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Shoalwater

A committed Princess cruiser sails Viking Star

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After over 30 very enjoyable cruises aboard Princess ships we were invited by friends to join them on the Viking Star this past Feb. 21 out of Barcelona. I don't plan an exhaustive review or comparison between lines, but just some major points of observation in no particular order with a "winner" in the category determined.. We were in a DV4 cabin on deck 5.

 

Passenger load: Personal choice but we prefer smaller ships vs larger 3,000+ passenger loads. The Viking ships are set at 900 pax.

 

Cabin: Hard to compare because of different categories and we haven't sailed the newer Princess ships. However, the Viking mattresses were superior.

 

Bathroom: Viking. Large shower, room can accommodate 2, doesn't steam up, and the heated floor is great.

 

Passenger Services Desk: Viking by a smidgeon.Smaller passenger load allows for better individual service. No real desk, but friendly reps seated at tables with a computer. No real lines either.

 

Shore Excursion Desk: Hard to strictly compare, but again Viking by a nose. I was missing a pair of tickets discovered just at the meeting time and they printed them out on the spot, no questions asked.

 

Staff responsiveness: A subjective comparison for sure. I did write a note with a suggested area for improvement and received immediate feedback by phone from the dining room head and head of ship services. I was impressed at the speed and personal call. Viking wins here.

 

Food: Viking, no contest. however to be fair, the per diem cost of the viking cruise was significantly higher than Princess, so they have more to work with.

 

On board ambiance: Again hard to make a fair comparison because of the cruise fare. Viking has no photo department and no casino. Much of what princess pesters you for by way of extras (beer, wine, coffee etc) is included with Viking. however, Viking wins my preference because i am not asked continually to pay for these items. It is a personal preference, but IMHO worth the cost. You don't think twice about some things.

 

Specialty restaurants: Again hard to strictly compare, but my chips here go to Viking. Better food, great service, and no extra up-charge as it's all included. We ate in the Italian restaurant 3 times and twice at the chef's table. The included wines poured were from the port regions we had just visited and were of excellent quality.

 

Main dining room service: Princess without a doubt. Viking will figure it out, but our experience was the service at breakfast was abysmal. Orders were mixed up, came out piecemeal and waiters were hard to grab for more coffee or such. We tried breakfast twice but it was so disconcerting that it put us in a bad mood at the start of the day and so we used the buffet. Dinner was a little better, but slow.

 

Informational talks (port talks, enrichment): Princess. While available on demand on the Viking TV, we prefer to see them live. However they were scheduled during the 6-8PM time, when we like to eat dinner and so we never made a one. Of course with every day a port of call, it's operationally hard to schedule them otherwise, but we still prefer the Princess scheduling.

 

Entertainment: Hard to make a call, but for now I'll go with Princess. The Viking theater is intimate, more of a cabaret style and no glitzy production shows. Like Princess, they use computer graphics for sets and all recorded music (no band). The entertainers seemed less experienced than Princess' singers/dancers. but still put on enjoyable shows. Only one show per night, at 9PM. The theater was never filled.

 

Laundromat: Being Elite with Princess we enjoy complementary laundry, but the Viking laundromats are free, easy to use and even add their own detergent. Edge here goes to Viking because they're free with supplies.

Spa: While we don't use the spa proper, Viking has a superb salt water pool, sauna, steam room, and amenities. They provide robes, slippers, towels etc., all included with your fare. Very nicely done and the winner here is Viking.

 

There are probably other things I could compare, but these are my major highlights. We'll continue to sail Princess until they are fully engrossed in the mass market ship sizes with mega passenger loads, but have booked our next two new cruises with Viking. Quality pays...it doesn't cost.

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Shoalwater

Since you used the Laundromat, do you know if there is any way to omit the automatic Viking detergent and use your own?

Did you have any problems selecting the Viking excursions you wanted in advance. What did you think of the Viking excursions went on.

Thank you for your review

Sunrocket

 

 

After over 30 very enjoyable cruises aboard Princess ships we were invited by friends to join them on the Viking Star this past Feb. 21 out of Barcelona. I don't plan an exhaustive review or comparison between lines, but just some major points of observation in no particular order with a "winner" in the category determined.. We were in a DV4 cabin on deck 5.

 

Passenger load: Personal choice but we prefer smaller ships vs larger 3,000+ passenger loads. The Viking ships are set at 900 pax.

 

Cabin: Hard to compare because of different categories and we haven't sailed the newer Princess ships. However, the Viking mattresses were superior.

 

Bathroom: Viking. Large shower, room can accommodate 2, doesn't steam up, and the heated floor is great.

 

Passenger Services Desk: Viking by a smidgeon.Smaller passenger load allows for better individual service. No real desk, but friendly reps seated at tables with a computer. No real lines either.

 

Shore Excursion Desk: Hard to strictly compare, but again Viking by a nose. I was missing a pair of tickets discovered just at the meeting time and they printed them out on the spot, no questions asked.

 

Staff responsiveness: A subjective comparison for sure. I did write a note with a suggested area for improvement and received immediate feedback by phone from the dining room head and head of ship services. I was impressed at the speed and personal call. Viking wins here.

 

Food: Viking, no contest. however to be fair, the per diem cost of the viking cruise was significantly higher than Princess, so they have more to work with.

 

On board ambiance: Again hard to make a fair comparison because of the cruise fare. Viking has no photo department and no casino. Much of what princess pesters you for by way of extras (beer, wine, coffee etc) is included with Viking. however, Viking wins my preference because i am not asked continually to pay for these items. It is a personal preference, but IMHO worth the cost. You don't think twice about some things.

 

Specialty restaurants: Again hard to strictly compare, but my chips here go to Viking. Better food, great service, and no extra up-charge as it's all included. We ate in the Italian restaurant 3 times and twice at the chef's table. The included wines poured were from the port regions we had just visited and were of excellent quality.

 

Main dining room service: Princess without a doubt. Viking will figure it out, but our experience was the service at breakfast was abysmal. Orders were mixed up, came out piecemeal and waiters were hard to grab for more coffee or such. We tried breakfast twice but it was so disconcerting that it put us in a bad mood at the start of the day and so we used the buffet. Dinner was a little better, but slow.

 

Informational talks (port talks, enrichment): Princess. While available on demand on the Viking TV, we prefer to see them live. However they were scheduled during the 6-8PM time, when we like to eat dinner and so we never made a one. Of course with every day a port of call, it's operationally hard to schedule them otherwise, but we still prefer the Princess scheduling.

 

Entertainment: Hard to make a call, but for now I'll go with Princess. The Viking theater is intimate, more of a cabaret style and no glitzy production shows. Like Princess, they use computer graphics for sets and all recorded music (no band). The entertainers seemed less experienced than Princess' singers/dancers. but still put on enjoyable shows. Only one show per night, at 9PM. The theater was never filled.

 

Laundromat: Being Elite with Princess we enjoy complementary laundry, but the Viking laundromats are free, easy to use and even add their own detergent. Edge here goes to Viking because they're free with supplies.

Spa: While we don't use the spa proper, Viking has a superb salt water pool, sauna, steam room, and amenities. They provide robes, slippers, towels etc., all included with your fare. Very nicely done and the winner here is Viking.

 

There are probably other things I could compare, but these are my major highlights. We'll continue to sail Princess until they are fully engrossed in the mass market ship sizes with mega passenger loads, but have booked our next two new cruises with Viking. Quality pays...it doesn't cost.

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Shoalwater

Since you used the Laundromat, do you know if there is any way to omit the automatic Viking detergent and use your own? I don't think it is possible to eliminate their detergent. The ship is designed for to be environmentally compliant and so I suspect the detergent is a formulation that is low in inorganic emmissions.

Did you have any problems selecting the Viking excursions you wanted in advance. No What did you think of the Viking excursions went on. Generally very good, whether included or premium.

Thank you for your review

Sunrocket

Answers in the quote

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Thanks for posting this. We are also Princess cruisers and have considered Viking.

 

My husband enjoys the traditional dining room experience and the quality of the wait staff is important to him. Your point about the dining room service convinced us to stay, for now at least, with Princess.

 

Thank you!

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We've traveled on Princess and we were on the 50-day inaugural cruise. We ate breakfast almost exclusively in the World Cafe due to usually being booked on the early morning excursions. We tried the dining room once for breakfast on a sea day, along with a whole lot of other passengers who did the same thing. Took forever.

 

However, we ate about 80% of the time in the dining room for dinner. I like to be served after a long day of sightseeing. Something about sitting down and relaxing is appealing. We usually ate at 6:30. Only once did we have a problem with service and that was when Mr Viking Owner himself had taken over the back of the dining room for a bunch of special invited guests and other big-wigs. Other than that, I'd say our service was great. Since we ate on the early side, not sure of the service later during the evening, but i'd say it was at least as good as Princess.

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We were on a June 2015 Homeland Cruise and ate almost all breakfasts and most dinners in the World a Cafe. Never had a problem with the wait staff.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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This is not really important but somthing I've been wondering: In the free laundry, can the machines be set to use cold water only? I've got a few items of clothing I'm not sure I would want to bring if they can't be washed in cold water. I recently used machines on a Carnival ship and they had the cold water setting, so I'm thinking that if Carnival can do it, Viking surely can.

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Main dining room - "viking will figure it out"? You were aboard with the ship in service for 11 months. I think they had plenty of time to figure things our.

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We would choose Viking in a heartbeat any day over our Princess experience. Or Holland America - or a few other main lines. In our opinions, there was No comparison with food, service, ambience, cabin, size, ship, service - including dining for breakfast and dinner to larger cruise lines....for us.the per diem difference was well worth it.

No pictures, no casinos, no smoke - yep - sign me up. I was a happy traveler.

But for all the different people who enjoy cruising - there are so many varying priorities that other cruise lines can offer - casinos, large ships, huge entertainment venues, tons of restaurants....and that is important to some.

It is good to have options.

Edited by Vineyard View

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Live from the Star! We are just about to complete a Barcelona to Bergan trip and agree with your review in almost every area, except dining room. Although we did not use the main dining room for breakfast or lunch we found the dinner service to be equal to, or perhaps a little better than, the anytime dining experience on Princess or other lines we have traveled.Never any more than a short wait for seating and found the service to be very prompt, especially when seated at a table for two. A little slower whe seated with a group, but that will almost be the case. While we don't want to completely abandon Prinecess, we found th Viking Ocean experience to be pretty special.

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This is not really important but somthing I've been wondering: In the free laundry, can the machines be set to use cold water only? I've got a few items of clothing I'm not sure I would want to bring if they can't be washed in cold water. I recently used machines on a Carnival ship and they had the cold water setting, so I'm thinking that if Carnival can do it, Viking surely can.
. The washers can be set for hot/warm/cold pretty much as you can at home.

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For those who have already sailed on either the Viking Star or Sea, how was your experience with the reservations for the shore excursions and the shore excursions themselves? Any uninvited changes you had to deal with and if so how were they resolved? Thanks!

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