Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
roothy123

Tips for New Viking Ocean Cruisers

Recommended Posts

We also did empires of the Med this past sept.  Really enjoyed the excursions as we did a mixture of included and optional.  Since the excursions are posted early (except for price and times), I am a research person and started reading about them at least 6 months before.  We have done a lot of independent tours of Europe, using mostly Rick Steves, so that was my primary souce.  He is very opinionated, but you can agree or disagree.  In Athens, we did the optional full acropolis with an absolutely fantastic guide who had a degree in history and architecture.  I wish we would have had him more.  We missed Santorini - high 28mph winds and captain cancelled port, too dangerous for the tenders.  Olympia was very nice, included tour, nice guide.  Corfu was a disappointment.  We did the included but did more after on our own.  Even if totally independent, I think we would have been less enthralled.  Many times cruise lines have to throw in small "filler" ports, as I call them.  Kotor was really nice.  We did the included walking tour in the morning and an optional tour up the mountain in the afternoon.  Views spectacular and guide was very good.  We could have spent another day here.  Dubrovnik we did the walking tour of the city, but then did Rick's self guided after of walking on top the walls. The combination of the two worked really well.  Zadar I was not really excited about.  Krka seemed really far and in researching there was a much better park but too far away so we opting for the included walking tour.  We had a great guide who gave us history, perspectives on the country, and was entertaining.  Even walked us after with another couple for a great local spot to have a drink before heading back to the ship.  I was unfamiliar with Koper, but Rick ruled and we went to Lake Bled.  The place is magical, a foggy day turned to sunshine when we got there.  We took the pletna to the island, had time to follow folk lore and ring the church bell, pictures and more.  Back to shore we bused up to the castle, for more history and views.  Lunch was included and figured it would be to a local hidden restaurant.  Pleasantly surprised that it was at a quaint Inn along the lake.  Multi course meal with wine.  After, some time to walk by the water.  

We had been to Venice on our own 20 years before but missed seeing a few things.  Booked the same hotel on the grand canal and spent 2 wonderful nights walking the city and touring the islands.

On previous cruises I had booked mostly independent tours which were almost always terrific.  Since only the 2 of us were on this cruise, I found when I looked at possible independent tours, they were either price prohibitive because of just 2 of us or they may have tried to include too much (like in koper they did both lake Bled and the big city, not doing either well), and were not inclusive - you had to pay your own entries, buy your own lunch etc,  

Best advice is think about what you really enjoy doing and seeing, then do the research and make your choices.  We also considered temperature, early morning was better for us when very warm, generally tried to do tours starting betweein 9 and 9:30.  This also leaves you more to do in the port on your own.  Shuttles were provided so that if you did stay past the tour, you could take them back at no charge later.

Have a wonderful cruise, Mary Ann

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 hours ago, LazyDonkey said:

Thanks, BarbarianPaul. May I ask whether you think Empires would be a particularly desirable itinerary? Also, did you have to exercise lots of restraint not to gain weight? I'm going to try hard not to overeat, but at home it's vastly easier without the doughy temptations of Mamsen's and afternoon tea.

1. I love Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro, but if you’re new to the Mediterranean, you might want to consider a cruise with some great Italian ports as well for a little more variety. That said, am sure you’d have a wonderful time with this itinerary.

2. No, I didn’t have to exercise a ton of restraint not to gain weight, but my wife and I only eat dessert on a cruise at the specialty restaurants. And we try not to eat a ton of bread either, always take the stairs, generally explore the ports on our own by walking, and do go to the gym. I’m of the belief that the fact that you’re on vacation is not carte blanche to let yourself go and eat like a pig. Regarding Mamsen’s, I kept hearing how great it was before we boarded, but the little pastries and waffles didn’t look particularly unique or special.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your nice reply, BarbarianPaul. I've been to Italy, Slovenia and Croatia, but not to those particular ports. Empires seems to get consistently good reviews. Odyssey is an appealing Med. itinerary as well. They all are, really. I'm going to read up on the ports and eventually come to a decision. Thank you again. Taking the stairs everywhere is a great idea.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just saw your detailed post, ReillyQ! More specific and helpful info on Empires. Thank you so much. There seems to be consensus that Corfu is meh and Koper worth escaping. Will get ahold of the Rick Steve's book on Med. ports. It sounds as if he provided you with invaluable guidance. Really appreciate your detailed input, and agree with you that one should do what one truly enjoys instead of trying to see everything. Wish time and money were unlimited. It would be a dream come true just to travel for a year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, LazyDonkey said:

Just saw your detailed post, ReillyQ! More specific and helpful info on Empires. Thank you so much. There seems to be consensus that Corfu is meh and Koper worth escaping. Will get ahold of the Rick Steve's book on Med. ports. It sounds as if he provided you with invaluable guidance. Really appreciate your detailed input, and agree with you that one should do what one truly enjoys instead of trying to see everything. Wish time and money were unlimited. It would be a dream come true just to travel for a year.

We actually love Corfu. There’s an enormous old town, with some genuinely unique shops, great cafes, fresh juice bars, and a huge fort that’s fun to walk up. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to know, BarbarianPaul. I was beginning to question several of the ports: Koper, the waterfall park in Croatia (Krsk?), Corfu, Santorini (for its crowds), Dubrovnik during the day. Will be curious to see what Rick Steves thinks as well. Autocorrect keeps giving him an unintended apostrophe. Whoops. Caught it this time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, LazyDonkey said:

Good to know, BarbarianPaul. I was beginning to question several of the ports: Koper, the waterfall park in Croatia (Krsk?), Corfu, Santorini (for its crowds), Dubrovnik during the day. Will be curious to see what Rick Steves thinks as well. Autocorrect keeps giving him an unintended apostrophe. Whoops. Caught it this time.

 

I have been following the back and forth about the Empire's cruise and thought I would throw in my $0.02 worth.  We did the cruise in early May.

Venice - we had been here before and seen a lot.  Is time we went out to several of the islands on a personal tour (used Rick Steve's Guide).  Enjoyed them very much.  We also took a Venice food tour with some other Empire Cruisers our last night prior to boarding.  This ended up being a highlight of our Venice time and we made some good friends who we ended up having dinner wth and hanging out with some.

Koper - we took a private tour to Lake Bled.

Zadar - we took a private tour to Krka Waterfalls and enjoyed it.  Not very crowed.

Kotor - took an optional Vikng tour - Vikng Glamour and History and enjoyed it.

Corfu - we took an optional Vikng tour - Viking Old Town and Achilleion.  I did not think I would enjoy it but actually had a good time.

Olympia - we took the included Tour and since we had never been there we learned a lot.

Santorina - we took the included Tour.  We thought the island was very pretty; however, because of all the tourist trying to see the same things and take the same pictures it was hard to enjoy.  Would like to be able t go back and stay over night to be there after the "tourists" leave.

Athens - we took a private 1/2 day tour to Corinth and spent the second half of the day at the Acropolis (where we were dropped off) and some of the other Athens sites.  We then caught the Viking shuttle back to the ship.  Since we were staying over in Athens for several days we did not have to be in a hurry to try to see everything.

overall we really enjoyed the Empire cruise.

 

Stan

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 12/29/2019 at 10:16 PM, Peregrina651 said:

 

There is no doubt that Viking marches to its own drummer.

 

Viking does give you an advanced view of the excursions. They are part of the description of the itinerary (unless it is an itinerary going to ports that are new to Viking). You can see them before you even book. However, the port by port pages are generic and not all of the excursions shown will necessarily be available on the sailing you choose.

Yup that is the problem, the lack of detail is terrible in my opinion.   It really appears,  I will need to research each port myself to prepare in case they are very light weight.   I’m not a fan of walking around and staying together with 30 other folks in most cases!  Lil-miss-Mimi  thanks for your comments on those ports.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites



Yup that is the problem, the lack of detail is terrible in my opinion.   It really appears,  I will need to research each port myself to prepare in case they are very light weight.   I’m not a fan of walking around and staying together with 30 other folks in most cases!  Lil-miss-Mimi  thanks for your comments on those ports.  


Why would you NOT want to research all of your ports?
When I decide to spend a considerable amount of money on a vacation/holiday, the first part of the decision is the destination(s). Once that is decided - many months before the actual trip - then the research begins. That's part of the fun! Learning about all of the ports you'll be visiting and planning what you want to see and do. It stretches a one- to two-week cruise into a many months long experience!

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info about your Empires experience and excursions, travelingman Stan. Really appreciate hearing what worked and what didn't, and that you had a very positive experience overall. Santorini sounds gorgeous though uncomfortably overcrowded per your and other reviews. Crowds at Krka must be quite variable. Seeing the Acropolis and Parthenon is a thrilling prospect even though Greece is not the main draw of this trip for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, LazyDonkey said:

Good to know, BarbarianPaul. I was beginning to question several of the ports: Koper, the waterfall park in Croatia (Krsk?), Corfu, Santorini (for its crowds), Dubrovnik during the day. Will be curious to see what Rick Steves thinks as well. Autocorrect keeps giving him an unintended apostrophe. Whoops. Caught it this time.

We’ve sailed on Viking once, and have elected not to do it again. The ships are absolutely beautiful, and we loved the well appointed cabin. We also enjoyed the lecturers and the chance to to interact with them in a discussion format after their various presentations. The food in the main dining room was fine, but we found the specialty restaurants lacking, the entertainment just not very good, and the included excursions so basic and dull as to not be worth the extra, included cost. We’re neither huge drinkers nor party or club types, but we also found that there just wasn’t enough ever happening on the ship, which had a very low “fun” factor. Of course, all this is monumentally subjective! 

But, again, the ports on our Baltic cruise were interesting and of course every cruise is always a unique adventure, and my wife and I still have fond memories of the voyage.

 

Regarding the ports you’re visiting, Kotor is small but fascinating. Beautiful old town and there’s a great hike up a small mountain overlooking the town and bay to an old church and fort. Very picturesque. Dubrovnik is incredible. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, just_dont said:

Why would you NOT want to research all of your ports?
When I decide to spend a considerable amount of money on a vacation/holiday, the first part of the decision is the destination(s). Once that is decided - many months before the actual trip - then the research begins. That's part of the fun! Learning about all of the ports you'll be visiting and planning what you want to see and do. It stretches a one- to two-week cruise into a many months long experience!

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

 

Totally agree, as I thoroughly research all ports pre-cruise. Even if I have previous visits, sometimes multiple visits to a port, I still research and look for new things to visit.

 

Even when we take ship tours, I still research the port to make an informed decision on tours. For our next cruise, I spent over 1-year on the research. We consider it an integral part of travelling.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, just_dont said:


 

 


Why would you NOT want to research all of your ports?
When I decide to spend a considerable amount of money on a vacation/holiday, the first part of the decision is the destination(s). Once that is decided - many months before the actual trip - then the research begins. That's part of the fun! Learning about all of the ports you'll be visiting and planning what you want to see and do. It stretches a one- to two-week cruise into a many months long experience!

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

 

I totally agree!  Usually I decide where I might want to go (doing some research on the internet), and which cities are the most important.  Then I may buy a Rick Steves book, if he has one there.  Next is to find a cruise which fits the best.  I actually had picked an Oceania cruise for the Aegean and Adriatic, but they did not offer it in 2019 in the fall only in the heat of summer.  Viking Empires was the closest at the best time of year for us with temperatures we like.  Weather was great in Sept.  It is really fun to research and find things that you would like to see.  As I mentioned before, for several reasons, we went with Viking tours a mix of included and optional.   When we did our Baltic cruise on Oceania we booked all independent tours.  There was 4 of us traveling and much easier to do.  Not only did we have small groups (15-18), but were more comprehensive and much less expensive than the ship offered.  However, it was the research that allowed us to decide which tours were the best for the 4 of us.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, BarbarianPaul said:

We’ve sailed on Viking once, and have elected not to do it again. The ships are absolutely beautiful, and we loved the well appointed cabin. We also enjoyed the lecturers and the chance to to interact with them in a discussion format after their various presentations. The food in the main dining room was fine, but we found the specialty restaurants lacking, the entertainment just not very good, and the included excursions so basic and dull as to not be worth the extra, included cost. We’re neither huge drinkers nor party or club types, but we also found that there just wasn’t enough ever happening on the ship, which had a very low “fun” factor. Of course, all this is monumentally subjective! 

 

 

 

I would also agree with the comment that the specialty restaurants were lacking, but we are not really gourmet people.  As you said, it is subjective.  One element that needs to be considered is the size of the ship and the corresponding availability of activities.  We are not late night people and found, especially the singing/dancing shows were entertaining.  It was nice to have dinner, and either before or after the show, take strolls, and get our steps in, walking the promenade deck.  Viking ships have 930 passengers, no children, no casino. So you will not find the activities that are associated with larger ships. Smaller does have advantages, but activities may not be as plentiful.  We actually prefer Oceania, which is similar in size, much better specialty restaurants.  However, we choose based on Itinerary for the ports we want to visit.  We have booked a 2021 with Viking to Iceland.  Again, based on the itinerary, wanting to do Oslo before then Bergen Norway and several ports in Iceland plus ending in Reykjavik for a few days (Using Rick Steves suggestions).  Could not find a comparable cruise on Oceania.  So there are trade offs, I not sure  anything is perfect, but you have to find what works best for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
56 minutes ago, ReillyQ said:

I would also agree with the comment that the specialty restaurants were lacking, but we are not really gourmet people.  As you said, it is subjective.  One element that needs to be considered is the size of the ship and the corresponding availability of activities.  We are not late night people and found, especially the singing/dancing shows were entertaining.  It was nice to have dinner, and either before or after the show, take strolls, and get our steps in, walking the promenade deck.  Viking ships have 930 passengers, no children, no casino. So you will not find the activities that are associated with larger ships. Smaller does have advantages, but activities may not be as plentiful.  We actually prefer Oceania, which is similar in size, much better specialty restaurants.  However, we choose based on Itinerary for the ports we want to visit.  We have booked a 2021 with Viking to Iceland.  Again, based on the itinerary, wanting to do Oslo before then Bergen Norway and several ports in Iceland plus ending in Reykjavik for a few days (Using Rick Steves suggestions).  Could not find a comparable cruise on Oceania.  So there are trade offs, I not sure  anything is perfect, but you have to find what works best for you.

 

Linda and I did three cruises with Viking in 2019, so you could say we're hooked.  We enjoyed the specialty restaurants very much, but were just as comfortable in the main restaurant.  To each his or her own...

 

One of our cruises took us across the North Atlantic from Bergen to Montreal.  We'd been to both cities before, and I'd spent several days traveling on my own around Iceland, but the cruise was a great opportunity to see places along the way (Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Newfoundland).  I highly recommend the "Nutshell" tour from Oslo to Bergen if you have limited time.  Better yet, spend several days in Norway as we did -- you'll have a wonderful time!  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, ReillyQ said:

I would also agree with the comment that the specialty restaurants were lacking, but we are not really gourmet people.  As you said, it is subjective.  One element that needs to be considered is the size of the ship and the corresponding availability of activities.  We are not late night people and found, especially the singing/dancing shows were entertaining.  It was nice to have dinner, and either before or after the show, take strolls, and get our steps in, walking the promenade deck.  Viking ships have 930 passengers, no children, no casino. So you will not find the activities that are associated with larger ships. Smaller does have advantages, but activities may not be as plentiful.  We actually prefer Oceania, which is similar in size, much better specialty restaurants.  However, we choose based on Itinerary for the ports we want to visit.  We have booked a 2021 with Viking to Iceland.  Again, based on the itinerary, wanting to do Oslo before then Bergen Norway and several ports in Iceland plus ending in Reykjavik for a few days (Using Rick Steves suggestions).  Could not find a comparable cruise on Oceania.  So there are trade offs, I not sure  anything is perfect, but you have to find what works best for you.

 

I'm doing the Icelands Majestic Landscapes this summer in June 2020... Check our roll call! We've been planning! Lots of good information there!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, DaveSJ711 said:

 

"Linda and I did three cruises with Viking in 2019, so you could say we're hooked.  We enjoyed the specialty restaurants very much, but were just as comfortable in the main restaurant.  To each his or her own..."

 

6 hours ago, DaveSJ711 said:

 

 

We would have to echo the "you could say we're hooked." One Viking cruise and we found that this is the way we want to cruise. No kids, no casino, no fancy shows...that suits us well.  We don't miss a wide assortment of specialty restaurants.  For us, sitting in the Living Room reading with a hot cup of coffee being served to us, is exactly what we need.

 

Researching ports is all part of the adventure for us.  The cruise is over so quickly, and dreaming about what we will do in each port enhances the entire experience for us.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
On 12/31/2019 at 1:35 PM, DaveSJ711 said:

 

Linda and I did three cruises with Viking in 2019, so you could say we're hooked.  We enjoyed the specialty restaurants very much, but were just as comfortable in the main restaurant.  To each his or her own...

 

One of our cruises took us across the North Atlantic from Bergen to Montreal.  We'd been to both cities before, and I'd spent several days traveling on my own around Iceland, but the cruise was a great opportunity to see places along the way (Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Newfoundland).  I highly recommend the "Nutshell" tour from Oslo to Bergen if you have limited time.  Better yet, spend several days in Norway as we did -- you'll have a wonderful time!  

I would love to read about your recommended tours as we are taking this cruise.  There is a Roll Call for it. Suggestions posted there would be great.

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/topic/2634037-viking-star-in-the-wake-of-he-vikings-august-27-2020/

 

 

Edited by philw1776

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/1/2020 at 12:46 AM, Sunflower & The Scientist said:

 

We would have to echo the "you could say we're hooked." One Viking cruise and we found that this is the way we want to cruise. No kids, no casino, no fancy shows...that suits us well.  We don't miss a wide assortment of specialty restaurants.  For us, sitting in the Living Room reading with a hot cup of coffee being served to us, is exactly what we need.

 

Researching ports is all part of the adventure for us.  The cruise is over so quickly, and dreaming about what we will do in each port enhances the entire experience for us.  

We are another couple now hooked on Viking be it river or ocean.

Our highlight is actually socialising with the many like minded travelers on board be it in the living room,around the jigsaw puzzle table,explorers lounge or just in any of the dining venues.

Being Brits we especially enjoy chatting to guests from the US,Canada and Australia.

We have come home with invitations to San Francisco,Memphis,Cincinnati,Montana and Los Angeles just to name a few.

We love all the quiet nooks around the ship as well when we just want to chill.

Having cruised on bigger ships no way would we return to them.

The quality of the musical ensembles on Viking Sky was very high and varied in type.

Overnight in St Petersburg we had a concert performed by artists from the local opera theatre exceptional.

Watching the glorious sunsets each night was the cruise highlight though.

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 Now for a Chance to Win a 7-day Cruise for Two
      • Q&A with InsureMyTrip
      • 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...