My wife and I retired in the summer of 2009, up to that point I had never taken a cruise. My main reason was that I didn’t want to be stuck on a ship with nothing to do. Well I must say, was I ever wrong. We have since taken eight cruises to date, with more planned in the future. Our first experience with Viking was a City Lights River Cruise, from Paris to Prague. Needless to say it was an amazing trip. The views along the Rivers were spectacular as well as the ports we docked in. When it came time for our excursions, they were extremely well planned. I was impressed by the way the crew members who went on our excursions looked after us and made sure no one got lost. Back on board the food was great as well as the entertainment and sleeping accommodations.
I have always wanted to explore the Mediterranean via a cruise ship and when we heard that Viking had just introduced the Viking Star, we booked our cruise a year and half ahead of time. When it came time for our cruise we were once again extremely impressed. Upon our arrival at the Istanbul airport, we were met by Viking representatives and escorted to our bus. From there we were driven to our ship and upon arrival at the terminal were quickly processed and boarded the ship “The Viking Sea”. The system they have for scanning our photographs and activating our room cards was completed in an instant. Once on the ship we were kept informed on all activities via scheduled talks in the theater or simply by utilizing our television in our cabin, were we were able to view events, movies, major network stations, planned excursions, recent presentations and even an up to date breakdown of our account.
When it came to our scheduled excursions, once again it was a seamless process. We received cards for our excursions as well as a daily sheet with scheduled events. Once we showed up at our meeting place, we were escorted out within five minutes and taken to our assigned busses for our event. The listening devices that were issued were amazing, allowing us to hear everything from our guide while on our excursion. Speaking of excursions, there were numerous ones to choose from on every port we visited. I was most impressed upon our return to the ship where were greeted by the Viking crew giving out champagne, towels, music, dancing etc. To date the staff of Viking are second to none! At the end of each excursion we were given sheets to rate our excursion, which I know are carefully scrutinized by staff to determine which ones to keep as well as which ones to discard.
Our dining experience was pretty much the same as on other cruises however, the free unlimited wine as well as beer served with lunch and dinner made it more special. Our waitress “Maria” was phenomenal, which made our dining experience that much more special. Half way through our twenty-day cruise we were met by six other family members. We requested a table for eight as well as Maria and were granted both. We had such a good time at dinner with Maria that we cancelled some of our request for other restaurants
The day our other family members were scheduled to board the ship I advised Mohamad our assigned housekeeping person of their pending arrival. He made of point of getting their cabins ready and they were able to utilize them much earlier than scheduled. We found Mohamed quite expedient in caring for our cabin and was always available to tend to our needs. When it came to doing laundry, we made of point of timing it and never had to wait for a machine to become available. What made it even nicer was the free detergent.
The ship is much smaller than a regular cruise ships and when it came to entertainment, it was every bit as good as any larger ship. I was impressed by the digital stage backdrop that constantly changed as each event unfolded. The entertainment staff were extremely talented and after each show were available for greetings and questions. We found ourselves being entertained during lunch, tea time as well in the lobby. It seemed that there was always something going on. We discovered that the passengers were for the most part older with very few young couples. However, it was the right fit for us as it was a more relaxing and subdued. This also was to my advantage when it came time to utilizing the gym. Although there were usually persons there working out, I never had to wait for the equipment. We are looking forward to booking another cruise with Viking in the future. I know that with Vikings continuous strive towards perfection as well as the extremely friendly and professional staff we won’t be disappointed.