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I have cruised with Viking Ocean before, but never at Christmas time. I hope to do it again, because the special activities and the decorations (on ship and at destinations) made this cruise a little special. We were on the Southern Med Discovery cruise - only 8 days, so we flew to Rome a few days early and stayed in Barcelona and Madrid a few days late to make it a two week vacation. I cruise mostly to see a lot of different destinations, and Viking is fairly port-intensive, so it works well for us. I had been to a couple of the ports before, but others were quite new to me. The cruise went to Italy, Algeria and Spain. When I booked, Tunisia was on the itinerary, but that eventually got replaced with Naples. We booked a deluxe veranda cabin on Viking Sky, and as usual, found the service and cabin to be excellent. Food was quite good, although I didn't see much of the Dining Room, as my husband loves the World Cafe (enhanced buffet/cafeteria style restaurant). While we don't always take the one included excursion in each port, we like having those available, especially in ports that are difficult to cover in a day (Rome?) or not well suited to sightseeing by public transportation, which we like. The Wifi was great, as was the lack of "nickel and diming." I was thrilled to get to Algeria, and the excursion I took there (from the ship; didn't want to pay extra for travel visa) was excellent. All excursions were quite good - worthwhile, very organized, and cheaper than what I'm used to on another similar line. Some people don't like coach trips, but at least Viking tries to limit coach size to 2/3rds full. I only used the spa area once, but appreciated not having to pay to walk in the door. t. Activities and entertainment, while not fantastic, were certainly adequate for me. I didn't miss a casino, and while there were books around, I didn't miss a library. There WERE some nice holiday (New Year's Eve & Day) activities that were quite nice. I know Viking's prices appear high to many, but keep in mind you'll get plenty of space, no lines, no extra charge for specialty restaurants, and beer & wine at lunch and dinner, use of spa area, Wifi plus computers with internet, and self-service laundry on each floor. You also usually get port intensive itineraries, often including some of the lesser-visited ports, a free excursion (for everyone; don't get to pick) in each port except on embarkation/disembarkation days, and a wonderful overall cruise experience. The cruisers themselves, were great, although if you're in your 30s or 40s you may feel the age difference quite a bit! But to me, people are people, regardless of age, so as long as the people I'm cruising with are interested in seeing the world more than getting drunk, their ages don't matter much to me. Our ports were Rome (ship stayed overnight there), Naples, Trapani Sicily, Cagliari Sardinia, Algiers, Valencia, Barcelona, and one and a half sea days. There were no tender ports. The captain skipped Trapani due to weather, which was a big disappointment to me, but I have to trust his judgement on those matters. We did get another half day in Naples and a free visit to their fabulous archaeological museum. I passed & walked around the city. Loved the artwork in Toledo, Universita, and other metro stations. It was thrilling to be in Algeria (first visit to Africa) and I have to admit it was different and better than I expected. The people were really glad to see us, and the city arranged police escorts so we could get through traffic quicker. The Algerian weekend is Friday and Saturday, and we were there on Friday. There were plenty of people out when we visited a wonderful park with ruins. Our guide was fabulous - including his English fluency and (lack of) accent. The other ports were charming (even gritty Naples in its own way!) including Cagliari, although we only had from 7 AM to 2 PM - tough for me to see all I wanted to see. Viking's free excursions are quite good, but in a big city like Rome or London, you're not going to see everything there is to see. You may want to find a private excursion instead, but of course, even then you won't see everything. Traffic can be a real problem. However, at least Viking's excursions were well organized and executed, and they generally only fill their coaches 2/3rds full on those popular included tours (and optional ones). It was nice in Spain and Italy because Three Kings Day (Jan. 6th) fell while we were there, and it basically is the end of the Christmas season. Therefore, the Christmas spirit and decorations were still in evidence long after Christmas Day is celebrated in the U.S. Tips for Viking: If you're thinking of booking another cruise with them, do it while on the ship, or the following week. They offered us a great price on board and for a week or so after we got home. However, we weren't ready to commit, and ended up paying quite a bit more for the cruises we ultimately selected. On occasion, an excursion will sell out. Just let the onboard staff know and they'll do their best to get you on the excursion. Book your specialty restaurant reservations and your excursions right away when you can online to get best days/times. While I didn't notice this on our cruise in late December, I understand that Viking is now offering some of their included tours as a slower, gentler experience. To make on-ship navigating easier, look for the wall phone when you get off the elevator. That will help you know which side your cabin is on! And that phone is not just for staff. Use it if you want to call to your or another person's cabin. Take a lanyard for your key card if you have no pants pockets and don't like carrying a purse, even a small one. You'll be using that card a lot. Make sure you know which electrical sockets are "live" all the time and which go out when you leave and take your key out of the slot by the door. If your electronics don't charge while you're gone, that may be why. Make sure you visit World Cafe at least once - upscale buffet experience. Also check it for special "on the deck" days - fish fry/bake, Mexican night, etc. If you want to change or add specialty restaurant rezzies, go to the podium right inside the World Cafe to ask about that. If you fly into Frankfurt from the U.S., connect to another flight, and need a wheelchair, be aware that Frankfurt has two scenarios for those who request a wheelchair online. When you land, a wheelchair and pusher are provided. However, you are asked whether you can walk. If you say "a little" you're likely to be taken only to the front of the gate and you'll wait for a cart to go to your connecting gate. We waited a long time, although it WAS Christmas week, so perhaps things aren't as bad other times. Then the connecting flight left from the tarmac, which required walking from the gate down stairs, to the plane and then up a metal flight of steps with carryons. On the way back, we requested wheelchair assistance all the way, and fared much better. If you're totally mobile, however, a connection may be fairly easy. That's because often the connection from non-EU area (e.g. from U.S) to secure EU area requires only taking an elevator down or up within the same terminal. Then you walk to your gate (although that may be a long way, and can still include passport control, x-rays, airport or metal stairs, etc. But at least there's no waiting for assistance involved. Remember in booking any cruise that unless there are overnights in the cities used for embarkation and disembarkation, you probably won't have time to see much of those cities unless you do early and stay late. I highly recommend doing this, and it will also give you some "what if?" time in case flights are very delayed, plus give you a little time to get your body over jetlag (if flying long distances). Also, use a travel agent and ask for goodies. Would I do this cruise again? No. However, I WOULD do a similar Viking Ocean cruise with an itinerary consisting of more cities I had not visited. I also hope to do more holiday cruising, as I found there was magic in the air while cruising after Christmas.

First Christmas Time Cruise - Magic in the Air!

Viking Sky Cruise Review by roothy123

Trip Details
I have cruised with Viking Ocean before, but never at Christmas time. I hope to do it again, because the special activities and the decorations (on ship and at destinations) made this cruise a little special. We were on the Southern Med Discovery cruise - only 8 days, so we flew to Rome a few days early and stayed in Barcelona and Madrid a few days late to make it a two week vacation.

I cruise mostly to see a lot of different destinations, and Viking is fairly port-intensive, so it works well for us. I had been to a couple of the ports before, but others were quite new to me. The cruise went to Italy, Algeria and Spain. When I booked, Tunisia was on the itinerary, but that eventually got replaced with Naples. We booked a deluxe veranda cabin on Viking Sky, and as usual, found the service and cabin to be excellent. Food was quite good, although I didn't see much of the Dining Room, as my husband loves the World Cafe (enhanced buffet/cafeteria style restaurant). While we don't always take the one included excursion in each port, we like having those available, especially in ports that are difficult to cover in a day (Rome?) or not well suited to sightseeing by public transportation, which we like. The Wifi was great, as was the lack of "nickel and diming." I was thrilled to get to Algeria, and the excursion I took there (from the ship; didn't want to pay extra for travel visa) was excellent. All excursions were quite good - worthwhile, very organized, and cheaper than what I'm used to on another similar line. Some people don't like coach trips, but at least Viking tries to limit coach size to 2/3rds full. I only used the spa area once, but appreciated not having to pay to walk in the door. t. Activities and entertainment, while not fantastic, were certainly adequate for me. I didn't miss a casino, and while there were books around, I didn't miss a library. There WERE some nice holiday (New Year's Eve & Day) activities that were quite nice. I know Viking's prices appear high to many, but keep in mind you'll get plenty of space, no lines, no extra charge for specialty restaurants, and beer & wine at lunch and dinner, use of spa area, Wifi plus computers with internet, and self-service laundry on each floor. You also usually get port intensive itineraries, often including some of the lesser-visited ports, a free excursion (for everyone; don't get to pick) in each port except on embarkation/disembarkation days, and a wonderful overall cruise experience. The cruisers themselves, were great, although if you're in your 30s or 40s you may feel the age difference quite a bit! But to me, people are people, regardless of age, so as long as the people I'm cruising with are interested in seeing the world more than getting drunk, their ages don't matter much to me.

Our ports were Rome (ship stayed overnight there), Naples, Trapani Sicily, Cagliari Sardinia, Algiers, Valencia, Barcelona, and one and a half sea days. There were no tender ports. The captain skipped Trapani due to weather, which was a big disappointment to me, but I have to trust his judgement on those matters. We did get another half day in Naples and a free visit to their fabulous archaeological museum. I passed & walked around the city. Loved the artwork in Toledo, Universita, and other metro stations. It was thrilling to be in Algeria (first visit to Africa) and I have to admit it was different and better than I expected. The people were really glad to see us, and the city arranged police escorts so we could get through traffic quicker. The Algerian weekend is Friday and Saturday, and we were there on Friday. There were plenty of people out when we visited a wonderful park with ruins. Our guide was fabulous - including his English fluency and (lack of) accent. The other ports were charming (even gritty Naples in its own way!) including Cagliari, although we only had from 7 AM to 2 PM - tough for me to see all I wanted to see. Viking's free excursions are quite good, but in a big city like Rome or London, you're not going to see everything there is to see. You may want to find a private excursion instead, but of course, even then you won't see everything. Traffic can be a real problem. However, at least Viking's excursions were well organized and executed, and they generally only fill their coaches 2/3rds full on those popular included tours (and optional ones). It was nice in Spain and Italy because Three Kings Day (Jan. 6th) fell while we were there, and it basically is the end of the Christmas season. Therefore, the Christmas spirit and decorations were still in evidence long after Christmas Day is celebrated in the U.S.

Tips for Viking:

If you're thinking of booking another cruise with them, do it while on the ship, or the following week. They offered us a great price on board and for a week or so after we got home. However, we weren't ready to commit, and ended up paying quite a bit more for the cruises we ultimately selected.

On occasion, an excursion will sell out. Just let the onboard staff know and they'll do their best to get you on the excursion.

Book your specialty restaurant reservations and your excursions right away when you can online to get best days/times.

While I didn't notice this on our cruise in late December, I understand that Viking is now offering some of their included tours as a slower, gentler experience.

To make on-ship navigating easier, look for the wall phone when you get off the elevator. That will help you know which side your cabin is on! And that phone is not just for staff. Use it if you want to call to your or another person's cabin.

Take a lanyard for your key card if you have no pants pockets and don't like carrying a purse, even a small one. You'll be using that card a lot.

Make sure you know which electrical sockets are "live" all the time and which go out when you leave and take your key out of the slot by the door. If your electronics don't charge while you're gone, that may be why.

Make sure you visit World Cafe at least once - upscale buffet experience. Also check it for special "on the deck" days - fish fry/bake, Mexican night, etc.

If you want to change or add specialty restaurant rezzies, go to the podium right inside the World Cafe to ask about that.

If you fly into Frankfurt from the U.S., connect to another flight, and need a wheelchair, be aware that Frankfurt has two scenarios for those who request a wheelchair online. When you land, a wheelchair and pusher are provided. However, you are asked whether you can walk. If you say "a little" you're likely to be taken only to the front of the gate and you'll wait for a cart to go to your connecting gate. We waited a long time, although it WAS Christmas week, so perhaps things aren't as bad other times. Then the connecting flight left from the tarmac, which required walking from the gate down stairs, to the plane and then up a metal flight of steps with carryons. On the way back, we requested wheelchair assistance all the way, and fared much better. If you're totally mobile, however, a connection may be fairly easy. That's because often the connection from non-EU area (e.g. from U.S) to secure EU area requires only taking an elevator down or up within the same terminal. Then you walk to your gate (although that may be a long way, and can still include passport control, x-rays, airport or metal stairs, etc. But at least there's no waiting for assistance involved.

Remember in booking any cruise that unless there are overnights in the cities used for embarkation and disembarkation, you probably won't have time to see much of those cities unless you do early and stay late. I highly recommend doing this, and it will also give you some "what if?" time in case flights are very delayed, plus give you a little time to get your body over jetlag (if flying long distances). Also, use a travel agent and ask for goodies.

Would I do this cruise again? No. However, I WOULD do a similar Viking Ocean cruise with an itinerary consisting of more cities I had not visited. I also hope to do more holiday cruising, as I found there was magic in the air while cruising after Christmas.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 3093
Standard, nice, modern, light, well-appointed room with comfy beds and fabulous bathroom. Some people like more closet drawers, but for us what's there is fine.
We just use the shelf in the closet, or the hangers in the closet, if we need for space for clothing. We like the aft (rear) of the ship because on a ship, you're always going to the restaurants, and they're all in the back!

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Algiers
    Coach trip to see ruins at an archaeological park in or near Tipaza, cookies, mint tea and bathroom break near there, and then on the Royal Mausoleum of Mauretania. Wonderful guide, wonderful excursion and worth every penny. Wonderful first visit to Africa and Algeria.
    View All 19 Algiers Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Naples
    It was New Year's Day and not much open and apparently not many tour guides available. All tours were in afternoon; most people in Naples may have been asleep all morning! I went off on my own in the morning and used the metro and walking to get around quite a bit. Very fun. Then took the free tour in afternoon from Viking. Guide wasn't very good. Went to Posillipo Hill, then a place where you could see all the islands like Capri and some ruined equipment in the valley. Too much time there for my taste. Then we went to Piazza de Plebiscito, but by then it had gotten chilly and a little wet and windy. People started straying from the guide, and she did little to stop that. We were basically on our own at that point, with a promise to walk people back to the ship in a while (which as far as I know DID happen). I just took a couple quick pictures at Plebiscito because I was cold. Then my husband and I just went over to Galleria Umberto (wonderful! - especially if you can see the 2 wish trees in the lobby), walked by a couple shops street-side shops, and admired Castel Nuovo. I had much more fun exploring Naples on my own, but I can understand and forgive Viking for providing such a so-so tour. There wasn't much going on in Naples that day due to the holiday, and the other wonderful sites/places like Herculaneum, Pompeii and Capri were all closed or inaccessible. Found Naples gritty, crowded, sometimes ugly, but very fun and interesting if you overlook these things. We had been to Sorrento, Pompeii, Amalfi, and Positano. They'll all worthwhile. if you're looking for things in the city, take the funicular to San Martino hill or a boat next to the port to one of the islands, see Toledo Metro's artwork, go see the presepe (nativity scene) street in Spaccanapoli. There's plenty to do, and the cruise port is right in the city, making it easy to do a lot.
    View All 12,425 Naples Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Rome (Civitavecchia)
    Can't do a tour for 900 people that cover the whole city. However, considering there was no extra charge for this, and what we saw, I thought it was pretty decent. It's my understanding that coaches are being severely limited in center city Rome this year, so I was glad we could get in when we did. I had never really seen Circus Maximus, Baths of Caracalla (spelling?) or Castel Sant Angelo bridge before, so that was great. We saw other places, and then had a little free time at the Vatican.
    View All 12,425 Rome (Civitavecchia) Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Sardinia
    I got up early and took a bus from near the port to the top of the Castello (old part of city). Then I walked down to the terrace at the fortress, seeing things along the way and taking pictures. Then I met my husband near the port and we rented a Smart Car from CarBusTec, a local company nearby. We drove to see the lighthouse down on the peninsula, the flamingos on the way to Poetto Beach, and Poetto Beach. Only had 2/3rds of a day in Cagliari but enjoyed it quite a bit.
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  • Valencia
    Excursion to Oceanografic to see marine life plus some birds and other living things.
    The tunnel of sharks, fish, etc. was fun. Dolphin show was nothing out of the ordinary if you've seen one of these before. Enjoyed the beautiful building as well as views of the whole City of Arts & Sciences complex designed by Calatrava. Received a short walking tour of some of the buildings in central Valencia as well. There is so much interesting architecture in this city!
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