We loved the two river cruises we took with Vikilng, and were looking forward to this ocean cruise. And mostly it fulfilled our expectations. But there were a few problems that should not happen on any cruise, much less one with a ... Read More
We loved the two river cruises we took with Vikilng, and were looking forward to this ocean cruise. And mostly it fulfilled our expectations. But there were a few problems that should not happen on any cruise, much less one with a reputation as stellar as Viking. The good was very good. Cabins are excellent, great bathrooms (especially the heated floors, which feel good for feet and helps hand washing to dry quickly), nice sized balconies with comfortable chairs. Beds are great, pillows fascinating - soft, yet can be squished into all kinds of wonderful shapes. Lots of plugs, both USB, American, and European - didn't need our power strip that we always travel with. Beware, the outlet in the bathroom is American, but does not accept polarized plugs (my waterpik wouldn't work). The TV is the only real drawback in the room - the menus are a bit confusing (especially finding the bridge cam and reruns of ship talks). And it doesn't swivel, so all but impossible to see from the desk area. Small fridge, with some snacks and drinks included, and may be replenished depending on the type of room. Public spaces are gorgeous, with plenty of seating for all, some in noisy areas, and a few quiet areas (on deck and in Wintergarden) for those who don't enjoy a lot of background noise. Public bathrooms are plentiful and beautifully clean, there is a walking jogging deck on 2, and a walking area on the top of the ship on the sports deck.There is a free laundry on each floor, which we used once - after a gentleman took out my laundry to wash his pair of pants, I went back to doing laundry in the sink. Watching your laundry during a cruise is not my idea of a vacation. There is a reasonable laundry and dry cleaning service you can also use on board.
Our major problems were in the food areas. Food was generally OK, not great. Pastas were great, as were much of the meat. Desserts were generally pretty and tiny, but little flavor. Same breads every day, all ok, but not much flavor. It would have been nice to have a bread of the day. Soups were generally poor, which was a huge disappointment after loving all the soups on the river cruises. Ice cream and smoothies were a big hit.
Mamsen's in the Explorer's Lounge was great, but needs a better pick up system on crowded days. The special Norwegian waffles take a few minutes to make, and someone who didn't know the system grabbed ours one day. They have great pastries up there too, much better than any of the other restaurants. Afternoons/evenings bring great open faced sandwiches and cakes.
Chef's Table, horrible service, very fancy food and tiny portions.
Pool Grill - do not miss the great hamburgers, hot dogs and steak sandwiches. Best on the ship, along with the French fries and coleslaw.
Manfredi's is very good. Florentine steak I had was small and too much fat, but the rest was very good. Pasta was fabulous, and they had better breads than elsewhere on the ship.
Loved afternoon tea in the Wintergarden. Best desserts on the ship. Scones are fabulous, and a big selection of teas, even for non-tea drinkiers.
Loved the Aquavit Terrace, great place to eat from the food court on nice days. World Cafe (food court) food mostly good enough, has everything that is in Restaurant. Flow patterns are problematical, all directions, and you need to wait for soups, pastas, and special orders, which clogs up the traffic flow at busy times.
Drink service at all locations was not good for much of the trip, especially in the World Cafe. It's not easy to get your own drinks, and I often finished a meal with no one stopping by. We complained, and it got a bit better by the end of the trip. Everyone seemed to be working hard, so I don't know if the problem was not enough staff on duty, poor assignment of duties, not understanding American expectations of service, or just poor management in general. Staff throughout the ship were friendly and helpful, especially the cabin stewards.
Odd timing of some programs, not bad if you eat dinner early, but late diners will miss out. Theater was excellent with good acoustics - could have been a bit bigger. Movies by the pool had terrible sound and poor popcorn. Lecturers were a real mixed bag. A couple were great, a couple so-so, and one was terrible. Generally don't seem to have had much oversight. Slides overfull with data, disorganized. Entertainment was average at best, a bit embarrassing at other times. Cruise director not particularly good, shore excursions guy very wordy and hard to understand.
The ports and even distribution of sea days is what attracted us to this cruise. We missed stops in Guernsey and Copenhagen, which was disappointing, but everything else went well, and we saw so many places we've never been. Gorgeous weather almost everywhere (unheard of for April). Shore excursions are primarily bus or walking tours, usually 2-3 hours, giving you the highlilghts, and none too strenuous for so-so walkers. All included some shopping/free time.
Warning, this is a very homogenous clientele. Almost all white Americans, 60-75 years old, with a few Australians, British, and Canadians mixed in. Most are from smaller cities and suburban areas. Table talk is often about previous Viking cruises and grandchildren. Much fitter group than what we've encountered on larger ships - no motorized wheelchairs, and many were devoted to extensive regimes on the walking deck.
All in all, I would go on a Viking cruise again, but would not rank them higher than our past experiences on Norwegian, Princess, and Celebrity. I would continue to pick based on price, ports, and timing. I don't think I'm the normal Viking customer who seems to have a blind loyalty to all things Viking. It's easy enough for me to bypass the photo ops, casinos, and other annoyances on big ships Read Less