First, we chose this cruise because we wanted to visit ports in the Mediterranean and felt we would do better on a tour than alone. Let me add that our MO was to arrange our own travels through other EU countries but Greece and Israel was a little different because of language and cultural differences.
We heard a lot of firsthand complimentary reviews about Viking from friends so choosing Viking and the Antiquities cruise really didn't take a lot of consideration. When our friends (who were Viking alumni) presented us with the opportunity, we were quick in our response to join them.
Lets start with the ship: the Viking Star was lovely. We loved our cabin and all of the amenities that came with Deluxe Veranda status. Loved the free all-ship internet, heated bathroom floors, down comforter, over-sized bath towels and comfy robes. The room service was beyond reproach; starting with the on-time morning delivery of our breakfast to the evening turn-down while we were at dinner. We couldn't have asked for nicer accommodations or better service!
As far as the dining experience, I wouldn't give it an "A" but I would give it a solid "B" as far as quality, taste and selection. For the most part, we ate breakfast in our room; lunch in the World Cafe and dinner in The Restaurant (or Manfredi's or Chef's Table). Breakfast was OK (bacon was always crispy as ordered). Lunch choices were fresh (though the salad bar was somewhat lacking in "diversity" and locale). The dinner menu was nothing special and somewhat predictable. Loved Manfredi's but not Chef's Table. What I can tell you is that the service at all food venues was fabulous! Servers were very attentive and friendly and quick with drink service. Bottom line, food could improve. (BTW, The Restaurant hostess, Ann, was fabulous! She began to expect us every evening at 8:15 and had a lovely window table waiting for us.)
Nightly, we did enjoy cocktails before and after dinner. Pricing was fair/reasonable, drinks were generous and, again, service was always excellent.
As far as the ports and shore excursions, I have a few mixed feelings. First of all, all of the guides/docents were amazing (except for one in Mykonos; can't remember her name but she was awful!); they were smart (in some cases, brilliant), approachable and excellent storytellers. My biggest complaint about the tours is that we didn't know what to expect re the time on the bus; we would have appreciated a heads up re the time it took to get from one place to another. Also, the 12-hour tour days, demanded more than just a bottle of water and lunch. If possible, I would suggest a glass of wine and some nuts/fruit for trips that go beyond 5pm. I would also suggest a little less aggressive agenda for the time in Israel; the preference would have been two days in Jerusalem and two days in Haifa.
Finally, with regard to the extension tour in Athens, WOW! Our tour guide, Barbara, was fabulous! We spent three days in her company and her guiding was excellent! We also have nothing but good things to say about our hotel (in Athens). The room, food and location was five-star!
We did have some "issues" with our air travel. We chose to upgrade to First Class and the people who we were routed to for reservation assistance were not always the most helpful.
In closing, would we go again? YES! We are giving serious consideration to the Americas/Caribbean cruise next Dec. There was also mention of a Mississippi River cruise that interested us. Finally, if you could make Cuba happen for US residents, we would sign up in a heartbeat.
Thank you for the memories!