I recently returned from the Lisbon to Miami December 2018 Mid-Atlantic Crossing on the Viking Sun. And, while Viking claims to be the Number One Cruise Line in the premier 600-2199 passenger ship category, I do not completely agree. ... Read More
I recently returned from the Lisbon to Miami December 2018 Mid-Atlantic Crossing on the Viking Sun. And, while Viking claims to be the Number One Cruise Line in the premier 600-2199 passenger ship category, I do not completely agree. Why? Because too many of the Viking passengers sole ocean experience is on Viking after having taken one of their river cruises. These first time cruisers are quite impressed, as they should be, because the Viking Sun and its sister ships are very classy vessels. The Sun was launched in 2017 and is the fourth of five ships currently in the fleet, although there are plans to have ten ships in the fleet by 2027. However, once you have sailed on Regent, Crystal, Azamara, Silversea, Oceania or Seabourn, you have a point for comparison and can determine for yourself how Viking compares in different ways to these lines. Some of these competitor ships are smaller than Viking and some are larger, but each company has a niche and their customers are happy with that offering. Regent is fully inclusive offering air, food, accommodation, tours, alcohol and personnel tips in their price whereas Viking offers just food, accommodation, tours, plus a limited selection beer and wine with lunch and dinner. Viking does offer a reasonably priced air option but does not include tips which are added to your bill as is done by Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity which have larger ships and cater to a somewhat different clientele. Here are some of my observations about the Viking Sun during my voyage.
The positive observations:
The “lobby” of the Sun is a stunning three stories high with a two story electronic billboard on which they display notes of local historical interest such as events, birthdays, etc. and also photos of birds, stamps, coins, flowers, artwork, etc. Overlooking the lowest level are public seating areas on the two higher floors that afford the passengers an opportunity to watch or listen to what is going on below (piano or string duo) or to play games at electronic tables or assemble jig saw puzzles or just relax. There is also a self-service laundry on each of the guest room floors starting on level 3. The ship wide electronic information screens allow you to catch up on news, daily activities, weather, dining menus, shore excursions, etc. and you can also get this information in your room on the tv set which is a large wall-mounted flat screen. The entertainment on the ship is very good: the speakers were almost uniformly excellent, there is a resident historian to provide salient talks on subjects of interest, and the four singers/dancers were very good. The two alternate restaurants provide a choice of Italian food at Manfredi and a rotating fixed menu at the Chef’s Table (Mexican, French, Chinese…) which can be paired with selected wines in place of the regular wine selections if you have the optional beverage package. The food is generally good and there is a nightly sushi bar in the buffet. The cruise director on this voyage, Heather Clancy, was one of the best I have encountered. In addition to doing the daily activities briefing each morning on tv, introducing speakers, and generally interacting with guests all over the ship each day, she also sang at one show and performed the Sunday church service and Christmas observance as well. Amazing! The staterooms are large compared to Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean and all come with a balcony.
The less than positive observations:
While the lectures are generally good, there were NONE on the sea day afternoons. Instead they were offered at cocktail time just before dinner or during the 6pm dinner hour. In my opinion this is very bad for the passengers and quite disrespectful of the speakers. Viking claims to have their staff are the “best trained in the industry.” Someone at PR in Viking should travel on Crystal or Oceania if they want to see how well trained staff works with customers. While the Viking staff was always polite, in too many instances, the restaurant service was slow, the wait staff were running around seemingly confused, and they often had no idea about wines on the non-complimentary list. The ship does have a library of sorts with many books, BUT these books are spread all over the common areas. There is no way to see if they have a specific book and you have to request a print out of categories from guest services to locate a genre. Unfortunately there were no reference books on board. Although Viking does provide bottled water for shore excursions, all the other water on board is served from carafes of tap water, even in your stateroom, which speaks volumes about overall product quality! As for the crew, their name tags do not have their home country listed, so you have to keep asking them where they are from if you want to talk with them about their origin. In terms of computers for guest use, there are exactly five desktops available and oftentimes they were all occupied. This may not be a big deal when almost everyone has their own personal device (cell phone, tablet, laptop) but there is also no dedicated person to help solve computing problems as some other lines have. Moreover, the Viking internet system, while reasonably fast, only allowed you to have ONE connected device at a time. Other lines allow up to three devices. As mentioned above, the staterooms are reasonably sized but the storage is limited to seven total drawers that are not very tall and a small closet similar in size to Viking River ships. Sadly, the room lights, 110 volt and 220 volt electrical outlets and usb ports are controlled by a card slot for your room key like European hotels use. When you are out of the room the electrical outlets, lights and usb ports turn off! This makes it hard to charge things! Finally, since this was a voyage with many sea days, there was no bridge instructor or duplicate bidding boxes available to assist the numerous people who wanted to play bridge. Viking did provide cards, score pads, and a room in which to play cards, but that was all. I have seen bridge players treated worse, but I have also seen them treated MUCH BETTER on other crossings.
To summarize, it was a good trip with some good and not so good things to recommend it. Viking ocean is good, but they are definitely not the best in my opinion. Read Less