Calling all cruisers past and present who have taken this cruise to join in an all-inclusive discussion of this Viking itinerary. I'm hoping that this will become the 'go-to' thread for all things Viking Ukraine.
DH and I are looking to book this trip for May or June, 2012. I have plenty of questions that I know can only be answered by those who have taken the trip--and I hope to find you and bring you to this cruise.
Let me start this rolling with a couple of question:
Cruise Critic members are THE BEST source of information and I thank you all in advance.
- When is the best time to take this trip?
- Any suggestions on flight arrangements? There is nothing direct, so tell us about your flight arrangements and how you thought they went.
- What about visas? Do we need them?
- What about finding ATMs?
- Can I drink the local water or should I stick to bottled water?
- For the most recent cruisers, tell us about the ship and the cabins.
- Please, share your reviews, photos and travelogues. Do you travel blogs and photos on other websites? Would you share the link here?
I have never took this cruise, but, your questions are not about the
cruise but other things, that is why I am answering.
When is the best time to take this trip?
Ukraine is the huge plane with the humus covering all its surface
(that is why Germans during the WW2 imported the soil to Germany,
it's so fertile). There are little mountains (Carpathian and Crimean),
the rest is a flat as a table. It means that the temperature depends
on the cyclones. If the cyclones come from Africa, it's hot. You can
get as much as 15 C (59 F) in December. The very next day, it can be
blowing from North, Antarctic winds, and be as cold as - 10 C (14 F).
So, it depends on your likes. In late April/May it's nice and warm.
Odessa is full of blooming acacias (the signature tree), and Kiev -
of chestnuts, white and pink. In June, July and August it can be +50
C (122 F), without any warning, and the air conditioner is only in
large stores and tour buses. But, then, again, it can not. Last
summer it kept +27 C (32 F) all the time, and was tolerable. The
summer before, it kept +50 C (122 F) all the time, and one felt like
dying. If you do not like it too hot, the best is late April (after
15th), May, and then early September.
Any suggestions on flight arrangements? There is nothing direct, so tell
us about your flight arrangements and how you thought they went.
You can't fly directly to Odessa, alas. You will have to make a stop
somewhere. The most important companies are Austrian Airlines, LOT
Airlines (Poland), and Malev Airline (Hungary). As you can guess, it
means a stop in Vienna, Warsaw or Budapest consequently. I used Malev
and LOT because they were much cheaper than Austrian Airlines. Like
twice cheaper. I was satisfied both times, and found the service
adequate to what they charged me for tickets. But, if you seek a VIP
service, maybe it's better try Austrian Airlines (again, I never used
them, but for what they charge, it seems that you can fly around the
world, so they are bound to be good?). Some people try to fly through
Kiev and then they take a domestic flight - I found it too long,
cumbersome and not worth doing.
What about visas? Do we need them?
You did not state your citizenship. Citizen of the most European
countries, Canada and the US do not need any visa to enter Ukraine.
They only have to fill a form upon entering and have their passport
stamped. The forms are giving out on the plane, so, if you do not
want to stay in a long, long line at the customs, have a pen with you
to fill them on the plane and be the first one to go (it's amazing
how many people travel without a pen!!).
What about finding ATMs?
Plentiful. There are more ATMs than rubbish bins around. Just notify
your bank that you are travelling abroad, because some people did not
do it, and then their banks froze the card, believing it to be
stolen. Prepare, too, for foreign withdrawal fees, charges by your
bank (contact your bank and ask what these would be). As well you can
pay with your cards in restaurants, supermarkets, malls.
Can I drink the local water or should I stick to bottled water?
I have never met a person in my life, who drank tap water (maybe they
all died out, who knows - a joke). It stinks with chlorine. Locals buy bottled
water or get it from special buvettes and then boil it. Many
foreigners come to Ukraine and seek the bottled water they are used
to - Perrier, Evian and so on. This is sold in all the big
supermarkets, but is really expensive, because of the local tax on
imported goods. Instead, try for local bottled water. Bear in mind,
that there is mineral bottled water and drinking bottled water.
Mineral bottled water is supposed to be for people with ailments
(stomach ulcer and such). It has a specific taste (salty, sulphurous
and so on). Then, there is drinking bottled water with gas or without
gas. Dobra Voda is good to drink, and not expensive (about 50 c per 2
liter bottle). The other one I like is called "Regina", it's from a
real mineral spring, but without any strange taste, and it has silver
diluted in it (naturally).
Please, share your reviews, photos and travelogues. Do you travel blogs and
photos on other websites? Would you share the link here?
Yes, look up my thread here, and the photos, and on the trip advisor,