35 Venice to Europe - Western Mediterranean Viking Ocean Viking Star Cruise Reviews

The specific ports of call were exactly what my wife and I wanted. The new ship offered all amenities that we enjoy-Spa, Music, Excursions-and the food was amazing. The ship has excellent crew and staff. There are perfect levels of ... Read More
The specific ports of call were exactly what my wife and I wanted. The new ship offered all amenities that we enjoy-Spa, Music, Excursions-and the food was amazing. The ship has excellent crew and staff. There are perfect levels of enjoyable activities and we can choose intelligently. Viking is deservedly the number 1 rated cruise line on rivers and on seas. Thanks for Masterpiece sponsorship. Any money we spend for the shows is well worth it. The Western Mediterranean has some outstanding areas for travel, and the selection of ports of call were intelligently chosen. The variety of excursions at each port of call were amazing and able to satisfy most tastes and interests. Travel across the land excursions were both speedy and comfortable. The on board extras are highlighted by the SPA for travelers. The Ice Cave, reflecting pools, heated chairs and benches were totally unexpected and helped us stay healthy and invigorated. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Overall we had a great time - there were quite a few rough edges but we attribute them to the fact that the ship was brand new and many things needed to be ironed out. Our relative took the same cruise in Sept. and it appears that many of ... Read More
Overall we had a great time - there were quite a few rough edges but we attribute them to the fact that the ship was brand new and many things needed to be ironed out. Our relative took the same cruise in Sept. and it appears that many of the issues have been corrected. Here were some of the items that warrant improvement on our cruise - extremely long lines for dinner service; spotty cable/internet connections; unilateral changing of shore excursion times without prior notice; confusion at the excursion desk came boarding time for the shore excursions; less-than-robust nightly entertainment offerings; ports of call selection/shore excursions that can be improved. Let us expand on that last point. We'll be blunt - there are more desirable ports to stop in Greece than the one selected (substituting Santorini or Mykonos would be highly desirable); there was little to do at Provence even though it's along the way (We personally would have preferred to skip it, get to Barcelona one day earlier as there's much more to see there). The coverage of the shore excursions also can be improved. For example, we were left to hang out at the Vatican in Rome for 5+ hours - the lines were very long and there's no way we can get in; we were told about taxis and public transportation to get to the Spanish steps/Trevi fountain but no one told us about the "skip the line" option to get into the Vatican. One member of our cruise watched Rick Steves ahead of time, knew exactly where to go and was able to see the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican. For most of us, we were neither here nor there. We just stood by the tacky souvenir shops around St. Peters Square waiting for the tour bus to come pick us up. Rome ended up being an underwhelming stop because of how the shore excursion was executed. By the way, for some unknown reason, Viking told us to bring our passports on shore in Rome. We checked with friends who went with other cruise lines and heard no such thing. Having your passport on you is not such a good idea - two members of our cruise got pick pocketed and these incidents are hardly rare in Europe. Barcelona was a fun stop but the city shore excursion was also poorly routed. We spent a ton of time on Mt. Juic whereas some of that time could have been diverted to a quick stop at the famous La Segrada de la Familia. In response to repeated requests by the folks on our bus, the tour guide had to call HQ repeatedly for permission to even do a drive-by. Finally the green light came down and the driver got to "swing by" for us to snap some pictures. Like I said, the Barcelona excursion itinerary could have been tweaked to make it more rewarding. IMHO, La Sagrada would be more deserving of our time than looking at knick knacks and guarding our wallets against pickpockets along the La Rambla. If you want better and more in-depth coverage, you are better off doing the hop-on/hop-off than the "free" Viking city excursion. That's just our opinion. Like we said, most of the kinks (except for the ports of call) appear to have been ironed out with the passage of time, but there is one thing that irked us the most. We paid extra for business economy and called the airlines to book our seats as soon as the itinerary was released in December 2014. Viking changed the routing without notifying us. We happened to call them on a separate matter and by happenstance, found out in March, with weeks of departure. Obviously the prized side-by-side two-by-the window seats that we reserved in December were gone because we were now on a different flight. We spent an hour on the phone with Viking only to be called to the terms and conditions - that Viking reserves the right to change our flight routing. However the Viking representative admitted that no emails or any other form of notification was sent out. For our troubles, they gave us $100 shipboard credit. You decide for yourself, whether $100 was sufficient compensation for being stuck in undesirable seats across the Atlantic that we just paid $2,000 for. To make things worse, the routing that Viking switched us to was totally counter to the concept of getting from point A to point B in the most direct fashion. The new route they put us on coming back took us east from Barcelona to Frankfurt where we sat for hours only to head northwest again. Mind you, we really needed to head southwest to get home. Instead we went north the New Jersey and by another stroke of bad luck, equipment problems (not Viking's fault but really more bad luck with this routing) made us sit at the airport for hours before we could board the last south-bound flight to head home. We finally made it to our home city's airport at midnight. We wasted the better part of the day sitting around airports and flying backwards to get home. Even without having to pay extra, it was not a good use of our time. Having paid extra and being stuck in undesirable seats made it doubly worse. Our suggestion - book your own flights; you can do much better and be somewhat in control of your destiny. Our relative did it and it worked out just fine; you can shop for upgraded airline seats yourself and do as well if not better price-wise and time-wise. We would be remiss if we do not mention the great things about this cruise - the staff was wonderful (housekeeping, restaurant) and everyone truly aimed to please. After all, many of the technical difficulties on board were not their fault. The food and wine (although offerings could be more varied as they start to repeat) served were excellent and befitting of a luxury cruise. In summary, we did have a good time, having accepted the bad that came with the good. Our fellow passengers, mostly being Viking river cruise veterans, were extremely understanding. Viking's river cruises were excellent as they really have it down pat. Everyone believes that the newness of the ocean cruise concept is to blame for many of our woes. With time, things should improve. They must as the competition is stiff and we get solicitations from Viking's competitors every week. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We were excited to hear that Viking was entering the small luxury ocean market. Based on our cruising experience, this is the market segment most attractive to us. This review is based upon our previous cruises with lines such as Regent, ... Read More
We were excited to hear that Viking was entering the small luxury ocean market. Based on our cruising experience, this is the market segment most attractive to us. This review is based upon our previous cruises with lines such as Regent, Oceania and Azamara. We knew when we signed up for a part of the maiden voyage of the Viking Star that there would be rough spots. However, given our previous experience on Viking and their reputation, our expectations were higher than Viking's performance. We purchase our air through Viking and transfers to/from the ship were included. We were met at the airport and loaded onto buses where representatives checked in each person on handheld terminals. Credit card information was processed on the bus. At the port we gave them our passports and boarded the ship. ID cards were on the bed in each cabin. Overall embarkation was fairly efficient. The Viking Star is a new ship on its maiden cruise. It is a beautiful ship designed in a sleek, Scandinavian style. It has a three story atrium surrounded by sitting space, game tables, a bar and services areas. The services areas are an interesting design. Rather than counters, there are tables where you sit with Excursions or Guest Relations representatives. The problem is these service spaces are very inefficient. Because there was no counter, people were cutting in front of others, not realizing that there were lines until the lines got really long, which they did. The tables and chairs invite you to sit down and chat with the representative. So instead of a quick interchange, it results in longer and inefficient visits that create the long lines. While it seems like a good idea, it does not work. There are many dining options on the ship. The Restaurant is the main eating facility. It is well designed with a number of eating spaces rather than one big dining room. Viking moved to a casual demand dining system during the cruise. This did result in longer lines during prime dining times. Overall the food was good. The menu is the usual 14 day cycle. There are the "always available" items in addition to a "regional specialty" every night. Service was initially spotty, as the crew was new, but it did improve during the cruise. There are two specialty dining rooms, Manfredi's and The Chef's Table. Manfredi's is an Italian restaurant and was the best dining venue on the ship. The menu is the same every night, but is extensive and the food is very good. Many passengers dined multiple times there. The Chef's table is a tasting menu concept. There is a theme such as Asian, Indian or Italian for the menu. It is a fixed menu that changes every 9 days (they may be moving to every 5 days). You have no choices, everyone eats the same thing. If you liked the menu it was fine. If many items were not to your liking you would leave hungry. I am not sure how well the concept was working. There seemed to be empty tables in The Chef's Table every night, while it was difficult to get into Manfredi's. There is no charge to eat in the specialty restaurants. The dining area at the pool was pretty good. Unfortunately the staff was rather new and inexperienced at handling the long lines. As time went on the lines shortened a little. The spa facility is one of the highlights of the ship. There is a large hot tub with built in seating, a cold dunk pool and a hot whirlpool. Lounge seating surrounds the pool area and a snow room. As for the exercise facility it is equipped with a number of machines. There is also a well-equipped weight room and stretching area. There is no provision for spinning on the ship. While there were classes, they were few and very limited. I did not attend any so I cannot comment. The usual trainer seemed to be absent any time I was in the facility. Our experience with free excursions is that you get what you pay for. We took a few and found them to be overcrowded with over 40 people on some. While they do put radios and earphones in everyone’s cabins, 40 people is too many to manipulate on a walking tour of a city. That said, the quality of the guides was pretty good. We did have one experience with an excursion that is worth noting. I had signed up for the Lamborghini Factory tour in Venice. After an hour-and-a-half ride to the factory we found out that the tour operator failed to confirm the tour with Lamborghini and we could not get into the factory. What troubled me was Viking’s response to the problem. When we got back to the ship we were informed that Viking would refund HALF the cost of the excursion. Needless to say, the participants were not happy. After meeting with us, we received a letter from Viking informing us that based on passenger response they would refund the full amount. I cannot believe that Viking would not immediately apologize to all of us and tell us they would be happy to refund the full amount. We did get the expected result, but it seemed grudgingly on the part of Viking. Not the way to run a luxury cruise line. As a follow-up, it is now over a month and a half since we returned from the cruise and Viking did refund HALF the cost of the excursion. When I called “Customer Retention” to ask what happened they called me back to inform me that only one of us signed up for the excursion, so they had refunded the full amount. The Viking website clearly showed the full cost of the excursion as twice what they refunded me. Viking cannot even figure out how much they charge for an excursion. My confidence in Viking continues to wane. We did take a couple other Viking paid excursions and they were good. In general we prefer to arrange private tours and find other people on the Cruise Critic Roll Call to share the cost. We did this in three ports and had wonderful private tours. The cabins are visually very attractive. However there are a number of issues. There are only three small drawers for storage in the cabin and one is used to store the hair dryer. The shelf over the closet becomes the primary storage space. The closet is parallel to the bed, so if someone is on the bed it becomes more difficult to get in the closet. What appears to be a spacious desk drawer is the refrigerator/minibar that contains soda, water and the one mini Twix and Mars bars they "generously" give you each day. Instead of a center drawer the desk has a fold up mirror storage space (vanity) that is totally useless if you leave anything, like a computer, on the desk. While the square footage for the cabin sounds spacious, the room feels cramped. This feeling is probably due to the large bathroom. The shower is large and comfortable. Unfortunately, showering was a challenge due to problems regulating the water temperature. We know of passengers who did not have hot water in their cabin for the first leg of the cruise and were told to shower in another cabin, but could not be moved. We experienced severely fluctuating water temperature in our shower. No matter how you set the faucet, the water cycled from scalding to cold every minute or so. Calls to Guest Relations did not solve the problem. The television system is another story. It did not work at all for the first few days of the cruise. While it appears sophisticated, it is slow to respond and awkward to use. It was obvious that Viking was not happy with the system and working hard to fix it. Overall I would rate the cabins average for this class of cruising, but with dysfunctional storage. I assume the shower temperature is a startup problem that will be corrected. I could go on, but I think I have conveyed the basic idea that Viking is not ready to compete with other luxury class cruise lines. We will return to the other cruise lines we have used and give Viking Ocean a few years to learn the business. If you have enjoyed another luxury cruise line I suggest that you do the same. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We signed up for this cruise over two years before we left, but decided to do a Rhine cruise last August which we thoroughly enjoyed so we are really comparing a river cruise with the Med cruise from Venice to Barcelona. We did two days in ... Read More
We signed up for this cruise over two years before we left, but decided to do a Rhine cruise last August which we thoroughly enjoyed so we are really comparing a river cruise with the Med cruise from Venice to Barcelona. We did two days in Venice prior and two days in Barcelona post. We loved our cabin on deck 4 in the exact back of the ship two floors below the Infinity Pool. Our neighbor in the "around the corner suite" who had joined the cruise in Istanbul warned us that in a tough sea the pool would splash out onto our balcony. We did not experience any problems with this however. We did struggle with a few things. The coffee pots which were hybrid European Keurigs were up very high and difficult to figure out (many passengers told us this as well). There were a number of issues with the amount of people signed up for tours especially on our first few days. We were not big fans of the buffet style restaurant but absolutely love the Restaurant where meals were served as well as the two specialty restaurants Manfred's and the Chef's table both of which we were able to get two reservations apiece. We met wonderful people all over the ship. The entertainment was great. We especially enjoyed the speakers on the ports and the ambassador from Iraq who spoke a number of times. The ship was beautiful. The staff was fabulous especially the two guys who watched over our room and made sure that our every desire was met. I asked for ice on the first day and every day thereafter I had ice whenever we came back to the room. They were wonderful as were the wait staff in all of the restaurants. My wife fainted the day we were leaving the hotel for the boat as we waited to check in. She had an issue with some medicine she had just started taking. We spent the afternoon at the emergency room in Venice. The viking people got us there and stayed with us the whole time and made sure we got on the boat (with an escort) I could not say enough about that kind of service. I have to admit the riverboat cruise was more intimate but we have been on large ocean liners and I would much rather the Viking approach. The Star was overall our best ever vacation. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
The staff were friendly-helpful-very attentive The stateroom was comfortable - especially the bathroom (large shower-2 sinks-shelving) Complementary tours provided a wonderful overview of each port - favorites: Dubrovnik - Pompeii - ... Read More
The staff were friendly-helpful-very attentive The stateroom was comfortable - especially the bathroom (large shower-2 sinks-shelving) Complementary tours provided a wonderful overview of each port - favorites: Dubrovnik - Pompeii - Monaco - basically due to the tour guides enthusiasm Menus were varied enough to sample local foods, as well as standard meal selections Loved the Mamsen's breakfast menu on Deck 7 - the servers were always cheerful for our early morning breakfast Scheduling of shore excursions had several conflicting times between the complementary and special tours - we had to cancel some of the special tours due to the timings of the tours Cocktail and Conversation period: should be scheduled for late afternoon (5 to 6 or 6 to 7) rather than at 10 to 10:45 PM. After a day of touring we were to tired to attend. We missed many events on ship due to the conflict of touring and being on board the ship Enrichment Lectures for next day tours should be scheduled for late afternoon or early evening We missed the Captain's Welcome event - should be scheduled late afternoon or early evening not 9:30 to 10 PM Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
All I can really say is WOW!!! This was our first cruise. The ship was spectacular, the staff was very attentive, friendly, always a smile. I enjoyed getting my hair fixed at the salon on board and also had a very relaxing massage. The ... Read More
All I can really say is WOW!!! This was our first cruise. The ship was spectacular, the staff was very attentive, friendly, always a smile. I enjoyed getting my hair fixed at the salon on board and also had a very relaxing massage. The excursions and guides where mostly helpful and informative. Our cabin was very comfy and the veranda was great for taking pictures and drinking coffee or a cold drink. We really enjoyed the variety of foods at World Cafe, from sushi to gelato, lamb to turkey. The Chef's Table was suberb in ALL aspects. When the trip was done all we could say was WE WILL do this again! Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We joined the Viking Star in Venice after a pre Trip through Italy ( a great land trip) in April 2015. The ship is beautiful. This was the first scheduled trip for the Star, and there were a few glitches but nothing that affected the ... Read More
We joined the Viking Star in Venice after a pre Trip through Italy ( a great land trip) in April 2015. The ship is beautiful. This was the first scheduled trip for the Star, and there were a few glitches but nothing that affected the smooth sailing of the ship or the delicious cuisine and the interesting itinerary. This was our first ocean cruise so we had to orient ourselves to a larger ship (we had taken many wonderful Viking River Cruises prior to this) and the greater number of activities on a larger vessel. We usually did all the activities on the River Cruises but that wasn't possible on the Star. Our cabin was large and luxurious; loved the extra space and fantastic bathroom. Our TV did not work most of the time (but who goes on a cruise to watch TV?) The food was fantastic; Manfredis and the Main dining room were superb. For the most part the staff were efficient and courteous; however the casual dining room staff seemed under staffed and poorly supervised. I'm not sure that I enjoyed the chef's special restaurant (we went twice) as much as I did the other venues. The wine pairings were excellent, but I think some of the dishes missed the mark. They seemed somewhat pretentious, and I hope we are never served the white foam again. We were really impressed with the on board entertainment. The classical trio was superb as well the Montserrat Boys Choir. There just wasn't enough time to hear everyone and get a good nights' rest. Overall, we enjoyed our trip enough to already be scheduled on two more Viking Ocean Cruises (2016 & 2017.) Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Accommodations were superb, staff was fantastic, and the best gem of the dining experience was in the Nordic restaurant. Wait staff and chef were outstanding. Best coffee on the ship was to be found here. Coffee in regular dining areas ... Read More
Accommodations were superb, staff was fantastic, and the best gem of the dining experience was in the Nordic restaurant. Wait staff and chef were outstanding. Best coffee on the ship was to be found here. Coffee in regular dining areas was horrid. I was very disappointed in it. I enjoyed a wonderful dessert nightly without coffee which I dearly love. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We chose this cruise because we had been on 4 previous Viking cruises on rivers. Everything on this cruise was up to the Viking standards we have come to expect. We had beautiful accommodations, terrific food, excellent service, great ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had been on 4 previous Viking cruises on rivers. Everything on this cruise was up to the Viking standards we have come to expect. We had beautiful accommodations, terrific food, excellent service, great tours, etc. However, we are going back to their river cruises because, except for Split and Dubrovnik, all of the port dockings were too big for us to just walk off and explore easily on our own in the afternoons as we could on the river cruises. We have no complaints, just the size, while much better than the big ships of other lines, had too much we didn't need or use -- pool, spa, fancy shop, etc. The entertainment was marvelous, but again fancier than we needed; we like the kinds of things we had on the river cruises: how to make clogs, sea chantey singers, speaker on the EU, etc As per usual the embarkation and debarkation went as smoothly as all Viking trips. We were very pleased with everything they provided. the extra trips we took were wonderful: the side trip to Pompeii, the Day in Provence, and especially the trip in Tuscany; the visit to the B and B farm, which is still a work in progress provided a wonderful meal and allowed us to see the work they are doing and then the trip to the walled medieval town of San G was spectacular. We have every intention of continuing to do more Viking trips, but, only on the river cruises. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We have sailed on over 35 cruises including 3 Oceania and a Regent within the last year. In many ways this compares very favorably with both those lines. The food is comparable to Regent (not quite up to Oceania) but still very good. The ... Read More
We have sailed on over 35 cruises including 3 Oceania and a Regent within the last year. In many ways this compares very favorably with both those lines. The food is comparable to Regent (not quite up to Oceania) but still very good. The staff is very friendly and provides excellent service. The ship is unlike a Regent or Oceania vessel in that it has many small almost living room type areas that are extremely comfortable and conducive to conversation and or relaxation. Since we were on the second leg of the maiden voyage there were some glitches but most of them were minor and I am sure will be corrected shortly. The one what I consider a major negative was one of the two speciality restaurants The Chef's Table has fixed menu that changes every 9 days. The problem is in the four course menu I could not eat two of the courses and I was told there is no substitutions available so we avoided that restaurant. The other speciality restaurant Manfredi's was excellent and since we did no go to The Chef's Table they gave us an extra meal at Manfredi's. The drinks on board were free flowing at meals and very inexpensive at the bars. Wine was $4 and most alcohol was either $6 or $8 with only a 10% addition for the tip! The gratuities Were reasonable. Our room was stocked with the liquor we requested and replenished daily. The tours are included and like most river cruises include the audio system which makes it easier to follow the guide. The extra cost tours we took were well worth the cost and much less expensive than Oceania/Regent. I particularly enjoyed the Norwegian theme throughout the ship and the Norwegian waffles. Overall if Viking had a cruise going where I wanted to go (e:g Norwegian fjords and Iceland). I would book in a minute. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Viking Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.8
Dining 5.0 4.7
Entertainment 3.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 1.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.2
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 5.0 4.4

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