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9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
It is probably important for you to know my family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 25 years we’ve sailed a total of 31 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princes, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was ... Read More
It is probably important for you to know my family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 25 years we’ve sailed a total of 31 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princes, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was our first sailing with Viking Ocean. We’ve wanted to try another upscale, luxury line after sailing on Azamara a few years ago, but have never been ready to spend the extra money, which typically cost $400 to $500 a day, per person. We picked this cruise largely because it was a Northern Lights cruise in an area of the world we had never been, the Arctic Circle. The question is was the Viking Sky worth three to four times the cost of mainline cruises? One note of caution: even though we thought were prepared for the cold temperatures that awaited us, we discovered that we had not anticipated the severity of the bitter cold temperatures we would face and the length of time we would be exposed to them. On several days temperatures dropped to -25 F and we spent up to 5 hours on day without a break other than a camp fire. More about this later. Overview The Viking Ocean is a smaller ship than many of those found with the major lines, but not the smallest of the luxury lines, with 930 passengers. One of the more noticeable differences about sailing on some smaller ships is the lack of public areas from which to choose, less entertainment choices, and smaller cabins. Those deficiencies were really not present on the Viking Sky, which is one of the finest ships we have sailed on in terms of style and amenities. I really didn’t feel like I was on a small ship, even though there were fewer common areas. I can’t really say there is any more or less feeling of crowdedness on the smaller ships than with a larger ship. It seems to be all relative to the space per person. Where I did notice a difference was embarking or disembarking the ship. The smaller number of passengers reduced the lines and wait times considerably. Another benefit of sailing on a smaller ship was the nimbleness they have over their larger brethren to alter their itinerary or add a fresh food to the menu. The public rooms are nicely done and have a feel of warmth and elegance. There are four dining options aboard the Viking Sky making it equal to or a step above larger ships. The state rooms are among the most efficient and modern we have encountered. I loved the heated floor in the bath room and linens are a step above what you would expect from the more major cruise lines. Unlike many other lines, Viking Ocean is an oenophile’s heaven as wine is embraced and welcomed. You can bring onboard as much wine as you can carry and there is no corkage fee! All totaled, we noticed very few weaknesses, and there really wasn’t a lack of things to do, especially if you enjoy lectures, which is a feature of Viking. I think what was noticeable is what was missing, no art auctions, pushy promotions, a casino, baked Alaska parades, and much of the other glitzy fluff found on most other lines. Many frequent sailors of Viking Ocean that have tried other luxury lines like Oceania, Azamara, Seaborne, Regent and Crystal, swear that Viking Ocean is the gold standard for luxury cruises. The bottom line question: is Viking Ocean worth four to five times the cost of other upscale lines like Celebrity? I will address that later, but first a few more details. Embarkation The embarkation experience was one of the best in our 31 sailings. It took about ten minutes from start to finish. There were no lines, no customs, no waits, and no hassle. I only wish all our embarkations were this easy (see my 2013 review of the Infinity). Wine lovers will love that, unlike Celebrity who confiscated our wine when we sailed them in 2013, Viking Ocean welcomes bringing as much wine and spirits that you wish on board. While we often bring wine onboard cruises from our cellar, we’ve learned to become very creative in how we bring our wine onboard so as to avoid confiscation. Not so with Viking Ocean that also charges the lowest corkage fee of any line we know, which is zero!! Viking Ocean’s attitude toward wine certainly is one of the benefits that may bring us back again. The Ship The ship was new in 2017 and it really shows. We haven’t taken pictures of a cruise ship in years, but we did of the Viking Sky. The contemporary design coupled with the modern efficiency of the ship were stunning. There were a lot of places to sit and read a book, or write a cruise review, while enjoying a cup of espresso or a drink. One benefit is that the elevators were the fastest I’ve encountered on a ship and almost always available without a long wait. Dining If food is your thing, like it is mine, then you will be very satisfied on the Viking Sky. All of the dining rooms feature “anytime” seating. While the main dining room, The Restaurant, doesn’t accept reservations, we never had to wait more than 2 minutes for a table for two. Every other evening we skipped the main dining room and spent our evening in one of the two specialty restaurants, Manfredi’s or the Chef’s Table. One tip is to book your reservations immediately when you board. These fill up quickly and getting reservations later in the cruise, especially at Manfredi's can be difficult. The food quality and presentation in The Restaurant was certainly above average and what you would expect for an upper end cruise line. All of the waiters and waitresses who served us were extremely personable, helpful, and attentive. However, we enjoyed the service in the specialty restaurants a bit better than in the main dining room. The specialty restaurants, Manfredi’s and Chef’s Table, have no cover charge. They offer passengers a break from the main dining room with a quality of fare a slight step above. Manfredi’s features a wonderful Italian menu while Chef’s Table offers a set menu that changes every three days. One experience we’ve come to enjoy on other ships that would be fitting to an upscale ship like the Viking Sky would be an automated wine bar where guests can enjoy an assortment of wine available in 1oz, 2.5oz, and 5oz pours. This allows you to inexpensively sample a broad variety of wines you might not otherwise have the courage to try. One thing we appreciate about Viking Ocean is the fact that juice and espresso coffee drinks are available anytime during the day at no charge. Some lines make free juice available only in the mornings and charge for all espresso drinks. Wine As we mentioned earlier, we were especially pleased with how Viking Ocean embraces and welcomes wine lovers who want to bring their wines on board to enjoy. One of my perennial complaints on other lines, like Celebrity, is the high price of their onboard wines, which are priced about 4x’s retail, they also have the highest corkage fee of any line at $25 a bottle. Of course, since Celebrity will confiscate all but two bottles of wine you bring on board to enjoy, what’s the point of having a corkage fee at all? We found the Viking Sky was unequaled in being the most wine friendly cruise line we’ve sailed. The per bottle charges were reasonable and there are no corkage fees. One deviation from other lines is that the Viking Sky had noticeably fewer wine events than other lines. They had a few whiskey, vodka, and aquavit tastings, but no wine tastings that I recall. Fitness and Spa This is an area in which the Viking Sky is slightly above average. While they don’t have a lot of cardiovascular machines (three stationary bikes, two elliptical machines, six treadmills, and two stair-steppers) I never only had to wait for a machine once in 12 days. Notably, and unusual for most lines, every cardio machine was working for length of the cruise. Another abnormality, the men’s locker’s worked perfectly and there were a sufficient number of lockers which were all keyed to your stateroom key. The men’s locker room featured a dry sauna and plunge pool. The sauna was perfectly hot and in working order for the cruise. On many other cruise lines the saunas just don’t get hot enough to break much of a sweat, but this is not the case on the Viking Sky. There was also an area with hot tubs, cool rooms, and a steam sauna. One unique feature was an individual dryer for your swim suit that was really helpful. An extra bonus was the spa did not have a daily charge, which can cost up to $20 a day on other lines. Entertainment We thought the entertainment was surprisingly good for a smaller ship. The Cruise Director, Drew, and his assistant, Courtney, had amazing voices and both did their own shows which were very enjoyable. This is more probably due to the lack of a theater than anything else. It was refreshing that the Viking Sky had a live band rather than rely on sound tracks, which is becoming common on other cruise lines. The theater is quite expansive and comfortable. We never had a problem finding a seat in or near the front row. The onboard entertainment found in the lounges was very good. There wasn’t a disappointing instrumentalist or singer in the lineup, which is certainly unusual on a small ship. In contrast was our experience on Azamara where there wasn’t a lounge entertainer that rose above substandard. The enrichment talks were really outstanding, again in contrast with our experience on Azamara where they were consistently disappointing. We had four lecturers on board who were all phenomenal in their field. We were especially treated by having Dr. Ed Kopp from the Griffin Observatory in Los Angeles who was outstanding. Internet I run a small business and being connected to my staff is imperative, even on vacation. I depend on having a functioning Internet while on board any ship. The Internet on the ship was as good as or better than any I’ve had at sea. I got access 95% of the times I attempted to get online. And the fact the Internet was free was an experience I’ve never had with another line. On Azamara I paid $0.43 a minute for their lease expensive package. Having access to the internet on all my devices whenever I wanted it without having to pay attention to my usage was a game changer for me. For that reason alone Viking Ocean will be at the top of my list for future cruise consideration. Shopping The shopping experience is on par with most every other cruise line, boring! There is nothing exceptional to highlight here, except that they did not bombard you with specials and promotions which was refreshing. Afternoon Tea I have never reviewed an afternoon tea experience on a ship as most are not worth mentioning. However, the afternoon tea on the Viking Sky was the best we have had at sea. Not only are you served a three tier plate of sandwiches and desserts, they will also bring you proper sconces with jam and Devonshire cream. Yes, real clotted cream not the standard whipped cream. I don’t recall Cunard Line served clotted cream, but I can tell you no other ship I’ve been on has. This was a real treat! Ports of Call, Port Talks and Shore Excursions Our 12 day cruise started in London, England and went up the west coast of Norway, stopping at Stavanger, Bodo, Tromso, Alta, Narvik, and Bergen where we disembarked. The specific theme for this cruise was chasing the Northern Lights. And “chasing” is the right term. I was unprepared for how difficult it would be to see the Northern Lights. I assumed we would see them often or every night from the ship. I was wrong! The guides will tell you there are four things necessary to see the Northern Lights, but I say there are five: solar activity, cold weather, darkness, a clear sky, and luck. If any one of those is absent you will not be successful. The hardest one of these was a clear sky, which thwarted our efforts to see the lights continuously. While there was one really good sighting from the ship, it came and went very quickly. To see the lights really necessitated booking a Northern Lights tour that attempted to find a clear sky within a few hours’ drive of the ship. Even then spotting the lights was still a crap shot. We did have one night where we got to see a nice display of the lights for less than five minutes returning from an outing where we waited in -25 degree weather for 3 hours with nothing but a campfire to cut the bitter cold. This leads me to the most unexpected aspect of this trip, campfires and frozen food. We returned home with our clothes smelling of smoke because of the many campfires we encountered on our excursions. Whether it was dog sledding, reindeer sleighs, Sami camps, or Northern Light tours there was a campfire present in everyone to help with the bitter cold. There were very few heated buildings or shelters expect for a few tepees with campfires. At times the temperatures were so brutal that even the bread offered us was frozen. Which leads me to another unexpected aspect, the extreme bitter cold and the randomness of the tour vendors providing thermal suits, boots, head gear, and gloves. About ½ of our tours provided such apparel, and believe me we needed it even though I was wearing 5 layers of clothing, three pairs of socks, winter boots, two pairs of pants, a balaclava, knitted wool beanie, and a hoodie, a down vest, an outer coat, and gloves inside mittens. Which meant that the other ½ of the time the vendors provided no additional clothing. And in -25 degree weather, where you are outside for up to 5 hours at a time with only a campfire, this is a problem. My hands and toes were perpetually cold, even with hand warmers stuffed in my boots and gloves. Many people on our tours were simply unprepared for this and suffered because of it. I cannot stress enough how critical it is you don’t underestimate the cold. Here is the crazy thing, the tours we booked off ship provided thermal gear while those booked on the ship did not. The tours provided by the ship were significantly over priced and under delivered. Which leads me to this very important tip: don’t book tours with Viking Sky. Instead book only off-ship local tour providers. For example, with a local tour provider of dog sliding we were provided thermal gear and able to drive our own team of dogs. The tour provided by the ship offered no thermal gear, you could not drive the team, and was very poorly organized. Many in our party waited up to two hours in 15 F degree weather with no shelter and no campfire before getting a 30 minute ride. There was no food offered except for some frozen cake midway into the trip. The bus was so late arriving back at the ship that many missed their second tour. And for this, we paid $430 per person. Our request for even a partial refund fell on deaf ears, which really disappointed us given Viking Ocean’s stellar reputation for providing a top quality experience. We were told other tours that had similar misfortunes did remit refunds to passengers. Typically we save 25 to 75% off the ship’s prices by making our own arrangements prior to departure or using the Internet onboard the ship to contact several tour companies that are highly rated by TripAdvisor.com. Another great place to book private tours prior to departure is by looking under “Tours” and on the chat boards on CruiseCritic.com. We’ve never been disappointed following the advice of previous travelers. Our favorite ports were Stavanger, Bodo, and Tromso where the ship docked in the middle of town. However, even though in Alta and Narvik the ship docks some distance from the center of town the ship did provide shuttle buses. Quite frankly, there was really nothing to see in the town of Alta, where the emphasis is on booking tours to see the Northern Lights and staying warm. In Summary So, back to the question I posed earlier. Is the Viking Ocean experience worth three to four times the cost of other lines like Celebrity or twice the cost of Azamara? Certainly Viking Ocean has Azamara beat for value. Celebrity is often a good value for what you get, but Viking Ocean is in a whole different category and price range, so it’s a hard question to answer. However, if price is no factor, Viking Ocean is the only way to go! The service, stateroom amenities, ship amenities, free inclusions like wine and Internet, and dining room experience are undoubtedly among the best at sea. So is the ability for a smaller ship to get into, or nearer, ports the large ships can’t. For many people, this may be reason enough to pay the extra fare. For me, I will certainly sail with Viking Ocean again when I find an itinerary that is highly unique (like this cruise to the Arctic Circle) or heavily discounted. But I will be absolutely certain not to book any of their shore excursions!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Viking does a nice job but did not think thru their excursion offerings of this cruise. First, it was mostly in the dark, which was to be expected on a cruise above the Arctic Circle in January. but, many of the museums, shops and ... Read More
Viking does a nice job but did not think thru their excursion offerings of this cruise. First, it was mostly in the dark, which was to be expected on a cruise above the Arctic Circle in January. but, many of the museums, shops and excursions sites were closed or inappropriate for January. We did an independent tour which stayed out at night for over 8 hours to see the lights and were given a meal, heavy snow suits, boots and head lamps and a fire. Then we did Viking’s tour in Alta. Vikings night tour offered a few fires, no heavy clothes, and brownies. The venue was too small for the over three bus loads of people. No way to keep warm so we gave up and went back to ship. Take your own warm clothes. Also, included excursions were many times lead by unqualified guides. Could not answer questions like, who is the king, what are the salaries, what is the education system. On the ship’s third floor, three shower drains froze and people were moved. The wait staff had to wear coats because the dembarking door was by the Atrium. Viking did not consider the environment when they took this ship to the Arctic in winter. If you are prepared, maybe this is the cruise for you. FYI, we did not see the Northern Lights. Way too cloudy and lots of snow. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Chose for Northern Lights/Arctic Circle Itinerary. Ship was beautiful and was very impressed at first. We selected a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom and it was quite small. There was not enough hanging space. Fortunately we knew enough to ... Read More
Chose for Northern Lights/Arctic Circle Itinerary. Ship was beautiful and was very impressed at first. We selected a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom and it was quite small. There was not enough hanging space. Fortunately we knew enough to bring magnetic hooks or it would have been a worse mess. The food was average and the service was average at best. Some people were great, like our room steward. The reason we didn't rate guest services and the shore excursion staff well was the following: they played the blame game. They had many, many excursion difficulties to the point of having to fully refund, or partially refund, the money back to passengers. Never once did anyone say "I'm sorry". No, they blamed the tour operators or used the excuse "this is the first time we have been to this port" or (best one!) "it wasn't listed online". Bear in mind that the tour operators complained of how difficult it was to even REACH the Viking Sky staff, much less, that Viking did not listen to the tour operators when they made suggestions and believe me, they should have listened. It was a bucket list trip for me and I refused to let anything ruin it, but the disorganized, poorly planned, not properly vetted, pricey excursions were very disappointing. And the attitude of the Viking staff really added insult to injury. I spoke to many people who were long time cruisers but first time Viking Ocean cruisers and the consensus was the same...one and done. Back to Regent. Back to Azamara. Back to Celebrity...you get the drift. I wanted to love it...I love Viking River Cruises. But it was just too disappointing. The ship was gorgeous, the itinerary was amazing, and I did see the Northern Lights. But the rest was not great, except for embarkation, which was the best I've experienced out of 25 ocean cruises. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Let me start with the entertainment. First Rate. 12 Person very high end team dancers and Singers. Great shows. We saw three different shows in ten days. So well produced and choreographed. Beautiful costumes with many changes. And ... Read More
Let me start with the entertainment. First Rate. 12 Person very high end team dancers and Singers. Great shows. We saw three different shows in ten days. So well produced and choreographed. Beautiful costumes with many changes. And excellent recorded music. Sets and background video images on screens. Of the forty cruises we have been on, on Cunard, HA, Seabourn, Silversea, Regent and Celebrity, and Oceania, this is the best set of shows we have ever seen and the most talented entertainers. We have sat through some real snooze cruise shows over the years and honestly we were so impressed with this team and the shows themselves. Handsome young men and beautiful girls, all well choreographed, talented and produced.I cannot enough. The pool deck chairs, while packed in like sardines, are very comfortable. Very thick chair pads and towel covers. Unlike some competitors, who provide no chair pads. Oh my aching back. Food on board Oceania is said to be the best at sea, and the 4 specialty restaurants of Asian (Red Ginger), Jacques the signature French of Jacques Pepin, the Italian Toscana and the grill Polo Lounge all provide really knockout and authentic meals. High end ingredients used and great chefs that produce truly fine dining experiences. The MDR itself is also very good, and service superb throughout the ship's restaurants. Very attentive and competent waiting staff. Buffet in the Terrace is so dull and boring, although many onboard could not wait to fill their plates and stomachs. Speaking of which, many oversize anatomies on board. Growing worse we have observed over the years. The cabins are very nice. We had any A class cabin, and while the bathroom is small, the size of the cabin and balcony was fine for a ten day cruise of the Caribbean. Anything longer we would have opted for a more spacious P cabin with a walk in closet and more interior space.. Officer staff removed and not very passenger interactive or friendly. Not a good mark for Oceania. Captain made his daily announcements but was a ghost. The ship itself is only 5 or 6 years old and very modern. Very open with lots of public space and bars. Martinis is the place for cocktails. Ship sails well, but the Caribbean seas were calm throughout the ten days. The drinks packages offered were fair priced, and the wines included drinkable if not great. All typical of what passes for wine lists on all cruise lines today. Bottle a la carte prices exorbitant for the product available. Horrendous boarding experience in Miami. Oceania should be ashamed, even though some of it was caused by the unfortunate death of a crew person and ship's late arrival.. But no command presence on the ground to handle the huge backed up crowd waiting to board, and very poor communications. It almost got out of control. Not a bright spot on this cruise, but fortunately it was not a harbinger of bad things to come as many feared. All in all Oceania continues to do a very good job, even under NCL ownership. Many fears have been allayed. The product is the same as it first was for us ten years ago when we first sailed with Oceania, which is very good indeed .And the ships size of 1250 passengers while large for us was not too problematic, except for sea days when the sardine factory on the pool deck was overactive. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Large ship with little going on. The rooms were small. No toiletries or robes supplied. Nothing to do most of the time. Art sales were mostly prints. Pizza spot was the only food available after 12. Drinks were not wrong. Shops were ... Read More
Large ship with little going on. The rooms were small. No toiletries or robes supplied. Nothing to do most of the time. Art sales were mostly prints. Pizza spot was the only food available after 12. Drinks were not wrong. Shops were expensive. Pictures were expensive. Lot of walking to get anywhere. Champagne handed out but only for an hour. Very cheap champagne. Water was only available for purchase. Everyone accepted cash as tips. 45$ a person for gratuities a day. Internet for cost. No cable or shows on tv, shows booked in full early, no view, alcohol package = watered down drinks, water on slides dirty, same food daily, children shows and daily happenings was all that was available on tv, everything was expensive. Meet the captain for a fee. See the captain for a fee. Elevators slow and crowded. Depressing nightlife. Many stores but little shops offering necessities or liquor. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Everything was top notch from the service to the food. Nice shore excursions and great staff. Loved the fact that there was no photo taking event when boarding, no casino on the ship and no kids allowed on the ship. Such a peaceful trip. ... Read More
Everything was top notch from the service to the food. Nice shore excursions and great staff. Loved the fact that there was no photo taking event when boarding, no casino on the ship and no kids allowed on the ship. Such a peaceful trip. The cabin was well laid out and comfortable, the bathroom was best we have experienced on any cruise. There is not a lot of drawer storage but the closet is large and there is plenty of space under the beds. We went to the World Cafe and had lunch and it was very pleasant. The layout and general look of the buffet is very nice. The food on the ship was excellent in both the buffet and dining room. We ate two nights at Manfredi's, the Italian restaurant, and were very satisfied. Beer and wine is served at lunch and dinner and as much as you wanted. The staff was uniformly friendly and helpful. My only grip would be the gym is too small and there was never any hot drawn butter for the cracked crab, you always had to ask for it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I had already cruised to Havana, Cuba aboard the NCL Sun, which didn't give us enough exposure to the Cuban Culture, music and art. We chose to cruise to Cuba again, this time with Viking Ocean Cruises. The itinerary, ... Read More
My wife and I had already cruised to Havana, Cuba aboard the NCL Sun, which didn't give us enough exposure to the Cuban Culture, music and art. We chose to cruise to Cuba again, this time with Viking Ocean Cruises. The itinerary, which includes a visit to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, and which also has extensive educational opportunities and onboard lectures given by knowledgeable Cuba experts was deeply important in our choice. The Viking Star is considered a small ship at a maximum 900 passenger capacity. This was immediately appreciated upon embarkation, which went flawlessly and we were processed and onboard ship within 15 minutes. We took the Viking two-day extension in Miami, which included a five hour panoramic drive through the city, including a stop at Calle Ocho and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on the day of embarkation. Arriving onboard ship, we were delighted to find our cabin ready and our steward available to deliver our luggage and address any of our concerns. The in-cabin experience was enhanced by our Steward, "K," and he went the extra mile to ensure our comfort. Unfortunately, the ship's digital system, including interactive in-cabin monitor, live TV, movies and recorded lectures and entertainment given in the theater crashed during the last three days of the cruise, which we found regrettable, since we couldn't catch up with any of the events we missed during the cruise. We found the dining aboard the Star to be excellent, with an ample variety of dishes and wines that changed daily, both in the Restaurant and up in the World Cafe, the casual buffet venue. We also had dinner in Manfredi's Italian Restaurant, which is included in the cruise. The food at Manfredi's is fresh and abundant, and we ended up ordering half portions because the regular size is astronomical. The complementary wine or beer at lunch and dinner is a fantastic feature, as the house wines change each day, giving us a wonderful tasting experience. The servers at all the dining venues were eager to please, and took time to get to know our preferences. Not having children onboard Viking cruises also makes the voyage more enjoyable. On land in both Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, we took the complementary city tours, which we found to be average and not really worth the three hours. Sitting in a bus, that travels at high speed through the city, doesn't really give one the smells, taste and feel for the people of Cuba. The mandatory stops at cigar and rum shops ate up whatever free time we had. In Cienfuegos, my wife and I went off the grid and hired a private pedicab with driver to give us a personal tour of the city. This three hour tour included many places not covered by the complementary tour, and we stopped numerous times to meet and greet the REAL people of the city. My fluency in the Spanish language helped us to take full advantage of the driver's personal knowledge of his hometown, and we were able to meet many of his associates at local haunts. This direct contact with the Cuban people was what we were after when we chose the cruise. My only advice is to settle on a price BEFORE hiring a private tour guide. This is hard to do, as many of the private tours don't have posted prices or tour descriptions. However, Jordan, our pedicab driver gave us a private tour of a lifetime, and we gladly paid him $60 for the personal service he provided. In Santiago de Cuba, we only had a few hours, but the tour of the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba, was truly amazing.and well worth the time spent there. The educational lectures and round tables are exceptional. The topics covered were truly current and topical on Cuban history, culture and arts. This is a hallmark of Viking Cruises, and a good reason why Viking remains as one of the best ways to the immersion into the local ports visited. Being on a small ship makes the voyage comfortable and uncrowded all onboard venues. Even though we didn't dock at the two ports, the four tenders got us off the ship and back on very efficiently. The digital glitches were unfortunate, but, in contrast to other cruise lines, Viking delivers a good cruise value. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Overall crew and food was good Some of the excursions did not live up to their descriptions Shore excursions staff communication were an issue. Tried to book a future cruise but the logistics of process were frustrating and we ... Read More
Overall crew and food was good Some of the excursions did not live up to their descriptions Shore excursions staff communication were an issue. Tried to book a future cruise but the logistics of process were frustrating and we cancelled the trip Special restaurants outstanding both in service and quality of the food. Cabin steward was excellent and met all our needs and special requests Free laundry service was a pleasant surprise Some of the islands still show signs of devastation from the hurricanes Best tour was the catermaran sail and snorkeling to turtle cove on St Thomas. It was our last excursion and was a fine way to end our cruise I was good to be on a smaller ship that was able to dock at all the ports because we do not like to have to go ashore on a tender. That always seems to consume a lot of time Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
Ship. Words that come to mind about the ship: refined, tasteful, understated, quiet, slow-paced. This description could also be about fellow passengers, with the addition of "very friendly" and "good company." At age ... Read More
Ship. Words that come to mind about the ship: refined, tasteful, understated, quiet, slow-paced. This description could also be about fellow passengers, with the addition of "very friendly" and "good company." At age 77 I'd guess (and it's only that) that I was younger than the median age of fellow cruisers. This is definitely not a cruise for the middle-aged or younger. By way of contrast, the Viking Sea itself is only a couple of years old, and in almost-like-new condition. Our cabin (see separate section) was excellent and Wi-Fi worked fine, as did the TV (though no CNN). One nice touch the ship has is original art hanging throughout. We used a book in our room to go around an look at all or most of it. (Unfortunately this is not a book you can buy or take with you, we were told.) A lot of the artists are Scandinavians, but not all. There's also an app you can use for your art tour, but I could not get it to work satisfactorily. Only negative was one picture in the back of The Restaurant that was hung upside down, and which I suggested they correct. For me the dining experience was top drawer. I had only one entree that was just average, though my wife had a couple in that category. We ate in the main dining room, called "The Restaurant," except for one night at the Chef's Table and two nights at Manfredi's Italian restaurant. We also ate some lunches at the Pool Grill, very good, and twice, once for lunch and once for breakfast, at Mamsen's, which I'd say was the weakest dining venue. The World Cafe was great for lunch and breakfast, and offered some theme buffets in the evening (e.g., Caribbean, Indian) that we did not visit. Overall, excellent dining -- the best cruise ship food we've ever had. The service was adequate, though sometimes harried in The Restaurant. I should add that we used room service for breakfast five or six days. The deliveries were on time, and the hot food arrived hot. Excellent service. Beverages. House wines are included at lunch and dinner. We tried them a time or two and they were fine for us. However, we'd ordered the "Silver Spirits" beverage package for about $20 per day per person. This gives you access to a greater variety of wines, and also all the spirits and wine you want to drink at other times (except for higher priced wines and spirits). If between the two of you (assuming a couple travelling together), you are going to drink more than six drinks a day, outside of lunch and dinner, or just want more choices at lunch and dinner, I think the package would be a good deal. It definitely was for us. Enrichment. A "historian" made some presentations, and the ones we attended I give a grade C. We went to the first "port talk," but didn't think it was worth it so never went to another. They also had a "former ambassador" as a lecturer, but we did not attend any of his talks. They also had a number of "educational seminars," which were obviously designed to sell you stuff, like jewelry, facial treatments, etc. We skipped those "opportunities." (Thankfully, there were no art auctions, no photos, and no gambling casino.) Entertainment. Weak. They had a small house band and four house singers, along with some musicians who played classical (or like) in the lounges in 45 minute sets from time to time. The performers were all very good, but variety was definitely lacking. Don't take this cruise for entertainment. However, I want to add that Cruise Director Jenna was outstanding, with a beautiful singing voice, the life of the party (so to speak), and very friendly all the time. Pool areas were fine. We did not visit the Spa. Guest Services Desk. Unhelpful and not particularly friendly. Questions normally answered "yes" or "no", with no attempt get into any details for you or go out of the way to help out. Shore Excursions. This cruise was in the Caribbean, which limits what you can do. Water activities, such as sailing and snorkeling are probably the best bet, but we did only land tours. Our expectations were low (we've spent a lot of time in the Virgin Islands), so we were not particularly disappointed. However, we did have a couple of bad experiences, once being abandoned by our bus driver (Toppers Rum and Beach Getaway excursion, which included a mediocre "lunch" at the Blue Bitch Bar) and another that ran way over time that my wife was on by herself and caused me some worry when no one could tell me why she was not back on the ship when she should have been. (Viking did give us a 50 percent refund for the former tour, but we had politely complained and I am not sure if others on the tour received the same refund.) In both cases good communications between the ships excursion desk and the tours would have made a huge difference. We did both "included" and pay-extra tours. If you take the included three hour "Tortola Scenic Tour & Beach" excursion, be prepared for an hour's rough ride in the back of a large pick-up truck on bench seats, an hour at a mediocre beach, and an hours ride back, with a brief stop at an old rum distillery. The most interesting experience we had was the "Dominican Herb & Vegetable Garden" excursion on Dominica. It was not exactly as described in the brochure, but did get us to boyhood home of the tour guide, whose mother fixed us a variety of food from their garden, and who (the tour guide) gave us a good feel for local life. Cruise Summary. This is not a cruise for those who like lots going on. On the other hand, if quiet, good food, an excellent ship, and a very laid back atmosphere are for you, I can recommend. Unlikely we'd take Viking again any time soon, but you never want to say "never". Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Our first luxury cruise experience. Came well recommended, and after much research decided this would be good value for a luxury xperience. Even after all that research we were not prepared for the level of service, such a carefree 10 ... Read More
Our first luxury cruise experience. Came well recommended, and after much research decided this would be good value for a luxury xperience. Even after all that research we were not prepared for the level of service, such a carefree 10 days, surrounded by sunshine and smiling faces (crew and passengers alike). Excellent food experiences, though surprisingly slightly disappointed in Prime 7, but Chartreuse was a wonderful experience. Compass Rose, beautiful, and always delicious, . From breakfast to lunch to Teatime, to cocktails,to dinner, we were spoiled in every way. Our suite was lovely, spacious, and comfortable in every way. Very comfy chairs on the balcony. Ours was the lowest category cabin, but it did not feel like it, the bed was heaven, and it was kept spotless by our by our 2 very sweet attendants, as well as keeping us well stocked with champagne, and anything else we wanted. The fresh fruit in the room was of the best quality. The included excursions were also very good. We picked this itinerary to have a relaxing, luxury experience, and we were very happy, and would definitely consider more cruises with Regent. Read Less

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