I have been on 30+ cruises on numerous different lines from age 12 through to this week. We just debarked at Barcelona. This was my first time with Viking. I am platinum with Cunard and have also been on Carnival, NCL, Holland America, ... Read More
I have been on 30+ cruises on numerous different lines from age 12 through to this week. We just debarked at Barcelona. This was my first time with Viking. I am platinum with Cunard and have also been on Carnival, NCL, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean and, as a child back in the 70's on Chandris- the old MS Victoria!
Our trip was to have been 15 days from Bergen, Norway to Barcelona, Spain. The ship broke down the week before our cruise started and stranded it's passengers in the small port of Tallinn Estonia. This ship is brand new and was launched this spring. One of the engines burned out.
We flew to Bergen, Norway as planned but did 3 nights in a hotel there and then had to do a charter flight to Copenhagen to catch the ship and transit the Kiel Canal and catch up with the advertised itinerary in mid-voyage.
I want to be real clear that Viking offered a full money back refund with no strings attached before we departed. Once on board, I spoke with a high-level personage who kindly upgraded us to the biggest room on the ship, a large beast, with living room, dinning room, walk-in shower room and large private bedroom and 2 large screen flat screen TV's. This person also gave us an additional $200 ship board credit over and above the $500 the line gave in general.
1. The refund offer and the upgrade once on ship were greatly appreciated and earned Viking a second chance with me.
2. I think the staff was one of the nicest I have encountered on a line, they made an effort to get to know us personally and went out of their way to help in any way they could
3. The ship is IKEA modern and new and speaks to the high level of finish one would expect from a nice 4 Season or Ritz Carlton
4. The people on the voyage were nice, did not meet a bad apple during the 15 days, the crowd seemed to average in the 50's and seemed to be fairly well travelled.
5. My gay spouse and I felt welcomed by all
6. British Airways lost both of our bags and we did not get them back for 9 days and 3 days respectively. Damn BA and this was not Viking’s fault. I list this as a positive because Martha and the gang at Viking did everything they could to call and call and call BA and repeatedly get put on hold for hours at a time by BA and then hung up on when BA finally answered the phone. Viking traced and tracked our luggage and kept us updated on the progress daily. Damn BA. They took my luggage, took my $10,000 USD for business class tickets and did not give a damn about either! But that’s a story for a different review. Damn BA. Lufthansa for us next time!
7. The debarkation process was the smoothest and easiest I have ever experienced. They told you what you needed to do, when by and where to be. They physically walked you to the check in terminal for your departing flight and carried your bags for you, AND had a lot of cute Barcelona hotties around to help you with any questions. There was a visible Viking presence even after you left the ship, all the way up to when you were at the check in counter for your flight home where BA loses your luggage, collects your $10,000 USD business class airfare and doesn’t give a damn about either.
8. There was good, strong, free, wi-fi throughout the ship and it was very nice to keep in touch with back home. No hassles about data plans or minutes to purchase etc.
9. Enjoyed airline captain Lorimer Burn's lectures on flying.
1. Much has been written about the heated floors in the bathroom and the heated towel rack, well, they are cursed. The floors and the towel rack can NOT be turned off and got so hot that people were having to put towels on the floor to avoid heating their feet- burning their feet would be too strong of a phrase, but just short of a burn- way too hot to walk on comfortably. ALSO, the towel rack got very hot like a radiator, our bath got up in the high 80's. It got so bad I had to have engineering come and physically rip it out of the wall and disconnect it-which took 2 hours for them to complete. The technician told me that 20 other people had called about this same issue. Why the heck they didn't just put an off and on switch in is beyond me. Keep in mind, the line is based in Norway so I am sure a nice hot bath is welcome in 60 degrees in Bergen, but when you are in the 90's in Barcelona et al, it is a curse. Whenever we opened the bath door, it was like opening a hot oven and it would heat up the rest of the bedroom for 30 minutes. You could grow orchids and ferns in that bath with no issue. And again, there is NO way to turn that heat off or down.
2. There are a lot of silos on the ship, the front desk, housekeeping and engineering do not communicate well and do not follow up with each other. I had to personally take time off of my vacation to oversee the work and make sure it gone done. It had not even been started and yet front desk was told it had been completed.
3. The AC in our largest room on the boat died on the 3rd to last day so we had to move rooms again- so 3 room changes in a 12 night cruise that had already been shortened by 3 nights because of the delay due to the broken engines the week before.
4. The engine burned out again on our trip, we got in to Lisbon 3 hours late. The ship slowed down greatly as we crossed the Bay of Biscay during the Beatles concert. I told everyone something was wrong with the 2nd engine as we were no longer trailing 2 rooster tails, only one. People laughed at me but sure enough, the next morning, we got the announcements of maintenance issues and 3 hours late in to Lisbon, this time was not given back either, we just lost the 3 hours
5. The "Included" ship tours are awful. Imagine going to Santa Monica and never being taken to or shown the beach! Imagine going to New York City but never being taken in to Manhattan! We took the "Included" tour of Gibraltar- it made no mention of the famous Apes nor did it take us to see them or to the top of the Rock. I had to spend 120 GBP to hire a taxi to take us after we got off of the “included” tour. We took the "Included" tour of Barcelona, we drove by La Sagrada Familia" for something like 2 seconds in a hot crowed bus and that was it. Also, the "Included" tours seem suspiciously timed to exactly coincide with the pay tours that do take you to the Apes on Gibraltar and the Sagrada in Barcelona
6. The entertainment was not popular with the guests, I speak specifically of the string quartet and guitar player who seemed to work four 2 hour shifts a day moving about the ship and wherever they were playing, there were no guests. The show entertainers were cute and young and pretty good singers and dancers. The real star of the entertainment was a massive Samsung video wall that ran the length of the stage and really gave the actors flexibility in their routines. They did a James Bond spoof which was great.
7. I thought there was a bit of false advertising. Viking advertised “2 days in London and 2 days in Paris”. Well, the ship was scheduled to get in to London one day at 10am and leave the next day at 11 am, so that’s really only 2 half-days spread across 25 hours. The same held for Paris. Of course, we lost all of the London visit because of the engine breakdowns and only got one day in Paris and the tours FORCED you to choose between 9 hours in Normandy or 9 hours in Paris. Lots of people were quite peeved that they could not do both, a lot of vets on the boat wanted to see Normandy and the wives wanted to see Paris and only one choice was possible. Also, you only found out these times AFTER you had paid for the cruise 100% and had passed the non-refundable stage. I spent 1400 euro to hire a private car and driver to wait for us at the dock at Rouen when the ship got in, to race us in to Paris that night before our next day tour to Normandy. After setting all of that up, I had to cancel it all once the engines broke down and they changed the trip and Paris was lost. I am sure there are probably tidal issues that affect the times the boat comes and goes but they should adjust for that.
8. After the first few nights on board it got boring, they really should get a small casino.
9. They had on demand movies and it is a total mystery to me why they had It Happened One Night, a 1930’s Claudette Colbert movie that made Clark Gable’s career, and odd 1950’s flicks like The 7 Year Itch and Singing in the Rain, but NO Maltese Falcon, Dark Passage, The Big Sleep, High Sierra, Casablanca etc. Come one Viking, put some damn Bogie and Bacall movies in the queue!
10. I am really concerned about the safety of this ship, I think Fincantieri built a lemon here. Folks, the worse thing that can happen at sea is fire. The second worse thing is to be in rough seas in the Bay of Biscay or North Sea and lose an engine! We were very lucky when we crossed the Bay of Biscay that we had sun and calm seas and the ship was very rocky even under those ideal conditions. I wondered if we had had a force 9 gale and 35 foot seas like we did when we crossed it on a previous voyage with Queen Mary 2, how well we would have fared. When we docked at Barcelona, the shipyard had a large group of technicians there waiting with what appeared to be 3 LARGE engines and crates of equipment that were being craned on to the ship, no doubt a replacement engine transformer and what appeared to be two back up units to keep on board, there is a bug here I suspect is a design issue.
11. Printing out boarding passes was a joke. Only 1 printer for 700 guests trying to print out their boarding passes and guess what, of course the printer didn’t work so it took a half day for the staff to save your boarding pass on a thumb drive and then print it out in the back office send to your room. They need to add about 15 more computers and 5 more printers.
12. There is no “front desk” as with a traditional ship. There is more of a bank lobby or living room where you wait for the next person at the desk and then you go and sit with them and work on your issue. The problem is there are only 3 of these people and they seem to get 50 phone calls an hour. When you are in your cabin, you can frequently never get these folks on the line, particularly late at night. I let the number ring 45 times on one occasion and no one ever answered. I wondered if I was calling to report a fire or a rape in progress or something, how safe that would be. I did not see a 999 or 911 number posted.
13. My last point will sound elitist but I must mention it. We were in a $25,000 room but it made no difference in any of the lines on the boat, quickness of room service, having a dedicated butler etc. We were in a large Century Suite on Celebrity Silhouette and had our own dedicated butler and he really was ours 100% of the time to cut us through lines for tenders, tours, tickets or whatever we needed. On Viking, the $699 discount cruiser gets the exact same service as the $25,000 guest. The only thing you get for all of that extra money is a bigger cabin. We paid $16,000 for our room which even without the generous upgrade to the biggest room on the ship, was still the 2nd highest level suite.
All in all, given the engine trouble on 2 different cruises back to back, I would not go on this ship again unless she had 2 years of zero engine problems. Big rooms and new ships are nice, but if it is prone to loosing engines during the journey, it is not something to risk your life on. Read Less