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We did the ‘Viking Homelands’ cruise from Bergen to Stockholm on Viking Star, and the experience was generally excellent. The Ship: As most would know, the ship is one year old. It is a beautiful ship, in a classical modern Scandinavian design and built to a high standard. The joinery and décor is magnificent. Unlike other cruise ships that we have experienced, there are many gorgeous public spaces where one can sit peacefully with no crowds. A very different experience. The Staff: The standard is exceptionally professional. All staff members seem happy and always greet the guests. The service is second to none. The Food: Certainly in the running for the title of the best food at sea. Extensive variety at every meal. Food is very fresh, prepared to perfection and beautifully presented. The Cabin: The high standard of finish and fittings does not quite extend to the cabins. By comparison with the public spaces, the cabin felt a little plain and mediocre. It is quite cramped, particularly for a newly designed ship. More bathroom hooks would be advantageous. Storage space is a little lacking, and the coffee table takes up too much floor space. A table half the size would be adequate (or none at all), and leave more space to move around. The overall offering: The offering is all inclusive, with no additional charges for specialty restaurants, wine and drinks with meals or specialty coffees. An excursion is included in every port. There are no formal nights, no casino, no art auctions, and no photographers chasing you everywhere. Viking has hit the spot perfectly. Note though, that the Viking offering is ‘destination based’, and we had just one restful sea day in our 14 day cruise. We left feeling quite tired. The Negatives: Not to major on them because overall the cruise was very good, but there are three that were important to us. 1. The bed was hard. In fact it was the hardest bed that we experienced on our trip in European and Scandinavian hotels both before and after the cruise. Sleep was not great! 2. The noisy dining room. Parts of the main dining room are built with hard surfaces, with glass wall panels, mostly timber floors and reflective ceilings. It looks beautiful but the noise is unbearable, and this is hardly a ‘fine dining’ experience. We encountered several other guests who expressed their disappointment and disillusionment. The staff that we spoke to were well aware of the issue. As a result, we chose to dine mostly in the World Café (the buffet) which is much quieter. Strangely, the World Café has carpeted floors! 3. On our cruise, 75% of guests were American, and a large percentage of those were loud, rude and obnoxious. Many were grossly overweight. It seems that Viking releases the cruise programs in the USA first, and when the rest of the world hears about it, most cabin categories are booked out. Viking may be quite happy with this outcome, but if they would prefer a more balanced mix of guests, they need to change their strategy. This one factor would cause us to think twice about another Viking cruise. We took a ‘Deluxe Veranda’, and wonder if the additional benefits (for the same size cabin) are worth the cost. These benefits comprise a coffee machine in the cabin (coffee is available throughout the ship, and there is room service), mini-bar with soft drinks (soft drinks are available free in restaurants and bars), snacks consisted of 2 mini chocolates and 1 tiny bag of chips preferential bookings for specialty restaurants (really?), and binoculars in the cabin. Is this worth the significant extra dollars per day? Probably not, and the Americans obviously don’t think so, since they book the cheaper cabins first. All things considered, it was a wonderful experience, but the negatives we mentioned could possibly mean this will be our only Viking ocean cruise. Interestingly, we did not find the same negatives on a Viking river cruise in China a few years ago.

A Beautiful Ship

Viking Star Cruise Review by TwoWallies

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Trip Details
We did the ‘Viking Homelands’ cruise from Bergen to Stockholm on Viking Star, and the experience was generally excellent.

The Ship: As most would know, the ship is one year old. It is a beautiful ship, in a classical modern Scandinavian design and built to a high standard. The joinery and décor is magnificent. Unlike other cruise ships that we have experienced, there are many gorgeous public spaces where one can sit peacefully with no crowds. A very different experience.

The Staff: The standard is exceptionally professional. All staff members seem happy and always greet the guests. The service is second to none.

The Food: Certainly in the running for the title of the best food at sea. Extensive variety at every meal. Food is very fresh, prepared to perfection and beautifully presented.

The Cabin: The high standard of finish and fittings does not quite extend to the cabins. By comparison with the public spaces, the cabin felt a little plain and mediocre. It is quite cramped, particularly for a newly designed ship. More bathroom hooks would be advantageous. Storage space is a little lacking, and the coffee table takes up too much floor space. A table half the size would be adequate (or none at all), and leave more space to move around.

The overall offering: The offering is all inclusive, with no additional charges for specialty restaurants, wine and drinks with meals or specialty coffees. An excursion is included in every port. There are no formal nights, no casino, no art auctions, and no photographers chasing you everywhere. Viking has hit the spot perfectly.

Note though, that the Viking offering is ‘destination based’, and we had just one restful sea day in our 14 day cruise. We left feeling quite tired.

The Negatives: Not to major on them because overall the cruise was very good, but there are three that were important to us.

1. The bed was hard. In fact it was the hardest bed that we experienced on our trip in European and Scandinavian hotels both before and after the cruise. Sleep was not great!

2. The noisy dining room. Parts of the main dining room are built with hard surfaces, with glass wall panels, mostly timber floors and reflective ceilings. It looks beautiful but the noise is unbearable, and this is hardly a ‘fine dining’ experience. We encountered several other guests who expressed their disappointment and disillusionment. The staff that we spoke to were well aware of the issue. As a result, we chose to dine mostly in the World Café (the buffet) which is much quieter. Strangely, the World Café has carpeted floors!

3. On our cruise, 75% of guests were American, and a large percentage of those were loud, rude and obnoxious. Many were grossly overweight. It seems that Viking releases the cruise programs in the USA first, and when the rest of the world hears about it, most cabin categories are booked out. Viking may be quite happy with this outcome, but if they would prefer a more balanced mix of guests, they need to change their strategy. This one factor would cause us to think twice about another Viking cruise.

We took a ‘Deluxe Veranda’, and wonder if the additional benefits (for the same size cabin) are worth the cost. These benefits comprise a coffee machine in the cabin (coffee is available throughout the ship, and there is room service), mini-bar with soft drinks (soft drinks are available free in restaurants and bars), snacks consisted of 2 mini chocolates and 1 tiny bag of chips preferential bookings for specialty restaurants (really?), and binoculars in the cabin. Is this worth the significant extra dollars per day? Probably not, and the Americans obviously don’t think so, since they book the cheaper cabins first.

All things considered, it was a wonderful experience, but the negatives we mentioned could possibly mean this will be our only Viking ocean cruise. Interestingly, we did not find the same negatives on a Viking river cruise in China a few years ago.
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