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Everything posted by SM77

  1. Granted that I have traveled w/ my husband on my earlier Viking Ocean cruises, I would not hesitate to take advantage of the no single supplement and travel on Viking Ocean by myself. First, other passengers are very friendly and though people will be cautious given Covid, I don't think you will feel isolated. The ship staff is extremely friendly and kind so you will always find a friendly face. I have seen other singles travel solo on cruises and do fine. And I have run into other half of couples that are not joined at the hip and had nice interactions w/ these individuals. I think you will have a very relaxing cruise and would enjoy the break.
  2. We loved our Paris to Normandy Viking river cruise in 2017- however, at the time, Viking leaves from Le Pecq, a suburb of Paris. I think the Tauck ships are docked in Paris. I would have liked for the ship to have been docked in Paris so that was a disappointment.
  3. We canceled our 2021 April Southeast Asia cruise way before final payment was due; we got our deposit less $200 back very quickly and was issued a FCV, $100 each, to be used within 2 years of issuance. The big expense was our travel insurance(issued through a different provider than Viking) since the 2021 SE Asia cruise was very expensive; we were very lucky, the travel insurance approved a full refund which was about $2800.
  4. We also used SPB Tours in 2018 and it was fabulous! My only caveat was that at the time, they had changed their minimum size of group to be at least 8, otherwise the tour would be canceled. However, SPB did honor the reservation - we only had 6 in our group. I agree w/ Peregrina651, having only 6 made it so easy for us to get around quickly. When we visited the Hermitage, we were there very early, bypassed the long lines and it was not too crowded(unlike the Louvre). As long as you are w/ an official tour guide, you do not need to apply for a visa to visit St. Petersburg. We covered so much ground in two days, much more efficient when it is a small group. And we also enjoyed our lunches at the two restaurants we went to.
  5. Our 2021 September Ukraine river cruise was canceled by Viking in early April. Part of the reason was COVID but also a great deal of Russian military buildup along the Ukraine border. Viking had canceled all their Russian river cruises then as well - I think the reason for those cancelations were due to non-issuance of visas to US citizens.
  6. Just to let you know that on April 6th, Viking canceled all their Russia and Ukraine cruises for 2021. I know for the Ukraine, there has been much military build up by Russia along the border so that was probably one of the reasons, besides COVID, that Viking canceled. On the Viking board, someone had mentioned that there is a visa issuance issue for Russia right now, so Viking chose to cancel their Russian river cruises. There was some discussion as to whether this visa issue impacted the Baltic cruises but it doesn't since a visa is not required for St. Petersburg as long as a tourist is with an official Russian tour guide. I think there is a good chance that your trip may be canceled by June. However, I am not familiar with this company and their track record with refunds and cancelations. We were fully paid for our trip but had a final date by which we could cancel and still get almost all our $$ back except there was a portion that was moved from another canceled trip that the TA had moved and we would have lost over $2K. Lucky for us, Viking chose to cancel these cruise early before the season began. I know you have eliminated the idea of making final payment but if you do the final payment using a credit card, you have the backing of the credit card company if there are any issues regarding refunds.
  7. I just wanted to report after Viking did their latest cancellations last week, April 6th, which included cancelling cruises in Russia and the Ukraine(our September trip), we choose to receive a refund instead of FCV since we already have a very large FCV from our April 2020 cancellation. Even though It took a really long time to get through to Viking on that day to request the refund and my TA still needed to follow up with Viking, I am happy to report that the refund credit was applied to my credit card today! Kudos to Viking for being so prompt. Now to wait for the TA portion to be refunded, I'm sure it will take weeks...
  8. Deec, I hope you get to do it in 2/22 as well. We just loved this cruise and since it was our last one before things changed, we were just so glad that we got to do it.
  9. We have mostly sailed w/ Viking Ocean & River. On Viking Ocean, we did Homelands, Auckland to Bali(B2B), Buenos Aires to Santiago. We also did the Mediterranean w/ Oceania Riviera in 2018 - Athens to Barcelona(B2B). We prefer Viking for the number of reasons mentioned by others but we also enjoyed our Oceania cruise so we would consider them for the right itinerary. IMHO, I think the food and specialty restaurants on Oceania are better than Viking, better than Crystal. However the food on Viking is still excellent. However I prefer Viking's afternoon tea service, it is just so pretty in the Wintergarden and you are served a tower of goodies and have a choice of loose tea leaves. Alcohol is not included on Oceania which is fine by us, one advantage is that the bar will serve you nonalcoholic drinks, no additional charge, so you can have club soda, soda, or a virgin pina colada. I think you are charged for soft drinks outside of meal time on Viking. All excursions cost extra, no included excursions like Viking. This may be an advantage if you prefer to book your own excursions, rather than rely on the ship's excursion. There is a greater range of cabins on Oceania; they are much smaller on the smaller ships that only hold 600 or so passengers. On Riviera we had a non-veranda cabin that was a just little bit bigger than Viking's standard veranda cabins; the difference was the bathroom layout, it was like a regular bathroom, toilet & small shower to the left of a full sized vanity & sink, full tub/shower combo on the right of the sink. We are fine in the standard Viking bathroom; just the layout is different. I found the Riviera ship to be tired looking - it might be refurbished by now. Viking ships are sleek, new, and modern. Internet is very good on Viking(of course it depends on location), there is no fee to use the spa area for the whirlpool, sauna, & ice grotto. What really sets apart for us about Viking is really the quality of customer service and responsiveness that we have come to experience. Our last Viking ocean cruise was the first time that Viking was sailing the Buenos Aires to Santiago itinerary as a regular run and we were so impressed w/ the attention to detail to make sure our cruise was as seamless as possible which can be challenging when working out the bugs of a new sail route. Hope this helps.
  10. We did Hong Kong to Tokyo, B2B, on Crystal Symphony in 2017. It was an exceptional itinerary and the service was outstanding. We are so glad that we did that particular itinerary w/ Crystal, but we prefer Viking for several reasons: - it was a complete hassle getting onboard the Crystal Symphony at Hong Kong, no signage, no Crystal staff available; whereas if you book your air w/ Viking, you are met at the airport & whisked away to the ship, we didn't have to worry about where to find the dock location and Viking signage is well marked at the port. In fairness we did use Crystal's service on disembarkation to Narita airport & it was fine. - in 2016, Crystal evening dining was still the old style of dining, w/ a group every night with more formal dress requirements. Having dinner took a long time, serving each course. This is OK to do for a few nights, but we are casual people and not having the equivalent of the World Cafe open at night for dinner where we could just have a quick meal was a big drawback for us. - Crystal food and the specialty restaurants are better; however Viking food is still excellent. We have sailed on Oceania and personally I think Oceania's food and specialty restaurants are better than Crystal's. - Crew are exceptional on both, however I think Viking has an edge, especially the folks who manage the excursions and if you need to talk to anyone about shipboard charges, etc. - Entertainment is more elaborate on Crystal but for us that is not high on our list. - Excursions were extremely expensive on Crystal though it might have been due to traveling in Japan. - Having no casino and children under 18 is a huge plus for us so we prefer Viking. - we are not big drinkers so having alcoholic beverages included as part of the cruise fee is a waste, the wine offered at lunch & dinner on Viking is enough for us. - Viking's ships are just so beautiful & modern; the staterooms are well designed. We found the Symphony to be in need of a refresh. - And finally, the main reason we prefer Viking, are the passengers. Most are like us, people who have worked hard and saved to do this cruises and have great interest in the various destinations. I don't ever recall ever seeing 'ugly American' behavior traveling with Viking (or on Oceania). However on Crystal, we saw many instances of 'entitled' or rude behavior. In one situation, it was embarrassing to be part of the group when this person made a huge scene about being able to sit at the same table with his family at a dinner & show outing in Xian, China. In Shanghai, individuals wanted to just get off the tour bus to get to the ship after we were rejoining the ship from our multi-day excursion, even though the tour guide had expressly asked us to wait as he dealt w/ the Chinese communist authorities w/ our passports, making the communist officials very nervous. So for us, we prefer Viking, but would also consider Oceania. I don't think we would do Crystal again unless it was an itinerary that we really want to do.
  11. Just to add, Viking is canceling Alaska, Russia & Ukraine. MyVikingJourney is locked for our Ukraine river cruise in September. See below: As travel restrictions around the world continue to make international and cruise ship travel particularly complicated, we have made the decision to extend our suspension of previously scheduled departures through July 31, 2021. Additional operational complexities in some destinations require us to cancel further departures through the remainder of the 2021 season in Alaska, as well as in Russia and Ukraine. Guests and their travel advisors on impacted itineraries have been notified directly by Viking Customer Relations. For us, we are disappointed about the Ukraine river cruise being canceled, but it is for the best.
  12. Thanks for this! I hadn't see it but MyViking Journey is locked for our Ukraine river cruise in September.
  13. You are quite welcome. It was a wonderful cruise - so glad that we got to do it! As someone else suggested, if you can find the roll calls during that time period, there will be more comments & notes. Enjoy planning!
  14. Buenos Aires to Santiago on Viking Jupiter was our last cruise before the pandemic. I did a Live from post since it was the first time that Viking was doing this itinerary (other than an earlier world cruise): It was a fabulous cruise. There will be other posts after mine from others who also sailed this itinerary. Hope this helps!
  15. I like using liquid hand soap to wash my hands with at the sink so I brought an empty Soft Soap dispenser & filled it with the body wash - much neater than using the bar soap. I usually travel w/ an iPad & iPhone so I finally purchase a 6 ft. cord, a 3 ft cord is too short to have the iPhone connected to while in bed; haven't traveled since getting the longer cords. Doesn't hurt to have extra cords as well. I take photos w/ my phone & would find that I would drain the phone battery during an excursion, especially a full day one so I bought a small power bank as a battery backup to keep taking pictures. I like the idea of the small mesh bags for laundry, especially if we will need to wear masks on future cruises; the last couple of cruises I did bring a large mesh laundry bag; worthwhile to have. We don't have incontinence issues but a friend had suggested having some Depends along for the trip for a bout of diarrhea or in a situation where you cannot get to a bathroom. You may never actually use them but they can provide peace of mind. I bring disinfectant wipes, purse sized hand sanitizers, Kleenex packets, especially now with the pandemic. I now carry cough syrup(or cough syrup in capsule form), cough drops, etc. I picked up a terrible cold in France & could not find the equivalent of Coricidin at a French pharmacy; suffered the last part of the trip(it was Viking river cruise).
  16. This only happened once on our first river cruise on the Danube in 2016. We had some scenic cruising so passengers were up on the upper deck to watch. There was a large boisterous group that wanted to sit together so they moved all the loungers & chairs around in order to sit together, crowding me in order to squeeze into a space that was not big enough. In fact, one person was bumping my lounger with the way he was positioned but finally someone in his group suggested that he move his lounger. Needless to say it was annoying.
  17. Just to let everyone know, my statement about the no sail order may not be accurate. On a different board, HostBeau said it was a rumor. I had found it on the State Dept travel advisory for cruise ship passengers & looked just now & cannot find the reference anymore. Needless to say, there are a number of cautions by the CDC about river & ocean cruising so we are still canceling...
  18. I found the reference on the State Dept Travel Advisories for Cruise Ship travelers. I just checked & the text is not there anymore. I had assumed anything on the State Department's travel advisories would be current. My bad if that is not the case but I thought information on the State Dept website would be current & accurate.
  19. With canceling so many cruises and dealing w/ the TA & the travel insurance company, I've decided to hold off even though Viking has been so generous. We have one set of vouchers, I don't want to collect any more large ones and if we cannot get the exact accommodation or cruise so be it. In the past, I would book as far out as possible, not any more for me with all this uncertainty and obviously too much disappointment. It is a real shift in mentality for me, I'm not a last minute kind of person & I like to plan in advance.
  20. I'm not feeling very optimistic about cruising in 2021. Vaccinations are going at a crawl in Virginia and for our health district we were one of the very last ones to go to 1b today. Also, though the state is suppose to open up 1b to 65 & over, anyone under 65 w/ underlying health conditions, our health district is only vaccinating 75 & older individuals. There is a new requirement to have a negative COVID test within three days of flying back to the US(starts on 1/26/2021) from aboard. And I just noted on the State Dept Travel Advisories that the CDC is continuing the no sail order through September 2021. So I will contact Viking next week and my TA to cancel our 2021 Ukraine river cruise. I had until May to cancel but with all this uncertainty on changing travel rules, I am more concerned that we may get stuck abroad and not be able to get back into the US at the end of our cruise. Once we get vaccinated, we will feel comfortable enough to travel via car instead. I am so disappointed to do this since it will be the fourth trip that we have canceled. 😔
  21. We have this river cruise booked for Sep/Oct 2021 and I have decided to cancel (I was going to wait until May (the last point at which we can get most of $$ refunded)) due to the new requirements for a COVID test being done within three days of flying back into the US, also the CDC has extended the no sail order through September, the slowness of vaccinations being administered, and lastly, the COVID virus having new mutations. Just too much uncertainty and we already have a very large cruise voucher from a canceled trip from last April 2020 which we have used yet.
  22. We loved sailing into Budapest at night as our final port - it was a wonderful end to a great cruise from Passau. And it is worthwhile to spend extra days in Budapest before going home. It is such a vibrant city.
  23. Our first Viking river cruise was on the Danube from Passau to Budapest but started in Munich for two nights, then two nights in Salzburg, almost two weeks - it was wonderful, some folks stayed in Budapest for a few more days (which I would highly recommended). We did Viking's France's Finest which is one week on the Seine, transfer from Paris to Lyon to do another week on the Rhone, we loved it! Great itinerary combining both rivers. I would try to do at least two weeks and then maybe add an extension afterwards. We had created our own b2b river cruises by combining Viking's Elbe river cruise ending in Prague, spending an extra night in Prague, then doing the Cities of Lights from Prague to Paris w/ an extension in Paris. Almost a month and yes, I was stressing over the laundry being done while being gone so long. Unfortunately after all that planning, it was canceled this past April 2020 due to the pandemic. In hindsight I think I was trying to do too much in one trip but I really hate flying and was trying to make it worth our while going to Europe for a longer period. Viking is now offering river ocean cruise combinations - may be worthwhile to do a rive cruise first, lots of touring each day and then get on the ocean cruise for a more relaxed itinerary (and self-service laundry facilities!).
  24. We have a 2021 Sep/Oct Viking Ukraine river cruise. I have decided today to cancel (I was going to wait until May (the last point at which we can get most of $$ refunded) due to the new requirements for a COVID test being done within three days of flying back into the US, also the CDC has extended the no sail order through September, the slowness of vaccinations being administered, and lastly, the COVID virus having new mutations. Just too much uncertainty and we already have a very large cruise voucher from a canceled trip from last April 2020 which we have used yet.
  25. We did our first Viking River cruise back in 2016 - started at a hotel in Munich for two nights , then two nights in Salzburg, then the actual river portion was from Passau to Budapest. I don't think they offer this trip anymore - you can choose to do a pre-extension before boarding Passau. We absolutely loved sailing w/ Viking on the Danube. If you fly w/ them, Viking includes the transfers to & from the airport. The following year we did the France's Finest cruise which is two cruises, one on the Seine from Paris to Normandy, back to Paris, then Lyon to Marseille on the Rhone. It was a fabulous cruise, again Viking handled the airport transfers if you book your air through them. Viking arranged for us to travel via the high speed train from Paris to Lyon - only carrying our personal items, our luggage was sent via truck to Lyon from where we disembarked in Le Pecq, absolutely seamless. We enjoyed both river cruises so much we made the leap to their ocean cruises & have done three major ocean cruises with them, loving each one. I wouldn't slot Viking w/ Carnival - I have traveled once on Royal Caribbean & Viking is much better than that cruise line. I have traveled on Oceania & Crystal - I would consider Viking similar to Oceania, thought Crystal was excellent but found it too formal and didn't care for the 'ugly American' behavior of passengers. Have never encountered passengers like that on Viking or Oceania. We were so disappointed when our Elbe & City of Lights river cruises were canceled this past April but Viking has been wonderful to work with on cancelations. We had to cancel a Southeast Asia ocean cruise for this year and based on the recent travel requirements & CDC guidelines for cruises, it looks like we will be canceling an Ukraine river cruise for Sep/Oct 2021
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