After having a wonderful experience on Mediterranean Odyssey in March, 2017, we wanted to take another Viking ocean cruise. On that cruise, we had perfect weather, excellent service and food, were upgraded from a DV6 guarantee to a PV1, and had excellent tours with the exception of Toulon (which has since been replaced by Marseilles). A big benefit of a Viking ocean cruise is that everything is included with no surprises, except tips and optional tours. Internet, water, minbar, and wine/beer with lunch and dinner are all included. Adults only is fantastic! They also give a lot of info ahead of time on each port. It is truly educational.
We were very interested in the ports on Trade Routes, so we took the chance again to pay for a DV6 cabin and were upgraded to a PV2. Our flight on Air Canada Rouge had awful service and amenities compared to Luftansia the year before. (Iceland Air - on the way home - was better, but meals were terrible after waiting at the airport in Norway for 5 hours.) We were met at the airport, did have to wait for other flights to land, but it was very organized. We were whisked up to lunch; once we finished,it was time to go to our cabin. Our ship was right downtown this time, as opposed to the previous docking in a Barcelona which was a 20 minute drive. The ship did not disappoint with excellent food and service. Entertainment was similar and in some cases a repeat of the previous cruise. The fitness center was nice, but we only had the time and energy to use it on sea days. It would be nice if they had some classes. We did not use the spa. We were disappointed in the disorganization of the local tours and tour guides.We were shocked by the lack of knowledge of the Viking staff who booked and helped organize the tours; they knew nothing about the ports, how to best get around the cities,and what would actually take place on the tours. They even gave misinformation and made no effort to help us. In Amsterdam, they told us there was no public transportation, when in fact, they had a wonderful tram system! They did not offer a tour of Anne Frank’s House which is difficult to get tickets, and in spite of it being spring, we never saw a tulip or a windmill. We found out a few days before the cruise that the optional tour to London - one reason we opted for this cruise - was canceled due to an annual marathon. They added unappealing substitutions. The tour guide in Portsmouth dropped us off at the dockyard and could not tell us where to get the public bus back to the ship, which we needed because they were only giving us a short time to explore the dockyard and museums. They handed us tickets to the dockyard and left - no tour. In Falmouth we took a boring 3.5 hour bus ride along the coast with one stop to take pictures - A Scenic Cornish Drive. There was nothing of significance or historical interest. In Barcelona, there were political demonstrations so they could not do Panoramic Barcelona, and it was Sunday, so we could not enter the Barcelona Cathedral. Luckily, we planned to go to La Sabrado Familia Cathedral on our own which was easy to get to on the subway. We did have a great tour guide in Porto, Cartagena, Malaga, and Bruge (wonderful optional tour of Bruge and Canal Tour). There was not much of a tour in Bergen, but we stayed downtown and shopped meeting the wonderful shopkeepers. We made an appointment with the General Manager on board who listened and took notes on all our concerns about the tours, etc. He told us that this was a “repositioning cruise,” was not done regularly, so the staff was not familiar with the ports, tours, and tour agencies. I have seen that some changes have been made in Portsmouth tours and tours have been added in Amsterdam, although not Anne Frank’s Home.
The staff, aside from those organizing tours, were amazing! Manfredi’s was fantastic! Book as early as you can; we set the alarm to get up and book as soon as they opened - same with shore excursions! Reservations once on board for Manfredi’s are impossible to get. Food at all restaurants is excellent though. We are booked on another cruise this spring, Cities of Antiquity and the Holy Land. We could not get a guarantee room, so we booked a PV room, as there is a big difference in the space and storage for clothes in a DV room. We found we spent more time in the room each cruise than one would think and wanted comfort. We are also doing the add on 4 nights in Athens, as it was very reasonable (staying at Athens Hilton) with breakfast, some lunches and 2 days of tours included. We can’t wait!
Excellent, spacious, quiet. Minibar and expresso maker great. Bathroom with heated floors; excellent shower products. Bed comfortable. Nice to have a veranda.