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CelticMutt

"Almost" Live From The Viking Sea - Sept 4, 2016

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We will be doing the Mediterranean Odyssey aboard the Viking Sea - Sept 4-16 and I wanted to add a "live from" to this forum. I know fnewman just did a very capable job of same, but you can't be too rich or too skinny... (not-guilty on both attributes!) and I guess that also includes cruise info.

Besides, I've already done two from previous Viking River cruises and they also served nicely as trip diaries. Anyone interested with a lot of free time on their hands, they're here:

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1797590&highlight=celtic+mutt

http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2038879&highlight=celtic+mutt

We are Bill and Donna are in our mid-60's; from NJ and traveling with another couple. We leave tomorrow for Barcelona on United out of Newark (oof!) and are doing two extra days in the city before boarding on Sunday. We're staying at the El Palace Hotel. We had originally booked this extension with Viking, but when our friends opted for the El Palace rather than the Renaissance, we decided to match their accommodations.

We're pretty experienced cruisers - about 40 between Donna and I - but this will be our first time on Viking Ocean.

We also booked a 2 day extension (this with Viking) in Venice at the end of the cruise.

I'll try to touch base daily - connectivity and personal energy being up to it. I think the immediacy of the post while you're actually there adds a lot to the info since the impressions are so fresh.

And since I'll be dictating into an iPhone, I'll apologize upfront for any spell-check errors. Editing ain't my bag!

I'll try to add some comments on our Barcelona stay as well. Tapas here we come!

Cheers, Bill

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Looking forward to your day-by-day, especially your flight from Newark and your days in Barcelona, Toulon, Monte Carlo, Livorno/Florence and Civitavecchia/Rome since we'll being doing them with Viking in December. I'm sure I will have questions for you along your way.

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Thanks, Bill,

 

Will be doing the reverse itinerary in Oct. , so wil be looking forward to your port and excursion reviews.

 

Becki

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Bill and Donna- we are doing the same trip next March 5. Our final payment is due tomorrow! We will be following along- thanks so much for doing this. We aren't going early but are also staying in Venice- with Viking- at the end. Safe and happy travels.

 

Kathie & Jerry

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Hi Bill,

My husband and I are on the same cruise and also leaving for Barcelona tomorrow on the same United flight out of Newark. Looking forward to meeting you and Donna!

Peggy

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Thanks Bill. We will be doing the reverse cruise in October.

Also staying in Barcelona at the El Palace at the end of our cruise. Would appreciate your review of hotel as well as cruise.

Have a safe trip.

Olivia

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Peggy, we're in 19 A&B. Stop by and say hi. Looking forward to meeting you!

 

 

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LOL. We just look for people with those distinctive red luggage tags. Sat down to airport dinner right next to another couple on our cruise--the tags were the conversation starter, "You're on a Viking cruise? Which one?" Got to the airplane and the A seat was another person on our cruise.

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LOL. We just look for people with those distinctive red luggage tags. Sat down to airport dinner right next to another couple on our cruise--the tags were the conversation starter, "You're on a Viking cruise? Which one?" Got to the airplane and the A seat was another person on our cruise.

I'm sure there will be a few on this flight. We tried to get the Viking pre-extension when we originally booked, but it was already closed out. That's obviously a lot of people and Newark is a big airport with a good connection to Barcelona.

I believe the pre-extension hotel is the Renaissance because that's where we're picking up the transfer to the ship's berth in Tarragona. (While I'm still not delighted about the Tarragona change, at least it'll give us an op to see a different city in Spain and there are some Roman ruins there that are supposed to be pretty awesome.)

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We and our traveling companions just got an e-mail from Viking stating that we had booked two "included" excursions in Toulon and they were canceling one. OK; I get the fact that they don't want you doing 2 in a day. Wasn't so indicated on the booking site and the website allowed us to make the reservation. But 2 hours before we're leaving for the cruise, they finally realize the "mistake" and then they arbitrarily choose which of the two excursions to cancel. (The wrong one by our preference!!) A simple e-mail to the customer alerting us to the problem and asking which we wanted to cancel would have been the way to go, but Viking really dropped the ball on this one.

We've had a number of administrative probs with this booking - this just the last in a string. I know the cruise will be fine, just annoyed that we had to put up with the BS right before we leave (and also wait in line to rectify!!)

I think this earns me an extra martini on the plane!!

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We and our traveling companions just got an e-mail from Viking stating that we had booked two "included" excursions in Toulon and they were canceling one. OK; I get the fact that they don't want you doing 2 in a day. Wasn't so indicated on the booking site and the website allowed us to make the reservation. But 2 hours before we're leaving for the cruise, they finally realize the "mistake" and then they arbitrarily choose which of the two excursions to cancel. (The wrong one by our preference!!) A simple e-mail to the customer alerting us to the problem and asking which we wanted to cancel would have been the way to go, but Viking really dropped the ball on this one.

We've had a number of administrative probs with this booking - this just the last in a string. I know the cruise will be fine, just annoyed that we had to put up with the BS right before we leave (and also wait in line to rectify!!)

I think this earns me an extra martini on the plane!!

 

Yes, since pax are only entitled to one included tour in each port, the software should be able to pick this up and not let you book two in the first place. So, go ahead and have that martini. At least they e-mailed you advance.

Edited by Peregrina651

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We arrived on United flight 120 with only minor hassles. The plane and been in the airport for four hours prior to our departure but still took them an hour to ready yet, so we left an hour late. Pilot made up some of the time on the way over traveling at .8 to Mach – pretty cool! The United flight was OK. Donna and I had opted for an economy plus upgrade and the 2 x 3 x 2 configuration on the 767 is really pretty good. (We had two adjacent seats in that "two" con.figuration.) The food was actually pretty decent and the entertainment was extensive.

We don't sleep on planes so we arrived in Barcelona pretty jetlagged. Immigration and customs are a breeze – you only have to present your passport. And the taxis were plentiful and adjacent to the baggage claim. The taxi ride to the L Palacios hotel was about €28. The hotel is old world European chic and very well appointed. We were on the sixth floor and had a marginal view of the sagrada Familia. From our balcony. The hotel sports and lovely seventh floor pool and entertainment area with a couple of bars – great views of the city without the small pool was kind of chilly. There is actually even a eighth for observation deck with very nice evening and tables (no services) but the 360° panoramic view of the city is excellent. Once we had settled and unpacked (we were able to get a room by 11 AM, we bustled out for some lunch and a beer – there are numerous nice restaurants within a two block radius of the hotel. We came back to the hotel for a dip in the pool and a little sun just to relax before our afternoon tour.

We had booked the Viator tapas waking tourl and "flamingo" demo (My standard mispronunciation of the classic dance!) we started at five tours top us to her place right off la Rambla and our lovely guide Eva was enthusiastic knowledgeable and walked us pretty much all over the city. We explored the famous market place; walked the Rambla and then explored The gothic area of the city before stopping off for a medley of tapas and sangria. Eva and walked us over To a converted 19 century palace for the flamingo !! (flamenco) dance recital which lasted about an hour and included a free drink. The show was only so – so. I'm thinking that they were kind of second string flamenco dancers. But it was on our bucket list to see live flamenco and this fit the bill.

 

We took a cab back to the hotel. (cabs are plentiful in the city and relatively reasonable.) very tired after no sleep last night so we retired up to the room at about 11 o'clock for a good nights sleep before exploring the city tomorrow. Proud of ourselves for operating on zero hours sleep for the entire day!

 

Familia sagrada and other Gaudi architecture tomorrow with a stop for paella on the beach.

Slainte!

Bill

 

 

 

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We slept in a little today and had a fabulous breakfast at the hotel (El Palace). A little pricey at €18 per person but the quality of the food and the variety was well worth the cost.

A quick taxi ride over to the sagrada Familia was very easy. (Taxis are incredibly easy to access in Barcelona. And especially when four people are sharing a cab, cost can be very reasonable!)

The Basilica (really should have been a Cathedral - would have been in any other city, but Barcelona already had one!) is nothing short of spectacular. The incredible genius of this architect (Antoni Gaudi) is remarkably on display. The soaring ceilings and intricate outer sides are breathtaking. Even if you are not religious you really have to see this edifice to believe how gorgeous it currently is and what it will look like in 10 years when finished. We then hopped over to the Cossa Batllo. another design by Gaudi. While many people are satisfied with just exploring the exterior because of its unique design you really should take the extra time and minor expenses (about €18 person for the senior discount) to completely understand the complexities of the redesign the architect gifted the building with. The interactive virtual-reality components of the tour are well worth the expense.

Stopped at the Alsur Café for lunch right across the street from the hotel. A great lunch and breakfast stop with remarkably inexpensive drinks and beers! Food was excellent too!

Going to run down to the harbor area for some paella for dinner.

Boat tomorrow – (it's a ship, goddamnit; it's a ship!) really looking forward to it!

Cheers!,

Bill

 

 

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How was your room we will be staying here in a few weeks

Thanks, Sunrocket

 

 

The hotel itself is beautiful and the rooms are quite nice. It has an old world charm so the rooms aren't huge, but quite comfortable. The bathroom is very nice and there is a walk-in closet that is about half the size of the room! (we are on the sixth floor room 606)

The hotel has a lot of nice amenities and the people here are wonderful! A bit pricey but worth it!43c02d730b38049eb78a8f4506783489.jpg

 

 

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We went to a restaurant last night called Salamanca for paella last night in the Barceloneta district, a lovely walkway fronting the harbor. The paella was wonderful - deluxe version with lobster and two types of prawn, clams, shrimp, and a ton of calamari! Went around €28 per person but it included a glass of champagne and appetizers, a shot of some kind of very strong coffee liquor and a little lemon cakes for dessert. Excellent! After strolling along the beach area we went back to the hotel's basement bar – and absolutely beautiful small venue – for after dinner drinks and some live entertainment by a wonderful small combo. The bartender was Old school and prepared each drink meticulously. It was a real pleasure to watch him work!

Great way to end our last day on our own in Barcelona. We really loved El Palace! Excellent service; a beautiful place very central to many venues in the city and quite reasonable if you do some homework on the sites like Orbitz.721afc7b87e7f49d58011dca8682d0a0.jpg

 

 

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Barcelona to Tarragona:

As some of you may have read, Viking ocean had some problems with the Barcelona port and was in able to dock the Viking see on the way back from the previous cruise and for our cruise boarding on September 4. Instead they transferred the boat up the coast about an hour and a half drive. Unfortunately that meant that we had to transfer from Barcelona to Tarragona to board the ship. Viking provided bus transportation from the airport and from the Renaissance Hotel (the hotel that was used for the pre-cruise extension). There was definitely some mixed messages coming from Viking home-office as to how the transfers would work. Won't go into the gory details but ultimately it worked out pretty well with Viking putting on some extra buses so that people weren't forced to wait an extended period of time.

Check in in Terragona was very smooth and we were escorted from the bus to check-in to our rooms within 10 minute period of time. The necessity of transferring all of the bags separately did delay luggage delivery to some extent. We are sitting having a drink in the Wintergarden (one of the most lovely places you would ever see on a ship) but our luggage still isn't in the room and we are on our way to the 5PM muster drill.

We had some initial problems with some of our excursions were able to get onto the excursion desk (five minute wait – that's all!) And Maria straighten things out PDQ!

More later.

Na Zdorovie,

Bill

 

 

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Keep up your great trip blog. We are doing the cruise next spring. We are taking notes on your adventures!!!

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Thanks for all the details. I can't wait for our cruise next May. Regarding good STRONG black coffee & Cappuccino. Is the espresso machine at the WC the same as on the river boats? It made good string coffee as well as cappuccinos. Is it available 24 hrs? Thanks for all the details.

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Cappuccino machine (at least in the world Café) is open all the time and brews a really great cup of espresso, cappuccino or latte. I wish it could be a little bit hotter, but that's kind of nitpicking. There is a very sophisticated looking coffee maker in the room (Keurig-like) but it's complicated mess and I was really appalled by the coffee that came out of it! (Of course that could just have been me screwing up the directions.) I'm going to stick with the machines in the restaurants!

 

 

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First of all I have to say that ship board is much better at handling glitches then in ministry group office is! Problems with our "double booked" included excursions were quickly handled by Maria at the excursions desk. AC in the room was in-operational but a call to housekeeping got it repaired within an hour. In relation to that service aboard the ship has been superb so far. The crew is amiable and extremely helpful in every regard.

 

The ship itself is beautiful. Great looking from a distance but the real charm is the clean lines of the attractive interior.

Dinner last night in "the restaurant" (you're couldn't find a better name?!) was excellent. Portion sizes are a little bit smaller than Americans expect, but considering the fact that there are multiple courses it works out just fine.

We chose the Silver drink package and the wine upgrade at dinner he was worth the price in and of itself. (Of course we had a number of cocktails as well. So we're really ahead of the game!)

I'll try to comment a little bit more on entertainment as we progress but last night we were delighted by the guitar player, Laszlo Polgari. From Hungary, his simple background music is a real treat when sitting around having after dinner cocktails.

It's Monday morning and he Explorers Lounge got a bit of the best of us last night so we decided to sleep in and forgo the early-morning walking tour of Barcelona since we had pretty much seen a fair amount of it already. Breakfast, the pool and a "hair of the dog" bloody Mary looks to be in our immediate future. Slug-a-beds that we are, we've already missed the 9:30 closing for normal breakfast so we'll just haul buttocks over to Mamsen and grab some chow there.

Prost, Bill1d2314afd9f01868b88b45071684cb0e.jpg

 

 

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First of all I have to say that ship board is much better at handling glitches then in ministry group office is! Problems with our "double booked" included excursions were quickly handled by Maria at the excursions desk. AC in the room was in-operational but a call to housekeeping got it repaired within an hour. In relation to that service aboard the ship has been superb so far. The crew is amiable and extremely helpful in every regard.

 

The ship itself is beautiful. Great looking from a distance but the real charm is the clean lines of the attractive interior.

Dinner last night in "the restaurant" (you're couldn't find a better name?!) was excellent. Portion sizes are a little bit smaller than Americans expect, but considering the fact that there are multiple courses it works out just fine.

We chose the Silver drink package and the wine upgrade at dinner he was worth the price in and of itself. (Of course we had a number of cocktails as well. So we're really ahead of the game!)

I'll try to comment a little bit more on entertainment as we progress but last night we were delighted by the guitar player, Laszlo Polgari. From Hungary, his simple background music is a real treat when sitting around having after dinner cocktails.

It's Monday morning and he Explorers Lounge got a bit of the best of us last night so we decided to sleep in and forgo the early-morning walking tour of Barcelona since we had pretty much seen a fair amount of it already. Breakfast, the pool and a "hair of the dog" bloody Mary looks to be in our immediate future. Slug-a-beds that we are, we've already missed the 9:30 closing for normal breakfast so we'll just haul buttocks over to Mamsen and grab some chow there.

Prost, Bill1d2314afd9f01868b88b45071684cb0e.jpg

 

 

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On board with u and enjoying seeing another perspective. Staff is impressive, ship is beautiful and now that we are on board, things feel seamless.

 

 

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First of all I have to say that ship board is much better at handling glitches then in ministry group office is! Problems with our "double booked" included excursions were quickly handled by Maria at the excursions desk. AC in the room was in-operational but a call to housekeeping got it repaired within an hour. In relation to that service aboard the ship has been superb so far. The crew is amiable and extremely helpful in every regard.

 

The ship itself is beautiful. Great looking from a distance but the real charm is the clean lines of the attractive interior.

Dinner last night in "the restaurant" (you're couldn't find a better name?!) was excellent. Portion sizes are a little bit smaller than Americans expect, but considering the fact that there are multiple courses it works out just fine.

We chose the Silver drink package and the wine upgrade at dinner he was worth the price in and of itself. (Of course we had a number of cocktails as well. So we're really ahead of the game!)

I'll try to comment a little bit more on entertainment as we progress but last night we were delighted by the guitar player, Laszlo Polgari. From Hungary, his simple background music is a real treat when sitting around having after dinner cocktails.

It's Monday morning and he Explorers Lounge got a bit of the best of us last night so we decided to sleep in and forgo the early-morning walking tour of Barcelona since we had pretty much seen a fair amount of it already. Breakfast, the pool and a "hair of the dog" bloody Mary looks to be in our immediate future. Slug-a-beds that we are, we've already missed the 9:30 closing for normal breakfast so we'll just haul buttocks over to Mamsen and grab some chow there.

Prost, Bill1d2314afd9f01868b88b45071684cb0e.jpg

 

 

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You're funny, 930, I usually wake at 530, 600 on vacation, gotta get my morning coffee, lol

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Thank you so much for your ongoing live report. We will be on the "Sea" in just a little over a week. I will also be doing a "live report for our voyage from Venice to Athens on the Dalmatian Coast.

 

Several people have mentioned the smaller portions. Isn't Viking ocean like most every cruise line? You can order more than one item or get seconds if you want them? I am going back a long way (when I could eat a lot more than now) to my very first cruise. The second night they had coq au vin, prime rib and canard l'orange, three of my favorite dishes. When the waiter asked what I wanted, I said YES. :D

 

I doubt if I could do that now, but wanted to know if there were restrictions on what you can order.

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