My 80+ year old mother and I always wanted to take a Viking Cruise. SO we decided the Homelands Cruise would be it. We paid 1300/ea for round trip tickets and about 750/ea for insurance to Viking along with the hefty cost of the cruise itself. Trusting Viking to provide a full service trip. A day prior to departure the Icelandic Air cancelled the flight to Sweden and booked us on a two leg flight United to London and British Airways to Stockholm with 1 hour delay. What we found when we were to check in is that the Airlines would not transfer our luggage. About 4 hours later after mutiple calls to Viking AIr (who insisted they had no responsibility for the screw up) we were stuffed onto Three Flights and had a 12 hour layover at JFK. Not an easy itinerary with an 80+ year old woman! By the time we arrived at Stockholm over 24 hours later than originally planned - we had about 2 hours before the launch, So NO STOCKHOLM. Not to worry Viking assured us - you brought insurance they will cover the missed time. Viking offered no reimbursement, future discount, shipboard money or (god forbid) apology. THEY HAD NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE FLIGHTS - EVEN THOUGH WE PAID VIKING.
The insurance from TRIP MATE. TOTAL SCAM. After reams of paper and two months of waiting for a response we were informed that sine the rescheduled flights left on time (even though they would not have gotten our luggage to the destination) and I did not keep any of the receipts from the crap restaurants at JFK we were not entitled to anything.
Once on board the ship thestaff were attentive. Our steward was great - very helpful with settling in and keeping room tidy and clean. We attended a few of the on board shows-the ABBA and the Beetles shows were very good. For the other shows we found the female singers too loud and unable to harmonize and sadly left a few of the shows early. The piano and guitar players that entertained in the longes were excellent and really set the tone for a quite evening drink while watching the midnight sun set.
In general the food was good. We enjoyed the restaurants over the buffet. Even when same food was served at both locations it seemed taste better at the restaurant. Don’t miss the Italian restaurant-everything there was great! Reservations are easier to get into earlier in the cruise. We also really enjoyed the wine and armenact tasting...they were well worth the time.
The included excursions were good for orientation to the destinations - but we found the paid trips were more interesting and worth the added expense. If you can’t get a trip booked before the cruise keep checking there are lots of openIngs as people cancel during the cruise.
WORD OF WARNING ABOUT VIKING - While the Cruise is very enjoyable (though pricey) they do not have good customer service beyond the cruise portion of your trip. Consider getting flights and insurance separately. The horrible time we had trying to get Sweden really cast a shadow over the first several days on board. And the total lack of support in getting reimbursed from Tripmate post cruise even though we had been assured by Viking on the phone and on board that we would be compensated left us feel like we had been scammed.
Smaller than other cruise ships I have been on. The balcony was great. The bathroom comfortable. Full size closet.
See review we missed Stockholm due to inept flight scheduling
Include tour. A quick overview of the city. Interesting and informative.
Hermitage was so over crowded it made it difficult to truly see the art and enjoy the experience. We were able to get a wheelchair at the Museum.
The Russian Folk Dance was lots of fun - but lots of stairs to get into the venue.
Toured the Viking Ship living museum and nearby cathedral. Would go back in a heartbeat. Best tour of the cruise.