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Everything posted by loriva

  1. Weighing in as another first-timer on Viking Ocean (but experienced cruiser on other lines.) The category class system also appears on the dining reservations. We are traveling in a party of six on a Viking Homelands itinerary in May, with two of the couples traveling in higher category suites than we are. They had all the booking numbers but could not invite us when it was their time to reserve as our booking window had not yet opened. So, I think the invitation function will only work once the window opens for the lowest category in the party--i.e., I think I could have invited the other two couples. By that time, of course, the other two couples had already booked their specialty tables. The couple in the highest category suite in our party even called Viking the day their window opened to ask about not being able to invite the other two couples. The agent told them we would have to wait until we boarded and then combine our reservations. The agent suggested we all book two-tops for the same date/time--which seems to reduce the pool of that desired commodity even further for others. (We found, in fact, when it was our turn to book our group dates/times that all the two-tops for the restaurant at the desired time were already booked. We took the next slot and hope that will be close enough to allow us to combine.)
  2. On our Viking Elbe cruise in December 2022, there was a set time the dining room was open--maybe 0700-0830 hours for breakfast, for example, but you showed up at whatever time within that you chose. And there were some smaller tables available. There is also a coffee nook where they put out pastries by 0600 hours--I know as that is the time I would fetch coffee for DH and myself. We also appreciate our alone time and could find some space to decompress. (NB that the ships Viking uses on the Elbe are smaller--baby longships--so that might have contributed to our experience,)
  3. Viking gave everyone on our Viking Homelands itinerary $250 OBC for an itinerary change (stupid Putin). I was surprised it never showed up in MVJ to be used for optional excursions. I asked our TA to ask Viking and she was told they would only appear in our onboard account.
  4. Great option for wine-producing countries like France, Spain, or Italy. What about ports on the Viking Homelands itinerary? Germany produces wine, but it is not the forte of the Nordic countries. (Beer is another matter, and we will be seeking out and carrying on some local brews. Which will suit DH very well for lunch or a pre-dinner drink and even dinner if he doesn't like the wine of the day offerings.) And imported alcohol in those countries has always been very highly taxed. Are there duty-free stores in the port terminals that offer good prices? But, yes, it is another option. And another reason to make me wonder if buying the SSBP on VO is for us. Again, individual choice and I'm grateful for information learned on the board.
  5. Our thoughts exactly. The only way to receive what I would describe as a "premium" (not just an alternative) glass of wine from VO is to buy a bottle. The benefit of the SSBP would be a discount on that bottle. I did the math on one of the French whites on the wine list and the discount would bring the price down to about $10 a glass--but that is on top of the $25 per day per person for the SSBP. Which pretty much wipes out any savings--unless you are drinking the number of cocktails, after-dinner ports, etc. to equal out the cost of the SSBP. (As others have mentioned, the SSBP on Viking River--at least as of December 2022 before Viking came out with its "enhanced" SSBP--was more user-friendly to wine drinkers. We could select any bottle from the wine list under $75 and it would be opened and poured by the glass.) SSBP is an option that some will find very beneficial. Others not so much. It is an individual decision, of course.
  6. Not Janet, but our experience is that shorex reservations opened exactly when Viking said they would, which was 1200 hours (noon) Pacific time (so 1500 hours for us on the East Coast). Dining reservations were supposed to open at the same time when that date arrived, but we found they were open as soon as we checked in the morning--so maybe they opened at 0000 hours (midnight) Pacific time? We are taking our first VO cruise, but our experience matched what those on this board had led to us expect.
  7. Thanks for raising these questions, @SempreMare. Now better prepared for our upcoming Viking Homelands cruise together!
  8. Not stressing, just learning about VO to decide what works best for us. This is what CC.com has always been about for me--know before you go. We only have $500 OBC to spend. After we pay the suggested gratuities for our cruise ($476), we'll only have $24 left. (Maybe a bit more if we decide to book a new cruise onboard--thanks again to all here for the tips on not to pre-pay gratuities or the SSBP for that reason.) The SSBP would put us $676 in the hole from day one otherwise. We drink spirits, wine, and beer but do not think we've ever ended up with a bar bill that high after any two-week cruise. If there were truly a "premium" wine by the glass--say $15 instead of $8--it might tip the scale toward the SSBP. (And, yes, I realize we can buy any alcohol at any time on a VO ship regardless of whether we have SSBP or not.) Thanks again to all for the information,
  9. Thank you very much for this. So Viking's definiation of "premium" is "something other than the wine of the day." That would not be my definition! But that information is VERY helpful to know. I'm thinking the SSBP for VO might not be for us. Thanks again,
  10. Also check out Atlas Obscura for some interesting information on the Fantoft Stave Church, if you do decide to try to go. Spoiler alertL It's much newer than you might think.
  11. The Viking website says "Our newly enhanced Silver Spirits Beverage Program is now $25 USD per night. The package includes: Any drinks up to $18.00 including premium wines by the glass, cocktails, & aperitifs Now includes house champagne by the glass Premium wines by the glass, cocktails and aperitifs Selection of applicable wines change twice per cruise 30% discount on premium beverages above $50.00 USD 50% discount for premium tasting events The Chefs Table premium wine pairing Wide range of upgraded selection of whiskeys & whisky’s Wide range of upgraded wines and spirits Soft drinks & juices --Both guests in a stateroom must purchase the package for the full length of the cruise for it to be valid. A 15% service charge per person is included with the price." Viking mentions "premium wines by the glass" three times (if you count the Chef's Table pairings) in their description of the SSBP. But what I'm seeing on this thread is that premium wines by the glass no longer exist--there are only the ordinary wines by the glass. Is that a correct conclusion? The SSBP also notes a 30-percent discount on premium beverages above U.S. $50. But all of the bottles of wine on the list have a notation that they are "not included" in the SSBP. So, if you buy the French white for $51 it is that price (plus 15-percent gratuity?) not $35.70 (30-percent discount, again not sure if 15 percent is added to that as gratuity)? Still trying to decide if the SSBP is for us or not. We bought it on our Viking River cruise as it offered us a much-better selection of wines. VO does things differently, however, and not sure the SSBP now offers the possibility of upgraded wines. (Based on the photographs of the wine list, it doesn't even appear one can buy a premium wine by the glass independent of the SSBP. I do understand Viking allows one to bring wine on board and enjoy it without a corkage fee.) Would appreciate comments, please.
  12. More labor intensive, but you can also look up the cruise ship schedules by performing an internet search to find the websites of the individual ports. Here's one for Oslo, for example: https://www.oslohavn.no/globalassets/oslo-havn/dokumenter/cruise/20230321-cruiseanlop-oslo-.pdf. Some ports, of course, have better, more-user-friendly information than others. There are also some websites that collate ship and port schedules. I used to like CruiseMapper, but they have not been as reliable post-pandemic. MarineTraffic is another one, but some of its functions require a subscription. (I found a combination of these two helpful for river cruise schedules--I started following the ship we were sailing about a month out and noting the times in port. The websites have real-time (near real-time) tracking capabilities.)
  13. We are just south in Satellite Beach, FL. According to Wikipedia, "nearly 12,000 satellites are planned to be deployed, with a possible later extension to 42,000." If that is true--I could not find projected constellation numbers on Starlink's website--they are a little over a quarter of the way toward their first goal. No wonder we're seeing one to two launches a week!
  14. Thanks for the feedback. We're locked into dates for the Douro River cruise as we're taking a TA to Lisbon. Cruise calendar for 2023 and 2024 is also full, so no other cruise to book for onboard benefits.
  15. A somewhat similar question. We board Viking Ocean on 01 May--one day after a current promo is due to expire on 30 April. We're looking to use EBD for a Viking River cruise in 2025. Anyone had any experience in having a promo extended by a day or so? (Although EBD might be one that is usually available--but not sure if the $25 deposit will be.) Also, we booked a cruise voucher onboard our Viking River cruise ($200 value for $100 payment). Do we need to bring it physically on board with us or will Viking have it associated with our name? Many thanks,
  16. How long did it take for your laundry to come back, please? Wondering if special instructions comes back in the same time as other laundry or if we would need to factor in extra time for return. Many thanks,
  17. If someone does decide to go with Rødne, please note that they may not have a tour at a time you can take that will work with your docking times. For example, for May the Pulpit Rock tours (called "Lysefjord cruise - Experience Preikestolen" on their website for the name in Norwegian) are offered at 1000 and 1500 hours. One departs before Viking Jupiter docks in Stavanger on the Viking Homelands itinerary and the later one returns after the ship has departed. I even sent Rødne an email back in February (just before booking for Viking shorex opened for our May cruise) and they said those departures would be it. BUT, having read this thread today, I looked at the Rødne website again. They have now ADDED tours at noon (returning 1500/1530 hours, well before our departure at 1800 hours) for some of the days a Viking ship will be in port (Extra departures: 12, 17, & 18 May and 29 June). So, keep checking the Rødne website to see if a departure is added for your cruise itinerary.
  18. A lovely ESB from Timothy Taylor. If they sold Boltmaker onboard a VO ship, I'd never get DH out of the lounge and off the ship!
  19. Wow, these prices are very reasonable for a ship! (And very different from Viking River--I remember each t-shirt was $4 and trousers $10.) Has me rethinking my DIY laundry strategy!
  20. Is Viking still giving galley tours post-COVID? @oskidunker would love to hear if you learn anything on this. We're on a different ship (all identical on physical plant, I know) and itinerary on our first cruise with VO in May, but would be interested in this option, if available. I presume it's something you sign up for at Guest Services?
  21. Someone on CC.com recommended the website "Euronews" as a good source for information on travel strikes. https://www.euronews.com/travel/travel-news is devoted to all travel news. You can also do a web search for "Euronews" and the country of interest for news specific to that location. A search for "Germany" picks up a couple of articles about the planned strike: https://www.euronews.com/news/europe/germany
  22. https://www.cruisecritic.com/articles.cfm?ID=1468 Cruise Critic defines as "Contemporary Luxury and the Upscale Cruise Lines" Major Players: Azamara, Oceania Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises Why They Are Luxurious: The cruise industry can't agree on a collective name for these lines that skirt the edges of luxury. They might be referred to as "contemporary luxury," "upscale," "ultra-premium" or "luxury-lite." The lines themselves are quite different from each other, too, but we group them together because they offer a mix of mainstream cruise hallmarks (more a la carte pricing and smaller cabins) and luxurious attractions, such as destination-intensive itineraries with plenty of overnights, intimate and adult-oriented ships and top-notch dining. Typically, pricing is somewhere in between the premium lines, such as Holland America or Celebrity Cruises, and the traditional luxury lines, such as Regent or Silversea (though this varies based on cabin class and itinerary).
  23. Transfers everywhere are potentially crazy these days. Hope things will start settling down as we move farther away from the COVID shutdown. We went through Frankfurt (outbound and return) in June 2022 and it was a nightmare--missed both of our connecting flights. (We booked independently so cannot answer your question on what help Viking Air would provide.) We did it again in December and it was a breeze. So, your mileage may definitely vary. What may be a bigger factor is the timeliness record of your inbound flight to Frankfurt. You can sign up for a free account on FlightAware and see the records on reliability (average delay) on your flights. You can also sign up for notifications that will keep you advised on the day of your flight (when the pilot files a flight plan, any delays or gate changes, etc.) If your flight has a bad track record of delays, you might want to ask Viking Air to put you on a later connecting flight. (Of course, the connecting flight could also be consistently delayed.) Finally, if you do find yourself with a considerable connecting time in Frankfurt, you can consider going to sign up for the German EasyPASS Registered Traveler Program. This will allow U.S. (and other non-EU citizens with an e-Passport) to use the EU e-Gates in Frankfurt (and other German airports) rather than the non-EU lanes. You'll need to exit the secure area of the terminal and make your way to the German Customs Service at Terminal 1, Hall B, Level 3, at the entrance to the Skyline. The service office opening hours: Monday to Sunday 0630 - 2130 hours. We did this in December when we had a long layover and the time from our arrival gate, getting to the office, and back to the departure lounge was about 45 minutes. If it saves us time on future trips though FRA (we have one in October), it will have been time well spent!
  24. Thank you for your review. I really enjoyed reading your views and those of others new and old to Viking Ocean as we prepare for our first cruise with VO in May. Like others, we are in search of a new cruise line to replace our loyalty to Princess. We enjoyed Princess to the Elite level and then the ships kept getting too big (our favorite was the old Pacific, one of the former Renaissance ships) and onboard experience declined. We've tried Regent and Oceania with VO up next. We've always been itinerary driven (something Princess has been very good at) in choosing a cruise so may continue to try different lines. We traveled with Viking River for the first time in December 2022 on a "Christmas on the Elbe" sailing. Other than the smaller cabin, we thought Viking was the equal on food, excursions, and other experiences as our previous (all post COVID shutdown) river cruises with Crystal and Scenic. Looking forward to sailing with VO. We're on their "Viking Homelands" itinerary, so thinking that should give the line a chance to really shine. Thanks again to all for many interesting posts--I've learned a lot!
  25. Thanks for the interesting and helpful tips! We will be on the Viking extension from Bergen to Oslo after our "Viking Homelands" cruise in early May. Viking notified us about a month ago that we will not be staying at the Thon Opera Hotel. Instead, Viking's included hotel will be the Radisson Blu Plaza. According to Google Maps, it is on the north side of the Central Train Station instead of the south like the Thon. They are only about 1/2 mile (750 meters) distant from each other, so not a great change in distance. Might miss out on view from the Thon Opera over the harbor.
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