This was our first trip on Viking Oceans and we were not disappointed! For a very detailed and comprehensive review on the ship I would suggest reading spaniel lovers post "West Indies Explorer on Viking Star: A Detailed Review" on the Viking ocean board. I will not go into that much detail but share some extra thoughts on the included shore excursions as I found little info on that before my trip...
Embarkation was smooth upon arrival in San Juan. Viking Staff was waiting there at baggage claim for us and bus ride was about 30 minutes to ship. We were in a PV1 and felt there was ample space for all clothing and a very nice layout. The TV was large (probably 40 inches or so) and had interactive menu displaying the daily activities as well as our individual schedule (shore excursions/ dining reservations etc). Also many first run movies on demand. We asked for extra hangers as well as an extra comforter and this was easy for them to accommodate.
DINING was very strong. Most of our meals were in the world buffet, just because we enjoy the flexibility of casual eating a sampling a little of everything. Our favorite part of the day was around 5:00. We would jump in the infinity pool and Jacuzzi as the sun was setting and the ship sailed away from port. Dinner starts at 6:00 so we would go straight from pool to outside seating and go to town on the sushi and seafood buffet. It was glorious.
We also had 1 night in Chefs table, 1 night in Manfredi's and 2 nights in the Main Dining Room (MDR). Chefs table was the Asian night and each course was delicious. The Peking duck was superb and we enjoyed having a wine pairing with each course. Manfredi's we both ordered the steak which was very tender and melted in the mouth. Finally Main Dining Room was my only complaint. It was very loud and the tables for 2 are inches from another couple. It is that awkward in between area where you feel strange not chatting with the other couple. Also service at dinner in MDR was quite slow compared to the world café and specialty restaurants. Viking needs to move more staff down to MDR during dinner.
A couple final points on dining. We often ordered room service which is complimentary and a good selection. Nice to sit on balcony with cheese and meat plates, or a cheesecake. Finally, don't miss out on Mamsens in the Explorer Lounge for the Norwegian waffle!
This will be the focus of my review as I would have liked more feedback of each tour before I left to decide how to plan each day in port.
SAN JUAN: This was the only walking tour of the trip. It was supposed to be 2 hours but we left group after about 1 hour and went on our own. Our guide was just too slow and our walking tour turned into a standing tour. With so many sights to see it was disappointing to watch the other groups move ahead and we were just sitting in one spot for extended periods of time. If your guide is too slow just break off and head out on your own
TORTOLA- This was a 3 hour opened air bus tour. Highly recommended. You are in a bus with 16 or 20 and the driver is your guide as well. Drive up to the peaks and see both Caribbean and Atlantic side with various islands. A quick stop at a lookout or two for photos and then back down to Pussers Landing for 45 minutes of strolling, shopping and looking at yachts and catamarans. We really enjoyed this tour
Also in Tortola my wife did the optional dolphin swim. She loved it. It was only five minutes from port and you get to shake kiss and nose tap a dolphin. Also they pull you for a swim and push you on your feet. Plus I got some good photos.
GUADELOUPE- This tour lasted over 4 hours and I would not recommend. Being a French territory it was difficult to understand our guide and she was shouting into the mic most of the trip. It is at least 3 hrs spent in larger tour bus with stops at a local market, Castle Point (Pointed des Chateaux) and a cemetery. Its just too long and the only stop of value is Castle point but we were only there for 15 minutes. I would not go on this included tour and I think this island should be removed from itinerary.
ST LUCIA- Slightly longer than advertised 2 hour tour due to traffic. Travel in enclosed minibus of about 15 people. Headed up into the hills for views. I believe there was only one stop at Stony Point which is a private home/ garden with views of Rodney bay. Also they give local snacks at this stop. We loved the stop. I would recommend this tour.
ST KITTS- We did not do this included tour as it did not fit into our schedule, but talking to other guests they said it was just OK
ANTIGUA- tour was 3 hours in enclosed minibus. Drive about an hour to Nelson Dockyard. We really enjoyed exploring at this stop. We were there for about an hour. Then we drove up the hill to 2 quick lookouts which were very scenic. I would recommend taking this tour
ST MARTIN- tour was 2.5 hours in larger bus. First stop was a lookout followed by 45 minutes in Marigot, a little port town mainly for shopping. Continued around the island to the French side. Overall this tour was OK and would be one I might skip if had chance to do again.
ST THOMAS USVI - Highly recommended. tour was 2 hours in opened air minibus. First stop was Mountain top, which provided the best views of the entire trip. Many islands to view on both Caribbean and Atlantic sides. Also good shopping superstructure. Two other scenic stops as you make way back down. As mentioned best views of the entire trip.
BARBADOS- We did not go to Barbados since it was New Years Day we had a day at sea instead.
Hopefully this will help you in planning your days. We are beach people so most days we did tour in morning and then after lunch went to a local beach for the afternoon for lounging and snorkeling. (Pack your own snorkel!)
I was really impressed with Viking and the value of the cruise. I didn't spend a dollar once onboard and never once waited in a line for anything. I cant wait to try out the Mediterranean next
very spacious. Shower was great size with hot water and lots of pressure. Wife loved the lighted vanity to do her hair and makeup. Beds were very comfortable and no noise in the room