I took this cruise with all five sisters and spouses. This is the second Viking cruise the ten of us have taken. We began with two extra days in Barcelona. Fantastic decision as it gave us time to see Barcelona and visit many of its ... Read More
I took this cruise with all five sisters and spouses. This is the second Viking cruise the ten of us have taken. We began with two extra days in Barcelona. Fantastic decision as it gave us time to see Barcelona and visit many of its attractions.
When it was time to embark we everything went somewhat smoothly. Although, the constant TSA like security every time we boarded got old fast. Once on board it took many of us a while before our roo ms were ready. Yet this transition went relatively smooth considering the number of people boarding.
As a group we usually ate our meals in the World Cafe. Although, all ten of us did eat at Manfredi's Italian restaurant twice. My wife and I also ate at the Chef's table a couple of times.
One thing I learned early is that the World Cafe has two serving lines and generally both lines had different items. One thing about Manfredi's is that one needs to be aware of the amount of food that will be served. You could easily share the pasta, main course and dessert if you want to limit calories.
The Chef's table is a more intimate setting. Each course was well described by wait staff and was paired with a fine wine, also well described. I was confused the first time we had reservations. Supposedly the Chef's table was fully booked. Yet when we arrived and during our meal there were a number of open tables. I suspect this allowed staff to focus on those dining while leaving tables for later reservations.
There is also the restaurant. If you have sailed on a Viking River Cruise, the restaurant is similar to the River Cruise dining room. My wife and I really enjoyed on visits to the restaurant. However, the majority of my family opted for the World Cafe.
I must compliment the Cruise Director and his assistant. They put together a fantastic schedule of daily informational speakers and evening entertainment. The highlight was the last night medley of ABBA (AKA Mama Mia) and Beatles hits. They were successful in getting the older crowd to really get stand and boogie as they completed their ABBA series.
The service on board was excellent. I know all passengers were treated well. However, I am not sure that there were many on the Viking Star that received the personal attention most of my family did. Probably due to some of the very outgoing personalities evident in my family. I was actually surprised that most of the wait staff not only knew my name but also my wife's.
If there was any disappointment on this trip is was some of the excursions. A caveat here is that excursions were operated by contractors and not Viking, unlike river cruises. A couple of times the bus ride for the included tours were so long that there wasn't much time for walking around. Although we were pretty happy with the optional tours we booked. My favorite was Normandy Beach. We figured the trip to Paris wouldn't give us enough time to do anything but see the sights. We could do that with pictures.
On the Normandy Beach option we saw a lot of WWII history, including information about how allied military actually moved men and machines into France after the invasion.
The various bunkers, military equipment and remains of the landing harbor really should impress the WWII buff.
As an aside, we really loved the Porto, Portugal excursion. My wife and I spent our Honeymoon in Portugal, including a couple of nights in Porto. We talked about returning for our fifth anniversary. We didn't make it. We were 17 years late. So who's counting?
One thing I should note. There was a jigsaw puzzle available to complete. Evidently it had never been done during the time of a cruise. However, we did complete it.
Our cruise ended in Bergen, Norway. The included tour of Bergen allowed us time to take pictures from various locations around the town. We then were left in town to find our way back. We had the opportunity to hear a number of drum corps during the drum corps competition.
We, as a family of ten, added a local three hour Fjord cruise. We were very pleased with this addition. While this tour didn't offer any narrative, we had the opportunity to see a part of Norway and the Bergen area that others didn't get a chance to do. An interesting sidelight was the opportunity to drink water taken from a local waterfall. The tour boat captain motored his boat to the cliff where the water fell. As he did a crew member used a pail that was on the end of a ten foot pole to catch this refreshing drink.
Disembarkation went smoothly. Once at the airport reality set in and we had to get ready for the trip back to home.
Would we do this cruise again? Definitely. However, we would be more aware of the various options and would research the actual port and its amenities before considering included excursions.
I would have added a couple of pictures but there was a problem with the program. Sorry. Read Less