We booked this cruise to see the Northern Lights. We did see the lights several times. Unfortunately our cruise was cut short due to losing engine power in the middle of a storm. We were evacuated by helicopter. All in all, Viking, the ... Read More
We booked this cruise to see the Northern Lights. We did see the lights several times. Unfortunately our cruise was cut short due to losing engine power in the middle of a storm. We were evacuated by helicopter. All in all, Viking, the crew, helicopter rescue crew, the Norwegian Red Cross, the support personnel, and the people of Molde were excellent in responding to assist us. Viking tried to minimize the unfortunate situation, looking after us physically and financially from start to finish. While on the cruise, we found the dining, service, and cabin to be excellent. The ship was very well laid out, and the wifi worked well. The entertainment, although limited was very good. It was supplemented with a number of seminars which were very informative. We have now taken a number of Viking Cruises, both river and ocean, and would definitely recommend them. The included shore excursions were mostly city type tours, but informative. The optional excursions for the ones we took were very good. A thing to remember is to make sure you book your excursions shortly after you are permitted by your booking. We had several people who could not get on the tours they wanted because they were already booked. Read Less
The itinerary looked really interesting. We've looked at Northern Lights trips before, but this one was too intriguing to pass up, especially having never been to Norway or on Viking. I must agree with what was said about the carpet ... Read More
The itinerary looked really interesting. We've looked at Northern Lights trips before, but this one was too intriguing to pass up, especially having never been to Norway or on Viking. I must agree with what was said about the carpet squares in another review, and most certainly a BIG, more like HUGE question arises as to whether or not we should have been sailing on 3/23 when a few other ships elected to stay in port - this is for the investigating authorities to decide. And, of course, the helicopter airlift terrified us. BUT, all that being said, I believe that once in the emergency situation - whether or not we should have wound up in one - the crew did all they could to keep the passengers comfortable during such an extremely difficult situation. I do question this whole thing about the low-level oil sensors and believe that some sort of revised set-up should probably be considered that would allow for greater degree of roll and pitch prior to initiating auto engine shutdown, but, again, I'm just being an 'armchair engineer' I suppose without having all the facts at my disposal.
Up to the 23rd, this was an amazing trip. The pre-cruise extension in Oslo was great. Our hotel, the Thon Opera, was conveniently located and very nice. The transfer to Bergen went smoothly, and the Sky - once we adjusted to a room with relatively little drawer space (especially on a trip where everyone had lots of heavier clothing) - was most enjoyable and beautifully appointed. We loved the quiet, relaxed atmosphere. Mezzanine level of the lounge is a truly beautiful space. Love the constellation decor up there too. Enjoyed the food (expected a bit better at times but overall quite good) - especially Mamson's waffles! The entertainment certainly can't be compared with the lavish production shows on other larger ships, but I thought it was nice how they brought on entertainers who presented music that reflected the Norwegian culture. And having the onboard guitar and piano player was nice as well (except next time please don't start playing "my heart will go on' during lunch if the really big waves and wind come along.)
Visiting Narvik, Alta and Tromsø was indescribable! All three ports, as well as the entire journey northward through the fjords and sometimes narrow passages, was so picturesque and offered magnificent scenery. And what a thrill to be so far above the arctic circle! Excursions were awesome, especially dog and reindeer sledding. And, best of all, is that we DID get to see the Northern Lights several times. Mission accomplished in terms of the main objective of the cruise. The spa looked great but unfortunately never got to try it - planned to do so the afternoon of the 23rd. Loved the "heritage" area and the displays there. Love the infinity pool but never got to try that either (perhaps on a warmer weather trip!). Our DV2 room was very comfortable as well. Enjoyed the heated bathroom floor. All the enrichment lecturers were excellent. Michael and Corey, especially, presented such interesting and captivating, as well as entertaining programs.
We were airlifted - which was truly scary - but the aftermath was just astounding in terms of how well we were taken care of by the Norwegian authorities, volunteers, red cross, police, hotel staff, shop keepers, on and on. Of course, ALL praise to the pilots and crews of the CHC. What a daring yet successful rescue effort of over half the passengers. We very possibly would not be here but for their bravery and expertise.
Can't wait to sail with Viking again. Chairman Hagen has done all he can to try and make amends for a situation that is unprecedented in modern times. It truly saddened us to have to leave the ship the way we did and to witness firsthand the damage that was being done to her during that terrible bomb cyclone. While that Saturday was a life-changing experience that will likely haunt me at times for the rest of my life, I would go on the Sky for another cruise without hesitation. Read Less
This beautiful ship with a great service crew FAILED TERRIBLY ON MULTIPLE LEVELS at sea during a storm we should never have been in. Prior to the mayday we noticed several things that we found “sloppy” or unusual for a top cruise ... Read More
This beautiful ship with a great service crew FAILED TERRIBLY ON MULTIPLE LEVELS at sea during a storm we should never have been in. Prior to the mayday we noticed several things that we found “sloppy” or unusual for a top cruise ship.
The lights on the ship continually flickered and a huge banging sound continued for 30’hours prior to the engine failure. The crew was amazing, but handicap auto doors were not functioning, dining room doors slid open on their own during the storm and waves blew a door open to the dining room injuring multiple people. Prior to the engine and power failure, we noticed sloppy things that we have never seen on Disney, Cunard or Pinang - on the top level promenade stairs the crew had a makeshift and dangerously messy “fix” for slick stairs by using random carpet strips taped and towed to the stairs with twine. The makeshift stair pads were dangerous to step on and moved with every strep.
Also, after refueling in Tromsø, we walked deck hours later and no one had bothered to take down the refueling signs and ropes blocking the promenade.
There were also dangerous design issues in our three cabins - especially the heavy, finger-smashing closet doors that became uncontrollable during the storm, slamming to and forth with every move of the ship - eventually breaking from their track on the bottom.
We were also told the ship did not have as many safety signs as other ships because management didn’t like the look of the signs.
That being said, their lack of normal foresight to read the weather and reroute the ship, asking with their tragic mistake of having too little oil on the engines for high seas is unforgivable.
We all love luxury, we all love great service, but we should hold cruise lines accountable for their critical decision making and putting the lives and safety of their passengers and crew first. Read Less
Always wanted to see the Northern Lights thought this would be a great way to do it. We have been on both the Sky and Star before and in Norway two other times. We love the area, the people and the natural landscape and were not ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Northern Lights thought this would be a great way to do it. We have been on both the Sky and Star before and in Norway two other times. We love the area, the people and the natural landscape and were not disappointed this time. We were lucky enough to see a great light show in Tromso and took a ship tour to a remote, dark place which allowed for some great photography. We walked down a hill through heavy snow, past a small stream to set up the tripod but it was well worth it. Never saw anything like these lights and it far exceeded our expectations. Our guide was attentive without being annoying and gave everyone ample time to do their pictures, We also saw the Lights in Alta also on a Viking tour at a great "camp", wonderful facilities, great helpful guides. Answered any and all questions about photography always checking to see if everyone was having a good time. Unfortunately the Lights were not as bright as in Tromso but that is not in Viking's control Also took a trip to the Polar Park in Narvik also a Ship offered tour and it was wonderful. Great photography of animals in the wild. Lots of snow but lots of opportunity for fun. Also did dog sledding and snowmobiling and we had a blast on those excursions also. Only disappointment was we could not stop at Bode because of high seas but respected the captain for putting our safety first.
Overall the trip was great, a few hiccups with service in the World Cafe at the begnning of the cruise and with our reservations at Manfred's but our concerns were taken care of once reported in a prompt and professional way. Our cabin was clean and tasteful (we have actually booked the same cabin on all of our six Viking Ocean cruises), and our cabin personnel were awesome.
I use the gym daily and it was clean and the personnel always friendly even early in the morning. Towels were always placed on the machines with fresh water bottles.
Embarkation was faster than normal and we were on the ship within a few minutes.Overall a fantastic experience. Read Less
Neophytes to Cruising, this was our first ocean cruise since way back in the mid-70s to the Caribbean. Our first experience with Viking Cruises was a few years back on the Châteaux, Rivers & Wine cruise from Bordeaux. At the time, the ... Read More
Neophytes to Cruising, this was our first ocean cruise since way back in the mid-70s to the Caribbean. Our first experience with Viking Cruises was a few years back on the Châteaux, Rivers & Wine cruise from Bordeaux. At the time, the ocean ships were still being constructed. Once launched, we were determined to take a voyage … and what better excuse than a cruise that began on my birthday!
A caveat as I write this: Our cruise was the fifth of six on this itinerary, immediately preceding the last unfortunate voyage. My heart aches for the passengers and crew who experienced the terrifying breakdown in rough seas and our prayers extended to them in their recovery process.
Embarking and disembarking was remarkably quick and efficient! Everyone was friendly, helpful and welcoming. We stepped onboard to smiling crew offering glasses of sparkling wine and promptly escorted to the elevators to the seventh deck World Café for lunch, our choice of wine flowing freely. We did opt for the Silver Spirits Beverage Package … good value for us as the packages includes a wide range of liquors, cocktails, wines and all specialty coffees.
The décor of the Viking ships is beautiful and peaceful, the design incorporating many cozy areas – nothing feels crowded or noisy, even alongside the three-story atrium. The crew was amazing…always friendly, engaging, smiling and pleasant. From our first visit to the Explorers’ Lounge, Cecilia attended graciously welcomed us and answered any question we might have. Chris is another favorite, as is Ravi in the Dining Room. Their service was impeccable…we miss them greatly! Matthew, the guitarist, is outstanding! We were even lucky to have a fellow passenger accompany him on the harmonica.
There is so much to do on the ship…read the Viking Daily carefully or you may miss something delightful. My husband, a retired chef, thoroughly enjoyed the presentations by one of the chefs. The port and excursion previews were very helpful as we were visiting lesser-known ports in the winter. Enrichment lectures abound.
Staterooms repeat the tasteful and peaceful décor. Ours was a Deluxe Veranda on Deck 4 not too far from the elevators. The room was very quiet; we never heard anything from adjacent rooms. There was ample storage room, coffee service, king-size comfortable bed, two lounge chairs, table, desk, and a spacious bathroom with heated floors (so nice!). The mini-bar was replenished daily and water pitcher refilled twice a day (tap water was absolutely fine to drink as well). Bottled water was offered every time we left the ship and returned, as well as a form of mulled wine (so nice when it was SO cold). Everything is kept spotlessly clean; the stewards are friendly, efficient and professional.
Food was exceptional, beautifully presented and delicious; there was always a server close by ready to top off water and wine. We ate at The Chef’s Table twice – Asian & Chinese – four-course offerings accompanied by premium selected wines (again part of the Silver Spirits package). The first night onboard was my birthday … a bottle of sparkling wine and greetings from crew in the room upon arrival and a wonderful layer cake at The Chef’s Table that night, in addition to the trio of desserts featured in the menu. We only ate a third that night; the next day, the rest of it was delivered to our stateroom. We did have a disappointing experience at the specialty restaurant Manfredi’s. Granted, we are spoiled for fine Italian cuisine in the North End of Boston. We both ordered the lamb chops medium rare; they came quite well done on the outside. The manager of the venue was at our side immediately. We then requested rare; the inside was medium rare; I couldn’t even cut through the outside. I gave up; he took it back; and I ordered the carbonara—very cream-heavy. I never, ever send anything back. My gratitude to the manager for being so patient. Many of our crew said we should have had the bistecca, that it is delicious. The Dining Room never disappointed, lunch or dinner. The Norwegian specialties at Mamsen’s were also delicious.
The itinerary was awe-inspiring! The Captain steered away from Bodø as it’s directly on the sea and winds were too heavy for safe docking. The ship took us to places we would have not otherwise gone. The weather was wonderful and the crew did remark it was the best of all the cruises to date. Even Bergen was bright and sunny. Tromsø was beautiful, topped off the first night by an outstanding display of the Northern Lights. We watched the shimmering waves for close to 30 minutes, right from our veranda. We all became trained like Pavlov dogs as there were so many announcements of sightings – everyone scrambling to the best viewing points.
We did a limited number of ship excursions, choosing to enjoy ports on our own, use a local guide, or enjoy the ship’s many offerings. A delightful young guide, Tor, from a local company, ‘Tromsø Individuelle,’ took us on a superb private tour of the many fjords in the area and out to Sommorøy Island. The best ship excursion we took was the Ofoten Railway to Riksgränsen Resort in Sweden where I was immediately caught up in all the eager huskies' lines and thrilled by their enthusiastic ride around a frozen lake! Everything on and off the ship was well organized and seamless.
We highly recommend this adventure!!! We opted for early March as we hoped it would not be as cold as January, and it wasn’t. Winter temperatures in Boston were quite similar to what we experienced on the cruise. In fact, we were even over-prepared for the cold. We experienced a couple days with rough seas, always pre-warned by the Captain…something I expected for winter on the North and Norwegian Seas. As it turns out, the Sky encountered difficulties on the last trip as the equipment was too highly efficient – engines shutting down as perceptive oil levels were thrown off by high seas.
We thoroughly enjoyed this voyage and consider it a trip of a lifetime! While our next cruise is a Viking river cruise in France, we definitely will return for another ocean adventure. Read Less
We are seasoned cruisers having cruised 30+ times on 8 different lines. However, this was our first cruise on Viking and certainly not our last. The ship was AMAZING and the crew was GREAT. I don’t know what the ratio of passengers to ... Read More
We are seasoned cruisers having cruised 30+ times on 8 different lines. However, this was our first cruise on Viking and certainly not our last. The ship was AMAZING and the crew was GREAT. I don’t know what the ratio of passengers to crew is but I do know you couldn’t put your water glass down without someone filling it, or more importantly your wine glass.
We are small ship prone and this ship only has 920 passengers So it lacks the pool slides and all the huge amenities but also all the crowds that come with that. All of the public areas were great. A great pool side venue, afternoon tea, snacks etc., you name it they had it!
As I mentioned the service was great and personable. For example even though our cabin stewards have 13+ rooms to care for they took the time to remember out names and were flexible in cleaning our cabin.
Regarding the ship we were on, the Viking Sky, it was without a doubt one of the best ship cabins if not the best ship cabin we have ever been in. It is all the small things that made this cabin special. For example, they have drawers in the bathroom, a huge convenience. They have a full-length mirror for dressing. The bathroom floors are heated and they have 110 volt plugs at the bed headboard. They have a make up mirror and storage area in the desk. A great improvement for my spouse. In addition, the storage, i.e. closets, drawers etc. was exceptional! Another small item was they have a door to the veranda vs. a sliding glass door which makes the space more useable and gives a tighter fit to the closure.
From a food standpoint it was all wonderful. In addition to great meals for dinner their luncheon menus were wonderful. How about King Crab and Roast Beef for lunch? Dinners whether at the specialty restaurant or the regular restaurant were excellent. A great variety of foods and excellent preparation and again the service was wonderful.
The ship comes with beer and wine included at lunch and dinner which is a nice touch. However, as a wine snob I prefer a step up in wines and was pleasantly surprised to find not only a couple of bottles of my favorite wines but they were more than fairly priced, not ripping you off like most other lines. Further, the waiters were happy to cork the wines and brought them to us for the next night.
Finally, our trip home. We were booked on KLM and unbeknown to us they cancelled our flight, never told us and didn’t bother to book us on another flight. We found out when we got to the airport! We had booked this flight directly with the airline and even though they didn’t have anything to do with the flights a Viking agent spent 2+ hours on the phone getting us booked for the following day. A Viking representative even helped get our luggage to the hotel for the overnight stay. Talk about customer service. I just can say enough about how great the staff and the line it self is.
Clearly we are going on this line whenever we have a choice! Read Less
We chose this trip to once again hopefully experience the northern lights and to have the luxury of this beautiful ship. The itinerary looked good with overnight stops at Tromso and Alta. Embarkation was seamless, withing 15 minutes of ... Read More
We chose this trip to once again hopefully experience the northern lights and to have the luxury of this beautiful ship. The itinerary looked good with overnight stops at Tromso and Alta. Embarkation was seamless, withing 15 minutes of arriving at Tilbury we were having lunch in the World Cafe and our holiday had started. Very impressed. Our stateroom was ready early and we were given a guided tour of the facilities in the cabin. On my mentioning that I did not drink coffee (there is a coffee maker in the cabin) the steward straight away fetched me a kettle and kept the teabags topped up - he kept the cabin spotless for the cruise and chatted and laughed with us every day, making the experience a bit more personal. We ate mostly in the World Cafe as it was very relaxed and the food was tasty and plentiful. We tried the pool grill and the afternoon tea which were both great and Manifredis italian had great service and great food, The service in every bar and lounge and dining was second to none, Very impressed. There were plenty of interesting lectures to attend, and we enjoyed sitting in the Explorers lounge watching the fjords go by with a tasty waffle and fresh fruit. We relaxed in our cabin most evenings and watched a film on the TV so cannot comment on the evening entertainment. The included excursions were informative and gave us an oversight into each port. The highlight of the trip was 'Chasing the lights' at Tromso where we were treated to a spectacular display of the Aurora about an hour or so outside the town, so many photos ........ On the way home we had the honour of a glimse of 2 Killer whale from our balcony,,,another hightlight. a quick photo and they were gone. March is certainly a good time to take this cruise. The weather was great, even a sunny day in Bergen !! Disembarkation was fairly uneventfull although there was no rep at Oslo to help out. All in all a fantastic holiday and thank you to all the ships staff for a great trip. Read Less
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin ... Read More
Just completed the cruises in search of the Northern Lights. Embarkation was very slick and easy, having been picked up from home and transported to Dover by a very efficient and professional driver. A great added bonus with Saga. Cabin was large, (inside deck 7) bigger than the normal cruise liners we have sailed on like HAL, RCL etc. Decor not quiet up to a brand new cruise ship but plenty of space for hanging clothes and draws . Shower and toilet efficient and clean if a little smaller than the top cruise liners. Dining and entertainment were superb. Top quality, attentive and pleasant staff and all inclusive in restaurants and drinks. The Sapphire was above the mainstream cruise liners and just below the six star Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking cruises which we have done. Value for money, quality, ambiance and enjoyment made for a memorable cruise. Not the last time we will sail with Saga, who have two new ships coming into service. Do not let Saga’s reputation for catering for the very old put you off, this is not true. Whilst it is for the over 50’s the age profile was no different to those other lines like Silverseas, Seabourn, Viking. It did cater very well for those with mobility issues, but I have seen many more mobility scoooters on Caribbean cruises. Lots of people got up dancing to great dance music in both the main Britannia lounge and the Drawing Room. Sunday lunchtime was just fabulous. Lunchtime jazz in the drawing room followed by transitional sunday lunch in the main dining room. Just idyllic. Entertainment was outstanding. Great lectures by Gary Fildes on the Northern Lights and astronomy in general. Had 700 pax enthralled. The cruise was well worth the money just to listen to him speak. Read Less
The Itinerary is great and you will see spectacular scenery in Norway. Unfortunately, with any cruise you can't control the weather which is really important if you want to see the Northern Lights. We were glad we were able to see the ... Read More
The Itinerary is great and you will see spectacular scenery in Norway. Unfortunately, with any cruise you can't control the weather which is really important if you want to see the Northern Lights. We were glad we were able to see the Northern Lights but somewhat disappointed in the color and brightness due to most of the nights being cloudy. Also, cameras really pickup more color than the naked eye so having a camera that is capable of taking pictures of the Northern Lights is critical. Viking Sky does a good job of providing guest hints on how to take good pictures of the Northern Lights.
We had a stress free embarkation in Bergen Norway. Very convenient location within walking distance of several hotels and attractions which made it nice since it was an overnight stay on the Ship in Bergen.
The ship is gorgeous and mostly well maintained. They do a really good job of keeping the common areas clean. But be aware of the ice that can accumulate on the outside decks. It seems that Viking could have put a barrier around the ice which would have really improved the situation. This was mostly an issue at night when people would go to the decks and couldn't see the ice. I really like having the Self-service launderette.
Our stateroom attendants were very friendly and did a great job taking care of our stateroom. The capability for Viking to notify guest, who wanted to be alerted no matter what time of the night, that Northern Lights were visible from the ship was fantastic. It did really add a special touch to the cruise. There were more movies and shows available on the TV then expected.
The dining staff did a good job and were very friendly. I really like that the World Cafe for the most part served the same food that the Restaurant did so if guest didn't want to dress for dinner they had they same food options. Viking could expand some of the options such as bread and cookies so that each meal isn't the same the entire cruise. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of options but each lunch and dinner had the exact same bread everyday. I liked the availability of the specialty food buffets that were served on the pool deck that provided added flexibility and variety for dining options. We really enjoyed our dinners in The Chef's Table and Manfredi's. The included wine was mostly good except we really didn't enjoy the German red wine they had several meals.
The included excursion for the most part were rather boring and didn't do much other than drive around and I think Viking could do a better job of describing the tours so guest will have a better idea of what to expect. For example, the tour in Bergen explanation of the excursion should reflect the actual excursion making it clear that it doesn't stop at the King Haakon’s Hall, the Rosenkrantz Tower or the Fish Market. We did really enjoy the included excursion in Tromso where we visited the Northern Light Planetarium.
We enjoyed the warm drinks (especially the Baileys and Hot Chocolate) when returning to ship from our excursions. For the most part, Viking Sky did a good job of getting guest on and off the ship. The second day in Bergen was the only port that the line was extremely long when returning from our excursion.
Disembarkation was extremely smooth. Do not expect taxi's to be readily available at the Tilbury port. Transportation should be planned prior to disembarkation. We rented a car from Enterprise which picked us up at the port. Read Less
We wanted to see the Northern Lights and love to cruise on smaller ships (Oceania is our 'go to'). The overcast skies during most of the cruise were a disappointment for seeing the Northern Lights (we had one clear night near ... Read More
We wanted to see the Northern Lights and love to cruise on smaller ships (Oceania is our 'go to'). The overcast skies during most of the cruise were a disappointment for seeing the Northern Lights (we had one clear night near Narvik that allowed about 15 minutes of viewing during the 12 days on board). The temperatures were also warmer than expected which resulted in melting snow and rain north of the Arctic Circle in February. Cruising the Norwegian coast and the train from Oslo to Bergen (we spent two days in Oslo before boarding the ship) were the trip's scenic highlights.
The ship is very nice and we enjoyed our time aboard with a few exceptions. The main pros were the very friendly staff, the excellent bathroom (see below), a reliable internet connection, and the omission of a casino..Our main disappointments were the Restaurant (inattentive and slow service, high noise level due to lack of sound absorbing surfaces such as curtains and carpets, OK but not great food) and the limited variations in daily salad and vegetable options (lots of rice, potatoes, steam vegetables, and green salad, but not much else). We enjoyed Chef's Table and Manfredi's were OK but not great. We ate most of our meals in the Café but eating 2-3 meals a day in the same place for 12 days got repetitious. We were surprised that most of the food in the Café was self service which raised concerns about spreading bugs such as norovirus, but I'm not aware of anyone getting sick.
Overall, we enjoyed the cruise and would go on Viking Ocean again if the itinerary was interesting, but Oceania remains our top choice. Read Less