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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
We went looking for a Norway/fjord cruise and an extension on our own for a couple of days in Iceland - this ship seemed to fit the bill. Virtually brand new ship and this was our first time on Viking. Our initial impression was that ... Read More
We went looking for a Norway/fjord cruise and an extension on our own for a couple of days in Iceland - this ship seemed to fit the bill. Virtually brand new ship and this was our first time on Viking. Our initial impression was that the decor and furnishings on this ship are excellent and well thought-out. The public area furniture is comfortable but not clunky and the general decor is Scandinavian modern minimalist. We liked all of the public areas, particularly the covered pool ( pretty chilly up in Norway even in the summer)and the spa area which has steam room, saunas and everything you could want. The staff was largely Asian and over the top in friendliness and quality of service. The passenger demographic was older but not incapacitated - no kids, no casino, no half-baked broadway reviews etc. Our stateroom on deck 4 was very comfortable, quiet and outfitted with the usual higher end amenities, flat screen TV, comfortable bed, well thought out lighting etc. Minor issue: I wish the max setting of the TV volume were a bit higher as my hearing is not what it used to be. And, while the shower (no bath) was great, it occasionally was beset by the temperature gremlins, turning hot and cold randomly. I was told that a fix for this is in the works. The food was overall very good to excellent - not quite as good as Crystal but close. Breakfast and lunch were in the buffet areas by the pool or the World cafe - sometimes I wish they would open the Restaurant for breakfast or lunch, but I can see the economics of not doing this. The regular coffee was surprisingly good for a cruise ship - first time in my experience and specialty coffees were available in various locations. We bought the Silver liquor package - this gives you 24/7 access to top shelf liquor and a large assortment of wines, but even if you don't get it, the per/drink prices are very reasonable. $15 pp/pday tips on your closing statement. The Chef's Table is a specialty restaurant where the menu is fixed and changes every day or frequently. We tried it one night and did not like the concept. We prefer the Thomas Keller type approach on Seabourne where at least some choices are available. The Italian specialty restaurant Manfredi's was fantastic - great Italian dishes and my personal favorite - Dover Sole meuniere. We booked our own side tours as we don't like the bus-tour experience. Overall, this is a lovely ship with user friendly systems and user friendly staff. We will be back. Fer shur. Happy trails. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We fell in love once we were on board. Over the top service and warm compassionate crew and servers. We made some new friends and managed to share some laughs and some tears as well. Since we got the free upgrade to The Owner's ... Read More
We fell in love once we were on board. Over the top service and warm compassionate crew and servers. We made some new friends and managed to share some laughs and some tears as well. Since we got the free upgrade to The Owner's Suite (TOS) from our explorers suite, Viking did everything in their power to make magic happen on all levels for our 30th anniversary. Attention to detail at every corner and smiling faces at every occasion. That is until we had to leave our cabin and our steward Olivera behind. She made a lasting impression on us and touched our heart. Olivera would make a great Miss America coach one day as she has the ability to take any humble lady and make her realize why she is special and why she deserves to enjoy every aspect of the cruise including spa and take advantage of all the benefits that come with TOS. A special thanks to Olivera, Wendy, Daniel and Hector for making the private party happen with such passionate care. Special thanks to Manuel for his expert planning at the last minute when one of our excursions was canceled (we were the only ones who booked it). Also special thanks to John at the gelato bar and Sara who served up smiles at the same time she served your Sangria and everything else. We pray one day to meet up with this crew and servers again. As far as the excursions go, we felt that we got more out of the custom tours we planned than the major bus excursions. The Vatican museum was pure madness and we should have booked a private excursion there. What folks should take away is that the included tours are going to be super popular ones and the majority of the other tours will still be popular. Our favorite dining experiences were with Manfredi's and The Chef's Table. The calamari at Manfredi's is light and crispy, and they treat their seafood and meat dishes with respect. Daniel and Hector do a great job with their themed fixed menu at the Chef's Table. On the ship, I found the pools to be limiting but at least with Viking they are not crowded. The heated pool area on deck 1 features a slippery set of stairs that I slipped on and tore a gash in my right ankle which is now all black and blue. My issue was that I presumed if it was a pool step it would be like my personal pool and be a little rough on the step surface. I should have planned better, but Viking could make some additional safety precautions in my opinion. Overall, we would definitely book again, and have already planned our next outing to Australia and New Zealand over Thanksgiving 2020. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We’d traveled with Viking twice before on their river cruises and love the Viking experience. I took my wife on her first cruise experience to the western Caribbean on one of those large ships and it was a disaster. So I convinced my ... Read More
We’d traveled with Viking twice before on their river cruises and love the Viking experience. I took my wife on her first cruise experience to the western Caribbean on one of those large ships and it was a disaster. So I convinced my bride we should try a Viking Ocean Cruise and neither one of us had been to Italy so the Odyssey made sense We started our trip with the Tuscany pre-sailing stay and were so glad we did. They put us up in a beautiful Tuscan Villa just outside of Florence and it couldn’t have been more charming. The accommodations were excellent, the service outstanding and the views were what you’ve seen in movies and pictures. We were taken on full day tours in high end motor coaches with a guide who put all other guides to shame. The tours were nice but as usual, the local guides tried to pump too much information into your ear so off we went to explore on our own once the meeting place and times were set. We enjoy the local shops & such but live just finding a small outdoor cafe and having a coffee or a glass of wine with some small nibbles. Viking bussed us to Venice where we picked up the Viking Star. What a beautiful ship. For a small ship it was quite large. But by comparison, we were docked next to the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Sea and we were tiny by comparison. We had cabin 8007 which we found to be a perfect location. The ship was easy to learn and easy to get around. The first thing you notice is how warm and friendly the crew is. From the stateroom stewards to the bar tenders, waiters, kitchen staff, etc. We spoke to many of the staff we came in contact with and they were genuinely happy to be there despite the hard work and long hours. To a person they all thought Viking was the best of all the cruise lines to work for. There were bars & restaurants all around the ship so getting a drink or a little something to eat was never an issue. There is the World Cafe buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, The Restaurant for breakfast & dinner and two other specialty restaurants that required reservations. Viking has a casual attitude so resort casual is fine for all the restaurants and pretty much anything goes in the buffet. So gentleman, leave your suits and sports coats at home. The real treasure is up in the Explorers Lounge which has a fabulous bar and lounge overlooking the bow of the ship as well as a little cafe that serves the best breakfast waffle you’ve ever eaten and then later in the day some of the best desserts. Cannot recommend it more. There is a wonder spa, workout facility, and an area near the spa with a hot pool, sauna, steam room and a snow grotto. Kinda crazy fun. The included tours and fine for getting around the various ports of call but there are many optional tours available as well at an additional expense. Check those out on line. The included tour in Rome was our least favorite so if there’s something really specific you want to see or do there, book that. Overall, I’m not sure you could have a better cruising experience than with Viking. Nothing in life is perfect but Viking seems to get as close as humanly possible. Now, I’ll caveat that with if you’re a whiny type who just likes to complain about the littlest thing, we’ll, nothing’s going to make you happy so just stay home so the rest of the passengers can enjoy themselves. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose this cruise as a great way to explore the Baltic region and we certainly achieved that aim....The tours and lectures meant we returned home having seen and learnt so much! From arrival at Stockholm to the departure gate at ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a great way to explore the Baltic region and we certainly achieved that aim....The tours and lectures meant we returned home having seen and learnt so much! From arrival at Stockholm to the departure gate at Bergen we were looked after very thoughtfully. The senior officers were ever present and available to talk to. A small niggle about the buffet was picked up by an attentive Restaurant Manager and dealt with professionally and personally by the Head Chef. The food throughout was excellent,we enjoyed both speciality restaurants and found it easy to make extra bookings once on the ship. Viking Sea is beautifully designed with lots of interesting artwork and understated Scandinavian style. The lectures we either attended or caught up with on the cabin t.v were all relevant and interesting/ thought provoking. There was more entertainment than we expected, we particularly enjoyed the 2 guest shows by Mary Jess and the resident Viking band and singers. The musicians who entertained in many of the public areas were very accomplished. We took several of the included tours, some were better than others but all gave us an introduction to the area which we were able to follow up independently at most destinations, often aided by the complimentary shuttle bus. After reading reviews we opted to use Alla tours in St Petersburg. They were excellent and I have no hesitation in recommending them. We chose not to take a tour in Berlin instead taking the included morning trip to Rostock and then occupying ourselves in Warnemunde (a local seaside town with a long sandy beach and promenade,interesting waterfront and lots of little shops,cafes ) A day well-spent. We were lucky to enjoy good weather throughout which always helps although strong winds in Gdynia meant we were unable to dock that day, an extra day at sea was easily occupied. If you decide to take this cruise I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We left Venice May 6th on Viking Star on the "Empires of the Mediterranean".....a long anticipated trip which turned out to be almost as wonderful as we imagined! Our cabin (6087) was spacious and we did spend a lot of time ... Read More
We left Venice May 6th on Viking Star on the "Empires of the Mediterranean".....a long anticipated trip which turned out to be almost as wonderful as we imagined! Our cabin (6087) was spacious and we did spend a lot of time there enjoying the view from our balcony. The Star is a beautiful ship from one end to the other and we quickly discovered our favorite spot was the Explorer's Lounge with wide windows and comfortable seats and a great bar (be sure to get the Silver Spirits package!). We enjoyed our meals in the speciality restaurants much more than the World Cafe which is pretty much a buffet with lots of choices but it became not as special after a few days. However, our time on the Star was compared at every turn to our River Cruise last year on the Viking longboat, Mani. WE LOVED THAT CRUISE! Having a small number of people on a ship certainly makes it easier to make friends which makes for a much happier time! We met three couples almost immediately and we bonded for the whole trip and still are in contact. I hear a lot of people saying the same thing about making friends on a River Cruise. The Ocean ships have over 900 people and not as much opportunity to make friends as there are so many options available for activities and dining. We truly love anything Viking though! Hope for more cruises but the trip over the pond is getting harder and harder. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Viking does it right. We had a wonderful cruise sailing the Baltic Sea! Even on a full sailing the ship never felt very crowded. EMBARKATION- Super smooth. Rep at Stockholm airport and they put us in a private transfer to ship. About ... Read More
Viking does it right. We had a wonderful cruise sailing the Baltic Sea! Even on a full sailing the ship never felt very crowded. EMBARKATION- Super smooth. Rep at Stockholm airport and they put us in a private transfer to ship. About 45 minute ride. On ship in a minute after arrival Stockholm- Took included tour. Bus tour around city with quick photo stop at city hall. We then went to Vasa Museum on our own which is highly recommended. Viking provided a complimentary shuttle back to the ship every half hour from in front of the opera house. QUICK TIP: If departing from Stockholm in the morning, get up for the sail away. We left at 5:00am and the first couple hours of cruising we just idyllic St. Petersburg- We did the included bus tour with short stops at Church of Spilled Blood and St. Isaacs Cathedral. We also did the Canal Cruise which was a little disappointing. We really enjoyed the actual canal cruising but that only lasted 1 hour of a 5 hour shore excursion. The rest of the time was spent inside the 2 aforementioned churches. For $100 a person we would have enjoyed more time cruising the rivers QUICK TIP: BE VERY CAREFUL with your passport. If you lose passport you have to drive to Moscow to get a new one. Thousands of dollars and a missed cruise later you may have a story to tell but not one you want to have to tell Tallinn- This was actually our favorite port on the cruise. Such a well preserved Old Town really transports you back in time. The included tour is mostly walking with a short bus ride. We stayed on our own in the Old town area before catching the complimentary shuttle back to the ship Visby- A really surprising delightful island. About a 2 hour walking tour through the town. Loved seeing all the ruins. Highly recommended QUICK TIP: It is really windy outside the town walls. Once you get inside the walls it is more bearable Bornholm- Bus tour through the countryside with two 30 minute stops along the way in small fishing towns. We didn't particularly love this tour, although the countryside is really pretty there isn't much to see in the towns. There were amazing fields of yellow flowers in bloom. Copenhagen- 3 hour walking tour. Walk alongside the harbor to Little Mermaid statue, through Kastellet grounds, Amelienborg Palace and ending in Nyhaven area. This tour is pretty demanding and we were exhausted by the end of it. In reality you could just see these sights on your own at your own pace and with only one day in Copenhagen if I were to do it again that's what I would do. Shuttle service all day from near Nyhaven street. In the afternoon we went back into city and rented bikes. The city bikes (bycyclen white bikes) are a great way to see the city. Bike paths are everywhere so it feels pretty safe. Also they have electric engine assist which made it very easy to ride. About $3 per 30 mintues and there are stations throughout city to drop the bikes off- Highly recommended DISEMBARK- Smooth and helpful with staff everywhere assisting. The main downside is they transfer you to airport SOOO early. We arrived at CPH at 9:30am for a 1:30pm flight. The checkin counter didn't even open until 11:30am. Just be aware if you book transfers with Viking you will get there way too early, but I guess its better than the alternative. Dining- We thought the food was excellent overall. We ate most meals in world café because we enjoy the convenience of picking a little of everything. We did have 5 meals in the specialty restaurants and each was a very special experience. Manfredis was probably our favorite venue but beware portions are huge and room is loud. Chefs table is a much quieter environment with 4 course food/wine pairings. Don't miss Mamsens waffles in Explorers Lounge! The only item that was disappointing throughout the ship was the brewed coffee. It was awful. We ended up getting lattes and cappuccinos from the Viking Living room bar on Deck 1 each morning. Those were very tasty. Entertainment- Don't expect large productions but there was some performance each night. Our favorites were the Russian dancers who came onboard as well as two opera singers in Russia as well. If you don't make it out in St. Petersburg to see a ballet or other show its nice that Viking brings that local entertainment to you. Also Cruise director Bevin had a performance one night which was outstanding. The 4 piece singing group was just ok. Production was a little bit cheesy at times. Ship- Perfect size ship. Never felt crowded. Weather was nice so we enjoyed some meals outside on pool deck. Also be sure to go to Spa for steam room and ice room. Work out those sore muscles. Hope this review helps those considering this itinerary. You really cant go wrong with Viking and we keep coming back to this cruise line for the amazing food, attentive service, long times in port, no screaming kids and plenty of space onboard to relax and enjoy family and friends Read Less
Sail Date: April 2019
Viking always does it the right way. Just about everything you would expect is provided and included. Excellent service, embarkation was a fast and efficient, boarding, bag delivery prompt, cabin room ready and pristine ( the cabin ... Read More
Viking always does it the right way. Just about everything you would expect is provided and included. Excellent service, embarkation was a fast and efficient, boarding, bag delivery prompt, cabin room ready and pristine ( the cabin attendants were excellent, prompt and great attending your personnel requests) Meals as always were great, a selection as always for what pleases you on each meal. Spa and fitness is great and easy to do your own workout or experience the ships offerings. Excursions are plentiful and depending on your preference very good. We feel very comfortable on any of the Viking cruise offerings, either river of ocean. The ship is a smaller ocean cruise liner but has all the features you may want, there are no water slides or other features that younger couples and families would require, it is more an mature adult atmosphere where comfort, great food and drink are appreciated in a slower pace than other large cruise ships provide. Overall it was and great experience and will book again with Viking on my next vacation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We booked our flights through Viking and 2 days before departure, we were informed by Viking that our flights had changed from SAS to Lufthansa. (SAS gave us the same information 1 DAY before departure!) Times were very similar, we arrived ... Read More
We booked our flights through Viking and 2 days before departure, we were informed by Viking that our flights had changed from SAS to Lufthansa. (SAS gave us the same information 1 DAY before departure!) Times were very similar, we arrived :15 later than the SAS flight. The reason for the last minute change was due to an SAS strike. I mention this because when I tried to contact LF to select my seat, the airline said I had to do it at the airport. It was a bit stressful. I called Viking Air. They immediately jumped into action and got all our seats together! We were a party of 4. Great service by the Viking Air staff! When we arrived at the airport in Copenhagen, there we Viking Staff available throughout baggage claim to help direct us to the busses. At the Pier, we checked in relatively quickly and our rooms where available right away. Our bags were in our room within an hour of our arrival! We made reservations for Manfredi's and The Chef's Table on line before sailing. During the 11 days, we were able to get into both restaurants a couple more times! We were not interested the the evening shows, so I can't really comment on them, however we did like Matthew, the guitarist who played :45 sets around the ship. Included shore excursions were OK. I think it was hit and miss with the tour guides and they tended to be larger groups than the optional excursions. The best optional tour we took was the Soviet Flashback in Estonia. Although I have to add that if you are more interested in visiting the old part of the city, you should do this tour in the AM instead of the afternoon. I would have liked more time in Estonia. We used Alla Tours for our 3 day St Petersburg tours. I can't say enough about them! Svletlania was a great guide for our 3 days! I would use them again and again! The service on the ship was wonderful. It was our first Viking cruise. We have cruised other large ships and have not received the same service as we did this last 11 days. Great job by all! Vlad, Alex, Vickie, Shelia. All FANTASTIC! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
We have cruised on numerous ocean cruises over the past ten years including Princess, Regent, Oceania, and National Geographic. Viking Ocean will now be our "go to" cruise line unless we are seeking an expedition cruise. ... Read More
We have cruised on numerous ocean cruises over the past ten years including Princess, Regent, Oceania, and National Geographic. Viking Ocean will now be our "go to" cruise line unless we are seeking an expedition cruise. Everyone's cruising style is different, but Viking is perfect for us. Our reasons include what they don't have, no children, no casino, no Vegas style shows, no butlers, and no formal nights, to what they do have - sleek, Scandinavian design with room for everyone, focus on educational lectures, focus on classical music, the most amazing spa and fitness center at sea, fabulous food with no charge speciality restaurants, and wine and beer with lunch and dinner. We had a penthouse veranda and it was wonderful. Maybe a bit more closet space would have been nice. The bathroom was our favorite ever with it's roomy shower and heated floor. I would chose the same cabin when we cruise with them again. As mentioned by others, Viking needs to work on their shore excursions. We were on a new itinerary so maybe that was part of the problem. They definitely need to invest in new listening devices. But overall, we have found our new favorite cruise line and can't wait to sail with Viking again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The Viking Jupiter is lovely, lovely new ship. I believe we were its third sailing. Since the ship carries less than 1000 passengers I was surprised how big it was when we first pulled up in Civitavecchia. After being on board a couple ... Read More
The Viking Jupiter is lovely, lovely new ship. I believe we were its third sailing. Since the ship carries less than 1000 passengers I was surprised how big it was when we first pulled up in Civitavecchia. After being on board a couple of days you realize that the size for that number of passengers results in many public spaces to relax. In fact, with so many areas for folks to enjoy you get the sense that you are on a ship with many less people. In tandem with that concept it seems there is a lot of staff available. A side note here, most of the good cruise lines, big and small, have good staffs. The Viking staff may be the best as any I have encountered in over 20 cruises. A difference is that there are so many of them to meet the passengers needs. I wish I knew the ratio. For example, when someone leaves the pool area almost instantly an attendant shows up to remove spent towels and add new ones. As a result, it is easy to spot open chaises and just makes the whole area appear more attractive. Most of the staff's demeanor is friendly but not so much as to be even a little bit over friendly (a fine line that may be most appealing to their older clientele). You do get the sense and we were even told that the staff is very happy to be working for Viking. As for appearance, the ship appropriately is done in Scandinavian style with blond wood, leather and pleasant blues throughout. Their towels and blankets (both very plentiful) were in the same color scheme and felt very high quality (note to self: why didn't you ask to buy a blanket?). The result is a calming and pleasant setting in every area of the ship. It is an easy ship to get to know and the elevators and stairs were never crowded even when folks were leaving for port excursions. Signage is generally excellent except for a couple of floors where arrows pointing to lounges would have been more helpful. A neat feature is the sign between elevators shows you where to disembark for excursions. The pool area in many ways is the star of the ship. Since it has a roll back roof, it is used for buffets, special events and just relaxing when the outside temperature would be too low to sit out. Examples: embarkation day -- poolside grill open for passengers with grill and salad bar doing a great job; two special evening events -- a seafood buffet night and a tapas with excellent sangria night BEFORE dinner. Both were excellent with plentiful staff clearing tables and pouring wine. Never thought I would do afternoon tea but enjoyed it greatly on the other side of the pool with a tremendous staff serving inside the Wintergarden and in the poolside lounge. Doretty (spelling?) from Peru took excellent care of her area. It should be mentioned that the crew really is an international crew with staff hailing from Asia, Europe and South America all of whom spoke impeccable English. The dining room is gorgeous, the two specialty restaurants Manfreddi's and Chef's Table were very lovely with our enjoying the Chef's Table a bit more. Maybe, it was the service of Ivan and his assistant waiter, maybe their innovative twists of food, or maybe the best damn dessert I ever ate. We would have loved to go back but ran out of time. The World Cafe is just plain wonderful. It is the spot most people chose for breakfast. Great, great, great. Entertainment is appropriate for the clientele. Shows start kinda early and generally by 9:30 are ended. The shows themselves were very well attended and met the needs of the passengers, i. e. high octane shows featuring music of the Beatles, ABBA and the eighties. Every show we saw got a standing ovation. Later on there is continuing music and dancing elsewhere. Not to be ignored is the very beautiful and calming chamber music trio, pianist and guitarist that seem always to be playing. This is in the Living Room which has a bar whose staff is particularly talented at making drinks and making guests feel very comfortable. By the way, they have the most innovative system of taking orders; the staff member notes choices on what looks like an early model cell phone which immediately is sent to the kitchen or bar. The result is instant service of your drink or meal! The fellow passengers were basically all middle age and above Americans who understood the kind of ship they were on. People were always dressed appropriately and it gave the ship a feeling of a country club even though I don't belong to a country club. As eluded to earlier, service was impeccable in every area of the ship. The senior staff works as hard as their assistant waiters! We were in a Penthouse Veranda. If funds allow, choose this upgrade. It is near perfect sizewise, plentiful storage, refreshed mini bar with little bottles of liquor, soda, beer and snacks. Closet lights go on when the door is opened. Hurray, for electricity -- there are USB ports throughout and the lighting is innovative. The bathroom has a heated floor! Example of the level of service: we found the shower head moved when full force water was turned on, a trip to customer service (24 hours) had it fixed in twenty minutes. Room stewards were good. Service in customer relations by Nichert was superb. We used the laundry and ironing facility. Another example of Viking services: wind made stopping at the Port of Sete impossible. Within a half hour a new daily calendar with adjustments was printed and distributed. This sail day actually was a blessing since even though it occurred past midway of the cruise it actually gave us time to enjoy the ship's amenities: spa, pool, wonderful exercise room (never more than four people), etc. Even on this day with everyone on board, it was easy to find quiet area to sit and read or sit poolside in shade or sun. I guess I could go on and on about the ship but suffice to say, it probably will be the cruise one will always remember since I strongly believe that Viking will uphold this level of service and luxury. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Wanted to visit several countries in a short period of time. A taste of southern Europe so to speak. Everything about this company, ship and service were top notch. The cabin gave us everything we needed. We spent a minimal amount of ... Read More
Wanted to visit several countries in a short period of time. A taste of southern Europe so to speak. Everything about this company, ship and service were top notch. The cabin gave us everything we needed. We spent a minimal amount of time there. The Dining was exceptional: Buffet was of high quality, the main dining was gourmet and the other "price included" restaurants were fantastic. The activity portion was good but we spent more of our time resting for the next day. The service was the best!! Apollo in the pool bar, Aura in dining, Sofia seemed everywhere and Hector in dining were some of the standouts. Our Cabin folks (Annabelle, Faree) were efficient and pleasant and do a super job! Our excursions were excellent with both walking tours and bus tours offering plenty of experience opportunities. If I would offer any suggestion it would be to allow more time for shopping, wandering (hop on, hop off stuff) café experiencing. We will go with this company again. Truly memorable. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people ... Read More
If you want a ship with a casino, climbing wall, giant water slide, etc., ignore this review and Viking Oceans. If you seek a family cruise with you and your (non-adult) children, look elsewhere. If you like cruising with thinking people and a remarkably intelligent, attentive crew visiting an itinerary of a lifetime on an impeccable, smallish ship, read on. We are just back from Viking’s Grand Pacific Explorer cruise that traced all around the Pacific, roughly following the Ring of Fire from New Zealand through Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Russia (Siberia), across the Bering Sea, and down through Alaska to Vancouver. Portions of this 93-day itinerary were also available in smaller chunks of 15 to 23 days. As we came to realize, the guests on shorter legs were taking a cruise on the ship. We lived there. And it was fantastic. There were roughly two dozen of us who traveled the entire way and another fifteen or so who embarked in Sydney for 79 of the 93 days. All tolled, we traveled 19,919 nautical miles on the ship. Convert to statue miles and add on the air travel, and our adventure went far beyond the distance around the globe. What we learned: You can be happy on a Viking Oceans ship for a long time and still be happily married. Although our Penthouse Veranda was not the smallest stateroom, several of the Grand Voyagers were in the standard size (all veranda) staterooms, and there was at least one couple who survived and celebrated their 50th anniversary just afterward. The secret is the many varied public spaces on the ship. The Explorer’s Lounge is great 24/7, and you don’t have to order any booze to just sit and enjoy the view and read. Or converse in comfortable seating clusters. Add the quiet reading area in the deck 1 library, the exterior wings outside the Winter Garden, and various nooks and crannies. There is always somewhere to go. Crossing the equator and the International Dateline can be fun. Viking made sure we celebrated on both occasions. May 14 happened TWICE (thus 93 days, not 92)! The seas are never what you expect. Yes, the Tasman Sea can be “lively,” as can the Bass Strait above Tasmania, but even the Bering Sea is not necessarily going to be bad. If you count on good or bad seas, you won’t get them. It’ s pure luck. Siberia did kick up a ruckus for us for one day, but the Bering Sea was crazy calm! You will get to know the crew very, very well. They will bring you just about anything, anytime. Room service delivers ANYTHING on their menu for free anytime. Ask for the things you don’t see but crave. This applies to those on the ship for two short weeks or for three months. “Another latte, madame?” “A scone from tea in the Wintergarden?… sure I will get that for you.” The only cost is if you elect to drink alcohol from the bar. Those with the Silver Spirits package pay nothing. Others like us paid very reasonable prices with no added gratuities if we chose to drink. Of course, the minibar in our PV cabin had standard level booze and mixers of our choice, so we could always carry our own drinks to the lounge. If we had brought a bottle of our own on board-- no problem. They’ll even provide the glass and ice. No nickels. No dimes. There is a bar waiter, Ardel, who introduced me to an excellent formula for a top shelf margarita, now dubbed the “Ardel Margarita” by several of us who enjoyed it! The senior officers are incredible. Kudos to the general manager for most of our cruise, Joaquim Scherz, and to the restaurant manager Gerome Venon, for making our group of voyagers feel especially welcome and for preventing monotony from EVER setting in – as if that could happen with such a rich itinerary! Even the entertainment team added some new performances so we could enjoy the talents of two different Viking Bands who were onboard during our tenure and especially the excellent ensemble of four young Viking Vocalists Aoibhin, Jorgen, Dan, and Beth, whom we got to know quite well. (These four, by the way, were the first to be awarded a new contract by Viking to stay together on their next cruise in the Caribbean.) Kudos to cruise director Spencer who rose to the role on this, his first cruise in the position. When Viking says they are a family, they are serious. That includes the passengers. They know you. They figure you out within a few days, and they are all eager to make the cruise p-e-r-f-e-c-t. Your cabin steward knows when you are likely to be out and about or when you have an excursion scheduled. The ice is there every day on time. The things you store in you bathroom are arranged exactly as you like them. After a few days, people know your names. (The general manager told us he actually looks over each guest list in advance and learns names and scans for those he has met before.) We learned much about the way Viking hires, trains, and rotates its crew and senior officers. We boarded Viking Orion and saw crewmembers we had met four years ago on Viking Star, now promoted to higher positions and happy in “the family.” The family extends to all the ships. When the Viking Sky encountered rough seas off the coast of Norway (while we were in Australia), every crewmember on Viking Orion was paying attention, praying, and even helping to send a video to the crew of Viking Sky in support and thanks for all their efforts. Family goes both ways. We Voyagers truly got attached to Joaquim and gave him a Viking umbrella salute send-off as he departed for a well-earned vacation. There were tears. Viking is truly fortunate to have such amazing people, and Joaquim is one who has been with VO since its launch. If he has any say about it, the quality will not diminish as the company expands. We sincerely hope his influence will keep things as good as they are! Speaking of family, our group of “Voyagers” definitely became one. People who take Viking cruises are fascinating folks with endless interests and stories. When you meet new people at home, you may see them once a week or a couple of times a month. When you make new friends on a ship, you see each other as often as three meals a day plus an excursion. Yes, we could avoid seeing them, but we enjoyed getting to know each other—really well! We avoided talking politics -- which was a refreshing change for over 90 days! We compared notes about our days (what excursion did you take?), drank a LOT of free wine (opened and closed the World Café many times), and watched out for each other when someone was “solo” on an excursion. These friendships will last for sure. We learned about the tons and tons of food they bring on board and when. We noticed that the chef went into town to pick up a few things while we were out on excursions – but only if he can find provisions that met Viking’s strict quality and safety standards. Within a couple of days, the cook at the breakfast fruit and yogurt bar handed me a bowl as I walked in each day and several times kept a few strawberries aside when the stock was dwindling before the next provisioning. He found the plain Greek yogurt that I like if it is not out on display. He was genuinely apologetic when the strawberries ran out in Siberia! If it wasn’t perfect, all we had to do was ask. Just when I was muttering to myself that there weren’t any chocolate options on the desert bar in the World Café, one of the supervisors offered to go down and get a chocolate mousse from the sit-down Restaurant downstairs…. “And where are you sitting, madame?” Or if the buffet choices were not exactly what we wanted, the chef custom-prepared a strip steak (“Medium? Four minutes, please.”) and delivered it to our table, with a potato and sour cream if that was what we wanted. All this in the “buffet” style World Café, our favorite venue for every day. Manfredi’s, the Italian specialty restaurant, is a gem. People seem to figure this out quickly, so be sure to book reservations as soon as you can. Book before you embark, as we did or stop by the laptop at the entrance to the world café to add more or make changes. We also learned that they will make every effort to change your numbers as you meet people and want a larger table. (Thank you, Ian!) Yes, we also ate in the Chef’s Table, but after trying each of the (mostly delicious) menus, we found we preferred the less formal and more flexible options elsewhere. We aren’t “The Restaurant” type people, though many of our friends were and enjoyed it just as much as we enjoyed the free-ranging exploration of the world Café – the same food, but you can graze and get up from your table at will. (Just hide your fork…. They clear TOO quickly!) The only nights I personally did not enjoy as much were the Indian Buffet theme nights, but my husband loved them. I just ordered a strip steak and tasted a few other things. I made the suggestion that perhaps not EVERYTHING had to be Indian… like the weird gelato flavors. We learned SO MUCH. The itinerary was loaded with places we had always wanted to see, and Viking offered many ways to learn about each one. The guest lecturers were great, and word gets out about which ones are REALLY good. The naturalist in the north Pacific and Alaska, the historian in Southest Asia, the archaeologist in New Zealand, the reef pilot on the Great Barrier Reef, and many others were terrific. If they can keep you awake in a darkened theater on a gently rocking sea, they must be good! The video replays on demand in the cabins were a MUST to keep up with the many things to learn. What we saw: It is a challenge to summarize forty-seven ports, but there were recurring themes: wildlife, history, religions, World Heritage sites, gardens, wine/beer/whiskey. We chose to take many optional excursions, mostly because we don’t like touring on buses much. A bus to GET somewhere is fine. We tend to like walking tours better. When we compared notes with our fellow travelers, we learned that by skipping some of the included excursions, we missed some good stuff. Some of the descriptions did not make it clear just how much time would be spent on or OFF the bus. As my husband says, the descriptions are a bit like real estate ads. Example: “Enjoy a panoramic tour.” Translate: bus ride. As Viking continues in these ports, we are sure the excursions will be refined and the descriptions edited for a better match to what is actually there. In the first season of a new itinerary, this is tough. We took this cruise knowing that would happen. Our priorities for tours may not be yours. My husband is a photo buff—both wildlife and street scenes, and I tend to enjoy culture, art, crafts, and people. Sometimes we split up to see what we liked best. We did not need to stay together every day of a 93 day cruise! Don’t miss the onboard cultural visitors. There were local groups who came on board in several countries to perform music and dance. ALL were amazing. Sometimes we did not find out about them until the day before or the day of. READ the Viking Daily! Port/excursion highlights: (Unless otherwise stated, all excursions/tours were VIKING offerings) Everything in New Zealand. Lots of wildlife and Maori culture options. We especially enjoyed visiting a sheep farm outside Napier, a foodie tour I did in Wellington, a seal watch my husband did outside Wellington, and wildlife cruises outside Christchurch and Dunedin. Others went to interior locations such as the Hobbiton tour. This may not be the best way to see interior New Zealand. I wish I’d had more time at Rotorua at the native (Maori) center there. Australia: Hobart, Tasmania. This port is right in town and we wish we had stayed MUCH longer. Just walk off the ship, and you were in a pedestrian area filled with shops and history. (Think Viking River Cruises.) We took a tour outside of town and visited a winery and the charming town of Richmond. Wish we could have done BOTH. We’d like to go back to Tasmania. The koala and kangaroo sanctuary outside Melbourne. Unlike many “sanctuaries” where the animals are caged or restricted, this one has animals on their own in the wild and shows visitors how to find and follow them respectfully. No koala cuddling, but fantastic naturalists who teach and let you participate in finding the animals. Sydney: Did a pub crawl in The Rocks on a HOT day. Saw lots of local color: weddings, crazy young professionals out having fun, and of course the Opera House right at Circular Quay. Since Viking Orion is small enough to pass under the Harbor Bridge, we were docked a short shuttle FERRY ride from Circular Quay. This could have been a pain, but it’s much more fun than a shuttle bus! We had a day on our own while others disembarked and embarked. Viking did offer an excursion for the in-transit passengers, but we elected to spend time with some new friends from Sydney whom we “met” here on CC. (They joined our cruise later in Hong Kong.) Great city. Almost anything you can do would be fun. Whitsunday Islands and Cairns: both are portals to the Great Barrier Reef. We went on a smaller catamaran out to snorkel in the Whitsundays and a very large one (but well managed) in Cairns. We are not experienced snorkelers and have never seen the reef before, so we enjoyed these. Experienced GBR visitors might like more private or selective tours, but these are hard to find and schedule within port time limits. Viking did managed the tendering in Cid Harbor (Whitsundays) very well. Thursday Island--- skipped because of an incoming cyclone! Darwin: wildlife options again. We saw Jumping Crocs, which we thought would be really touristy. It actually was fun. The Territory Wildlife Park was also good, though VERY warm. Take lots of water with you! Be sure to visit the aviary. Weaker Australia ports: Newcastle, Townsville. These are perhaps good ports for their access to other places inland, but we did not find the actual towns as interesting. Maybe with time? Indonesia: In general, Indonesia has bad traffic, hot weather, and lots of temples. The blend of religions is fascinating and varies from island to island. Get a taste by seeing some of everything. Komodo: The national park is going to be closed for 2020. We were lucky to see the dragons. Very hot, and the most aggressive vendors we saw on the entire cruise were in the tent as we left the park. Be prepared to be tough and to haggle. Otherwise just duck and keep on walking! TAKE WATER. Viking did an outstanding job of managing the tendering and keeping guests hydrated and safe. They were on the dock with COLD towels and drinks as we finished the tour. The really wanted everyone to drink and stay safe. Bali: another disembarkation/embarkation port. On the day on our own, we traveled by cab into Denpasar to visit the fabric street—a MUST for any quilter or sewing enthusiast. We did an evening dinner and performance that evening which was fun, though touristy. We enjoyed seeing Batiks being made and wood carvers in action on a Viking excursion the next day. Surabaya: We visited a temple that is actually within an amusement park. Though it looked like we were entering Wally World, the temple, right next to the water, was interesting. The seafood lunch served on the way was excellent though a bit crowded. Our highlight was a stop at a T-shirt place that had graphically bold shirts at very low (fixed) prices. Thanks to a good tour guide. We’ve gotten compliments on those shirts everywhere. Semarang: Entre to a daylong trip to Borobudur, a must-see. Don’t do the included tour. Not much there. The Rainbow Village is not as enthralling as they say. Those who went to Borobudur said the long ride was definitely worth it, especially with the police escort that accompanied the bus caravan, stopping the challenging traffic. Think presidential motorcade. Viking managed an unfortunate bus accident between two buses that were following too closely pretty well. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt. Jakarta: Interesting but not worth two days? Went on a tour that included an inside visit to a large mosque and Catholic cathedral and a walk through Chinatown Had some time on the second day to go into town on the Viking shuttle to a shopping mall that offered great shopping for authentic batik shirts and much more. I think half the ship bought batik shirts. Weaker ports in Indonesia: Lombok? We actually did not go into this tender port. Those who did said we did not miss much. We really should not judge. Singapore One day, and not enough. Unfortunately, immigration stole over 90 minutes of our day—through no fault of Viking. If there were way for the ship to stay two days and not have to do this each day, it would be worth it. We did a walking “Odyssey” tour and saw little India, Chinatown, and an area called Arab Street. I’d do that tour again. We had time to explore on our own, which we always like. I’d like to have seen the gardens at Singapore Marina Bay, but we did not have time. I’d REALLY like to swim in the world’s largest infinity pool on the rooftop there, but you have to stay in the hotel to do that… unless Viking has connections? Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) Our one day was a quick stop. My husband and I did separate tours. He enjoyed the Batu Caves and Pewter factory tour, managing to avoid having his hat stolen by the monkeys. I did the Blue Mosque tour, which was a misnomer. We saw a view of the mosque at a GREAT distance. We did enjoy a tour of several sites in the city and a FANTASTIC lunch at the Renaissance Hotel. Of course, the last thing we needed was more good food! We honestly cannot say whether Kuala Lumpur is worth more time. Thailand Bangkok: The port is VERY, very far from the city, at least two hours drive if traffic is not bad. We had three days in Bangkok, the middle one a disembarkation/embarkation day for other passengers. We did Viking’s Bangkok After Dark tour, which was twelve hours long! The heat was oppressive, and the guide kept a pace that was a bit too enthusiastic for the heat. It did take us to great things and included a much appreciated foot massage after a lot of walking. We had a local dinner of SPICY pad thai and time shopping in the iconic night market. The tour is good, but plan on being totally soaked with sweat. Pace yourself and carry water. We took a private tour on the ship’s changeover day, and that was smart. We had a small van with great A/C and endless water. We could get back into the cool van often. We split the tour cost with three other friends, so it was quite reasonable. We visited locations our first tour did not include. Day 3 took my husband on the Viking tour out to the Summer Palace and Ayutthaya. He declared that tour to be excellent, including the golf carts! (I rested and did much-needed laundry out of the heat.) Cambodia Sihanoukville: This is the toughest port to talk about. It is not pretty, and the people lack hope. This port sparked great debate among our friends onboard. In my opinion, Viking needs to be honest about what you will see (poverty, loads of trash, hopelessness). The contrasts of the hotel where Jackie Kennedy stayed (a claim to fame in this miserable town) and the life in a local fishing village are painful. The Cambodian Cuisine tour we took involved riding in tuktuks through dusty, dirty streets. I did not initially appreciate the mask they gave me to wear, as I have never had respiratory issues. In the end, I actually needed it. The market offered a realistic view of what people buy and eat. The beachfront barbecue food attracted too many flies for us to taste it. Then we went to the Jackie hotel and had delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks while feeling hollowly fortunate. The second day we took the included tour, but we were warned by our friends to expect very sad scenes and sickening smells. They were right. The little children who should have been in school -- but had never even been REGISTERED to attend -- bore witness to the lack of hope of the Cambodian people. Yes, Viking should let us all see the realities, but the descriptions also need to be accurate. This port is a place to learn and think, not to enjoy. If the corrupt government is benefitting from Viking’s visits, perhaps this is not a good idea? Sadly, the countryside beyond the city has exceptional natural beauty, and the guides were very honest about their plight. Vietnam What a contrast to Cambodia. There is hope, and education is highly valued in this rapidly-growing economy. VERY. VERY. HOT. Ho Chi Minh City (known to the locals as Saigon): Three days. A fair distance from the port -- about an hour. Fantastic city to visit! We did the Saigon Cooking Class, which was excellent in both organization and fun. We shopped in the market, cooked, learned a lot, and enjoyed our own cooking. The next day we enjoyed a special visit to the Hotel Reverie with our fellow Voyagers (NOT an excursion) for high tea. This was arranged by the general manager and restaurant manager just for our group. WOW. If you have a chance to do this high tea on your own, DO IT. We’ve never, ever seen anything like it! Try the iced Vietnamese coffee. It’s addictive. The third day we did Viking’s “Iconic Ben Thanh Market” tour which was disappointing. We spent more time being served food than exploring the market (allowing NO time for this). I expect Viking will be clarifying expectations with the tour operator on this, as several of us spoke to the ship about it. Chan May (near Danang): Excursion to Ancient Hoi An. This city was swamped with tourists, and the tour was too commercialized for us. We had hoped for an interesting walking tour. We were herded into places to buy things, stopped ever so briefly amid the crowds to take pictures of landmarks with said crowds. Little to no time on our own as was advertised. Other guides were apparently more flexible, and our friends enjoyed their tours. Ha Long Bay (overnight): Wow. This place is drop dead gorgeous. Even the included tour is amazing. We did a longer, slightly different boat tour of the bay, including a stop at a floating village. Great tour! We also went outside the city to the mountains and Yen Tu Monastery. What a wonderful change of pace. We meditated and talked with the leader of the monastery, a man with remarkable charisma. The tour also included a delicious dinner at a resort hotel in the mountains. A winner! Hong Kong (3 days) Another changeover port. The included tour was good- Victoria Peak (in clouds), sampan ride in Aberdeen, and Stanley Market with free time. Spent our “off day” on our own with a friend who lives nearby then did more exploring on the third day with some fellow travelers. We then did the Hong Kong by Night tour which was OK but went back to some places we had already seen on our own. It would be great for people just starting out in HK. Taipei (Keelung port)- one day We did the tour to Yehliu Geopark with its amazing rock formations. Great photo op if you can go early enough for smaller crowds. Then went to mountain village of Jiufen. Cute, though filled with tourists. There were some nice places to have tea with a great view. The Taiwan landscape is very pretty! JAPAN! Japan was perhaps the biggest “surprise” of our trip. We had heard that it was beautiful, but it was MORE beautiful than we thought. We had also heard about the crowds during Golden Week—extended this year due to the installation of a new emperor. It was more crowded in some places than we could ever imagine. AVOID Golden Week. This was Viking’s first visit to the Japanese ports, so ALL of them did something special at the port: bands, dancers, etc.! Lots of fun. Japanese weather was a welcome relief from the heat in previous ports. Kagoshima: Great tour to Kamikaze museum and Chimai samurai historic district with classic Japanese gardens. Terrific intro to just some of the subtleties of Japanese culture. Nagasaki: (separate excursions). Imari and Arita pottery tour was outstanding. Learned a LOT about the aesthetic, the history, and the processes. Beautiful scenery en route. Husband did Historic Nagasaki tour for the atomic bomb story and more. Korea (a one day stop in Busan in the midst of Japan ports): Beomosa Temple and Fish Market tour was good. Lots of walking up hill. Fish Market is a true cultural experience, especially on the weekend! More Japan Hiroshima (2 days): Sobering as you would expect. The included tour to the Peace Park is good at hitting highlights on foot, though it was pouring rain. The museum would have been interesting, but the line stretched around a half mile! Optional tour to Itsukushima Shrine was great. Crowded because of Golden week. Go as early in the day as you can. We were on the 7 am ferry. Great photo ops of the floating torii gate you always see on brochures. Be sure to try some maple leaf shaped cakes. Osaka (Kyoto): We took the tour that traveled to Ancient Kyoto. Worst crowds we have ever seen. Heel to toe and shoulder to shoulder in a mob. Easy to lose the guide. (Others shared pictures taken by friends on “regular” weekdays showing NO crowds.) DO NOT GO during Golden Week. Very long path of thousands of torii gates, but too packed to enter. Scary crowded! The Golden Palace late in the day was less crowded and saved the day for us. Shimizu: (day and a half): Nice city with very friendly people. They had quite a welcome for us at the port since this was Viking’s first visit there. Amazing views of Fuji that cleared off for us. I went to Hiroshige Utagawa Museum. Speechless how good it was. Included tour also good… good photo ops. Tokyo ( 3 days): Port is immediately next to the Olympic Village they are building for 2020! This was our last disembarkation/embarkation port getting hundreds of new passengers onboard. Kamakuri tour to three shrine and temples very good but again crowded. 43 foot Buddha! Took Viking’s shuttle to downtown on the middle day, a Sunday, and discovered that NO ONE was in town during Golden Week. Walked to Iperial Palace Grdens (beautiful) and around the area near Nihonbaski Mitsubishi. The department store is worthy of a visit on its own, very old school and filled with amazing things, including a full basement are of food. See where people custom order their $50K silk kimonos! Third day took Edo-Tokyo Museum and City Tower tour. City tower not that great. The sky tower is better, I think, if you like that sort of thing. Museum and smaller local garden were nice. Tokyo is a gorgeous city, and SOOO clean! Be sure to try every Japanese bathroom. After Indonesia and others, they are a delight! Sapporo/Otaru: Beautiful location on Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido. We took the optional tour to Nikko whiskey. Lots of fun. It SMELLED of whiskey when you walked onto the grounds. Friend told us the included tour was also very good. Much cooler here. The cherry blossoms were out, as this part of Japan is weeks behind the more southern areas. Russia (Siberia) Koraskov: Did the included tour. Damp, cold, and cloudy/drizzly. Not much here, and quite sad after Japan. The people are clearly longing for the good old days of the USSR. The performance was fun, and the vendors selling crafts there were very genuine. Most are happy to take USD, though they may cheat a bit on exchange rates! Petrapavlosk-Kamchatsky: This city benefits from the large Navy base (out of sight from the port). Volcanoes abound. We did the military history tour. Too much talking at you. Choose a different one, perhaps just the included. Orthodox cathedral is less than ten years old! Someone showed us video from the helicopter tour over the volcano, and it was amazing. (But I don’t think I’d go with a Russian pilot in a Russian-maintained helicopter! Very pricey, too.) USA Dutch Harbor, AK: No tours offered, but there was a shuttle (school) bus into town. The locals are VERY friendly and talk on the buses. Go to the Alaska Ship Supply for fun, and perhaps to Safeway just to see how the locals live. Bald eagles everywhere—like pigeons! Take a hike or a walk. If you’re an American who’s been away for a long time, stop in a local bar for American bar food… nachos or a cheeseburger? If you watch Deadliest Catch, you’ll recognize many locations. Kodiak, AK: Nature photo cruise was a real highlight. Small boat with only 6 guests and a very knowledgeable couple guiding it. WELL worth it! Small town with simple self-guided (walking) tour and a shuttle bus. Very genuine. Seward, AK: Kenai Fiords cruise was incredible. Whales, dolphins, eagles, and a glacier thrown in. Entire pods of orcas! This was a MUST MUST MUST DO, even on a drizzly day. Stay in town for a visit to the Sea Life Center or some shopping, A regular shuttle goes back to the ship. Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), AK: This small town with its native tribe of 760 people owns the port through a small corporation that benefits the tribe. They market it well, with many activities and tours. The whale watch cruise we took was actually done by a separate company that cooperates with the corporation. It was excellent. Great photos of humpbacks, including mama and baby. Sea lions, and more. Another keeper! Warning: the bridge you walk across into the port area is COLD because of the wind, but the temps are much nicer around the corner and out of the wind. Wear layers. Friend did the zipline and loved it. Sitka, AK: Busier port with another ship in port at same time. Cute, smallish town. Walking tour went 5+ miles to see historic sites, totem area, and Raptor Center. All are worth seeing. Wish we’d had longer in totems and Raptor Center. People who took included tour said it was good, too. Note: if you are looking for the post office, you have to go outside of town, They closed the location right next to the port! Ketchikan: VERY, very touristy. We saw a total of FIVE other ships in one day, one of whom was waiting for us to pull out. Downtown is all shops, some owned by other cruise companies. We went out of town to a Fishing lodge for a crab feast. It was fun, including the boat ride out to the island. Good wildlife and newspapers-in-the-picnic-table crab boil. Dress for the weather because you are on an outdoor deck. You also get a walk in a temperate rainforest at the lodge. If you want nothing but shopping, stay in town and walk off the ship. Some ships dock a bit outside of town. Vancouver, Canada: Kudos to Viking for handling the challenge of disembarking over 900 passengers by tender! It went quite well. We were off the ship and on our way to the airport ahead of schedule. We hope everyone’s bags went to the right place. Ours did. Viking, you made a difficult good-bye palatable by keeping it smooth and easy. Suggestions for Viking: Consider changing the itinerary for Jakarta and Singapore. Maybe steal a day from Jakarta and add it to Singapore? You could play with some of Indonesia, perhaps. What about Lombok? Semarang is not great, though you need it for Borobodur. Think about solving that? Think about how you want to “sell” your port call in Cambodia Continue to refine the excursions. We know you do this because of wise changes that were made after Viking Ocean’s first summer in the Baltic. Suggestions for future Grand Voyagers: Plan for HOT weather and extreme high humidity on this itinerary of traveling Feb-May as we did. We live in the southeast US and know humidity, but this is FAR worse. Plan to change your clothes from the skin out 2-3 times a day in many of these ports. Take enough clothing so you can do that. If you are on a long cruise with people getting on and off for various shorter :legs, “ ask the management to gather the “voyagers’ for cocktails and /or dinner and get everyone’s first names and cabin number while they are at that first gathering, That way you will know where to find each other! Emails help, too, if you want to be able to contact everyone. The ship management cannot give you this info. Thanks to TL from our group who spearheaded this! A long cruise is a marathon, not a sprint. If one excursions or day is lousy, just look to the next one. Share your feedback in a constructive manner. It goes much further, and the crew will always want to help you. Vary your excursions. Don’t book too many temples, street market visits, or anything else. You’ll get tired of it! READ the Viking Daily—before you go to bed! Get accustomed to giving laundry advice in Viking’s free launderettes. You know how they work, and you don’t want the newbies to break the machines! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Wanted to try Viking Ocean and Cuba was on my list. Had been on Viking River Cruise so was curious about the Ocean Cruises. The look and feel if the ocean ship was similar to the River but bigger. Also the inclusion of the Thermal Spa ... Read More
Wanted to try Viking Ocean and Cuba was on my list. Had been on Viking River Cruise so was curious about the Ocean Cruises. The look and feel if the ocean ship was similar to the River but bigger. Also the inclusion of the Thermal Spa area which included the sauna, steam, snow room, cold pool and thermal pool with heated lounges chairs was an added bonus as there is not a charge to enter and use the Thermal spa like other cruise lines. The fitness center was well equipped as well. The pools were nice and nothin seemed crowed - not sure the ship was at 100% capacity. They had a nice smoking area on the top deck, which had plenty of seating and was not near any major public area such as the pools or dining areas. The ship was clean and the crew were in constant maintenance mode during the cruise. The staff were wonderful and we managed to have a few waiters that were special in that they remembered us and knew what we drank and were attentive, of course a little tip didn't hurt but was well deserved. The entertainment could be a little more varied especially in the main pool area to include so Top 40 tunes for some of the younger crowd, I had expected some latin music since this was a Cuba and Caribbean Cruise but none. Minus a casino more activities maybe would have been nice other than card and board games. Overall a very relaxing cruise even though we were unable to make our stop in Santiago Cuba due to weather. I booked another cruise while on board so overall pleased with the experience. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
The Itinerary is great and you will see spectacular scenery in Norway. Unfortunately, with any cruise you can't control the weather which is really important if you want to see the Northern Lights. We were glad we were able to see the ... Read More
The Itinerary is great and you will see spectacular scenery in Norway. Unfortunately, with any cruise you can't control the weather which is really important if you want to see the Northern Lights. We were glad we were able to see the Northern Lights but somewhat disappointed in the color and brightness due to most of the nights being cloudy. Also, cameras really pickup more color than the naked eye so having a camera that is capable of taking pictures of the Northern Lights is critical. Viking Sky does a good job of providing guest hints on how to take good pictures of the Northern Lights. We had a stress free embarkation in Bergen Norway. Very convenient location within walking distance of several hotels and attractions which made it nice since it was an overnight stay on the Ship in Bergen. The ship is gorgeous and mostly well maintained. They do a really good job of keeping the common areas clean. But be aware of the ice that can accumulate on the outside decks. It seems that Viking could have put a barrier around the ice which would have really improved the situation. This was mostly an issue at night when people would go to the decks and couldn't see the ice. I really like having the Self-service launderette. Our stateroom attendants were very friendly and did a great job taking care of our stateroom. The capability for Viking to notify guest, who wanted to be alerted no matter what time of the night, that Northern Lights were visible from the ship was fantastic. It did really add a special touch to the cruise. There were more movies and shows available on the TV then expected. The dining staff did a good job and were very friendly. I really like that the World Cafe for the most part served the same food that the Restaurant did so if guest didn't want to dress for dinner they had they same food options. Viking could expand some of the options such as bread and cookies so that each meal isn't the same the entire cruise. Don't get me wrong there are plenty of options but each lunch and dinner had the exact same bread everyday. I liked the availability of the specialty food buffets that were served on the pool deck that provided added flexibility and variety for dining options. We really enjoyed our dinners in The Chef's Table and Manfredi's. The included wine was mostly good except we really didn't enjoy the German red wine they had several meals. The included excursion for the most part were rather boring and didn't do much other than drive around and I think Viking could do a better job of describing the tours so guest will have a better idea of what to expect. For example, the tour in Bergen explanation of the excursion should reflect the actual excursion making it clear that it doesn't stop at the King Haakon’s Hall, the Rosenkrantz Tower or the Fish Market. We did really enjoy the included excursion in Tromso where we visited the Northern Light Planetarium. We enjoyed the warm drinks (especially the Baileys and Hot Chocolate) when returning to ship from our excursions. For the most part, Viking Sky did a good job of getting guest on and off the ship. The second day in Bergen was the only port that the line was extremely long when returning from our excursion. Disembarkation was extremely smooth. Do not expect taxi's to be readily available at the Tilbury port. Transportation should be planned prior to disembarkation. We rented a car from Enterprise which picked us up at the port. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
After saving our money and paid time off for over three years, my husband and I were excited for our cruise to Cuba with Viking, who had shown us stellar service on their Paris to Normandy river journey in 2015. We were a little hesitant ... Read More
After saving our money and paid time off for over three years, my husband and I were excited for our cruise to Cuba with Viking, who had shown us stellar service on their Paris to Normandy river journey in 2015. We were a little hesitant at first, seeing that Viking had changed the itinerary on folks that booked in 2017 from Havana to Cienfuegos, but figured the team had it sorted out. Unfortunately, from the start we had trouble. Our airport pickup wandered away, leaving six of us who had just red eyed into Miami confused - they left the baggage area once the bags started coming, leaving us wandering until we found them quite far down the hall. Despite our stickers and luggage tags, we had to search for our rep, rather than him finding us (in Paris, our rep was there in uniform and took initiative to round up his charges, not the other way around). When we were dropped off at port, we were literally dropped off - no instructions, no guidance. An elderly woman in our group was jostled and fell to the ground. Finally, one of our fellow passengers found the correct entrance and led us in. The ship is lovely, if starting to show some wear, and the staff was delightful and polite and not too talkative. The hydrotherapy pools were spacious and stunning, especially for a ship of this size. We sometimes struggled to get drinks refilled at meals, so we started requesting two at a time so we wouldn’t be parched midway through a meal. For a larger ship than their river cruises, there was less variety in food choice - the seated restaurant and the buffet mirror on another, and since the specialty restaurants booked up fast, you essentially had the option of being brought your food or grabbing it yourself without much change in the menu. The river cruises have a small cafe that you can get American fare at, while their restaurants serve local specialties and more upscale dishes. Our free walking tour in Cienfuegos was one of the worst tours I have been on - the guide wouldn’t let us shop, he made us stand in the street as beggars circled us tighter and tighter (making me more and more nervous) while he talked about the largest travel agency in Havana (it seemed an odd thing to focus on when there was art and cigar shops and historic buildings surrounding us), and was angry people weren’t paying attention to his next long story about the optometry shop as we shifted uncomfortably in the street. At the cigar rolling demonstration, we were hustled out before we could buy anything - which made me incredibly uncomfortable when the shopkeepers had hosted us so kindly. We toured a hotel lobby, which ate into valuable time we could have been at an actual historical building. Being from Nevada, I know hotels. I don’t know 19th century Cuban mansions like Ville Palais, which we had only ten minutes in since we spent a valuable twenty minutes in a generic Hilton-like lobby instead. When we returned to the city center, it was after six and shutting down - stands were closing, shops were shuttered, and it was twilight - tourist time was obviously over. So we returned to the boat. Our Havana excursion was amazing, and the saving grace of our trip - the tour guide Jenny knowledgeable, focused on education and information and not her personal stories. The Hemingway House was closed (note, it’s always closed on Sundays, so why no one notifies us until the day before was concerning on Viking’s end and likely caused a scramble for the poor guides), so she arranged for a ride around Havana in the old school cars, which thrilled us all. She was honest about life in Cuba, and answered all of our questions on income and housing, and introduced us to multiple vendors and shops, even making sure we got proper change. This was the Viking experience I had been expecting and hoping for. Since Havana was a whirlwind of colors and sounds, we were excited for a low key day In Cienfuegos the following day - unfortunately, since the tender boats take 20 minutes each way, and everyone had to be back on the boat by noon, we didn’t get up in time to leave the boat on our third half day (our Havana day was over 13 hours with lots of walking). Which was heartbreaking when we found out that our second port stop at Santiago de Cuba was canceled due to wind. Santiago de Cuba was founded in 1515, and was something I was looking forward to so much. Being from out West in Nevada, we think somethings historic if it’s from the 1950s! But we were sure Viking would make it up to guests. We became less sure when they excitedly announced a bean bag toss to keep us occupied as we sailed past Santiago de Cuba. Okay, I thought. They’re getting things together. They need a little time. Surely the top cruise line in the world would not offer a simple bean bag toss as substitute for 50% of the Cuba port sites. Well, they also offered a trivia competition. And they also heavily suggested you pay extra fees for wine tastings and spa treatments to keep yourself occupied on a day that Viking had promised to entertain us with a port stop and free tour. My husband and I are in our 30s, and Viking cruises mean we go less often and pay more ($2,800/each in this instance), but our experience in Paris was so rosy, we pledged to be Viking customers exclusively. Having a major stop cancelled and cornhole substituted seemed laughable, and I again gave Viking the benefit of the doubt. I emailed our Viking rep, sure that something was in the works - a partial refund or credit towards our next cruise, or even a shipboard credit since they were pushing pricey services for entertainment in lieu of the port stop. Fred told me to email customer relations since he couldn’t do anything once we were on the boat. 24 hours after emailing, and 28 hours after the port cancellation, I have yet to receive an acknowledgment of my email, and my hope for a decent resolution is just about gone. To have such vastly different customer service experiences has led me to fear our stellar service in Paris was luck of the stars, and not Viking’s usual protocol. Unfortunately, I can’t recommend this cruise because you will pay premium price for average service and may not even see 50% of promised ports - and Viking will offer a game of bean bag toss as the only consolation to a lost day in Cuba. Oh, and trivia. Our 2015 Paris cruise was during the terrorist attacks - Viking stepped up to the plate in 2015 and arranged alternate excursions when we were unable to get back into the locked down city, and a staff person came to speak with us individually about safety and ensure our comfort. I’m surprised they were able to handle a very unexpected, very alarming event on the fly on that cruise, but the only solution they had for inclement weather on this cruise and a cancelled port was a bean bag toss. Oh yeah, and a trivia game. I would not recommend this cruise until Viking has figured out the Cuba logistics. From reading the other reviews, this isn’t one of Viking’s strong itineraries despite multiple years, and doesn’t appear to have the same level of professionalism and service found in their river cruises. I’m not sure we’ll do a Viking cruise again, considering the high cost and poor customer service our Cuba trip has highlighted. I expected to be a Viking customer for the next 70 years after Paris, but am beginning to realize they’re just like any other cruise line - all about that cash. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
We sailed on the Viking Sea in February, on the South America & the Caribbean cruise. This was our first time on a Viking Ocean cruise. We took their Waterways of the Czars cruise in 2016 and enjoyed that so much that we booked this ... Read More
We sailed on the Viking Sea in February, on the South America & the Caribbean cruise. This was our first time on a Viking Ocean cruise. We took their Waterways of the Czars cruise in 2016 and enjoyed that so much that we booked this cruise, due to its itinerary. It did not disappoint. Getting on Board with our luggage: The cruise embarkation was very easy. However, that is because we put our written itinerary booklets that Viking sent to each of us in our carry-on. That was lucky, as I was thinking about not bringing them at all. Security at the entrance to the port demanded to see those before we could board the ship, so have them handy! (We thought that Viking should have told us that.) Getting our luggage was a different matter. We got into San Juan about 1:00P and boarded the ship around 2:00P. However, our luggage was not brought to our stateroom until after 5:00P. That was bad, as we were in our winter wear and could not shower and change. Why we could not bring our luggage with us on the bus from the airport to the ship is a mystery. Ship Overall: The ship is very nicely designed and felt airy and spacious: it never seemed crowded. Cabin: Our deluxe veranda cabin (5007) was fine, but narrow. We could not pass by each other at the foot of the bed at the same time, and we are not big people. Also, the desk chair was too big for the space, so getting to the balcony was somewhat awkward unless we had the chair pushed all the way in. Also, it also would have been nice to have some more drawers to put things in. (We would give up the in-cabin coffee maker for that.) The bathroom was wonderful: lots of space, storage space, and a comfortably sized shower with a ledge! Our cabin stewards (Alvin and iPitu) were fabulous: they were personable, offered advice when asked, and kept our cabin spotless. Dining: We enjoyed the dining onboard the ship. We started many mornings with a latte and a pastry in the Viking Bar. We would then go up to the World Café for the breakfast buffet, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Lunch found us in the World Café, the Pool Bar, or Mamsen’s. While the drinks were better at Mamsen’s, the Pool Bar made a great steak sandwich and hot dog! We ate everywhere for dinner: Manfredi’s, the Chef’s Table, the Main Restaurant and the World Café. Jorge, the sommelier in the Main Restaurant was fabulous and poured up some great wines (we had the Silver Spirits beverage package). The food at each location was very good. When the World Café offered special buffets, it was fun to eat there. Onboard Lecture: We really liked the onboard lectures. They were entertaining and informative, and we tried to attend as many of those as we could. Shore excursions: The ship did not offer anything too exciting, so we tended to book our own excursions. We took two Viking excursions in Columbia. The tour guide for the Tastes and Sights of Santa Marta (Carlos) was fabulous! He was energetic, loved his city and infected us all with his enthusiasm. The guide in Cartagena was awful: hard to understand, slow and uninterested. He hit all of the marks indicated in the tour description, but did little more than that. Overall, the excursions on the river cruise were better. The Spa: We loved the spa! We both enjoyed the Nordic Bathing Ritual one night and I had a scalp massage, wash and blow dry another day. Both were fabulous and relaxing. Aleksandra, the hair stylist, is one of the best stylists I have ever had. Disembarkation: We had a 2:00P flight home. We had to be out of our cabin by 8:00A, and then off the ship by 9:30A. Although we had a Viking airport transfer included with our fare, we did not use it as they wanted to drop us off at the airport at 9:00A. We were not excited about spending the last day of our vacation in the airport. So, we stayed a little later in San Juan and then paid for a taxi. Viking should either offer post-cruise excursions with an airport drop-off or provide a comfortable place to wait with your luggage on board or nearby. We sat in a park near the port entrance until we caught a cab to the airport. We would sail again with Viking Ocean cruises. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Chose this cruise with the main intention to see the Northern Lights. Viking handled all the arrangements for us. Our flight schedule from our home in Tennessee to the ship in England was smooth and very prompt. We only had a couple hours ... Read More
Chose this cruise with the main intention to see the Northern Lights. Viking handled all the arrangements for us. Our flight schedule from our home in Tennessee to the ship in England was smooth and very prompt. We only had a couple hours between stops and the transfer from the airport to the ship was quick and smooth. There was always someone there to direct us and get us to the right place. Tip! The ship store has ice cleats for $10 a pair and trecking poles for $17 each. And I advise you to get a pole. Cleats not so much. Included tours: We went on every included trip and enjoyed them all. Note: The crew does a great job of getting everyone on and off the ship and buses but it is cold and dark sometimes so react accordingly. Also the days are short this time of year so you need to be on the early tours for the excursions except the Lights hunting then later is better. Remember the crew can't change the weather! We went on the 'In search of Northern Lights' trips in Tromso and Alta and were lucky to see the lights at both locations. I must say to everyone remember you are at the mercy of the weather on this trip so be patient and remember the crew cant change the weather. I heard many say the trips we not that good but if the weather had cooperated things would have been much different. Tip: Take hand warmers if you plan on taking pictures. Tip: Take a face mask! Many people had the cold weather gear but few had face covers and when you are outside in a 10 mph wind at -6 Degrees Celsius your face will get extremely cold! Big Tip: Your cell phone will not work to take pictures of the Northern Lights! I know there are apps out there that say the will help but trust me they do not work! If you want to take pictures of the lights that look like what you see on tv then get you a good camera and a tripod. Here is another Big Big tip: Learn how to use the camera and the cell phone BEFORE YOU GET THERE! Standing in the cold and dark with your flashlight on ruining everyone's night vision while you are trying to figure out how to set your camera will not win you many friends! Tip: There are several private companies in Tromso and Alta that have trips to find the Northern Lights so check those out also. You actually have a better chance of seeing the lights on a private tour because they have smaller vehicles and can move around easier and quicker than the buses. Entertainment: this is not a Disney cruise or a booze cruise! You will find interesting passengers and crew. The shows are fun but it's not Vegas style. The talks are informative and interesting but not for everyone. The pool is cold as is the weather. We were never bored on the trip as there was always something to do or interesting people to talk to or beautiful scenery to watch. We had an excellent time on this cruise! The ship is beautiful and the food is excellent. The crew is one of the best we have been around. The excursions are a little pricey but if you remember where you are and the problems presented by the weather and the locations then they are really priced very fair. And Remember::::: The crew can't change the weather! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We had cruised December last year on Viking Sea to Cuba. Our friends from cold northern US wanted to go to the Caribbean and this cruise had a different island per day with no sea days. We got cabins on 5th floor near the free ... Read More
We had cruised December last year on Viking Sea to Cuba. Our friends from cold northern US wanted to go to the Caribbean and this cruise had a different island per day with no sea days. We got cabins on 5th floor near the free laundry (including soap) as no noise and convenient to wash clothes . I think a laundry room on all cabin floors. Needed as Hot and at itmes muggy and hit the beach several times. Cabins seem like they have little storage but ask for more hangers and you will have plenty of storage. Bathroom floor is heated so if bathroom too hot ask your steward to turn the heat off. We asked for 4 towels a day as needed to wash off after beach and in AM. AC works beautifully. Verandas big enough and if want to lounge in sun, lots of lounge chairs and towels near the aft infinity pool and central pool. Infinity pool bromine I think and the central pool a salt water pool (notice how much more boyant you are.)One end of the pool is shallower than the other so you can stand up (if not too short). Both nicely warm. No fighting over lounge chairs so no need to come early and “stake your property” Neither pool ever have many people in it and usually then only to get wet and back to their lounge chair. We only took the included tours or got a private taxi-van. Most taxis are vans. On some included tours transport was packed tight and others lots of room to spread out. Usually morning tours more packed than afternoon. AC on all except Tortola with was an open tram (nice breeze and cool enough). San Juan: nice walking tour and covers all but the Morro fortress. We were there during the San Sebastian festival so the free tram from fort to fort not running. Tortola: incl tour: open air tram with spacious seating and great views. Pro and Con: 1.5 hr at Cane Beach and no way to bail and go back. Lovely white sugar white sand beach with tourqoiuse gentle water. There are umbrellas and lounge chairs you can rent or sit on some picnic tables in the shade or up in the shaded open deck restaurant for the cost of a drink. Tour gives a free rum punch or punch drink near the picnic tables. Nice restrooms, showers and changing rooms free there. Basseterre: We walked ato the end of the pier and got a $100USD total for van private tour of the island. (Lasted 4 hrs but no time limit) .Just keep walking off pier and prices get cheaper. Romney manor and batik making, black rocks, fort and many scenic view points. Castries: awesome long beach nearby. We took tranport offered by pier. They load you up tight in vans (the drivers get one load a day and 300 vans waiting to take people). About a 5min drive (or 2-3 mi walk) to the beaches- really only one beach with mulitple names. Set fee all transport for $5USD/pp. Again sugar white beach. Multiple establishments with drinks, umbrellas etc. Umbrella and 2-3 chair rental $20. Water gentle, turquoise. Beach fills up so come early. Some of us snorkeled- some fish seen. Shipwreck put for snorkeling you can swim to but many tour boats and many many snorkelers there with glass bottom boat meandering among the snorklers. Showers, restrooms and changing room free. Get back by telling your driver when you want ot come back or just walk out and someones van will be waiting . Bridgetown: inc tour: packed tight van/bus. Views of island Roseau: got a private tour for 4 $45/pp Went to other side of island and saw multiple falls St Johns: had a reservation to go out in a boat to a reef and get into the water and feed and stingrays for 9AM.Make reservation online-no money down and pay when you show up. Need to take a taxi out there. BUT was squalling and raining so cancelled the reservation. Took the incl tour to Shirely point old fort and magnificant views and then to the Nelso shipyards- 1700’s georgian working shipywards- neat old buildings,nice quick museum and awesome awesome yahts moored there. Free rum punch or punch drink. Spit rain on us once in a while but still a great day. Nice bus where we could spread out a bit Philipsburg: I wanted to go out to Cul de Sac bay and kayak and snorkel or take a water taxi out to an island there but I got overruled by my “crew” We instead went on the included tour. Bus big enough we all could spread out. A couple got on our bus instead of an optional tour at the same time- so check carefully what you are getting on. Drove around island and stopped at some scenic sites, stopped a working carosel (adults can ride too- can buy icecream) then on to a bay and craft market. Free rum punch or punch. Charlotte Amalie: My crew off to Coki beach to snorkel then maybe the included tour. I stayed and enjoyed hte salt water pool,only a few couples spread out on the lounge chairs. Pros and cons of boat Pros: -you see lots and lots of differnet islands- some rainforest and some very dry desert like, come with mangoose so no snakes or birds, some still exporting agriculture goods and some just tourist based. -no children -wonderful friendly crew -great food. I was not impressed iwth Mandifredi’s on both of my cruises but the men love it for the rib eye steak. Chef’s reataurant-wanderful if you like the menu. We did not drink either included or optional wine pairing. World buffet great as food same as Restaurant (check the menu to see if any differences ) and usually has the same food. Hamburger I got at the pool once was just so so. -drinks- only had water, hot and cold tea. My husband says the coke is the good real sugar type not the corn syrup variety. -secret- success cake in Mamsons is our favorite -Room and veranda pleasant. -in public areas or tovrasons- Guitarist was great. - Easy on and off boat even when tendering- well organized so no pushy people. -Pools- wonderful. Loved especially the central saltwater pool -record and play on entertainment system all shore talks and enrichment talks done on board -Wifi good for email. I didn’t try streaming Cons: -saltwater pool out of commission while painting for multiple days -entertainment system pauses( I timed at every 3 min), loose audio when restarts. So unpleasant to watch the shows which were actually probably very good. BBC, Ted Talks, Movie selection good but hard to watch. -entertainment limited. Music in public areas; Pianist (good), strings dueo-selections good but one of violinist strings seemed to need tuning, and acoustic guitarist- very good. Live shows in theater were only a few and even though the entertainers were cute my neices’s Boise ID high school productions had better singers. Suggestion: Seems rain is in AM and gone by 11AM. Plan accordingly. But if going to the beaches go early if not raining. Lots of lovely beaches on most islands. Do some internet searching and plan an early attack with a taxi. Feeding the sting rays (www.stingraycity.com) not on tour options and sorry we couldn’t go because of rain. You can reserve on your own but reveiws say after 10AM full from cruise ships. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We have been cruising the world since the mid '80s on many of the popular cruise lines including Princess, RCL, NCL, Celebrity, HAL, and others now defunct. While our friends have raving about Viking Ocean ships we postponed trying ... Read More
We have been cruising the world since the mid '80s on many of the popular cruise lines including Princess, RCL, NCL, Celebrity, HAL, and others now defunct. While our friends have raving about Viking Ocean ships we postponed trying them knowing that once experienced we might never go back to the others. Now we know. We have been spoiled. The Viking Sea is a beautiful small ship with about 930 passengers. We never felt crowded anywhere. It is such a serene setting compared to most of our other cruises. Some of that is the size and some the fact that there are no children onboard. The colors throughout are wonderful and add to ambiance. The cabins, while somewhat smaller than we have had in the past, are neat and continue a Scandinavian decor. Loved the shower. The food was fantastic. We enjoyed all of the restaurants although Manfredi's was our favorite. Great Italian food! The Grill produced some of the best hamburgers we've ever had. Of course wine or beer at all lunches and dinners is a plus. Drink prices are quite reasonable. Cannot really comment on the lectures as our Caribbean itinerary had us at a different island every day! No days at sea! As a result we were often off enjoying many of the included tours while the lectures were taking place. Entertainment, casinos, art auctions, etc. at sea are not important to us so we really didn't miss anything. The best of the Viking Sea, however, is the crew and staff. We had set up a "Meet and Greet" through Cruise Critic as we have done in the past. Viking set it up for a 6:00 P.M. on our second day in San Juan. FIVE of the ships Officers showed up to greet us! We have never had ANY officers show on any of our other cruise lines. Hors d'oeuvres and drinks were served as we chatted with the Officers and other passengers. It was fantastic. Smiles greeted us everywhere. We've never had such attentive and happy staff. Your wish was their command. We watched them closely .... officers, wait staff, room stewards. Their interaction with each other were happy and genuine. This was a wonderful cruise. And, I should add that we were affected by a Norovirus which closed the pool, sauna, therapy spa and ice room for most of the cruise. It required us to wash our hands every time we entered a dinning facility. Serving lines in the World Court were slower as the crew needed to serve us. Yet, the ship functioned superbly and we never really missed a beat. Yup .... we're SPOILED! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Everything was top notch from the service to the food. Nice shore excursions and great staff. Loved the fact that there was no photo taking event when boarding, no casino on the ship and no kids allowed on the ship. Such a peaceful trip. ... Read More
Everything was top notch from the service to the food. Nice shore excursions and great staff. Loved the fact that there was no photo taking event when boarding, no casino on the ship and no kids allowed on the ship. Such a peaceful trip. The cabin was well laid out and comfortable, the bathroom was best we have experienced on any cruise. There is not a lot of drawer storage but the closet is large and there is plenty of space under the beds. We went to the World Cafe and had lunch and it was very pleasant. The layout and general look of the buffet is very nice. The food on the ship was excellent in both the buffet and dining room. We ate two nights at Manfredi's, the Italian restaurant, and were very satisfied. Beer and wine is served at lunch and dinner and as much as you wanted. The staff was uniformly friendly and helpful. My only grip would be the gym is too small and there was never any hot drawn butter for the cracked crab, you always had to ask for it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Celebrating my 25th Wedding anniversary we chose Viking because a year ago it was one of the only 5 star under 900 passenger cruise ships going to Cuba for less than 10 days and its high rating. Our last cruise was on a Crystal ship from ... Read More
Celebrating my 25th Wedding anniversary we chose Viking because a year ago it was one of the only 5 star under 900 passenger cruise ships going to Cuba for less than 10 days and its high rating. Our last cruise was on a Crystal ship from Singapore to Hong Kong so the bar was set high. I have to admit Viking was up to the challenge, outside of our room attendant the service was excellent especially at the piano area bar where we had sparkling wine included in the Silver package that was pretty good. and I took full advantage of opportunity throughout the ship pre dinner after dinner and during the shows. we met some great people on the ship and even ran into some co-workers that we had no idea were going we closed the piano bar area down several nights. The majority of the guests were well over 70 so bedtime was pretty early. but wake up time was early also. :) The ship is very modern with wi-fi throughout and touch screen directories through out the ship. all orders taken by staff were on cell phones which made things much faster. The afternoon tea was a daily occurrence as the sandwiches and deserts were delicious and the service top notch. I ordered coffee and expresso instead with a splash of Cuban rum I brought back from the Tropicana show. I would cruise Viking again the beds and suite amenities were great . No nickel and diming with photos and extras or artwork etc. The excursions were good especially the Havana one. Cuba is still a 3rd world country going there was like going into a B&W movie and returning to Miami was like returning to a Digital Film ! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My husband and I cruised this time last year celebrating our anniversary on the Viking Sea and wanted to return to do almost the same cruise (two different islands this time) to see how the islands in Caribbean had recovered from the ... Read More
My husband and I cruised this time last year celebrating our anniversary on the Viking Sea and wanted to return to do almost the same cruise (two different islands this time) to see how the islands in Caribbean had recovered from the devastating damage from the hurricane in September 2017. This was our 35th cruise having cruised with Princess, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America and Norwegian. The average age of cruisers on this ship is probably 65-70 years of age. We cannot begin to say enough great things about Viking Ocean Cruises.....that is why we returned. When our flight landed in San Juan, we were met in Baggage Claim by the Viking Reps. Once we collected our luggage, we had a very short wait time to board the bus that took us to the ship (included as part of the cruise). Once we arrived at the ship, Viking was very efficient in checking us in and getting us on board. Since arriving around dinner time, we found our cabin and decided to go to The Restaurant to eat. No matter where you eat, the food is always delicious and presented wonderfully. The waiters in all the restaurants and the buffet (World Cafe) are very friendly and efficient. After dinner, we toured the ship as it is very easy to find your way around and very tastefully decorated that invites you in just sit and relax, read, etc. One of our favorite places is the Explorer's Lounge especially when it is time for the ship to sale. The view is wonderful as you could step outside and watch as the ropes were pulled in and we left a wonderful day on the islands. I am sure the Captain appreciated my help in guiding the ship out !!! One evening, the officers hosted a sail away party at the front of the ship on deck 3 with drinks and hor d'oeuvres as we watched the ropes pulled in and we slowly sailed out of port. We chose a Penthouse Veranda suite this time as it is a bit larger than what we had last year with more drawer space to place our clothes. That is another thing - you do not have to carry as much clothing as they have laundromats that are free to use and they supply the laundry detergent. Our cabin was just the right amount of space for two, not feeling crowded and the bathrooms are the best I have ever been in on any ship. Part of this cruise is spending the night on board ship (instead of a hotel) and taking the included shore excursion the next day. We did the included shore excursion last year and wanted to repeat it to see what a different tour guide would say and take us. We have been to Old San Juan several times and thought we knew a lot about it...until we took these walking tours. Last year we listen to a very knowledgeable guide tell us things we did not know. Viking supplies each cruiser an audiovox to use on tours such as these so that if you are in the back of the group, you can hear the tour guide as if you are walking right next to them. This year, our guide took us to Fort San Cristobal and gave us a narrated guided to of this very interesting old fort. Because of the Government shutdown, the Park Rangers of the fort agreed to work that day as the local city government offered to pay them to work that day as several cruise ships were in port. So glad they did!!! That evening, Viking hosted a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle in the Wintergarden with cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Several of the officers and department heads along with the Cruise Director were in attendance. Wonderful to chat not only with them, but we got to meet the people we chatted with on the Cruise Critic Roll Call. We had two reservations each during the cruise with the specialty restaurants - The Chef's Table and Manfredi's. The menu at the The Chef's Table is a set menu with wine pairings that changes every three days. I was able to capture another reservation there so we could try another menu. Meals were very delicious. We definitely enjoyed Manfredi's as well as I wanted to try different items on their menu. What we enjoy most about the dining experience is there is no formal night. However, you do need to dress in business casual for the restaurants. No problem! We did dine in the World Cafe for breakfast, most lunches and several dinners. Many of the same items served in the evening at The Restaurant are served in the World Cafe as well. Viking also includes beer and wine in the restaurants at lunch and dinner as part of your cruise. Viking Ocean Cruises includes at no cost an 'included' shore excursion at each port. If you prefer to do something different, they have other shore excursions you can choose from for a cost to you. We took the St. Kitts Scenic Railway shore excursion this time and it was worth every penny we paid for it. We rode the bus to where we boarded the train and along the way, the driver, James Gardener, told us about the island and landmarks that we passed. He was great. Each railway train car had a tour guide as well that narrated the tour as we passed by landmarks. Sweet Pea was her name and she was great as well. A special treat on the train was the 'choir' (two girls and a guy) that traveled from car to car and sang several songs to us a couple of times. I highly recommend this tour. We went to the LivNordic Spa and enjoyed the pool experience there several times. Other cruise lines charge for the use of this type of experience, but not Viking. Since we have been to the Southern Caribbean many times, we went to the beach at several islands. We went to Reduit Beach in St. Lucia - a beautiful beach, but the day we were there, there were big waves and swells. At Barbados, we went to Brown's Beach which is close to where the ship docked. It is a beautiful white sand beach with clear water and no rocks. Great walking beach. This is the locals favorite. At St. Martin, we went to Orient Beach. It has slowly begun to build back as the hurricane devastated that beach. It was a little windy and rainy until the clouds passed over, then a beautiful day. We enjoyed this cruise even more than last year's, and we loved last year's. So if you are thinking about trying a cruise where there are no children (and I love my grandchildren), no casino, and no formal nights, give this one a try. You won't regret it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
I’ve been on the ship (Viking Sky) before and it is very nice so we decided on scheduling another cruise with Viking. I was looking for a birthday cruise. Viking provides great service and even a bottle of sparkling wine (Sekt) and a ... Read More
I’ve been on the ship (Viking Sky) before and it is very nice so we decided on scheduling another cruise with Viking. I was looking for a birthday cruise. Viking provides great service and even a bottle of sparkling wine (Sekt) and a cake on your birthday. Plus all the great restaurants, shipboard amenities, very nice spacious cabins, and comfort while you cruise. Really enjoyed the aquivet terrace for lunch al fresco. Excursions were well planned and very enjoyable. The transfers to the hotel and ship were smooth and the transfer from hotel to ship even included a free tour of Barcelona. We have already explored much of Barcelona on the extension before the cruise and enjoyed tapas and watching the Spanish (Catalans) celebrate the end of the holiday season on Three Kings Day when they actually celebrate and give. Gifts so our Barcelona tour on the morning of January 6 was very quiet. The cabin is very nice. Every cabin has a veranda and ours was a penthouse veranda on a middle deck. The bathroom is very functional and roomy for a ship. Good toiletries and high quality towels plus lots of storage for your kit. The heated floors in the bathroom are very nice especially on a cold morning. The cabin has lots of storage for clothes and everything that you might bring aboard. There is even a mini refrigerator with complementary drinks. Plus binoculars to use on the veranda, a hair dryer, and robes to wear to the spa. We used the outdoor hot tub, very nice. On previous trips we have used the indoor spa with hot tub, pool and snow grotto - a lot of fun. This trip we finally used the exercise room, which is included free, and has good quality machines. All of the restaurants are nice. We had lunch in the World Cafe and it has great variety of food and also had sit down multi course lunch one sea day in the Restaurant. Dinner was in The Restaurant most nights with local specialties or European food. The nights we ate in the upgraded restaurant - Manfredi’s was excellent - great Italian food and especially the steak Florentine. The Chef’s Table is also nice with food and wine pairings although frankly we don’t like it as much as the other restaurants. Breakfast is great with lots of choices at the World Cafe and one day we tried the Norse food at Mamsem’s although really just had a waffle. The ports on this trip are nice but not as special as other trips. Barcelona and Malaga were the best. Cartagena almost as nice. Vigo was interesting and we did the optional tour to Bayona. Portsmouth was a good port especially cruising right by the old town as we left the harbor. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We are currently on the cultural Cuba cruise, and I would not advise anyone to take any cruise to Cuba unless you can be in Havana for 3 days. The Cienfuegos and Santiago ports are very lame. Havana was fantastic but the drive is over 6 ... Read More
We are currently on the cultural Cuba cruise, and I would not advise anyone to take any cruise to Cuba unless you can be in Havana for 3 days. The Cienfuegos and Santiago ports are very lame. Havana was fantastic but the drive is over 6 hours on very poor roads. We will try to plan another trip to Havana only in the future. The ship is beautiful, but seems to shake more in the ocean than other cruise ships we have been on. We had a junior suite that was very roomy with great bathrooms. The beds are very hard, but they gave us a topper to make it more comfortable. The internet was very slow and movies kept freezing up at night when more users were on. The premium wine selection was not good but the drink package was worth it for great mixed drinks. A big miss was not showing the college football National Championship game and it could not be watched anywhere on the ship. The food in the 2 specialty restaurants was excellent and the pool side grill had a great hamburger and tuna burger. The other restaurants were just ok. Room service seemed to run behind schedule most days for breakfast, so order at least 30 minutes early. The fitness center is small and we would have liked to see more weight machines but it seemed to work for us. On the plus side, Janice our cabin steward was excellent and we had fantastic bartenders in I Made and Eddie. The spa staff that did the pedicures were fantastic. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2018
Having greatly enjoyed our Viking Cruise of the Northern Mediterranean, we wanted to enjoy the experience of the destinations in the Southern Mediterranean, knowing the fine service and accommodations Viking provides. And we were not ... Read More
Having greatly enjoyed our Viking Cruise of the Northern Mediterranean, we wanted to enjoy the experience of the destinations in the Southern Mediterranean, knowing the fine service and accommodations Viking provides. And we were not disappointed. Our cabin was beautiful and fully appointed, the service from EVERYONE on the ship was excellent, and the destinations very interesting. And, nicely, each destination was more interesting and beautiful than the one preceding, culminating in Barcelona. The smaller size of the Viking cruise ship makes for a very personal and efficient travel experience. We had total comfort at all the bars and dining areas. The food, whether fancy or casual, was terrific. Our excursions were well managed and the local guides in every instance were excellent. We particularly enjoyed our tour to the Argiolas Family Vineyards in Sardinia, as it showed us both the city and rural areas of the island. The Casbah Stroll tour in Algiers was unforgettable but be warned, it is a lot of walking on uneven pavement and steps. Well worth it for anyone, even older people, with no difficulty walking. We recommend that people extend in Rome before the cruise to avoid the stress and fatigue that come with arriving on the same day as boarding, and that people extend in Barcelona because it is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. We would love to do this cruise, or any Viking cruise, again. Read Less
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