Itinerary: Miami, at sea, Key West, Cienfuegos 3 days, at sea, Miami
Viking should stick to the European cruise market and forget about the Caribbean. If you were thinking about taking a Viking Caribbean Cruise don’t do it or at least wait a few years until they work out the kinks. I did not appreciate experiencing their growing pains on my dollar.
To start, the itinerary I paid for was Key West, Havana overnight, Belize and Cozumel. Viking marketed this cruise before they had approval to dock in Havana, so in August we were informed that they were not approved and the itinerary no longer included Havana, Belize or Cozumel. Viking attempted to make up for it by giving a $250 ship board credit per person and an included tour on each day in Cienfuegos. The credit did help ease the annoyance a little, but if I knew then what I know now I would have wanted a full refund (not that this was an option).
IT IS AN 8 HOUR DRIVE ROUND TRIP FROM CIENFUEGOS TO HAVANA.
The tours included a full day in Havana excursion (12 hours) or a 1.5 day overnight in Havana to make up for the itinerary change. Viking did not inform anyone that this meant a 4 hour bus ride each way to Havana. The Trinidad excursion was a little less then 2 hours each way. Yes, there is a bathroom on the bus.
The excursions were a complete cluster the first day in Cuba. We waited 2.5 hours to clear immigration, exchange money and get the tour started. So, if you were on the 12 hour excursion to Havana you spent over 2 hours waiting, 8 hours driving and less than 2 hours to actually see Havana.
The Trinidad excursion was also rushed due to the late start. The lunch was good, but again very rushed. The streets were so hilly and uneven that a few people had to request a cab for the way back to the tour bus. Do not take this tour if you have mobility issues. No time to shop or explore on your own.
Cienfuegos on foot also felt rushed even though we started on time. Cigar factory part of tour was not worth the stop, but overall tour was pretty good. Tour guide couldn’t get the QuietVox to work so we couldn’t hear anything. We finally had 30 minutes to shop at the end.
The ship was elegant, beautiful and spotless. No crowds and no kids. Balconies in every stateroom. This ship is EXACTLY the same as the Viking Sea. I do think all the Viking ocean ships are designed the same, but even the menu and entertainment are exactly the same.
I am comparing the food on the Viking Sun to the very high bar that Viking set for themselves on my Viking Sea Ocean Mediterranean Cruise. The Wintergarden service was very slow and disorganized the first couple days. Manfredi’s served us Caprese salad with frozen mozzarella and cold pasta. On the Mediterranean Cruise Viking tailored the menu to each country we visited as we were in the region. They did not put much effort into creating a Cuban cuisine. They used the same menu as the other ship. However, the sushi was amazing and the pool grill had excellent service.
On the first sea day, it was as if Viking was surprised that people drink mojitos and pina coladas and hang out at the pool on a Caribbean cruise. Everyone was complaining that the pina coladas were not that good. For the price of this cruise you expect the drinks to be done right and not made with cheap mixer. I was also surprised that Viking would pull something like being out of stock of the nicer tequila included in the drink package. I suspect the itinerary change fiasco cut into their profit margin so they tried to save money in ways they thought would go unnoticed. We noticed.
If this were a cheap cruise all these things would have been forgivable and even expected, but this was a VERY expensive cruise and the value was just not there. So you might as well take the more affordable cruise from the cruise lines that are experienced in this region.
I have sailed two Viking Ocean cruises and I am not sure I like the all inclusive pricing. You end up paying a premium for things you don't use or like. While I appreciate the culinary artistry of the Chef's Table it was not good enough to pay more for. You get to reserve the specialty restaurants based on price of your cabin. The higher price for first dibs is NOT worth it. The main restaurant and casual dining venue are just as good. If you don't drink wine you still pay for it. The included tours are usually just OK and you have to pay for the better ones. They purposely schedule tours so you will not be able to take the included excursion and another optional one.