We booked this cruise directly through Viking in November 2017 - 18 months prior to departure. We were advised at that time we could upgrade flights as soon as flights became available. We duly did this through Viking. They organised the flights on our behalf. Five weeks prior to departure for Seward, Alaska we were contacted by Viking and advised that we would need an earlier flight to get us to Seward on time for the cruise. As we were taking a regional flight they advised that we could depart 24 hrs before the previous arrangements and spend a night and day at Heathrow airport. This was perceived as unacceptable. After much “discussion” we finally agreed to fly out to Alaska one day earlier than Viking had scheduled. Not an encouraging start to our cruise or to showcase their organisational skills.
The cruise overall went well. Orion is a beautiful ship and our Stateroom on Deck 8 was very well appointed and we were looked after vey well by our Personal Stateroom Attendant. We were unfortunately disappointed overall with the standard of evening meals. Food in the Restaurant was as good as that in Manfredi’s but standards at the Chef’sTable were quite poor. Vegetables served were consistently overcooked in all restaurants and requests for veg to be served al dente were ignored. Evening meals were therefore variable. Service in the restaurants tended to be inconsistent and erratic. Requests for a pre meal drink whilst waiting to be joined by fellow travellers at the table took so long that the meal was alrady served before the wine arrived. We bought the premium wine package but standards of wine were no better than the standard package, although aperitifs / after dinner drinks etc were included in this plan. We were led to believe wine would be of a higher standard. We had the opportunity to make three reservations at the Chef’s Table. The one experience was enough - the menu was limited and standards not high enough.
We booked extensive excursions, this being a once in a lifetime experience. Largely they were good but the Viking grading system was yet again inconsistent. Demanding, moderate, easy categorisation for excursions was variable. At Icy Strait Point we went on a “demanding” wilderness hike which compared with a gentle stroll so limited that the excursion leader stopped frequently to expand time taken. On our return we expressed concern with othe guests about our experience as on this occasion no evaluation sheets were dustributed. Viking staff reaction was disappointing. They did not want to know.
At Juneau poor weather that had been forecast well in advance meant that our helicopter glacier trip could not go ahead. It was very obvious on that day that this would be the case though Viking required us to take the tender ashore, miss an opportunity to sign up for an alternative excursion only to be told that our excursion was cancelled as soon as we reached the shore. This experience could have been so much better if Viking communications were better. To be fair our trip was refunded but any valuable excursion in Juneau was lost. You will appreciate that we are unlikely to visit Juneau again so this was frustrating.
When the cruise came to an end we had bought a post cruise extension organised by Viking in Vancouver. It cost £389 per person for 2 nights bed and breakfast. Our allocated hotel the Regency Hyatt was relatively disappointing particularly because breakfast was served to Viking guests in a large windowless conference room. The standard of food was poor but most importantly was diffferent to the standard of food served to non Viking guests in the main restaurant. For example the strawberries, fresh smoked salmon and extensive range were missing and replaced by cheap toast bread, melon as the only fruit available by way of example. Overall, the hotel on Burrard Street had a very tired feel although staff were very helpful. Viking did not ask for any feedback on this section if our experience. We gave feedback to the Viking rep at the Regency Hyatt who was lovely and very helpful but she explained we would have to contact Viking directly to complain.
Despite this we enjoyed our tine in Vancouver it is a beautiful city. We tried to ignore our annoyance regarding lack of value for money.
You may imagine we invested heavily on the cruise and prior to our experience were happy to do so. It did not overall live up to expectations. With hindsight we would have gone with another small ship provider or settled for a standard cabin as it was we were in a Junior Penthouse Stateroom (8003).
As of writing we still have not received the refund from our abortive helicopter trip. Written contact via their contact form and a telephone call have unfortunately met with no response. We are not surprised given our overall experience of Viking Oceanic Cruises communications and organisation - or lack.
Excellent driver and guide (Lane) who was really informative and made this visit. He would have received 5 stars for his humour, knowledge and enthusiasm. A lesser guide would have highlighted the limits of the cable car to the summit.View All undefined undefined Reviews
A walk in our local park would have been more exciting and demanding. The guide was very young and a stand in for a sick colleague and had no idea about communication with an audience of any size and we learnt very little. She explained at the beginning that we had about a 30 per cent chance of seeing a bear but then said she had no bear deterrent with her. Luckily we saw no bears but plenty of evidence they had been their recently. When asked by one person on the “hike” what the name of one of the islands we could see was she said she had no idea and it probably did not have a name. This excursion was classed as “demanding” but was on a well marked dirt road and was merely a stroll with slight incline over a distance of about 3/4 mike. It cost $99 each and the 2and a half hours duration turned out to be less than 2 hrs. It was extremely disappointing and we complained with others to Viking but they did nothing about it and kicked our complaint into the long grass. Do not do this walk.View All undefined undefined Reviews
This was an awesome excursion. Fantastic scenery and backdrop and a most excellent guide Tom Lane an author from Haines. We took a ferry from Skagway to Haines and transferred to coach. We then rafted down a section of river for 90 mins. Lunch was basic but most enjoyable given the company and the setting. Highly recommended.View All 35 River Rafting/Eagle Preserve Reviews
This was cancelled att the thirteenth hour. The weather forecast some days prior to us getting to Juneau was dismal as it was on the day we were due to undertake the excursion. We met with the excursion team who gave us every indication it would go ahead. We were surprised as cloud cover and level was exceedingly low. Prior to our disembarkation they indicated there were spaces on other interesting excursions eg Best of Juneau. We were tendered to shore and on arrival some 15 minutes Later we were met by the disembarkation by a member of staff who informed us and other guests that it had been cancelled. When we asked if we could join another group ie Best of Juneau they said the coach had just left. No one was able to assist us so we had to invent our own activity by checking against any other possible excursions that had not left which we were able to join. What a mess - no joined up thinking. Clients like us are clearly at the back of the queue.View All 138 Helicopter Tour Reviews
See above. This excursion involved a helicopter flight and trekking across a glacier.View All 15 Trekking Reviews
This was a great visit which took us on a walk through Sitka ( extensive walk) to the raptor centre which was enjoyable. Knowledgeable guide and interesting facts about birds of prey. The raptor centre was also interesting.View All 44 Wildlife Tour Reviews
Interesting visit to wilderness area Misty Fjords and New Eddystone Rock. Saw bald eagles, porpoises,& humpback whales at distance. Awesome scenery and interesting commentary from a variety of individuals on the boat.View All 113 Misty Fjords Wilderness Cruise Reviews