After 20 plus cruises on several cruise lines, we wanted to go to new places and to try Viking Ocean. We weren't disappointed !
The itinerary covered ten countries and a trip thru the Suez Canal. The ports/cities were often not upscale and the weather was consistently in the 90's and very humid. Despite that, the experience was excellent. We will likely never get back to countries like Oman, India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia again. After some long, tiring, and very hot excursions, we always came back to the welcoming comfort of the Viking Orion.
The Orion was only two months old when we embarked and it is a spectacular ship. The Scandinavian clean, uncluttered design is very appealing. The ship appears to be almost perfect size - big enough for some good entertainment at night and some choices of restaurants; and small enough to be personal and never crowded feeling. My wife's parents were born in Sweden - she loved the Scandinavian touches , particularly the design themes and the food at Mamsens.
Embarkation in Athens and disembarkation in Bangkok were a breeze.
We were in a basic veranda cabin and found it roomy enough. The bathrooms are much better than other cruise ships. The communication/information system on the cabin TV's is great and easy to navigate. The elevators are well located and you almost never wait for one ! Where is everyone ?
We tried all of the dining venues but ate more meals in the Restaurant than in the others. Food and service was very good in the Restaurant. It is not as grand a venue as on larger ships, but it is comfortable. We never waited for a table and the host knew our names and preferences by the third day. The Italian restaurant, Manfredi's, has excellent food , but the venue is a little loud. It was sometimes difficult to book a reservation at a reasonable time for Manfredi's. When we showed up ahead of time, they normally accomodated us. We tried the Chef's Table three times and were reasonably happy. You had to check the menu ahead of time or you could be disappointed. It was easy to get into. Viking can probably do something better with this space. The buffet venue is overwhelmingly better than any that we have experienced. It is relatively uncrowded and the food is very fresh and tasty. Many travelers ate there for almost every meal. You had the option of eating outsides, although the hot weather on our cruise limited that.
The small, production crew was quite good, but didn't do enough shows. The theater is a wonderful venue and was heavily used for enrichment lectures and port talks. These presentations were really well done and surprisingly well attended. Often more crowded than the production shows or the evening specialty entertainer. There are much fewer scheduled activities than a larger ship, but we certainly didn't miss having a casino. The exercise room was more than adequate and the free spa is outstanding.
Service was uniformly great, the best we have ever experienced. Very good service in all restaurants and bars, but particularly noticeable in the buffet. Unlike most cruise lines, they do a great job of servicing the tables there.
We were pleasantly surprised with the included excursions. I had read many critical reviews, but we did not feel let down. Many of our included excursions were ten hours long and would cost $150 to $200 on other cruise lines. We liked all the optional excursions we bought.
We booked our next Viking Ocean cruise before we left the ship.