I chose this cruise for the Cuba itinerary. I have taken over 100 cruises with all the premium and ultra-deluxe cruise lines and I have never encountered significant problems.
First, I would like to address what I consider "significant problems" and then mention "irritations" for which I think there is
room for improvement and additional training.
When I got to the cruise terminal I could not pass security because I was not on the manifest. A supervisor allowed me to go upstairs where there was a Viking check-in desk. They could not find my name. Ambra (I think that is her name) was called. I explained to her I had people waiting in a car outside in case I could not board and explained my BP was extremely high and I was ill. She told me to "wait right here" while she went back to the ship, After about ten minutes I was lightheaded and dizzy and asked if I could sit and have a drink of water. Any elderly (I am age 75) person, let alone ill, should be offered a seat. Finally, I was boarded.
There is no dedicated guest services staff.One calls the Explorer Desk. Four times I was unable to get an answer. When I asked the guest services representative why the phone is not answered he stated they are busy with other customers. There is no recording to indicate that and no option for a callback.
The table on patio very dirty with standing water. Housekeeping did come and clean it when I called.
I could not connect to the internet. Went to guest services for the third time. They could not help. A third person came to my cabin(after two others tried and I waited in the cabin for two hours) who had IT expertise and fixed it.
Guest services called me three times to have me bring my passport. I had to go to the desk and give my passport for the third time.
No remote for the TV in the cabin. I called housekeeping and they brought one but could not get it to work.Another person came and explained the safety video had to run first before the TV would work.
Surprised to find the main dining room is not open for lunch, I was tired of buffets and wanted to sit down and be served. There are no trays so each course had to be carried to the table with no one to help. My spouse uses a walker so if anyone is traveling with a disabled person the other person has to make multiple trips to the buffet to get food for two people. The buffet (World Cafe) is extremely busy since it is the only place to eat for lunch and the wait staff is unable to provide adequate service.
The cruise was advertised as "airfare included." I live in the Ft. Lauderdale area so air was not necessary but no credit is given for local travelers. Other cruise lines I have sailed deduct $300 per person from the fare.
Solo travelers seem to be overlooked. I was seated behind a pillar in the Chef's table specialty restaurant and forgotten. This was a wine pairing dinner. The waiter forgot the initial wine so later brought two glasses of different wines,
Voice mail service was intermittent. I could not retrieve my messages for a whole day
There was a lot of complaining about Viking on the ship. I addressed my concerns with the hotel manager but he stated he is not empowered to do anything about my concerns. He stated that all concerns must be forwarded to corporate.
The ship is beautiful. The spa is spectacular and the food is on par with other premium cruise lines but service is inferior to most mainline cruise lines and grossly lacking compared to the other "ultra deluxe" cruise lines such as Seabourn, Crystal and Regent.. I do think there is much more training needed; particularly in guest services and the wait staff in serving solo passengers. My cabin attendant was excellent and housekeeping could not do enough to address my concerns. Thesupervisor of housekeeping came to my cabin several times to make sure everything was OK. And when I asked about some snacks for an "election night party" the offerings exceeded my expectations
One final comment. The itinerary was for three days in Cienfuegos and three hours in Santiago. It should be reversed. Everything of interest can be seen in three hours in Cienfuegos but Santiago is a large citywith many more points of interest. I did not do the Havanna tour dueto the 31/2 hour bus ride and the fact that I can take a five daycruise which overnights in Havanna for about half the price of the tour by Viking.
In summary, Viking Ocean has beautiful ships but I hope the level of onboard services will be significantly improved. There seems to inadequatestaff; particularly since there are no exclusively guest services representatives. I paid $1100 a day for my cruise but I have had far superior experiences for cruises less than half that amount. Furthermore, if you are a solo traveler, over 65 or have a disability this cruise is not for you. Viking Ocean Cruises marketing targets younger, able bodied affluent travelers who enjoy such things as the "snow room" on board.
Very nice cabin with good amenities.
Very interesting port for a day visit but not worth spending the two and a half days for the Viking itinerary.
Only had a couple of hours in port. This is a fascinating city which needs a minimum of two days to see the best points of interest.View All 40 City Tour Reviews