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9 San Juan to Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

For a trans Atlantic cruise, this itinerary had great ports of call. Started in Barcelona, a great city in itself, and then 6 more ports of call, before we started on our crossing. We then had another 2 ports of call before docking in ... Read More
For a trans Atlantic cruise, this itinerary had great ports of call. Started in Barcelona, a great city in itself, and then 6 more ports of call, before we started on our crossing. We then had another 2 ports of call before docking in San Juan! Although we enjoyed ourselves, this was the largest ship we have been on in 13 cruises, and would really have to give thought to a ship this large in the future, and probably for sure, not the Norwegian Epic again. Whomever designed the bathroom layout in the cabins must of had a grudge to settle with Norwegian. And who would of approved such a design.? I cannot imagine anyone thinking this a great design. Elevators were continuously overcrowded and often had to wait in long lines in the buffet for average just barely warm food. Had several occasions were our toilet would not flush for several hours at a time. Beds are short for a 6 foot tall person like myself. High marks for the entertainment, especially Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, and Burn the Floor, along with the Cirque show. Disembarkation in ports of call seemed to be fairly efficient, however the same cannot be said for the initial embarking. Did not appreciate that water was not included in drink package, and could not bring on board so much as a couple ounces left in a bottle from a shore excursion. Seems like nothing but a money grab to me. All drink stations had a sign asking you not to refill water bottles, which I blatantly ignored. Bar staff, did their best, but at many times definitely overworked, or under staffed. Before we ever sail on Norwegian Epic again, these issues would have to be addressed.. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Having done this exact cruise last year, albeit a little later in the Spring, and enjoyed it so much we booked it again when offered. In full disclosure we got an AMAZING deal that we couldn't pass up. The crossing was originally ... Read More
Having done this exact cruise last year, albeit a little later in the Spring, and enjoyed it so much we booked it again when offered. In full disclosure we got an AMAZING deal that we couldn't pass up. The crossing was originally scheduled for the end of March but was moved up two weeks. We found out at the end of the crossing that it was to complete a 10-day dry dock before SP began her Med season. Only 62 people were onboard compared to 168 last year. Did it make a difference? Yes, in that there wasn't enough for the crew to do, and it seemed they got a little bored. Can't blame them. With the exception of the trivia games and "name that tune" the guests didn't seem to want to participate a lot - maybe they were a little bored too. The Spa was rarely used as was the gym. Several times on leaving the gym in the late afternoon the hair salon area was dark and there was no one at the front desk. Rarely saw anyone in the casino (which we heard is being eliminated during the "stretching"). Cruiselines use the days at sea to get done repairs, both cosmetic and mechanical, that couldn't be completed during the ship's Caribbean season. This resulted in some noise, loud at times, that really bugged some people - us not so much. After receiving complaints the ship did the best they could to complete the repairs when guests weren't on deck. As another reviewer wrote Star Pride is showing her age and isn't due to go into full dry dock for "stretching" until 2020, so it's no wonder WS schedule a mini-dry dock now. Hopefully these repairs will be enough to see the ship through. The crew was fantastic! Learned your name quickly and your preferences for things like coffee, wine, etc. They were always smiling and always greeted you by name. With only one exception, we felt they worked hard and enjoyed what they did. We couldn't say the same for our stateroom attendant. Nice guy but seemed not to have been well trained. The food was outstanding and, we both agreed, actually better this year than last. Really it was the highlight of the trip. Our stop in Horta was pretty worthless, although it was nice to get onto dry land for a few hours. We ventured forth and found the grocery store to buy some liquor to take back on with us for the remaining 3 days. We had taken liquor on in our bags when we boarded so we thought this wouldn't be a problem. I understand the liquor confiscation reasoning and policy, especially for Caribbean cruises, but with only 3 days left it would have been nice if someone had told security to waive it. Instead we didn't get to enjoy drinks in our room and went to the Compass Rose instead. In fairness the port that we had also brought and was confiscated with the liquor, was returned to us that same afternoon. Still, we kind of resented what we felt was petty on WS's part. SP is an older ship and I'll be interested to see what she looks like after her "stretching" in 2020. We won't do another crossing though. Even at a great price it just lacked anything that would compel us to return. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
My introduction to transatlantic crossings was aboard the legendary FRANCE, back in 1971. During the ensuing decades I’ve sailed aboard more than 60 passenger ships and have crisscrossed the Atlantic too many times to count. The VIKING ... Read More
My introduction to transatlantic crossings was aboard the legendary FRANCE, back in 1971. During the ensuing decades I’ve sailed aboard more than 60 passenger ships and have crisscrossed the Atlantic too many times to count. The VIKING SEA voyage I’m reviewing was the third Atlantic crossing my husband and I have made in twelve months. And it was our first time sailing with Viking Ocean Cruises. Departing San Juan, VIKING SEA crossed to Barcelona in 15 days, with en route calls at St. Maarten, Madeira, Tangier, Cadiz and Valencia. We found the ship to be light-filled, spacious and very attractive. The décor is what one might call relentlessly Scandinavian (reindeer pelts draped over sofas!), with a color palette comprised mostly of whites, shades of taupe and pale blues, accented with blonde woods. The overall look is elegant, if a bit severe, and will appeal to some passengers more than others. Hard surfaces predominate throughout the public rooms, ensuring that voices carry. (Often the very voices you wish didn’t…) VIKING SEA was kept scrupulously clean throughout our voyage. I don’t know when I’ve sailed on a more spic ‘n span ship. Our cabin was a Penthouse Verandah that was bright, roomy and comfortable. Wardrobe and drawer space was more than adequate for our two-weeks onboard. Clothes-hangers are wood and are not of that irritating, ‘anti-theft’ design. The large bed (with room underneath for luggage) was wonderful, though the pillows were too thick and too firm for us. (I don’t know why we didn’t ask if other types were available; our mistake.) The ship’s laundry and the complimentary pressing service were excellent. Blessed with beautiful weather all the way across the Atlantic, we slept each night with the door to our balcony open and enjoyed falling asleep to the sound of the waves. You can't beat that! Having crossed westbound five months previously aboard Windstar’s STAR BREEZE (the former SEABOURN SPIRIT), I couldn’t help but compare the two cabins. The use of deep, rich colors aboard STAR BREEZE, as well as the heavy curtain that can be drawn between the sleeping and living areas, gave that cabin a wonderfully cozy look and feel. I could have moved-in permanently. Our VIKING SEA accommodations on the other hand - all blonde woods and neutral-colored fabrics - felt coolly utilitarian; rather like a quiet corner in an airport business class lounge. I never warmed to it. The bathroom was fairly large, with a heated floor and good cabinet and drawer space. The lighting was not very well thought-out however, as it was directed in the wrong directions. The roomy shower produced an absolute torrent of hot water at all times. But the glass door didn’t quite meet the marble sill, so we were always having to mop-up water that had leaked onto the floor. Our hard-working room stewards - one from China and the other from the Philippines - were always eager to please, friendly, immaculately groomed, and completely professional. In fact, all of the personnel whom I would consider to be ‘junior‘ staff or crew were extremely personable. We never walked past anyone cleaning a window or touching-up paint who didn’t greet us with a big smile and a friendly word. It was only those who’d attained a higher rank onboard who sometimes exhibited a bit of an attitude. So far, mostly all good. But I’ve yet to mention the cuisine… And that’s where Viking really disappointed us, because the majority of our meals were mediocre at best. And some were just downright bad. Too many of the hot entrees reminded me of corporate cafeteria fare; unimaginatively thought-out and prepared. Self-serve items sometimes sat-out far too long, such as slices of pizza that dried-out under the heat lamps. A celebration dinner in Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant was so salty we couldn’t finish it. (And we heard the same complaint from other passengers.) The onboard restaurants are oddly managed. Mismanaged, I’d call it. Imagine being told by various maitres d’, over the course of two weeks, “I’m sorry, but there are no tables-for-two available next to a window.” And then, after being seated in the middle of a restaurant, being asked by the waiter “Wouldn’t you prefer that table-for-two over there by the window?” This happened over and over! At the end of yet another evening of musical chairs, I wryly commented to the maitre d’ “You and your colleagues gaze intently into that computer of yours, looking for available tables, and yet you don’t seem to know which tables actually ARE available. So really, what is the purpose of passengers lining-up to check-in with you for a table assignment? You tell us the table we want isn’t available, and then the waiter assigned to serve us tells us it is!” I received a chilly, tight-lipped stare. This awkward disconnect, almost every time we went to dine, was something we have never experienced aboard other ships. In truth, the whole open-seating concept seems just beyond Viking’s capabilities, since there was always an impatient line of diners waiting to be seated, not only at the ‘come when you like’ main Restaurant, but at reservations-required Manfredi’s and The Chef’s Table as well. On one occasion, arriving late in the evening for dinner in The Restaurant, I asked the maître d’ on duty why we couldn’t be seated at an empty window table-for-two, clearly visible across the room. “Because there is no one to re-set that table” was the response. I had to bite my tongue, because I really wanted to say “Excuse me? FIND someone to re-set it.” I was pretty much DONE with dining on VIKING SEA at that point. I kept that thought to myself only because it was obvious the staff members in all of VIKING SEA’s restaurants were working furiously, meal after meal, seldom pausing for an instant. (Forget exchanging a few pleasantries with the person serving you. They haven’t the time!) Many of the younger staff seemed rather overwhelmed, and at times, unsure of their duties. At the start of a dinner with wine-pairings in The Chef’s Table, the white wines we were to be served with specific courses were all poured into our glasses at the same time by the young wine stewardess. When we said we’d like to have the white wine for the later course poured along with that course, so that it would be chilled, she was clearly unhappy. Our request meant, of course, that she would have to make more than one trip to our table. I understood that she may have had too many tables to serve on her own, but the staff’s excessive work load shouldn’t become the passenger’s problem. It often did when dining aboard VIKING SEA. Our waiter in Manfredi’s apologized for our evening’s chaotic service, confiding “Viking has taken away our waiters’ assistants. And on top of that, tonight is the first night with this new menu…” He was clearly stressed, which hardly made for the elegant dining experience Viking’s promotional materials extol. But then as I mentioned earlier, the food was too salty to enjoy anyway. And there were more problems to come… The expensive bottle of Veuve Clicquot that I’d requested – 24 hours in advance – be placed in an ice-bucket one hour before the time of our dinner reservation, arrived at the table only slightly chilled and with a dry paper label – a sure sign the bottle had not been iced. And then, at the end of the meal, the birthday cake I’d arranged as a surprise for my husband never materialized. When I later voiced my disappointment to the maître d’ with whom I’d made the arrangements, and who had carefully noted my requests for the Champagne and the cake in his small notebook, he offered only a sheepish shrug in the way of an apology, and blamed the sommelier for forgetting to ice the wine. Now honestly, icing a bottle of Champagne and arranging for a birthday cake should not be beyond the capabilities of anyone overseeing a restaurant – on land or sea. Failing to follow through on both of my requests was inexcusable. Offerings at the self-serve World Café were the most meager and the most haphazardly-prepared we’ve encountered on any cruise ship. (Dried-out, lukewarm scrambled eggs at breakfast...)That VIKING SEA’s galleys could turn-out so many sub-standard food items over the course of two weeks was a major let-down. Especially considering Viking’s lofty per diems! By way of comparison, we crossed eastbound last spring, from Cartagena to Lisbon, aboard Pullmantur’s MONARCH (the former MONARCH OF THE SEAS). Spanish-owned Pullmantur is hardly a high-end cruise line, yet the food served onboard was consistently impressive. Every meal we were served in the dining room was delicious, and the choices and quality of the myriad items available at the early morning-to-late night buffet were amazing. It was some of the best food I’ve ever enjoyed on any ship. Our VIKING SEA crossing cost us five times more than our junior suite aboard the MONARCH. Five times. Proving once again that paying more doesn’t necessarily guarantee getting more! Filling-out the comment card distributed prior to disembarkation, I suggested to Viking that “rather than rapidly adding one new ship after another to your fleet, perhaps you should consider investing more heavily in the ships – and the employees - you already have.” Maybe then we’d consider sailing with Viking again. But in the meantime, my husband and I are cancelling a previously-booked 2020 Viking cruise in Asia. We don’t want to risk being disappointed a second time. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
viking is a great cruise line and i have been on it before. however, after completing a cruise on viking sky a few weeks ago i would really hesitate to choose it again. from the moment i got on the ship i had trouble breathing. the ... Read More
viking is a great cruise line and i have been on it before. however, after completing a cruise on viking sky a few weeks ago i would really hesitate to choose it again. from the moment i got on the ship i had trouble breathing. the hallway outside our stateroom was freezing all the time and after a few days i had a full blown asthma attack. have never had one before..............my asthma is very well controlled but there is something that they are putting in the air on this ship that irritates your nose, your throat and your lungs. we started out with having our room only cleaned with hot water.....no detergents. didn't work. went to the doctor every single day for two weeks to have an inhaler put on me which helped for a few hours. with every stop.....................i could breathe again on land but as soon as i got back on the ship,i would start having problems again. even a specialist i saw in madeira confirmed there was something toxic in the air on board that was causing the problem. i talked to at least ten people who were experiencing allergy problems on board. i don't know if anyone else had it as severely as i did but they all complained of running noses, coughs etc. in their attempt to kill off every single germ on the ship, viking is putting something in the air conditioning system that is irritating to the lungs. i hope they look after this. Entertainment I am afraid is pretty amateurish. The kids try hard but whoever looks after this part bof the on board program needs to get out of the "tribute to the Beatles " era. Nothing new..nothing even remotely interesting. Food is good.. especially in alternate restaurants. Staff were helpful and I liked the casual atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Initially we were booked into stateroom 3005,the first night we were kept awake by a rattling coming from the verandah door.Being the first night we put it down to the new environment however it continued and after a second night of ... Read More
Initially we were booked into stateroom 3005,the first night we were kept awake by a rattling coming from the verandah door.Being the first night we put it down to the new environment however it continued and after a second night of interrupted sleep we called customer services first thing.A carpenter arrived and tried to fix what is apparently a common problem.Five minutes after he left the rattle returned so I again contacted customer services and they agreed to move us to another stateroom,3077. When we arrived at the next stateroom I enquired if it was a quiet cabin and if anybody had stayed in the cabin previously.No it was quiet and had not been used we were assured by two people.We noticed a knocking noise behind the bed head but thought it was probably something from the adjoining cabin so we went for dinner.On our return the noise seemed to have increased,we tried to sleep but it was impossible.Our worst ever night at sea and we are used to rough seas.The following morning we contacted customer services again and were offered another move very quickly.No fun packing and repacking. So here comes the crunch.That evening we went to the Viking bar as usual for a pre dinner drink.As we were on the silver drinks package we had to give the barman our cabin number yet again.’Sorry I said we ve had to move again’.A couple sat near us said ‘ excuse me,did you say you’ve had to move twice?It wouldn’t be cabin 3077 would it?!!! Can you believe that this couple had been moved out of 3077 because of the noise in the wall and they moved us in.A cabin where they knew there was a serious noise problem. This is unforgivable.Needless to say we shall not cruise with Viking again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
A beautiful ship , with stylish public areas , always easy to find somewhere comfortable to sit and read a book . The furnishings in all locations on the ship were top class . The Scandinavian style abounds throughout the vessel ,with ... Read More
A beautiful ship , with stylish public areas , always easy to find somewhere comfortable to sit and read a book . The furnishings in all locations on the ship were top class . The Scandinavian style abounds throughout the vessel ,with beautiful pieces of artwork , and a phone App that enables guests to get more information on each item . The main pool area was spacious with comfortable sun beds . Unfortunately they have a problem with the opening roof , they seem afraid to open it in case they are unable to close it . The Captain said they could not use it if there was more than 3 degrees of inclination on the ship . When closed the pool area was more like a Sauna and made everyone head to other areas. This looks like a problem on this vessel which will not go away until a significant engineering effort. The sun areas on deck again have some very nice furnished areas , you can almost feel you are on your own super yacht . In the Caribbean we had a sea swell of about 4 metres , the Viking Sky did not handle this very well . The downside was the dining experience . The Restaurant (main dining room) is a vast ordinary venue , the food on the occasions we used it was over cooked and often cold and bland .The service was basic just placing of order and delivery of food . Just a quick dining operation .It s also a very noisy environment due to low ceilings and hard furnishings . The World Cafe buffet style eatery was ok , and some dishes were freshly prepared in the open kitchen you could see into .The Sushi in the evenings was excellent . The feature restaurants again rather ordinary. The Chefs Table menu always sounded exciting but the taste was not there . We settled for having dinner in the World Cafe buffet , not what we normally do . The Dining experience is far superior , more an event , stylish with higher quality produce with excellent feature restaurants on Oceania. The Norwegian cafe Mamsems offered oatmeal or pancakes with fresh berries for a light breakfast and Scandinavian open sandwiches for lunch - very nice. The entertainment team although small were very good with singers offering a wide range of music skills . The use of high quality and stylish graphics as a backdrop to the stage in the theatre worked well and was comfortable . The enrichment lecturers (3) were very good and always available to talk to and their presentations accessible on TV in the cabin . The Viking band was excellent , especially in the night club at the end of the evening where a good atmosphere was generated , The ships officers mainly Norwegian were very friendly and very willing to engage with the passengers . Overall the most stylish cruise ship we have sailed on in more than 20 cruises . Viking will have 10 of these ships on the high seas in the next few years . Nearly 10000 guests to find each week . Unless the dining improves hard to imagine how they will attract the customers at their current prices . Would we come back onboard. . NO - the wining dining experice is important to us . We had a bad experience on arrival in San Juan. Not on any hotel lists , had to sort it out ourselves . Viking said they would investigate and get back to us , but to date (3 weeks ) no communication from their customer services . Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I chose this cruise because of its Port-au- Calls, which I had not visited before. It was somewhat inconvenient as it sailed from San Juan, PR and we live in Miami, thus had to fly in the day before (the same day flight was leaving at 7 ... Read More
I chose this cruise because of its Port-au- Calls, which I had not visited before. It was somewhat inconvenient as it sailed from San Juan, PR and we live in Miami, thus had to fly in the day before (the same day flight was leaving at 7 AM and had to be in the Miami airport at 4 AM.. Thus it cost me a one way ticket to SJ plus a night in a hotel plus meals (an extra $700). The cruise had 7 whole days at sea and I relied in the entertainment judging it fro previous experiences i Holland American that were excellent. It was not so in RCI, the movies on TV were terrible(, same movies over and over, very old ones, some did not even had an ending). The movies on the ship theater we extremely poor with only one exception in 13 days, (mostly Star Wars type and animated movies and very old). There were no photography, cooking or computer classes as in other ship lines we have been. The lecture, most of them, were not very good at all and although on TV they were repeated over and over again (for example 3 ports of call after Gibraltar, the same lecture was constantly on Channel 26. TV was terrible. Most of the time no image, occasionally no sound (especially BBC and CNN)- at times was like listening to the radio. others viewing a TV sign that said no reception.Poor choice of news channels. In short, the ship and service and the room was fine, the rest left a lot to be desired Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Transatlantic cruise and visit Spain. Visited ports and paid for extra excursions to experience more of the countries we visited. This is our first ocean cruise and it will probably be our last. The ship, staff and amenities were great, ... Read More
Transatlantic cruise and visit Spain. Visited ports and paid for extra excursions to experience more of the countries we visited. This is our first ocean cruise and it will probably be our last. The ship, staff and amenities were great, but prefer river cruises and land trips. The enrichment activities were pretty good, but would have preferred more. We had a hard time finding something to do. The wifii did niot work when we were at sea and we were depending on it for personal business. Many people enjoy the pool facilities, but we don't lay out in he sun. We are from Florida and not.a normal activity. I had looked forward to the advertised yoga classes. When the classes were noted in the daily paper, I found out that you had to pay to attend. The fact that payment was required should have been noted in the brochures. I did not attend. Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
This was only our second cruise and first trans Atlantic crossing. As it was our Anniversary and my wife's birthday decided for this 14 night cruise so we could spend some romantic time together. Prior to the cruise jumped into the ... Read More
This was only our second cruise and first trans Atlantic crossing. As it was our Anniversary and my wife's birthday decided for this 14 night cruise so we could spend some romantic time together. Prior to the cruise jumped into the Cruise Critic forum board and really glad we did meet some great people and shared some great times. Embarkation. Made our own way to the cruise port in San Juan about 12 noon had to man handle our own cases to the porters. Check in was better than expected arrived on board in 42 mins and 30 sec ( sad I know but set the stop watch on my phone ). Cabin: 7560 had balcony on the Port side. Room spotless but showing the signs of wear ie rust around balcony door, scuffs and scrapes, shower screen had six inch crack and sheets although clean had been repaired. Our cabin steward was superb and always smiling. Dinning: We had opted to dine early on a table of ten. First night arrived to find we were the only one's there the wait staff we pleasant BUT we pushing the BOTTLES of wine even though we were on a drinks package with free house wine by the glass. We were latter joined by a family with two small children one of which screamed for over 30 mins. We latter approached the Maitre De and asked for a move only to be told that the family weren't on his list for the table just another couple. Therefor a table of ten was for four. The following night we decided to try the Winjammer and so glad that we did. The assistant waiter Leonardo was a dream couldn't do enough for us never pushy but always around. The food was good ( not a good as on the Princess Cruise ) with plenty of choice. We ate at the Specialty restaurant Portafino's twice during the cruise and enjoyed the food on both occasions. The best meal of the cruise was at the Cruise Critic Luncheon on the next to the last day really top notch and great service. Have heard since some of those attended were not Cruise Critic members but snook in by the Matrede. Entertainment: On the whole was okay. The Ice Show superb but only one show in the 14 nights. The temptations tribute group great. The productions shows were good but just good. The Cruise directer Hello Clo was always around and entertaining. We attended the CSI enhancement lecture by Dr Hal which we found enthralling and very interesting. Bars: Amazed at the number of bars available and being on a free drinks package made visits to most during the trip. Special mention to Illian and Keven at the Schooner Bar this guys were superb and could be earning a fortune in a trendy mainland bar. Summary: It became apparent that RCI are adopting the Ryan Air approach ie you pay for the cruise but there are a lot of hidden extras ie Starbuck's, Ben & Jerrys, Curry Demonstration, ships tours, etc etc all with an extra cost. Whilst expecting to pay extra for the Specialty restaurants and Theme nights some of the extra costs were unacceptable. In conclusion: We enjoyed the cruise as a whole, the first four nights and island visits were great. The sea days dragged and the entertainment offered was of a holiday camp order. The all inclusive drinks package was a very welcome bonus and in our opinion not abused by those on it. We didn't see a single drunk. However we did notice a large number of people coughing and sneezing towards the end of the cruise and I came away with a severe chest infection! Read Less
Sail Date April 2013

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