Having done a few river cruises with Viking, we decided to try one of their ocean cruises. I was worried about getting on and off the boat with so many people and indeed it is a logistical challenge compared to the river cruises, but they did an excellent job of minimizing our thumb twiddling or line standing. So that was alright, I thought. Eight or nine hundred people is still a lot to have on shore so they tried to spread us out with many different excursions. All our optional excursions were good, but the included excursions were mostly marginal and a couple were pretty bad compared to anything on a river cruise.
Dining was excellent. The main restaurant was great and not hard to get into at all. They have a more adventuresome fixed menu (changes every other day) place that we loved and had no trouble getting into with a couple of days ahead reservations. But the buffet restaurant seemed to be the most popular and it was a fantastic buffet for sure, but we usually ate elsewhere. Personally, I recommend the wine upgrade.
We started in Athens and went on to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Oman and India. In Egypt we had three stops and had optional excursions to the Pyramids, Cairo Museum, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, as well as snorkeling and boating. In Jordan there was an excursion to Petra. We just stayed near and enjoyed the water, which is spectacularly clear in the Red Sea, but the reports from those who took the bus rides to the grand sites was very positive. Personally, I recommend the Nile river cruise though, to avoid the long bus rides from the sea.
Before exiting the Red Sea and dashing past Somalia to Oman, we took on board a small contingent of mercenaries (British it seemed), and stopped at sea to pick up their equipment from another ship. The crew also strung razor wire to make it more difficult to board from another boat but personally I think the mercenaries and their equipment made us completely safe. My wife talked to one of the young men a few times over the few days they were on board, and she found him to be very nice and he was very informative. It added a bit of adventure to our 4 days at sea going from Jordan to Oman.
We visited Salala and Muscat in Oman. Muscat is very pretty and the people there are pretty relaxed and friendly for an Arab country. Then to Bombay, where we got off. There were as many Australians as Americans on this itinerary. Why is that?
The cabin was a bit larger than Viking river cruises cabins, I think, and certainly big enough, with a king size bed and a small veranda with two chairs and a table. Most of the rooms are the same size but the deluxe has a pod coffee maker and earlier booking of shore excursions. Our ship was almost brand new so everything worked fine and looked good. The hotel staff were very friendly. They make up the rooms twice a day. I heard that they checked on us 4 times a day to make sure we weren't sick. That's certainly possible as I often met our main guy in the hall and he always said hello and engaged a little.