This was our second Viking Ocean cruise with similar experiences on both. Viking Ocean's ships are beautifully designed and maintained. The entire ship feels like a comfortable, high end living room, with cozy nooks throughout, lovely Scandinavian furnishings and art work, and innovative larger public spaces (this extends to cabin decor as well). Cabins are well lit with very comfortable beds and well thought out enhancements (ie. a lit vanity storage area, heated bathroom floors, some of the largest showers at sea etc.). The entire staff is cheery, helpful and welcoming, never passing by without a warm greeting. The ship has an excellent 'culture'.
BUT........our positive experience was marred by poor dining room service and, to some degree by weak food offerings/preparation/quality. While we had this impression on our first Viking Ocean cruise we thought this problem was unique to that ship but, to our great disappointment, we had a duplicate experience on the Orion. Dining room service was slow and disjointed. On both cruises breakfast in the dining room was a slow affair with dishes as simple as plain pancakes taking as long as 40 minutes to prepare. On this past cruise, on one occasion when I finally did get my pancakes, they were raw and oozing of batter. On the first cruise those same pancakes were presented cold after the long wait. On this cruise, on one occasion, we entered the dining room for dinner at 7:30 with our party of 6, got our appetizers in about 15 minutes, but, at 9:00 still hadn't received our main courses. We were told that there was a slip-up with the waiter's automated ordering system, yet the waiter didn't have the sense or initiative to check on things when they were going way too long! Other dinners dragged as well, with waiters needing to be reminded of how long we had waited.
Food quality was 'spotty'. Steaks and hamburgers were consistently excellent. Fish was understandably freshest at the start of the cruise, but quickly dropped off to 'only acceptable' at best (in freshness and consistency). Prepared dishes were quite greasy, and it was difficult to find appealing choices on the daily menu (often resulting in our moving to the left side of the menu----standard dishes always available). Baked goods were always excellent.
The buffet at the World Cafe was also inconsistent. At one breakfast my husband took a serving spoon full of the prepared scrambled eggs. When back at his seat he saw the bottom of the scoop was green and mushy and he called over staff to point this out lest there was some danger to eating them. Bacon was often so over-cooked it was beyond crispy, requiring great effort to cut into. Buffet choices at lunch and dinner often included a variety of 'rubber chicken', fish masked by a heavy sauce, some type of carved meat, and standards such as rice, veggies and potatoes. Salad offerings were varied and fresh tasting. The buffet sushi offering at dinner was always excellent.