We took the Moscow-St. Petersburg river cruise (2013) and loved it despite a serious weather event. Then we were on the maiden voyage of the Sea from Istanbul-Venice 2016--unrest in Istanbul caused a schedule change, but we had flown into ... Read More
We took the Moscow-St. Petersburg river cruise (2013) and loved it despite a serious weather event. Then we were on the maiden voyage of the Sea from Istanbul-Venice 2016--unrest in Istanbul caused a schedule change, but we had flown into Istanbul a couple of days early, so we got to see the city.
We excitedly signed up for the Southern Mediterranean Discovery (March 1-8, plus 2 days in Barcelona) **specifically** to go to Tunis and Algiers. A couple of weeks prior to sailing, we were notified that Tunis was being eliminated due to unrest, but Naples was being substituted. OK, well, we'll still have Algiers. The wind at Rome caused us to stay in port more than seven hours past our sail time, which caused us to skip Naples with no port substitution, just a lost visit and a day at sea on the way to Trapani, Sicily. As someone else said, Palermo should have been the port. Very little in Trapani.
From Trapani we sailed to Cagliari, Sardinia. Again, nothing special. Somewhat interesting, but not really worth the stop. On to Algiers. But wait. Nope. Algiers was cancelled because the weather was too bad, they said. Mallorca was substituted. Lovely island, but we arrived so late, no excursions, just enough time for a quick walk in the city. Then to Valencia,which is a beautiful place that we enjoyed. And, finally, Barcelona where, if you didn't sign up for the extension, just like on our earlier 2016 cruise ending at Venice, you got shuttled directly to the airport, so it's not really a stop where you experience anything, but it's billed as one. We, fortunately, were savvy enough this time to extend and had a great time on our own in Barcelona. By far the best part of the trip.
So, instead of visiting Africa twice, we had a cruise of Italy and Spain.. I do not recommend this cruise, and that makes me sad. I have praised Viking to the skies for their ocean ships and the ships are still exemplary. The on board staff is, with few exceptions, wonderful and the food is usually very good. We did note a tiny drop in service from 2016. Not terrible, but noticeable.
Of course, Viking cannot be held accountable for the weather but, having read other reviews on other sites, it appears that cancelling Tunis and Algiers is something of a Viking habit. That particular cruise is only offered December to early-March and weather in the Mediterranean, as we discovered, is iffy at best. Probably better to eliminate that entire itinerary altogether and avoid disappointing customers repeatedly because it was clear from what other customers said, the Africa stops were the main attraction for the cruise. We most definitely did not get the trip we paid for, even if it wasn't entirely Viking's fault. It was supposed to be a huge trip for us with a luxurious junior penthouse suite and business class airfare, a huge treat. Our extra-special trip was not. At all.
Overall Viking experience: Something that has been an ongoing concern for us is the headquarters or on-land service personnel/agents. All three of our Viking trips have had strange scheduling issues and mixed up air connections such as scheduling us in 2016 for a 6:55 a.m. flight home only to find on the final itinerary that the ship was scheduled to dock at 6 a.m. Had I not realized the mistake and called, we would have been in a heap of trouble. I had to be rather assertive to keep from having them book us on a wildly out-of-the-way three-stop trip back.
This 2018 cruise was, clearly, an issue for them. We received emails saying if we had concerns, to contact them. I called and spoke to a very snippy, snide agent, but finally spoke with a more professional one who had authority. He was very nice, polite, and helpful and we worked out a decent deal, but we've decided we won't be Viking customers again. To be totally fair, I should say that our cruising days are very likely over. Read Less