We arrived a day early to San Juan and stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan. Nice hotel...great location. Unfortunately for our departure the Sea was not docked in town but at the less convenient pier. Embarkation was EASY...but remember to keep your Brazil Visa with you, they want to see it when you board. We were onboard within minutes of leaving the cab ( $25 USD from the hotel). We arrived about 11:30 and our cabin was ready by the time we had signed up for a beverage package, made some dinner reservations, adjusted a couple of tours. Disembarking the ship was so easy...we were at the old town pier this time and were off the ship, luggage collected and on the bus bound for the airport in 15 minutes!!! We had to go through customs / immigration again in the ship's terminal even though we had done that on the ship in St. Thomas. That too was VERY efficient! Be aware there is an agriculture check of all luggage BEFORE you check in...the bus drops you right there and they off load your luggage to be scanned and you walk through any hand luggage larger than a purse.
We chose this itinerary because we wanted to see/experience the Amazon. We had previously done a small ship (Vantage Cruises) in Peru on the Amazon and enjoyed it but had been a little disappointed that we did not see much wildlife. Viking's Brazil itinerary really showed us the scope and enormity of the Amazon but not a lot up close and personal. Rain forest hikes had too many people and we often could not hear the leader (why dont they all use quiet boxes) OR so many people by the time we passed what the leader was describing we could not find it or it had flown/scampered/hopped away. Viking needs to find vendors who will offer smaller groups...use the same number of buses but 2x the guides and it would be wonderful! We did one DIY excursion in Manaus and spent the day exploring the river, meeting of the waters, fishing, hiking, swimming with the pink dolphins, and indigenous people...all from a small boat. It was wonderful, the highlight of the trip BUT I was nervous about getting back in time for sailing away ( the small boat certainly could have had engine problems). I have not figured out how to get a small group experience which are always superior and usually a value and the safety net of it being ship sponsored!!!
The included tours were OK....we took optionals in most ports...make sure to see the inside of the Opera House in Manaus. In some ports we managed to also do the included tour!!! It is great when schedules allow for that. The only tour that was really bad was in Tabago...it was snorkeling...however the boat was crowded and they did not have enough equipment for those that did not have their own. The snorkeling was very disappointing in time and what we saw. The second spot was just beautiful knee deep sandy bottom water!!!! Waste of time and money!!!!
This is the lowest category. We think it is a great value. We get the Silver Spirit Beverage Package so do not miss having cans of soda replenished in the room. When we had the coffee maker in the room we had it removed to give us another shelf.
The newer ships have heated bathroom floors that can be self adjusted....I really missed that!! I also missed the extra drawers that the new ships have built into 1/2 of the closet. I do not care about the self opening curtains on the newer ships.
The room was kept spotless by our stewards!!!
The room uses space really well but it small. We take a few magnetic hooks for bathing suits and jackets/hats.
the Viking ships seem to have a persistent noisy RATTLE that seems to come from the sliding door whenever the seas are not calm. We did not notice this on the SKY but it was present on the SUN and now on the SEA. Viking has tried to fix the problem with some shims around the door wall but it does not fix the problem. The good news is we had calm seas most of the time and I eventually get used to the rattle. We heard nothing from neighbors' cabins or above or below us.