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WilliaFr

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Posts posted by WilliaFr


  1. Willie,

    Thank you! We are arriving in Bergen on Jun 13 and looking forward to a great 2 weeks

     

    I look forward to reading any updates almelanson as I will be on the Bergen to Stockholm cruise on June 26th 2016.

     

    Of particular interest will be information about port arrival & departure times as well as excursion times.

     

    Enjoy your two weeks on board!

     

    On! On!


  2. As wished for by almelanson I have set up a new thread for the "Viking Homelands 2015" cruises.

     

    This could take over from the various threads which were so successfully contributed to by the maiden voyage passengers. Well done to you guys!

     

    2015 Cruises

     

    Stockholm to Bergen - May 30'th

     

    Bergen to Stockholm - June 13'th

     

    Stockholm to Bergen - June 27'th

     

    Bergen to Stockholm - July 11'th

     

    Stockholm to Bergen - July 25'th

     

    This last 2015 cruise will be followed by a "Passage Through Europe" cruise ...

     

    Bergen to Barcelona - August 8'th

     

    Please feel free to contribute any feedback for the "Viking Homelands 2015" cruises.


  3. The Editor rating has not been completed yet.

     

    Only the Overview has been completed ... the ratings for Cabins, Dining, Activities, Family, Itineraries have not been completed.

     

    I believe that Carolyn said, in her "We're onboard Viking Star!" thread, that she would do so in May.

     

    Editor Review for Viking Star ... http://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=748

     

    Example completed Editor Review for Adventure of the Seas ... http://www.cruisecritic.com/reviews/review.cfm?ShipID=192


  4. Excellent 1

    Very Good 3

    Average 2

    Poor 3

    Terrible 2

     

    = 4/11 = 36%

     

    or, adjusted to remove duplicated "Very Good" rating ...

     

    Excellent 1

    Very Good 2

    Average 2

    Poor 3

    Terrible 2

     

    = 3/10 = 30%

     

    I can only assume that it is the same as usual, those unhappy with something will complete a review whilst those that are happy won't (and I've read a number of good comments)?

     

    Maybe the good reviews will come after the completed 50 day cruise?


  5. 20/05/2015...7:56 pm

     

    Just back from Viking Star: Hits & misses

     

    After putting river cruising firmly on the map, Viking Cruises launched a new effort last month: Its own ocean cruise line. The first new cruise line in over a decade, Viking Ocean Cruises also is the first line to launch with a brand-new, custom-designed and -built ship since Disney introduced Magic in the late 1990s.

     

    The 930-passenger Viking Star, which underwent a series of shakedown cruises leading up to its christening in Bergen on May 17, is a ship that redefines affordable luxury in the marketplace. It’s luxuriously and sumptuously decorated, its crew is service oriented and well trained, and itineraries, which rarely repeat a port, are a perfect blend of destinations marquee and offbeat. Venues range from the superb Manfredi’s Italian restaurant to a best-in-cruise spa. There’s also its elegant sun deck, the kootchy-kootchy Torshavn nightclub, and its efficiently styled and larger-than-average staterooms (all of which come with balconies), among others.

     

    Ultimately, however, what really distinguishes this new line — and its debut ship — is this: Viking has effectively transferred much of what really works for river cruising — a more value-added, inclusive experience — and brought it to the high seas. This means that passengers onboard Viking Star enjoy complimentary wine and beer with meals, free Wi-Fi, at least one free shore excursion in every port of call, where — and this is another standout of Viking’s Ocean product — immersive experiences are the focus.

    And that’s what’s most interesting about cruising’s newest line: It feels like luxury, with a more moderate price tag. It’s the industry’s best oceangoing bang-for-the-buck cruise experience we’ve experienced.

     

    With that in mind, here are our hits and very few misses.

     

    Hits

     

    Decor

     

    Most passengers we’ve met onboard our two sailings agree that Viking Star is a beautiful ship. The style is eclectic Danish modern — very sleek and contemporary, but with vibrant colors, and lots of lovely touches. Intriguing collections of books dot bookshelves in public rooms. Shelves are also furnished with lovely art pieces (in particular, we love the gorgeous glass vases scattered throughout), antique artifacts, such as the ship models in the Explorer’s Lounge, and furniture throughout that’s both handsome and comfortable.

     

    Balconies

     

    All cabins have balconies, which is a plus to begin with. We also liked the simple but comfortable furnishings, which include wicker-like woven chairs and a table that’s high enough for dining.

     

    Service

    As you’d expect from a 930-passenger ship (small for the industry), the crew is well trained, polite, enthusiastic and friendly; after the first day or so, we were welcomed by name at the places we visited most.

     

    Manfredi’s

     

    The Italian eatery is Viking Star’s dining standout and we’ve never had a less-than-perfect meal there. Earning raves: flash fried calamari with a balsamic dipping sauce; osso bucco; a Fiorentino steak with a peppery crust; absolutely any pasta or risotto on the regular menu, along with the daily specials (all made in house); and, for dessert, a Nutella-infused panna cotta with a salty crust. The restaurant is open for dinner only; make your reservations early in your cruise.

     

    Spa

     

    Operated by Oslo-based Liv Nordic, the ship’s spa is the most gorgeous we’ve seen at sea. Services, which include salon treatments from hair styling to pedicures, and a whole range of massage and facial options, are top notch. The facility’s Norwegian-influenced relaxation area comes complete with a thalassotherapy pool, whirlpools, a snow grotto (big tip here: Wear slippers!), Finnish sauna, heated tile loungers and a fireplace-like special effect; these areas are communally shared by all passengers.

     

    Locker rooms for men and women also have serene seating areas looking out at the sea, and cold-water pools. The best thing? You don’t have to buy a treatment to use the facilities. They’re complimentary — for all.

     

    Misses

     

    Chef’s Kitchen

     

    We found superb cuisine everywhere onboard, from The Restaurant (soon to be renamed The Dining Room) to the World Cafe, Viking Star’s buffet venue where food is prepared on the spot in an open kitchen. The only venue that left us cold was The Chef’s Kitchen, a themed wine-and-food pairing, multicourse experience. The themes rotate; we tried the Asian-focused event, and one called Sweet and Salty, and both struck as rather pretentious (lots of foam used in dishes). The twice-a-night seatings were rarely crowded, perhaps due to the fact that the restaurant can’t accommodate any special requests, from vegetarian to gluten free.

     

    Room service

     

    It’s meant to be the ultimate convenience but on Viking Star, the staff didn’t quite have it together. Often the phone just rings through or you’re disconnected before placing your order. Orders are frequently wrong (on one occurrence, the order was read back, correctly, when placed, but a supervisor called for clarification anyway, and proceeded to send the wrong dishes).

     

    Minibar

     

    On Cruise Critic’s Live chat about Viking Star, one of the biggest topics was minibars. All cabins, save for the lowest-priced category, have funky minifridges that pull out like a drawer. Depending on your cabin level, you might get a smattering of juices and soda, or actually a smidge of liquor. On two different cruises onboard Viking Star, ours was never consistently refilled, and we would have appreciated an option to personalize what’s there.

     

    Entertainment

     

    Most river cruise lines, including Viking, shy away from elaborate evening entertainment. So it’s new territory for Viking Star. The line’s attempt to replicate big ship-style production shows felt pedestrian and occasionally silly. Entertainment that did work included an intimate Rat Pack review in the cozy Torshavn, as did a Beatles’ retrospective performed poolside. Responding to passenger feedback, Viking has started offering local dance and music talent in various ports of call (in particular, a performance by a choir from Barcelona’s Montserrat was a big crowd pleaser). Still, consistency of entertainment is in flux. We’ll keep an eye on possible changes.

     

    Wi-Fi

     

    The good news is that the ship has free Wi-Fi. The bad news is that if you, like everyone else, wait for a sea day to catch up on email, bank account updates, and Kindle downloads, you won’t get very far. The trick to getting the most out of the Wi-Fi is using it when everyone else is off the ship. Even then, it can be balky.


  6. I went to the Viking website, and that 50 day cruise is over $60,000 !!!!!

    And they treat these people like garbage, and offer them a $500 credit??

     

    You should do your research more thoroughly ... the cost of $60,299 is for the only remaining stateroom available for the 50 day cruise ... and that is the Owner's Stateroom which is typically 4-5 times more that the lowest category Deluxe Veranda stateroom ... i.e. $10,000 - $15,000 (2 for 1 prices apply).

     

    I, too, was horrified by what Viking has done but your criticism would carry much more weight if it were accurate!


  7. Quote:

    Originally Posted by CrusinSubMan viewpost.gif

    Most of us won't. We have had and are having a great trip. My blog shows that well. But this has arisen to a level that I am determined to make them suffer equally or make proper amends.

    In the end, even this is "petty": it is just our humiliation about something we did not know we wanted to do until they offered it. Pride and self worth are a big part of the human's positive psyche but it does heal better than physical or economic injuries do. I got over not being picked for flag football in the 3rd grade by the time I was in high school. :D

     

    Being a future Viking Ocean Cruiser in 2016, I have been following all the post both positive and negative since the before the maiden cruise began and have to say to CrusinSubMan you have been a great source of information along with many of the 50 day crazies and my heart goes out to you and the others so carelessly thrown aside at the absolutely worse point in time. What should have been a great day of celebration turns in to something just the opposite. I know you and the offended others will bounce back strong and continue on in a strong positive fashion like you have through the many issues you have encountered to date. It will be interesting to see how management will respond just to today's actions, let alone to the many other issues. I know I and many others will be keeping up with yours and others post on this and the many many other management issues that keep slapping you in the face. Keep on Keeping on and keep the faith.

     

    I agree whole heartedly with the comment that Cruisinsubman has been a great source of information ... but would go further and say that he has also been a source of "very balanced" critique whilst also putting forward the positives ... so refreshing.

     

    Cruisinsubman, I hear that there is a job going with Viking ... Customer Advocacy Director or something similar ... you interested?

     

    You'd get my vote :)


  8. “Communication about things that are working is good ... communication about those things that aren’t working is better!”

    Following is a list of points concerning communication(s) that I have picked up whilst trawling through the various posts on CC.

    Please note that they do not reflect my own personal opinions as I have yet to sail on the Viking Star (and am greatly looking forward to the experience).

    I have simply tried to summarise those points made by contributors to the various CC threads, sometimes expressed very bluntly, and present them in a shorter form, in the hope that I, and others, will benefit from an improvement in communications in the months to come!

    So here goes.

    Viking Communication(s)

     

    1. It is said that their communication is not great!

     

    2. They don’t communicate anything negative.

     

    3. Only communicate when they absolutely have to.

     

    4. Responsibility for communications appears to be unclear amongst crew/management.

     

    5. If in doubt remain silent!

     

    6. One communications owner required for all areas (ship, dining, entertainment, IT, ship etc.)

     

    7. They win the prize for “absolute non-communication”!

     

    8. Issues reported to Explorers’ Desk, Karl Eckl or crew members are rarely responded to and, if so, often only result in short terms fixes, and not long term fixes, as issues surface again within a day or so.

     

    9. It would appear that getting straight answers from the Explorers’ Desk is similar to my experience whilst working in Japan ... no one wants to respond “no” to a question put to them.

     

    10. Lack of communication and mistaken communication put down to management failures, especially in the provision of training and information to on-shore Customer Services staff (often described as being bright, energetic and hard-working people who simply don’t have the required information to hand).

     

    11. It is not made easy for passengers (current, future or prospective) to provide feedback of any sort. Suggestion that a section of the website be created to deal with communication issues and complaints or utilise a designated area of the Cruise Critic website.

     

    12. Not communicating to passengers what is available / happening on board.

     

    13. Communications of availability of amenities, events, news, feedback, bookings etc. via TV is very poor or non-existent (not clear if same applies to the daily newspaper/update).

     

    14. “A” for effort but failing the grade so far.

     

    15. Communication with passengers “pre-cruise” is far from adequate.

     

    16. Communication is the beginning of any relationship and, if handled badly, can be the end.

     

    17. Appears to be a problem in separating issues about “Viking Oceans” and “Viking Cruises” leading to poor responses by staff who are inadequately informed about the “Viking Oceans” part of the business.

     

    18. Passengers say that they have never had communication issues with “Viking River Cruises”.

     

    19. If you ask for “anything more than the time” you are referred to your travel agent who themselves learn nothing of any value!

     

    20. Maybe the Cruise Director would like to “post a nice hello” to all passengers on Cruise Critic and take a leaf out of Azamara’s book and have someone take on the challenge of being responsible for responding to messages on message boards, Facebook and Twitter etc.


  9. The press started getting on in Barcelona and that's when we started having trouble with WiFi.....hmmm. Maybe the Press Corp is suckling up all the bandwidth with their Premium Access.

     

     

    Thank you id4elizabeth for the above observation.

     

    I was beginning to think that there were two Viking Star cruise ships sailing the oceans of our small planet ... one with very flaky WiFi (as reported here on CC) ... the other with great, free WiFi access that has enabled many travel writers to upload their copy!


  10. Someone suggested in another thread that a "Communication" thread should be set up ... so here it is!

     

    I believe that Viking Cruises will get it right over time but as a reminder of the task ahead of them I plan to provide a summary of the relevant posts on the subject of communication in the hope that someone from Viking Cruises will read it.


  11. This can be dependent on whether the machines are European or American style. I have experience of both. I have found most American machines have been cold water wash OR hot but with no temperature control. European machines are ONLY cold water fill, the temperature is then selected and the water heated within the washing machine. Nowadays 30 degrees Celsius is the normal selection for European detergents and clothes. Not knowing how the machines are plumbed in it is difficult to say whether there is a technical issue at play here or a user error error due to different expectations/experiences (Europe/USA). I live in Europe but have experienced the vagaries of American cold water washing machines in Japan.

     

    On a less serious note ... my wife just said, somewhat tongue in cheek, that the clothes might not be shrinking ... maybe the food is so good and plentiful that you're all putting on weight


  12. [quote name='kathy9']Happy to report big improvement on lunch today! The service was very good at The Restaurant. We went to Manfredi's , very nice and vegetarian friendly!

    We had a visitor to our cabin ....the Vice President of engineering , in response to my previous comment about not being able to sit on my balcony due to the smell of diesel fuel. He read my comments and came to check it out himself .
    So Viking is paying attention.
    Kathy[/quote]

    Hi Kathy or anyone else (as Kathy9 has now disembarked),

    What was the outcome of the VP Engineering's visit to your stateroom in response to your comment about smelling diesel fuel?

    Was the problem solved or does it still exist?
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