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We have been on three Viking River cruises and one Viking Oceans back in 2015 from Barcelona to Istanbul. So we were Viking fans and had looked forward to this cruise for over a year due to the opportunity to experience the Amazon. Overall, our experience was negative and I would advise that anyone considering this cruise wait until you hear that Viking has worked out all the kinks. PROS We enjoyed most of the Caribbean destinations and most of the tours we took seemed well planned and provided a reasonable snapshot of each island. We particularly like the optional catamaran swimming tour on St Lucia with the included plantation tour. The included sightseeing tours in San Juan and in St Thomas and the optional snorkeling/ Nylon Pool tour on Tobago were all very enjoyable. Most of the Viking staff try very, very hard to please and seem to sincerely want you to have a great time. However, it does seem that Viking might be expanding a little too quickly and may not be training new staff as much as they should. There were a number of times when it took far too long to get a wine refresh or we were served the wrong dish. We never encountered this on prior Viking trips. The Viking Ocean ships continue to be very pleasing in their scale, facilities, décor and staterooms. The entertainers varied in abilities but we particularly liked the male and female singers (Jenifer & Vince) who were often in Torshaven. They also put on a great New Year’s Party. The guest lecturers were also very enjoyable, especially Jill Eyers the Geologist. Overall food quality and variety were generally very good but I found myself relying on the standard “left-side” of the menu choices more often that I recall on prior voyages. CONS Almost all of the ports on the Amazon portion of the cruise ranged between just disappointing to, in the case of Belem, disgusting. Viking has failed to do its research to determine suitable points of interest for travellers. There was little of interest to see, or if there was something of note it was closed while we were there(e.g, the Opera house in Manuas). The one notable exception was the very enjoyable included Boi Bomba performance in Parintins. However, aside from the performance, there was not a lot to see in Parintins especially as everything was closed on Christmas Day. The quality of the excursions overall was also very poor. It appears as if Viking “took whatever it could find” in terms of excursions. Our optional Santa Lucia Nature Walk in Santarem was nothing more than a three hour wander in the forest. The most any of us saw was a few very large ants and the possible sighting of a bat. The people who opted for the included Panoramic Santarem tour saw much more wildlife in addition to numerous cultural demonstrations. Of course, nature being nature, Viking cannot guarantee that we will see wildlife but if you have a hundred or so people loudly stomping through a small path in a small area it is pretty well guaranteed that you will not see wildlife. The tour of Belem and the city itself was the low of the tour. Our guide sprinted off with about twenty of us trying to keep up. My wife and myself are in good shape and were OK but I could see others falling further behind. Of most concern was that the city sidewalks had numerous unprotected deep holes that anyone could easily fall in, especially if your focus is trying to keep the guide in sight. I ran up to our guide and told him he had to slow down or there would be serious accidents. He complied but it is not something you should have to say to an experienced guide. The portion of the town on our tour was incredibly unpleasant with garbage everywhere, blasting noise from numerous music sources, public urination and a strong stench everywhere. This unpleasant experience was compounded when there was no organization at the tender station and so many people were crowded into a small area that several people collapsed, worsened by the heat and humidity. It started to get ugly with passengers shoving and shouting as more people crowded into the station. Our welcoming view of Manaus was watching the local workers dredge the harbor of all the floating garbage. Our included tour was to a rubber baron’s mansion and the legendary Opera House. Our guide told us that neither of these were open to us and we only got to tour the outside and as there was nothing left to see spent the balance of our tour time sitting in a square waiting to return to the ship. However several other guests told us later they went out on their own and at both sites were allowed in and were even given free local tours. We did not get to stop at French Guiana and see the Devils Island prison due to loss of time having to wait for a food shipment. This was especially disappointing as we had both opted for the risky (and not inexpensive) Yellow Fever vaccination because FG insisted on it. Food planning problems showed up later in shortages of such things as butter, sugar, and other items other guests could not find. In summary, we still had an enjoyable cruise but this was despite of the Amazon rather than because of it. We have traveled to several South American countries before on Celebrity and were excited to visit again. Unfortunately this Viking cruise has only highlighted the problems of the region with very little opportunity to view its positive features.

Not Viking Oceans best - Amazon ports disappoint - Caribbean ports were great

Viking Sea Cruise Review by BC Eddie

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We have been on three Viking River cruises and one Viking Oceans back in 2015 from Barcelona to Istanbul. So we were Viking fans and had looked forward to this cruise for over a year due to the opportunity to experience the Amazon.

Overall, our experience was negative and I would advise that anyone considering this cruise wait until you hear that Viking has worked out all the kinks.

PROS

We enjoyed most of the Caribbean destinations and most of the tours we took seemed well planned and provided a reasonable snapshot of each island. We particularly like the optional catamaran swimming tour on St Lucia with the included plantation tour. The included sightseeing tours in San Juan and in St Thomas and the optional snorkeling/ Nylon Pool tour on Tobago were all very enjoyable.

Most of the Viking staff try very, very hard to please and seem to sincerely want you to have a great time. However, it does seem that Viking might be expanding a little too quickly and may not be training new staff as much as they should. There were a number of times when it took far too long to get a wine refresh or we were served the wrong dish. We never encountered this on prior Viking trips.

The Viking Ocean ships continue to be very pleasing in their scale, facilities, décor and staterooms.

The entertainers varied in abilities but we particularly liked the male and female singers (Jenifer & Vince) who were often in Torshaven. They also put on a great New Year’s Party.

The guest lecturers were also very enjoyable, especially Jill Eyers the Geologist.

Overall food quality and variety were generally very good but I found myself relying on the standard “left-side” of the menu choices more often that I recall on prior voyages.

CONS

Almost all of the ports on the Amazon portion of the cruise ranged between just disappointing to, in the case of Belem, disgusting. Viking has failed to do its research to determine suitable points of interest for travellers. There was little of interest to see, or if there was something of note it was closed while we were there(e.g, the Opera house in Manuas). The one notable exception was the very enjoyable included Boi Bomba performance in Parintins. However, aside from the performance, there was not a lot to see in Parintins especially as everything was closed on Christmas Day.

The quality of the excursions overall was also very poor. It appears as if Viking “took whatever it could find” in terms of excursions. Our optional Santa Lucia Nature Walk in Santarem was nothing more than a three hour wander in the forest. The most any of us saw was a few very large ants and the possible sighting of a bat. The people who opted for the included Panoramic Santarem tour saw much more wildlife in addition to numerous cultural demonstrations. Of course, nature being nature, Viking cannot guarantee that we will see wildlife but if you have a hundred or so people loudly stomping through a small path in a small area it is pretty well guaranteed that you will not see wildlife.

The tour of Belem and the city itself was the low of the tour. Our guide sprinted off with about twenty of us trying to keep up. My wife and myself are in good shape and were OK but I could see others falling further behind. Of most concern was that the city sidewalks had numerous unprotected deep holes that anyone could easily fall in, especially if your focus is trying to keep the guide in sight. I ran up to our guide and told him he had to slow down or there would be serious accidents. He complied but it is not something you should have to say to an experienced guide. The portion of the town on our tour was incredibly unpleasant with garbage everywhere, blasting noise from numerous music sources, public urination and a strong stench everywhere. This unpleasant experience was compounded when there was no organization at the tender station and so many people were crowded into a small area that several people collapsed, worsened by the heat and humidity. It started to get ugly with passengers shoving and shouting as more people crowded into the station.

Our welcoming view of Manaus was watching the local workers dredge the harbor of all the floating garbage. Our included tour was to a rubber baron’s mansion and the legendary Opera House. Our guide told us that neither of these were open to us and we only got to tour the outside and as there was nothing left to see spent the balance of our tour time sitting in a square waiting to return to the ship. However several other guests told us later they went out on their own and at both sites were allowed in and were even given free local tours.

We did not get to stop at French Guiana and see the Devils Island prison due to loss of time having to wait for a food shipment. This was especially disappointing as we had both opted for the risky (and not inexpensive) Yellow Fever vaccination because FG insisted on it. Food planning problems showed up later in shortages of such things as butter, sugar, and other items other guests could not find.

In summary, we still had an enjoyable cruise but this was despite of the Amazon rather than because of it. We have traveled to several South American countries before on Celebrity and were excited to visit again. Unfortunately this Viking cruise has only highlighted the problems of the region with very little opportunity to view its positive features.
BC Eddie’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 5010
Slightly larger than Deluxe Veranda. Very close to front of ship but not noticeably rockier than middle. Includes daily restocked bar (incl beer and spirits)

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews