Originally booked this cruise about 9 months in advance. The main reason was that it was going to spend a day in Havana and we wanted to see Cuba. I had heard nothing but good about Viking's river cruises and they were beginning to break into ocean cruising with new state of the art ships. We are older travelers. The fact that the minimum age was 16 and that these boats do not have Casinos was a twin draw. This was probably the nicest boat we have ever been on keeping in mind that it was brand new (2 months) and this was it's third voyage. We had a junior suite on deck 8. The furnishings throughout this room and the boat were comfortable and impeccable.
The gym and spa were something special. Saunas, steam room, hot tubs, cold water buckets and yes an ice room all included. You could lock your locker with your room key. Whole boat was state of the art with free wi-fi.
They had art throughout the corridors everywhere. With earbuds provided in the room you could take a walking tour and learn about each piece as you approached it. The overall layout was close to the standard for most ships these days minus the casino.
Food in the main dining rooms and the specialty restaurants was better that most with quite the variety.
So....why not a 5 star rating instead of 4. About 4-5 months before sailing, Viking was denied a permit to Havana's harbor by Cuba for the dates it wanted. Probably a fierce competition between cruise lines for a limited space. Viking then changed the entire itinerary. They were going to go around to the other side of the island of Cuba to the city of Cienfuegos, stay 3 days in this port and eliminate the other 2 ports we were going to see (Belize and Mexico). Realizing that the reason for most to go was Havana and afraid of a mass exodus, they added a 2 day, overnight excursion to Havana and a separate day trip to Havana along with a variety of others around Cuba. Viking would pick up the tab. No cost whatsoever for any excursions. They also gave you $250 per person in room credit. We thought this might be interesting, did not cancel and booked the overnight excursion to Havana.
It was a 4 hour, one-way bus ride. This trip was an blessing and a curse. We saw, did and learned more about Cuba that we would have on a any one day stay in Havana. It was eye opening. Shows at the Tropicana, rides in a convertible 57' Chevy all included. Viking went out of it's way. This trip had to cost. We got to bed at midnight and left at 8 AM. We got back to the ship at 6 PM. Each of us practically kissed the gang plank. The average age on that bus was 60-70. We were beat. Had the boat been closer with say an hour bus ride to Havana Ok, but not 4 hours.
Would I go on Viking again.....absolutely........seeing Cuba again......really doubt it.