We chose tis cruise because going to the Norwegian fjords was on my wife's bucket list. Viking did not give us good directions on how to find the exact location for check in in Greenwich, UK. After check in, Viking made us stand in the line in the sun for a long time to board a tender to the ship docked in the River Thames; that was awful. Once on board, the crew were friendly and helpful. Our room steward was wonderful, though he did have a couple of hiccups. We had booked reservations at the Restaurant, the main dining room., though they were not required. Hours were 6 to 9 PM. One night we arrived at 8 without reservations. After standing in line for half an hour, the maitre'd said that no one else would be seated and that we had to go to the World Cafe, aka the buffet. Needless to say, we were not pleased. Then we were told that further reservations at the Restaurant were useless. So we booked Manfredi's and Chef's Table for as many nights as we could. Manfredi's was pretty good: not the best Italian food, but good. The risotto was very good. The Chef's Table rotated the fixed menus from one international cuisine to another. Some of our dinners there were excellent, as was the service there. The wine stewards were very knowledgeable and helpful. The wine prices are very reasonable for a cruise ship, better than many restaurants. Get the Silver Spirits package, which allows you cocktails up to $15 per drink anytime, gets you glasses of wine and some bottles of wine anytime, and gives you discounts on some wines over a certain price point. Otherwise, you just get beers and some wines at lunch and at dinner. The entertainment was pretty good. Also, they have a number of lectures on ports and other subjects. The only problem was that the lectures are often scheduled when we were eating dinner or on a shore excursion. Even though some lectures were supposedly available on the ship TV, we could never figure out how to access them. The internet was iffy at best and often poor to non-existent; don't even think about streaming anything because it will never happen. Mamsen's was a good place to get food if you don't want to go to the restaurant or the buffet. It is next to the Explorer Lounge, which is a great place to have a drink or coffee and sit and watch where the ship is sailing or is in port. You can go out on deck there to take pictures. If you do it on the open seas, however, and open both doors at one time, it is a wind tunnel. But the views are stunning. The Explorers Lounge became our favorite public room. There are various bars around the ship, too. Often the grill by the pool is the best place for lunch. Once we ate in the Restaurant for lunch, and the service was terrible. The cheesesteak sandwich is great -- unless you are vegan. The main pool is usually covered and pleasant even in cooler climes. The spa is amazing. The Spa has a sauna, steam room, spa, warm pool, warm tile beds and even a "snow room" - yes, with snow, a good place to cool off. The massages are good too. It has a decent fitness center and room to exercise. Overall, the cruise was enjoyable and relaxing, and the service excellent. The staff often went out of their way to help us. There is a complimentary tour offered in every port. Due to difficulties, the complimentary bus tours were canceled in 2 ports. Therefore, if you want to be sure of your tour, it is better to book a paid tour since they always got their buses.
We stayed in a junior suite, 8017. The 8th deck was perfect because there was little traffic there, and it was quiet. It also is a short walk to the upper level of the Explorer's Lounge. The jr. suite had 2 closets, a safe, a love seat and 2 chairs, as well as a good-sized pull out refrigerator. The suite comes with daily replenishment of 4 small liquor bottles, beers and soft drinks of your choice. There also was a complimentary bottle of champagne. The bathroom has a double vanity and a large shower. The shower also has a shelf for shampoo and conditioner, but it not wide enough to use as a bench if you want to sit and shower. The shower head was a hand-held one which could be raised or lowered. There were shelves on both sides of the vanities. The bed was quite comfortable and high enough so that our suitcases could be stored underneath.
A large city with an interesting history, some historic buildings and a scenic lookout.
The natural beauty of Loen and Olden is stunning. Take the funicular to the top for stunning views -- if the fog doesn't come in.
Tromso was another excellent port. Our tour went up the mountain to the scenic lookout, then to the cathedal in town with its stained glass wall and magnificent pipe organ (were we lucky enough to be able to hear part of a concert by the organist) and then a tour of the Arctic Museum and the exploits of Roald Amundsen. While theoretically could visit all of these places on your own, those who tried to do that could not take the tram up the mountain nor get into the cathedral. The paid tour was well worth it.
The Ring of Brodgar is the main attraction in the Orkney Islands. While the Ring is impressive, it is younger than Stonehenge. Other standing stones in other locations, however, pre-dated Stonehenge. The guide overall was good but not terrible informative about the Ring of Brodgar, whose purpose is unknown. Still, it was worthwhile seeing the stones which remain standing. There are also burial mounds around dating back hundreds of years. The Orkney Islands belonged to Norway longer than they belonged to the United Kingdom.
Edingburgh is a fascinating city with a long history. The Royal Mile, Holyrood, the Castle and other buildings are great to see and explore. Trying to see them on a relatively brief bus tour is not the way to see Edinburgh. We had spent 5 days in Edinburgh a few years ago and truly enjoyed it. The 5 stars is for the city; the tour itself was probably a 1 star.