I returned on 7/5 from a 12 night cruise on the Viking Ingvar from St. Petersburg to Moscow. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on for a variety of reasons. Viking's ads look so wonderful and tempting, so four of us signed up ... Read More
I returned on 7/5 from a 12 night cruise on the Viking Ingvar from St. Petersburg to Moscow. This was the worst cruise I have ever been on for a variety of reasons. Viking's ads look so wonderful and tempting, so four of us signed up for the cruise. Unfortunately, reality doesn't jive with their ads. Our ship looked like a dinner cruise, not a high end cruise.
Our cabins were very nice. However, our balcony was next to the public access door, and there was no way to lock the divider to keep people from coming on to our balcony. The lock was on the side of the public access door. I asked for a top sheet for my bed, because sometimes the duvet is too heavy. I received the sheet, but I had to make my bed to add the sheet in the beginning of the cruise and when they did a sheet change. Bathrooms and showers were nice size.
We had some air conditioning issues and a night stand fell off the track. Maintenance fixed the problem quickly.
Viking advertises restrooms on their coaches, but what they don't tell you is that they are locked and you can't use them. This caused several people significant discomfort. We dehydrated ourselves because we never knew when we would have an available restroom. When we expressed our displeasure with this, Alina, the program director, told us that she couldn't speak to the driver because he had driven off. I mentioned Viking's Service Guarantee to her and to the Stephan Busch, the Hotel Manager. Viking's Service Guarantee gives passengers 24 hours after boarding the ship to inform them of a problem and then they have 24 hours to rectify the problem and if they don't, passengers receive 100% of the cruise fare returned, but must arrange for their own transportation home. Neither on of them rectified the situation or even mentioned it to us again, so much for offering a guarantee. The lack of bathroom availability and lack of follow up from anyone on the shop is inexcusable and ruined the cruise for us.
The food on the ship was awful. There was no creativity and not much choice on entrees. Omelets and jams were excellent. The fruit selection was sparse with a wide range of ripeness. Lunch and dinner entrees were horrible. If we ordered off the everyday options, which were salmon, chicken or filet, all three entrees came with the same three sauces on your plate, two zucchini slices, a small dollop of mashed potatoes, which were like lead, and caramelized onions. We would have appreciated more steamed vegetables and a wider variety of sauces. The chicken was frequently dry and rubbery. The filet was a great piece of beef, but lacked flavor. After speaking with the maitre d' Nik, our food prep was no longer over cooked. Nik bent over backwards to try and make us happy. However, corporate sets the menu, so there isn't room for creativity. The omelets, soups and some of the salads were good. The desserts were pathetic. The ship has a complimentary coffee, hot chocolate and tea station offering a very low end type of tea. It would have been nice to have complimentary soft drinks also available. The Filipino wait staff were excellent, especially Joey, Joanne, Darryl and Christopher. Nik, Joey, Joanne, Darryl and Christopher are too good to be working on a ship of this caliber. I asked one Russian server Vayla for a Diet Coke twice and she told me "No" twice. On another day, I asked her if one of the salads had fish and she told me that it didn't, when in fact it did, and I don't eat fish. Would it be so hard to put a sign next to the salads on the buffet line? Pasta selections were horrible. The ship has cookies available in the afternoon. The cookies were Otis Spunkmeyer cookies that you can buy at a 7 Eleven store. I would be embarrassed to serve them and the majority of the food on the ship, especially at a cruise of this price point. I had better food on my flight on Delta from Moscow to JFK. We even ate at McDonald's three days in a row and we never eat there when we are home.
St. Petersburg and Moscow are beautiful cities, but I would skip going to the other ports and have more time in each city.
The days cruising down the river were boring with not much entertainment on the ship. There was no gym, no DVD players in the cabins. The movies the ship showed on two channels didn't air at the same time as indicated on the TV sheet. How hard is it to get that right? The lectures by the tour guides were excellent and would be nice if they were recorded and could be viewed in the cabin.
My roommate got sick and wanted some cough drops. She went to the ship's store and was told by Anastasia "She was done for the day, and were the cough drops and emergency?" My roommate waited until the next day to purchase them. Is this the definition of good customer service? I don't think so.
I dropped my guidebook on the gangway and not one crew member standing there offered to help. If you asked on of them a question, they responded, "Don't speak English". I don't have a problem having Russian crew members, but they shouldn't be in an area where passengers are looking to them to answer questions.
Christina and Elena at Reception were very nice and helpful in explaining how to get to the subway station.
The city tours drove my sites, but you couldn't go into them. Since we had already been to Peterhof on previous trip to St. Petersburg, we took the Metro on our own one day to see the Faberge Museum, St. Issac's Cathedral and the Church of Our Savior of the Spilled Blood. These places are must see destinations.
I thought the ballet was going to be at the Mariinsky. Had I known the ballet wasn't there, I would have booked a tour just to see the theater. I also wanted to see the ballet at the Bolshoi, but unfortunately, the ballet wasn't performing that night. I thought about going to the opera, but another late night with a long flight home kept us from going.
The Catherine Palace tour was good and so was the Hermitage Tour. However the Privileged Tour of the Hermitage was a disappointment and a waste of money. We had expected to see some restoration in progress and not just a warehouse. The lunch they served was even worse than the food on the ship.
The stop in Mandrogy was a waste of time. It was man made tourist attraction for cruise ships.
The Kizhi Tour was good.
The Krillo-Belozersky Tour and a visit to a local school were a waste of time, especially the visit to the school.
The tours in Yaroslavl and Uglich were nice.
The Kremlin Armory Tour and the Moscow at Night Tours were great. We added on the Diamond Fund tour on our own and it was spectacular.
Given the cost of the cruise, we had expected a quality product, which we did not receive. If the cruise had been in $1000 range, we would not have had such high expectations. If the corporate office is setting the menus, there is nothing the crew can do to improve on the food. I would not recommend Viking Cruises to anyone. We have traveled frequently, I worked in the travel and hospitality industry, the only quality I saw in Viking were the following employees, Nik, Joey, Joanne, Daryl, Christopher, Christina, and Elena. Read Less