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About Cahpek

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    The Moon
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    Azamara, Oceania, Celebrity, Princess
  1. Switch to MSC? Is that you being sarcastic? Quite uncalled for attitude that, isn't it? We haven't been sarcastic to you, so why are you like that to us for? We all realise the standard and quality of service of MSC is a few notches below Viking, although their fares are also substantially lower. No, we booked Viking partly because at the time of booking, the brochure indicated it was going to Guadeloupe. And we were pleased to pay Viking fares to go on Viking, not on MSC, thank you very much. We are not saying that we do not feel sorry for the islanders who were affected by the hurricane because we are. However, we are not as fortunate as yourself who seem to get to visit the West Indies several times (it seems) during the good times and not-so-good times. It is going to be our first visit, and possibly the only one. So, we had hoped that we would get the best experience we could and visit the islands we chose with the cruise line of our choice. As this may be the only West Indies cruise for us, since Viking changed the Guadeloupe stop without informing us , we may never get another chance to visit that island ever.
  2. We looked at pictures of Guadeloupe and Dominica. Guadeloupe looks like "Paradise" with lovely houses, beautiful bays and inlets, so very civilised. Dominica looks like some wild overgrown jungle with a few poorly built houses/buildings. We know they are just "pictures", but that is all we could base on as we have not been to the West Indies before. Have you been to Guadeloupe as well? Do you think Dominica is more beautiful or less beautiful? Of course, we do realise different individuals would have different opinions. If Viking uses customer feedback, don't you think they should inform future customers BEFORE they book that they have actually changed their schedule/routing which they had advertised in their brochure? We do not think they did it right this time, not for us, anyway. We were, and still are, very , very disappointed. We chose to go to Guadeloupe, but Viking allowed others to chose to stop us from going there. Does our choice not count? If Viking does not let us go to Guadeloupe, why did they sell the cruise indicating they were stopping over there, and why did they not tell us before we booked the cruise that they have changed that?
  3. Thanks so much for your reply and for the information. Great to read that the San Juan airport seems to have a lounge for American Airlines. However, as far as we know, that source of information (https://www.san-juan-airport.com) you referred to may not be the official website for San Juan Airport. (The official website, we think is http://aeropuertosju.com/en/passengers/enusda/ ) So, we hope their information (first website) is up to date (it would certainly be to our benefit if it is, so here's hoping!) In any case, we really appreciated your taking the trouble to help. Also, thanks for the tips with regards to excursions. The St. Kitts Railway sounds so good and enjoyable. However, we checked the Viking Ocean website and they do not seem to have an optional excursion for that on offer. Did you get that (excursion) some where else? We also saw that in Antigua, they have a Montserrat Helo (Helicopter) Flight as one of the optional excursions. Is that any good? As for barbecue/catamaran , also for the Antigua stopover, we will probably give that a miss. As we will be eating so much on board Viking, with all its delicious food, we could do without the barbecue in Antigua. Although the Catamaran sounds good, the last thing we would want to do while on a cruise, was to do another "cruise"! We'd probably like to touch some "land"! Lol. When we booked the West Indies Explorer cruise, we based it on the routing in the brochure they sent us. And in the brochure, one of the stops was Guadeloupe. Having seen the exotic and wonderful pictures of Guadeloupe, that was one of the main reasons we booked the cruise. However, after having booked it , etc., we discovered that Viking have REPLACED that stop with Dominica instead. Needless to say, that was a huge disappointment. What was worse, when we contacted Viking to ask why they changed, we were told that it was due to feedback from passengers. If it was due to technical or operational reasons, we would have thought that would have been reasonable, but due to feedback and passengers opinions? What about opinions of passengers like us who wish to go to Guadeloupe rather than Dominica? Do we not count? Oh well, that's life we suppose. You win some, you lose some. Nevermind.
  4. Cahpek

    Evening shows?

    Yes, gratuities are included in the price of the cruise fare. This is a standard offering in the UK by Viking for their ocean cruises. Don't know about their river cruises as have not been on that.
  5. Cahpek

    Evening shows?

    We love Viking, and they have a lot of good things working in its favour to attract cruisers, but we have to admit that evening shows were one of their WEAKEST AREAS. On our cruise during the last Christmas and New Year, the quality of the production was quite embarrassing.....it reminded us of some amateur school production. We were especially disappointed with their Christmas show. It felt so half-hearted and low-budget in nature - and so lacking in imagination. Most of the other evening shows were not much better - except perhaps for one or two of them. We are going again on our next cruise with Viking, but we are going IN SPITE of their poor evening shows, not because of it. Other cruise lines, including some of the lower priced mass-market cruise lines, in our view, offered BETTER evening shows (and other entertainment) than Viking. Sorry if we have disappointed you. It's just our view. We were like you before we went on our first Viking cruise, we had quite high expectations of their evening shows - and those expectations were generally not met. The strong points for Viking for us is the all-inclusive cruise package - wine with meals, generally decent cuisine, included gratuities, included excursions, smart cabins and friendly staff.
  6. Cahpek

    Edinburgh Question

    I missed that they were taking a multi-day pre-cruise excursion. Thanks for pointing that out to me.
  7. Cahpek

    Oceania --> Viking Ocean?

    Did you say your gratuities are not included in your fare on Viking? In the UK, all Viking fares include gratuities amongst all the other things mentioned above. It's a shame you did not appreciate Mamsens. Yes, like yourself, initially we saw it as just a "counter bar". But once we tasted those pastries on offer, we felt we were on Cloud Seven !!! One thing Mamsens could improve is to allow it to open every day, not just on selective days and on on selected times of the day. Initially, when we did not realise it has particular opening times, when we went a couple of times, we could not find it because it was closed. Also, you mentioned you have done enough Oceania cruises to qualify for free gratuities. How many cruises do you have to do to qualify for that? (If it means having to do dozens and dozens of Oceania cruises, then, unfortunately, not that many of us are fortunate enough to have the wealth to cruise that frequently). Anyway, glad you did try both Oceania and Viking Ocean (VO), eventhough it sounds like you might still prefer "O". At least, you are not some of those Oceania cruisers who criticise Viking Ocean eventhough they have not been on VO. So, you do know what you are talking about. For us, we like both VO and Oceania. Just wish Oceania have more modern ships than their "R" ships though . In our opinion, Oceania should "not" let VO keep expanding while they almost lie back and do "nothing" to their expansion plans. It is good for the two companies to have "healthy" competition, it benefits the passengers. Oceania's "O" ships are just fine but they need more than just the two "O" ships - their speciality restaurant experience, on the whole , surpasses VO. And the Sea Bass dish itself in Red Ginger restaurant on the Marina and Riviera, that is one "heavenly" dish that you could not find on VO.
  8. Cahpek

    Oceania --> Viking Ocean?

    We agree with you. Each of the cruise lines, Viking Ocean and Oceania, have their differences but the "whole package" of experience seems to meet similar level of satisfaction from both cruise lines. Things which Oceania is better than Viking Ocean (just our views): 1) Afternoon tea. Oceania offers both a buffet selection of pastries, cakes and sandwiches which you could choose. They also have a trolley pushed around the tables and offering their delicious offerings to those who prefer not to go to the buffet table. Viking serves passengers on three-tiered afternoon tea trays, which means it comes with some items which you would not choose yourself, and service can be slow. For afternoon tea, the tables have proper table cloths while on Viking, the tables are low tables or even worse, some wobbly "mushroom shaped" tables that are too small. Pretty often, on Viking , it is not easy to find a table , but on Oceania, there are so many tables there is never a problem getting one. 2) Speciality restaurants: Although Viking Ocean's Italian speciality/alternative restaurant Alfredi's was preferred by us than Oceania's Toscana Italian offerings, on the whole, on Oceania, the speciality restaurant experience for us is more "special" and more an "occasion" (but when it comes to food and restaurants, we know that can be very subjective). Oceania's larger "O" ships have 4 speciality restaurants but Viking has only two. (Granted the smaller "R" ships on Oceania have only 2 speciality restaurants). And as for Viking's Chef's Table, their offerings are a bit like "Marmite", some love them and others almost "detest" or are "shocked" by them - they tend to divide opinions! The dishes on Viking's speciality restaurants have less tendency to do so. 3) Breakfast on Oceania in their buffet restaurant seems to offer a better lay out. They usually have a wide selection of fruits, and you'd get an impression that they offer more selections of everything. In fact, Viking may offer a lot of the items as that on Oceania, but they layout of the buffet (some items in the starboard buffet , and some items in the port side buffet,) give us the feeling that less is being offered. 4) Oceania's "O" ships may be larger than Viking Ocean's fleet of ships, but some its "R" ships are smaller in size than Viking Ocean's 5) If you are keen on lobsters, Oceania has their lobster-to-grill in their buffet almost any night. Not so on Viking. Things which Viking Oceania is better than Oceania: 1) Mamsens - the pastries/cakes and open sandwiches at Mamsens has NO COMPARISON on Oceania. In fact, Oceania does not even have anything like Mamsens. 2) Included excursions, gratuities, and drinks with meals. To us, this makes life so easy. We were pleasantly surprised when at the end of our last Viking Ocean cruise, that the bill came and the amount to be charged was ZERO ! Mark ups on prices on wines on Oceania are usually high to very high, and Oceania's excursion prices are high too. Sure, the standard wine offered during meals may not be the top range wines, but they are fairly good and drinkable - wish they do not repeat their wines so regularly though! Oceania do not usually include gratuities in their fares , with the exception of their "Olife Choice" special offers. Keen supporters of Oceania would argue that they would prefer not to pay a package fare as on Viking which include things they might not wish to use (eg wine and excursions). Well, perhaps, they have a point. 3) Included wifi. Wifi on Viking Ocean is free, and on Oceania, unless it is on their special offers, there is a charge and the prcies are pretty steep. Besides, although Viking's wifi connection is not that fast, it is reasonable, and it is faster than Oceania's slow connections (Since on our last cruise on the Riviera, we were told that they are upgrading their wifi speed). 4) While there is included free use steam rooms/sauna on Viking Ocean , there is a charge for standard cabin passengers on Oceania. 5) (see also 4) above) Oceania have their O ships (two) which are larger than Viking ships, and they have 4 "R" ships which are smaller. The "R" ships are pretty old, although they are regularly refurbished, but for us, we would avoid them. One of the "R" ships, the Regatta has had quite a number of negative reviews (some would argue it is due to its old age) to the point where we would avoid the Regatta on any cruises offered by Oceania. 6) Oceania's captains , ship officers , and the general managers tend to have the reputation of being a bit "aloof" (or perhaps rather "shy"?). Although Viking's officers are not the friendliest of all ships (the friendliests are those on Azamara, the captains on Azamara are in their elements when it comes to mixing with passengers!), they are just a tad better. Having said that, on our last Oceania cruise, the French general manager was always around and greeting passengers - so maybe Oceania has started to listen to customer reviews! Items which BOTH cruise lines are not very strong and could improve (in our opinion) 1) Entertainment and on board activities on both cruise lines could be improved. Compared to the "mass market" cruise lines like Holland America, Celebrity, or even P&O, both these cruise lines (Oceania and Viking Ocean) could do with better entertainment and on-board activities. On our Christmas cruise on the Viking Star, their Christmas celebrations entertainment was like some high school production - poor and amateurish, and Christmas on the Viking Star was pretty uneventful and disappointing for a Christmas. This is also why for Viking, we would choose to go on their port intensive cruises, but feel we could be "bored" by their trans ocean cruises with many days at sea, due to its lack of activities, and few sea port visits (thus no excursions). 2) Recently, there has been some issues with the website on Oceania. However, for Viking's website, at least until our last cruise less than a year ago, seemed to be riddled with issues and mistakes (mistaken/not updated information) Having said that, we like both cruises, and in spite of their "faults", we still think their cruises are generally EXCELLENT. No cruise company is perfect, is it? We would happily cruise with either Oceania or Viking Ocean. Both offer good cuisine, the staff that serve you are always friendly, and the accommodation is super comfortable. We like luxury cruising , but unfortunately, our budget would not extend to those of Regent, Seabourne, Silverseas , Hapag Lloyd or Crystal, etc. So, choosing to cruise with Oceania or Viking Ocean suits our pockent, but it still depends on their itinerary and if the fare is "right". We have booked our next Viking Ocean cruise already and looking forward to it. At least for a few months, we can get rid of the "TONS and TONS" of Cruise Brochures !:)
  9. Cahpek

    Future of Oceania

    Not too sure. Sometimes, I wonder the Virgin brand deserves the image and positive reputation it has. If based on reviews on Virgin Atlantic Airways http://www.airlinequality.com/seat-reviews/virgin-atlantic-airways/ , it certainly does not seem to give that impression. But different people's opinions are different and everything is open to debate, I guess! We'll have to wait and see how much Virgin Cruises is really going to give anyone "a run for their money".
  10. Cahpek

    Future of Oceania

    We like Viking Ocean, we also like Oceania and Azamara. Each have their strengths, and we would not hesitate to cruise with any of these companies. We enjoyed cruising with them all (although granted, though they are all excellent, no single cruise line is "perfect"). But what is curious is, Viking's fleet expansion at the moment while Oceania's fleet size seems to remain "stagnant", reminds me of the time when Oceania was expanding fast but Azamara seemed to remain "stagnant " when it came to fleet size increase. Then, as most of us know, Oceania started to grow, and grow, and grow. And Azamara's size remained the same with just two "R" ships. Only recently, has Azamara has finally started to grow, with an added a third "R" ship, but the company is still much smaller in total capacity offered compared to Oceania. And then in comes Viking - its Ocean voyages started with only a couple years back, and to date, they already have 6 ships (all with same design with size between that of the "O" ships and "R" ships, big enough to offer more facilities, but small enough to offer intimacy and to dock in places which large ships are not allowed. ). What is more, by 2027, Viking will have at least 16 ships, all of the same size. Meanwhile, Oceania has not announced any new ships to be added to its fleet of 6. Just what is happening to Oceania? Why is Oceania not expanding and thus "allowing" Viking Ocean to surpass it in terms of fleet size? What Oceania seems to be doing (or not doing) is like what Azamara was doing (or was not doing) when Oceania overtook it. Of course, one cannot be absolutely certain of the future. Is Viking right to expand its fleet so quickly. Is it smart and brave, or is it "foolish"? Will there not be a "glut" in the market in the near future? Will cruise fares come down because of increase competition? Is Oceania right (and "smart") to remain at the same size as it is in terms of its fleet? Will the "R" ships remain in service for the next 25 years, or so, or will they be replaced much earlier by newer models? Does Oceania has any plans in the pipeline for any more orders to increase or renew its fleet? So many answers, but who can answer them with any certainty? I am not any wiser what is happening behind the scenes. But still, it is interesting to witness history almost being repeated when Viking Ocean overtakes Oceania (at least in fleet size), like when Oceania overtook Azamara. And it is equally interesting to observe the continual changes in the ocean cruise market. Maybe in the future, there may be another newcomer which will overtake Viking Ocean. Who knows? Meanwhile, my partner and I, we'd just sit and wait for any special cruise offer(s) that comes along from any of these three cruise companies. And if the price and schedule/routing is right, we would happily take it/them. We are not bias towards any single cruise company. We'd certainly not behave like "fanboys" to any of them. We feel these cruise companies should serve the clients, not the other way around !
  11. Cahpek

    Viking Competing On Food

    I used to be "influenced" by the "Lobster fans" and thought if others think that it's good , it must be good. After having umpteen lobsters on Oceania and elswhere, I am beginning to realise that lobsters are somewhat over-rated, and yes, sometimes, it could even be chewy (depending on the quality of the cook or the lobster, usually). I found I prefer those huge river prawns you find in Thailand to lobsters now. They (the Thai prawns) are more succulent and the flesh tastes better than lobsters, in my opinion. I only discovered these huge prawns in a Bangkok restaurant. When I ordered the prawn dish, these gigantic prawns came, and I told the waiter that I ordered prawns,not lobsters. And he told me they were prawns, and not lobsters!!! Back to the Viking vs Oceania, even for food, there are some things which Viking does better than Oceania, and vice versa. There are differences. However, for us, I feel that Oceania cruisers who have high standards would find the same high standards and would be satisfied with Viking Ocean as well. And not forgetting that on Viking Ocean, on all cruises, all meals include complimentary unlimited wine and soft drinks (the free wine choices could be a bit repetitive, but they are usually quite pleasant.). You have to pay for your wines with Oceania (at their sky high prices) unless you get a free drinks package thrown in, which is not always the case. Food aside, most definitely, Viking Ocean is a BIG THREAT to Oceania, and at the rate it is expanding with more and more new ships added to the fleet, before long, they (Viking Ocean ) would have exceeded the total capacity of passengers offered by Oceania, if they haven't done so already.
  12. Cahpek

    Prices down in 2019

    So I am not mistaken then about their claim that prices are RISING effective 1st July 2018. But the OP mentioned his/her travel agent has advertised that all prices for 2019 has come DOWN. Actually are the cruise prices in 2019 on Oceania going UP OR DOWN (compared to 2017/first half of 2018 )????!!!! I am confused. Can someone shine more light on that for me please?
  13. Cahpek

    Prices down in 2019

    That is interesting. Correct me if I am mistaken, but here in the UK, just a few weeks ago, I remembered that Oceania sent in their marketing "blurb" to encourage people to book early because they mentioned that after that date, cruise prices would be going UP ! Now, I learn from you that in fact, their 2019 cruise prices are coming down! Was Oceania trying to be "economical" with the truth then? If so, I would not be impressed and would IGNORE their marketing sales "pitches" from now on. How am I going to trust a single word they say as far as prices are concerned? Not that long ago, I remembered that Oceania did a promotion but the same cruise prices for the UK was about 25 percent HIGHER than that offered to residents in Continental Europe. I used VPN on my computer, and I managed to go to the prices offered by Oceania to Continental European residents and then, compared those prices with those offered to UK residents. Every single one of the prices were higher for UK residents. I was totally shocked (see discussion THREAD LINK https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2524001 )
  14. Cahpek


    Just checked recent reviews by cruisers on the Balmoral at: https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/getreviews.cfm?action=ship&ShipID=433 The reviews seem to be rather mixed. Check that and see what conclusions you can make out of them.
  15. Cahpek

    Chef's Table Question

    Viking could follow the route where they can have the best of both worlds. Those of you who prefer low key atmosphere can continue to do so. That does not mean Viking should not introduce better yet tasteful on board entertainment and activities Why is it that just because you do not want what some others want, you would "hope" that Viking will not improve to attract those other guests as well? It is like someone who is a Vegan and prevents the restaurant to introduce meat in its menu eventhough Vegan dishes continue to be there. Every paying guest should be allowed to enjoy being on Viking, it should not be restricted just to those who prefer to do little or "nothing". Besides, how is having Photography , Spanish or Art classes, or Cooking demos, or better quality more professional entertainment in the theatre, going to affect your "low key" environment on the ship? It just doesn't. Surely, those like yourself who enjoy low key atmosphere can still cruise side by side with others who enjoy a bit more recreation and entertainment. You are not forced to take part in those recreational activities or attend those entertainment/shows if you do not want to, no one is forcing you. At the same time, you should also allow others to enjoy Viking but with a little more to do and be entertained. That is call give and take. As the nature of Viking Ocean cruises changes, as it takes on more sea-day cruises rather than just its original port intensive cruises, it would only be natural for more guests to ask for more things to do or be entertained at sea. And if Viking is smart, they will improve to accommodate them. The worst thing Viking can do is do nothing to improve themselves. ALL DYNAMIC & SUCCESSFUL COMPANIES NEED TO CHANGE AS IT EXPANDS IN THE MARKETPLACE . Otherwise, they get left behind. As Viking is expanding to more than DOUBLE its fleet size by 2023 with 10 ships, it will need to attract even MORE GUESTS, not fewer. Just depending on the existing Viking guests (and even not all existing guests want a "nothing" to do ocean cruise) will not fill all those extra ships coming to the fleet.