We were on Viking Rurik river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 2013. Despite a major hiccup--a bad storm that delayed us 12+ hours--we were extremely impressed with how the Viking and its crew made up for a missed port and delayed ... Read More
We were on Viking Rurik river cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg in 2013. Despite a major hiccup--a bad storm that delayed us 12+ hours--we were extremely impressed with how the Viking and its crew made up for a missed port and delayed arrival to St. Petersburg. As far as I'm concerned, they exceeded expectations.
So, when I read about the ocean cruises starting, it seemed like an opportune time to visit some places we've never been. The superlatives I can think of are inadequate to describe our experience on the maiden voyage of Viking Sea, April 3-12, 2016, Empires of the Mediterranean. Again, Viking just knows how to take passengers on an enjoyable, educational, entertaining cruise. The Sea was a revelation. Gorgeous small ship with impressive amenities all the way down to heated bathroom floors. Also a mini fridge stocked with sodas, sparkling water and some candy that is free within reason. Free washers and dryers and ironing boards, as well. They also provide a free excursion for each port.
Food was very good. We prefer more generously seasoned food as a rule, but the food onboard was fresh and tasty in all dining rooms from the Cafe to the Restaurant right into the specialty restaurants (for which there is no extra charge) Man Freddi's Italian and The Chef's Table.
We travel when school is in session to avoid exposing ourselves to rowdy teens and shrieking toddlers, and Viking doesn't really provide anything other than a pool that youngsters might enjoy.
Service as impeccable, which was not surprising. The river cruise staff impressed us immediately. While there were far more people onboard the Sea so that the staff didn't know our names within 24 hours like they did on the Rurik, we could not have asked for better service in the restaurants or from our room stewards.
I do wonder at why Viking advertised that Venice was a stop, which to me implied that we would get an excursion when, in fact, it was just the end of the cruise, and if passengers wanted to see Venice, they had to book an extension. This was never mentioned to me when booking. A headsup about there being no time in Venice when booking 18 months in advance, would have been very helpful. St. Petersburg was our final stop on the Russian river cruise and we spent a couple of nights there and went on several excursions. My mistake for thinking when a port is advertised as such that it's included in the price of the cruise. As it turned out, we got a day in Venice. See below:
There was one major CON and it had nothing to do with the sailing experience itself. The flight booking experience with Viking air department was a nightmare and, should we cruise again (and if we do it will be with Viking), we will most definitely arrange our own flights. I will never deal with their air department again. I booked our Premium Economy flights with them as soon as it was possible, which was 10 months in advance for the April cruise. In February 2016, I was planning our excursions and noticed on our Viking online trip calendar that we would dock in Venice at 6 a.m. Our flight was scheduled at 6:55 a.m. with 6:15 being the last check-in. No way we'd make that. I called and was told by a very prissy young woman after putting me on hold for almost 10 minutes that, yes, that was a problem and that they would be putting us on a flight that would have us making *three* stops instead of *one.* Unacceptable. Finally, I demanded they put us on the same flight the next day and was told that 1) We would have to pay a $200 penalty for that change, 2) We would have to pay for our own hotel, and 3) We would be responsible for our own transfers. I refused to pay the $200 for THEIR mistake and they finally conceded. I booked the hotel and got the cab from the ship.
While in Athens, we sat at a table with a very nice couple from Australia and they told us of their wonderful experience with the Viking air department and how well they had been taken care of with proactive help which included contacting them and offering to pick them up at the Dubai airport and putting them up in a hotel for their 8-hour layover, as well as flying them in to Istanbul a day early and putting them up at a hotel overnight so they wouldn't be arriving in the evening and have a 4+ hour drive to Gallipoli for the Anzac observance prior to the cruise. I was quite surprised that Viking in Australia bent over backward for this couple while Viking U.S. tried to hold us responsible for their mistake. Read Less