We went on a Viking three week river cruise in 2014 and found it excellent so we, myself, husband and eldest daughter, booked on a Viking Ocean Cruise for 50 days departing Istanbul on 3rd April 2016 After we had booked, we found out that this would be the Viking Sea's maiden voyage and were a little apprehensive but decided that we would trust the Viking company and made our plans to have a few days in Istanbul and then board the vessel on 3rd April, 2016
We had booked a Junior Penthouse Suite and our daughter had Deluxe Verandah right next door on Deck 7. We chose the Penthouse Suite because of the large area of 405sq.ft and it was close to lifts, swimming, dining and the winter garden area.
We were welcomed aboard at 11.00am. our boarding time without any problems of hold up. Our luggage was taken onto the boat and the thing that impressed us on boarding and indeed on the whole of the 50 day trip, was the smiling welcome and greeting that everyone from the Captain, the officers, all the staff and crew gave you every day. It was so welcoming and you immediately felt like 'family' aboard and with every single member of the ship smiling and asking how was your day, etc. you responded with an equal smile and answer. Viking are to be praised for training all their employees in this manner.
Our cabin was perfect, the bed and down pillows comfortable. We had two television sets, a refrigerator stocked with drinks and goodies, our own coffee pod machine and plenty of drawers and wardrobe space. The cosmetic and jewellery drawer that lit up with LED lights when opened so you could put your make up in the mirror in its lid. It was so good I drew out the design and measurements hoping to have something similar constructed in our own home when we got back. The bathroom/ensuite was another thing. Heated floor, two basins, huge heated towel rails and a big acrylic shower recess which was huge. Love the tap where you could just adjust the temperature and flow of the water and it was always hot whenever you wished to shower day or night. Toiletries were provided and were of a high standard as were the huge white soft towels changed as often as you wished. The restaurants, bars and grills where you could always find somewhere available to eat and the food was just out of this world. We tried all the restaurants and each was really special in its own way. We did use the World Cafe mostly for breakfast and lunches as it was on our deck level. The food variety was fantastic and you could have as much or as little as you wished. Never in the whole 50 days of our cruise did we have to queue up with no more than two or three people at the counter. The Chefs Table was a five course degustation menu with complimentary wines with each course. Bookings were essential but there was never a problem getting in. The Restaurant was delightful and a really comprehensive menu as was Manfredis with an Italian menu. The Pool Grill and Mamsens were also incredible as was the High Tea served every afternoon at 4.00pm in the Wintergarden.
The entertainment provided was world class bringing in international artists on the piano, violin, singing and dancing which was augmented by the permanent entertainers, four male and four female giving many evenings of opera, music, dancing which kept us enthralled. There were several other musicians, pianists, a three piece band, a three piece classical group, and a guitarist which played in various sections of the ship daily and there was always the resident vocalist and Viking Band setting the scene with toe tapping numbers to take you to the dance floor every evening till midnight.
There were so many information talks with specialist experts on board enlightening us with information on the geology, history, ships and their development from little rafts to the great ships of today, We learnt all about the European Union, and I could go on and on about all the interesting facts and talks that were available if you wish to attend. The Port Talks availing you of everything about the next port you would be visiting and all the amazing excursions provided with competent guides and drivers with their big comfortable buses.
Viking Sea Cruises are advertised as an enrichment cruise about the history and culture of the many places and countries you visit. In our case of 50 days it was 18 countries and 38 ports. The cruise is definitely more for the mature 50 plus traveller and there are no children on board under 18 as there are no facilities for them. Being retired and not as agile as earlier years this was the perfect cruise for my husband and self and our daughter who is 57. Once on board everything is covered with your initial fare. Wine and beer was supplied at lunch and dinner and there were numerous VIP cocktail parties where plentiful drinks were supplied. Gratuities were included in your fare and as one cruiser said, he had been on board for three weeks and hadn't spent a penny. Of course a visit to the hairdresser, beauty salon, massage etc. incurred a fee as did the items in the jewellery shop and Viking shop, but to spend there was purely a choice. They did have another shop where you could purchase necessities like toothpaste, some medications for colds or sore throats and any other little things you might have forgotten to bring or had used up. I should mention here that Viking are incredibly particular about cleanliness and hygiene. There were many little hand spray machines scattered all over the ship where you could sanitise your hands and definitely before entering any of the dining rooms. They always had a lovely smiling crew member welcoming you to wherever you were going to eat and they would remind you so politely to disinfect your hands before eating. There was a doctor on board but we managed to go the 50 days without any problems with health or catching any colds or tummy upsets. To my knowledge the ship was pretty free of any nasties for the whole cruise. Our cabin stewards cleaned every vertical and horizontal surface in our cabin daily, Mirrors, walls, balcony, ensuite, nothing was missed and it was vacuumed daily, sometimes even twice a day. Towels and sheets were changed on a daily basis and all in all we were treated like I think the Kings and Czars and their families were looked after in the magnificient palaces we visited on our excursions. All I can say, for people who want to have a really interesting cruise without gambling, big water adventure equipment and other enticements, Vijking have got it right. With a passenger maximum of 930 people, nothing was ever crowded and there was always plenty of room wherever you wanted to be. I can only recommend them as a exciting and marvellous cruise operation and especially as I commenced this review, the smiling and welcome and great to assist you attitude of all their officers, staff and crew really makes your day such a pleasant and happy time.
The cabin was perfect with its floor to ceiling doors and windows accessing the balcony where we could sit in our lounge chairs or even lie on our king size bed and watch the world go by through the glass. Or if we wished we had a table and chairs on our balcony where we could sit out in the sun. I should mention that there is no smoking on the balconies, in your cabin or anywhere on the ship other than a small designated area I think was on deck 8 or 9. As I am allergic to cigarette smoke it was marvellous that I was completely safe whilst on board.