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Viking Sea disappoints long-time ocean cruiser

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Well, this was a lively post. Good food for thought. I was a long time Ocean cruiser and thought "been there done that" - no more ocean cruises ....until my Viking River cruise last year. I just had to give Viking Ocean a try and I am headed for VH in May!! Yay.

I am optimistic and will have a Great Time.... how "great" will decide if we sign up for another.

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Well, this was a lively post. Good food for thought. I was a long time Ocean cruiser and thought "been there done that" - no more ocean cruises ....until my Viking River cruise last year. I just had to give Viking Ocean a try and I am headed for VH in May!! Yay.

I am optimistic and will have a Great Time.... how "great" will decide if we sign up for another.

 

You'll have a great time, no worries.

 

I loved it.

 

:-)

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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.

 

It would be nice if people would post a cruising mini CV on their reviews to give you an idea where they're coming from.

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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.

 

I have to take exception to this post from Host Jazzbeau stating "just go with the flow and accept schedule changes"???? There were very good points made in the original posting because the issue i see in all of these is "poor quality control". There is no excuse for allowing someone to be double booked on ship excursions by ship staff AND advising the client that nothing can be done about these problems. I always research cruises and cruiselines on CC. In this post and in others I've read on other cruisers' experiences on Viking Ocean, the most consistent issues seem to be with customer service and responsiveness. I am an experienced cruiser with several lines, having begun over 30 years ago with Carnival, on to Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Princess, recently many Oceania and last week my first and very enjoyable Caribbean cruise with Holland America on the Eurodam. The VERY best part of this last experience was the absolutely excellent (nothing uneven) staff service. We have been seriously considering a trip with Viking but the issues regarding responsiveness and difficult communication with clients do have me a little concerned. I appreciate hearing both negative and positive comments and thank OP for his posting which seems extremely balanced to me.

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We, too, have been cruising for many years, on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Princess, Oceania, plus multiple times on Celebrity and especially HAL (which has been our favorite). We also sailed once on a Viking river cruise, and because of the favorable experience on that we decided to try their "ocean" cruise on the Viking Sea, from Barcelona to Venice, from which we have just returned.

 

For both the river and ocean cruises the service and treatment I received from Viking's Reservations department was very good, and on-bard it was absolutely top-drawer. Perfect? Of course not, and some obviously new-hires still were not totally with the program, but we are more than satisfied (and very willing to cruise with Viking again). The vast majority of the people with whom I spoke on-board were prior Viking river cruisers who, like us, were on their first Viking ocean cruise. As far as I can recall, they were all favorably impressed.

 

For full disclosure, we were very lucky - We were upgraded to a Penthouse cabin, it was pre-season so there were fewer tourists at the ports, and the weather was great.

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For full disclosure, we were very lucky - We were upgraded to a Penthouse cabin, it was pre-season so there were fewer tourists at the ports, and the weather was great.

 

Just out of curiosity was the upgrade done at embarkation or did you know in advance? Did you book directly with Viking or via a TA? What category was your original booking? Thanks!

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We, too, have been cruising for many years, on Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Princess, Oceania, plus multiple times on Celebrity and especially HAL (which has been our favorite). We also sailed once on a Viking river cruise, and because of the favorable experience on that we decided to try their "ocean" cruise on the Viking Sea, from Barcelona to Venice, from which we have just returned.

 

For both the river and ocean cruises the service and treatment I received from Viking's Reservations department was very good, and on-bard it was absolutely top-drawer. Perfect? Of course not, and some obviously new-hires still were not totally with the program, but we are more than satisfied (and very willing to cruise with Viking again). The vast majority of the people with whom I spoke on-board were prior Viking river cruisers who, like us, were on their first Viking ocean cruise. As far as I can recall, they were all favorably impressed.

 

For full disclosure, we were very lucky - We were upgraded to a Penthouse cabin, it was pre-season so there were fewer tourists at the ports, and the weather was great.

 

By any chance did Viking say anything about why they seem to be no longer offering Barcelona to Venice? Just one cruise listed for all 2018 and it's booked solid as are the fall 2017. I can't get a straight answer from Viking.

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By any chance did Viking say anything about why they seem to be no longer offering Barcelona to Venice? Just one cruise listed for all 2018 and it's booked solid as are the fall 2017. I can't get a straight answer from Viking.

 

Nothing was said, however we did not attend the future cruises presentations

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Just out of curiosity was the upgrade done at embarkation or did you know in advance? Did you book directly with Viking or via a TA? What category was your original booking? Thanks!

 

We did not learn our cabin assignment until about a week before departure.

 

The reservation was booked directly with Viking. I'm cheap, so I had wanted a V cabin, but they were no longer available when I made the reservation (almost a year in advance). I was offered instead, and accepted, a DV guarantee (fare was DV6).

 

Over the years we have on rare occasion received an upgrade, but never 6 classes (DV6 to P2). Unbelievably lucky...

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We did not learn our cabin assignment until about a week before departure.

 

The reservation was booked directly with Viking. I'm cheap, so I had wanted a V cabin, but they were no longer available when I made the reservation (almost a year in advance). I was offered instead, and accepted, a DV guarantee (fare was DV6).

 

Over the years we have on rare occasion received an upgrade, but never 6 classes (DV6 to P2). Unbelievably lucky...

We will keep our fingers crossed we will get that luck with our cabin assignment. We took a guarantee with our booking for June 3 homelands cruise

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Wow! We seem to always get a specific cabin # immediately on booking with Viking, both direct and through a TA. And we book way in advance. Then again, never received an upgrade. Probably because our cruise selections have always been fully booked.

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Wow! We seem to always get a specific cabin # immediately on booking with Viking, both direct and through a TA. And we book way in advance. Then again, never received an upgrade. Probably because our cruise selections have always been fully booked.

Next time ask about a "guarantee". But recognize that all you have guaranteed is the minimum cabin category, so you could get a cabin in a worse location than what would have gotten had you booked a specific cabin.

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Wow... That was an awesome upgrade!! Congratulations!! When we booked our upcoming cruise (17 months in advance) Viking was not offering guarantee cabins. Shortly after we booked apparently that practice changed. I see now they are offering V2 and DV6 guarantee cabins on our June cruise but I guess it's too late for us to switch now. We have always booked guarantee cabins on other lines since we really don't much care where we are located and it has always worked well for us. So good to know about Viking for future cruises.

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Just Curious! After considering the inclusive pricing and equivalent cabins I still calculate a Viking Cruise to be 2 to 2 1/2 times more expensive than than my favorite, Celebrity. I also am highly offended by their marketing. Their Standard pricing seems to always be half off which means that the Sale Pricing is the Standard Pricing. Make the customer believe they are getting a discount but we still get our wanted full fare. So unless you have money to burn why would you sail on Viking?

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Just Curious! After considering the inclusive pricing and equivalent cabins I still calculate a Viking Cruise to be 2 to 2 1/2 times more expensive than than my favorite, Celebrity. I also am highly offended by their marketing. Their Standard pricing seems to always be half off which means that the Sale Pricing is the Standard Pricing. Make the customer believe they are getting a discount but we still get our wanted full fare. So unless you have money to burn why would you sail on Viking?

 

I have only sailed on Celebrity. After our last wonderful itinerary, 14 day Iberian Penisula in a C1 aft cabin on the Constellation , I decided to try Viking for a number of reasons.

1. Wanted a smaller ship. The sea days on the Connie were too crowded in both pool areas, Cafe Bacio,Sunset bar area all day, and the Maritni Bar was three deep most night. I ended up spending more time on our wonderful balcony reading on the sea days.

2. the nickle and dime for extra: the premium package price point, the $45.00 for specialty restaurants, wifi prices are crazy.

3.Celebrity promotions are getting more and more confusing and almost need a spread sheet to figure them out. Our C1 aft never had a price reduction after we booked two years out.

4. Tired of all the junk jewelry, purses, watches, sales on sea days filling up the hallways. It was not relaxing on the ship in the common areas.

I loved our intinerary and ports of call,and even the pricy ship tours.

Booking our Viking Sea cruise is more expensive but with the all included pieces and great deal on airfare even with doing custom air, it is IMO not overpriced for my bottom line. The relaxing elements , the design and fewer passengers are what sold me to jump ship and book Viking.

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Just Curious! After considering the inclusive pricing and equivalent cabins I still calculate a Viking Cruise to be 2 to 2 1/2 times more expensive than than my favorite, Celebrity. I also am highly offended by their marketing. Their Standard pricing seems to always be half off which means that the Sale Pricing is the Standard Pricing. Make the customer believe they are getting a discount but we still get our wanted full fare. So unless you have money to burn why would you sail on Viking?

 

Because I want a smaller ship

Because the food is excellent

Because there are no photographers hounding me all day

Because I love the serenity

Because I'm not party people

Because the itineraries are port intensive

Because l want to explore place

Because I have done my last Caribbean cruise

Because I like the people I've met on board

Because l like traveling with a mature crowd

Because the spa is free

Because there are no kids

Because there are no annoucements all day long

Because those on the beverage plan dont find it there obligation to drink there money's worth or more each and every day of the cruise

Because there is a liberal BYO policy

Because there is no corkage fee in the dining rooms

Because you dont have to be sneaky about drinking your BYO in the public areas

Because Viking respects its guests and treats them like adults

Because there are no art auctions

Because there is no bingo

Because there is no casino and no clatter of bells, whistles and beeps

Because everyone is so friendly

Because the threshold for the meet and mingle is 1.

Because I dont need a climbing wall, a tennis court, an ice skating rink, a zipline, etc.

 

 

 

As for the 2 for 1 marketing ploy, l know it is just marketing and I ignore it. After all, just like at the supermarket, what counts is how much I actually pay and not how big my discount is. If the marketing offends, choose another line.

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Excellent comments Peregrina. Those are Viking attributes I keep reading about on this board and look forward to experiencing on our Viking World Cruise next year. However, I have been -- and still am -- a fan of the Celebrity experience: two cruises on the Millennium and one on the Constellation (including inaugural seasons for both); and one on the larger Reflection in 1915 to the Eastern Med for a family celebration of our 50th -- with 9 of us including twins (7) and brother 4.

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Peregrina651, you've come thru in Aces with what I like about Viking. And, following the practice of revealing prior cruise experience, mine relative to others is quite light: a cruise on the original Carnival in '78 (much smaller, puny next to the Norwegian behemoths we docked next to), Holland America Statendam in 2011, Viking River (Atla) Grand European Tour and Viking Ocean (Star) Viking Homelands last Summer. I would add to your list - "Because I want to be on a ship that is welcoming and feels like a grander version of home albeit floating". Referring here to the areas around the ship where one can just nestle in and read.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Edited by CharTrav

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Peregrina651,

 

Thanks so much for saving me the time to type all those comments! I would also like to see the math which leads to a conclusion that if you control for all the variables,Viking is still "2 to 2 1/2 times more expensive" than Celebrity.

I do not understand the need for a fan of one cruise line to disparage another cruise line which obviously has many, many supporters. We have many wonderful choices for travel, and just because one sort does not appeal to everyone does not make it a bad way to see the world. My husband and I happen to enjoy escorted land tours (yes, "bus tours" - on purpose!), but I know they are not for everyone.

 

Taking our first Viking Ocean Cruise in two weeks. If it is as nice as the river cruise we took, it will be terrific!

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Peregrina651,

 

Thanks so much for saving me the time to type all those comments! I would also like to see the math which leads to a conclusion that if you control for all the variables,Viking is still "2 to 2 1/2 times more expensive" than Celebrity.

I do not understand the need for a fan of one cruise line to disparage another cruise line which obviously has many, many supporters. We have many wonderful choices for travel, and just because one sort does not appeal to everyone does not make it a bad way to see the world. My husband and I happen to enjoy escorted land tours (yes, "bus tours" - on purpose!), but I know they are not for everyone.

 

Taking our first Viking Ocean Cruise in two weeks. If it is as nice as the river cruise we took, it will be terrific!

 

Buying a cruising is like buying a car and there is no math involved when I decide to buy a Subaru over a Suzuki or a Honda. I'm buying that Subaru because it has certain intangible features that for me are worth the money.

 

 

I am sorry that you feel that I am disparaging other cruise lines but I don't see that I mentioned any cruise line by name. All I did was list various features that are or are not part of the Viking experience. Some people will read the list and say "Wow. That's for me" and others will read the list and say, "Oh. Really? I guess I better look elsewhere." And frankly, that is okay. I don't want to convince everybody that they must sail on Viking. There are enough choices in the cruise industry that we should all be able to find a cruise line that makes us happy, because there is nothing worse than spending your vacation dollars on a trip that you aren't happy with.

 

 

P.S., sorry for all the missing words and grammar mistakes in my post above. I should know better than to write such a long post on my phone; it is always a typing disaster when I do.

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Peregrina651,

 

Thanks so much for saving me the time to type all those comments! I would also like to see the math which leads to a conclusion that if you control for all the variables,Viking is still "2 to 2 1/2 times more expensive" than Celebrity.

 

I question this as well. Though I personally have not sailed Celebrity, I recently view a tour of one of their ships on YouTube by a TA that was on his 26th cruise with the line. I believe this was a Caribbean cruise. For the itinerary, the ship might have been fine. This area seems to be where you go to party and escape and ports seem to blend. Though the ship had many nice areas, he seemed to mention most of these were for an extra charge. The ship also seemed to have far too much going on for you to really relax and unwind. The atmosphere seemed to be that of a mall. Action and no solitude. These ports seem to be where people go to escape at the beach or a pub crawl so that may be where the relaxation comes from. If you are looking to experience the ports in whatever fashion this will cost you something. If you are on a vacation in a party mood this might be right up your ally.

 

Viking offers so many extra cost amenities on other lines as included in your cruise cost. There are included excursions if you want a broad overview that would be extra on other lines. And the ships: what can I say? If you like boutique hotels, this is your place. They don't offer the typical grand scale of the 20's or 30's but grand they are. They present refinement to a more casual sophisticated experience. Plenty to do but you are not bombarded with the "ain't we got fun?" attitude. There are no butlers and this is a perk for me. I enjoyed being catered to without feeling that people are hovering over you. They offer a retreat for you to escape when you're not on port. It is a style of cruising that may not be everyone's idea but it certainly offers cruising in an unusual fashion. Oh and the port charges and taxes are also included in the quoted price, which is not the case with most other lines. They do offer anything you need to enjoy a cruise. These things may not be to your taste but if you cook, you know sometimes you have to tweak the recipe to get everything to your liking but the basics and more are provided for your enjoyment.

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Because I want a smaller ship

Because the food is excellent

Because there are no photographers hounding me all day

Because I love the serenity

Because I'm not party people

Because the itineraries are port intensive

Because l want to explore place

Because I have done my last Caribbean cruise

Because I like the people I've met on board

Because l like traveling with a mature crowd

Because the spa is free

Because there are no kids

Because there are no annoucements all day long

Because those on the beverage plan dont find it there obligation to drink there money's worth or more each and every day of the cruise

Because there is a liberal BYO policy

Because there is no corkage fee in the dining rooms

Because you dont have to be sneaky about drinking your BYO in the public areas

Because Viking respects its guests and treats them like adults

Because there are no art auctions

Because there is no bingo

Because there is no casino and no clatter of bells, whistles and beeps

Because everyone is so friendly

Because the threshold for the meet and mingle is 1.

Because I dont need a climbing wall, a tennis court, an ice skating rink, a zipline, etc.

 

 

 

As for the 2 for 1 marketing ploy, l know it is just marketing and I ignore it. After all, just like at the supermarket, what counts is how much I actually pay and not how big my discount is. If the marketing offends, choose another line.

 

I truly think you hit then nail on the head for so many of us. I can't argue even one point.

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Peregina,

 

I am so sorry that I was not clear. I did not think you were disparaging at all in your post, which I support wholeheartedly. It was the original poster who seemed to me to be unnecessarily critical of Viking when compared to Celebrity.

 

I always enjoy your posts. Please accept my apology for not being more precise in my comment.

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Peregina,

 

I am so sorry that I was not clear. I did not think you were disparaging at all in your post, which I support wholeheartedly. It was the original poster who seemed to me to be unnecessarily critical of Viking when compared to Celebrity.

 

I always enjoy your posts. Please accept my apology for not being more precise in my comment.

 

P.S. Apparently, I still lack precision ! It was not the "original poster" about whom I was commenting, but

KidsatSea from earlier today. I'll get the hang of this one of these days!

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P.S. Apparently, I still lack precision ! It was not the "original poster" about whom I was commenting, but

KidsatSea from earlier today. I'll get the hang of this one of these days!

 

That's okay. I knew who you meant. I think the OP/Thread Starter is pretty much out of this conversation now.

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