We arrived in Istanbul several days early to explore the city with the three other couples in our group, using Tours by Locals online in advance of the trip to find a guide.
This was our fifth cruise, but our first on Viking. We had a wonderful experience, with great food at all venues and uniformly excellent service from all staff members. This ship is beautiful, and even our "deluxe veranda" cabin was great--not large, but very well designed and comfortable, with enough room for my husband to do his yoga poses there every day. (We didn't get a chance to try the fitness center and classes offered there, due to schedule conflicts, but I know group yoga and pilates classes were offered.)
We loved the fact that Viking includes so many things that other cruise lines have been charging extra for in recent years (e.g., one included tour at each port, a veranda for every stateroom, free meals at all venues including the specialty restaurants requiring reservations, wine and beer included at lunch and dinner.)
We attended four evening shows and enjoyed them all. The entertainers were young, personable, and talented. The included shore excursions were interesting and well organized.
Despite Viking's decision to make a last-minute change in itinerary (due to terrorist threats in the general area), everything went quite smoothly, and the bonus was an extra port (Cannakale/Troy). Security and hygiene precautions throughout the cruise were effective but unobtrusive.
Both embarkation and disembarkation went very quickly and smoothly. Our final destination was Venice, Italy. Once again, we elected to explore that city for several days on our own before flying back to the U.S.
We would take another Viking cruise--river or ocean--in a heartbeat. My husband, who normally isn't wild about cruising, says he'll gladly become an unpaid spokesman for Viking. When the budget allows, I'd like to try a Viking river cruise. Another passenger told us that Viking plans to offer river cruises in the U.S. in the next two or three years, and we'll be the first in line for one of those.
We highly recommend this cruise and this cruise line!