Our Viking Ocean cruise began in Bergen Norway and ended in Stockholm Sweden. Doris and I have traveled often together but neither of us had been to the countries included in this cruise. One main reason I chose this cruise was the chance to see Rembrandt's "the Return of the Prodigal" at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg Russia. We were originally scheduled for this trip in June of 2018 with a group of 16 others, but Doris fell and broke her arm so it was just the 2 of us traveling together. We had a wonderful time and soon met a lot of wonderful people !
We took the "easier" included tours in most locations and the extra tours that we took were just phenomenal. "A Day in the Life of a Viking" with our tour guide Emma we can highly recommend - we saw and learned so much and she was so interesting....a definite passion for her country, its history and sharing it with us! The "Organ Concert" in Gdansk Poland was beautiful and the walking tour through the city was lovely. I think I would like to go back to Gdansk to explore it more! In Tallinn Estonia was absolutely not to be missed. Our guide Olavi, dressed in a KGB uniform taught and showed us so very much - with some heartbreaking, some warm and some humorous stories about life back then and life now. He raised quite a few looks of concern from the locals when we left our bus for a few minutes to clear up a traffic jam! In St. Petersburg we enjoyed the tours of both Our Saviour and St Isaac's and the canals outing. We did go to the Hermitage (and yes I saw my Rembrandt !) and spent the evening at the Ballet. I still get chills from the adventures of that day. Because we had missed dinner, the cruise director had a lavish snack of assorted sandwiches, cookies and a bottle of wine waiting for us in our room. That was such a welcome treat.
Dinners were delicious - oh all the meals were great! I think we had at least one meal in every one of the restaurants (including the 2 specialty restaurants) or in the snack bars. The only complaint - if you can call it that - was the dining menu did not include as many local options as I would have liked. No borscht, or perogies, or beef stroganoff, or wurst mit kraut, etc. like on the Viking River cruises; but we did try all the Nordic fare! Some evenings we sat just the two of us - but conversations were stuck-up with our neighboring tables. We also sat at large tables with 10 or so other folks which ended in exchanged emails. Great time!
We had a drink package so we tried many different cocktails and wines in the different lounges. Mamson's / Explorer lounge was a favorite as well as the "living room" .
Some of the desserts were not quite up to par. I am a amateur pastry chef - but the Nordic waffles were great - I just got my plates for my waffle iron! And those hazelnut cookies are to die for - would LOVE the recipe ! Relaxing with a double espresso and a waffle or cookie or other treat was a daily event. We did have "tea" also which was delightful!
We enjoyed the pool and lounge areas, and the SPA ! How wonderful was my "Swedish deep tissue massage"! Doris had a facial that she loved too. We also tried the whirlpool and snow room! Yes and we used the laundry also as we extended our Europe trip to see family in the Netherlands. We didn't go to the onboard activities / entertainments - they sounded interesting but just wasn't time to do ALL the things offered. We did have dinner and drinks with Stuart Gufstasen, one of the trip speakers. Interesting guy!
The on board shopping was fun too! I now have my own Viking rain jacket and we had a grand time purchasing several "remembrances" of this trip.
We took over 3000 pictures that are now being sorted and labeled for future viewing; and as I work on them I get this warm feeling, or a broad smile or have a hearty laugh at our adventures!
We were again not disappointed with Viking! Our cabin (deluxe veranda) was comfortable and spacious enough for us! Loved the shower, mini fridge and the balcony seating. I cannot think of anything we lacked....just needed to ask if there was something. Viking service is excellent and am grateful for all the work they do - I love being spoiled and there is nothing you can add to that!
We are looking forward to our next Viking adventure (Normandy to Paris maybe? or Greece? or I would love to go to Cappadocia / Istanbul ?)
It would have been fun to include a picture or 2 but each day was something special and fantastic to remember always!