Viking Sea Cruise Review by KatielouAustralia
- Sail Date: April 2018
- Destination: Baltic Sea
On the plus side, the ship was clean and spacious with plenty of areas for you to sit and relax. Decorated in Scandinavian style with lots of light timbers and shades of blues and taupes. The no kids, no casinos is a winning combination for me.
The crew were genuinely very nice people who worked hard to provide us with a great service. Disappointed the cabin steward did not get to know my preferred name in 3 weeks yet many of the restaurant staff did. This is one of the little things that make a difference.
Embarkation was quick but we were not welcomed to the ship. After travelling for 37 hours I thought a welcome drink and being shown to my cabin might have been in order! Disembarkation went smoothly but I felt like they could not wait to get rid of us. I know they have a quick turnaround for the next cruise but this is the last impression you are left with and if it is not positive then you have failed your passengers.
Cabin - comments are below.
Restaurants - Breakfast we either had room service or ate in the World Cafe. Both were fine and service was good. Lunch was mostly taken in the World Cafe which provided a buffet style venue and once at the Pool Bar which provided burgers and hot dogs. We found enough variety in the food offered over the 3 weeks and if you didn't like/could not eat the days menu then there was the choice to have a chicken breast or prawns grilled in a minute. We dined in the restaurants of an evening. Main restaurant you could opt to dine in parties of 2,4 or 6 which was a great way to meet other passengers. Menu was varied each evening with a destination inspired menu offered as well but there was little variety offered if you could not eat what was on the given menu. My main concern was the lack of detail for someone with a life threatening allergy. This was reported prior to boarding the ship yet every day I had to check and recheck what I was being given. As is usual practice on a ship, I was asked to complete a menu 24 hours in advance but there was no evidence that this was checked by anyone with knowledge of allergies. There were several times where I was served my allergen and when I quizzed the staff they advised it was OK for me to eat. Fortunately my fellow passengers would alert me to the ingredients so I was able to narrowly avoid the use of an Epipen. This is not how I wish to spend my holiday continually wondering if I am going to stop breathing. On other cruise lines I found that my menu was checked by the executive chef who would then organise for me to have a special version of regular meals including desserts, and I felt confident with the staff knowledge. Wines were offered with both lunch and dinner. Wine was free flowing and different wines were offered each day - One red and one white - from different regions.
We went to Manfredi's (specialty Italian restaurant) on several nights and had very good service (hence why we returned). There was a variety of Italian dishes to try and the staff were knowledgeable about the dishes. I would make a particular note of Lorraine who was an absolute delight. She was friendly, knowledgeable and ensured that her guests had a positive evening by popping back to the tables to check everything was in order. She would also step up and explain dishes to guests when the head waiter was busy and she could others were ready to order dessert. This level of initiative needs to be acknowledged and rewarded.
The Chef's Table (specialty set course tasting menu) was a huge disappointment. I was expecting silver service and a great culinary experience but it was way short of that. We were booked into dinner for 8pm (the ship chose this time) and had not been served our final course when the staff started to clean the restaurant around us including sweeping the floor. This was totally unacceptable and we were left feeling like we had to rush our final course and get out of the restaurant. We certainly did not experience "your expert hosts will enlighten every sip and forkful with fascinating commentary as you experience a thrilling synergy of aromas and flavors" as advertised.
Entertainment was average. Some shows were good and they did provide variety each evening. The pianist and the trio were good in the Atrium in the early evening and the Viking band did a fantastic job in Torshavn each evening. The Cruise Director (Drew) did not interact with passengers as I would expect from previous experiences on other cruise lines.
Enrichment lectures were most interesting. We had a great variety of guest lecturers on a broad range of topics and this is Viking's strong point.
Meet and Mingle - great idea and one that Viking do really well most of the time. Again it is the little things that are missing. We were invited to 3 meet and mingles - 2 for cruise critic (11th and 25th April) and 1 for Australian and NZ passengers (22nd April). Now this is where the organisers could have liaised a lot better. The Aus/NZ night was held to commemorate ANZAC Day (which is 25 April). WHY oh WHY did they not liaise with both groups so that the commemoration was done on the correct day??? Such a missed opportunity which could have been so easily fixed with a bit of thought and negotiation.
Included Tours - very superficial and did not cover the major sites. For example, in Helsinki we were not even told about Temppeliaukio Kirkko (Rock Church) even though it is regarded as a main attraction. The provided tours and maps did not encourage passengers to independently explore the ports of call. Viking could learn a lot from other cruise lines in this price bracket. In St Petersburg we opted to take a private tour with TJ Travel and I am so pleased we did - this company provided a comprehensive tour for less than half what Viking were charging.
This is the only ship I have been on where the officers do not greet passengers when they pass them in the hallways.
All in all a very disappointing time. I think I will sail with the smaller boutique lines again as they do provide value for money unlike Viking. In this price bracket I am unlikely to use Viking again.
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Cabin was kept clean and fridge was restocked daily.
Bathroom was average with the usual amenities provided most of the time.
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