We chose this specific itinerary because it made three stops in Norway, including Stavanger where my wife's great-grandfather grew up. Of course, St Petersburg is a highlight, but less traveled ports such as Gdansk and Tallinn are wonderful and often better for shopping. Like a river cruise, the ship mostly sails at night, so you wake up every morning at a new destination.
We have traveled twice with Viking River cruises, so we anticipated a wonderful journey, and the Viking Sky came through in all areas. The staff and officers of the ship have the friendly smile and helpful attitude that we loved on river cruises. The ship never seems crowded despite 900+ fellow passengers, and disembarkation for shore excursions at each port was precisely organized.
The included shore excursions were generally either a panoramic bus tour of the city with photo stops or a walking tour of historic areas. It's a good start, but the optional tours are better for those with specific interests. We supplemented with several optional tours, including the Flam Railway which was expensive, but highly recommended for the incredible scenery. We also enjoyed the tour of Lubeck and Wismar which we chose instead of the included long train ride to Berlin. Both the Flam and Lubeck tours included lunch at very nice local restaurants.
Best dining on the ship is at Manfredi's- reservations are required and it was as popular as you would expect. The other specialty restaurant, Chef's Table, offered a series of fixed menus with unusual recipes that rotated every two days- check the menus from your cabin to select one that appeals to you. It was easy to make reservations on the television. Dinner selections were excellent at The Restaurant and the waiters took a personal interest in our dining, but we ended up eating most meals in the World Cafe which is open for all meals and provides most of the Restaurant items in an informal setting. One difference from river cruising is the availability of small tables for two. It was nice to have quiet meals with my spouse, but we didn't end up making as many friends.
The Wintergarten is open only for Tea, and is seems to be an inefficient use for one of the nicest public areas.
Viking offered a discount on airfare and booked our flights through Reykjavik, Iceland. The afternoon flight times were convenient, however, the airport in Reykjavik is undersized for the summer crowds We deplaned on the tarmac and rode shuttles to the terminal where those without EU passports faced astonishing lines at Passport Control. We didn't relish the looming prospect of an unscheduled stopover in Iceland. Passport Control turned out to be very quick and efficient and the airline did a great job of making sure we made it to our connecting flights. One glitch was that Viking orders meals on each flight, but the airline sent an email suggesting that we pre-purchase meals at a discount. All was well in our case, but there is a risk that travelers could end up paying for extra meals. The air connections ended up being a great value, but it is not as smoothly coordinated as the on-board experience.
We enjoyed the piano interludes and the classical trio, but we mostly skipped the Broadway/pop entertainment and used the time for extra rest.
This cruise was an expensive splurge for us, but Viking delivers a quality product that ends up being a great value.
Cabin was super, and we loved the heated bathroom floor. The main difference between Veranda and Deluxe Veranda 6 seems to be the proximity to potentially noisy public rooms. I was concerned because this cabin was located close to the forward elevator, but noise was never an issue as soundproofing was excellent. Gangway was typically on the starboard side, so the port side location gave us some beautiful harbor views. We would have appreciated additional storage space- that's partly our own fault as we packed too much, but we were uncertain about weather conditions and tried to allow for all possibilities. Self-service laundry was excellent once we figured out how to add the provided laundry detergent.
Easy to walk to the Bryggen. On Sunday we attended the Anglican service at the nearby church.
Flam Railway is expensive, but you see some of the most beautiful scenery in Norway.
Easy walking tour. I didn't expect to like the oil museum, but it was surprisingly interesting.View All 57 The Old Town Reviews
Uncrowded port. Was fun to see the old town and city hall.
The included tour gets you to some but not all of the major tourist sights.
We had a musical interest in Lubeck because of its connection to Buxtehude and to JS Bach. This is an amazing place that is not filled with tourists.View All 9 Wismar Reviews
Took the included walking tour and bought some amber and Polish pottery at reasonable prices. Gdansk means shipyard to me, but it has a beautiful old town.
Beautiful old city with lots of ancient buildings. Nice shops selling amber.
See the exteriors of the famous sights. Good for photos, but you don't see the interiors of the amazing churches and museums.View All 378 City Tour Reviews
River cruise plus visits to St Isaac's and Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood. The church interiors are beautifully decorated with mosaics that look like frescos.View All 152 Neva River Cruise Reviews
Porvoo is scenic and uncrowded. Provided lunch was very nice. There is a quick bus tour of Helsinki at the end of the excursion.View All 55 Old Town Porvoo Reviews
Vasa museum is amazing. Lots of information about the ship and its crew.View All 128 Vasa Museum Reviews