We enjoyed a couple of crazy games of golf up on the sports deck and attended as many concerts and cabarets as we could. Our cabin was spacious and we appreciated the night light in the bathroom.
The restaurants were excellent - our night at the Chef"s Table was an amazing experience.
The simplicity and choice at the World Café was great for an easy option at any time of day and Manfredis was another delight.
Not only in the restaurants, but everywhere on board, the staff gave friendly and special service. Their use of iPods helped them remember us as guests rather than passengers and I thought it was a very practical aid, in an era when technology seems to isolate people more than it should.
For the most part the shore excursions were very well run and interesting. We had our problems with the pre-cruise tour in Istanbul and I was disappointed with the winery tour in Pula and, of course, our biggest disappointment was not being able to join the post-cruise tour of Venice.
Being Australian clients, we sometimes feel we miss out on offers that are made to the Americans. We have always sailed with Viking and wish to in the future. I'm sure as the company become more experienced in Ocean Cruising they will address some of these issues and make it a special occasion for all travellers
The cabin was well appointed, although we had trouble making the TV work and there was no jug to boil water for tea - coffee machines just don't do it right