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We've been on 8 Viking cruises over the past 15 years. The 5 river cruises were truly excellent, as were the 2 ocean cruises (Mediterranean and Baltic) which we took in 2015 and 2016 when the ships were brand new. As a result, we were very surprised to see how much the quality of the onboard experience has fallen over the past 3 years. There have been numerous cutbacks that affect guests, at the same time that Viking has channeled huge amounts of money into advertising and new ship construction. That's why, despite a beautiful ship and superb service, we have given our recent cruise on the Viking Sea merely a "Very Good" rating. Viking no longer provides an "Excellent" cruise experience despite what their TV advertising says about their past awards. Here are some examples of the cutbacks we experienced: 1) Included excursions -- With the exception of one port where we were taken to a very interesting stage show, all the included excursions were bus tours with one local guide and about 45 passengers. Viking never sent one of their staff members on the bus to troubleshoot problems (eg. Quietvox system not working) or check on excursion quality. Most excursions were too rushed (eg. 15 minutes to see a museum) and were just plain boring. On 2 occasions, we were taken to places where most of the attractions were closed. Obviously it's cheaper to send guests on bus tours in groups of 45 than it is to offer walking or biking tours with groups half that size. 2) Food choices -- In the buffet restaurant, the food choices are fewer and there is more repetition from day to day. For example, at any breakfast there were only 4 cereal choices and on most days those were of junk food quality (Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, etc.). We asked for granola on the first day but it wasn't provided until the last 3 days of the cruise. 3) Evening entertainment -- It was the worst we have encountered on any cruise ship. Shows in the theatre were 100% music and the singing was mediocre. We never saw a comedian or magician who could have added some variety. In the lounges, there was no string quartet, merely a thin-sounding violin/cello duo. Nor was there a jazz trio. There was only one lounge pianist who was classically trained and sounded very stilted when she tried to play pop tunes. 4) Enrichment classes -- Many were free on past cruises but on the Viking Sea, all had fees. Yoga classes were $10, cooking classes were $59, and to attend a scarf-tying workshop, you had to buy a scarf from the boutique at a ridiculously high price. 5) Temperature control -- There wasn't enough heat provided in the theatre and it was always uncomfortably cold. Instead of having staff turn up the thermostat, guests were offered blankets to keep them warm during the stage shows or lectures. 6) Drinks -- There's no bottled water provided in staterooms any more. Instead, there is a flask of warm water sitting on the desk all day because it's too large to fit in the room's bar fridge. Despite Viking's very high cruise fares, soft drinks are not provided free of charge except at meal times. Nor is the stateroom fridge replenished with soft drinks as on other luxury cruise lines' ships. 7) Loyalty -- There are minimal rewards for loyalty to Viking. We've probably spent around $100 000 on Viking cruises. However, we still just receive $200 off our cruise fare as a past client and get a free drink at an onboard reception with the captain. To add insult to injury, someone who books a Viking cruise for the very first time and pays for one of the more expensive staterooms is allowed to reserve excursions and specialty dining weeks before us. It's very obvious that Viking values how much you spend onboard much more than it values loyalty over many cruises. 8) Prices on missing stateroom items -- Probably all cruise ships experience theft of items provided in staterooms but Viking has recently responded by posting a ridiculous price list of what they will charge your credit card if something is missing when you disembark. (eg. tissue box - $280; toothbrush holder $145). The prices bear no resemblance to the actual value of those cheaply-made items. 9) WiFi -- It's included in all areas of the ship according to Viking's advertising. However, that doesn't mean it resembles in any way the service you receive from your home internet provider. Viking's WiFi comes from a low-quality system that obviously hasn't been updated to meet the current needs of cell phone and laptop carrying passengers. During much of every day, it was extremely slow, taking up to a minute to access any web page after clicking the mouse. Moreover, on one at-sea day, no WiFi was available and the system broke down again on the second last and final day when guests needed to print boarding passes. Instead of assigning a couple of staff members to print boarding passes for guests, using staff computers, Viking did nothing. In summary, people who had previously cruised with HAL or NCL and were first-time Viking guests, seemed to think the Viking Sea experience was a step up. We, on the other hand, found all the cutbacks to be disappointing and annoying. We've already booked our next 3 cruises, and all of them are with Oceania, --- a cruise line that doesn't make the mistakes mentioned above.

Too many cutbacks to the onboard experience

Viking Sea Cruise Review by ronaldlknight

12 people found this helpful
Trip Details
We've been on 8 Viking cruises over the past 15 years. The 5 river cruises were truly excellent, as were the 2 ocean cruises (Mediterranean and Baltic) which we took in 2015 and 2016 when the ships were brand new.

As a result, we were very surprised to see how much the quality of the onboard experience has fallen over the past 3 years. There have been numerous cutbacks that affect guests, at the same time that Viking has channeled huge amounts of money into advertising and new ship construction. That's why, despite a beautiful ship and superb service, we have given our recent cruise on the Viking Sea merely a "Very Good" rating. Viking no longer provides an "Excellent" cruise experience despite what their TV advertising says about their past awards.

Here are some examples of the cutbacks we experienced:

1) Included excursions -- With the exception of one port where we were taken to a very interesting stage show, all the included excursions were bus tours with one local guide and about 45 passengers. Viking never sent one of their staff members on the bus to troubleshoot problems (eg. Quietvox system not working) or check on excursion quality. Most excursions were too rushed (eg. 15 minutes to see a museum) and were just plain boring. On 2 occasions, we were taken to places where most of the attractions were closed. Obviously it's cheaper to send guests on bus tours in groups of 45 than it is to offer walking or biking tours with groups half that size.

2) Food choices -- In the buffet restaurant, the food choices are fewer and there is more repetition from day to day. For example, at any breakfast there were only 4 cereal choices and on most days those were of junk food quality (Corn Flakes, Rice Krispies, etc.). We asked for granola on the first day but it wasn't provided until the last 3 days of the cruise.

3) Evening entertainment -- It was the worst we have encountered on any cruise ship. Shows in the theatre were 100% music and the singing was mediocre. We never saw a comedian or magician who could have added some variety. In the lounges, there was no string quartet, merely a thin-sounding violin/cello duo. Nor was there a jazz trio. There was only one lounge pianist who was classically trained and sounded very stilted when she tried to play pop tunes.

4) Enrichment classes -- Many were free on past cruises but on the Viking Sea, all had fees. Yoga classes were $10, cooking classes were $59, and to attend a scarf-tying workshop, you had to buy a scarf from the boutique at a ridiculously high price.

5) Temperature control -- There wasn't enough heat provided in the theatre and it was always uncomfortably cold. Instead of having staff turn up the thermostat, guests were offered blankets to keep them warm during the stage shows or lectures.

6) Drinks -- There's no bottled water provided in staterooms any more. Instead, there is a flask of warm water sitting on the desk all day because it's too large to fit in the room's bar fridge. Despite Viking's very high cruise fares, soft drinks are not provided free of charge except at meal times. Nor is the stateroom fridge replenished with soft drinks as on other luxury cruise lines' ships.

7) Loyalty -- There are minimal rewards for loyalty to Viking. We've probably spent around $100 000 on Viking cruises. However, we still just receive $200 off our cruise fare as a past client and get a free drink at an onboard reception with the captain. To add insult to injury, someone who books a Viking cruise for the very first time and pays for one of the more expensive staterooms is allowed to reserve excursions and specialty dining weeks before us. It's very obvious that Viking values how much you spend onboard much more than it values loyalty over many cruises.

8) Prices on missing stateroom items -- Probably all cruise ships experience theft of items provided in staterooms but Viking has recently responded by posting a ridiculous price list of what they will charge your credit card if something is missing when you disembark. (eg. tissue box - $280; toothbrush holder $145). The prices bear no resemblance to the actual value of those cheaply-made items.

9) WiFi -- It's included in all areas of the ship according to Viking's advertising. However, that doesn't mean it resembles in any way the service you receive from your home internet provider. Viking's WiFi comes from a low-quality system that obviously hasn't been updated to meet the current needs of cell phone and laptop carrying passengers. During much of every day, it was extremely slow, taking up to a minute to access any web page after clicking the mouse. Moreover, on one at-sea day, no WiFi was available and the system broke down again on the second last and final day when guests needed to print boarding passes. Instead of assigning a couple of staff members to print boarding passes for guests, using staff computers, Viking did nothing.

In summary, people who had previously cruised with HAL or NCL and were first-time Viking guests, seemed to think the Viking Sea experience was a step up. We, on the other hand, found all the cutbacks to be disappointing and annoying. We've already booked our next 3 cruises, and all of them are with Oceania, --- a cruise line that doesn't make the mistakes mentioned above.
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