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LesSails80435

Viking Sea disappoints long-time ocean cruiser

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Please take some time reading all the positive reviews on so many threads Cindy and don't be deterred from Oceans. We booked their Ocean ship because of our great Rivers experience. Viking Homelands is one of the itineraries we sailed.....and we are booked again for a third Oceans Itinerary next year to the Amazon. We would not be rebooking Oceans if we did not love the experience - and there are a lot of people on this board now who are re-booking Oceans.....that is a testimony in itself.

 

Our Oceans cruise wasn't perfect (maiden voyage) - There were hiccups and some valid issues (I would suggest that have been hiccups on every cruise we have taken) - some were smaller than others. Some were worth expressing and sharing - which I did at the time - and they were individually addressed with us By Viking. There were concerns experienced by the OP and shared in this thread - in sharing them with Viking, it helps Viking to improve - as they are clearly listening, and growing, and learning. I believe that Viking Oceans is a class act as is Viking Rivers

 

We have taken a lot of trips, land as well as ships.......and I would say that there is always something that happens during our travels regardless of the method we are taking - (Airline strikes, bus strikes, ATC strikes, car rentals, hotels, Etc) - IMHO there is no absolute 100% perfect trip without a single bump in the road. It is just part of the journey.

 

Viking Homelands is a great itinerary on a beautiful ship....

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This thread is EXACTLY what Cruise Critic is all about. It is especially helpful to new passengers who have not sailed on that particular line. They get to hear the pros and cons from passengers who have actually sailed and their experiences good and bad.

 

What makes this thread different is the participation by Viking Cruises itself.

 

All cruise lines monitor these review type sites, but Viking goes one step further. They reply publicly with their interest, concern and transparency and as far as I have seen, not defensively.

 

Bravo Viiking.

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Why are a handful of negative comments giving you second thoughts?

 

Thank you all for your input. It's not the negative replies, per se...I can read through nit picking comments. You can't please everyone and some people can't be pleased. That's not us.

 

I am "over" ocean cruising for the most part. I don't want nor need the nightly entertainment, casino, photos, art auctions, etc...This is why I would only consider a Viking ocean cruise, small ship, less people, casual and no glitz.

 

I was sensing that the experience was going to be different. I was afraid that I would be disappointed if it were not just like of our river experiences. I just don't want to be disappointed to the tune of >$12,000.

 

I really do want to book this cruise!

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Thank you all for your input. It's not the negative replies, per se...I can read through nit picking comments. You can't please everyone and some people can't be pleased. That's not us.

 

I am "over" ocean cruising for the most part. I don't want nor need the nightly entertainment, casino, photos, art auctions, etc...This is why I would only consider a Viking ocean cruise, small ship, less people, casual and no glitz.

 

I was sensing that the experience was going to be different. I was afraid that I would be disappointed if it were not just like of our river experiences. I just don't want to be disappointed to the tune of >$12,000.

 

I really do want to book this cruise!

 

Well, of course it is going to be different, at least in some respects, but it is still Viking and it will be the same where it counts. IMHO, what makes Viking is the people, both those who choose to sail with Viking and those who Viking hires to man the ships.

 

VO is about the ports and you have found an itinerary that really speaks to you. It was that way for me when I saw "Midnight Sun" and "NYE on the Med" for the first time. We were booked within days of reading the itinerary and we booked both of them strictly on the lure of the ports and our prior experience on VR. We sailed "Midnight Sun" in June (probably on the same sailing as OP) and it was everything we had spent 2 years anticipating.

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It would be helpful to know OP's cruising history, to put this review in context. He mentions "more than 25 cruises on 10 different lines" which were apparently luxury lines, not "mid-level ... (HAL, Princess, NCL, etc.)". This may explain the criticisms of the food service -- although IMO much of this is merely a complaint that Viking's policies are different than what OP is used to and prefers. [His right of course, but not necessarily a deficiency on Viking's part.] His only other CC posts relate to Oceania -- which is not known for exceptional quality shore excursions [and because they price them higher than any other line, the volume they are dealing with must be much lower than what Viking has on their included choices]. It should also be noted that there is a big difference in the approach to shore excursions between ocean cruisers [many of whom, at least those on CC, are pro-active and plan third-party trips and packed days] and river cruisers [who mainly go with the flow of the included excursions, and are used to schedule changes because port times are less predictable on river cruises] -- Viking Oceans is operating something like a river cruise with all these included excursions, and it may be best to just go with the flow and accept schedule changes when they come.

Edited by Host Jazzbeau

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Thank you all for your input. It's not the negative replies, per se...I can read through nit picking comments. You can't please everyone and some people can't be pleased. That's not us.

 

I am "over" ocean cruising for the most part. I don't want nor need the nightly entertainment, casino, photos, art auctions, etc...This is why I would only consider a Viking ocean cruise, small ship, less people, casual and no glitz.

 

I was sensing that the experience was going to be different. I was afraid that I would be disappointed if it were not just like of our river experiences. I just don't want to be disappointed to the tune of >$12,000.

 

I really do want to book this cruise!

 

We have been on many ocean and river cruises. Last year alone we did 2 ocean and 3 river cruises. As a travel agent, we also hear the feedback from our clients.

 

In my humble opinion, the two (river and ocean cruising) are very different experiences. WE LOVE THEM BOTH.

 

Here is my list of the biggest differences:

Where they dock - river cruise ships can dock right in the middle of the city; ocean cruise ships are limited by their size and sometimes you might have to tender

 

Size of the ships - unless you are talking about expedition or yachts, river cruise ships will be much smaller

 

Amount of activities - on river ships, you often are taking more than one excursion per day; while you can do that on ocean ships, you also have "sea days" to rest. Nighttime activities on ocean cruise ships are much more extensive

 

Itineraries - river cruise ships can only go where there are rivers; ocean cruise ships are limited to port cities, but can't go inland unless they combine a land tour with it

 

When looking at these and other differences, some will see advantages and disadvantages in each of them from their personal perspective. For instance, while we love river cruising, we are exhausted when we return home. We love the "Sea Days on ocean cruises. Others feel just the opposite.

 

Ask yourselves some questions.

 

Is it an advantage for you if the ship is small or large?

 

What places do you really want to visit?

 

Do you prefer relaxation over "seeing everything"

 

P.S. You may have noticed I didn't mention the food. Our experiences have been that the food on river ships in general is equal to most ocean cruise lines and some are as good as the best ocean cruise lines

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Cindy, you know about ocean cruising, and about river cruising. You probably know as much about ocean cruising as Viking do. But Viking are learning fast, and they will continue to do so as long as they heed the comments in message boards like this one. They have two ships which are outstanding in themselves, and get more marks out of ten than would most of the big names and their ships. They have eliminated some of the regular niggles -- casino, photographers, frequent PA announcements, art auctions, bingo, last-century comedians. The World Cafe at breakfast time is not a bun fight. Entertainment is not inflicted on you. I could go on, but would only be repeating the complimentary comments by others, many of whom seem to be, like me, the "clientele" of the OP!

 

Excursions come in for a lot of stick. Some of this is head-office-based and there is no excuse for this. But Viking are sailing to lots of places new to them, with tour companies not used before. Some (many?) included excursions are of the river-cruise variety, when the ship is docked near town (such as Cadiz, Valletta, Monte Carlo) and a walking tour is provided, visiting religious and historic buildings, with a guide drowning us in facts. Viking will find out who are the good guides and who are not, but Viking haven't got there yet. They will, if we tell them. The learning curve is steep and we should accept this.

 

So, excursions are not perfect yet, and administration of them needs managing. But my biggest beef is . . . the beef, which is warm at best, often tepid and never piping hot. The "hot" food laid out in the World Cafe lies for too long and some congeals. The staff will willingly heat it up for you, but . .

 

Otherwise, my view, based on over five hundred days afloat, is that Viking are nearer perfection than the competition. The clientele seems very satisfied and happy. The staff are friendly and mostly efficient. So, go for it. You won't be disappointed.

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I don't necessarily care for the stratified class system. If our treatment is based on our cabin number...there's going to be a problem. On our first river cruise, we had a lower level cabin and we were treated like royalty. We arrived on the ship early about 1030-11am. We were invited to have lunch. Our cabin wasn't ready (we didn't expect it to be). We stowed our luggage and went back out to explore. When we returned, we found a bottle of champagne in our cabin with a note apologizing that our room was not ready.

 

We are not unreasonable people and we realize that "things" happen, but it's how they're handled that make the difference.

 

Am I wrong in expecting the same type of product from Viking Oceans?

 

The lack of stratification of passengers by stateroom is really one of Viking's strong points, I think. For example, all passenger staterooms are 'above' the main floor--no 'below decks' feeling--a brilliant design. I think Viking values everyone of its customers--our issues were things that can be fixed--in fact, considering the posting above, maybe some already have--or maybe we were just unlucky. I would just be aware that you should check online reservations very carefully once you board, as many others have said.

 

Hope you have a great cruise.

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Thank you all for your encouragement. Since the Viking Sea is a relatively new ship, there must be some wrinkles to iron out as the crew get used to things and each other. My projected sailing date isn't until 2018! :(

 

My gut feeling is that we would certainly enjoy VO. Although I don't really care for sea days (I am in it for the ports of call) I think we would need some down time on a 2 week cruise.

 

Now, for the big question....

How rough is the Baltic Sea? In other words....how much Meclizine do I have to bring? LOL... I have a sensitive inner ear and get sick quickly. Alaska is our only cruise that I never had to medicate.

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T

 

Now, for the big question....

How rough is the Baltic Sea? In other words....how much Meclizine do I have to bring? LOL... I have a sensitive inner ear and get sick quickly. Alaska is our only cruise that I never had to medicate.

 

Entirely unpredictable. Better to bring pills home than to run out mid-trip.

 

 

Save

Edited by Peregrina651

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Entirely unpredictable. Better to bring pills home than to run out mid-trip.

 

 

 

 

 

Save

 

 

On our VH cruise last July, the Baltic Sea was quite smooth. The only time I felt the need to be keeping my hand close to the railing on the walls or stairs was when we were forging our way thru the North Sea to Denmark. It was clear to me that the Captain was moving at a smart clip too. But even then it was not that severe, a little bit of side to side but not enough to cause distress. The sea day from Gdansk to Tallinn was fairly smooth. Overall, I thought the ship stabilizers did an excellent job of dampening out the effects of the wave action. Does that help?

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Edited by CharTrav

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We had some high seas coming out of Stavenger overnight and then the North Sea. The Star handled them beautifully, but I was chewing on ginger and taking Bonine. The Baltic Sea was smooth throughout......

As said, one never knows and just be prepared.....I pack both on every cruise.

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We have had four smooth trips through the Baltic Sea. Earlier this month, we crossed a rather lumpy Bay of Biscay in Viking Sea and felt little movement. Viking Sea seems to be able to cope well with the rough and the smooth.

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We had some high seas coming out of Stavenger overnight and then the North Sea. The Star handled them beautifully, but I was chewing on ginger and taking Bonine. The Baltic Sea was smooth throughout......

 

As said, one never knows and just be prepared.....I pack both on every cruise.

 

 

People like me were out on their verandah observing and photographing the ship's wake. Husband was trying to make statements about sea state.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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The verdict is in...

 

I just booked Viking Homelands for Aug 11, 2018 starting in Stockholm on the Star. It's not my preferred time of year ( I wanted May) but DH really can't take off then.

 

Now...just the 2 yr wait! :rolleyes:

 

Thank you all for your input.

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The verdict is in...

 

I just booked Viking Homelands for Aug 11, 2018 starting in Stockholm on the Star. It's not my preferred time of year ( I wanted May) but DH really can't take off then.

 

Now...just the 2 yr wait! :rolleyes:

 

Thank you all for your input.

 

Good for you Cindy! Too bad we won't be on the same cruise but I'm sure you are as excited as I am for our trip in May 2018 (634 more sleeps) I am looking into what to see and do in all the ports and doing the Norway in a Nutshell at the end of our cruise. Fun, Fun planning..

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We don't feel we deserve better service; just the same good service anyone should expect. What was lacking was attention to the 'amenities' included in our stateroom category. This was a 50th anniversary cruise, and we paid much more per day than any other cruise we have ever taken to celebrate a special occasion.

 

While, as I said, our tickets had the right excursions on them, which we checked on arrival, there were no times; the times were not released until the night before. I will admit that if we had reviewed every excursion personally with the excursions staff when we received the tickets, perhaps they would have told us times, and conflicts would have surfaced. But we had never had this kind of problem on any other cruise, so assumed that what we reserved was what we got. All Viking has to do is figure out how to finalize times in the days before the excursion, before the change/cancel deadline, and notify the guest. Last-minute emergency changes can be handled on a case-by-case basis.

 

We were just trying to point out what future guests might want to pay attention to, and didn't mean to offend anyone.

 

I appreciate the time you put into your review and although some aspects do not apply to my expected tastes & experience, your thoughtful and specific critique of restaurant service and the chaos around excursions should be addressed by Viking if they wish to keep their clientele. Responsible accountable management seems to be the first requirement. I encourage Viking to address these issues.

 

I intend to follow your advice and check, double check excursion times.

Really looking forward to my Viking Homelands Ocean cruise late May!

Edited by philw1776

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Good for you Cindy! Too bad we won't be on the same cruise but I'm sure you are as excited as I am....I am looking into what to see and do in all the ports and doing the Norway in a Nutshell at the end of our cruise.

 

I wish our trip was late May, too. I hope we have time for Norway in the Nutshell. I've always dreamed of visiting Norway and it's beautiful landscapes...Even more so since watching the Netflix series Lillehammer . Although Lillehammer is not coastal Norway, it does give one an appetite for the culture.

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We just returned from an amazing cruise on the Viking Star. No matter what the problems were before, we did not encounter any. Our DV on deck seven was warm and welcoming. The staff was helpful and friendly. The food was very good. Service was fast and efficient in each venue.

 

I appreciate the fact that Viking treats everyone the same, no steerage and first class. No special treatment. No high brow and low brows. If you can afford it, do it. If not! no one cares.

 

Do what is right for you. Crystal, Regents, Oceania and Gauguin will treat you better, maybe! Scenic and Vantage seem to be more upscale on the River side. Viking River and Ocean are both my choice.

 

Fault can be found any place if you look hard enough. Find your happy place onboard, and stay there.

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I think you will be very happy with August. We did the trip the last two wks in July and our weather was wonderful. It might be a little chilly in May. Hope you love the cruise as much as we did! It has been our favorite trip so far-

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LesSails80435,

 

Thanks for the review.

 

I am new to Viking, so I am still doing my pre-cruise homework.

 

I like to read both positive and critical reviews.

I find the critical ones to be more helpful.

 

About "mid-level cruisers" remark.

My perception of high-end experience is different though. It's not limited to the "hotel part" (accommodation and service).

A cruise ship means much more to me. That said, I don't consider some so-called "high-end" ships as an option for my cruise vacation. They provide excellent hotel service but leave much to be desired as cruise ships.

 

Viking ocean ships (from the first glance) seem to be refreshingly different from that category.

 

Again, thank you for the review.

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LesSails80435,

 

Thanks for the review.

 

I am new to Viking, so I am still doing my pre-cruise homework.

 

I like to read both positive and critical reviews.

I find the critical ones to be more helpful.

 

About "mid-level cruisers" remark.

My perception of high-end experience is different though. It's not limited to the "hotel part" (accommodation and service).

A cruise ship means much more to me. That said, I don't consider some so-called "high-end" ships as an option for my cruise vacation. They provide excellent hotel service but leave much to be desired as cruise ships.

 

Viking ocean ships (from the first glance) seem to be refreshingly different from that category.

 

Again, thank you for the review.

 

Of course its always good to do homework and cover 'due diligence' when it comes to planning a holiday, especially one which carries a hefty price tag as cruising with Viking Ocean will in comparison to other options.

 

IME, I began cruising with Princess in the early 2000's and found them to be a nice balance of affordability and 'class' with the options for formal nights, etc; however, that quickly changed when Carnival took over and began the process of gutting the 'Love Boat' image and turning it into another one of their 'fun ship' type brands where they peddle drinks at every turn, nickel and dime you for everything, and of course lure you in the relatively cheap fare only to come away having spent so much more on absolute nonsense!

 

After Princess I moved along to other brands and even sampled the likes of 'high end' options such as Seabourn which for the money spent IMO was not worth the overall experience. Albeit their 'big' ships are newer than the original 'sisters' but both options i found were very dark and dreary on the interior, the clientele were stuffy and demanding and the brand was trying very hard to hang on to a long passed image which was once synonymous with luxury and class. I honestly saw none of those things and only observed patrons who spent on average an absolute ton of money and then proceeded to moan and complain about how awful the brand had become since being taken over by HAL, yet they continued to sail with them perhaps for their own reasons but i honestly believe it was due to the fact they knew it was the only place they could get away with their entitled behaviour and still be called by their first name!!

 

Now since Viking has entered the mix on the ocean front I've sampled their product and will agree that there are plenty of 'kinks' which need to be worked out and i honestly think this is due to the fact that the mentality of those making decisions is still firmly rooted in the river ship market. I too was on the cruise from Harwich to Bergen in June 2016 and for whatever reason it seemed that particular sailing was very full of passengers who were Viking River cruisers and were on the ocean ships for the first time so they were indeed in for a major shock when it came to the size of the vessel and of course the amount of people on board.

 

The main observance i had of that trip was that the tours were in fact poorly organized, which may come down to the fact they offer included and optional tours where the included tours seem to run multiple times during the day meaning once the bus has unloaded one group, the next group is waiting to board which caused a bit of chaos and when the weather turns as it did on some days it just exacerbates the situation.

 

Apart from that, the food IMO is far and away the best I've had on board with respect to quality and sure you can complain about the choice of 'free' wines at meal times but if that's a complaint than I think its a bit pedantic as there's plenty of other things to focus energy on. When you can go to the 'buffet' and order a lovely 9 oz NY strip steak made to order every single night for dinner and eat fresh sushi, and crab legs until you're ready for the gelato on offer every day....what's not to like? And that doesn't even include the amazing food in Manfredi's or the wonderful waffles at Mamsen's in the Explorer's Lounge!!

 

I'm not saying Viking is the best thing since sliced bread, but they're a refreshingly different product whilst still offering much of the same if not more than the rest of the industry. I consider Viking to be a nice mix of understated luxury without the pomp and circumstance!

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As someone who has been on river cruises but awaiting my 1st Viking Ocean cruise I find these reviews and yes the cogent criticisms very helpful and stimulating to read. The different opinions and tastes expressed make it all the better.

 

I recently cruised with Silversea which small ship (650 passengers) I found to be excellent in service, rooms and tours, EXCEPT that to my & my wife's taste it was somewhat overdone in the decorating aspect and some areas (lounges) came across as a bit dark relative to the Viking look, except for silversea's fine open fore & aft observation areas (not as good as Viking ocean looks to me though).

 

Decor and taste is one reason I can't get my wife to try Uniworld river cruises which our travel companion friends love. Too ostentatious, and the opposite of the clean spartan Viking river look. But our friends love that tips & all drinks all day are included. :) My wife just drinks a glass of wine.

Edited by philw1776

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Captain Morgan, I can not agree with you more.....we have not been on Seaborne, but have enjoyed several of the balcony & suite options on other lines. We truly enjoy Viking......Oceans and Rivers.

Great food, great ships, open comfortable spaces, employees that are top of the line......it's a good package without doubt......with the exception of their wine....and that is not at all pedantic.....it is someone (actually a whole lot of us) who like to enjoy nice wine.....☺:-)

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