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rjscott

Live from the Viking Star

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Roothy,

You know, it was funny about Croatia; in Dubrovnik, many vendors seemed to accept euros, less so in Pula. And, I too had read that few would take euros in the country, and so I always asked before buying anything. In fact, we sat at a café in Pula to meet our friends and have some lunch. Before we sat down, we asked if they took credit cards or euros, as we had spent all our kunas in Dubrovnik. The man who seated us said no credit cards, but yes to euros. When the waitress brought the bill, she tried to refuse accepting euros. Huh?

 

As for disembarkation; since we were 'independent travelers', meaning we had arranged our own air & transfers, we rec'd white luggage tags, meaning we could disembark as soon as the ship was cleared. We were to be out of our cabins by 8:30am. We were off the ship by 8:45, quickly found our luggage in the terminal, and went to the water taxi counter nearby to order a water taxi for transport to our hotel, the Hotel Columbina. The hotel has its own jetty, so we were able to be delivered directly to the door of the hotel, no lugging luggage thru the streets and over bridges.

 

The hotel is very nice. Our room is large, with a nice large bathroom and breakfast is included. After checking in, we wandered over to St. Mark's Square to just take it all in. Then we browsed the shops for a bit until coming upon some gondoliers who persuaded our husbands we needed to take a ride. This was not something I had planned to do for several reasons, but I have to admit, I did enjoy it. We returned to the hotel for a short while to rest before taking another boat ride the hotel had arranged. This was down a couple of side canals and then down the Grand Canal. Lots of good opportunities for photos. We then went in search of dinner; pizza & pasta, and called it a night.

 

One more day in lovely Venice before returning to reality.

 

Becki

Independent Traveler's get luggage tags and pick their luggage up in the terminal? I was under the impression that you did not put your luggage out but carried it off the ship when you get off. A cruise virgin here, but I'm trying to get enough information to act like I've been around the block--once or twice!

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Becki it has been great following you. Your mostly positive posts have been encouraging - and your posted issues were warranted for sure. Most important - sounds like you had a great time and that is awesome!

 

Roothy - go for the gondola ride.....😊👌 it is a memory so indicative ofVenice!

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Independent Traveler's get luggage tags and pick their luggage up in the terminal? I was under the impression that you did not put your luggage out but carried it off the ship when you get off. A cruise virgin here, but I'm trying to get enough information to act like I've been around the block--once or twice!

 

Just in case Becki is enjoying Venice so much that she doesn't make it back here, I'll provide my two cents' worth: I know Celebrity makes you take your own bags off if you're an independent traveler. However, Oceania does it just the way (I think, anyway) Becki described, and I know Viking looked very closely at Oceania in determining what type of cruise experience they would go for. We found the O way much nicer than the C way, as when you cruise, you usually end up with a lot of luggage. Of course, if you're like "One Bag," I suppose dealing with the bag(s) is no big deal, but unfortunately I never seem to be able to travel lightly! (I applaud you, One Bag!) Anyway, it sounds like Viking personnel will carry off ALL the bags. The color-coded tags are for finding your bags in the terminal.

 

By the way, Dauntless, since you're a new cruiser, I'll provide a word of advice: When you pack the last night, don't forget to leave out a change of clothes. You really don't want to be disembarking in your pajamas!

Edited by roothy123

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We were instructed to have the bags that we wanted transported to the terminal outside our cabins by 11:00 pm the night before disembarkation. Any bags not outside at that time were our responsibilIty. So, no problem with keeping our toiletry kits and a change of clothing, etc in our carryons.

One Bag, we did a mix of included and optional excursions. We thought the guides were good on all our tours, some better than others. The size of the groups ranged from 25-30, I believe, as on the bus tours, I don't believe we ever had a full bus. I thought all the tours were well organized until the last day at Pula, when it all seemed to fall apart. I don't know if it was the tendering putting things behind or what, but even our guide seemed off her game and the passengers seemed cranky with her, which made it worse. But, generally speaking, we have never been displeased with Viking's tours, and this was our 4 th cruise with them. With the Quiet Vox, if your group seems too large, you can hang back, still hear the guide, take a few photos or study a painting or the landscape, whatever. We have always thought that, comparatively, the price of their optional tour are very fair, and on our cruises with other lines, we often book tours independently. However, the couple we were traveling with this time were not comfortable witn independent vendors. Hope this is what you were looking for.

Vineyard View, tnaks for your feedback! Hope your cruise is a fantastic one!

 

Becki

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Brian (PopsA),

Loved your comment about the two Viking Stars. Makes you wonder, eh? I have appreciated your positive feedback and fun comments on CC while we were in the planning stages. I was so bummed when I realized you weren't on our sailing, and so we wouldn't be sharing a waffle. :D. But, I'm sure you will brighten the days of the cruisers on your journey on the Star, and I envy them.

 

Becki

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Thanks Becki. I too was bummed when I realized you weren't one of the 50 day crazies. I half expected you to be part of the welcoming party for us when we board in Barcelona. My expectation is at least 30 - 40 guests with banners, cocktails, streamers, cocktails, and warm hugs. Did I say cocktails twice?

 

I'm sure your positive vibe will still be felt on board the Star. Especially around the waffle counter. Check back for my reports while we are on board. I can only hope to do half as good a job as you reporting to the future passengers about how wonderful life can be aboard a floating palace. Vacation is what you make of it. And when you start with an amazing, new, beautiful ship like the Star and her dedicated crew of Viking professionals you have an awful lot of good stuff to make a great vacation out of.

 

Enjoy what time you have left in Venice and safe travels home. It would be very nice to meet up on a future cruise.

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Among passengers I have talked to, many mention Viking is too generous in rating the difficulty of excursions. If you are 55 or under and relatively fit you will have no problems. If you are older, you may have difficulty with the walking on tours at least those in the Istanbul to Venice leg.

 

For example, we were on the Evening Concert in Venice tour that required walking approx 3/4 mile on Venice cobblestone streets while crossing 3 small bridges, one medium size bridge and one bridge crossing the Grand Canal. Aside from walking ability, many of the women were well dressed including wearing heels of all types. At the conclusion of the night, the same walk back was done this time around 11pm with shop lights turned off so the streets were darker and seeing your footing was less easy. We heard the guide mention water taxis when the concert was wrapping up and when we got back to the shuttle boat indeed about 30 attendees were missing.

 

On bus tours, there is often substantial walking up hill from bus parking sometimes on uneven surfaces to get to level walking ground.

 

Pula was a cinch for walking as long as you did not want to do the steps in the Amphitheater.

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Thank you for the general excursion information. I am curious.....in the evening Venice excursion description, did it say that there would be walking on uneven/cobblestone pavement for a distance, or did that turn out to be what it was without any mention it that?

Edited by Vineyard View

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Thanks so much for sharing info on Viking excursions. I'm feeling more confident with our choices thanks to the feedback here and look forward to hearing more as the Star works its way around Europe.

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...when you cruise, you usually end up with a lot of luggage. Of course, if you're like "One Bag," I suppose dealing with the bag(s) is no big deal, but unfortunately I never seem to be able to travel lightly!...

 

LOL, it took a while to get my head around a "mix and match" wardrobe that fools nobody, and I still find the one bag process to be a huge pain before the trip, but it's a delight after. Since we're traveling extensively by rail before and after the cruise, we need to keep it manageable and won't be able to enjoy the "unpack once and you're done" benefit of a cruise.

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Uh, Leo, some of us 55 & OVER people are quite fit and not quite ready for the leisure groups. :rolleyes: However, I will concede that some of the excursions were not accurately represented as to degree of difficulty. For example, with the Athens, 'A Walk Backward in Time', to the Acropolis, the description does mention 80 steps. What is doesn't say is that after the 80 steps you are only halfway to the top. My friend did the 80 steps without a problem, but the remaining way was difficult for her.

 

Becki

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We have done included tours, optional tours and independent tours on this trip.

 

The Viking tours are EXACTLY as described in the brochure. There was one real snafu, but I was not involved. Experienced CC members have greater ambitions than the V tours, but those happy with the depth of the group activities on the river cruises are very pleased so far.

 

We met travelers with 15+ Viking cruises.

 

Tea time isn't O, nor is trivia or most other activities. FDR we're coming home in July.

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We have done included tours, optional tours and independent tours on this trip.

 

The Viking tours are EXACTLY as described in the brochure. There was one real snafu, but I was not involved. Experienced CC members have greater ambitions than the V tours, but those happy with the depth of the group activities on the river cruises are very pleased so far.

 

We met travelers with 15+ Viking cruises.

 

Tea time isn't O, nor is trivia or most other activities. FDR we're coming home in July.

 

 

On board in July after traveling with Oceania. We never participate in trivia or go to tea since we mostly go on port intensive cruises. Can you perhaps set my expectations as to what expect so I don't "over expect"? Thanks.

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we have traveled to many places in Europe. 95% of those places are not up to ADA codes, and most of the historical sites include hills, cobblestones, stairs, etc. it does not matter if we are traveling independently or on a cruise.....it doesn't matter if we are on a cruise which cruise line it is. When we are on a cruise excursion rather than private tour, it has been our experience that it is not uncommon for some people on any given tour to be unable to manage stairs, or steep hills, or whatever....and they choose to find a place to wait or meet back up.

 

Maybe this is due in part to the fact that European tours and guides are used to all of this because it is their world. Good walking shoes, walking sandals, flats....all will help navigate uneven roads typical of Europe whether it is day or night excursions.

 

I am only posting this because it seems from what I am reading that the concerns may not all be Viking specific....but rather Old Europe specific.

 

And.....many of us over 55 are fit and active....Many are not for various reasons.... Ports in Europe are going to provide challenges regardless of how/who you travel with. And it can be very difficult for those who have physical limitations. No doubt about that.

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One of my lasting regrets from the Viking Star cruise, roothy123, is that I never got around to trying a waffle. I don't know how that happened! I walked by Mamsin's every day, almost. I kept saying, next time I'm here... and then I never did.

 

Thanks to all those still reporting from the cruise. We're knee-deep back into reality, and missing our time on the Star.

 

Carolyn

 

I bet you're a bit sad, realizing that the cruise is winding down. Those waffles sound like trouble to me. I will probably eat too many.

 

I was wondering if you happen to know if the shuttle that was available in Dubrovnik is one that's offered by the city or port or something Viking arrived. I'll probably stay in town after the tour there - a shuttle would be great.

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We were independent travelers, Dauntless, and we put our bags out the night before, and they were there in the terminal waiting for us. Pretty seamless.

 

Carolyn

 

Independent Traveler's get luggage tags and pick their luggage up in the terminal? I was under the impression that you did not put your luggage out but carried it off the ship when you get off. A cruise virgin here, but I'm trying to get enough information to act like I've been around the block--once or twice!

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Yes, Vineyard View, it is all about the shoes, knowing the terrain and managing your capabilities. Our job before we depart is to research the destinations, prepare for the weather and the terrain and Viking's job is to escort us there. Which reminds me, I need to go back to the packing forum and add a small flashlight. It really helps to see your way through the dark uneven streets when you've been lucky enough to stay up late and shut the town down

Edited by jkerr

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we have traveled to many places in Europe. 95% of those places are not up to ADA codes, and most of the historical sites include hills, cobblestones, stairs, etc. it does not matter if we are traveling independently or on a cruise.....it doesn't matter if we are on a cruise which cruise line it is. When we are on a cruise excursion rather than private tour, it has been our experience that it is not uncommon for some people on any given tour to be unable to manage stairs, or steep hills, or whatever....and they choose to find a place to wait or meet back up.

 

Maybe this is due in part to the fact that European tours and guides are used to all of this because it is their world. Good walking shoes, walking sandals, flats....all will help navigate uneven roads typical of Europe whether it is day or night excursions.

 

I am only posting this because it seems from what I am reading that the concerns may not all be Viking specific....but rather Old Europe specific.

 

 

I'm used to the cobblestones and challenges in Europe, but I know that going to Venice is going to raise the bar even a bit more with all those bridges, no buses, no taxis other than water ones, etc.! It's a unique place, but not without its unique challenges! There's a great website, by the way, especially for those going to a hotel there: google Venice for Visitors. There's even a list of hotels and the number of bridges you'll need to cross to get to each hotel, and perhaps even hotels that have access to the door via water taxi.

 

Carolyn - I can understand the waffle thing, especially on a ten day cruise. I once cruised for 12 days on Oceania and never made it to the main dining room except when we went for the muster drill! (They have a wonderful World Cafe-type set up that my husband and I love). I also never made it to a show, to Tea, to the spa or casino, only walked into the fitness center, and didn't even check out whether hair coloring was offered. That Baltic cruise was so port intensive (and fabulous) that I wasn't interested in much else! I did, however, enjoy the smaller ship experience, great food and service, and other things - just wasn't into all the other stuff. It's nice, however, that the smaller cruise lines offer these things for those people who are less port-obsessed than me!

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On board in July after traveling with Oceania. We never participate in trivia or go to tea since we mostly go on port intensive cruises. Can you perhaps set my expectations as to what expect so I don't "over expect"? Thanks.

 

You sound quite a bit like me ...and you're smart to set your expectations lower after traveling with Oceania, or at least to look for info on which to set your expectations! Of course, Oceania was not as excellent as it is today back when it started out. We cruised on it the second year it was in operation, and it was an excellent (and addictive) experience. However, it has gotten better along the way. Of course, their prices have gone up a little, too, although I suppose that's true about any cruise line since the early 2000s!

 

One thing I'm liking right off the bat is that Viking is truly a unique line, with all the Scandinavian touches, both in design and food. I'm also liking the included excursions, because Oceania's non-included excursions are so expensive that I seldom buy them.

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Wow, next time I use the word "may" I'll put it in bold and underline it. I thought I allowed for the fact that there are very fit persons of all ages on this cruise and in life generally.

 

I learned tonight that Venice was a tough learning experience for Viking excursion and ship personnel. Part of the difficulties were limitations on what the ship can do for its passengers and what needs to be done by Italian personnel. What we experienced might not be the experience of future passengers, especially if Viking can work out docking at San Basilio, its preferred option.

 

The walking tour on Split was fascinating and easy to manage as long a passenger can negotiate some "ancient" steps up and down. They can be slippery, are of uneven heights and much taller than standardized steps we encounter in U.S.

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I'm used to the cobblestones and challenges in Europe, but I know that going to Venice is going to raise the bar even a bit more with all those bridges, no buses, no taxis other than water ones, etc.! It's a unique place, but not without its unique challenges! There's a great website, by the way, especially for those going to a hotel there: google Venice for Visitors. There's even a list of hotels and the number of bridges you'll need to cross to get to each hotel, and perhaps even hotels that have access to the door via water taxi.

 

This is the best sit for Venice walking itineraries especially with someone mobility challenged, it is from The City of Venice website and they detail several accessible routes with maps and vaporetto info. Enjoy!

 

http://www.comune.venezia.it/flex/cm/pages/ServeBLOB.php/L/EN/IDPagina/1381

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Leo,

Yes, you did use the word, 'may', but seriously, why is a qualifier of age needed at all ? What makes 55 the line at which one needs to consider, or reconsider, their ability to participate in an activity? Their fitness, as you did mention, or mobility issues are really what need to be considered when considering the various excursions.

Thanks for your input! :)

Becki

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Our hotel offered a trip to Murano to the glass factory. My husband was somewhat ambivalent about this, but our friends wanted to go,so we hopped on the boat with another couple and were off across the water. Another gorgeous day!

We entered the factory where the glassblowers work crafting the pieces. My husband is a glass engineer in research & development and spent a lot of time in the glass factories. So he understands the glass making process, and talked at length with our guide. While we watched, the craftsmen made this beautiful, huge pear. It was a custom order. When they put it in the oven to let it cool, it broke at the base. So, they would have to start over. While in the factory, we were able to take photos, and there were many huge, beautiful chandeliers throughout. But once in the showroom, we were asked not to take photos. We hadn't planned to buy anything, buy we did end up coming away with a very striking piece that we both liked and got at a good price.

We returned to the hotel to drop off our purchaases and then went to St Mark's Square to see the Basilica. When we had been there the day before, there was a huge line. Today,amazingly, we walked in in less than 2 min. I could immediately see why every guidebook says this is a 'must see'. It is just magnificient. Almost sensory overload, there is so much to look at. We were then ready for lunch and found a spot making fresh pasta as we were walking by. Our friends were sold. I decided on a spinach and cheese calzone and it was as big as my head! It was delicious, and the marinara they served on the side with it was freshly made. I made a valiant attempt, but I could not finsh that calzone.

We went back to our hotel for a bit to do some packing and to enjoy the day alongside our canal. The hotel, which I highly recommend, is on a busy side canal, and so we could sit along the side on a little bench and watch the water taxis or gondeliers go by, and there were a lot of them. We were also next to a bridge, so we could people watch or stand there for photo ops.

Soon, my friend wanted to finish up her souvenir shopping, so we set off down the maze of streets that is Venice. I only had two greatnieces to buy for, and one got a Murano Christmas ornament and the other a small pair of Murano ball earrings, as she recently got her ears pierced.

After the shopping was done, we found another spot for dinner. I was still full from my monster calzone, so I waited for dessert and was rewarded with one of the best tiramisu I've ever had. So good!

The next morning we were up early to get our luggage weighed and balanced to under the 50 lbs each. Speaking of proper shoes, my husband and I both always bring our hiking boots with us on our cruises. Yes, they take up room ( I wear a 10 and he a 12) and weight, but they do give us support on those uneven surfaces and they also keep our feet from becoming fatigued from the rough surfaces. Unfortunately, his boots he had on this time didn't keep him from turning his ankle, as they were a lower profile. So, OneBag, while I envy you and others who can do carryon only, I don't see it in my future. :(

We then joined our friends for breakfast in the hotel's cheery breakfast room. The hotel has a very nice included buffet breakfast, with fruits, yogurt, pastries, juices, scarmbled or hard-boiled eggs and bacon (pancetta?). We then waited for our water taxi to the airport. For the four of us, with our luggage, it made sense to book a water taxi since the hotel had its own jetty.

It was about a 25 min ride to the airport and we got luggage carts to roll the luggage into the terminal. We were, upon disembarking the water taxi, confronted by a porter who would handle our luggage and get us a shuttle for 'only' 10 euros apiece. Uh, no thank you. If therearen't loose luggage carts, a 2 euro coin will release them from the line. It is a 7-10 minute walk on pavement to the terminal from the water landing. Youwill get your 2 euro coin back when you return your cart by attatching it to another and it will release the coin.

 

I wish all the future Viking Star cruisers a fantastic, happy journey, and if there are any questios I can answer that I haven't in my 'diary' , please ask away.

 

Becki

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...Speaking of proper shoes, my husband and I both always bring our hiking boots with us on our cruises. Yes, they take up room ( I wear a 10 and he a 12) and weight, but they do give us support on those uneven surfaces and they also keep our feet from becoming fatigued from the rough surfaces. Unfortunately, his boots he had on this time didn't keep him from turning his ankle, as they were a lower profile. So, OneBag, while I envy you and others who can do carryon only, I don't see it in my future. :(

...

 

You're so right, Becki, shoes are enormous--in importance and, in our case, size (I am an 11 and my husband is a 12). Shoes are our #1 problem and our #1 priority. Neither of us can wear hiking boots for very long due to peculiarities of our feet and ankles. We both have all sorts of foot issues that, when addressed, cause us few or no problems, and when not addressed can wreck the day (or many days). So the not very attractive walking shoes that weigh a ton and take up too much room in the bag are always on the feet when traveling from one place to another, even at the airport. Not ideal style-wise but I learned my lesson years ago when United lost my bag for awhile and I had to walk around on cobblestones in my stylish shoes for 3 days.

 

I hope your husband's ankle injury is minor. Sports wrap and tape, if you can locate some, can add some stability and minimize swelling.

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