We chose this cruise line to compare with our experiences on Seabourn and Silverseas. We're trying to find our sweet spot of luxury and excellence balanced with a certain casualness. Viking Ocean did very well. There were a couple of weak spots (for example, embarkation was not as user-friendly as either Seabourn or Silverseas; cigar/cigarette smoking area was extremely sub-par; ) and several high notes. Our suite (Explorer Suite) was really lovely - spacious, gracious, comfortable. Food was generally very good, with just a few blips. We thought that the Silver Spirits package was worth every penny. Maybe the wines weren't top of the line all the time, but they were enjoyable, as were our nightly cognacs. It was nice not having to dress up all the time for dinner, though some people took "casual" a little too far. The entertainment was on part with other experiences. Service was generally good, though not always to the standard of Seabourn/Silverseas. We didn't do any of the included tours, though we heard from many others that they were just the usual bus tour. The people we met on board were the highlight of the trip, as fellow travellers on Seabourn and Silverseas always were. We would definitely try another Viking Ocean cruise.
I would like to say that Viking should provide a better smoking area. It only has the one space, on one side of the ship with no protection from rain and no shade. It could be extremely uncomfortable. It was also difficult to get served drinks up there. My husband smokes cigars and you can't just rush through one of those things! In addition, it was a very social area, where we spent a lot of time with other like-minded sailors. Viking really should be able to offer better.