Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
CelticMutt

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

Recommended Posts

Jeff, I'm looking forward to hearing about Florence and Rome and especially about the various option for getting to and from those cities on your own. Anything you glean from fellow passengers about their experiences is of interest since I am still trying to figure out how to handle those two cities. TIA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Livorno (Pisa; Florence Tuscany)

We chose the "Day in Tuscany" optional tour today. It was a tough call deciding between tours in Pisa, Florence and this one, but we all thought getting away from the crowds might be nice. (No such luck!)

A lot of bus time - about one and a half hours out and back, but well worth it as most of the scenery along the way was beautiful. The tour composed of two stops. The first was San Gimignc91548104fa0f6b4723e170e481372d9.jpg993359afb434e4064e17230bf6cb80a3.jpgano. This is a beautiful medieval town set in the middle of the exquisite rolling Tuscany Hills. An old city that boasts numerous rectangular towers that were built by families in the middle ages to demonstrate their respective wealth. While only 13 or 14 of the original 70-odd towers remain, it's still a pretty spectacular sight. The town was loaded with tourists and that fact was compounded by Thursday being market day in the town square. There are a lot of nice wine and souvenir shops as well as "the best gelato shop in the world"! (It was pretty good gelato!)

The second stop, about 15 minutes away, was a winery set in a beautiful Tuscany farm house. (Fattoria San Donato)This family-owned winery set out an amazing lunch with red, white and dessert wines produced at their winery. The offerings were all organic and locally produced – some of the vegetables from their own gardens. After lunch the owner gave us a informative lecture about their winemaking and allowed us to tour freely through their entire compound. Overall an excellent day touring beautiful Tuscany.

We had dinner tonight in The Restaurant. Carpaccio for an appetizer as well as châteaubriand for dinner was wonderful! There has been a great deal of commentary in this forum on how good the food is aboard ship. Spot on! Quality of the food, variety and service have been extraordinary (cocktail onions notwithstanding)!

Just an aside, I had said that I wanted to post the name of the cello, flute, violin trio. They are called the Viking Trio on board but also have another stage name when not performing for Viking.

A la votre Santé!

Bill

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely to read your detailed remarks. In regard to 'getting away from the crowds'. We cruised in mid May to similar ports including Livorno. We took a tour to Pisa and Lucca with the lovely Paolo from Unforgettable Tuscany. We have visited both places before but have never seen them so crowded. Fortunately we also went to a wonderful historic Villa just outside Lucca and we were the only 6 tourists there. It made a change because everywhere else was the busiest we have seen. We have been cruising in the Med for nearly 20 years. Santorini was a zoo. We return there on our Viking cruise from Athens in two weeks time.

We may spend rather more time on board than we usually do !

Our roll call is very quiet but hopefully we will meet fellow cruisers who have the same wonderful sense of humour that you display when writing.

Thank you again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Port of Civitavecchia is the port used by the Sea for the city of Rome:

We were up and out early this morning for the Snapshots of Rome tour. We left the ship at about 9 AM for the 80 min. Drive into Rome, but added another 20 minutes or so for a bathroom break right outside of the city. The bus then did a drive-around covering the major highlights of Rome (the Palatine Hill, Sts John and Paul church, the Colosseum, the Tiber and various other churches and city gates - we were ping-ponging in and out of our seats for over an hour and a half! See the photo of the map we used; most of the highlighted attractions were driven past.) We made only a single stop at the Circus Maximus before ending up at the bus parking for St. Peter's. We were then given about 90 minutes of free time to explore the Square and Basilica on our own. By using "the pilgrims door" we were just able to grab a quick inside overview of the church with about 10 minutes left over for a pizza and beverage. (BTW, take a pass on the pizza in St Peters square - awful!)

With a bit of traffic on the way home we arrived back at the ship at 3:30.

At first I was a bit put off that the tour was only 6 hours long, because the original included tour was to have been over ten hours, however this worked fine. We saw most of the highlights and frankly with only one day to spend in Rome, the best we could have done was a scrape of the surface of this phenomenal city!

We had tickets last night for l'Artiste de Paris, the three girl show in Torshaven. Again, just a wonderful little production! These very talented ladies showcased songs related to the history of Paris; some in French but they also mixed in some Broadway (Can Can) and contemporary (Lady Marmalade). Their final production of Time To Say Goodbye (Con te partirò) was stirring and as Heather, our CD, pointed out, very appropriate for a seagoing audience. (A phrase from the translation of the Italian is, "I’ll go with you on ships across seas".) The small intimate space of Torshaven makes it the perfect venue for this type of show!

Saúde!,

Bill

 

0e646f76a3ffcc87591d7f2a31d5a17a.jpg61280f21710cc2c1bd656051096bfc08.jpg

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Naples: we decided to use the late arrival in Naples as an excuse to sleep in. (OK, that and the fact that we closed the Explorers' lounge with a really funny group of Aussies!)

We chose the optional Herculaneum excursion that was scheduled to leave at 1 PM for today. The Herculaneum excavation is only about a third of that of Pompeii, but is about 20 minutes closer by bus and was actually discovered earlier than Pompeii. Due to the fact that it was enclosed in mud and received less of ejected magma the buildings are in better repair. We spent about two hours with a very knowledgeable guide (Rafaela) who took us through virtually the entire accessible dig. I've always been a bit of an archaeology fan so the excursion was really a treat for me. We also talked to other passengers who had done the Pompeii excursion and they were equally well pleased.

We hit the World Café for the first time for dinner tonight. We thought it would be a treat not to have to get dressed up and besides the cold seafood and sushi buffet was calling our names! There's an extensive menu of sushi rolls and sashimi on the menu along with crab legs and crab claws. While I like the special services offered in the sit down restaurants, dinner at the World Cafe was a nice change.

Entertainment tonight was a real treat. The four male performers did a Beatles show called The Long and Winding Road, at the pool venue under the stars. They were excellent! Afterward, the entire ensemble performed dance music. It was a pretty rocking place! Heather, our CD also sang; she's terrific. I understand that she has also performed operatic numbers that were very well received, but we haven't heard her ourselves until now.

We were sharing impressions with some other experienced cruisers in the Explorer's lounge (yes, there were pre-slumber cocktails!) and we were pretty much in agreement that all things considered (food, service, entertainment, and general ship layout) that this is the finest cruise we've ever been on! I've been pretty critical about some of the administrative aspects of Viking Ocean prior to boarding, but have absolutely no such criticism for how the ship itself is operated.

Just a quick note about Wi-Fi on the ship. It's pretty darn good! It can slow down a little bit in the mornings and right before dinner time when there is a lot of activity, but for the most part I've been able to post these messages via dictation without any kind of problem.

Sea day tomorrow- relaxing!

L'chaim!,

Bill

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Demographics: Geezer - median probably 65

Pools: Warm (almost too); salt water

Cruise Director: excellent; very visible; musically talented

Deck 9: shuffle board; miniature golf; bocce; outdoor workout equipment

Pool Grill: hamburgers 8 ways; foot longs; salad bar; delicious

Personnel: well trained; multi-national; excellent English

Alcohol: yes please, oops; decent wines; Sapphire gin; could use a better vodka and rum </=$9

Laundromat: 3 wash/dryers/deck; detergent included

Deck chairs: only full on a sea day at the pools, but other locations open

Lunch pasta bar: not every day, pasta can't be fresher - they make the stuff as you watch at the pasta bar!

Hygiene; hand sanitizer AND an inconspicuous hand washing sink at the entrance to every restaurant.

Today: Straights of Messina; Italy a mile to left; Sicily a mile to the right

Done

Sláinte!,

Bill

4c31f82407ad0bf9308946fc11568d8d.jpg

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for taking time to post your expereinces on the Viking Ocean.

I am looking forward to my cruise on the Viking Sky in 2018.

Maybe I missed it, but have you used the spa?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We're beach people so the opportunity to go to a new beach was calling us. I had done some research and Glyfada Beach on the west side of the island looked really nice. About 12 miles from the ship.

We got off the boat (it's parked a long haul from the terminal so they had shuttles running) and there were a bunch of taxis waiting. One of the drivers named Philip approached us and asked us what we were interested in doing. He recommended a beach called Condo Llelose (sp?) because there was a great little beach bar (Nagual beach and bar) there with clean bathrooms, showers, chaos and umbrellas. Since it was the next beach over from Glyfada it sa02292a04b45523fe213a55d499089eb.jpgounded like a plan!

He had a Mercedes - a small one, but it worked fine for the four of us for the 20 minute ride over the hills. Philip's description of the place was spot on and we spent a very pleasant morning on a lovely beach getting back at 1:30 or so for the 2:45 walking tour of the city of Corfu.

We ducked into the ship for a quick change and made up 4 sandwiches from the available banquettes and cold cuts in the World Café to eat on the bus. Because we didn't have time for lunch. Worked out great because we were on the last tour bus to leave and the bus was less than half full.

We had chosen the included walking and bus tour of Corfu. It was… nice.

The tour bus drove up an small hill next to the airport to give us a overview of the city and then drove downtown where we exited and did a brief walking tour of the old town. While it was pleasant seeing a new place, the tour stopped with an hour and a half left before the bus departed. Way too much free time in a town with not much to do. Since the ship had shuttles running into town every half hour we would've been much better off to grab one of those do a little bit of sightseeing on our own and make it back at our leisure. If we had done that, we could have spent some extra time on the beach and still been satisfied that we saw in Corfu. My reco for Corfu would be to hit the beach and use the shuttle!

bb384a2e09e2aadc5c3a5c5f2dc8f986.jpg

ΥΓΕΙΑ!,

Bill

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Demographics: Geezer - median probably 65"

 

Thanks for the laugh and thanks for making us feel young again. We loved our Viking Star cruise, got another one booked, and we're not quite in the geezer stage but rapidly approaching. Nice to know there's some longevity involved in us sailing Oceans. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

C-M thank you for your posts. We are on Viking Sea at the beginning of next year, our first cruise with Viking Ocean. All sounds lovely to me, service, food, decor etc.

I am interested to learn that you have to have tickets for a show? Not had to do this on any cruise before.

 

And as a matter of interest, on 8th September we were on Seaboard's Sojourn in Monte Carlo. We were disembarking. We saw you out in the bay. Sojourn is not large; Sea is much bigger. It must have been an optical illusion!!!! :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
C-M thank you for your posts. We are on Viking Sea at the beginning of next year, our first cruise with Viking Ocean. All sounds lovely to me, service, food, decor etc.

 

I am interested to learn that you have to have tickets for a show? Not had to do this on any cruise before.

 

 

 

And as a matter of interest, on 8th September we were on Seaboard's Sojourn in Monte Carlo. We were disembarking. We saw you out in the bay. Sojourn is not large; Sea is much bigger. It must have been an optical illusion!!!! :)

 

 

Two small shows are in night club so needs tickets. Shows were performed three times so opportunity for all to enjoy.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
"Demographics: Geezer - median probably 65"

 

Thanks for the laugh and thanks for making us feel young again. We loved our Viking Star cruise, got another one booked, and we're not quite in the geezer stage but rapidly approaching. Nice to know there's some longevity involved in us sailing Oceans. ;)

 

 

Very active Geezers though.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Two small shows are in night club so needs tickets. Shows were performed three times so opportunity for all to enjoy.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

Oh that sounds OK then. Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just a note about technology on the ship. It's very cool. I've already mentioned that WiFi connectivity is pretty good for a ship. Additionally, all orders (food and drinks) are taken on smartphones which reduces errors, speeds the ordering process, eliminates the need for signed paper receipts and confirms identities (via your photo!)

There are also a scad of interactive monitor screens situated around the ship that serve to give you weather, directions, general info and current menus for the main restaurants. I personally was enthralled with the huge mega screen on the main steps in the atrium. The photos and art that are displayed are breathtaking in both beauty and clarity.

We had decided upon the Mostar Bridge tour to Bosnia - an 11.5 hr monster - back when we were fresh and well-rested. The first 2 hours drive north along the coast was lovely and the scenery grand. We made the crossing into Bosnia and back into Croatia just fine, but we've been sitting here at the Bosnia-Hergonovia border waiting for clearance for over 30 minutes. So now the minimum on bus time is 4.5 hours and I' thinking that damn bridge better be pretty freakin' special!

OK; now traveling back from Mostar on the bus and I'm ambivalent. It was a "nice to see" not a "have to see" and I'm not sure that I would have 6 hours (that's what it's looking like now!!) on a bus for this excursion.

In the mid-90's there was a protracted internal war (warS actually) which literally destroyed the infrastructure of most large cities - Mostar among them. This 500 year old bridge was among the casualties as was most of old town. So what we saw wasn't mostly actual antique attractions, but very faithfully restored reconstructions - down to even the flaws in the original construction. Impressive and even an UNESCO World site, but we didn't see the real McCoy! It was cool, but Idunno, a bit artificial.

We had a couple of wonderful guides, Evana and Sandra whose English were excellent (Sandra's advanced education included English and English lit!). Both were very informative about the sights and history of the area. The tour also included a great 3 course Lunch at a very pretty little restaurant with a glass of wine or beer.

While there was nothing wrong with the excursion (well, maybe Viking would consider putting some cold water on the busses for these extended tours where the temp is in the high 80's (30 plus for my non-American friends!), I'd read up on it long and hard and make sure there's a quid pro quo for the long bus time because you have to sacrifice seeing Dubrovnik itself because you'll be gone for the whole day.

Slainte!,

Bill

ps: Gotta say that the last two hours of the ride home in a setting sun and then a 3/4 moon along the coast with hundreds of islands off the coast was pretty amazing! (I know, I just added another element into the confusion!)

108c12d24c1f8cf2a20206c5532a6b0a.jpg

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arrived in Split, Croatia at about 8 AM this morning and after a quick breakfast headed over to the Star Theater for the Krka Waterfalls and the Town of Skradin excursion. A bit pricey at $149 pp, but maybe the best tour of the cruise. An hour and a half bus ride out of Split brought us to this lovely National Park. The basics are that a large tributary river

confluences with the Krka River and forms a series of 17 cascades over 1300 ft of river. The descending walk on elevated Boardwalk for most of it's length traverses beautiful parkland surrender by gentle falls. It's incredibly beautiful and restful. You can swim (wade really) at the base of the walkway, but you'll obviously need your suit and not slip water shoes to go in. No one in our group chose to. There's nice restaurants, snack shops and the ever-present souvenir shops at the bottom as well.

After a 45 minute free time break (for a much-needed beer!) we rejoined our lovely guide (Eileen; funny, informative and a real treat!) to make our way down to the little boat (60 passengers or so), boarded and made the 30 min. motor to Skaden (very pretty!) for a very nice lunch of an appetizer of ham, cheese, a slaw salad, a dinner plate of scalloped potatoes. A nice meal at the Zlatne Skoljke (golden she'll I'm told!) on top of a great tour!

One of my top two excursions on the tour: I'd highly recommend.

On the bus now back to the ship and getting hit with a quick developing storm. It was absolutely beautiful at the park so we lucked out all around!

Once again we're going to miss the main port city, but well worth it!

Dinner at Manfredi's again tonight! Wahoo!

 

Nazdravlje! (Croatian!),

Bill

 

13c9f3ab0bce546eda570fcfb0d15cf0.jpg

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Arrived in Split, Croatia at about 8 AM this morning and after a quick breakfast headed over to the Star Theater for the Krka Waterfalls and the Town of Skradin excursion. A bit pricey at $149 pp, but maybe the best tour of the cruise. An hour and a half bus ride out of Split brought us to this lovely National Park. The basics are that a large tributary river

confluences with the Krka River and forms a series of 17 cascades over 1300 ft of river. The descending walk on elevated Boardwalk for most of it's length traverses beautiful parkland surrender by gentle falls. It's incredibly beautiful and restful. You can swim (wade really) at the base of the walkway, but you'll obviously need your suit and not slip water shoes to go in. No one in our group chose to. There's nice restaurants, snack shops and the ever-present souvenir shops at the bottom as well.

After a 45 minute free time break (for a much-needed beer!) we rejoined our lovely guide (Eileen; funny, informative and a real treat!) to make our way down to the little boat (60 passengers or so), boarded and made the 30 min. motor to Skaden (very pretty!) for a very nice lunch of an appetizer of ham, cheese, a slaw salad, a dinner plate of scalloped potatoes. A nice meal at the Zlatne Skoljke (golden she'll I'm told!) on top of a great tour!

One of my top two excursions on the tour: I'd highly recommend.

On the bus now back to the ship and getting hit with a quick developing storm. It was absolutely beautiful at the park so we lucked out all around!

Once again we're going to miss the main port city, but well worth it!

Dinner at Manfredi's again tonight! Wahoo!

 

Nazdravlje! (Croatian!),

Bill

 

13c9f3ab0bce546eda570fcfb0d15cf0.jpg

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

 

 

Thanks for all of your posts. We have been traveling with you but doing different excursions, so fun to read yours.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • SAIL-AWAY GIVEAWAY - Enter for a chance to win a $3,000 Norwegian Cruise Line Gift Card
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...