Excellent experience. Ship was fully staffed. Never had to wait for a drink at the bars. Public areas kept tidy and clean. Made reservations in advance for the shows and select dining. Found we did not need reservations in two of the ... Read More
Excellent experience. Ship was fully staffed. Never had to wait for a drink at the bars. Public areas kept tidy and clean. Made reservations in advance for the shows and select dining. Found we did not need reservations in two of the main rooms. Taste and Savor, we were walk right up and get a table with little wait. Heard it can be hard to find quiet spots on board. The sunset lounge was our favorite bar, located in the middle of the ship on the inside. Never too crowded or boisterous. Take the time and spend the money to see the cirque dreams steam punk dinner show. Very good production for a ship. The best shipboard entertainment I have ever seen. Burn the floor is good too. Just make your reservations before setting sail! Syd Norman’s Pour House had excellent rock cover band. Very entertaining there. For shot excursions, be sure to explore non ship options. We booked privately with Alla Tours for both St. Petersburg and Stockholm. We saved a ton of money compared to the excursions (relatively identitcal itineraries) by booking with Alla. Do it about 3 months in advance, They take care of your Visas for Russia, no worries! Read Less
We set off on this cruise in a state of trepidation.....would we manage the formal evenings with two under 30s?, would the food be mediocre? would the service be lacking? Well we were blown away! I wondered if I should write this review as ... Read More
We set off on this cruise in a state of trepidation.....would we manage the formal evenings with two under 30s?, would the food be mediocre? would the service be lacking? Well we were blown away! I wondered if I should write this review as this ship was so amazing that I didnt really want to share! Anyway here we go....
Food in Britannia restaurant was better than Celebrity, ...halibut, turbot, lobster in a week. Lovely Japanese options including an excellent miso soup, Italian pasta we couldn't fault, tea and coffee and home made marshmallows and chocolate creams to finish.
Breakfast in Britannia was excellent, go there if you can.
Afternoon tea......what can I say...lovely.
Lido restaurant was a full step ahead of other cruise lines, you really didn't think you were in "motorway services". Tea and coffee for breakfast served to your table, no battling with teapots etc etc
Room steward, excellent nothing too much trouble.
Take on a bottle or two, top up at a port call......you need to do this as alcohol is extortionate!
So service better than someone like Celebrity.
Formal nights were a breeze, do as you will. Just join in, fellow passengers are lovely!
Never worry you will find somewhere to sit on this ship wherever you are, seats and beautiful sitting areas a plenty.
Don't forget the library, amazing!
Any downsides? She can be a little noisy but not enough to spoil your holiday.
Please don't tell anyone about this beautiful ship...keep it a secret please? Read Less
This is our first cruise with Cunard and it was excellent in most ways. We have sailed with TUI Marella and P&O before and we expected Cunard to to head and shoulders better....it wasn’t though. Now that’s not to say it was ... Read More
This is our first cruise with Cunard and it was excellent in most ways. We have sailed with TUI Marella and P&O before and we expected Cunard to to head and shoulders better....it wasn’t though. Now that’s not to say it was poor, because that’s not true....it was wonderful, but it just says to us that tge other cruise lines are also good. The quality of food and in particular the amount of free-space was welcomed and certainly different to what we found on the rather cramped and poorly organised Azura. The Q.V. is lovely and all staff were helpful, polite and professional. Before going we were concerned that there may be a “class system”....but there certainly wasn’t, we felt very welcomed and the service and food in food in the Lido Restaurant was wonderful.....one very small point, they could do with a few more waiters offering beverages in there. Not everyone wants to dine in tv more formal venues, borne out by the fact that tge Lido Restaurant was always busy, but not cramped....to have an offer of a drink would have been nice. Entertainment was fine, we have seen better productions on TUI and P&O but the shows were fine. The outside acts were fabulous however....We are very confused why we were charged a daily service charge, PLUS, if we had a drink from the bar we had a further service charge added.....it’s like a double insult!.....other than these very small points, it was outstanding and we would recommend to everyone. Read Less
The cruise was FANTASTIC. Best cruise of our 17 cruises to date. The scenery was SPECTACULAR along the Norwegian Fjords. Visiting the northernmost point of Europe at 71 degrees north was a thrill. Visiting Scotland and London was ... Read More
The cruise was FANTASTIC. Best cruise of our 17 cruises to date. The scenery was SPECTACULAR along the Norwegian Fjords. Visiting the northernmost point of Europe at 71 degrees north was a thrill. Visiting Scotland and London was equally as exciting. The Viking Sun is a VERY well managed ship. the crew was VERY friendly and professional. The ship was spotlessly clean and the food was well above our Viking expectations. The itinerary kept us constantly in awe of the beauty of the Norway coast and the British Isles. During the cruise we took 7 of our 9 tours as the included tours and felt like we saw everything and had wonderful experiences with very knowledgeable and friendly guides. Our two special tours were above and beyond for cities we have been to before (Edinburgh and London). But the regular tours were above expectations.
While the first look at cost of traveling Viking appears to be higher than other cruise lines, you must take into account that you get (at no extra charge): and include tour in each port, Viking Air transport to/from airport, wine/beer with meals, specialty restaurants, soft drinks and cookies between meals, mini-bar snacks in our room, 4pm high tea, the spa, and lectures on the cultures and areas we were visiting and this was all with 5-star service and professionalism. Basically, it included EVERYTHING. Read Less
It was an ideal way to get to Iceland without having to fly (which I refuse to do any more). Embarkation was smooth and fast with scarcely any queueing. Disembarkation was equally fast and efficient. We had an internal cabin which was ... Read More
It was an ideal way to get to Iceland without having to fly (which I refuse to do any more). Embarkation was smooth and fast with scarcely any queueing. Disembarkation was equally fast and efficient. We had an internal cabin which was adequate in size, pleasant decor, very comfortable bed, and efficient shower in the ensuite. The stewardess was very pleasant and efficient, like all the other staff and crew we encountered. There was a good choice of restaurants and bars, with a different ambience in each. The food was superb and the waiting staff very efficient, besides being the pleasantest and friendliest you will meet anywhere. There were plenty of different activities available, from watercolour painting to ballroom dancing, to ukulele playing and on to games like quoits and shuffleboard. Two excellent swimming pools, jacuzzis and a gymnasium catered for the more energetic - you could be as active or as laid-back as you liked. There was a good programme of lectures, plus bridge games, quizzes and even bingo if that is your fancy. There was a good choice of shore excursions, and we enjoyed all three that we chose. We went whale-watching in Akureyri, and were not disappointed. The only quibble I have about that excursion is that it was quite a long walk from the ship to the trip boat. My husband has a heart problem and had difficulty keeping up with the rest of the group, as did another man similarly affected. It would have been better to have a minibus available. The blue lagoon trip we did from Reykjavík was wonderful. We saw a lot of the countryside and had a wonderful soak in a beautiful hot thermal lagoon. In Orkney we visited Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar, passing by Maes Howe and the stones of Stenness, and getting an excellent trip through the surrounding countryside. This was well organised, and a pleasure to experience. We enjoyed this, our first cruise, so much that we have already booked to go to the Baltic with Fred Olsen next year. Read Less
This was our 37th cruise. Some have had spectacular destinations, some have been full of excitement and entertainment. Until this cruise, the Braemar to and through the Panama canal was overall our best ever cruise. Four days before this ... Read More
This was our 37th cruise. Some have had spectacular destinations, some have been full of excitement and entertainment. Until this cruise, the Braemar to and through the Panama canal was overall our best ever cruise. Four days before this one on Boudicca I received a phone call advising that we had a complimentary upgrade to a 7th deck cabin with terrace and wet room.
When we opened the cabin door, Wow!!! So much space - the wet room was brilliant as well.
We have never been disappointed with the dining rooms on any of the ships - Braemar stands out a mile in particular at lunchtime, with different flavours of diet bread and butter puddings each day! Most excellent waiters and captain waiter.
There have been many cruises with great entertainment each night - one in particular (which was not a Fred Olsen).
So to this cruise on the Boudicca. We were amazed by the organisation of the timings of the secret garden being open. There were a few mornings when we were too late for the normal breakfasts, but were able to break our fasts there. One day however we arrived just in time for lunch!
The variety of food was most welcoming particularly for two diabetics. Our water glasses were topped up frequently and Captain Waiter seemed to take extra care with us (my wife being in a wheelchair). A big thanks there.
We were on ship for the majority of the time and had plenty of options to bide away the time in the way that we wanted. Dolphin racing, bingo, quizzes, relaxing and reading and of course eating and the shows. The comedian, whose name I have forgotten was brilliant. Clean and very funny. Hope Fred Olsen has him as a regular.
Stress free is a simple way of saying how enjoyable this cruise was. The place we stayed the most was in our cabin. It was excellent. We are not drinkers or pub people, but we did have our diet lemonades to take back to the cabin, where we played Cribbage.
THE WATERFALLS AT goodolfusen (can't spell it) were splendiferous. Well worth a visit.
I have an old friend and acquaintance who regularly cruises across the Atlantic and back again, without getting off the ship. A bit surprised at this, but now with this latest experience I can well understand why.
Sorry Braemar, but you have been knocked off no.1 spot as the best ever cruise. A big thanks for the crew of the Boudicca for helping to make this one the best ever. Thanks Fred Olsen. Read Less
We chose this cruise for the ports. Neither of us had been to any of the Baltic ports and we were looking for an overview. We absolutely loved the ports and could have spent more time everywhere, but we knew that in advance. Cruising ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the ports. Neither of us had been to any of the Baltic ports and we were looking for an overview. We absolutely loved the ports and could have spent more time everywhere, but we knew that in advance. Cruising on such a large ship has its disadvantages. On a minor point, it simply takes a while to figure out the deck plans, and how get from one point to another. More serious is the issue of always being at a pier that's far from the city center. We were lucky to get to dock in Stockholm, the Getaway often has to be in a town a hour away. We shared sevel ports with an Azamara Cruise, and as a much smaller ship, they were docked right downtown. When time in port is so valuable, arranging transportation to get to the actual city becomes a drain. Although we really enjoyed the ship and Baltic cruise itinerary, if we were to take the same trip again I'd consider a different, smaller ship. Someone who uses more of the entertainment available, or traveling with active kids, might have a completely different view point.
We used a private company (there are many) to tour Berlin and St. Petersburg. We were able to have a much smaller group and more flexibility than if we'd taken a ship's excursion. Luckily we were in Stockholm on a Sunday and the company Stromma has a 3 hour brunch cruise available on that Sunday only. It was actually one of the highlights of our trip. In Helsinki and Tallinn we were able to enjoy the town on our own without a tour. They are both beautiful, but very different cities. Read Less
My wife and I have fairly limited experience with cruise vacations (3 or 4 previous cruises). Our last big vacation was a cycling vacation in France two years ago. We have tended to look for moderately active vacations with some room for ... Read More
My wife and I have fairly limited experience with cruise vacations (3 or 4 previous cruises). Our last big vacation was a cycling vacation in France two years ago. We have tended to look for moderately active vacations with some room for independent travel, especially in areas of great natural beauty. We were drawn to Viking quite simply by the rave reviews we heard from several friends who had gone on both river and ocean trips with Viking. We also wanted a chance to see, up close, a part of the world we had not visited.
Because of our friends' and family members' glowing reports of past Viking trips, he had high expectations for this trip. Viking exceeded those expectations in every category.
The ship: OK, admittedly, the "new ship" smell of the Jupiter grabbed us the minute we boarded. The Jupiter launched in February in Italy, so our trip could be considered a continuation of the ship's maiden voyage, as I believe it was Jupiter's first trip on our itinerary (Bergen to London, via fjords of Norway and Scotland). Inside and out, the ship looked as if it just came "on line." Simply put, it sparkled.
Our cabin, though in the lowest-cost "veranda" category, felt like anything but "bargain" accommodations. Neither my wife nor I ever felt crowded or cramped in the 15 day trip. With the midnight sun and jaw-dropping beauty of the fjords, we got a lot of use of the veranda. I was pleasantly surprised at the ample storage space and especially the efficient and comfortable functionality of the bathroom.
Our favorite feature of the Jupiter, however, was the design of its ample public spaces. If I hadn't seen it myself, I would never have imagined it was possible to create so many intimate spaces that, even with 900 passengers, it felt like we always had multiple "living rooms" to relax in, or read, or chat or simply admire the beauty out the window.
The dining venues and menus were also sufficiently varied to avoid seeming repetitious even on a fairly long cruise. With extremely minor exceptions, the food was excellent. A very few dishes (the pool-side paella comes to mind) could have done with a bit more flavor, though I suspect this is a necessary adjustment when cooking for 900 people with, shall we say, fairly "mature" palates.
Viking's "crown jewel" however, is its crew and staff. I have never experienced the level of consistently excellent service in the hospitality industry. Without exception, every Viking employee we encountered was not only very responsive, but just plain nice. A special shout-out here to Jose, our waiter in The Restaurant, Andrew our steward and LangLang (forgive me if i get that spelling wrong) who served us in the Explorer Lounge.
One last "kudo." As I understand it, Captain Knudsen made the call to take us on the "inside passage" from Gerangerfjord to Tromso, rather than offshore, in order to give us more time to enjoy the beauty of his native Norway's west coast. I am certain the offshore route would have been navigationally easier, and probably more less costly in fuel for Viking. We would have missed, however, the sights of many scenic little Norwegian villages, farms and homes. Thanks you, Captain Knudsen.
In short, I'm sold. We will probably continue to alternate cruise vacations with other sorts of travel, but Viking will be our cruise line of choice, and we will make future voyages, both river and ocean. Read Less
This has been a bucket list cruise for us for quite a while and it did not disappoint. While I love the Princess Small Ships, I was glad to see the Sapphire doing this since, being a larger ship, that made it a bit more economical to book. ... Read More
This has been a bucket list cruise for us for quite a while and it did not disappoint. While I love the Princess Small Ships, I was glad to see the Sapphire doing this since, being a larger ship, that made it a bit more economical to book.
The scenery was fantastic - better than I envisioned. We had a mid forward balcony cabin on the Lido deck, a very convenient location since no stairs or elevator wait for the buffet, pool area or grill. Waking up in the morning seeing the mountains of a fjord off your balcony was fantastic. The size of this ship was nice. Very few lines for anything, yet enough people.
We booked Princess excursions at each port. In retrospect, we might have been better off checking which ports had hop-on/hop off services and just used that for a general sightseeing tour. Having said that we were NOT disappointed with any of our shore excursions.
The entertainment on board was very good. 4 production shows that were all top notch.
The main dining room food was excellent. Yes, Princess is cutting back a bit on Lobster night (a single lobster tail) and I'm sure some people are put off by the *optional* $19 upgrades offered some evenings, but we just ignored them and enjoyed the standard menu. Wait staff was excellent - very attentive to our requests. We were able to have a table for 2 in Anytime Dining each night. Read Less
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd ... Read More
HAL delivered again with a very nice cruise, great food, super service, friendly staff and gracious public spaces. Great room on Dolphin deck with hardly and rock and roll and a big room with window (1903).Not a fan of the tv/dvd combo...hopefully they will upgrade that.
Elevators around the corner zip up to Lido and MDR.
Food was excellent. Banana bread French toast was a fav in MDR for breakfast. Creme Brûlée, prime rib, French onion soup, any dessert all good. Pork roast was like Sunday dinner as a kid.
Liked the trivia games and the happy hour in the Crows Nest.
Lincoln centre stage was excellent.
Gift shop was so-so... to many high end things and low end was gaudy.
Embarkation and disembarkation was the smoothest I have experienced.
The staff were the real stand outs. Always friendly , helpful, smiling and keeping things clean. They work so hard!
Great ports mix of large and small. 24 hour sun was something to see!
Did not do any shore excursions with HAL(to expensive)all were booked ahead of time online. Read Less
This was a 10-day Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It was our 4th Oceania cruise and first on Marina. We are a couple in our mid-60's which put us in the median age range on this cruise. As many people younger than us as ... Read More
This was a 10-day Baltic cruise from Stockholm to Copenhagen. It was our 4th Oceania cruise and first on Marina. We are a couple in our mid-60's which put us in the median age range on this cruise. As many people younger than us as older.
Embarkation was smooth and quick. After lunch in the Terrace Cafe, our cabin was ready at 1:00. Our steward quickly introduced himself. We had very good service from him and the cabin attendant throughout the cruise. The Marina is in very good condition and is a beautiful ship.
Oceania lived up to its reputation with serving excellent food. They did not disappoint. We ate in each of the 4 specialty restaurants once, dinner in the GDR a couple of times, dinner in Terrace Cafe a couple of times. Waves for lunch was excellent. Our dinner in Red Ginger was our favorite meal on the cruise. The only little negative we experienced was service in Terrace Cafe at dinner. It can be difficult to find a wine steward. By the time you order and get your glass of wine, you're halfway through the meal.
The entertainment on the ship was good and the shows were well attended. The production show of singers and dancers were talented. Some of the musical selections were a little questionable, in my opinion, as they leaned towards the older age group. But still quite good. The vocalist, Elias Hendricks, was one of the best entertainers I have seen on a cruise. The band that played in Horizons at 10:30 was very good. Their Beatlemania tribute night was attended by 200 people - the most I've seen in Horizons that late. They also did an Abba tribute that was popular as well. The cruise director, John, did a great job. He was at ease with his job and was enthusiastic without being over-the-top.
We went on the ship's shore excursions and found them to be good. I know that some people prefer private tours but I really cannot complain about any of the excursions that we took on this cruise. We had exceptionally good tour guides in St. Petersburg. Very articulate, knowledgeable, professional and friendly. You have to negotiate through the crowds at The Hermitage no matter if you're on a ship's excursion or private tour. At the Faberge Museum, our group was only 16 people. Gdansk was another port where we had an excellent tour guide.
One word about the wi-fi on the ship. Terrible. This is something that Oceania should improve on if they think that being competitive with other cruise line's wi-fi is important. I just wanted to check my email and use basic internet for 20 minutes a day and this was very challenging.
Disembarkation in Copenhagen was smooth and on-time. One word of caution if you're trying to grab a taxi and that is to be prepared to wait in line for an hour or more. We pre-arranged a private car with our hotel and it was well worth the bit of extra cost. Read Less
Just a quick review of the Oceania Marina Scandinavian Ballads 10 day cruise:
While we have been on over 30 cruises, this was our first on Oceania. All in all, it truly exceeded our expectations due to the extraordinary food and ... Read More
Just a quick review of the Oceania Marina Scandinavian Ballads 10 day cruise:
While we have been on over 30 cruises, this was our first on Oceania. All in all, it truly exceeded our expectations due to the extraordinary food and overall service. The food is by far the best we have had on a cruise and due to that fact, we will definitely cruise Oceania again. The service and attentiveness was unequalled in all the cruises we have done. We typically sail in smaller ships but we noted that even though this ship held 1,200 passengers, we never felt crowded or rushed.
A couple of specifics:
We stayed in Stockholm for 2 1/2 days prior to the cruise and while we truly enjoyed the Vasa Museum and Old town, it was a bit underwhelming compared to other European cities. We stayed at the Sheraton and we booked it independently from the cruise. It is a good location but be prepared for a crazy scene the morning of departure. We casually got ready anticipating an 11:00ish departure from the hotel and head to the ship. The lobby was crazy and the check-in was 10 deep(those that just departed the ship), thus not allowing you to easily check out. Tip: Use the Express Checkout and drop off your envelope and get out of the lobby!!
This cruise was very port intensive and the ports were very good. We only did 1 excursion and we did it in St. Petersburg and we did it independently from the ship. We had a great tour operator, Allla Tours, and our group was limited to 16 people which made it manageable. The ships tours were much more crowded. Without going into a full review of all ports on this writing, I would tell you that most were very enjoyable and some were outstanding. The outstanding ports were: St. Petersburg, Tallin Estonia, Gdansk, Poland, and Copenhagen. The rest were very good but they did not hit the outstanding category.
I will try and expand upon the cruise in the near future. Read Less
As someone who always believed inside cabins were sufficient I was dazzled by my first time in a suite (albeit the smallest suite possible). Still, a walk-in closet on a ship and a bathtub! We really enjoyed our cabin and our roomy ... Read More
As someone who always believed inside cabins were sufficient I was dazzled by my first time in a suite (albeit the smallest suite possible). Still, a walk-in closet on a ship and a bathtub! We really enjoyed our cabin and our roomy balcony, having breakfast on the balcony almost every day. It was also great fun on the balcony waving to all the boats that accompanied us out of Hamburg.
The Princess Grill was superb every night except the first. The fish that night was average and we, two older women, were seated way off in a corner. Eating in the Princess Grill had been on my bucket list but I felt that I was still on the outside looking in. However, the (very entertaining) maitre d quickly moved us to the center of the part of the room that overlooked the promenade deck and we were much happier there. The food was very good, mostly well executed classics, and anyone looking for more trendy choices might be disappointed. We loved the Dover Sole and the Chateaubriand and the Cherries Jubilee (you get the picture). Mostly we loved the atmosphere of muted, leisurely meals in an attractive room with excellent service. Dinner became our evening activity and we often missed the planned entertainment as a result.
What else did we do? We enjoyed the singers and dancers when we did make the shows and regretted missing the violinist. The planetarium was moderately interesting as were the speakers. We tried to visit all the bars but gave up and pretty much settled on the Carinthia where we could have a light meal with our wine. Zumba was fun but the pools were rather cold. The Golden Lion Pub offered good fish and chips. Afternoon tea in the Queen's Room was a disappointment -good food but a mad rush to get in and get a table. The library was lovely and the Promenade Deck was a comfortable place to sit or get some exercise walking.
Service was excellent and we appreciated the young man who brought our room service breakfasts, our assistant waiter, and all the nameless crew members who smiled and made us feel welcome.
We only took one shore excursion - to Bruges - which left us needing to do a lot of walking to get to the center of town but was well organized and on time. We explored on our own in Hamburg and Guernsey.
Regarding the ship, she is showing her age (I had sailed on her in 2005) but just barely. She is still a magnificent "grande dame". Just don't expect glitz and glitter and instead settle into a leisurely, relaxed way of life. Read Less
We cruise with Cunard most years, but found to our shock that it was ten years since we had been on QM2, so we booked this cruise. Basically it was a cruise made up of bits of other voyages, so did not have quite the same feeling as a ... Read More
We cruise with Cunard most years, but found to our shock that it was ten years since we had been on QM2, so we booked this cruise. Basically it was a cruise made up of bits of other voyages, so did not have quite the same feeling as a cruise where almost everyone embarks and disembarks at the same time and place, and was a bit lacking in things like World Club parties. But we expected this and did not mind. Rather unexpected was the four formal nights.
We had forgotten how truly magnificent the ship is, with vastly impressive public rooms and huge expanses of real teak decks. This of course means that distances between venues can be quite great, particularly as our cabin was near the front and our restaurant at the back. This means you walk off more of the food you consume. The ship always seemed restful and tranquil, never crowded, though I believe it was, to all intents and purposes, full
Our Q6 cabin was very nice with an expansive balcony and a blissfully comfortable bed. The bathroom unfortunately, though spacious, is poorly arranged. There would be plenty of room for a separate shower, but it doesn't have one, a great shame.
Food in the Queens Grill was good with a wide choice, though the coffee was sometimes warm rather than hot. We did not eat anywhere else, prefering to enjoy the restaurant comfort, quality, and excellent service.
Indeed the service was a great highlight. Both the restaurant staff and our butler and assistant were thoughtful, courteous, efficient, and kind. We could not have been better looked after. Our sommelier had a great knowledge of wine and great ability to convey his enthusiasms.
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton were both very smooth, aided by our priority status. We were on the ship at midday and off by 8.20.
We called at Hamburg twice, and QM2 always gets a great welcome and sendoff. This time we celebrated fifteen years of the ships association with the port. It is a most attrative city to wonder round. We also visited Gent on a Cunard transfer, and that too is a city worth seeing.
While in some ways this cruise was harder work than one on the smaller ships, it was very much an experience, and one I would recommend. Best of all would be an Atlantic crossing on her. Read Less
This was our first Baltic cruise. Princess cruise lines did an excellent job. Embarkation was a breeze. The Medallion service still has start up problems as many employees are not up to speed, but it has worthwhile features. They only ... Read More
This was our first Baltic cruise. Princess cruise lines did an excellent job. Embarkation was a breeze. The Medallion service still has start up problems as many employees are not up to speed, but it has worthwhile features. They only updated one account with the Beverage package and the waiter had to get the other one added. The Medallion really does not do too much more than the cruise card did and it allows them to track you. The ship is beautiful, but with the number of passengers the elevators were always packed. They can't add more elevators, but maybe they can make them run more frequently or more efficiently. We had a mini-suite on the Riviera deck. It was very quiet, very well laid out with sufficient storage. Our steward, Jeff, tirelessly maintained our cabin and did a superior job. We had Club Class dining which was very nice for the special attention, but did not get to meet as many other passengers. The food although tasty and well-prepared, was not exceptional. The entertainment was outstanding. The Russian Folk dance performers were great. The Regal Princess Singers and Dancers were talented. The Princess band has some of the best musicians we have seen. The entertainment in the Piazza and the Wheelhouse lounge always is amazing and relaxing at the end of the day.
The band We Are Evolution can really get the ship rockin'. Getting to listen to and to meet Lou Gazzara and Peter Cutler was an unexpected pleasure.
Princess shore excursions cost more than the local tours as every Cruise Critic member knows. We did not need 2 days in St. Petersburg. We only had a few hours in Oslo. Estonia and Stockholm were our favorite ports. Princess cancelled our Stockholm excursion at the last minute due to the Royal Palace closing and did not offer even a free shuttle into town. The Front Desk did not seem to care. They also did not provide our Disembarkation information on the last night. For that and other mishandled problems, Guest Services was our biggest disappointment on the trip. We will sail Princess again because overall they do everything well. Read Less
A wonderful cruise on the sensational fabulous Regal princess. I couldn't fault this cruise and I have been on a few cruises especially Princess. The staff are extremely professional and it ran like clockwork. It had a great vibe to ... Read More
A wonderful cruise on the sensational fabulous Regal princess. I couldn't fault this cruise and I have been on a few cruises especially Princess. The staff are extremely professional and it ran like clockwork. It had a great vibe to the ship.
The food in mdr was of a high quality along with other food outlets.
The entertainment was great with a wide variety of entrainment options.
The ports were great especially St Petersburg was sensational and 2 full days were needed. Only a short time in Oslo Norway only criticism as needed more time as shore excursion was rushed.
The cabins are spacious and comfortable and maintained we had s balcony and woke up one more with a view of a castles and churches not bad.
As a Elite passenger we were able to use Club 6 for our wine time. My time on The Regal princess was brilliant one of my favourite cruises Read Less
Lisbon to Dublin seemed like an interesting itinerary so we booked a mid-ship stateroom. We had cruised on Star Pride's Inaugural sailing and prior to that when it was a Seabourn ship. The cabins are spacious albeit somewhat dated ... Read More
Lisbon to Dublin seemed like an interesting itinerary so we booked a mid-ship stateroom. We had cruised on Star Pride's Inaugural sailing and prior to that when it was a Seabourn ship. The cabins are spacious albeit somewhat dated now. The ship is compact. Two staircases so you gain a sense of where everything is quite quickly. The main restaurant is deck 3 and the Veranda (self service/buffet/back of ship area) which at 7pm morphs into 'Candles' grill style restaurant where a dinner reservation is required. Both restaurants served wonderful food and the menus were imaginative and varied. The service was attentive and friendly.
Windstar's room service is in our experience always first rate, whether its an early breakfast or a late night snack. Our orders were delivered in a timely fashion by a cheery friendly waiter or waitress.
The Compass Rose Bar was our go to destination after dinner where there was always a duo playing together with the crew taking part in Liar or a music quiz.
What really works for us is the friendliness of all the crew: they make sure that they call you by your name which everyone appreciates. When we were moored in the Scilly Isles I didn't get off the ship as I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to getting on and off tenders. The ship was almost empty so I sat on deck and over the course of a couple of hours three crew members came to chat, check I was okay and ask if they could get me anything.
Windstar is a firm favourite for us and our eight day Star Pride trip was a really great cruise. Read Less
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour ... Read More
The Northern Isles cruise was a great 14 day tour of Nordic country and history in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Shetland Island and Scotland. The cruise had 5 full days in Iceland, longer than most tours. My husband and I went early to tour Copenhagen/Sweden. Copenhagen has so many wonderful things to see you could easily spend 5 days just in that site alone. We took a fjord cruise and shopped in Bergen. We went on the troop wall tour in Ålesund, highly recommend. We booked a private tour to reduce the price. Seydisfjordur was a lovely town with colorful buildings. We took a tour to the interior part of Iceland’s Eastland. Next came Akureyri with the huge Godafoss waterfall and the really interesting Laufas Museum of a Church and preserved sod house. In Isafjordur, we took a tour with a local to Flateyri with a waterfall and the most amazing views of lupine flowers all over the county side and hillsides. The guide has rested eider down for the over 10000 ducks on his land. Then there were 2 days in Reykjavík with an Super Golden Circle tour and a city tour with the historic open air museum the next day. Lerwick and the Shetland Island was amazing, taking a small bus tour with a local, seeing the southern part of the island with amazing views, the Croft House museum, Scalloway museum with 5000 year old ruins and Sumburgh Head with Lighthouse and Puffin lined cliffs. Last stop was Inverggordon/Inverness, Scotland with a tour of Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Inverness shopping. Many’s memories, any pictures. A cold was going around the ship and we both picked it up, luckily near the end of the cruise.
The on ship experience was very peaceful. They had great EXC tour specialist that gave information. The shows did vary, some were not as interesting. They did have three large music venues to attend, we found we enjoyed some of the music days better, especially the five piece Ensemble at the Lincoln center room. The in room dining with always great with fresh food and came quickly. The main dining room, the food was very good and non-gala nights. The Lido market had a variety of food that was just fine. We ate once at the Pinnacle Grill, you can eat lunch there for only $10. This was a really good restaurant. I recommend purchasing the unlimited laundry, you can bring less clothing. We purchased drink cards of $250 rather than a higher price drink package. At the end of the cruise the money left on the gift card was applied to your account. Embarking and disembarking went very easy. We took a morning tour with airport transfer to the airport on the last day. Read Less
Our trip to Scandinavia included two nights in Stockholm and an 11 night cruise from Copenhagen up the coast of Norway past the Arctic Circle to the North Cape. We had previously done a cruise that included Bergen, Norway and wanted to ... Read More
Our trip to Scandinavia included two nights in Stockholm and an 11 night cruise from Copenhagen up the coast of Norway past the Arctic Circle to the North Cape. We had previously done a cruise that included Bergen, Norway and wanted to see more of that beautiful country.
We flew into Stockholm after a lengthy trip from Orlando. Living in coastal Georgia, we normally fly out of Jacksonville, Florida, but the airfare from JAX was $600 per person higher for our trip than flying out of Orlando. That did involve driving 2.5 hours past Jacksonville and a night in a hotel prior to our flight to Europe.
Sleep Inn & Suites - Orlando Airport
We booked this hotel through park, sleep and fly. Some hotels offer parking for travelers that stay in a hotel prior to flying out for a vacation. There were not many choices and this was the best one available. The hotel itself looked clean enough and the rooms were spacious. The hotel was a bit old and worn, but acceptable. However, after checking in our room, we noticed that the air conditioner could only function on full blast. The room was about 60 degrees, so we turned off the AC. We never turned it on and didn’t have a problem. The breakfast was good, but checking in the hotel took way too long with only one front desk clerk. Our parking was on the side of the hotel past the paved area in an area of dirt and some trees. I parked in there and upon return from our trip, found that my car was blocked in by another vehicle. Since we returned at 2am, I had to drive over a curb. Fortunately, my vehicle was undamaged in the process. Still, the hotel did a very poor job in managing the parking. We will never stay in this hotel again.
We had three flights to make it to Copenhagen, having to fly to Atlanta then Paris Charles de Gaulle and finally to Stockholm. We arrived about 12:30pm and made our way to the Flybussarna. There were nice busses every 10 minutes that took us into the city to the main rail station. Cost was a little more than $10 per person. From the rail station we took a taxi to our hotel.
First Hotel Reisen
We booked this hotel because of its great location and reasonable rates. The hotel was an older hotel, but clean and well maintained. The room was comfortable and a reasonable size. Air conditioning was not common for hotels in Stockholm, so we had an electric fan in the room that was effective. It was 30 degrees C when we first arrived, but the fan cooled our room just fine. The hotel had a nice restaurant, where we dined one evening and an excellent buffet breakfast. We would stay in the hotel again if we visited Stockholm again.
After the long trip, we were tired and didn’t do any touring. We took a short nap and had dinner at the hotel, which gave us discount of about $10 since we were staying in the hotel. The meal was a Swedish seafood stew and excellent.
The next day, we were very busy. We met a Free Walking Tour of the Old Town that was about two hours long. The tour guide was very good and we enjoyed the old city. We went back to visit the Royal Palace and Cathedral that was nearby. We passed the Nobel Museum, but decided to skip it. We found the ferry that took us close to the Vasa Museum. The Vasa was a huge 17th Century sailing ship launched with much pomp and ceremony that capsized and sunk after sailing about 200 meters.
The museum was amazing. The ship had been recovered from the harbor almost intact. The museum building was built around the huge ship. There were parts of the ship that had to replace rotten or damaged wood, but most of it was the original. There was an excellent film about the ship’s history and why it capsized. Other exhibits showed who worked on building the ship, including the role of women. Shipbuilders from Holland came to Stockholm for the King of Sweden. Several people died when the ship capsized. We learned that the design of the ship was flawed. It was top heavy and the hold was not large enough to support the needed ballast. We spent 2-3 hours in the museum.
Upon returning to Gamla Stan, were our hotel was located, we walked around a little more and found a restaurant that proved to be just what we needed.
Restaurant Kaffegillet i Gamla Stan AB
We picked the Kaffegillet at random, after a full day of touring Stockholm. The restaurant was in the old city with seating inside and outside next to the street. We chose to dine inside. Everything we selected for our meal was great. The prices for the meal were reasonable, including the wine. We had reindeer for our appetizer and salmon for the main course. Everything was wonderful.
The next day we had a five hour train ride to Copenhagen. I had book first class tickets for about $50 per person. The train was very nice. The first class car had only 3 seats across that were very spacious and comfortable. We enjoyed the green countryside of Southern Sweden on our way to Copenhagen.
We arrived at the rail station at the Copenhagen Airport (closer to our hotel than the main rail station), took a taxi to the Crowne Plaza.
Crowne Plaza Copenhagen Towers Hotel
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza again for one night prior to our Norway cruise. The hotel was convenient to the airport and a nearby shopping mall. Rooms were spacious, modern and with all the amenities. Breakfast was not included with the room, but was excellent. The hotel's rates were very reasonable for Copenhagen.
There was a concert at the new arena and the area was flooded with people going there. We had difficulty finding a place to eat at the nearby shopping mall due to the large crowds. We finally found a Mexican restaurant that we could eat. The food had only the faintest resemblance to Mexican food. In fact, the salsa tasted more like it was from India. The cooks appeared to be Indian.
The next day we had a great breakfast at the Crowne Plaza and about noon we boarded a shuttle bus to the cruise port. The cruise terminal turned out to be the same one that we had used on our cruise from Copenhagen 5 1/2 years ago.
SERENADE OF THE SEAS
This cruise was our second on Royal Caribbean. We were elite on Celebrity and able to transfer our loyalty benefits to become Diamond on Royal Caribbean for our first cruise on Explorer of the Seas last year in a TransPacific cruise. Our Norway Arctic Circle cruise was cheap, since we had a huge credit from a cancelled cruise last year that was to go to New Zealand. Serenade of the Seas is one of the smaller ship in the large Royal fleet and we very much enjoyed our cruise. We are trending to Royal since Celebrity and NCL have significantly raised their cruse prices.
New Checkin Procedure
While still at home, I had gone through the check-in process and printed out a scalable sheet for Ginny and I. When we arrived at the port of embarkation in Copenhagen, we checked our luggage, then immediately a representative greeted us, scanned our sheets and passed us to board the ship. It all took a minute or two. She indicated that our key cards were in our cabin. We were amazed at how expedited the boarding process had become. When we arrived at our cabin, it was ready and our cards were in an envelope on the door.
We found dining in Serenade’s main dining room (MDR) was about on par with Celebrity’s MDR dining. The menu for Royal’s MDR has a bit fewer choices than on Celebrity, but everything we ordered was excellent. Service on Serenade was excellent. We dined about half of our meals in the MDR and for most had Julio as our head waiter. He was great and took good care of our needs. We did have the 3 meal dining package for specialty dining and enjoyed the Italian, Steak and Asian restaurants. All were excellent and the worst thing was that we tended to overeat more. We did dine at the buffet for breakfast and lunch, as well as twice for dinner. Breakfast and lunch were pretty good. The omelet station was great, but I missed the Celebrity Eggs Benedict station. For a few nights Serenade had an Eggs Benedict station, but when I ordered breakfast there twice, the eggs were cooked hard, pretty much eliminating the joy of having breakfast from there. The two dinners that we dined in the buffet, I was seriously disappointed in what I chose. The most disappointing items were the Moussaka and then the Lasagna. Both were nothing like the real thing. The Moussaka had no eggplant or meat. It was largely composed of potatoes. The Lasagna had no pasta and was mainly beef, with melted cheese on top. I tried other dishes in the evening and nothing was really that good. One night is settled for a burger that was about the best thing available. It was interesting, since at lunch, the buffet would usually have something that I liked.
The entertainment in Royal Caribbean is generally superior to Celebrity’s entertainment. We didn’t go to all the shows, but the shows that we attended were excellent. The production show singers were excellent. The top show that we saw was the fantastic violinist. She was originally from China, but I don’t remember her name.
DIAMOND HAPPY HOUR
Our happy hour was held in the Diamond Lounge, which was small on deck 13. It was always a bit crowded, but you could eventually find seats. Service was good and you could order three drinks outside that location, even when dining up until 8:30pm. It worked well for us, since I only paid for two drinks for the entire cruise (when I ordered drinks for us a bit after 8:30 in the MDR).
Our cruise had six ports and they were filled with amazing scenery. Some ports were no more than small villages, others were medium sized or large cities. The farther north we progressed, the longer the days, until we had 2-3 nights when the sun did not set. We learned to sleep with a little light coming in around the sides of the curtains in our cabin.
Our first port was Geiranger and its fantastic fjord. We learned that a fjord is carved out of rock by glaciers that existed during the ice age. We saw a lot of fjords in Norway and the one in Geiranger was arguably the most impressive.
We had a private tour booked with Norway Excursions. Our tour for Geiranger with Norwegian Excursions was cancelled while we were traveling. The company refunded our payment and put us on the Mt. Dalsnibba and Eagle Road tour at no charge. They were exceptional in all areas. Our guide, Anita was fantastic and the tour exceeded our expectations. Our bus found its way up the scenic slopes to Mt. Dilsnibba that was loaded with recent snow and awesomely beautiful. Also, returning to the port city, we took a shorter route up Eagle Road for more great scenery. This was one of the best tours that we took on our entire cruise to the North Cape. We also, enjoyed a great Norwegian Excursion tour in Alesund.
Nearly all our tours involved riding in a small or large bus on mountain road that usually took us up for fantastic vistas. I think we were too busy enjoying the scenery to get sick riding up and down the mountains.
Our departure from the small village port of Geiranger was memorable, since we passed through the wonderful fjord. A one point, when the ship arrived in front of an amazing waterfall, the ship stopped and did a complete 360. The maneuver was remarkable in the fjord channel. These modern ships can do a 360 and we have been on cruises that did this maneuver (one around Cape Horn and another in Glacier Bay, Alaska). The Captain must have known that no other ships were approaching us in the fjord, since passing us at that point would have been impossible. In any event, everyone was able to see the waterfall.
We were headed north and the next day passed the Arctic Circle. There was a ceremony for that called the Blue Nose. I watched a little of it on the pool deck, but it was cold and windy, so I didn’t stay for the entire ceremony. Some crew members had cold water poured down their necks and procured a blue nose. We saw some people around the ship with blue noses. I didn’t want one of those. All the passengers received a certificate from the Captain on having passed the Arctic Circle. The day after, we arrived in Tromso. This was the largest city in the north of Norway.
Our tour was with Tromso Individuell. We booked this tour for Tromso over the internet and paid in full in advance. When we arrived at the quay after leaving our cruise ship, no one was there to greet us from the tour company. After looking at all the busses in the parking lot, we could not find our tour. I asked a young security guard at the gate if he would call the tour company for us. He did and eventually the tour guide came to pick us up. I was amazed at the poor management by the tour company. I had looked at each bus in the parking lot, I had seen a name for the "group" on the bus that was our bus, but the name meant nothing to us. Fortunately, we had a good, but not great tour. Tromso was probably the least scenic port on our cruise's itinerary. It was the largest city in the north of Norway. Still, the day was a good day and good tour, despite the difficulty with finding the tour. The tour took us to see three fjords as well as a scenic island near the entrance to the ocean. We had a nice lunch that included Norwegian food. It was a buffet and included many local specialties. There was a lot of smoked fish. I tried the smoked fish and it was ok, but not my favorite dish.
This was another fairly small town where our ship docked. In the middle of June the temperature was in the high 30s or low 40s with lots of wind. Ginny and I layered as much as possible to protect ourselves from the weather.
We had booked a tour with Blue Puffin to the North Cape. This tour was great. Our tour was from the port of Honningsvag and our cruise ship. The tour guide was exceptional. She took us to see a scenic fishing village that included an up close and personal greeting from a King Crab (she fished two out of a large tank). She explained life in the far north of Norway and the fishing industry. Also, we met a member of the Sami people (also called Lapps) with his reindeer. We say many reindeer while on the tour. The tour took us over some very scenic places, but the main event was our visit to the North Cape facility, which was wonderful. It was a modern multistory facility that included a fantastic film showing the local area and its northern lights in the winter and endless days in the Summer. There were exhibits and a good place for a meal if desired. The facility was not far from the point were your could see the actual North Cape. It was very windy and cold, but I ventured out for about 15 minutes and took some great photos.
After another sea day, we arrived in Alesund, back in southern Norway. It was warmer there and we actually had a brief night, the sun going down around 11:15pm, rising about 3am. We had a tour with Norwegian Excursions. This was our second tour with them (first was in Geiranger). Again, the tour was wonderful. Our tour guide Iga was extremely knowledgeable and took us on a fantastic tour. This tour was probably the best that we took on our 11 night Serenade of the Seas cruise that visited 6 ports in Norway. The tour took us over much extraordinary scenery. The highlight of the tour was the Troll Road and Trollstigen plateau. Also, we saw the waterfall Stigfossen. This is a tour not to be missed.
Stavanger was probably the largest city on our cruise. The port was central to Norway’s petroleum industry in the North Sea. We took a Fjord Cruise with Radne. The smaller boat was docked not far from our cruise ship. Many of our fellow cruisers from the Serenade of the Seas took this tour. It was chilly and we had not seats inside, so we brushed off the water on a bench on the port side of the boat and were able to sit for most of the three hour cruise. Many persons had no seats and sometimes partially blocked our views. However, we managed very well and were able to see very well, also taking lots of great photos. Our cruise took us past the famous Pulpit Rock that some hike for hours to reach. The Rock was featured in one of the Mission Impossible movies. About halfway to Pulpit Rock our views of the fjord was wonderful. We saw massive rock formations carved out by ancient glaciers. The boat even stopped to feed a goat that lived on the edge of one of the rock faces. Fortunately, it didn't rain and the day was great.
We had one more sea day and then returned to Copenhagen port. Royal had a transfer to the airport that we had booked.
The trip was great but we were looking forward to returning home. Our Delta flight from Copenhagen was to New York’s JFK Airport. I had gone through JFK a few times during the 80s and have avoided it until this flight. We only had two flights to our destination in Orlando. Again, JFK was a royal pain. The lines were long getting through immigration, customs and security. We had a three hour layover in the airport that turned into a more than six hour layover. Our terminal included gates A, B and C. Gate C61 was the gate for our flight to Orlando. We waited at the gate for more than and hour. It took over two hours to get through all the lines. We noticed that the flight before ours to Denver did not depart the gate. We heard that the aircraft had mechanical problems. Our pilot was waiting for our aircraft to enter the gate, but with the Denver aircraft still there, that was not going to happen.
Here is what I posted to Delta regarding our experience:
We had an awful experience at JFK-NY. After a great transatlantic flight on Delta from Copenhagen to JFK, we had a flight from JFK to Orlando scheduled to depart around 7:30pm. The flight did not depart until about 11pm, arriving in Orlando about 1:30am the next day. We found the right gate C61 and arrived there after enduring all the dreadful but necessary immigration, custom and security process as well as the poorly run shuttle bus to Terminal C (not Deltas fault). Our problems began when the aircraft at terminal C61 that was flying to Denver did not fly. We were told it was due to mechanical problems. Our aircraft could not enter our gate, so we were finally told that we had to move to another gate (yes, we were herded back through the dreadful shuttle bus, which took a long time due to so many passengers waiting, all holding carry on luggage and standing for a long time). That gate was B23, I believe. The mess was not created by our Delta pilot. In fact, due to his heroics, we were informed as much as he could find out. He turned out to be our hero. His name was Eric Franke, # 521736. He was great, as were the rest of the Delta crew that worked diligently, late into the evening. Unfortunately, Gate B23 had no seating, no way to scan our boarding passes and our aircraft was still sitting somewhere full of its incoming passengers. Therefore, our pilot announced that we were moving to another gate. That gate was B18, which was back in the direction which we can come from the shuttle (at least we didnt have to take the shuttle bus over to the C terminal then. However, the entire area was jammed with waiting passengers for other flights and most of us had to stand up for what seemed like forever. Again, our pilot was our hero, keeping us informed. The local JFK staff seemed absent without leave. We had to wait until others departed to Portland and Richmond, then wait for our aircraft to empty of its passengers for us to board. Finally, we took the dreadful shuttle bus one more time to our aircraft and we departed about 11pm. The flight was great, but late and we cleared the airport with our baggage around 2am.
Ginny and I made it home a little before 7am after driving from Orlando, with the help of the coffee that I had on the last flight. Read Less
This cruise had an amazing itinerary--the wonders of the Norwegian fjords, charming little ports, the Arctic with its eerie light, and the fascinating little medieval stave church at Urnes. We loved all the sights, were very lucky with the ... Read More
This cruise had an amazing itinerary--the wonders of the Norwegian fjords, charming little ports, the Arctic with its eerie light, and the fascinating little medieval stave church at Urnes. We loved all the sights, were very lucky with the weather (just missing the weeks and weeks of rain), and enjoyed experiencing Holland America's newest ship.
The Nieuw Statendam is stunning. We thought our Vista Suite cabin was the most thoughtfully-designed cabin ever (especially the easy walk-in glass shower), loved the glorious fresh flowers and the interesting art in the public spaces, and especially enjoyed the serene Retreat of the Explorations Lounge on Deck 12 where there was always excellent coffee (though not free), stylish coffee table books to browse, and a few shelves of briskly traded cruisers' fiction paperbacks. And definitely the most relaxing music on the ship. Only the garish decoration of the main dining room seemed out of place (a kind of interior design fail of a bold burgundy and orangey-yellow modern carpet underneath lipstick red and metallic red ceiling fixtures. And for some reason truly terrible pop music. It's a loud place, both literally and metaphorically.).
The Step One Dance Company's performance, which we'd already seen twice on the Eurodam, we loved all over again, but all the rest of the entertainment was C, not B, list. No one, however, probably chooses Holland America for the shows. It's the music venues that are the real entertainment--especially the lively BB King Blues Club band. Lots of dancers on this cruise: The Americans all danced as they did in high school, the Asians did ballroom dancing moves with dramatic arm and hand gestures, and the Dutch and the Norwegians took it all in with anthropological interest. :)
The food in the dining room was always good and the presentations were lovely. The soups weren't as good as the soups I had admired so much on the Eurodam, perhaps, but oh my the salmon! Tamarind was the only supplemental charge restaurant we know to try--though after the astonishingly good Indonesian restaurants we'd sampled in Amsterdam, we were disappointed in the Tamarind's Indonesian night. Everywhere we ate, there was attentive and professional service, though the staff didn't make the effort to be friendly or to remember names in the way the staff on the Eurodam had done on our cruise to Hawaii in February. There didn't really seem to be much of a sense of esprit de corps among the staff, perhaps because the Captain seemed humorless and even a little dour--or maybe the ship is just too new to have developed a sense of community yet. The one thing that I always winced at was the tendency of the wait staff to announce that it was "Yummy, Yummy Time!" when the dessert menu came around. Oh, please. Read Less
We went looking for a Norway/fjord cruise and an extension on our own for a couple of days in Iceland - this ship seemed to fit the bill. Virtually brand new ship and this was our first time on Viking.
Our initial impression was that ... Read More
We went looking for a Norway/fjord cruise and an extension on our own for a couple of days in Iceland - this ship seemed to fit the bill. Virtually brand new ship and this was our first time on Viking.
Our initial impression was that the decor and furnishings on this ship are excellent and well thought-out. The public area furniture is comfortable but not clunky and the general decor is Scandinavian modern minimalist. We liked all of the public areas, particularly the covered pool ( pretty chilly up in Norway even in the summer)and the spa area which has steam room, saunas and everything you could want.
The staff was largely Asian and over the top in friendliness and quality of service. The passenger demographic was older but not incapacitated - no kids, no casino, no half-baked broadway reviews etc.
Our stateroom on deck 4 was very comfortable, quiet and outfitted with the usual higher end amenities, flat screen TV, comfortable bed, well thought out lighting etc. Minor issue: I wish the max setting of the TV volume were a bit higher as my hearing is not what it used to be. And, while the shower (no bath) was great, it occasionally was beset by the temperature gremlins, turning hot and cold randomly. I was told that a fix for this is in the works.
The food was overall very good to excellent - not quite as good as Crystal but close. Breakfast and lunch were in the buffet areas by the pool or the World cafe - sometimes I wish they would open the Restaurant for breakfast or lunch, but I can see the economics of not doing this. The regular coffee was surprisingly good for a cruise ship - first time in my experience and specialty coffees were available in various locations. We bought the Silver liquor package - this gives you 24/7 access to top shelf liquor and a large assortment of wines, but even if you don't get it, the per/drink prices are very reasonable. $15 pp/pday tips on your closing statement.
The Chef's Table is a specialty restaurant where the menu is fixed and changes every day or frequently. We tried it one night and did not like the concept. We prefer the Thomas Keller type approach on Seabourne where at least some choices are available. The Italian specialty restaurant Manfredi's was fantastic - great Italian dishes and my personal favorite - Dover Sole meuniere.
We booked our own side tours as we don't like the bus-tour experience.
Overall, this is a lovely ship with user friendly systems and user friendly staff. We will be back. Fer shur. Happy trails. Read Less
We chose this cruise as we had always wanted to visit Iceland & Norway.
The travel arrangements from the UK were good. The transfer from airport to ship was well organised and our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a very ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we had always wanted to visit Iceland & Norway.
The travel arrangements from the UK were good. The transfer from airport to ship was well organised and our guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a very good summary of Iceland’s history as well as pointing out landmarks during the transfer.
Embarkation was quick and smooth as we had pre registered our credit card. No long queues as can happen on some cruises.
The cabin was very clean and comfortable. The whole ship was clean and people were working constantly to keep it spick and span.
There were a number of restaurants to dine in. Some had to be booked but it was possible to eat a number of times in these. It was not possible to book in the main restaurant. On 2 occasions we had to wait but were then brought a drink while waiting. We ate in the World cafe, a buffet for breakfast and lunch but not for dinner. We prefer more formal dining for dinner. The choice of food was good and the presentation was interesting. Overall a good standard.
The lectures on board were very interesting and enriching, especially those given about the Geology of Iceland.
The optional excursions were good but expensive. Some of the included excursions were coach trips. These were OK but not exciting.
We enjoyed our trip very much and rate it among the best we have ever done. Read Less
This ship is beautiful and always spotless.We have been on about 95 cruises, many different cruise lines and ships .I usually do not write reviews, but after reading a scathing review by someone who was on this ship for 3 months in Feb. ... Read More
This ship is beautiful and always spotless.We have been on about 95 cruises, many different cruise lines and ships .I usually do not write reviews, but after reading a scathing review by someone who was on this ship for 3 months in Feb. 2019, I felt a few points should be mentioned. This person complained about everything, especially the staff, we had some issues but, we ALWAYS treat people with respect and never talk down to anyone. We departed the Viking Sun 5 days ago, I find it difficult to believe we were on the same ship. One morning we had breakfast in the Restaurant and the service for us was very slow. We kept getting coffee and danish but no entree until I spoke "nicely" to the head waiter(Tony), he immediately went into the kitchen to get our food.Tony kept apologizing and said this should never happen. Later that afternoon we went back to our room and on our table was a bottle of sparkling wine and 4 delicious chocolate covered strawberries.There was also a card apologizing for the bad breakfast service.Later at dinner I saw Tony again and shook his hand and thanked him, we always had great service after that. The food on this ship is not excellent all the time but, all the staff is, from the servers to the ladies in Guest services.
This cruse is actually called Homelands and was 14 days.We loved our Penthouse veranda, and all the beautiful public spaces, this ship is a pleasure to sail on. I just wish we had more than 1 sea day.Cruise director Corrine Bach is a greatly talented person and also very nice. Read Less
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had sailed previously on the Pearl and knew we loved this ship. We enjoyed every detail of every day onboard the Pearl! From our captains ( Captain Paul went on vacation mid cruise and Captain Gio ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the itinerary and had sailed previously on the Pearl and knew we loved this ship. We enjoyed every detail of every day onboard the Pearl! From our captains ( Captain Paul went on vacation mid cruise and Captain Gio took over), General Manager (Cary Turecamo, who showed us such kindness and kept all aspects of the ship running smoothly), Jana (Group Sevice Coordinator), Alex (Concierge, who graciously helped us with so many questions), and Claudia Ungureanu (CFA, who we loved getting to know and was so generous with her kindness to us) we were taken care of so very well!
We had free air travel as one of our perks and all went smoothly. We flew from JFK on Delta to Amsterdam and KLM on our trip back to the states. Both flights were smoother and we were served 2 meals, along with free wifi and current movies. We arrived at the airport Saturday morning and found a representative for our bus transfer easily. Embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze for us.
The entertainment was varied for many interests. They even had local group come on board to entertain in Ireland. My favorite show, though, was the Crew Talent Show. This crew is a wonderful group of caring people and it was so fun to get to see them shine in their talents!
Our food was delicious. We ate in the main dining area most nights and ate in Le Bistro and Cagneys also. For breakfast and lunch we were blessed to dine in Modernos! Oh, my! The staff there were wonderful and the food was excellent! We were spoiled! We also ate in O'sheehans and at the buffet. Needless to say, we didn't miss a meal.
There's a great coffee machine on the back near the Great Outdoors dining area....freshly ground beans. Excellent regular or decaf. The Great Outdoors is the perfect place to eat with wonderful views off the back of the ship.
We had a very full itinerary visiting Scotland, Ireland, N Ireland, Norway, France, England, and Belgium. We cannot decide which port was our favorite! We had wonderful weather ( a little rain off and on on one of our days in Scotland), but all other days were beautiful! Do take a rain/windbreaker. I had mine daily and used it for times that it was breezy. We saw such varied beauty in each port that it was breathtaking each day! Wonderful!
Our port excursions were as follows:
Woke @ 5:30...upstairs to see sail in. Tender over was nice. Caught hoho very near port. Easy and a rep helped us with ticket exchange. Bus at 9. Rode several stops and changed to green bus for live commentary. Fun knowledge. Beautiful day...sunny and warmer than we"d hoped. Did the route our on the bus and got off to walk Royal Mile...and find Greyfriars Bobby.bar and cemetery. Ate at Biblia for fish & chips and soup. Very good and cute place with good music and wifi.
Shopped some then finished the route and back to ship. Tender back was a "TRIP"!!! Wavy and in a lifeboat...what a ride!!! Rocking and rolling.
Off to meet Wow Scotland tour. Nice new van holding 30? Graham..driver, Sandy was tour guide..he was wonderful.. very witty and knowledgeable. We went to the Edinburgh castle first, with stops for talks along the walk there. The castle was outside-only viewing but gorgeous views of city and River. Back to the bus for a trip to the Monastery...beautiful area with huge trees and gravesites. On through the highlands with beautiful green vistas of mountains, water, fields of barley for whiskey...yellow fields of canola, pastures of cows, sheep, llamas, pigs, even long haired Scotland cows (coos). Many babies...cows, sheep, swans, chickens, and sea birds. We had cloudy skies and cold winds but everything was still breathtakingly beautiful. A yellow Bush, that has stickers but smells like coconut, was everywhere. Unbelievably lush rhododendron just taking over the sides of roadway ... not native but thriving and invasive. Thistle just looks brushy, as does lavender...blooms in August but has slight purple hues, not overwhelming like photos appear. Made it along winding country (1car) roads to Loch Ness ...it is a huge lake, can't see it all! Didn't see Nessie but we did see rain! It was an off and on rain all day but didn't overwhelm and we had raingear. It was never hard rain, just slight drizzle but pesky. We went to a battlefield and I didn't walk out to it since raining and very windy/cold. I did listen to info, then shopped in gift store. Next was Clava Cairns...beautiful and interesting displays of rocks, along with great info of history and folk tales which surrounds them. Very interesting day with unforgettable scenery!
Back onboard ship by 3 to depart at 4. We were serenaded by an 8-10 piece Highland band...bagpipes & drums. Played until we were almost unable to see them. Wonderful send off from Invergordon!
Out on deck while docking. Beautiful. Off at 11.
Free shuttle into town center where we caught the city bus 210 to Skudeneshavn. It was a beautiful 90 min ride. We passed thru smaller towns, saw homes, fields of sheep (Rocks piled in lines to form borders between properties. Many little fishing boat hamlets. So pretty. Skudeneshavn was so beautiful. Rows of white houses and buildings with shops and restaurants. All along the most beautiful seaside scenery. The sun came out and we took off jackets...not sure temps but would guess 70s. I walked a trail through a wooded rocky area and saw the Moon stone...local lore is that a meteorite fell but geologists say 800 million years old and think it washed up there with shift from the melt. Interesting. Caught bus back and had the cutest driver...very nice to us, and very professional to be so young. Back in Haugesund to shop and walk around. Much to see and not much time but enjoyed. Shuttle back to port at 5. Got windy and cold.
Awake 5:30...up to watch entry thru fjords to Flam..breath taking scenery. Quiet and majestic. Off by 8...very easy disembark straight to RR sta. Stood in line to make sure but already had tickets printed via internet. The ride was great! Scenery amazing. An hour to top with quick stop for pics of huge waterfall and dancing maiden. Got video. Many people got off to stay a bit...some rode bikes down. Sun came out b4 we got to top. On decks to see sail away. Late again due to late passengers..2 this time. Backing out of port no room to turn yet. Turned on a dime! Amazing! Hated to leave the outside.
Breakfast to wonderful views of fjord. A few passengers got off in Hellesint. Then we cruised on thru Geiranger Fjord, the longest fjord.Highest waterfalls. Outside to take pics of 7 sisters and Suitor Waterfalls. Very breezy and cold but surreal. So quiet and majestic. Sitting for great view in Moderno area with chairs. Nice music. Perfect. Watched Norwegian moving pier...their design. Like a folding measurer... scissors out to boat...didn't have to dock at pier or be tendered. Great invention. Off before 11. Beautuful sunshine..warm temps...no jacket needed and by end of day...long sleeves too warm. No internet here...had it but never connected for us. I walked a path that went around the water and wound by a school, old folks home, church and camp ground. Many people camping....mainly small campers and many tents. Lovely area right at base of waterfall. I walked along to near the top of waterfall. Beautiful, forceful and so clear. Back to shop some b4 tour at 1. Big bus that went on hairpin curves all the way to top...took an hour with 2 viewing stops. Beautiful...in the snow at the top but not windy and we were warm. Buses and cars must stop to take turns making curves. Amazing driving by our driver. We saw so many views of waterfalls, a huge frozen lake and many places to stay overnight. Saw no wildlife. The top had many photo ops and we stayed half an hour. They're working on a bldg up there so will change soon. The road closes in early Oct ...impassable. Has to thaw in late spring b4 any travel on it. There was an avalanche leading into Geiranger in Dec and they were stuck for 10 days with no transport other than the ferry to Hellesint...takes an hour. We then went to another overlook that had views of 7 sisters waterfalls from different angle. Also a glass area that a waterfall flows over so u can see thru it. Back onboard at 4. Cpt speaking now saying we'll be late because some tour cruise excursions are running late.
Belfast, N Ireland...Giants Causeway Tour was excellent!
Driver, guide. FUNNY! David. This tour was great! We covered Dunlace Castle, Giants Causeway, 2 more castles, old town Belfast with history and reasons. Saw walled off areas and gates dividing streets and neighbors. Sad time for them. But he was SO happy that Belfast has changed *miracle* and growing. Seeing things they would never have seen in the 70s. So many deaths and devastation. Saw Titanic memorial... also saw new area of downtown Belfast. Thru the days we drive through moors, seaside cliffs, beaches near water, farmlands full of sheep and cows. We also went thru many glens and saw the beauty of so many different kinds of terrain. Throughout the trip, he talked of folklore and history and made everything so interesting. Never a dull moment. We heard of trolls, banshees, giants. Best tour guide ever and certainly worth the price for a day full of beauty and knowledge about Belfast. We ate at a pub at Giants causeway...fish and chips..very good and cute pub. 13.75 pounds. Order at bar and tell table # ...they serve you. Also bus had wifi and a bag in each seat with water, chips, a frig magnet, and postcard. Great welcome gesture. Back to the ship just in time to board with a few min to spare. No shopping near port so wasn't tempted to linger.
Got off easily in port..just went on our own. Took shuttle to city centre $15 pp... pick up right off ship. Then dropped at Stop 10 (Merrion Square) of hoho...got green bus with live commentary. Jokes getting a little off color...not for kids. Got off at
Ha Penny Bridge for pics, then walked 2 blocks to pubs & shops. Wandered around. Ate fish & chips at Leo Burdocks..neat little pub where many famous folks have eaten. Used to use coal for fuel to fry fish and chips. Cod very fresh, white, crisp crust. Chips wonderful thick sliced French fries. Went to St Stephens Park..huge with tons of tourists enjoying nature. Also went to Trinity College. Looked a bit more and found bus to head back at 5. We lucked out on weather AGAIN. Few sprinkles for few min but we weren't out in it.
Le Havre, France...
Off ship at 8 to nice clean port bldg. Nothing but a place to buy shuttle to town centre. 5 Euros for all day riding. Gift shop closed still. Rainy looking. Going prepared with umbrellas and rain coats. Le Havre is beautiful but we had plans for Hon Fluer. We walked around for a couple of hours and saw many statues, beautiful churches and buildings. Le Havre was destroyed during WW11 and was rebuilt to reflect its former glory. World Soccer being held here...US womens team plays tomorrow...they won! 11:00 bus to Hon Fleur for 3 hours. Half hour ride over on Bee Le Havre. Already had tickets from online. Hon Fleur was so pretty. Beautiful old buildings, churches and a fortress surrounding a port area. Picturesque views in every direction. It was windy and cool after our 30 min shuttle from Le Havre. But in just a few min the sun was out again and jackets came off. We watched a pirates ship getting ready to sail and when it started away from shore, fired cannons 4 times. There were many different plaques and memorials to those who died in WW2...including American soldiers. Among other nationalities. We shared a jambon baguette and frites for lunch ..deja vue moment from 1973. Really nice to be back in France together. After walking around to see everything and a little shopping, it was time to head back to the ship. Rain held off for our day until we were walking from the shuttle to the ship. Got a little wet but our raincoats helped.
Docked at 9. Walked to train station from port...15 min. Brisk walking along nice sidewalk. Bought tickets easily since we beat 1st shuttle bus to station.
( free shuttle)
40 min train ride to Fenchurch station. Nice train...commuters. off to the Sky Garden. Had free tour tickets for 11:30. Went thru security before allowed to go up to 35th floor. Elevators fast and continuous run up and down. At top were wonderful views of London and Thames River. Going up more stairs gave views of 360. Different views highlighted on windows with titled bldgs.
Down to catch hoho. Got yellow line with live commentary. Rode to see all around, then swapped to blue line to go by Kensington and Buckingham Palace...mainly can only see gardens...slight/quick view thru gardens. Rode until time to walk back to Fenchurch by 5 to catch train. No problems. Walked back to ship. his trip was a dream trip for us!
We had a shuttle from ship to port building. Then we took shuttle express to Brugges...it took about half an hour. We were glad to have pre purchased because they were full. It was 20 each. The ship offered one for 15 but only took folks to the train station, then they had to get from there to Brugges. They can't deliver to city center so we all walked to town ...took about 30minutes to the square. We looked around a bit and decided to take a horse drawn carriage ride. We shared with a couple from Australia and paid 25 euros per couple for a 30 min tour around the old part of the city. (50 Eu for carriage) It was nice on the cobblestone streets. There are so many old beautiful buildings! She took a 5 min break to feed and water Adeline (horse)...we took a pics of swans and surroundings. Finished our tour and went to find canal boat tour. There was quite a line, but a beautiful day and well worth the wait! Our "captain" was young and very well spoken in English ...also knew so many details about the sites we saw. The ride was half an hour and we saw so many places and heard the historic details of them. He was a very good guide. Also, I sat next to him so had a great view and could hear perfectly. We went to find Belgian Waffles. YUM! Strawberry and whipped cream on a freshly made waffle from Chez Albert. So delish..sat on the steps to eat it. We bought frites from a stand...also very good. The streets were crowded with people enjoying the day, shopping, listening to street music, eating, loving life. SO many people! I shopped a little more then we headed out on our walk back to the shuttle. Stopped for a quick walk in Minnewater Park. Beautiful! Could stay there for hours! So many enjoying the beautiful weather with friends and family. Many locals riding bikes...many school children on tours. Back on shuttle to ship was perfect timing. Read Less
We chose this cruise (Viking Homelands) because it offered us the opportunity to visit each of the Scandinavian countries and St. Petersburg. We arrived two days early to have extra time to explore Stockholm - we could have used more time ... Read More
We chose this cruise (Viking Homelands) because it offered us the opportunity to visit each of the Scandinavian countries and St. Petersburg. We arrived two days early to have extra time to explore Stockholm - we could have used more time to do it justice! Note that we did this on our own, not through Viking. It was much less expensive and we stayed at the same hotel. It was a quick 5 minute taxi ride to the ship.At the end of the tour we took the renowned train from Bergen, Norway to Oslo and then stayed an extra day to enjoy the sights.
There was a wide range of excursions and they were all interesting and well organized. All but one of the guides were exceptional.
The ship is well laid out, beautifully designed and immaculately clean. We ate in all the restaurants except the Captain's Table and found each to offer delicious food and an appropriate ambience. We made it to most of the Afternoon Tea gatherings - a nice touch. We especially appreciated that in The Restaurant, we could choose whether we wanted a table alone or one to share. We often chose the option to share a table, as it provided an easy way to meet interesting new people!
We took the tour of the Spa the first day so we understood all it had to offer at no charge, and used it almost every day. (The hot tub is a great way to end each day of touring!) We had three massages between the two of us and they were excellent.
There is a launderette on every deck!!!!! There are four washer/dryer combinations. They are easy to use and automatically provide detergent. This made it possible to pack for two weeks in one suitcase, for free!
The talks were informative. Unfortunately, the preview of the next day's stop was scheduled for the middle of the dinner hour (6:30pm), which resulted in too many people showing up for dinner at 7:15pm. I imagine the various kitchens and wait staff didn't appreciate the crowds any more than we did! (It was a disappointment to offer that feedback and be told there was no other time feasible. I had suggested that they offer it via the TV in the room, so people could watch it at their leisure.)
The staff is exceptional. Everyone I met spoke to me and did everything possible to assist. The senior leadership were visible and friendly and provided a personal thank you or questions to every piece of feedback offered on their survey.
The entertainment was very good. The six crew members who sang and danced did a terrific job.
Note - you really don't need local currency at the destinations. Most restaurants - and public rest rooms! - will take (and many prefer) a credit card over cash. Many will also accept Euros. Read Less