Ship. Words that come to mind about the ship: refined, tasteful, understated, quiet, slow-paced. This description could also be about fellow passengers, with the addition of "very friendly" and "good company." At age 77 I'd guess (and it's only that) that I was younger than the median age of fellow cruisers. This is definitely not a cruise for the middle-aged or younger. By way of contrast, the Viking Sea itself is only a couple of years old, and in almost-like-new condition. Our cabin (see separate section) was excellent and Wi-Fi worked fine, as did the TV (though no CNN).
One nice touch the ship has is original art hanging throughout. We used a book in our room to go around an look at all or most of it. (Unfortunately this is not a book you can buy or take with you, we were told.) A lot of the artists are Scandinavians, but not all. There's also an app you can use for your art tour, but I could not get it to work satisfactorily. Only negative was one picture in the back of The Restaurant that was hung upside down, and which I suggested they correct.
For me the dining experience was top drawer. I had only one entree that was just average, though my wife had a couple in that category. We ate in the main dining room, called "The Restaurant," except for one night at the Chef's Table and two nights at Manfredi's Italian restaurant. We also ate some lunches at the Pool Grill, very good, and twice, once for lunch and once for breakfast, at Mamsen's, which I'd say was the weakest dining venue. The World Cafe was great for lunch and breakfast, and offered some theme buffets in the evening (e.g., Caribbean, Indian) that we did not visit. Overall, excellent dining -- the best cruise ship food we've ever had. The service was adequate, though sometimes harried in The Restaurant. I should add that we used room service for breakfast five or six days. The deliveries were on time, and the hot food arrived hot. Excellent service.
Beverages. House wines are included at lunch and dinner. We tried them a time or two and they were fine for us. However, we'd ordered the "Silver Spirits" beverage package for about $20 per day per person. This gives you access to a greater variety of wines, and also all the spirits and wine you want to drink at other times (except for higher priced wines and spirits). If between the two of you (assuming a couple travelling together), you are going to drink more than six drinks a day, outside of lunch and dinner, or just want more choices at lunch and dinner, I think the package would be a good deal. It definitely was for us.
Enrichment. A "historian" made some presentations, and the ones we attended I give a grade C. We went to the first "port talk," but didn't think it was worth it so never went to another. They also had a "former ambassador" as a lecturer, but we did not attend any of his talks. They also had a number of "educational seminars," which were obviously designed to sell you stuff, like jewelry, facial treatments, etc. We skipped those "opportunities." (Thankfully, there were no art auctions, no photos, and no gambling casino.)
Entertainment. Weak. They had a small house band and four house singers, along with some musicians who played classical (or like) in the lounges in 45 minute sets from time to time. The performers were all very good, but variety was definitely lacking. Don't take this cruise for entertainment. However, I want to add that Cruise Director Jenna was outstanding, with a beautiful singing voice, the life of the party (so to speak), and very friendly all the time.
Pool areas were fine. We did not visit the Spa.
Guest Services Desk. Unhelpful and not particularly friendly. Questions normally answered "yes" or "no", with no attempt get into any details for you or go out of the way to help out.
Shore Excursions. This cruise was in the Caribbean, which limits what you can do. Water activities, such as sailing and snorkeling are probably the best bet, but we did only land tours. Our expectations were low (we've spent a lot of time in the Virgin Islands), so we were not particularly disappointed. However, we did have a couple of bad experiences, once being abandoned by our bus driver (Toppers Rum and Beach Getaway excursion, which included a mediocre "lunch" at the Blue Bitch Bar) and another that ran way over time that my wife was on by herself and caused me some worry when no one could tell me why she was not back on the ship when she should have been. (Viking did give us a 50 percent refund for the former tour, but we had politely complained and I am not sure if others on the tour received the same refund.) In both cases good communications between the ships excursion desk and the tours would have made a huge difference.
We did both "included" and pay-extra tours. If you take the included three hour "Tortola Scenic Tour & Beach" excursion, be prepared for an hour's rough ride in the back of a large pick-up truck on bench seats, an hour at a mediocre beach, and an hours ride back, with a brief stop at an old rum distillery.
The most interesting experience we had was the "Dominican Herb & Vegetable Garden" excursion on Dominica. It was not exactly as described in the brochure, but did get us to boyhood home of the tour guide, whose mother fixed us a variety of food from their garden, and who (the tour guide) gave us a good feel for local life.
Cruise Summary. This is not a cruise for those who like lots going on. On the other hand, if quiet, good food, an excellent ship, and a very laid back atmosphere are for you, I can recommend. Unlikely we'd take Viking again any time soon, but you never want to say "never".
Overall the cabin was fine for us, though the bathroom was a little small (in our cruise ship experience) and the bathroom lights at the mirror over the sink weren't great. Oh, and the hot water temperature in the shower wouldn't hold steady. But, still, an excellent room overall. The Penthouse Veranda is not a penthouse, top of the ship, but rather just a middle size room, neither the smallest or largest available.
We like art museums as experiences, which this one was, though art itself not significant. We visited the old fort -- I could have used more time there. Finally, they let you walk around Old San Juan for a bit on your own.View All undefined undefined Reviews
See description in main body of review.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Bus ride to Fairview Great House with some commentary along the way. Walk around the Great House and the "gardens."View All undefined undefined Reviews
Half hour bus ride to beach and back. Four hours at a very nice beach. Pay extra for an umbrella. Very nice lunch at "Castaway's on the Beach" (a middling beach bar) was included.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Two hour bus ride with commentary, including 30 minutes a Stony Hill gardens, small but attractive.View All undefined undefined Reviews
My wife went on this by herself and said she enjoyed the experience, but it went way over time.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Described above. Good "local life" experience.View All undefined undefined Reviews
The little program at the rum facility was good (Dave was funny and informative), but the beach and included lunch at the Blue Bitch Bar were mediocre at best. As mentioned above, we were abandoned by our bus driver at Toppers. I cannot recommend this excursion.View All undefined undefined Reviews