We'd been thinking about a Baltic cruise since we returned from our journey on the Viking Sea's 2016 shakedown cruise from Venice to Istanbul. I am a Peterson so it made good sense to head to my homeland, if only to sail by. In ... Read More
We'd been thinking about a Baltic cruise since we returned from our journey on the Viking Sea's 2016 shakedown cruise from Venice to Istanbul. I am a Peterson so it made good sense to head to my homeland, if only to sail by. In addition, visiting Russia with Viking seemed like a great idea. We arrived a day early in Stockholm to wander the streets of the old city. We flew Lufthansa Premium Economy (worth the price), with an easy change of planes in Munich. We took the speedy train into city center from the Stockholm airport, walking the short distance to the Stockholm Sheraton. The hotel is well located, moderately priced, very, very comfortable, and has a great restaurant. The next morning we wandered the streets of the old city but were a wee bit early for shop opening. We came upon a Ben & Jerry's ice cream shop in the old city, of all things. Closed until 11. Rats.
We embarked on the Viking Sky the next morning at 11 since we had upgraded to a PS3 Penthouse Jr Suite on the sixth deck - Cabin 6018. Embarkation was a breeze, especially because our one larger than carryon bag had already arrived by Luggage Forward, arranged through Viking. 6018 is a great cabin - plenty of room for a sitting area with couch, two chairs, coffee/champagne table, and dresser with TV. The verandah was very large and comfortable when the wind didn't howl. The bedroom was large and comfortable since the added square footage meant the closet wasn't right next to the bed. Both the bedroom and bath were precisely what we expected. Perfect in all regards. Gretchen, our cabin steward, was quite friendly and very attentive to our needs.
Dining was, as one would expect, delightful with great food. The Viking "buffet" is anything but a buffet. When we sailed the Royal Viking Sea ages ago we dressed for dinner, tuxedo included. Since we're Californians, the tux stayed home though I preferred to wear a jacket at dinner, adding a tie when we dined with Captain Toni Fast and Hotel Manager Wendy Gous. Dining room service everywhere was near impeccable. The dining staff was very friendly (cordial) and very attentive.
The onboard entertainment was smashing. Cruise Director Beven Hadinsall is an extraordinarily talented man. He was assisted by Brian Rodriguez who has a magnificent voice. The Viking Singers - Maddy, Dan, Becky, and Carl(?) - were excellent and put on a number of great shows. They were backed by the Viking Band. The best evening's entertainment was Dancing under the Stars on the pool deck - nothing short of great fun with lots of dancing.
Shore excursions were excellent, particularly the two-day St. Petersburg journey. One should be forewarned that it is a daunting excursion, but well worth the effort. In my view, the combined 20+ hours spent with our guide, Kuzmin Alexander, was nothing short of remarkable. Don't miss the Vasa museum excursion and do make your way to the North Zeeland castles at the end of the cruise.
We had been told to check in with the Cruise Consultant. At first it seemed like a visit to the resort time share desk, however, Hamed very quickly demonstrated his added value. Though we were already booked on our first Viking River cruise next year, Hamed helped us book our two remaining European bucket list cruises - the Danube next month and the Western Med next fall, 2020. What made working with Hamed so valuable was his intimate knowledge of the Viking ships. One make think all cabins in a specific category are the same, but think again. He booked us on the Sky in Penthouse Verandah 4010. Why? It is one of the few PV's with the larger double doors/windows. I also think the Cruise Consultant is given far greater flexibility than others you may choose to book with. His pricing was very attractive.
Back to the Baltic, our most important insight? Make sure you are in the Explorers' Lounge at 5am as the ship sets sail from Stockholm to the Baltic. It is something you won't experience anywhere else. Read Less