Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
roothy123

Dining and Shore Excursion Choices

Recommended Posts

If you're in the same room you should be able to do them at the same time. Where I had trouble was when I wanted to sign up for one shore excursion and my husband another. You can do this but on one day's shore excursions I had to get Viking Customer service involved. Our shore excursions overlapped, and the website wouldn't let me book mine without cancelling his, and visa-versa. It kept saying there was a scheduling conflict. I had no trouble booking spa appointments for just me on sea days, but then there would be no conflict with shore excursions anyway. As long as you and your Mom are doing the same things you should be fine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the quick answers--I'll set my alarm this evening before bed.

 

And, as far as:

As long as you and your Mom are doing the same things you should be fine.

 

We *are* usually doing the same things--unless it's back on board the ship and there's live music and dancing. Then Mom is on the dance floor and I'm somewhere else! She's hoping other single ladies like to dance, too....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the quick answers--I'll set my alarm this evening before bed.

 

And, as far as:

 

We *are* usually doing the same things--unless it's back on board the ship and there's live music and dancing. Then Mom is on the dance floor and I'm somewhere else! She's hoping other single ladies like to dance, too....

My wife really wants to dance, but I have been trying to temper her expectations about shipboard life on a Viking Cruise. On our Viking River Cruises, it was a piano man and that was about it. I have not noticed any listing of a disco or anything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mom had a *great* time dancing to "the piano man" on our Viking River cruise last year! Even anything like that will be a bonus for her. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
.....Where I had trouble was when I wanted to sign up for one shore excursion and my husband another. You can do this but on one day's shore excursions I had to get Viking Customer service involved. Our shore excursions overlapped, and the website wouldn't let me book mine without cancelling his, and visa-versa. It kept saying there was a scheduling conflict. I had no trouble booking spa appointments for just me on sea days, but then there would be no conflict with shore excursions anyway. ...

 

This is exactly what I was thinking would be a problem. The website does not allow you to differentiate between the two people as far as meals or excursions go. It was convenient if not logical for meals, but for excursions I thought there should have been an option for it to be just yourself or everyone in your party/ room.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The lightbulb just went on after reading through this. I am betting that is why. Couldn't make reservations for my DH and me to have massages at the same time on our anniversary - I was making them through single my journey portal. I am sure it is full by now since it is a sea day. Oh well. We can just extend our time at the spa....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
You can "shop" the excursions well before you can book them. It lets you see the times/features/costs of each excursion for each port. You do this *not* from My Calendar but from the Menu>Shore Excursions and then move across to the city/port in question.

 

You can study the excursions available and even add them to you "Wish List" so it'll be quicker when your booking window opportunity *does* open up.

 

So far I've found that some excursions have disappeared from our itinerary and after they were placed on my Wish List--I'm *guessing* that's because higher "ranked" passengers have already purchased/reserved that trip on their earlier booking date and it's no longer available. Still wondering, though if that's what that means....

 

For folks whose booking window hasn't yet opened and are waiting to "shop" excursions and use the Wishlist, I have an update from Viking.

 

I spoke with someone at Viking--really several people and I had to beg and be patient for call backs--who told me that we will not be able to browse excursions or use the Wishlist until our booking window opens. She made reference to problems in the past with some excursions not being available when the booking window opened--as some here have already attested to--so the ability to browse and add excursions to a Wishlist prior to the booking window has been disabled.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Should I set my alarm? We live on the east coast. Does the Booking Window open at midnight our time?

Viking Time = California Time, which means your window opens at 3 AM. We set OUR alarm, and we're glad we did. Whole process only took 15 minutes or so...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank heavens we're retired and can sleep in the next morning! May have to have a PJ party:) We're traveling with friends/neighbors and had thought we'd be on our laptops at the same time in case there were some last minute decisions. At least it should be easier than trying to snag United miles flights "at midnight" while we were in Turkey.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I posted a note under another thread but since this one deals specifically with dining and shore excursions it seems more appropriate here.

 

We have had a lot of issues with our booking for the Stockholm-Bergen cruise at the end of May.

We had the misfortune of being amongst the first to book - around May 2013 and at that time there wasn't even a proper brochure.

Since that time there have been a lot of changes - including a rigid hierarchical structure around fixed dining bookings - ranging from 90 - 60 days in advance. On the first day we could book fixed dining we found that the first period we could book for was 8.30-10.30 ....far too late for us.

So unless you book the highest priced suites there is no guarantee that you will get fixed dining from 6.30-8.30....(the higher you go obviously the better chance of success).

They have told us there shouldn't be a problem....and we dont mind waiting for a table for say 15 mins but if we have to wait longer every day then we shall be really annoyed (and we have no intention of dining in the cafeteria). Also having health issues we do need to dine early.

 

The frustrating thing is that if we had known we were going to have these problems we would have booked a higher class of stateroom to ensure we could get early dining and be able to book specialty restaurants in advance - or we could have switched to a different cruise line with a different dining policy :-

(I wonder if they considered the Oceania model which works very well....completely flexible for the main dining room but you have to book specialty restaurants (on Marina there are 4). Your ability to book in advance for the specialty ones does depend on stateroom choice but that really doesn't cause any problems and you can ALWAYS get into the main dining room with a minimal wait. The Oceania ships are small - around 800 passengers (marina 1200)

 

The other thing is that since we booked we have had no communication from Viking Oceans telling us that the website was up and running. We kept checking and never saw anything...surely when the site was up and running it would have been courteous to have emailed everyone...or their agents (especially since the booking was done 2 years in advance of the cruise!). Finally in exasperation we called Viking and they told us that myvikingjourney was the place to go...we had never heard of it...and in any event it only contains some of the relevant information which is on the main site....something of course we never looked at it since we had already booked and paid for the cruise.

 

When I contacted our agent the other day she thought it was all flexible dining- she had no idea there was fixed dining at all....so obviously Viking hasn't even told the agents about all the changes! I was appalled.

 

There is also a problem with their website re excursions...It shows some included excursions as sold out....and when I pointed out they were included in the price and could not be sold out I was told to keep trying on the website. Finally I got most of them but I have tried multiple times to include 1 destination...it says I have done so successfully but it doesn't appear on our calendar even though I keep clicking that button...it is unbelievably frustrating.

 

We had wonderful cruises on Viking River cruises and we booked very early on Viking Oceans on the basis of those experiences. So far we are disappointed because it doesn't appear that Viking Oceans has anticipated many of the problems.

 

We are really looking forward to this cruise...our first in the Baltic and just hope these are all teething problems that will be ironed out when we get on board. We know it's a new cruise line and we need to cut them some slack but even when problems are pointed out they are not addressed e.g. the "sold out" included excursions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I posted a note under another thread but since this one deals specifically with dining and shore excursions it seems more appropriate here.

 

We have had a lot of issues with our booking for the Stockholm-Bergen cruise at the end of May.

We had the misfortune of being amongst the first to book - around May 2013 and at that time there wasn't even a proper brochure.

Since that time there have been a lot of changes - including a rigid hierarchical structure around fixed dining bookings - ranging from 90 - 60 days in advance. On the first day we could book fixed dining we found that the first period we could book for was 8.30-10.30 ....far too late for us.

So unless you book the highest priced suites there is no guarantee that you will get fixed dining from 6.30-8.30....(the higher you go obviously the better chance of success).

They have told us there shouldn't be a problem....and we dont mind waiting for a table for say 15 mins but if we have to wait longer every day then we shall be really annoyed (and we have no intention of dining in the cafeteria). Also having health issues we do need to dine early.

 

When I contacted our agent the other day she thought it was all flexible dining- she had no idea there was fixed dining at all....so obviously Viking hasn't even told the agents about all the changes! I was appalled.

 

 

Maybe I'm just totally naive, but I'm assuming that the open seating will work out pretty well, and that the picking a fixed dining time is really more for those who want to always dine the same time and with the same people and same waiter. It sounds like people can change their minds and not eat at the established time, which means there will be a few empty spaces that can be used for people showing up under the open scheme plan. I am not planning to pick a fixed dining time, and have faith that we won't have to wait very long when we show up wanting to eat. People used to worry about the Oceania open seating and it worked out just well. We almost always were in inside cabins (last to book the specialty restaurants) and even that worked out fine for us. I once wanted to book a shore excursion that was booked up a couple days pre-cruise. I went to the Destinations staff when I boarded the ship and asked to be placed on a waiting list. Sure enough, they found me room.

 

As I said, maybe I'm just naive (and I DO tend to be a bit of a Pollyanna), but I truly believe things will work out well for the great majority of people who cruise on the Star this spring and summer, and probably even more so for those who cruise later on. At least in a few weeks we might get some feedback from cruisers on the first cruise that will be helpful in allaying people's fears.

 

If I'm starving and find out there's a 20 minute wait to be seated in the dining room, I'll probably just go to the buffet and get an hors d'ouevre to tide me over. If the preferred time for an included tour is showing up as not available, I'll just book whatever's available and check back later. I'd be extremely surprised if they don't get everyone on the included tours, although someone may not be on the first excursion off the ship. Besides, someone always ends up canceling an excursion or two..sometimes at the last minute.

 

Good luck, and keep the faith! Things will be fabulous. Oceania is fabulous, and gets better every year. However, I suspect their first year was not without its problems. All cruise lines have them.

Edited by roothy123

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ruthy.

 

I like your optimism. My fear is that as this is their first venture into Ocean Cruising Viking management will not have the experience needed to deal with all of the problems that can so easily arise - especially on a maiden or near maiden voyage. Perhaps the experience with Oceania is instructive. When they first went to flexible dining they had some teething problems. However, over time, those were resolved and they are now, in my judgment, the best cruise line of the bunch in that price range.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes I agree, Gogoguy...Oceania is ideal ...especially the Marina and its sister ship (I would assume). I think Viking Oceans will be great when it is up and running but there do seem quite a few glitches at the moment.

I think one of our worries is that most passengers will opt for the included excursions (and why not since the optional ones are expensive). There may be hundreds of us tramping around ( works on river cruises with fewer passengers but will it work here?) If I didn't choose the included ones I would have preferred to hook up with other cruise critic folk and organize private tours (as we have done on most of our other cruises).

Actually if you google the destinations you can easily find ways to get to some of the places on the optional tours by using public transport. It will be an adventure!

We are definitely doing a 2 day private tour in St P.....looks like SPG or TJ for us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Now that it's finally time for some cruisers to be able to book their specialty dining reservations and shore excursions, I was wondering how that is going IF you're in a deluxe veranda or regular veranda. Did you go online and book pretty much as soon as your reservation window opened? Did you get good days and times for the specialty restaurants? How about the times for the included excursions?

 

We're in a deluxe veranda. Based on my previous experience with another cruise line in an inside cabin, I'm not too worried about finding decent times and days to eat. However, I WOULD like to get a sense of whether people like to eat early or late (especially for the Chef's Table, since you must choose between 6 and 8:30 PM) and whether the early bookers snap up the times around 7 PM, which is our optimal eating time most days. I'd also like to get an idea of how fast the spaces for each time for the included tours book up, and if there's any particular time that's more likely to be unavailable than the others (for example, first tour of the day, or last). Also, when you book the included (or other) excursions, is any information given on what to do if you can't go, or what time you need to be available for the excursion?

 

Has anyone in a lower cabin category booked yet?

 

We are in a veranda class stateroom and discovered to our surprise on the morning that our window opened that the 6:30 - 8;30 time slot for the Restaurant was already "full" - evidently because those with higher booking priorities had already made their choices. Moreover, those in that class are unable to book at any of the specialty restaurants until they board the ship. We will be interested to discover whether or not all of those with a higher booking priority than us will have effectively taken up virtually all of the spaces available in the specialty restaurants.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are in Veranda and not Deluxe Veranda, Viking's stated policy from the beginning for Veranda was no reservations ahead of time in either specialty or The Restaurant.

 

If that is the case, perhaps they have implemented an awkward solution to denying access to that part of the MYVikingJouney portal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Algaes - some of us booked very early on....in spring of 2013 and paid in full by Dec 2013.

At the time of booking we did it on faith.....not much info about anything...including dining options and how things would work....that all came later.

If we had known about the problems of booking dining we would have chosen a higher category than simple veranda.... we did so because it's a very port intensive cruise and there isn't all that much time on the ship.... hence no need to book anything higher ( we had no idea of the dining room tie in).

I am not sure how a combination of fixed dining will work with flexible options. Usually it's either all flexible apart from speciality (Oceania) or there are separate dining rooms for fixed and flexible.

I'm thinking that a mixture of fixed and flexible isn't going to work well...especially since they haven't set aside any tables at all for flexible diners. I fear there may be a logjam.

Personally I prefer the Oceania model... flexible in the main dining room and reservations (without charge) for the specialty restaurants. That works very well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know this won't mitigate your regrets but the policy I paraphrased was in all the 2013 marketing materials including the May 2013 Oceans brochure, which I have held on to.

 

I'm sympathetic to your situation and our preference would be for a more flexible dining plan as well for all passengers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Algaes - Our initial invoice is dated May 21, 2013.

I checked in one of the first brochures dated 16th May 2013 and on p 10 under veranda it says (in very small font size) it states:

"These staterooms do not include reservations for specialty dining ....or priority reservations in The Restaurant."

At that time no one had any idea what was meant by priority reservations. It could have meant a number of things and it certainly doesn't say that reservations are going to be determined on a very rigid hierarchical structure - stretching from 90 days to 60 days.

More importantly there is no reference at all to fixed dining times.....

and we interpreted this to mean that those in deluxe veranda and above passengers would be able to make reservations on an ad hoc basis. We certainly didn't understand that the norm would be fixed dining and that those who were unable to book fixed dining would have to wait around until a table opened up.

I do think Viking could have done a better job explaining the type of dining arrangements they intended to implement.

Anyway thanks for your response.

I guess we will wait and see what happens to those of us who were unable to make reservations.

I intend to write a review after the cruise is over and if everything works out I will certainly make that clear. I have been assured by several Viking staff members that the restaurant is large and there should be room for everyone even without reservations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Respectfully, I have to share that we understood when we booked in mid 2013 that there were no advanced reservations for the base cabin - and it was still clear when we also paid in full by Dec 2103. The base balcony cabins were full by mid year 2013 when we booked, so we asked for clarification what the advantages were for paying more money for the same exact cabin that the base rate, lower priced cabin was - we were told that we would have priority reservations, etc with the higher price. We didn't have an option, so we paid the higher price. There were still plenty of cabins in various categories at that time except the starting price rate of balcony cabins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The information regarding dining and excursion priority has been available since the beginning. It was in the downloadable brochure when Viking Oceans went live and Viking reservations was clear when we booked (May 24, 2013) that the primary difference between cabins other than size and some incidental (to us, anyway) amenities was booking priority for excursions and dining.

 

Having said that, there wasn't any information (and still isn't for those of us still waiting for our booking window to open) at all about how dining reservations would actually work and whether they really matter if you're not especially fussy about where you eat (which we aren't). The Viking rep only talked about getting reservations for the specialty restaurants. There was nothing about having to choose between early or late seating, choosing table types or whatever for the entire cruise. I still don't know how any of that works because the information is locked being a wall on My Viking Journey, I can't see it until our booking window opens. All I know is what I've read on CC.

 

So while it may have been clear that X level cabins got to book X# of days prior, as far as dining goes, that was framed only as a benefit for getting reservations in specialty restaurants.

 

I'm guessing Viking hadn't worked any of the details out in May 2013. Frankly, I don't think they've worked out the details yet. I think that's why they shut down the Wishlist and ability to browse at MVJ. We knew we were beta testing; now we're running into the bugs.:rolleyes: Fortunately my husband and I are able to be somewhat flexible with dining so whatever happens happens, but I understand eating after 8:30 or standing around for lengthy periods waiting for a table is difficult for some folks and I empathize.

Edited by OneBag

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not sure how a combination of fixed dining will work with flexible options. Usually it's either all flexible apart from speciality (Oceania) or there are separate dining rooms for fixed and flexible.

I'm thinking that a mixture of fixed and flexible isn't going to work well...especially since they haven't set aside any tables at all for flexible diners. I fear there may be a logjam.

 

I don't think that the fact that there's no separate dining room for flexible diners will make any difference in avoiding a logjam. Celebrity Summit does it that way, as they have a big ship and two tiers of dining, but it doesn't seem to alleviate a wait at prime dining hours. However, Star is smaller with one big Restaurant, so I'm assuming they'll use all available spaces and tables for the flexible diners as well as for the fixed diners. I'm guessing that just because a lot of people signed up for a particular preference (either out of fear of getting the dregs, or because they had a group of people they wanted to keep together, or because they really wanted to eat the same time/table/etc.) there will be people who don't always come to their table each night. They may be tired from an excursion and want to eat later, or stuffed from a lunch out in port. They may want to go flexible and meet new people. They may decide to order room service and eat on the balcony, or they've met someone they want to eat with, or they're not crazy about the table they've been assigned to, or dinner conflicts with that fabulous entry into Venice through the Giudecca Canal. Maybe they've tired of the endless eating and formality of cruise dining and just want a simple buffet meal outside.

 

I have to admit that I found the fixed and flexible offer a little strange, and wondered if they were just doing this to get a handle on when people liked to dine, and/or were trying to make it easier for them to serve everyone effectively, and please everyone. Quite honestly, I'm a little surprised that so many people on Gogoguy's cruise signed up for an actual time slot. Then again, this doesn't mean you HAVE to eat at that time, and it will be interesting to see how the flexible diners and fixed diners get juggled to make it all work.

 

As I said before, there was some anxiety about getting decent reservations at the specialty restaurants on Oceania for lower-priced cabin dwellers, but it all worked out well in the end. I think Viking will figure it out, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're on the 50 day maiden cruise and we had to do our choices for shore excursions and dining by phone because the website was not up at all at that time. When we booked our dining preference, the Viking fellow told us that our 6:30 table would only be held until 6:45. At that point our seat would be released to whoever was in line for open seating. When we got there later we would have to get into the open seating line. Given this, and all the reasons that Roothy outlined, I don't think there's going to be an issue. You may have to wait 15 to 20 minutes, but I don't think, except in rare instances (like the first night) that it's going to be a long wait.

 

Also, to clarify, when you reserve one of the specialty restaurants you can't book the Main Dining room as well. So while there may not be any availability to book you at the early seating for the whole cruise, on any given night there's probably 100 to 150 passengers who are eating at the early seating in one of those specialty restaurants who are not in their early seating dining room seats, thus opening the seat to open diners.

 

(I'm guessing on that number in the specialty restaurants BTW.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I plan to eat enough at Tea Time so that no matter how long it takes to seat us I will just look at the menu and say "Nothing for me, I'm still full. Just a coffee and the dessert menu please."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter Now for a Chance to Win a 7-day Cruise for Two
      • Q&A with InsureMyTrip
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...