So here is a (long) review of the Viking Sun Homelands cruise we just finished this week. I tried to break it all down as best I could. I would highly recommend anyone who would like this amazing experience to book it!
Final views of Viking Homelands Cruise
1- We are aware that our joy about this holiday is influenced by the wonderful and unusual weather we experienced for the entire 32 days in Europe (except misty in Iceland and 50 F) (we spent 10 days in the U.K. with family). The temps were mid 70’s to high 80’s the whole time, with only one 5 minute rain shower in Stockholm.
2- Viking Sun. The ship is amazing. It is well laid out, and well decorated. The hard working staff is always cleaning and polishing. We enjoyed the pianist Olga, the string group, and Luis the guitarist being in different lounges each evening. The nightclub was fun each night and a great place to wind down. Iskra was the bartender who kept up with us- we had Silver Spirits drink package and it was nice to be able to experience different drinks whenever. (Rule of thumb- if you drink 2-3 liquor or upgraded wines per day, it is $$ worthwhile).
3- Stateroom. We had a Penthouse Veranda room- perfect size, lots of storage and drawers. Our cabin steward Fery and his assistant Jayson kept up with our every need.
4- Entertainment. We were very impressed with the quality of the evening entertainment. The cruise director, Bevin, and his assistant Matthew were everywhere! From morning excursions to port talks to evenings, they were always on point for what passengers needed. The entertainment in the theater included a magician, a comedian, and a singer that has played Jean Valjean in Les Mis in West End, so you know he is a powerful talent. The resident production team consisted of 4 highly talented and energetic performers who rocked the theater with a 69’s show, a musicals themed show and a Beatles/ABBA show (we WERE in Stockholm). They were also consistently visible and great ambassadors for the ship. There were other activities during the days and evenings- history and art lectures, team trivia, dance lessons, and more.
4- Food. We ate mostly at the World Cafe buffet- always great choices- sushi, crab legs, shrimp, Prime rib, mussels, tenderloin, oysters, whatever. The menus were posted on the online app so you could make your decision. We ate at the main restaurant a few times, the pool grill a few times, and Manfredi’s, the Italian specialty place once. It was fantastic. We didn’t get to the Chefs Table, the specialty restaurant with a set menu that changes every 2 or 3 days- the day we had reservations, Dennis wasn’t feeling very well- he caught a cold and was not up to it.
5- Shore excursions. We took mostly the included Viking and they were so well organized. Every stop had a free walking or bus tour, plus shuttles included if needed to get into and out of town. One of the best was the Berlin included- we thought we would be dumped on a train, dumped in Berlin, and then find our way back to the train on our own. Instead, the train was chartered and we had a local guy with us the whole time. When we got to Berlin, we were given an orientation bus tour for an hour before we were let off at a central square to wander on our own. After 2 hours or so, we met back at the square, and were bussed to the train. On the train back, we were served wine, beer and snacks, complimentary. It was much more than we expected for the free inclusion. We took 2 of the Viking paid excursions- Pulpit Rock and the Flam railroad. I would recommend both of those. We did a 2 day highlights tour with SPB tours in St Petersburg, which also gave us an evening out with “Go Out Like a Local”- we went to some trendy bars with a 30 something guide and then took an evening canal cruise- private boat- just 5 of us plus our guide, Russian rock music and a bottle of vodka. Skol!
6- a bit about each stop
-Iceland. We did the pre-extension but Viking had us in a hotel too far from town. The Golden Circle was remarkable, with the plate tectonics going on, and the volcanic landscapes got the science geology nerd in me all happy. The Blue Lagoon was quite an experience as well -Bergen. Norway was on my bucket list and I understand why. The scenery all through Norway is breathtaking. Take the funicular up to the top of the mountain for great views. -Other 2 stops in Norway. Eidfjord has the Flam railroad which goes up and around the mountains and waterfalls. At Stavanger, we took the small boat out to look straight up those glacially formed cliffs. -Aalborg was just a few hours but another quaint medieval town. Copenhagen was a bit bigger and we took the walking tour and then a canal cruise. -Talinn Estonia- the history of that region is tough. The economy is struggling because of trade problems -Berlin- train and a chance to experience the history of a crazy man and his demented dreams and then how the Cold War took a toll on those in east Berlin. -Gdansk Poland. Another chunk of history. The ship was berthed at the spot where WW2 began. Sobering. Take a look at the Polish amber- it’s very beautiful -St Petersburg- this was actually my least favorite place, but a visit I wouldn’t have changed for anything. This is a huge city, crazy traffic, so many tourists, so much standing in line to get into all the important spots- Hermitage, Catherine’s Palace, Peterhof, Spilled Blood. -Helsinki- One of my favorite places. Very laid back, nice port town. Lots of green space and very nice people -Stockholm- Tied with Bergen for my favorite. This is a great city that doesn’t seem so big. Hop On Hop Off will get you anywhere you want to go. We stayed here a few extra days because there was so much to see here, and the cruise was ending. Vasa Museum, Abba Museum, IceBar- so much to see!
All in all= I'm in the Viking cult! I have drunk the Koolaid and I'm all in. We have booked a river cruise for 2020. Hooray!
Perfect size- lots of room to move around, lots of storage!