Viking Star Cruise Review by pirasea
- Sail Date: January 2018
- Destination: Mediterranean
I loved the ship. The sitting areas are like small living rooms, with sofas and chairs and tables, shelves with books and knickknacks, fireplaces, and video screens showing changing photographs of lovely scenery.
The cabin was nice but had less than the normal amount of storage space. The location of the closet (along the side of the bed) wasn’t great since only one person could access it at a time. There was a nice big table on the balcony, although the chairs did not recline. The bathroom was nice with good storage space, nightlights under the sink, and a large glassed-in shower. The heated tile floor was nice but there was no fan so the floor tended to make the room too warm. The nightlight in the cabin itself was too bright. We heard other passengers saying they tried to cover it up with towels and pillows. There is a switch for it – in our cabin, it was the outermost switch on the far side of the bed. There was a charging station on the nightstand and lots of places to plug things in. The toiletries were good quality and came in big tubes. The lighting in the cabin was excellent. You have to leave a key in the slot to make the lights and AC work, which I hate. The steward also explained that the AC turns off as soon as you open the balcony doors, so if one person goes out on the balcony, the person staying inside will not have any AC. There was also no way to latch the balcony door from the outside. I tried sitting outside on a day when there were big swells and the door constantly slammed open until I gave up and went in. There were Quiet Vox units and earpieces to use on the excursions. Don’t forget to take them with you – you cannot get another one on the bus.
The cabin had an excellent interactive TV with a good selection of movies and the ability to check your account balance. The in-room breakfast menu had the most choices I’ve ever seen at sea. We enjoyed the free minibar (replenished daily) but found the selection a little odd. There were 2 diet sodas, 6 non-diet sodas, 2 small candy bars (same ones every day), and 1 small bag of chips (varying flavors). The sodas never got very cold.
Finally, a ship that gets hand washing right! There are sinks with soap and water and towels at the entrance to the buffet. There are also built-in units that dispense a fine spray of hand sanitizer. Compliance rates appeared to be high. It was so nice not to have crew standing in the hall yelling “washy washy” and squirting you with Purell like on other ships.
The resident historian (Fenella Bazin) was excellent. She was friendly, funny, and knowledgeable. She only gave a couple lectures on our cruise, but they were very good. The other lecturer (Paul Sanders) was a disappointment. His lectures sounded good on paper, but he has a slow delivery and pretty much just read his slides. We stopped going to his lectures after the first couple.
We didn’t find much to do in the evening. Most nights there was a lecture (oddly held at 6:30). There was opera one night and a couple movies under the stars. There was also a magician and the traditional welcome-aboard variety show, but we gave up on shipboard magicians and variety shows many cruises ago. There was always live music in the lounges but we ended up spending a lot of time in our cabin. During the day, they showed TED talks and BBC art shows in two small cinemas off the main theater.
The buffet was a bit of a mixed bag. The crew in the buffet are excellent. As on other small ships, the hours and the choices are fairly limited. We found the breakfast buffet very satisfying, and the coffee in the carafes on the tables was actually hot. Dinner was more of a challenge. Every night they had the same baked potatoes, white rice, and mixed vegetables, and the same options of having a steak, fish, or the stir fry of the day cooked to order, plus a couple appetizers, a carving station, and a few other choices (including what I came to think of as the daily “weird” vegetable – mashed celeriac, cooked lettuce, etc.). We always managed to find something when we had dinner in the buffet, but we weren’t necessarily excited about it.
Dinner in the dining room was also a bit of a mixed bag. We were always able to walk in and get a table but it usually took a long time for them to take our order, and sometimes the service was quite slow as well. The food was excellent quality, but wasn’t hot enough. Mamsen’s was worth trying for lunch one day. Tea time in Wintergarden was excellent, and very popular – get there early. The Viking burger at the grill was good, too. We also tried Manfredi’s for dinner. The service was very slow (they didn’t tell us the specials until they came to take our order after we’d been sitting there for 30 min) but the crew were very nice and the food was very good and very hot.
There are self-service laundries with free soap and there is free bottled water at the gangway. This ship probably did the best job I’ve experienced of providing port maps that were actually useful. However, the weather forecasts in the daily program and on the TV were inexplicably inconsistent.
Boat drill was interminable. It was supposed to start at 5:30. After we had assembled, they announced they wouldn’t start until 5:45. Then they didn’t start until 6:00.
The included excursions were fine but they put too many people on the buses. Also, they need to make sure that the guides have enough maps for everyone, especially if there is an option to stay in town and come back to the ship on your own.
Our cabin steward was excellent and had great attention to detail – right up until the last day, when he blew it. On disembarkation day, the paperwork said we could stay in the cabin until 8:00. We went to breakfast at 7 and when we came back we found that the steward had come into the room and torn it apart. The beds were stripped with the bedding piled on the beds (I had left my things spread out on the bed so I wouldn’t forget anything, and he had moved it all) and the wastebasket was right by the door where we would trip on it. I understand that turnaround day is very busy for the stewards, but if they can’t get the work done in the allotted timeframe without inconveniencing the passengers, then Viking needs to hire more stewards.
Despite a few minor issues, we loved the ship and the crew and had a great time. We would not hesitate to sail with Viking again some day.
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