Viking Star Cruise Review by Banditspikealfie
- Sail Date: July 2017
- Destination: Baltic Sea
1. The cabins are nice (the bathrooms are really nice), but quite small in comparison with what you get on other lines for the same amount of $$. The balcony was really tiny, and there wasn't enough storage space for us (this has never been a problem before). There are six categories of veranda cabins that are all the same size cabin...the only difference is very small increases in amenities. I am really glad I got the "cheapest" cabin.
2. The food was good, but there were some really surprising things that happened: tables remained dirty for up to 30 minutes (or more), and getting more water was really difficult. We often ate later in the evening, and perhaps staff had finished their shifts or were just exhausted, but it was strange to us how few people were assigned to the dining rooms. We loved the specialty restaurants.
3. Beware of shore excursions in general, especially the included ones. The only one with value was the train to Berlin. The others were very boring and included spending most of the time either on a bus or waiting in line for the bathroom. One two-hour excursion consisted of 30 minutes of organizing the group (38 people), ten minutes of showing a few things in the city, 25 minutes waiting for people to use the bathroom, and another 20 minutes listening to information on how to buy amber. I am really glad we didn't pay for it. Several friends paid for extra excursions through Viking, and there were definitely duds in there. The excursion staff was really not helpful...they kept using the excuse that they were only the messengers...that they couldn't control what happened with local guides. They also had no information about the post-cruise extensions, which seemed bizarre to me.
4. We had terrible flight issues on our way there (bad storms on the East Coast of the US), so we were almost 15 hours delayed. There needs to be a better way to communicate with the travel people about this...I was expected to call them to tell them about the change in flights vs. them being able to track me. The entire flight experience was pretty bad, and I definitely won't book through them again. The arrangements were supposed to be completed six weeks ahead, and I had to call three times to beg them to book my seats. Their excuse was that they were really busy. I finally got them to give me the itinerary, but it took an additional four emails to get someone to really book the seats so I could go online and see where I was sitting. And while I am glad they prepaid for meals on our plane, it would have been 1) nice to know this ahead of time and 2) be able to choose (within reason) what we would get.
5. I would not take a post-cruise excursion again...probably wouldn't with ANY company, but definitely not with Viking. I know they don't have a ton of control over what happens with private companies, but they should really re-evaluate who they contract with...flight arrangements were terrible (some people had to leave the ship at 3:30 AM to catch a flight) and the service we got on the ground was the least service-oriented group of people I have seen in a long while. The person meeting us was holding up a hand-written sign on a piece of notebook paper that about half the group missed. The people didn't help with luggage at all until we got to the bus, then proceeded to chastise us because we all had "too much luggage." They couldn't get it all to fit under the bus, we had to help load it, and then they took the extra luggage that didn't fit and put it on another bus going on another tour. Those poor people didn't get their luggage until 10:00 that night. Really dumb. There were a lot of other issues with the Iceland tour group - terrible lack of information, a change of hotel at the very last minute (that was just ridiculous - we had been given information that we were staying at the Hilton, and then one day before we left, we got an "update" saying that we were changing hotels). There was no explanation, other than "Iceland is busy," which led us to believe that the tour company really screwed up (or got an extra discount to move us). We had to pay six months in advance...they should have been able to secure our flights and rooms. We had to leave ridiculously early on the last day to get to the airport, and no one told us that we had to get our own breakfast that day. I know this seems petty, but this was not a cheap extension, and the hotel told us that other groups arranged for bagged breakfasts for people who had to leave early. The "welcome desk" at the hotel consisted of the over-worked tour guide when she was available, and the welcome packet included a copy of the letter we had received on the ship (although it still mentioned the Hilton) and a map from the Iceland Tourist Board. We also had a woman on the tour that had injured herself prior to the trip...she said she didn't have insurance, so she had to come on the trip. I can't imagine having mobility issues, and I am sure it wasn't fun, but she had so many demands to be wheeled around (even though most of the places we went were definitely not wheelchair accessible) and otherwise catered to.... I felt bad for the tour guides, and it really affected our ability to quickly get anywhere. I am not sure what the company could have done in this case.
All of these things are pretty minor, and I realize that I should be happy that I got to go on a cruise to such wonderful places. I am glad, but I would truly not want to pay that much again.
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