We dreamed of going to Europe for 20 years prior to retirement. The more we researched, the more places we wanted to see. It was the itinerary of ports and excursions that first drew us Viking. The excursions at each port are varied and enriching guided by locals that not only have college degrees in tourism but are often working professionals in the area in which they are guiding. Art historians lead museum excursions, wine makers explain their winery's inner workings and hold tastings, historians explore ancient ruins and teach local history.
When planning the trip, we felt it was more efficient to cruise so we could focus on our excursions. With Viking, we could achieve that end, but we also had a varied and enriching experience onboard. Their resident historian was passionate about history and her lectures were alive and packed with information. Their resident astronomer was engaging while lecturing in a dome of a simulated night sky as well as on deck telescopes to explain astronomic phenomenon in real time.
Viking's smaller ships, fewer number of guests, comparatively larger staterooms, and thoughtfully designed public spaces makes the living interior to cruise life comfortable. The restaurants provided excellent quality food. The personnel that served on the ship were exceptional in the service they provided going beyond what would normally be expected with a cheerful attitude.
On the Viking Jupiter, we were on the 4th floor balcony room. We chose the starboard side as that side of the ship would be facing the ports as we sailed in. The room itself was comfortable and large enough to spend time in. The best part was the bathroom. It was so spacious with a shower that was easily double the size of most comparable rooms on other smaller ships. The rooms are also very well insulated so we didn't hear our neighbors of those above us.
Visiting the Acropolis is the reason to come to Athens. Despite warnings about how many steps it takes to reach the top, this excursion was not as demanding as one would think. The views were spectacular. Restoration work is being completed on the Parthenon and in the future the splendor of this ancient structure will be worth a re-visit. The ancient Temple of Athena was impressive even though the Caryatids (the women holding up the roof) are replicas as the originals are exhibited in the British Museum. We also visited the quaint and touristy Plaka District a short walk away from the Acropolis. It was a national holiday (October 27) to honor those who fought in World War II so Athens was unusually full of locals (as opposed to tourists).