We have been on four Viking River cruises (China, Russia, Passage to Eastern Europe, Windmills and Tulips) and two Viking Ocean Cruises (From the Caribbean to the Amazon and Western Mediterranean Explorer). We make our choices of cruises based on itinerary. We have traveled on brands of ships with 50 and 100 passengers which we enjoyed very much. The only cruise ship bigger than a Viking Ocean was on a Disney Cruise trip with my extended family including young children.
Compared to Viking River Cruises, the Viking Ocean cruises have bigger cabins and all have verandas. There are more choices of restaurants (no upcharges) and free room service. Entertainment includes an assortment of shows in the theater, atrium, Winter Garden tea, Explorers Lounge, and Torsham bar plus enrichment lectures and TED talks. There are no casinos, no one under 18, and no official photographers. Beer and wine are included with lunch and dinner in restaurants. There is extensive spa including snow grotto (even in the Amazon!) and a full size pool that can be covered with a retracting roof.
There is a launderette on some decks. The detergent is included but you may want to bring some fabric softener sheets. They can be crowded or empty depending on your timing. Check what your cabin 'class' includes. Mine included ironing and shoe shining which I took advantage of. Dry cleaning is available for a reasonable price but I won't pay what they charge for doing laundry. You will need to allow a day and a half if you have them do ironing, laundry, or dry cleaning. The highest 'class' cabins include all of it.
Dress is 'resort casual'. Men must wear a collared shirt for dinner in The Restaurant, The Chef's Table, and Manfredi's. I highly recommend Manfredi's. If you want more nights in either The Chef's Table or Manfredi's, more slots are available on board. We also love Mamsen's and the Pool Grill for light, casual meals. There is never a dress code for those two or The World Cafe which is their buffet restaurant which serves food similar to The Restaurant but without the tablecloths and waiters. You can wear shorts and flip flops there any time if you wish. There are no formal nights but a few guests like to wear a suit or a cocktail dress in the evening. We often took room service for breakfast to save time getting to our earlier excursions. And, if you have back to back to excursions, order a box lunch the night before from Guest Services to take with you.
Speciality coffees at no charge are available throughout the day and evening from any lounge such as the Livingroom on Deck 1 and the Explorers' Lounge on Deck 7. The Livingroom has snacks available all day and evening but the wine and beer at lunch and dinner is not included there even if you are making it your meal. Go to Mamsen's instead in the Explorers' Lounge and have the same sandwich with a beer or glass of wine. The Pool Grill has a small salad bar and delicious hot sandwiches with a full bar.
The included excursions are sometimes good but avoid any that say Panorama. They just drive you past the sights. The extra excursions are varied and interesting but you can always book your own. There is always a free shuttle into town unless you are within an easy walking distance. Yes, some extra cost excursions sell out quickly. I use mostly Viking excursions because it is simpler and, in the Caribbean, our ship did delay its departure by nearly an hour one time because a Viking tour was late returning from the other side of the island.
Excursion reservations are easier if you have a higher 'class' plus the refrigerator is restocked with hard liquor, beer, and soft drinks daily and one bottle of champagne for the trip. By the way, if you prefer one soft drink or liquor over another, you can specify what you want. This is meaningless, of course, if you have the Silver Spirits beverage package because you can drink virtually anything (including champagne) whenever you want. The snacks in the refrigerator are a joke - tiny pieces of chocolate and small bags of nuts or trail mix.
For the most part, I don't feel the Silver Spirits beverage package is worth the extra cost. I just can't drink that much after the wine and beer with lunch and dinner plus possibly what is in my cabin refrigerator. If I want an occasional cocktail or upgrade to premium wines in The Chef's Table, it is cheaper to just pay as you go. The bar prices are located on Viking's webpage so you can easily make your own judgement based on your needs.
One important thing I learned is to ASK if you need something whether on the Viking Ocean or Viking River cruises. The Viking staff really want to please. My bed was too hard on my first Viking Ocean cruise and the stewards were actually hurt that I hadn't said anything until a mid-voyage evaluation was turned in. The hotel manager came personally to assure me that they would find a solution and checked later that I was happy. On a river cruise, I wanted to see some sights not included. The concierge figured out how I could manage seeing them by staying in town after the morning tour and then rejoin the group in time for our evening show in town. So, ASK!
The other important thing is to not miss the Port Talks. On the Viking Ocean cruises, if you miss one, it is on your cabin's television a few hours later. There is frequently some important information and/or tips for the next day that you don't get anywhere else. It was amazing to talk to people on an excursion that had no idea that there were no restroom breaks on that two hour drive because they hadn't listened to the Port Talk when all of that and more was explained.
Forgot one thing that is important to us. The Wifi is free and good. Make sure that you put your smartphone on AIRPLANE MODE from the time you take off from the USA until you return. When on the ship, connect to the Wifi. If you keep it in airplane mode for your entire trip and only use wifi on the ship and in the hotels, you will have no data charges.
Also, if you need a bigger screen or don't carry a device, there is a row of computers available on Deck 1 that are tied to a printer.
Make sure you use the My Viking Journey application before the cruise and the Viking Voyager application on the cruise. My Viking Journey can be used on a computer or a portable device. The Viking Voyager is for your smartphone or tablet using wifi. Both show your personal calendar including excursions. Viking Voyager also includes onboard information.
Plenty of room including storage. You can ask for extra hangers. Safe was large enough for both my husband's camera bag and my purse. Ironing and shoe shining is included in this cabin category. Launderette nearby. Mini-frig was replenished daily with liquor, beer, soft drinks and snacks. One bottle of champagne per cruise was also included. The snacks were a joke - tiny pieces of chocolate and small bags of nuts or trail mix. However, you can get as many snacks as you want from the bar in the Livingroom and take them to your cabin. Filtered water is provided in cabin in a decanter. Bathroom amenities are as described on website.
Saw what I wanted and expected to see. Had a good balance of guiding and free time.
We had a quick overview of Marseille and then took off for Cassis. On our guide's recommendation, we ate at an upscale restaurant directly on the waterfront that served the finest Bouillabaise. Then, we had a boat ride among the Calanques. Our guide filled us in on history and culture along the way and made sure that he got as close as possible to each sight so we didn't have far to walk. We were in a comfortable mini-van. There was just the two of us because of how late in the season we were. He really listened to our interests and adapted to them.View All undefined undefined Reviews
A good overview of both cities with a lovely drive between. We walked the market and along the shore in Nice. We inside the Monte Carlo casino. We walked around Monte Carlo. Our guide explained everything and made sure we got plenty of photo stops.View All undefined undefined Reviews
A long (but scenic) drive to Carcassone brought us to the famed fortress town. We were given a walking tour including the church and town walls, a full meal, and free time. Because of fair going on, we could have used some additional free time. Be aware, there are a number of tourist shops inside the town, as well as, many restaurants and lodgings. This is a living, tourist town, not a museum. The costumed participants in the fair were an unexpected bonus. The Northmen present were anxious to tell us the real story of 'Vikings'.View All 5 Carcassonne Reviews
Expensive but worth it. Tip - do NOT eat any dinner before. There were generous and filling tapas that we did not do justice to. The dancers were impressive. The walk to the restaurant through the dark streets of this reproduction town of all different styles was fun and interesting. Attentive service. Delicious wine and sangria.View All 36 Flamenco Show Reviews
A long, scenic drive to the mountains and the Montserrat Abbey. Our guide was disappointing because her quick tour did not do justice to the Abbey. We paid for an audio visual program there and understood things much better. There was not enough time with a half-day tour to properly explore the property, Many people were not prepared for how cold and windy it was at that elevation inland.View All 118 Montserrat Walking Tour Reviews
Bus took us from ship to Park Guell where we walked up and down the steep hill viewing a number of Gaudi architecture examples, mostly from the outside. Then, we went by bus to the La Sagrada Familia for a very good walking tour inside and out followed by just enough free time.View All undefined undefined Reviews
Raquena Winery Tour and Tasting: A very scenic all day trip that took us inland by bus to a hilltop village with underground eighth century storage caves. We walked around the scenic, historic town and toured the caves before enjoying a delicious lunch. Then, we drove to the Winery were we toured their facilities and sampled some delicious wines and snacks.
1st tour: Andalusian Horse Show - bus drive inland to horse farm with basic seating and short, interesting show. Lunch was paella and wine and was plentiful and tasty but not spectacular.
2nd tour: Tapas & Wine City Walk - walk from ship into center of town with the towns most scenic sights pointed out. We stopped at three very different tapas bars where we were served a large, single tapas and a beverage. It was a fun way to explore a Spanish city.
The tour and drive inland were both very good. There was no free time because of the size of the Alhambra and the way the tickets work. We had an assigned entrance time that was rescheduled when our arrival was delayed. Tickets are specific to your name. The luncheon buffet we were given in an adjacent hotel was only okay in quality. The Palace and Gardens were worth the trip but the lunch could have been much better. There was a rest stop in the middle of the drive both ways. The guide was very good and provided a lot of history and color on the bus. The required Alhambra guide did a good job.View All 58 Alhambra Palace and Gardens Reviews
Viking's Seville Highlights was a mixture of interesting and less interesting sights. It is a significant drive to Seville from the port of Cadiz. We did not need free time in Plaza Espana or else we needed a lot more. The walk through the city streets was interesting. Our guide was not great and her tour of the cathedral was lacking. We had barely enough free time considering it was our meal break also. She had pointed out shopping areas for us to visit during our free time except most people were afraid they would get lost if they went back to them. On our own, we found a crowded restaurant that served a wonderful meal.
Viking's tour was Quelez Palace, Sintra and Seaside Vistas. We traveled in a bus out of Lisbon to Quelez Palace. It was beautiful and very interesting. Then, we traveled to Sintra where we given a basic orientation and enough free time to shop and snack. Sintra is a quaint town on a steep hill with plenty of interesting tourist shops. As the day light was failing (mid-December), we drove along the coast and admired the houses and beaches. Back in Lisbon, we did a quick driveby of a few sights which were lovely. Lisbon traffic on a Sunday a week and a half before Christmas was impressive!View All 37 Cascais, Sintra and the beach Reviews
Gourmet dinner and fabulous fado singers was arranged by our hotel's concierge that we traveled to and from by taxi.
See tour description Cascais, Sintra and the beach. We were on Viking's Quelez Palace, Sintra and Seaside Vistas.View All 4 Palace of Queluz Reviews
We took a bus trip that included all the main high points including Belem tower, Jeronimos Monastery, Monument of Discoveries, 25th of April bridge, and Christ the King statue. We also walked some city streets in an old neighbor and visited the Coach Museum. The Coach Museum was the best I have seen or even heard of. It is full of spectacular carriages of all kinds of styles and sizes dating from the sixteenth to twentieth century. I didn't feel rushed but we covered a lot.View All undefined undefined Reviews