Tips for New Viking Ocean Cruisers

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#21
183 Posts
Joined Jul 2016
Thank you very much for sharing your cruise knowledge and experience! It will be first ocean for us this July. Your time and attention to details are greatly appreciated
#22
Maryland
4,975 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
Originally posted by Paulchili
roothy - thank you for starting this excellent thread for us newbies on VO.
We are not going till 5/19 but I am starting to research.
Any comments on different restaurant options? Do the included tours get filled up early?
Also, what brand of sodas are available in cabins (is caffeine free Diet Coke available)? Any Perrier or San Pellegrino for cabins?
TIA.
Everyone seems to love Manfredi's, Chef's Table not as much. However, this rather plain eater really liked Chef's Table, and even though I'm not a fan of spices, I liked most of what was served for the "route of the spices" menu, or whatever it's called - assuming they still have it. On our other visit, the menu was vaguely Asian, and I liked it too. I think the menus are as much based on a theme as they are based on a particular type of cuisine like Asian, Mexican, etc. If you don't like something, or can't eat it, I think they'll allow substitutions. I figure if I ever leave hungry, I'll go to World Cafe for a small snack afterwards! The whole experience is also kind of fun because there's some literature to read explaining the menu. It was also quieter than Manfredi's, which I liked. Of course, wine drinkers will probably like Chef's Table because they serve small tastes of a number of wines.

Someone else will have to answer the drink question, as I didn't pay much attention. You might want to dig through the pictures at the link I provided. I think I had a page in there that lists what you will get in your room fridge or can order for a few bucks' extra. I think the fridge (or really perhaps just a cooler) was in the desk!

As for the included excursions, we're doing the Midnight Sun cruise, and plenty of spots in numerous times were available when I booked (mid-day on the day excursions opened up for DV). I had made a list of times I wanted, with second choices, and had no trouble getting the times I wanted, or else very close to the same time I wanted. Compared to when we cruised in the fall of 2015, I think Viking is listing a lot more times - perhaps because people don't seem to like any changes once they book - even if they're small changes One nice thing is that many of the included tours, and a few of the optional/paid ones, are offered in the afternoon. I would guess that they might be less crowded, too. For the paid excursions there WERE a few sold out or listed as unavailable when it was time for me to book. I think a few disappeared pretty early on as a result of itinerary and/or Viking couldn't arrange what they wanted. Then a few more disappeared after the first wave of cruisers (people in suites, I guess) got to book. However, there really weren't too many changes or sold out tours overall. Also, after causing some anxiety on the Midnight Sun Roll Calls, a very popular Orkney Islands excursion that sold out early on recently opened up again - so you just never know what will happen.

As for booking the specialty restaurants on one of our 3 sea days, that was a total no go when I tried to book, unless I wanted to eat really late. Europeans and others who like eating late, though, will probably have the run of the restaurants just about any day, sea or port! (I made a list of my preferred days before booking, with second choices, trying to space out the restaurant days, and keeping departure times in mind, since I like sailaway a lot. Of course, as others have reported, it IS possible to change your reservations once on board, so no need to worry too much.
#23
San Francisco Bay Area
8,510 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Thank you roothy - very helpful.
Is there a place to see sample menus from Manfredi's?
It would be kind of difficult to pre-book Chef's Table unless you know which menu they offer on the day you want to book - am I missing something?
Also, your pictures of the minibar menu shows prices for soft drinks - I thought that soft drinks are included?
#24
Boston MA
5,993 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by Paulchili
roothy - thank you for starting this excellent thread for us newbies on VO.
We are not going till 5/19 but I am starting to research.
Any comments on different restaurant options? Do the included tours get filled up early?
Also, what brand of sodas are available in cabins (is caffeine free Diet Coke available)? Any Perrier or San Pellegrino for cabins?
TIA.
I don't believe so but if you can find it on shore, you can bring it on board. Viking has a very liberal BYO policy. Soda brand looks to be CocaCola and its various brands. Six cans of soda in the mini-bar. Starts out as a mixture but you can ask for any selection you want. If you are in a V cabin with no free restock on the mini-bar, you can always grab an extra can or two in the buffet to take back to your cabin.


Mineral water and Evian Spring water in the bars (see bar menu below). Filtered water in the cabins and at meals, still or sparkling. Free bottled water as you leave the ship each day.

If you continue to follow this forum, the topic of the restaurants will come up frequently over the next months.


Included tours do fill up quickly (especially the first departure of the day) but they must accommodate anyone who wants to go on an included tour. If you run into any trouble, just write Viking at [email protected] and explain the problem. Then, keep check daily for openings.


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"Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." Antonio Machado
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The high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy Herman Hesse





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#26
Boston MA
5,993 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by Paulchili
Also, your pictures of the minibar menu shows prices for soft drinks - I thought that soft drinks are included?
One mini-bar menu serves all. If you are DV or higher, soft drinks will be replenished for free once a day--if you drink three cans, they will replace them--but you will never have more than 6 cans replaced gratis. If you want Viking to restock your fridge with more than 6 cans per day, you pay for the additional cans. V cabins pay for any restocking; once you drink what is in your bar, it will not be restocked unless you request it and pay for it. Same goes for alcohol in the mini-bar; if you want more than the allotment for your cabin type, you pay for it.



soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner not all the time
deec, you are right. I wasn't very clear. You can grab a couple of extra cans of soda at lunch or dinner.
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"Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." Antonio Machado
Expand for links to links to photos and more.
The high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy Herman Hesse





Click on the links below for photos

AT SEA: 1983/NCL Caribbean ~ 1985/Premier DisneyWorld+Cruise ~ 1997/NCL Alaska ~ 2000/Renaissance Istanbul to Athens ~ 2001/Celebrity Horizon Southern Caribbean ~ 200?/NCL Boston to Bermuda ~ 2005/Celebrity Zenith Central America/Western Caribbean ~ 2006/RCCL L.A. to Ensenada ~2007/Celebrity Century Scandinavia & Baltic Capitals ~2009/Celebrity Infinity South America around the Horn ~ 2016/Viking Sea Midnight Sun ~ 2016/Viking Sea NYE on the Med

RIVER DAYS: 2010/Viking River Cruises "China's Cultural Delights" ~ 2013/Viking "Footsteps of the Cossacks" ~ 2015/Viking "Passage to Eastern Europe"

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#28
San Francisco Bay Area
8,510 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
Thank you all.
We are in PV cabin so the minibar should be replenished daily (with 6 drinks max?)
I only drink sparkling water - will it be club soda or do they offer Perrier/San Pelegrino?
TIA
#29
Boston MA
5,993 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by Paulchili
Is there a place to see sample menus from Manfredi's?
It would be kind of difficult to pre-book Chef's Table unless you know which menu they offer on the day you want to book - am I missing something?
Viking does not post the menus for the specialty restaurants on line. Maybe some day someone will take a pictures of the Manfredi's menu and post it where we can all see it.

As far as the Chef's Table goes, just pick a night and make a reservation. Once you get on board, you can then review the menus that will be offered while you are on board and make any changes -- and additional reservations. There is a reservation desk for the specialty restaurants at the entrance to the World Cafe, port side. They have the menus for you to look at before you book. NOTE: Chef's Table menus are on a three day rotation and Day 1 of the cruise isn't always day 1 of the rotation.


There are substitutions permitted in the Chef's Table (especially for those with dietary issues).
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"Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." Antonio Machado
Expand for links to links to photos and more.
The high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy Herman Hesse





Click on the links below for photos

AT SEA: 1983/NCL Caribbean ~ 1985/Premier DisneyWorld+Cruise ~ 1997/NCL Alaska ~ 2000/Renaissance Istanbul to Athens ~ 2001/Celebrity Horizon Southern Caribbean ~ 200?/NCL Boston to Bermuda ~ 2005/Celebrity Zenith Central America/Western Caribbean ~ 2006/RCCL L.A. to Ensenada ~2007/Celebrity Century Scandinavia & Baltic Capitals ~2009/Celebrity Infinity South America around the Horn ~ 2016/Viking Sea Midnight Sun ~ 2016/Viking Sea NYE on the Med

RIVER DAYS: 2010/Viking River Cruises "China's Cultural Delights" ~ 2013/Viking "Footsteps of the Cossacks" ~ 2015/Viking "Passage to Eastern Europe"

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#30
Boston MA
5,993 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by Paulchili
Thank you all.
We are in PV cabin so the minibar should be replenished daily (with 6 drinks max?)
I only drink sparkling water - will it be club soda or do they offer Perrier/San Pelegrino?
TIA
My preferred tipple is also fizzy water and I drank the sparkling filtered water provided. I don't know what is available in the way of bottled sparkling waters, other than what is shown on the bar menu, and I don't know if club soda is available by the can for the mini-bars.. Carafes of filtered water are in your cabin and they are refreshed twice daily. Still is normally provided without asking; sparkling water is on request--and you can have one of each. This same filtered water, still or sparkling, is served in all of the dining venues.

PV cabins will have 6 cans of soda and two bottles of tonic in the fridge plus the alcoholic beverages (but I don't know what that supply is). I'm not a soda drinker so I really did not pay attention to what was in the cans. Daily replenishment will restock what you have consumed. If you drink one soda; they will replace that one can. If you drink three bottle of alcohol, they will replace them. BTW, you start with a selection of spirits but if you only want one kind, you just have to ask to have your fridge stocked with just that one type. So for instance, it it is 6 nip bottles in a variety of liquors and all you want is vodka, they will give you your full complement of bottles all vodka.
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"Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." Antonio Machado
Expand for links to links to photos and more.
The high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy Herman Hesse





Click on the links below for photos

AT SEA: 1983/NCL Caribbean ~ 1985/Premier DisneyWorld+Cruise ~ 1997/NCL Alaska ~ 2000/Renaissance Istanbul to Athens ~ 2001/Celebrity Horizon Southern Caribbean ~ 200?/NCL Boston to Bermuda ~ 2005/Celebrity Zenith Central America/Western Caribbean ~ 2006/RCCL L.A. to Ensenada ~2007/Celebrity Century Scandinavia & Baltic Capitals ~2009/Celebrity Infinity South America around the Horn ~ 2016/Viking Sea Midnight Sun ~ 2016/Viking Sea NYE on the Med

RIVER DAYS: 2010/Viking River Cruises "China's Cultural Delights" ~ 2013/Viking "Footsteps of the Cossacks" ~ 2015/Viking "Passage to Eastern Europe"

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#31
Auckland, New Zealand
173 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by Paulchili
Thank you roothy - very helpful.
Is there a place to see sample menus from Manfredi's?
It would be kind of difficult to pre-book Chef's Table unless you know which menu they offer on the day you want to book - am I missing something?
Also, your pictures of the minibar menu shows prices for soft drinks - I thought that soft drinks are included?

Here is a link to menus for MDR, Manfredis, Pool Grill and Mansens

http://www.beyondships2.com/viking-star-menus.html
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#33
35 Posts
Joined Jun 2008
Passports ashore? Consider the scenario: your private excursion to some foreign must-see has been held up by whatever, or there was a long queue at the hospital emergency department, and you arrive at the dock late, to see Viking waving bye-bye a hundred yards out to sea. With your passport. And your money. And the next port of call is in yet another country. Another foreign country with a border force which might not speak your language too well and might not appreciate the extra work you are about to generate. How are you going to cross borders legally without a passport in these days of increased security, nastiness and twitchy scrutiny? In Europe, non-European people without passports or official ID can be asylum seekers, illegal immigrants or even not-very-nice-people.

If you do not want to carry your passport (why ever not?), do take a colour photocopy of the important pages, or a picture of them on your phone, or at least your passport number for the man from the embassy or consulate.. And the phone number of Viking's shore agent, and Viking's home office number to use in extremis. Better still, don't miss the boat! It won't wait,you know. (If it's not too far away, the pilot may give you a lift if you speak nicely!!!)
#34
New York
8,269 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
I notice the sample dinner menu specifies "Poulet de Bresse." Does anyone know if this is literally true? [Real Bresse chicken is so much better than anything we have had that was raised somewhere else]
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#35
82 Posts
Joined Mar 2017
Hi Roothy123, Thank you so much for all the time you put into this post. It was very informative! My husband and I will be going on our first Viking Ocean cruise in October/2017 on the Viking Sun for Venice, the Adriatic and Greece. Some of the places we're stopping at were in your pictures!! We're staying in the veranda V2 so we'll be picking our excursions later. I wondered if all the included excursions fill up for the earlier times first. I noticed that the meeting location for the included excursions is on the boat. So does that mean you have to stay on the boat until your included excursion leaves? I'm the type of person who likes to get off the boat first thing with my feet running to discover the new location and spend every minute on land Any thoughts on how you work around the later included excursions? Thanks again, Pat
#36
Boston MA
5,993 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by smithp7
Hi Roothy123, Thank you so much for all the time you put into this post. It was very informative! My husband and I will be going on our first Viking Ocean cruise in October/2017 on the Viking Sun for Venice, the Adriatic and Greece. Some of the places we're stopping at were in your pictures!! We're staying in the veranda V2 so we'll be picking our excursions later. I wondered if all the included excursions fill up for the earlier times first. I noticed that the meeting location for the included excursions is on the boat. So does that mean you have to stay on the boat until your included excursion leaves? I'm the type of person who likes to get off the boat first thing with my feet running to discover the new location and spend every minute on land Any thoughts on how you work around the later included excursions? Thanks again, Pat
The earliest time slot probably fills up quickly but, depending on the port, there may be some strategic advantage to taking the last tour of the day.


Sometimes the included tours meet on the pier while the optional line up in the theater and are led to the buses from there. In any case, if you are traveling with a group, you should all arrive at the rallying point together so that you will be assigned the same bus.


As long as you are at the meeting point at the appointed time, you may do what you want before the tour.
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"Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar." Antonio Machado
Expand for links to links to photos and more.
The high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy Herman Hesse





Click on the links below for photos

AT SEA: 1983/NCL Caribbean ~ 1985/Premier DisneyWorld+Cruise ~ 1997/NCL Alaska ~ 2000/Renaissance Istanbul to Athens ~ 2001/Celebrity Horizon Southern Caribbean ~ 200?/NCL Boston to Bermuda ~ 2005/Celebrity Zenith Central America/Western Caribbean ~ 2006/RCCL L.A. to Ensenada ~2007/Celebrity Century Scandinavia & Baltic Capitals ~2009/Celebrity Infinity South America around the Horn ~ 2016/Viking Sea Midnight Sun ~ 2016/Viking Sea NYE on the Med

RIVER DAYS: 2010/Viking River Cruises "China's Cultural Delights" ~ 2013/Viking "Footsteps of the Cossacks" ~ 2015/Viking "Passage to Eastern Europe"

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#37
San Antonio,Texas
625 Posts
Joined Jul 2014
[quote=smithp7;53241903]Hi Roothy123 I wondered if all the included excursions fill up for the earlier times first. I noticed that the meeting location for the included excursions is on the boat. So does that mean you have to stay on the boat until your included excursion leaves? I'm the type of person who likes to get off the boat first thing with my feet running to discover the new location and spend every minute on land Any thoughts on how you work around the later included excursions? Thanks again, Pat[quote]
You can usually exit ship whenever you please, excursion or not. We had a later(afternoon) excursion but went to town early and returned to ship for excursion. You can always check with excursion desk to see if an earlier spot has opened once y ou board. In one of the ports we were told it was a long pier and we might want to keep that in mind to make our way to the bus. Turns out, it wasn't 'that' long and we arrived early. They informed us of that but they did let us on that bus as all that were scheduled had not shown. So that could be another option.
#38
Maryland
4,975 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
First, sorry if I'm repeating stuff mentioned before. I didn't read the new entries after I received my email that you had questions, and am rushing to turn off the pc. I think others have clarified some points I was unsure of. Here's what I typed before glancing at the responses:

I'm like you - off the ship as much as possible. You don't have to stay on the ship if your excursion is later, but of course, it depends upon the particular port and how easy it is to get back to the ship. For example, if you're going to Santorini, it's tricky for independent cruisers. It involves tendering and then getting up top to the town via cable car or donkey. That takes time and you probably wouldn't want to go back to the ship. I'd book the first included excursion available in that case. (If you're on an excursion, you'll likely be tendered to a place down at the bottom of the island where the tour buses are parked - but just about everyone else goes up by cable car or donkey, unless you can arrange a cab to pick you up and take you up top.) We just bagged the included excursion (didn't sound as good as touring on our own, which we had done before and loved) and took the first slots available on a tender. There was one early one, announced as we were eating breakfast, and one maybe a half hour early. In 2015, Viking merged independent cruisers with the excursion groups. Some cruise lines make the indy folks wait until all the excursion folks are off, though. I assume Viking's still handling tricky Santorini the same way now as they did in 2015, but be aware that's it's a port with challenges! It is, however, our favorite place we've ever been!!!! Might want to rent a three wheeler if you're adventuresome. I saw places few cruisers get to see.

I think the afternoon excursions might meet ashore (at least for cities where there's no tendering, which is majority), but I'm not positive. Maybe someone can confirm, or I can find out soon, as we're cruising soon. If so, that at least means you can explore the city, around the port, or whatever in the morning and not have to go back on the ship, which is fast but still involves a little bit of time in case there's a line, plus shuttle to port terminal (Athens) and x-rays.

I don't know if the time you book is the actual meeting time or if Viking wants you to get to the meeting place (on ship or not) 15 minutes earlier or something like that. I'd recommend not trying to book things too closely - sometimes excursions run a little late (on all cruise lines, not just on Viking). Not sure if you'll want to do two excursions in one day, but I think Viking's system will stop you from booking excursions that are truly too close together, so at least you don't have to worry about that.

With that said, some people have reported that the included excursions tended to fill up before they booked, but when we booked maybe a month ago for our upcoming cruise, that was not the case. We were in a DV and I booked a couple hours after I got up on the first day we could book. I don't remember the specifics, but when I booked, almost all time slots appeared to be open, including many first thing in the morning. If I wanted to explore early in a port where it's easy to tour on your own (example, Geiranger for my cruise; Kotor if you go there in your case) I booked an after lunch included excursion; also did that in 2015 when I booked an AM optional excursion but also wanted to take the included one in Athens. In Pula (doubt you go there; people didn't like the long tender ride) I booked an early included excursion, told the guide I was staying in Pula, and toured a bit on my own (great city, in my opinion - worth the time to tender, but some may disagree), then got back to the tender pier on my own. It just depends on the situation, but I think you'll likely find plenty of slots that work. I would, however, book the excursions on the day your window opens, fairly early, just to be sure you see the best options that exist. I would NOT, however, stress over it. I made notes on which times I wanted and second choices, but in the end the whole process was very easy and fast, with no issues.

October in Greece, Venice, etc. should be great - not too hot or crowded, not too cool! Enjoy.
#39
Maryland
4,975 Posts
Joined Mar 2004
As a P.S., since I still have the time slots Viking offered (before my window opened up for booking) on our upcoming Midnight Sun cruise, here's a bit more info. Obviously, your times (and frequency of tours) may vary. Also, I suppose Viking may make some changes to actual times and/or ask some people if they could move to a different time slot if enough people don't sign up for any given time slot.

London, departure (2nd) day: 4 hour tour offered 8, 8:45, 1 & 2
Edinburgh (in port 8 - 6): 4 hour tour 8:45, 9, 1:15, 1:30
Kirkwall (8 - 6): 2.5 hour tour: 8:45, 9:30, 12 & 12:45
Lerwick (8 - 5): 8 total, spread out from 8:45 to 1:45
Leknes/Lofoten (8 to 1; but other itineraries have longer): 2 hour tour, 4 slots, first 8:30, last 10:30
Honningsvag (12 - 6): 3.5 hour tour, first one 12:15
Tromso (8 - 6): 2.5 hour tour, first at 8:45, last 3:30, 8 slots
Molde (8 to 6): 2.5 hour tour at 9, 11, 1, 3
Geiranger (8 - 6): 3 hour tour at 9, 10:30, 1:30
Bergen (arrive 8 AM & overnight): 2 hour tour, 8 slots, first one 9, last one 4

In most cases, lunch time is avoided. Another thought: While a lot of people tend to like the early slots for various reasons, I try to keep in mind that early on in the cruise, I'm likely to be suffering from jetlag, and getting up early to eat breakfast and go on an excursion may not be as great as it sounds! Of course, if you go to Europe or that part of the world at least several days early, this may not be a consideration.
#40
Georgia
134 Posts
Joined Mar 2013
Originally posted by roothy123
As a P.S., since I still have the time slots Viking offered (before my window opened up for booking) on our upcoming Midnight Sun cruise, here's a bit more info. Obviously, your times (and frequency of tours) may vary. Also, I suppose Viking may make some changes to actual times and/or ask some people if they could move to a different time slot if enough people don't sign up for any given time slot.

London, departure (2nd) day: 4 hour tour offered 8, 8:45, 1 & 2
Edinburgh (in port 8 - 6): 4 hour tour 8:45, 9, 1:15, 1:30
Kirkwall (8 - 6): 2.5 hour tour: 8:45, 9:30, 12 & 12:45
Lerwick (8 - 5): 8 total, spread out from 8:45 to 1:45
Leknes/Lofoten (8 to 1; but other itineraries have longer): 2 hour tour, 4 slots, first 8:30, last 10:30
Honningsvag (12 - 6): 3.5 hour tour, first one 12:15
Tromso (8 - 6): 2.5 hour tour, first at 8:45, last 3:30, 8 slots
Molde (8 to 6): 2.5 hour tour at 9, 11, 1, 3
Geiranger (8 - 6): 3 hour tour at 9, 10:30, 1:30
Bergen (arrive 8 AM & overnight): 2 hour tour, 8 slots, first one 9, last one 4

In most cases, lunch time is avoided. Another thought: While a lot of people tend to like the early slots for various reasons, I try to keep in mind that early on in the cruise, I'm likely to be suffering from jetlag, and getting up early to eat breakfast and go on an excursion may not be as great as it sounds! Of course, if you go to Europe or that part of the world at least several days early, this may not be a consideration.
Thanks for the information, but I have a question about the London hours.
When you say 1 and 2, do you mean 2pm? For my London departure 7/9, Viking shows ship departure at 2 so we just have the morning options.
Is your sail time different?