After many years of cruising, primarily on luxury cruise lines, we decided to try the very highly publicized Viking Ocean Cruises. We were anticipating a big anniversary, so opted for the Explorer Suite, one category below the Owner's Suite. Viking arranged our air, though we paid a supplement to choose our own travel dates and flights. No problems there. On the day of embarkment, we got to the ship to be greeted by a girl in native costume, and no one else. We found our own way to our suite, and again found no notes of welcome or general information. Granted a booklet had been mailed to us with information, but we had expected some greeting and proof of the onboard credit we were to receive from our agent. Nothing. There was a bottle of sparkling wine in the frig, but that was it. No fruit, no welcoming canapes, nothing. After some time one of our cabin attendants came to introduce himself. We went down to the Explorer's desk and they had no idea of our onboard credit or our upcoming anniversary. After many attempts, and phone calls, this was never resolved. Our agent, who we called directly, and who spoke with Viking's main office, could not get them to accept the money from her credit card, so we never got the onboard credit. Not a great start.
The suite: disappointing. A livingroom with more furniture than should have been put into it. A loveseat, 2 opposing chairs, a table with four chairs, a huge coffee table, and a desk with frig inside. Sounds impressive until you have to walk around it. Many bumped shins here.
A small crooked passage led to the bedroom. King bed, two nightstands. A walk-in closet with makeup dresser and mirror. TV on the wall, and door to the balcony. Tight. We had to step aside to pass each other. More like a balcony cabin.
The bathroom was half the suite. One room with double sinks, toilet connecting with another room that had shower, DEEP tub, and of all things, a picture window above the tub. Oh, yes, and the TV inside a mirror above the tub. Getting in and out of the tub for older folks, though, is a challenge Viking didn't consider.
The balcony: one of the reasons we booked this suite. It is large and wraps around almost half of the ship. Again, HEAVY wooden lounge chairs that are almost impossible to move, a table with four chairs, large wooden snack tables, and a double lounger on one end of the balcony which is anchored to the floor. Difficult to entertain on this balcony. Or even to lounge in the sun. Try moving those loungers!
So far, ok. The room attendants, both from Indonesia, were great. Most of the entire staff was fine.
Our big problem and the one that will keep us off Viking cruises in future? FOOD. We could not believe how mediocre the food was on this line. The World Cafe is a large cafeteria where you help yourself. We have had better food in college cafeterias. Bland, food that aspired but missed the mark by a long shot. Pastries that left you feeling as though you'd eaten cardboard. Meats that lacked any meaningful, though simple,seasonings.
Chef's Table was one of the specialty restaurants. After the first night, we found it pretentious and simple strange, This is a restaurant that has wine pairings with the courses. House wine is given if you didn't buy the wine/liquor package when booking. Each dish, however, was a cacophony not of sounds but of tastes. The chefs apparently thought more is better so tossed in every spice in the cupboard rather than trying to match the taste to the duck, beef, shrimp, etc., they were trying to highlight. The result was undefinable and disappointing.
Same for Manfredi's, the Italian "specialty" restaurant. Unimaginative and often tasteless meals. Skip the gnocchi and the lasagna.
Food is a large part of cruising, and we wound up cancelling our specialty restaurant reservations to opt for the World Cafe where you had at least many choices.
We had some rough sea days after leaving New York. On one of them two entire breakfast trays along with glassware, chairs, table, were tossed to one side of the living room. The attendants helped to clean everything up, and we did hear from the chief manager as to the damage. The staff onboard was helpful.
However, in summing this up, we would not book Viking Ocean again, and would go back to other lines where the food is superior. We did not feel valued as customers on this line, which is unfortunate as they lost our business.