An unexpected maiden voyage of this beautiful ship. While many joked that it had a new car smell, we would have appreciated knowing in advance that we were the guinea pigs.
That said, there were very few teething problems, and the ship operated smoothly. In particular, the universally pleasant, cheerful, helpful, and polite staff were a cut above other ships. They made a big difference in our day.
The cruise went from Venice to Athens. We spent a few days in each outside the cruise. The ship was expected to be a recharging interlude, but the ports and tours were so good that we were kept hopping every day.
Embarkation at both ends was a breeze, with many staff pointing out the direction to go in a potentially confusing port. Our junior suite was well laid out, with a balcony that actually allowed you to move around and stretch a bit. It included laundry service and a well stocked mini bar. Room service was excellent. We had breakfast sent up most days.
The food won't win any awards, but it is certainly adequate. It's a smaller ship, so there's a buffet and two upscale restaurants. One focused on Nordic food, which didn't appeal, leaving only the other Italian style option. There's also a grill at the pool, and small bistro in the explorers lounge. The buffet is adequate, but choices are limited. The lineup for the gelato bar in the desert section is a tip off that the rest of the selection isn't much.
There’s a magnificent Nordic spa area with huge bubble pool, saunas, steam room, cold plunge pool, a cold bucket splash and snow room. Alas the large bubble pool broke the first day and didn’t get fixed until the last. A major disappointment as it figured in our decision to take this ship. The steam room needs more light. It’s dark to the point of unsafe. I wish the saunas weren’t on timers during opening hours, as you sometimes have to wait a while for them to heat up. The gym is very well equipped. The hot tub jets in both the main and infinity pools were often broken, but the heat did work.
There’s a broad range range of books throughout the ship. The public areas are surprisingly peaceful, with the explorers lounge having a two level view forward. Bars are never far away, and wait staff are attentive. Liquor and wine prices were very reasonable, and often included.
Entertainment was low key. A classical trio, pianist, and a string player are the mainstays. No rock bands into the wee hours here.
The included shore excursions were excellent. We took 3 which all had a bus and walking tour in groups of around 25 people for 2-3 hours. The optional excursions were equally good. We took two, and the Kotor trip through the mountains is not to be missed. While not Viking's fault, a couple of ports were swamped with people. Kotor is a small town, and 4 cruise ships dumped 5,000+ people into it. We escaped via an optional tour, but even when we returned some hours later, our guide could hardly get us around the town. Corfu wasn't much better.
Oh, and don’t miss afternoon tea. It sounds quaint, but is well done.