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CelticMutt

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

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The cruise into Venice this morning was nothing short of spectacular! Even with a light drizzle, people were packed on the top deck taking photos and enjoying the view.

This was the first day on the entire cruise that we had inclement weather and getting from the ship to the shuttle to St. Mark's Square was pretty damp. But just as the shuttle arrived (four bridges from St. Mark's) the sun broke through and we had beautiful weather for the rest of the day.

The included tour was rather basic. An overview of St. Mark's Square and the Murano glass factory. We almost bailed out on the glass factory thinking that it was just a showroom for the glass company, but it turned out to be a small working factory in its of itself. An artisan actually produced an ornate glass pitcher while we watched. It took him less than five minutes! Of course they just remelted the glass after the fact since it wouldn't have met with their high standards.

We hooked up with our friends Who had been assigned and earlier tour at a café right in the Square. Here we spend a couple of hours drinking wine, eating pizza and people watching. Really very exquisite.

Got the 5:30 shuttle back to the ship in time to get cleaned up for our last dinner on board.

i've been commenting on entertainment on the ship as I have proceeded here and I couldn't finish that theme up without mentioning Andras, the piano player. A very talented man and great background whether it be for cocktails or just having a snack.

We missed the last formal entertainment on board chatting with fellow passengers at the atrium's Viking Bar. A tough call because The entertainment was Heather Clancy, our cruise director, doing opera. We had heard her pro-form on other occasions and I'm sure that her more classical offerings were as good as her popular tunes were!

Stayed up way too late considering the early morning disembarkation.

Manuia!,

Bill

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Transitioning to the Hilton! Disembarkation went very smoothly up to the point when we got off the ship. There was a relatively long wait for the shuttle bus to the water shuttle and then another lengthy wait at the dock for the Viking shuttle to the Hilton. I guess that it was somewhat understandable because of the large number of people doing the extended stay, but all the same, this transition needs to be improved.

We got to the hotel a little bit after 10 and rooms will be ready until about 1:30 so we're just going to bite the bullet and stay here until the room is ready. (Pushed in that direction as well by the fact that it's raining pretty heavily right now.)

Once we get over to the main island the intent is to tour until dinner, have dinner on the island and then visit St. Mark's Square at night.

Cin cin!,

Bill

 

 

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Lovely live review. Thank you and have a great time in Venice. Hope it stops raining or you will be walking across the trestles they have to set up in St Mark's Square!!!!!!

Venice is my favourite European city bar non.

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

 

 

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If you were doing different Viking shorex, we would love to hear about them.

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Demographics: Geezer - median probably 65

Were some people surprised to see how physical it can be touring Europe?

 

Pools: Warm (almost too); salt water

Did you try the Thalossotherapy pool?

 

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

Any Angus beef burgers? Bratwursts?

 

Personnel: well trained; multi-national; excellent English

Re: tipping ... if you can charge tips to your credit card at the end of the cruise instead of tipping them in cash, how does your stateroom steward etc know that you have tipped them?

 

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

Unfortunately the one thing that is a big draw for the majority of people booking a Viking cruise means little for us ... as we do not drink wine or beer. Did you try any of the specialty coffees? (We don't drink coffee either but can give it a try if offered in decaf)

 

Laundromat: 3 wash/dryers/deck; detergent included

 

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

Any other onboard activities during sea days? Any movies in the theatre?

 

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

So can they make "anything" that you want ... like Spaghetti Carbonara or Linguine Vongole?

 

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

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Questions in red. Re: disembarkation - luggage left outside the stateroom the evening before - or did majority of people manage their own when leaving?

 

Thanks

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FM (sorry, while posting pictures seems to be easier from the iPhone I still haven't been able to determine how to include a quote.)

In answer:

There were a couple of pretty exertional tours, most notably Herculaneum. While these are clearly marked there were obviously people on our itinerary that either ignored the "rough terrain" admonition or didn't read it.

I'm kind of embarrassed to say that we didn't enter the spot at all. I had planned all week to visit the "snow room" but time just slipped past us.

The burgers are Angus beef and are outstanding. Never saw a bratwurst but the hotdogs are long and excellent.

Even though personnel now are tipped from the pool that you are charged for, we personally tipped a number of the personnel that we felt did above and beyond. We simply left money for the stewart in the room and personally handed cash to the others. They were delighted with the extra thanks.

There is a espresso/cappuccino/latte maker in the world Café and you can get the espresso at any of the bars, but no specialty coffees per se. Decaf is widely available in all the restaurants including cappuccino. My wife drink tea on occasion but I don't think she was offered any kind of selection.

There are movies under the stars most evenings and I believe that the two movie theaters show movies during the sea days as well as other times. We did not partake of same. There were a number of enrichment lecturers most days and I believe there were additional ones on sea day. (Think TED type talks)

Pasta bar generally only had two types of sources – bowling yeas and Alfredo. Specialty restaurants particularly Manfreda he's had a wide assortment of pasta. The world café generally had a different pasta every day the linguini Vongole was to die for.

Luggage at disembarkation: remember the "geezer" comment? We saw virtually no one handling their own luggage.

Hope that helps! Art is doing another "live" right now. I'm sure he'll be able to fill in some of the blanks.

Bill

 

 

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Thanks Bill for all the excellent posts! You really represented the trip well. It was a pleasure to meet you and Donna and your friends and hope we see you again on another Viking trip. We arrived home safely last night from Venice and wish you safe travels. It was an amazing trip! Slainté!

 

 

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Pasta bar generally only had two types of sources – bowling yeas and Alfredo. Specialty restaurants particularly Manfreda he's had a wide assortment of pasta. The world café generally had a different pasta every day the linguini Vongole was to die for.

 

 

CelticMutt, I know that you are dictating your posts into your iPhone but still I want to thank auto spell correct for today's chuckle. Bolognese sauce will never ever be the same again. :D

 

Thanks for a very informative "live" feed. Your daily posts from Toulon, Monte Carlo, Livorno and Rome will help us a lot as we decide what to do in those ports.

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Thanks CelticMutt - very helpful. Sounds like you had a great time.

 

Lol Peregrina651 ... thought "bowling yeas" was some European dish I had never heard of before ... :)

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First of all, having worked in advertising for most of my career, I'm appalled at my own editing :-) - but damn, that's pretty funny!

Today in Venice was absolutely spectacular. The weather cleared and we left the rain gear at home. Lazy after 16,000 steps today, so I'll just breeze through our stops.

What a day! Doge's Palace; Correr Museum and the #2 Vaporetto around the Island. Lunch on Sandwich Row (it's a place!) and al fresco dinner right on Giudecca Canal - 3 bridges from our hotel with a Full moon and St. Mark's bell tower in background. Wonderful vacation; home tomorrow!

Just one last quick note, and this is just a personal opinion. Both Donna and myself would have sooner stayed on the main island of Venice. The hotel, Hilton Melina Stuckey was OK but we thought kind of overpriced for the services, food and proximity to Venice itself. We would've preferred and a hotel on the island itself. Nothing specifically wrong with the hotel but…

Just a note to sum things up. First of all to the folks who have just responded and were on the cruise with us;, we enjoyed your company immensely and really dig the fact that you've contributed here. It's made the input much more credible and fun!

Donna and I were having a conversation about what made the Viking Sea our favorite cruise. (It was close; we did the Paul Gauguin last year in the Society Islands and the Cook Islands).

The PG won on the basis of itinerary, but as far as service, food and overall comfort/ambiance, the Viking Sea was the best cruise we've ever experienced! (And we've been on over 40 cruises collectively!)

I might have had some earlier reservations about Viking's home office input (and in fact I still kinda do) but first of all, most of the problems were rectified on the ship and second of all – hey, it's the cruise that counts!)

There are a couple of minor improvements that I would suggest, and in fact when I get home and review the whole trip I'll probably comment on same, but any critique that indicates one should not take this cruise or cruise line just is wrong (from my humble opinion).

Since I don't check Cruise critic frequently (unless we have a cruise coming up or I have a specific question) I'm going to post my email address below shielded so robots can pick anything up. Please feel free to send questions that I can help with. Wm(dot)robertson(at)Comcast(dot)net

Mel13, you got it right both times:

Sláinte va! (Irish AND Scottish Gaelic – should help explain "CelticMutt")

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Celtic mutt. 8 of us on who will be on your itinerary in Oct'17, have been stalking you! Great info.. We are taking notes. Our cruise group includes four couples from MD, PA, and two from AZ. Several of us on Vikings last year's Baltic Trip. If this cruise lives up to The Baltic Cruise we will be two for two on Oceans! Interested in comments re: the Silver Pkg. always buy ion Viking Rivers, but did not on Oceans. Numerous comments from Oceans folks who did buy, not pleased with exclusions.

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al fresco dinner right on Giudecca Canal - 3 bridges from our hotel with a Full moon and St. Mark's bell tower in background.

 

Were you able to get a picture of it???

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Lol Peregrina651 ... thought "bowling yeas" was some European dish I had never heard of before ... :)

 

Visualize whirled peas :)

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Just one last quick note, and this is just a personal opinion. Both Donna and myself would have sooner stayed on the main island of Venice. The hotel, Hilton Melina Stuckey was OK but we thought kind of overpriced for the services, food and proximity to Venice itself. We would've preferred and a hotel on the island itself. Nothing specifically wrong with the hotel but…

 

Donna and I were having a conversation about what made the Viking Sea our favorite cruise. (It was close; we did the Paul Gauguin last year in the Society Islands and the Cook Islands). The PG won on the basis of itinerary, but as far as service, food and overall comfort/ambiance, the Viking Sea was the best cruise we've ever experienced! (And we've been on over 40 cruises collectively!)

 

I might have had some earlier reservations about Viking's home office input (and in fact I still kinda do) but first of all, most of the problems were rectified on the ship and second of all – hey, it's the cruise that counts!)

 

I was going to include my opinion on the Hilton Molino Stuckey in my live blog, but since you already commented on it, I thought I would add in my 2 cents here. We are Hilton premium members and have stayed in their hotels all over the world. Bill, we would rate this hotel even lower than you and would recommend that Viking reconsider using this hotel in the future. Not only does its location make it difficult to use because of the extra time it takes getting across the canal, but we found the accommodations themselves to be subpar. We had several meals in the hotel. The dinner was mediocre at best and very overpriced. I also don't appreciate when a restaurant charges for items they act like are included. Although the breakfasts were included, I would still say they were overpriced. I could say more, but do I really need to?

 

We have also sailed on the Paul Gauguin in French Polynesia. We would agree with all of your comments. Bora Bora and Moorea are among our favorite places in the world to visit. The water cannot be beat. Unfortunately, the prices are just as high; so sailing with the PG there can reduce the cost. We did stay at the Hilton Moorea after our cruise and would rate it among our very favorite places to stay in spite of the cost. This is a wonderful example of high prices being worth it. But getting back to our experience comparing the two ships, we too would rate the Viking Sea higher.

 

With regard to your last point about the shortcomings of Viking's reservation system, this is one area they really NEED to work on. We only had one dropped reservation - a dinner reservation at Manfredi's. The first day I went down to guest services to check on all my reservations, excursions and dinner. I brought my printout of our calendar from home and showed it to the guest services staff. They didn't know how we could have had it reserved and then had it disappear. In any case she said she would take care of it. The next day it still had not been corrected; so I went down to the restaurant. They too had no explanation for either the original missing reservation or why we never received a follow-up from guest services as they had no space available and could not fulfill our reservation. Although this was not a big deal for us, Viking should get to the bottom of this problem as apparently it is widespread.

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We have so enjoyed this thread. Thank you so much. It has made such entertaining reading. We board in Athens next Sunday. Hope we meet some lovely people we are certainly going to some lovely places.

 

Regarding The Hilton in Venice. We have been lucky enough to stay in Venice many times over the years and recall the Hilton being converted from its original industrial use. I suggested in another thread some time ago that it might be better to stay near St Marks or The Rialto, possibly in a converted Palazzo. This time we are in the Locando Orseolo, but we have stayed in various other hotels and also a lovely B & B. However there seem to be many 'fans' of the Hilton and I got rather flamed for my opinion since I had never stayed there. I was pleased therefore to read your opinion.

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Just a final comment that Viking did a great job in handling our transfers this morning from the hotel to the airport. Water taxi all the way and a Viking rep met us and escorted us through to our line on United.

Long plane ride home, but arrived safe, sound and tired!

Peggy, here's one I took of Donna at the restaurant. Full moon and St. Mark bell tower in background.f16d6e068d797d01e8d2033348c6246e.jpg

 

 

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Full moon and St. Mark bell tower in background.

 

 

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Sweet!! What a way to end your journey. Thank you for taking us along with you.

 

Save

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Bill, I'm so happy you made it home safely! What a great photo of Donna with the beauty of Venice in the background! Cheers to you both.

 

 

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I wanted to give the situation a week to collect my thoughts and offer an overview which I'll also use as an overall review.

Collectively, Donna and I have been on over 40 cruises and this was our favorite. The Paul Gauguin's itinerary - Society and Cook Islands - was arguably a bit better (hey, we're talking the South Seas!), but for overall service, food, layout and ambiance, the Viking Sea wins.

The ship itself is a dream. It's beautiful - outside and in. The clean lines and sharp bow make it a very pretty ship, but it's the interior decore and layout that are the real winners. At times the Nordic look can be somewhat austere, but I'm a fan of the uncluttered look and functionality of same. The ship was full and at no time - even on the single sea day - did we ever feel crowded or that there wasn't a nook you could escape to.

The cabin was well-appointed (we had a deluxe veranda) with a ton of electrical connections and USB ports. Could have used more drawer space, but this was countered with a very large closet, so it was a wash. Bathroom was big and bright with a lot of storage. More ventilation would have been a plus; it could get close and stuffy with the door closed and the floor heating on.

The food was excellent. From the specialty restaurants to the World Cafe buffet everything was fresh, varied and delicious. (Crab legs, shrimp and sushi on a buffet line? You bet!) The only negative I can think of was the wine pairing menu at the Chef's Table. This menu done every third day, only offers one menu choice in each category (appetizer, soup, main and dessert.) This wasn't published beforehand and just coincidentally both of our reservations at this specialty restaurant were of the pairing type. Since one of the treats in restaurant dining for me is the ability to choose, I was disappointed. Since none of the four traveling companions liked the entree at the second reservation, we chose to cancel altogether. There must be some way to fix this glitch.

Service was impeccable from the restaurants, to the bars to the cabin stewards, to the folks at the excursion desks and guest relations. If there was a hiccup, we pointed it out and it was corrected.

Entertainment, simply put was by far the best we've experienced on a cruise ship. We're lucky enough to be able to take in Broadway shows and these kids (showing my age!) were of that caliber. The shows were varied, professionally executed and there was plenty of seating. Even at the themed shows offered in Torshavn, there were tickets so you could plan attendance in this small venue. I heard of no problems with anyone not being able to get tickets.

Heather, the cruise director was excellent and very musically talented in her own right.

Excursions were very good with excellent guides who spoke English very well. We took both included and optional excursions and were pleased. On board staff was able to quickly rectify some of the glitches that were made or mis-communicated by the home office administration.

And finally, just so it doesn't look like I'm simply carrying water for Viking, there were a number of glitches and miscommunications with the home office prior to boarding. I won't bother to list them specifically. but there was a variety of differing input from the reps we talked to on the phone and a tardiness in supplying some info that we could have used earlier. We didn't find that lack when dealing with Viking River. I suppose that there are growing pains with the Sea being so new, but these should be the same folks that handle the Star. These encounters didn't fill us with confidence in boarding. Luckily everything was rectified and clarified on board.

We'll be back - both on the ocean and river!!

Cheers,

Bill

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