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This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished. Dining: It was extremely difficult to make restaurant reservations ahead of the cruise, with a limit of 1 reservation per restaurant. That didn't get any better when we boarded...one of the staff members took all our requests, said he'd leave us a message confirming them, and then did absolutely nothing about it. The main dining restaurant (The Restaurant) doesn't open for breakfast until 8am, much too late for early morning shore excursions. And you can't just go in and find a table — get in the line and let them seat you! I have no idea why on earth they need to know your cabin number for a meal...it's all included! It just slows the whole process down, and I would not recommend going there at all for breakfast. They aren't even open for lunch. Dinners there were decent. The one day we ordered room service, they showed up with stuff we didn't order, and were missing stuff we did order. Not good. Shore Excursions: In this area, Viking gets an EPIC FAIL. Viking's cruises are plagued with old, infirm, and obese people who simply cannot walk comfortably around a town or city. So every single excursion you take will have several people who are limping along telling the guide to slow down, etc. It drove us nuts. Even on the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum excursion, which was rated by Viking as "Demanding", we had 8-10 people in our group who could barely climb stairs. This aspect ruined most of the shore excursions for us. Local Guides: they weren't as good as we've had in the past. 2 of them gave us incorrect info about the location of shuttle buses back to the ship, leading to some anxious moments. Tipping: As usual, you need to constantly be looking to ensure you've got 5 Euros or 10 Krone or whatever, to tip the bus drivers and guides. Viking advertises itself as "all inclusive" but it isn't. Those tips and the daily "tip" that they automatically add to your stateroom bill add up. Viking needs to adopt the Scenic Cruises model — get on board and put your wallet in your safe...no tipping needed, it's truly all inclusive. That includes the beer you have after returning from an excursion at 3pm — on Viking, it'll cost you $8 but on Scenic it's all included. One of our shore excursions (Flam Railway) returned too late so we missed our afternoon excursion, despite Viking's schedule showing them as do-able. And on that excursion, our guide neglected to tell us that we'd be getting lunch. So I bought a couple sandwiches and sweet rolls on the train — for about $40 CDN — only to subsequently discover that they were giving us lunch at the end of the train ride. Staff: All the staff, with the exception of the ship's security officer, were friendly and helpful. We got very rude and aggressive treatment from the ship's security officer when we tried to join a shorter line re-boarding the boat after Berlin. I explained that we were just trying to help speed things up, but we were ordered to get back into our original line (now at the very end of the line). So about 40-50 people had to wait an additional 10 minutes to clear security when the other shorter line cleared, but Mr. Gestapo refused to let anyone go to that line. After a very long day, that finished us...we'll find another cruise line in future. Staterooms: Wonderful. This was the best boat we've been on. The rooms were very quiet compared to any other ship we've been on — you couldn't even hear your neighbouring rooms flush a toilet, or their TV. Comfortable king-sized bed, and plenty of room in the shower. Other: the ship had lots of nice lounges and areas to go have a coffee, read a book, play cards, have a drink, etc. The spa didn't meet my wife's simple needs — a gel fill for her nails. They don't do gel nails, which is ridiculous, as nearly every nail salon in Canada or the USA does. So they proposed to remove her gel nails in one session ($$$) and then put nail polish on her natural nails (um...NO) in another session ($$$). Another EPIC FAIL. Entertainment: we don't go on cruises to see the entertainment. But feedback from our travelling companions led us to believe that the entertainment on Viking Star was very middle class. Port Talks & Info Sessions: a few of these were very educational and entertaining. But the Port Talks (about next day's port) were held at 6:45 PM, right in the middle of the dinner hour! Another questionable judgement by Viking. All in all, I doubt seriously we'll be back on a Viking cruise. These same problems come up again and again with them, and it's time to move on. Our experience with Scenic Cruises was that they have the same boats, service, etc as Viking, but you don't have to bother with all the tipping as it's pre-paid...well worth the extra few bucks.

Fantastic boat but Viking has a failing grade

Viking Star Cruise Review by Rod H

33 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our 5th cruise, 3rd with Viking. This was the best boat we've been on, but Viking continues to be plagued with problems. Embarkation was very smooth, as was disembarkation when we finished.

Dining: It was extremely difficult to make restaurant reservations ahead of the cruise, with a limit of 1 reservation per restaurant. That didn't get any better when we boarded...one of the staff members took all our requests, said he'd leave us a message confirming them, and then did absolutely nothing about it. The main dining restaurant (The Restaurant) doesn't open for breakfast until 8am, much too late for early morning shore excursions. And you can't just go in and find a table — get in the line and let them seat you! I have no idea why on earth they need to know your cabin number for a meal...it's all included! It just slows the whole process down, and I would not recommend going there at all for breakfast. They aren't even open for lunch. Dinners there were decent. The one day we ordered room service, they showed up with stuff we didn't order, and were missing stuff we did order. Not good.

Shore Excursions: In this area, Viking gets an EPIC FAIL. Viking's cruises are plagued with old, infirm, and obese people who simply cannot walk comfortably around a town or city. So every single excursion you take will have several people who are limping along telling the guide to slow down, etc. It drove us nuts. Even on the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum excursion, which was rated by Viking as "Demanding", we had 8-10 people in our group who could barely climb stairs. This aspect ruined most of the shore excursions for us.

Local Guides: they weren't as good as we've had in the past. 2 of them gave us incorrect info about the location of shuttle buses back to the ship, leading to some anxious moments.

Tipping: As usual, you need to constantly be looking to ensure you've got 5 Euros or 10 Krone or whatever, to tip the bus drivers and guides. Viking advertises itself as "all inclusive" but it isn't. Those tips and the daily "tip" that they automatically add to your stateroom bill add up. Viking needs to adopt the Scenic Cruises model — get on board and put your wallet in your safe...no tipping needed, it's truly all inclusive. That includes the beer you have after returning from an excursion at 3pm — on Viking, it'll cost you $8 but on Scenic it's all included. One of our shore excursions (Flam Railway) returned too late so we missed our afternoon excursion, despite Viking's schedule showing them as do-able. And on that excursion, our guide neglected to tell us that we'd be getting lunch. So I bought a couple sandwiches and sweet rolls on the train — for about $40 CDN — only to subsequently discover that they were giving us lunch at the end of the train ride.

Staff: All the staff, with the exception of the ship's security officer, were friendly and helpful. We got very rude and aggressive treatment from the ship's security officer when we tried to join a shorter line re-boarding the boat after Berlin. I explained that we were just trying to help speed things up, but we were ordered to get back into our original line (now at the very end of the line). So about 40-50 people had to wait an additional 10 minutes to clear security when the other shorter line cleared, but Mr. Gestapo refused to let anyone go to that line. After a very long day, that finished us...we'll find another cruise line in future.

Staterooms: Wonderful. This was the best boat we've been on. The rooms were very quiet compared to any other ship we've been on — you couldn't even hear your neighbouring rooms flush a toilet, or their TV. Comfortable king-sized bed, and plenty of room in the shower.

Other: the ship had lots of nice lounges and areas to go have a coffee, read a book, play cards, have a drink, etc. The spa didn't meet my wife's simple needs — a gel fill for her nails. They don't do gel nails, which is ridiculous, as nearly every nail salon in Canada or the USA does. So they proposed to remove her gel nails in one session ($$$) and then put nail polish on her natural nails (um...NO) in another session ($$$). Another EPIC FAIL.

Entertainment: we don't go on cruises to see the entertainment. But feedback from our travelling companions led us to believe that the entertainment on Viking Star was very middle class.

Port Talks & Info Sessions: a few of these were very educational and entertaining. But the Port Talks (about next day's port) were held at 6:45 PM, right in the middle of the dinner hour! Another questionable judgement by Viking.

All in all, I doubt seriously we'll be back on a Viking cruise. These same problems come up again and again with them, and it's time to move on. Our experience with Scenic Cruises was that they have the same boats, service, etc as Viking, but you don't have to bother with all the tipping as it's pre-paid...well worth the extra few bucks.
Rod H’s Full Rating Summary
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Gdansk (Warsaw)
    We didn't stop in Gdansk, and Viking's explanation about why, didn't pass the smell test. Our ship was sitting still outside the port waiting, and 2 other cruise ships passed us and went into port. Our captain came on the public address system and told us that the ship had been held up by wind and rough water, and there was too much cargo traffic coming out of the Gdansk harbour, and so we wouldn't be able to go in through the narrow channel. Well...how did those other, larger ships do it? Something fishy there...
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