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Cruise Critic's Viking Star rating by passengers in freefall ... now only 43% loved!

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Come on keep those reviews coming!

The two negative comments on FB have disappeared but I guess Viking can not delete from CC.......

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Cruise Critic's Viking Star rating by passengers in freefall ... now only 43% loved!

 

I am so relieved that we've had the courage to cancel our September '15 booking.

 

Even though we've forfeited quite a substantial deposit, it still feels better than throwing good money after bad.

We've had such a rotten time health wise since booking this in 2013; this trip in particular, we just wanted to chill out and have everything taken care of.

 

We adore Viking River cruises and had assumed (naively?) after all the hype, that Viking Oceans would be an even better product. It's such a shame, because I feel Viking will lose a lot of it's loyal river customers unless it gets it's Oceans operations in order.

 

For now, we have rebooked a cruise this year with a competitor.

 

Long term..... ? who knows ? but we will keep an eye on things.

 

Coco

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My review is one of those deleted by Viling Oceans, not once, but twice. 'Fair and balanced', as they say. The same review is on Cruise Critic and Viking can do nothing about that.

 

Got a phone call yesterday to apologize for any shortcomings we had experienced on the first leg of the maiden (per my responses to the on board survey). Sent us vouchers for a future cruise. I'd have preferred they keep my post on their FB page.

 

Paquebot

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There are many deleted posts on the Viking FB page. Just look under comments.

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Facebook is IMHO virtually worthless in general, and especially so with regard to corporate FB pages. You are going to get the company line and only the company line from a corporate FB page--unless the company in question has a robust and deep corporate culture of competence and confidence.

 

Continuing with a comment which would never, ever survive on Viking's FB page:

 

Again IMHO, Viking Oceans at the central office and senior management level has neither a great reservoir of corporate competence nor of confidence. Their every move strikes me as being reflexively CYA-hyper-defensive at best, and rampantly incompetent at worst. Some of them have arrogance--which might be confused by the naive for confidence--but I did not fall off of the turnip truck yesterday either and know when someone's trying to blow smoke up my a**.

 

There are a LOT of good Viking people trying their best on board Viking Star right now, but my sincere opinion is that those good Viking employees are being failed and let down by the flaws of their management.

 

Viking Oceans is potentially a good concept, and Viking Star seems, all in all, to be a good ship, but Viking's management team needs to get over themselves and their egos, and start addressing the legitimate concerns of their current and future customers.

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Maybe Viking personnel should focus their energy on improving the cruise experience for their guests aboard Viking Star, rather than use their resources to block a recent patron who made a critique not to their liking. They are nothing less than arrogant bullies.

Edited by paquebot

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

 

Just back from Viking Star: Hits & misses

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Hits

 

Decor

 

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

 

Balconies

 

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

 

Service

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

 

Manfredi’s

 

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

 

Spa

 

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

 

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

 

Misses

 

Chef’s Kitchen

 

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

 

Room service

 

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

 

Minibar

 

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

 

Entertainment

 

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

 

Wi-Fi

 

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

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Hate to say anything much about editor of cruise critic's review, but first 2 paragraphs are almost exactly the same as other 'reviews' by the press, which almost match the Viking press release itself. I will also say, having been with her on numerous occasions while onboard, the Viking staff knew who she was from the get-go and her treatment on board was not exactly like that the rest of us got. Whatever she wanted, she only had to think about wanting, and it was instantly there. I guarantee you if she had asked for iced tea it wouldn't take 20 minutes for her to get it. This is not her fault - just the facts of life. She was most helpful in getting us a Meet and Greet supported by Viking and was very supportive of us Cruise Critic folks. Very nice lady!

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I read Carolyn's post with great interest and mixed reaction. I think passengers would give the ship itself five stars for design and comfort, and high scores to the worker bees who do all that they can to ensure our comfort and satisfaction. And, yes, I understand that there are some glitches to expect on an inaugural cruise.

 

However, am I the only one to have been in the dark about expectations onboard ship? The Viking booking agent waxed lyrically for two years about how we would be blown away, wowed, and so lucky to experience the magic of a maiden voyage.

 

Funny, he never used the term 'shakedown', never said to expect so many lapses in service or so many technical glitches, be it the disembarkation procedures or tender challenges, or TVs that never worked, phone calls to the Explorers desk, room service, or housekeeping that often went unanswered? And more.

 

How many of you knew what you were getting into? We are infrequent cruisers, so the letdown of this shakedown took us by surprise. What about you? Perhaps had we used a TA, he/she would have urged us to think long and hard before booking.

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I read Carolyn's post with great interest and mixed reaction. I think passengers would give the ship itself five stars for design and comfort, and high scores to the worker bees who do all that they can to ensure our comfort and satisfaction. And, yes, I understand that there are some glitches to expect on an inaugural cruise.

 

However, am I the only one to have been in the dark about expectations onboard ship? The Viking booking agent waxed lyrically for two years about how we would be blown away, wowed, and so lucky to experience the magic of a maiden voyage.

 

Funny, he never used the term 'shakedown', never said to expect so many lapses in service or so many technical glitches, be it the disembarkation procedures or tender challenges, or TVs that never worked, phone calls to the Explorers desk, room service, or housekeeping that often went unanswered? And more.

 

How many of you knew what you were getting into? We are infrequent cruisers, so the letdown of this shakedown took us by surprise. What about you? Perhaps had we used a TA, he/she would have urged us to think long and hard before booking.

 

Probably no difference if you had used a TA. We used a TA from a large transnational firm and she was really kept out of the loop about developments even though her firm invited a Viking rep to our local golf club to give a presentation in 2013 and they were really promoting the inaugural season.

 

Between our May 2013 booking and the beginning of 2015 we heard zero from her. In early 2015 we became concerned and contacted Viking directly and that's when we heard that MyVikingJourney had been set up. She knew nothing about it even though the head of her firm is booked on our cruise! She had no idea that Viking had switched from flexible to fixed dining (but now back again, thankfully, to flexible) nor did she know of the very hierarchical structure about booking that Viking had put in place for dining and excursions. This seems odd given that hercompany had invited Viking to do a presentation.

 

I am sure we will enjoy this cruise but I think a lot of the problems we have encountered prior to boarding could have been avoided. Viking hasn't responded well to passengers (before or during)..or to TAs.

We still have no idea whatsoever how included excursions will be handled (in terms of times).

Edited by cassandra44

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I posted a review copied and pasted from my trip log a week after we returned from the first segment from Istanbul to Venice. It gave details about the excursions in ports and the overall experience, but had photos attached. I didn't know that they could not accept photos, and I thought they added a lot to the review. When it did not appear after a week, I wrote a shorter review more like a summary of the previous one. They still have both of them on line, among the first reviews of the ship. I gave it a thumbs up. I still really enjoyed the trip, problems and all. I do agree that Viking needs to look at Azamara and Oceaniana to learn how to manage the media and the customers. I remember when Azamara had a fire on the Quest, not long after the Costa Concordia disaster, the media were out for blood from the evil cruise ship operators. CEO Larry Pimentel flew to Indonesia and met the press and the passengers and crew, and could have written a book on crisis management, a required course for senior ship's officers. The press tried to find passengers who could fault Azamara, and could get very little complaints after a harrowing voyage. It is too bad that Viking management did not study this and plan accordingly. They have a great ship, a good river cruise operation, and can do the job. I think they have deep pockets and can survive a rocky start-up. I remember that Azamara had a "Chief Blogging Officer", a retired executive with contacts in upper management, who monitored C.C. and other media and could put out fires as they arose. I think that is what is needed at Viking. Anyway, one of my four star reviews should be eliminated, further reducing the score, although I am not sure if the ship and crew deserve that low score.

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Anyway, one of my four star reviews should be eliminated, further reducing the score, although I am not sure if the ship and crew deserve that low score.

 

You should contact CC and ask to have one of the duplicate reviews deleted.

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Excellent 1

Very Good 3

Average 2

Poor 3

Terrible 2

 

= 4/11 = 36%

 

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

 

Excellent 1

Very Good 2

Average 2

Poor 3

Terrible 2

 

= 3/10 = 30%

 

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

 

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

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My nonscientific evaluation of conversations with fellow passengers on Viking Star would tend to support an overall 30% positive rating, unfortunately.

 

There are a LOT of people on board unhappy with various aspects of service on board Viking Star, but most are determined to make the best of their vacation experience in spite of Viking's numerous issues. Most of those people, I think, are not inclined to "make waves" but just want things to get better and go smoothly.

 

Some of us are, as you might have noted, a bit more noisy.

 

I would say that things do seem to be improving on board, but the parade of minor annoyances continue. The most recent example, presented as a brief vignette of the continuing annoyances you will likely face as a Viking Star guest in the next few weeks/months:

 

The on-board ship's time, as shown by the TV system and the phone system, mysteriously changed this morning to be an hour earlier (i.e. from 10:15 am to 9:15 am). I called the Explorer's Desk to notify them of the issue as soon as I noticed it, but it wasn't until 11 am that the TV system's time changed back to the correct time. The phone still (as I type this) shows the incorrect time.

 

Is this an earth-shattering problem? No, of course not. But something like this could very easily cause someone to miss a tour, maybe the one tour that they specifically circled on the calendar as the highlight of the cruise. That becomes a much bigger problem. This is why getting the little things right, like showing the correct time on the TV and phone (which are the only two devices in the stateroom which display ship's time, there is no other Viking-provided clock)--that's why getting the little things right is important.

 

That's why some of us keep pressuring Viking to get it right. The tour that somebody misses because of something like this could be the one you especially wanted to take.

 

(Update: The phone has finally returned to the proper ship's time. Whew.)

 

Excellent 1

Very Good 3

Average 2

Poor 3

Terrible 2

 

= 4/11 = 36%

 

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

 

Excellent 1

Very Good 2

Average 2

Poor 3

Terrible 2

 

= 3/10 = 30%

 

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

 

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

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The on-board ship's time, as shown by the TV system and the phone system, mysteriously changed this morning to be an hour earlier (i.e. from 10:15 am to 9:15 am).

 

How did you know the ship's system time was wrong? Was a different time posted elsewhere? I think I would have just set my watch according to the system and missed our tour.

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How did you know the ship's system time was wrong? Was a different time posted elsewhere? I think I would have just set my watch according to the system and missed our tour.

 

I saw it change on the TV screen, before my very eyes, at 10:15 am Helsinki time, to show 9:15 am, which would have been correct if we had been in Stockholm instead of Helsinki.

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Current Cruise Critic "loved rating" is 4/12 or 33% (de-duplicated).

Edited by WilliaFr

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Id4elizabeth - LadyVol1 is correct in saying that one review, by captainmcd, was entered twice. Please follow the link shown above to write your own review.

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WilliaFr - how do you get to this to cast your vote?

 

 

Hi Elizabeth. If what you are asking is where do you write a member cruise review on CC then here it the address. Just click (Write a review". Thanks so much for all your wonderful information and advice. We board July 25th and I am trying to stay upbeat about this cruise line.

 

http://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/viking-ocean-cruises/cl/

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Id4elizabeth - LadyVol1 is correct in saying that one review, by captainmcd, was entered twice. Please follow the link shown above to write your own review.

 

Since my two reviews are causing concern about the total "loved it" score, I just wanted to say that I did not review twice on purpose. The reviews are not identical and were not "entered twice". I submitted a review and when it did not appear for a week, I supposed it did not meet the guidelines since it was copied from my journal and had photos attached. Therefore I made a brief recap and submitted a new one, which was quick and easy to read. A few days later my first review was published without photos, and later my second one. I felt that information contained in both reviews was useful, and elected to keep them, knowing that as more reviews are submitted the votes I got would become less of a factor in the score. I in no way was trying to "game" the rating system. I am not convinced of the wisdom of giving this score a lot of value in a decision to go on a ship or not, you need to read the reviews and come to your own conclusion.

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CAPTAINMCD criminal charges are pending. Count 1, having too much fun. Count 2, telling us about it.

 

I couldn't agree with you more about actually reading the reviews if you are going to use them as part of your decision process. Words give a better picture than a 1 - 5 star overall rating. One persons issues my be very low on your list of concerns rendering their overall 'score' irrelevant to you. Plus many of the reviews are entertaining and worth enjoying, positive, negative, neither, or both.

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