We have been on four Viking River cruises (China, Russia, Passage to Eastern Europe, Windmills and Tulips) and two Viking Ocean Cruises (From the Caribbean to the Amazon and Western Mediterranean Explorer). We make our choices of cruises ... Read More
We have been on four Viking River cruises (China, Russia, Passage to Eastern Europe, Windmills and Tulips) and two Viking Ocean Cruises (From the Caribbean to the Amazon and Western Mediterranean Explorer). We make our choices of cruises based on itinerary. We have traveled on brands of ships with 50 and 100 passengers which we enjoyed very much. The only cruise ship bigger than a Viking Ocean was on a Disney Cruise trip with my extended family including young children.
Compared to Viking River Cruises, the Viking Ocean cruises have bigger cabins and all have verandas. There are more choices of restaurants (no upcharges) and free room service. Entertainment includes an assortment of shows in the theater, atrium, Winter Garden tea, Explorers Lounge, and Torsham bar plus enrichment lectures and TED talks. There are no casinos, no one under 18, and no official photographers. Beer and wine are included with lunch and dinner in restaurants. There is extensive spa including snow grotto (even in the Amazon!) and a full size pool that can be covered with a retracting roof.
There is a launderette on some decks. The detergent is included but you may want to bring some fabric softener sheets. They can be crowded or empty depending on your timing. Check what your cabin 'class' includes. Mine included ironing and shoe shining which I took advantage of. Dry cleaning is available for a reasonable price but I won't pay what they charge for doing laundry. You will need to allow a day and a half if you have them do ironing, laundry, or dry cleaning. The highest 'class' cabins include all of it.
Dress is 'resort casual'. Men must wear a collared shirt for dinner in The Restaurant, The Chef's Table, and Manfredi's. I highly recommend Manfredi's. If you want more nights in either The Chef's Table or Manfredi's, more slots are available on board. We also love Mamsen's and the Pool Grill for light, casual meals. There is never a dress code for those two or The World Cafe which is their buffet restaurant which serves food similar to The Restaurant but without the tablecloths and waiters. You can wear shorts and flip flops there any time if you wish. There are no formal nights but a few guests like to wear a suit or a cocktail dress in the evening. We often took room service for breakfast to save time getting to our earlier excursions. And, if you have back to back to excursions, order a box lunch the night before from Guest Services to take with you.
Speciality coffees at no charge are available throughout the day and evening from any lounge such as the Livingroom on Deck 1 and the Explorers' Lounge on Deck 7. The Livingroom has snacks available all day and evening but the wine and beer at lunch and dinner is not included there even if you are making it your meal. Go to Mamsen's instead in the Explorers' Lounge and have the same sandwich with a beer or glass of wine. The Pool Grill has a small salad bar and delicious hot sandwiches with a full bar.
The included excursions are sometimes good but avoid any that say Panorama. They just drive you past the sights. The extra excursions are varied and interesting but you can always book your own. There is always a free shuttle into town unless you are within an easy walking distance. Yes, some extra cost excursions sell out quickly. I use mostly Viking excursions because it is simpler and, in the Caribbean, our ship did delay its departure by nearly an hour one time because a Viking tour was late returning from the other side of the island.
Excursion reservations are easier if you have a higher 'class' plus the refrigerator is restocked with hard liquor, beer, and soft drinks daily and one bottle of champagne for the trip. By the way, if you prefer one soft drink or liquor over another, you can specify what you want. This is meaningless, of course, if you have the Silver Spirits beverage package because you can drink virtually anything (including champagne) whenever you want. The snacks in the refrigerator are a joke - tiny pieces of chocolate and small bags of nuts or trail mix.
For the most part, I don't feel the Silver Spirits beverage package is worth the extra cost. I just can't drink that much after the wine and beer with lunch and dinner plus possibly what is in my cabin refrigerator. If I want an occasional cocktail or upgrade to premium wines in The Chef's Table, it is cheaper to just pay as you go. The bar prices are located on Viking's webpage so you can easily make your own judgement based on your needs.
One important thing I learned is to ASK if you need something whether on the Viking Ocean or Viking River cruises. The Viking staff really want to please. My bed was too hard on my first Viking Ocean cruise and the stewards were actually hurt that I hadn't said anything until a mid-voyage evaluation was turned in. The hotel manager came personally to assure me that they would find a solution and checked later that I was happy. On a river cruise, I wanted to see some sights not included. The concierge figured out how I could manage seeing them by staying in town after the morning tour and then rejoin the group in time for our evening show in town. So, ASK!
The other important thing is to not miss the Port Talks. On the Viking Ocean cruises, if you miss one, it is on your cabin's television a few hours later. There is frequently some important information and/or tips for the next day that you don't get anywhere else. It was amazing to talk to people on an excursion that had no idea that there were no restroom breaks on that two hour drive because they hadn't listened to the Port Talk when all of that and more was explained.
Forgot one thing that is important to us. The Wifi is free and good. Make sure that you put your smartphone on AIRPLANE MODE from the time you take off from the USA until you return. When on the ship, connect to the Wifi. If you keep it in airplane mode for your entire trip and only use wifi on the ship and in the hotels, you will have no data charges.
Also, if you need a bigger screen or don't carry a device, there is a row of computers available on Deck 1 that are tied to a printer.
Make sure you use the My Viking Journey application before the cruise and the Viking Voyager application on the cruise. My Viking Journey can be used on a computer or a portable device. The Viking Voyager is for your smartphone or tablet using wifi. Both show your personal calendar including excursions. Viking Voyager also includes onboard information. Read Less