Viking Star Cruise Review by Mar4Bella
- Sail Date: December 2016
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
First, the highlights:
The ship: Viking Star is an absolutely beautiful ship. It's still new and kept immaculately clean. The decor is Danish modern - I loved the furniture, especially in the public spaces. While it's a definite bonus that each room has it's own balcony, we also found ample places to sit in the public areas. The shaded poolside seats with ocean views went first, but unlike other cruise lines, we found ample shaded (and indoor, air conditioned, if you wanted) seating areas. Because there's no casino, there's no wafting cigarette smoke. There are two small pools, but they were never crowded (and our ship was at, or near, capacity). Even though the ship is small (930 passengers max.), it never felt crowded.
Service: Excellent. From housekeeping to dining services, everyone was friendly and attentive. Absolutely no complaints about the customer service!
Dining: The real highlight for us was the onboard dining. I feel that most ship's main dining room tends to be average; however, we found that the main dining room on the Viking Star was as good as the two specialty restaurants -- both of which are included in your overall cruise pricing. There are also buffet and snack options throughout the day, the quality of which are exceptional. It's worth noting that I have a food allergy and the chef and servers did a phenomenal job preparing and serving me safe - and delicious - food. This was a major plus!
Entertainment: Even though there are a handful of specialty shows, we found the "background music" to be the most impressive. Olga, the resident pianist, along with a classical trio and a modern guitarist were all excellent. Classy entertainment at its best!
Some lessons learned:
Ship size: Even though this is a cruise ship, it's much smaller than most cruise lines (again about 900 guests as opposed to thousands) and thus we felt the ocean movement more than expected, especially the first night leaving San Juan. If you're prone to seasickness, be sure to bring Bonine or a patch -- and request a room in the middle of the ship.
Excursions: It feels as though Viking has mastered the onboard experience, but is still working out the kinks for excursions in the Caribbean. We made all of our reservations well in advance, as per our salesperson's recommendation; however, we found that once on board the information outlining the excursions didn't always match up and we changed quite a few. If you do this, you get ship credit - not a true refund, so consider this when making reservations in advance. Additionally, if you're interested in "land" excursions and tours, the included ones were the best. We found them surprisingly nice on most islands and we only found additional tours worthwhile when they included an extra activity like visiting a neighboring island or taking a catamaran tour.
Viking Air: This was our biggest frustration. All of our party was quoted prices "with air" but ended up not being able to use the air itineraries and not getting a refund or discount (which I understand is standard in cruising). The itineraries we were given had unnecessary layovers to other states - many of which didn't seem wise in the middle of winter. Despite not using the air, we had to pay an additional $50 per person for a transfer from the ship back to the airport, which seemed ridiculous at that point.
Overall, this was an incredible trip on an incredible ship. I highly recommend!
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