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Really hard to describe our experience because it was a two-week cruise, and so many experiences. In summary, our sailing experience was good, on-board Guest Services was excellent, pre-sail experience was way below expected, included shore excursions were mostly on a bus driving through town, very few stops, with a guide. Extra cost excursions were better, but with up to 44 people and expensive. Good Friends told us about the cruise, and other friends had taken an ocean cruise to the Baltic, so we decided to do this one. Prepping for the cruise, primarily the procedure for selecting shore excursions was really bad. We were in the least expensive cabin (very adequate, clean and a large sliding glass door to the small veranda, even heated bathroom floor). This made us the last to be eligible for shore excursions, and we could sign up beginning 12:00 AM Pacific time. We were in New England when our time came, which meant 3:00 AM Eastern time. We found many of the included excursions and several of the extras were already sold out. We called Viking Customer Service, and each of the customer reps gave us a different explanation about how we could work around that. One common thread among the reps was that more expensive cabins have better privileges, much like on aircraft where first class passengers have better accommodations. My response was that being on a ship for 14 days is more like a hotel, where these types of privileges are not in place. They obviously were not trained well enough to do their job. Needless to say, these experiences really got us off to a negative start--first impressions are the ones that stick. If Viking would do a better job of giving us the details of how to work around the shore excursion selection process, we would have been much happier. To top things off, we didn't actually get complete descriptions of the shore excursions until we received the complete set of paperwork, which was weeks after we were supposed to sign up. To our surprise, in that paperwork was a "small-print" statement that they would automatically add $15 gratuity per day for each passenger to the invoice. And, unlike the special privileges that higher level cabins had, ALL cabins were the same. This showed up on our bill the last two days of the cruise. We were told that we could make adjustments to this, but there was nothing said about how we could do that, when it could be done, or how to tip specific individuals such as our cabin steward, chef, bartender, etc. We prefer all-included costs where there are no decisions to make. One thing that we thought was a good idea was making dinner reservations at two of the specialty restaurants, Manfreddie's , and the Chef's Table, a daily five course meal prepared by a special staff. I must say that of the two, Manfreddie's is the better of the two. We would say that some of the food served buffet style in the World Cafe was substandard--good crispy bacon, though. A workaround for shore excursions that we worked out before boarding was to hire non-Viking tours. We did this in Eidifjord, St. Petersburg, and Stockholm. All, particularly St. Petersburg worked out very well. In St. Petersburg, we hired a driver and tour guide for four of us. The cost of this was a bit more, but we covered a LOT of ground in two days. After talking to guests who used the Viking shore excursions, our two days is equivalent to five days of Viking shore excursions. this is probably because of the large groups getting on and off buses, waiting in lines, etc. We would do this again, and it is highly recommended if you want to see the whole of St. Petersburg. Enough with the negative stuff. The ship is brand new, in service only 6 months. High technology abounds on it, including free wi-fi throughout. However, the day before disembarking when we needed to check for our flights home, there was a huge overload of the system, and many of us did not get our boarding passes printed. We found that the on-board personnel were great, willing to help, and always greeting us with a smile. Guest Services were easy to work with and readily solved one of our shore excursions problems. The "Winter Garden" is the indoor/outdoor pool area and includes a grill and bar area. The glass roof of this area rolls back during sunny days and was a welcome break. Outside at the stern is an infinity pool. Not covered, but it still had plenty of people using it even with Northern Baltic temperatures. Entertainment was great. There is a very large theater where movies can be shown (we did not participate), also used for live music/dancing performances, and daily shore lectures and gathering place. Every evening an assortment of piano, guitar, and classical string/flute music wafts through the atrium in the center of the ship. Bars are plentiful around the ship, but we only drank wine at meals. However, unless a guest pays extra for unlimited bar drinks, they are extra in some circumstances. At the bow of the ship is the Explorer's lounge. This is a two level circular lounge area where it is easy to read, join friends, or just watch as the ship quietly moves forward. One more level up is an open air lounge area that is well-protected by glass walls from wind. We found that, even during colder days, it cold be comfortable. Excellent, highly qualified enrichment spekers.

Beautiful New Ship, Good Sailing Experience, But Land-Bound Customer Service....

Viking Sky Cruise Review by jackedup4cruising

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
Really hard to describe our experience because it was a two-week cruise, and so many experiences. In summary, our sailing experience was good, on-board Guest Services was excellent, pre-sail experience was way below expected, included shore excursions were mostly on a bus driving through town, very few stops, with a guide. Extra cost excursions were better, but with up to 44 people and expensive.

Good Friends told us about the cruise, and other friends had taken an ocean cruise to the Baltic, so we decided to do this one.

Prepping for the cruise, primarily the procedure for selecting shore excursions was really bad. We were in the least expensive cabin (very adequate, clean and a large sliding glass door to the small veranda, even heated bathroom floor). This made us the last to be eligible for shore excursions, and we could sign up beginning 12:00 AM Pacific time. We were in New England when our time came, which meant 3:00 AM Eastern time. We found many of the included excursions and several of the extras were already sold out. We called Viking Customer Service, and each of the customer reps gave us a different explanation about how we could work around that. One common thread among the reps was that more expensive cabins have better privileges, much like on aircraft where first class passengers have better accommodations. My response was that being on a ship for 14 days is more like a hotel, where these types of privileges are not in place. They obviously were not trained well enough to do their job.

Needless to say, these experiences really got us off to a negative start--first impressions are the ones that stick. If Viking would do a better job of giving us the details of how to work around the shore excursion selection process, we would have been much happier.

To top things off, we didn't actually get complete descriptions of the shore excursions until we received the complete set of paperwork, which was weeks after we were supposed to sign up.

To our surprise, in that paperwork was a "small-print" statement that they would automatically add $15 gratuity per day for each passenger to the invoice. And, unlike the special privileges that higher level cabins had, ALL cabins were the same. This showed up on our bill the last two days of the cruise. We were told that we could make adjustments to this, but there was nothing said about how we could do that, when it could be done, or how to tip specific individuals such as our cabin steward, chef, bartender, etc. We prefer all-included costs where there are no decisions to make.

One thing that we thought was a good idea was making dinner reservations at two of the specialty restaurants, Manfreddie's , and the Chef's Table, a daily five course meal prepared by a special staff. I must say that of the two, Manfreddie's is the better of the two. We would say that some of the food served buffet style in the World Cafe was substandard--good crispy bacon, though.

A workaround for shore excursions that we worked out before boarding was to hire non-Viking tours. We did this in Eidifjord, St. Petersburg, and Stockholm. All, particularly St. Petersburg worked out very well. In St. Petersburg, we hired a driver and tour guide for four of us. The cost of this was a bit more, but we covered a LOT of ground in two days. After talking to guests who used the Viking shore excursions, our two days is equivalent to five days of Viking shore excursions. this is probably because of the large groups getting on and off buses, waiting in lines, etc. We would do this again, and it is highly recommended if you want to see the whole of St. Petersburg.

Enough with the negative stuff.

The ship is brand new, in service only 6 months. High technology abounds on it, including free wi-fi throughout. However, the day before disembarking when we needed to check for our flights home, there was a huge overload of the system, and many of us did not get our boarding passes printed.

We found that the on-board personnel were great, willing to help, and always greeting us with a smile. Guest Services were easy to work with and readily solved one of our shore excursions problems.

The "Winter Garden" is the indoor/outdoor pool area and includes a grill and bar area. The glass roof of this area rolls back during sunny days and was a welcome break.

Outside at the stern is an infinity pool. Not covered, but it still had plenty of people using it even with Northern Baltic temperatures.

Entertainment was great. There is a very large theater where movies can be shown (we did not participate), also used for live music/dancing performances, and daily shore lectures and gathering place. Every evening an assortment of piano, guitar, and classical string/flute music wafts through the atrium in the center of the ship.

Bars are plentiful around the ship, but we only drank wine at meals. However, unless a guest pays extra for unlimited bar drinks, they are extra in some circumstances.

At the bow of the ship is the Explorer's lounge. This is a two level circular lounge area where it is easy to read, join friends, or just watch as the ship quietly moves forward. One more level up is an open air lounge area that is well-protected by glass walls from wind. We found that, even during colder days, it cold be comfortable.

Excellent, highly qualified enrichment spekers.
jackedup4cruising’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Cabin was "Economy" but very comfortable in size and design, heated bathroom floor, small veranda, refrigerator (one filling is free, the rest costs extra). Lots of USB ports for charging devices. But, be sure you charge them at night because when the key card is out of the slot, they are not on.