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Our 2nd two-week Viking Ocean Cruise and our 1st on Viking Sea. We did a Venice prestay for 3 days. The ship actually did not depart from Venice--it departed from Trieste because fog prevented it from docking in Venice. That was a very challenging start to the cruise part of the trip because Viking didn't have any on-the-ground people who knew what was happening and it wasted a day in Venice for anyone on the prestay because our hotel Viking representative said to stay put, rather than go out and around Venice. So everyone waited for hours in a hotel and then a port terminal lobby doing nothing until mid to late afternoon when buses took everyone on a 3 hour bus trip to Trieste. Arrived in the dark and cold and stood outside the Trieste port terminal with 900+ others while 1 Italian whose English was a bit spotty searched names on a pages-long list to match it to the passport. This went on into the late hours of the night. We are very able-bodied, but felt bad for many elders who had to stand for hours or needed assistance where none was to be had. I insisted on being allowed to access a restroom in the terminal and a local Viking rep helped me do that finally. Onboard: We had a penthouse veranda stateroom deck 5. Because we arrived late evening and things were chaotic, we were never shown around our stateroom by a steward and we really didn't run into our steward the whole trip. I supposed we could have asked at guest services for the steward to come by, but we didn't bother. Funny thing is that we did not see the refrigerator stocked with the champagne and snacks until the day we left as we checked all drawers in the room. The frig is in the far end of the desk and corner of the room and we never thought to look there. Room and closet were spacious; plenty of drawerspace. Loveseat had a few stains on it, which is too bad for a new ship. There were also 2 chairs and a coffee table, but not really any place to dine together if you ordered room service. One ate on the coffee table and the other at the desk. Bathroom was nicely appointed. They could do a better job of cleaning the corners of the shower, though, as we noticed slightly pink slime build up there. Towels are thick but a bit scratchy. Shower is decent. Heated floors nice. Recreation on ship: Weather can be and was mostly mild in Mediterranean in winter. So we like Deck 8 sports deck to walk, play shuffle board, putting green, bowling green exercise equipment. Problem was that the equipment was in short supply. For example, 2 shuffle board courts and only 1 set of gear in less than optimal condition. Exercise equipment was stripped of weights needed to use the stuff. We asked about this, but the staffer on the deck said they didn't have any other equipment, so we couldn't play at times we wanted and couldn't use some of the stuff we would have used. Inside, recreation of some classic board games is on Decks 2 and 3 atrium. They also have some big round computer tabletops to play computer solitaire and other games. The Scrabble game set was missing about 10 letters. Someone ripped pieces of paper to write letter names replacing the missing pieces. This seemed very tacky and was annoying to try to play with. There were a number of small things like this that should not be for a ship line claiming to be #1 and "luxury"--especially a new ship. Dinner: We are 1 meathead and 1 vegetarian. Viking was a tiny bit better this cruise than last with vegetarian options at dinner--but that isn't saying a lot. The option was more often than not a bland risotto with some chopped up vegetables. One time it was vegetarian moussaka that was 99% potatoes layered with tomato sauce. One tiny sliver of eggplant was on the bottom. Their chefs clearly don't know how to prepare anything substantial or flavorful for vegetarians. We had the best dinner in Manfredi's. Dined there twice. We canceled Chef Table reservations because it didn't work well for us--was not veg friendly, though we could have asked for something nonmeat, but that's not the point of that restaurant. Afternoon tea was OK, not great. We tried it twice. Ironically a proper Afternoon Tea is where one might expect more vegetarian options--but they had only a bland cucumber sandwich and all else was canned tunafish or smoked salmon. We asked, but no other options like a nice egg salad, or olives and cream cheese. Also the service at Tea was not good. We waited 15 minutes at our seats before anyone came to us--yet we were seated adjacent to the serving counter where all the waiters got the trays of food and tea. When service, the water was not hot, waiter was very abrupt, and never checked back to see if everything was OK. Breakfast: We ordered room service for efficiency before going on excursons. They came on time and food was hot--though the order was messed up a few times but usually in terms of excess things we didn't ask for--so a lot got wasted. Lunch: We ate in the World Cafe though at times it was over crowded and sitting outside wasn't an option because it was too cool. On warmer days, outdoor dining was lovely. The service was typically very good and the waitstaff really hustled. Food was OK. Excursions: Some were great, some were very ho hum. We did Rome on our own and don't understand why they charged $69 per person for a bus ride when they offer an included Rome panorama tour free. We would have done Florence on our own also, but they didn't offer that option when we booked online. We heard that had offered it and cancelled from too few takers, but we never saw the option. Our conclusion about excursions is that trips that include lunch waste a lot of valuable time--takes a good 2 hours out of your day and food isn't usually anything to rave about. We tried to avoid those this time. Another thing that affects tours is all the time on buses (and group bathroom breaks), the quality of the local tour guide, and also the mobility of the people in your tour group. It's nice that Viking accommodates people with impaired mobility to some extent--but unfortunately it also slows down the pace at which a group moves. If you can tour on your own--independently you will do and see a lot more. For example in Rome, we hired a terrific cabbie who was a great tour guide and knew how to get us around most efficiently in the time we had. We got our own Vatican tour tickets in advance so did not have to wait in line. In Monaco, we did our own walking tour and went to the aquarium, walked back to the ship and then got the "Nice on your own" bus and had a great afternoon on our own in Nice. Onboard entertainment: On both ocean cruises, we give this an "A" for effort, but a "C" for talent for most of the singers/dancers. Some of them sang songs that made you think "you just shouldn't go there" because of brassy, pitchy voices. Two of the voices were solid. The pianist and classic trio were a cut above--they both got A+ for talent. The band was just OK. Onboard port talks and lectures: The cruise director was great. Very personable, had a very nice singing voice himself, a good sense of humor, and a good pick for the job. The Excursion Planner was a nice gent also and gave good port talks. Of the 2 guest lecturers we went to this cruise, we found only 1 to be interesting. The other was very dry, academic, and monotonous. Boring. Last cruise, guest lecturers were much better. Laundry facilities: Very nice that they offer them. The instructions for use are terribly confusing though and took a few of us consulting with each other to figure it out. Facilities were always crowded (3 washers/dryers in a laundry room per deck) and you had to waste time waiting for them to open up (or lose your turn) so they could benefit from a larger laundry self-service, but I don't expect that will happen. We concluded our trip in Barcelona with a wonderful excursion to the Montserrat Monastery. This was a great excursion because you were on your own most of the time. We saw the famous black madonna and child in the basilica and hiked for a couple hours around the mountain. Train up the mountain was great, and the bus ride down was also very scenic. They got us there very early in the morning, which was fabulous because by the time we departed, it was a packed zoo. This was the day after Christmas so a lot of people were on holiday. We disembarked in the middle of the night to get to the airport. We learned subsequently that the ship had broken down on its way as we cruised to Barcelona and it limped into port. So, the 930 people anticipating embarkation for a 2 week cruise of the Mediterranean didn't go on their cruise. Feel sorry for those poor people, especially for a ship less than a year old. Same thing happened on the Viking Star early in its first year. Hope they get things sorted out before we go on our next Viking ocean cruise this summer.

Mixed Bag: Christmas in the Mediterranean, Cruise on Viking Sea

Viking Sea Cruise Review by Notyourusualcruiser

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Our 2nd two-week Viking Ocean Cruise and our 1st on Viking Sea. We did a Venice prestay for 3 days. The ship actually did not depart from Venice--it departed from Trieste because fog prevented it from docking in Venice. That was a very challenging start to the cruise part of the trip because Viking didn't have any on-the-ground people who knew what was happening and it wasted a day in Venice for anyone on the prestay because our hotel Viking representative said to stay put, rather than go out and around Venice. So everyone waited for hours in a hotel and then a port terminal lobby doing nothing until mid to late afternoon when buses took everyone on a 3 hour bus trip to Trieste. Arrived in the dark and cold and stood outside the Trieste port terminal with 900+ others while 1 Italian whose English was a bit spotty searched names on a pages-long list to match it to the passport. This went on into the late hours of the night. We are very able-bodied, but felt bad for many elders who had to stand for hours or needed assistance where none was to be had. I insisted on being allowed to access a restroom in the terminal and a local Viking rep helped me do that finally.

Onboard: We had a penthouse veranda stateroom deck 5. Because we arrived late evening and things were chaotic, we were never shown around our stateroom by a steward and we really didn't run into our steward the whole trip. I supposed we could have asked at guest services for the steward to come by, but we didn't bother. Funny thing is that we did not see the refrigerator stocked with the champagne and snacks until the day we left as we checked all drawers in the room. The frig is in the far end of the desk and corner of the room and we never thought to look there.

Room and closet were spacious; plenty of drawerspace. Loveseat had a few stains on it, which is too bad for a new ship. There were also 2 chairs and a coffee table, but not really any place to dine together if you ordered room service. One ate on the coffee table and the other at the desk. Bathroom was nicely appointed. They could do a better job of cleaning the corners of the shower, though, as we noticed slightly pink slime build up there. Towels are thick but a bit scratchy. Shower is decent. Heated floors nice.

Recreation on ship: Weather can be and was mostly mild in Mediterranean in winter. So we like Deck 8 sports deck to walk, play shuffle board, putting green, bowling green exercise equipment. Problem was that the equipment was in short supply. For example, 2 shuffle board courts and only 1 set of gear in less than optimal condition. Exercise equipment was stripped of weights needed to use the stuff. We asked about this, but the staffer on the deck said they didn't have any other equipment, so we couldn't play at times we wanted and couldn't use some of the stuff we would have used.

Inside, recreation of some classic board games is on Decks 2 and 3 atrium. They also have some big round computer tabletops to play computer solitaire and other games. The Scrabble game set was missing about 10 letters. Someone ripped pieces of paper to write letter names replacing the missing pieces. This seemed very tacky and was annoying to try to play with. There were a number of small things like this that should not be for a ship line claiming to be #1 and "luxury"--especially a new ship.

Dinner: We are 1 meathead and 1 vegetarian. Viking was a tiny bit better this cruise than last with vegetarian options at dinner--but that isn't saying a lot. The option was more often than not a bland risotto with some chopped up vegetables. One time it was vegetarian moussaka that was 99% potatoes layered with tomato sauce. One tiny sliver of eggplant was on the bottom. Their chefs clearly don't know how to prepare anything substantial or flavorful for vegetarians. We had the best dinner in Manfredi's. Dined there twice. We canceled Chef Table reservations because it didn't work well for us--was not veg friendly, though we could have asked for something nonmeat, but that's not the point of that restaurant.

Afternoon tea was OK, not great. We tried it twice. Ironically a proper Afternoon Tea is where one might expect more vegetarian options--but they had only a bland cucumber sandwich and all else was canned tunafish or smoked salmon. We asked, but no other options like a nice egg salad, or olives and cream cheese. Also the service at Tea was not good. We waited 15 minutes at our seats before anyone came to us--yet we were seated adjacent to the serving counter where all the waiters got the trays of food and tea. When service, the water was not hot, waiter was very abrupt, and never checked back to see if everything was OK.

Breakfast: We ordered room service for efficiency before going on excursons. They came on time and food was hot--though the order was messed up a few times but usually in terms of excess things we didn't ask for--so a lot got wasted.

Lunch: We ate in the World Cafe though at times it was over crowded and sitting outside wasn't an option because it was too cool. On warmer days, outdoor dining was lovely. The service was typically very good and the waitstaff really hustled. Food was OK.

Excursions: Some were great, some were very ho hum. We did Rome on our own and don't understand why they charged $69 per person for a bus ride when they offer an included Rome panorama tour free. We would have done Florence on our own also, but they didn't offer that option when we booked online. We heard that had offered it and cancelled from too few takers, but we never saw the option.

Our conclusion about excursions is that trips that include lunch waste a lot of valuable time--takes a good 2 hours out of your day and food isn't usually anything to rave about. We tried to avoid those this time. Another thing that affects tours is all the time on buses (and group bathroom breaks), the quality of the local tour guide, and also the mobility of the people in your tour group. It's nice that Viking accommodates people with impaired mobility to some extent--but unfortunately it also slows down the pace at which a group moves. If you can tour on your own--independently you will do and see a lot more. For example in Rome, we hired a terrific cabbie who was a great tour guide and knew how to get us around most efficiently in the time we had. We got our own Vatican tour tickets in advance so did not have to wait in line. In Monaco, we did our own walking tour and went to the aquarium, walked back to the ship and then got the "Nice on your own" bus and had a great afternoon on our own in Nice.

Onboard entertainment: On both ocean cruises, we give this an "A" for effort, but a "C" for talent for most of the singers/dancers. Some of them sang songs that made you think "you just shouldn't go there" because of brassy, pitchy voices. Two of the voices were solid. The pianist and classic trio were a cut above--they both got A+ for talent. The band was just OK.

Onboard port talks and lectures: The cruise director was great. Very personable, had a very nice singing voice himself, a good sense of humor, and a good pick for the job. The Excursion Planner was a nice gent also and gave good port talks. Of the 2 guest lecturers we went to this cruise, we found only 1 to be interesting. The other was very dry, academic, and monotonous. Boring. Last cruise, guest lecturers were much better.

Laundry facilities: Very nice that they offer them. The instructions for use are terribly confusing though and took a few of us consulting with each other to figure it out. Facilities were always crowded (3 washers/dryers in a laundry room per deck) and you had to waste time waiting for them to open up (or lose your turn) so they could benefit from a larger laundry self-service, but I don't expect that will happen.

We concluded our trip in Barcelona with a wonderful excursion to the Montserrat Monastery. This was a great excursion because you were on your own most of the time. We saw the famous black madonna and child in the basilica and hiked for a couple hours around the mountain. Train up the mountain was great, and the bus ride down was also very scenic. They got us there very early in the morning, which was fabulous because by the time we departed, it was a packed zoo. This was the day after Christmas so a lot of people were on holiday. We disembarked in the middle of the night to get to the airport. We learned subsequently that the ship had broken down on its way as we cruised to Barcelona and it limped into port. So, the 930 people anticipating embarkation for a 2 week cruise of the Mediterranean didn't go on their cruise. Feel sorry for those poor people, especially for a ship less than a year old. Same thing happened on the Viking Star early in its first year. Hope they get things sorted out before we go on our next Viking ocean cruise this summer.
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