We had sailed on Orion once before and knew it to be a lovely ship with excellent facilities, good food and thoughtful, attentive service. Seeing Japan was new to us and Orion offered a number of interesting stops. As always with Viking, the ship was immaculate, the facilities well designed and visually appealing and the staff extremely friendly, gracious and accommodating. The gym/workout area was lovely and the indoor pool and snow room were a special treat. The Explorer's Lounge is particularly restful and relaxing and a great place to curl up with a good book and a drink.
Dining was excellent as to the food, although service in the main dining room, while extremely gracious, could be slow at times. It caused us often to eat at the World Cafe, which usually had the same foods, or at the specialty restaurants, such as Manfredi's and the Chef's Table, where we preferred the former to the latter. Afternoon tea at the Wintergarden is always a delight and we especially enjoyed the outdoor nighttime dining experiences by the pool. One admittedly minor yet constantly recurring complaint...they never seemed to have salt cellars that worked, whether in the main dining, the World Cafe or the specialty restaurants. It became a running joke in fact as people at neighboring tables would inquire as to who had one that actually produced salt. Our conclusion was that Viking was simply being attentive to high blood pressure risk with its older passengers!
Entertainment is generally what you expect on a cruise...mildly entertaining and constantly patronizing (let's only play 60's music because you're all old farts). And btw, this is a general complaint about all cruise ships and by no means specific to Viking. Its entertainment is clearly designed to cater to the average ages on board, yet hearing newer music more frequently would be appreciated. The trivia games were always fun, yet killer difficult as it was the first time we ever went winless on a cruise! We particularly enjoyed the Explorer Dome/planetarium and made a point of seeing each of the several episodes.
The shore excursions were generally well done and pleasant, with a single exception in Hiroshima where we left the befuddled guide and struck out on our own -- and had a great time, too! At times it was too much bus ride time compared with too little enjoyable tour time, but that's also a general issue with cruising as opposed to anything directed particularly at Viking. Usually the guides were intelligent, pleasant and responsive to inquiries.
Speaking of Viking, we are devoted patrons, are signed up for a two-week river to ocean cruise in the fall and a British Isles cruise in the spring of next year. They are by far our favorite cruise line and we've encouraged friends and family to try them as well...always with success.
Clean, spacious, well-designed with plenty of room to move around, enjoy the views and relax. The heated bathroom floor was convenient and appreciated. The complementary laundry service was also helpful and the cabin steward was extremely pleasant and friendly.