This is a long review. I've tried to be fair with my criticisms and compliments. Here goes... We just got home from our third Viking cruise (1 river, 2 ocean) sailing from Amsterdam to Barcelona on Viking Sky, departing on October 6, 2018. We booked the cruise over a year ago and were initially very excited. It seemed to hit a lot of high spots for us--2 days in Amsterdam, 1 day in Paris, 1 day in England, several days in Spain including Barcelona, and passage through the Strait of Gibraltar.
A few months out we noticed that the itinerary was changing. What had originally been marketed as 2 days in Amsterdam changed to arrival day only in Amsterdam and the 2nd day was now sailing at 7:00 a.m. This meant that since we arrived from the airport at about 3:00 p.m., and we knew there would be a mandatory safety drill, we would have only that evening for touring on our own as no excursions were offered. (Interestingly enough, the Viking Daily for day 2 in Amsterdam mentioned that the best way to get around Amsterdam was on foot. Really?? We were at sea!)
Our day in England had originally been marketed with as many as 13 tours including Stone Henge and a tour of London as well as a number of other tours that all sounded wonderful. Checking the website before we were able to book our tours we saw that there were only two options--a walking tour of Portsmouth Port where we would be docking (and in fairness, those who took this tour were really impressed) and a bus trip to Winchester to tour the cathedral with a second stop to see King Arthur's round table (spoiler alert--NOT!).
These two changes were enough to send off alarms for us. We contacted our travel agent who contacted her Viking representative. The representative told her to have us check back daily as things were changing. We weren't the only ones to voice concerns. Needless to say, things never did change. We had expressed our desire to cancel the trip and re-book another if the cruise didn't pull more in line with their original marketing. Our travel agent contacted Viking several more times and was told the same thing. Keep looking. Tours are being added. Eventually it was too late to cancel without losing our money, and nothing changed. This trip had become almost a full-time job.
These are the things we knew before we got on the ship. After we got on board there were more surprises. The day in England was only 1/2 day as we were at sea again shortly after noon. The same was true in Cartagena. So, all told, we were 4 days at sea instead of the original two days. Short days in port and long bus rides for excursions also meant there was no free time. Of course, part of that is due to the excursions we chose, but most touted "free time" and "shopping", but there was none until Barcelona on the final day. Days at sea seemed to be days to encourage spa services, gemstone lectures and booking more cruises. We felt as though everything was very hurried. Half a day here, half a day there. Hurry. Get on the ship. We're sailing again.
The Strait of Gibraltar was also mentioned in the original marketing. We had no idea when we would pass through, but this was also exciting to us. My husband was a teacher, and he loves anything history or geography related. You can see both Africa and Europe from our ship simultaneously, we were told. Well, we passed through between 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. We, and about a dozen other passengers, chose a good vantage point and hoped for the best. In the end, we aren't sure what we saw. Wouldn't this have been a good time to send a crew member to point it out to us? With radar assistance they would know exactly where it is.
Those were the disappointments. Of course, we did have a wonderful time overall. As always, the food sand service were quite good. The staff is very accommodating. We had a once-in-a-lifetime lunch in the Eiffel Tower (though the bus ride to Paris was almost 3 hours each way--at least it was very scenic). We toured the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. We've seen a few churches/cathedrals in our travels, but this was spectacular. We went on 2 food and wine tours that were quite enjoyable. The tour guides were knowledgeable and friendly.
While we understand that many things are out of the control of the cruise line--water levels, weather, etc.--we feel that our issues could have been handled with more honesty. Since Viking didn't address our concerns and the cruise shifted significantly from the original marketing, we think we will look into other options for our next overseas visit.
Clean. Staff was thorough. Small but that is to be expected.
Lunch in the Eiffel Tower. Loved the experience
Really liked. Toured Sagarada Familia. Spectacular. Second time to Gaudi-designed park. Learned moire this time.
Only 1/2 day. Too fast.