After a wonderful experience on the Viking Grand European River Cruise in 2017, we decided to give Viking Ocean a try. We had never done ocean cruising, but liked the port heavy itineraries of Viking and the relatively smaller ship focus. In the meantime, we did go on an Alaskan cruise with another line, so we had that as a comparison for our wonderful Baltic adventure on the Viking Sea. We did this Viking Homelands cruise with a couple that we met on our river cruise.
We loved the public area spaces on the Viking Sea; they never felt cramped. All the staff were friendly and engaging and truly appear to enjoy the work. I'm amazed at how quickly everyone learned our names and what we liked to eat/drink/etc. The senior staff were amazing as well. After a discussion with the hotel manager, Charles, one afternoon as my husband (former Navy) was trying to read the signal flags of a ship docked near us, we returned to our room less than an hour later to find a print-out of the signal flags with a note from Charles! The bar manager even acquired a special beer request for our friend in one port. That's service!
We ate dinner in The Restaurant, Manfredi's (3 times), and the Chef's Table (2 times with different menus). The service and food was excellent each time in each restaurant. At The Chef's Table, we definitely preferred one menu over the other, but that was our personal taste, not a reflection of the quality of the preparation. And, we were all glad we had tried the different menus as that is part of travelling and exploring other cultures. The World Cafe' buffet was very easy for breakfast and lunch (when we weren't ashore) and had a good variety of foods. The Restaurant even accommodated a large group of us (14) who had toured together in St. Petersburg and wanted to get together a couple of nights for dinner later in the cruise. It's almost like your wish is their command!
We had a Penthouse Veranda cabin which was very roomy and comfortable, but we really didn't spend much time there except to sleep! When in port, we were off on tours (mostly Viking sponsored but some we did via 3rd party or on our own). We appreciated the amount of time we had in port (only 1 full sea day) and that this itinerary included so many places we would not have thought to have gone otherwise (Gdansk, Aalborg, Eidfjord) that we found very appealing.
We enjoyed the entertainment from the classical musicians playing in the atrium and Explorers Lounge to the the band in Torshavn to the nightly show in the Theater. We also squeezed in a couple of the guest speaker lectures which were quite good covering the history and geography of the areas we visited. And, we liked going to the port talks to learn the history and excursions for the next port.
We did arrive in Stockholm a couple of days ahead of our embarkation on the Viking Sea which we planned on our own. I would highly recommend spending extra days in Stockholm as there is so much to do and see there. The embarkation\disembarkation process was very easy and efficient. Upon disembarkation, we took a taxi to the train station in Bergen and took the train to Oslo for three more days on our own. The train was a great way to experience more of Norway's beauty.
We have loved the Viking experience and booked (with our friends) two river cruises back to back for July 2020 while we were aboard. We will likely book another Viking Ocean cruise - we just have to agree with our friends on which one and when!
If you are thinking about trying Viking Ocean - this is the itinerary to choose!
The Penthouse Veranda cabin was very roomy and comfortable. This location is aft but towards mid-ship. We didn't really experience any rough seas, so there wasn't much cause for feeling any movement and I didn't. It was very quiet. Near to the stairwell and convenient when going up to 7 to the World Cafe or Explorers Lounge. Near to the elevator when headed down.
As a former music major I appreciated the concert of Sibelius' works including his best known - Finlandia. The performers were a pianist and violinist. A CD was included with the concert as a memento. The "concert hall" was in an old building not really designed for that, but was enjoyable nevertheless. The highlights of Helsinki included visiting the Sibelius monument, Market Square, and Senate Square. Iconic Helsinki, but that seemed to be about it. Unlike some other ports on our cruise, I have no desire to return to Helsinki to explore further. After talking to friends who did the included tour of Helsinki and were not impressed with the city either, I was glad we chose this optional tour for the concert.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We took a boat excursion to/from the palace, then did the palace and court theater tours provided at the site. There was a rehearsal at the theater, but they allowed us to enter and watch for a few minutes during the tour. It was very interesting to learn about the history of this palace and the lack of funds that the Swedish monarchy had, but needed to keep the appearance of keeping up with the rest of Europe with faux marble, etc. What a contrast to what we were to see later in the trip in Saint Petersburg!
The boat was located near the City Hall, so it was easy to get to from our hotel. The boat operator provided a map and narration of some of the sights we passed along the way. It was a beautiful, relaxing way to see that part of Stockholm from the water.View All 7 Drottningholm Palace Reviews
We visited the Vasa Museum on our own, arriving shortly after it opened but in time to catch the first English tour of the day. By the time we left, it was extremely crowded with group tours, etc. This is a fascinating story from the building of the Vasa to its sinking to its resurrection and restoration. We spent 3 full days in Stockholm, if you can only do one thing in Stockholm, this would be it!View All 128 Vasa Museum Reviews
We had a wonderfully packed 2-day tour, plus evening tour of the Faberge' Museum. Our guide was exceptional. The 2-day tour included Neva river cruise, Peter Paul Fortress Cathedral, Yusupov Palace, Catherine Palace (including Amber Room), Peterhof Palace (Fountains & Gardens), Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Isaac's Cathedral, Hermitage Museum, city tour and subway ride. We were exhausted after the two days, but saw so much with very little waiting in lines thanks to our tour guide.View All undefined undefined Reviews
It can be hit or miss sometimes with the cruise line guides, but ours was a hit! Fantastic walking tour of Upper and Lower Old Town of Tallinn. Our Estonian guide was very good with providing the history (both ancient and recent) of the area. We loved the quaintness of the Old Town, the views from the Upper town, and the buildings and tower walls which are several centuries old.View All 189 Old Town of Tallinn Reviews
A very interesting and beautiful Old Town. Unfortunately, we had a really bad rain storm with hail that hit while we were on our walking tour in town, so we headed back to the ship the first chance we got. However, this is on our list of places to come back to and explore further than just a few hours in port.View All 60 Gdansk Old Town Reviews
Don't waste your time on a train to Berlin! Go to Rostock to see the 600-year-old University of Rostock, St. Mary's Church and its 15th century astronomical clock, then visit the cute seaside resort village of Warnemunde where your ship is docked and grab a table and drink at an outdoor cafe and watch the people.View All 41 Rostock City Tour Reviews
With a better guide, this would have been rated excellent. The sites included during this lengthy walking tour covered many of Copenhagen's highlights. But, our guide did not manage the pace of the group well or handle issues in the best possible manner, IMO. I would still recommend this tour and cross your fingers for a different guide - most guides that Viking uses that I've experienced have been very good. Alternatively, grab Rick Steves' Scandanavian Ports book and follow his Copenhagen walk at your own pace.View All 201 City Tour Reviews
Nice scenic tour out to Pulpit Rock and nearby waterfalls for half the price of the ship's similar tour. Beautiful fjord with gorgeous water. Highly recommend it even if your ship is traversing various fjords, this one is very pretty and Pulpit Rock is impressive, too!View All 76 Pulpit Rock Reviews
Very good tour by Viking's local guide of the Oil Museum and Old Town. My husband and I both worked in the Oil industry and our guide did an excellent job of explaining how especially offshore oil exploration and production works. We then enjoyed his local history and knowledge as we explored the Old Town area of Stavanger and learned about the economy before it became and oil town.View All 57 The Old Town Reviews
Loved this little town! Very walkable. Interesting history and buildings from the 15th & 16th centuries as well as some more modern architecture.
The views in this fjord and surrounding area were magnificent! We did the Flamsbana railway tour from here which did involve some long bus rides and an additional train, but the views were just fantastic. Beautiful scenery!
This tour provided a city overview, then the ride out to Grieg's house for a tour and a piano concert in the concert hall with the lake as a backdrop! Fantastic music and gorgeous scenery to view while listening to a very gifted pianist play various Grieg compositions.View All 28 Troldhaugen Concert Reviews