This cruise, "Far Eastern Horizens", was chosen as a logical extension of "North Pacific Passage", from Vancouver to Tokyo, where Viking kindly upgraded us to a forward Explorer Suite. Because we booked (a fully paid for Explorer Suite this time) some time after booking "North Pacific Passage", it was necessary to move to that Suite, being 3095, sitting aft starboard for this second cruise.
The Orion staff, across all departments, is by far the most efficient, friendly and courteous team we have encountered in our thirteen cruises to date. We have sailed with Seabourn, Silversea, Oceania and Norwegian. "North Pacific Passage" was our first Viking cruise. Orion is a sleek, sophisticated vessel, enhanced by its generous and comfortable public spaces, and understated, soothing and elegant nordic decor. The entertainment was delightful: classical musicians, witty comedians and gifted vocalists. The enrichment lectures were articulately delivered, and although we did not get around to attending every single lecture, those we did were enjoyable and informative. Desk services staff were so helpful and attentive. The food, overall, was enjoyable, if not a little too salty, and some dishes were among the best we had tasted in their category. Unfortunately, Oceania deserves its reputation for the best cuisine at sea, and it is impossible not to compare Viking's fare with Oceania's cuisine. Many guests we chatted to on Orion had also experienced Oceania's offerings, and all, to a person, agreed that although there is nothing at all wrong with Viking's menus and plated servings, it falls well short of Oceania's standard. Having said all that, would we rebook Viking? Yes.
Our second Explorer Suite (this one aft), as we booked this cruise belatedly, as an extension of Orion's "North Pacific Passage", during which we enjoyed the comfort of a forward Explorer Suite (3000, courtesy of a greatly appreciated upgrade from the Penthouse Junior Suite we had reserved). Explorer 3095, however, we had reserved and paid for in full. Viking staff kindly and efficiently moved our belongings for us on vacating 3000, and then escorted us to 3095, where we found all clothes hanging neatly, and the remainder of our items waiting to be unpacked. The move allowed us to instantly compare the two.
Forward Explorers have a larger living area, walk-in robe and bathroom, and although the balcony is smaller than its aft counterpart, it is certainly more than adequate, with the entire area under protective cover, and furnished with two single day beds and a table and four chairs. Open to the sea and a generous portside view, a sealed panel with viewing window over the bow to the front also allows views ahead. This view is also available from the dining area, bedroom, and window above the bath. The real bonus of the forward suite is the generous walk-in robe off the bathroom, with its ample hanging space, drawers and shelving. A bathroom wall control allows guests to choose either a heated or unheated bathroom floor. Three tv screens (living, bedroom and concealed in the mirror at the end of the bath) are wonderfully user-friendly, affording easy access to personal diaries for each day of the cruise, ship tracker, multiple tv channels, several genres of recorded music, replays of enrichment lectures, descriptions of tours offered, and even the changing daily menus of the Orion's several restaurants and cafes. Daily laundry, drycleaning and pressing are gratis with this suite, and this service adds that special touch of pampering.
Explorer Suite 3095 sits on Orion's rear starboard side, with a massive wrap-around balcony affording generous panoramic views to the rear and side. There are double and single day beds, and again, a table and four chairs. This balcony, although uncovered, is sublime. The living area is noticeably smaller in 3095, with the dining table sitting within the living area and not occupying its own generous alcove as in 3000. The walk-in robe is much smaller, allowing entry to only one person at a time. Similarly, the bathroom is a shrunken version of its 3000 counterpart. Having said that, all elements of this aft Explorer Suite are luxurious, comfortable, and much, much more generous than any other onboard stateroom, with the exception, of course, of the Owner's Suite. Thank you, Viking, for your design, decor, and attention to detail.