We are "orphaned" older adults with no immediate family to share the holidays with so we opted to treat ourselves to this wonderful cruise. On the whole it was a fabulous experience, but we have some unique travel needs that made it a bit challenging. My husband has a back/leg/foot disability and uses a cane to walk. While he can walk a good amount and good distances he cannot walk fast or carefree, especially on cobblestone streets. We have been used to joining "the leisure group" (slower walking, less hills) on Viking river cruises and sorely missed that there was no such option on the big ship. Most tour excursion guides took off and never looked back as he struggled to keep their pace. We gave up on organized excursions in several cases to be able to go on our own and move at a slower pace best for him.
Also, the big ship experience wasn't best for him due to the amount of walking required not only on the ship (cabin to dining rooms distance) but the distances to walk to disembark, cross huge cruise terminals, across parking lots for tour bus loading, etc. We learned he has to be careful in how he expends his energy on a trip of this magnitude. Walking the cobblestones is a big challenge, but the addition of extra steps expended just to reach all the cobble streets is another!
A (normal) embarkation to start the cruise in Venice was not possible due to fog and repositioning the ship to Trieste was the only option. 900+ passengers disembarked as 900+ tried to embark. The embarkation was a nightmare but we learned later that the Trieste port authority was mostly responsible for that disorganized snafu as they would not allow Viking to oversee a more organized approach to embarkation. And Viking has tried to make up for that experience too, so we do not fault Viking. But the experience was a worst case scenario for a disabled person. Surviving in a throng of people all trying to get access to ship entry at the same time was dangerous. It was sort of a "survival of the fittest" situation.
Disabilities are not accorded the same respect and assistance abroad as we are used to in the US and there was no organized system to help the disabled in Trieste. Personally advocating for him (begging for assistance to any "official" I could find) finally helped us get him on board sooner than later, but had I not pursued it, he would've been in the throngs of the crowd for another two hours. He was about ready to collapse under these conditions so we were lucky the authorities finally allowed him to go ahead of hundreds of other guests.
In addition, the long lines to re-embark the ship after port visits was also very hard on him. Long, slow moving lines ..... Again, no head of the line for disabled persons. Lessons learned for us.
The ship was beautiful. We did find service in the ship restaurants slow on the whole (except for Manfredi's) in relation to water and coffee needs vs. the immediate and fast attention we are used to on the river boats. Dinner in The Restaurant was a little too prolonged. The World Cafe offered fresh food, lots of choices but a busy place and less relaxing. Staff there (World Cafe) seemed to be well trained to spot and see and help disabled persons with seating and carrying their plates to the table for them.
On the whole we loved the trip, but river cruising is much more safe, convenient, easy and organized for our needs. It's doubtful we will be able to sail a big ship again and in relation to big ships, the Viking Sea is small, with only 900+ passengers versus the thousands of very large cruise ships. River cruising is tops in our book and under our special needs.
The cabin was fine. The heated bathroom floor was nice but in ways too hot, although I did ask to have the temperature turned down. Down comforters (always used in Europe) are too hot for us. Should have asked for blankets as a replacement. Cabin steward was excellent. Wifi is slow.
the city is a bit tattered but the shopping area is a fun place for a few hours.
Enjoyed the walled city area. Festive for Christmas. Pretty area.
The gereslized city overview (included) tour was fine.
We didn't feel this exclusion was worth paying for. As an included tour, OK, but not worth extra money. We could not do the Pompeii tour(s) due to husband's disability so opted for this easier tour.View All 7 Culinary Tour Reviews
We felt the overview of Rome sites tour was good. The Vatican tour at night with only our Viking bus loads was awesome.View All 140 Vatican Museums Reviews
Good tour but this excursion had a lot of extensive walking in it, hard for my husband to keep up. Guide left him in the dust. Be aware that the distance from tour bus parking to the tower is quite a walk.View All 141 Leaning Tower of Pisa Reviews
While it was good to see Nice, I wish we had stayed in Monte Carlo for the day. Nice was just more walking the streets to kill 4 hours of free time. Nothing very extraordinary compared to other cities we'd been in already. Whereas Monte Carlo is beautiful and I'm sorry we didn't spend our whole day there.View All 13 Nice Walking Tour Reviews
Took the excursion to Aix en Provence. Saw a lot of countryside by doing this (bus ride was about 1 1/2 hr each way). Aix en Provence is a nice city, good flavor of Provence. Lots of activity as it was Christmas Eve. We heard from others that Toulon was not very exciting so we were glad we did our full day tour of Provence.
Great guide (Leo) actually was so conscientious of disabled in his group. Walked slow enough, very knowledgeable and thorough. After this excursion we boarded the big red hop on/hop off bus to see an overview of the city. An amazing city.View All 284 City Tour Reviews
Too little time in Venice. While we would've had some free time there on the day we were to embark the ship, the fog situation caused the ship to be moved to Trieste so we lost a whole afternoon/evening to be in Venice. Only having 10:00 am - 2:00 pm is never enough time in Venice!