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Viking Homelands Cruise Review

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We just returned from our cruise on the Viking Star. I asked so many questions so I thought that maybe I could start a thread that might be helpful to others.

 

First off, I was worried about our DV category being too small and not having enough storage. I was pleasantly surprised. We are over packers but still found plenty of room. I did ask that the coffee maker be removed for the extra storage. I have read that some would like to see the bathroom smaller for more storage but honestly I wouldn't. It, too, has lots of storage. The shower and heated floors are the best part. I thought the bed and nightstand right next to the closet that I had seen in pictures was going to make it tight but it isn't at all and that happened to be "my" side of the bed. Loved the USB ports at bedside. We did bring a converter from home that had 3 outlets and 4 USB ports. I found it on Amazon. We mainly used it and plugged it in at the desk.

 

Get familiarized with the TV and all the offerings it has. Take advantage of the port talks on the TV. Check your account. Find those hidden movies that I found on the last night. I saw the movies listings but didn't realize that there are many to choose from. Enough for men and women.

 

The included tours ended up being pretty good. I did hear some grumbling from other cruisers on our ship about how boring Stockholm included tour was so we decided to skip it.

 

Alla Tours in St Petersburg was definitely the best decision we made in tours. It worked out that there were only 3 couples. We were kicking ourselves for not booking them in the other ports as the Viking tours are somewhat large at around 26 people. I highly recommend anyone to consider using them.

 

We took the train to Berlin and then the Historic tour of Berlin with Viking. Enjoyed it very much. I did hear people saying that the included tour left them alone too many hours in Berlin so if you can't keep yourself entertained then you might want to consider a different tour.

 

One of our favorite stops was Eidfjord. We did it on our own. Someone here recommended stopping at the tourist office and pick up a map that shows two different walks. To that person I want to say THANK YOU. The yellow walk is more of a nature hike that they say takes 90 minutes. It took us 3 hours. We stopped along the way and soaked it all up. We took so many pictures. We loved not being on a bus. We loved doing something on our own, with no crowds. We loved the fresh air. It was an easy walk for the most part but it did have a steep climb in the middle. The blue walk is more of an in town walk which we did not take since it took us so long on the yellow walk, haha. There is very little shopping there. Viking suggests that you get up early and watch the sail in to Eidfjord. We got up at 5am and it was worth it to us. Few people did it so it was easy to sit inside or stand outside for the full view. It was very, very pretty. Sailing out they go fast so you don't really get the same affect.

 

Some of you know that we decided not to go through Viking to get to Pulpit Rock in Stavanger. We ended up using the company Norled instead of Rodne because of their better time. It was fantastic. We even had enough time to explore Stavanger afterwards. Both Norled and Rodne are easy to find right at the port. I was looking for some sort of a kiosk or something big with their names on it but all they had was a little table and an umbrella. Both are right next to each other. We had bad weather so we didn't get to see the top of Pulpit Rock but it was still worth it. We were fully prepared for rain so we stayed outside on their deck most of that cruise and the 360 view was worth it It costs considerably less than Viking's tour to Pulpit Rock. The only difference between Viking's tour and Norled's was that Viking stops at a beach for a waffle. We actually saw them on land getting their waffle in the rain.

 

We were disappointed in our post stay. When we first booked we thought we would have more time in Oslo. We did find out differently before we left so we were prepared but it still left us disappointed. It was a 7 hour train journey which was beautiful. Our guide that we had in Bergen for our first day of the post stay stayed with us on the train where we were handed over to a different guide at the train station in Oslo. We arrived around 3 or 3:30 and then had a bus tour around the City, visited the Viking Ship museum (which was fantastic) and Statue Park. We were to see a Ski jump area but the low clouds prohibited it so we went to Statue Park which everyone loved. We arrived at our hotel at 6pm. It left us pretty much no time to explore on our own. We ate dinner and then went back to the room to prepare for our flight home the following morning.

 

Viking was EXTREMELY organized on our pre and post stays. We were impressed.

 

All of the Viking staff were attentive and professional. All the tour guides were excellent.

 

Food.....very subjective but we found it excellent. We loved Chef's Table the most. Make sure to try and get in all menu rotations. At the end of the meal they encourage you to make a reservation for the next menu. It was easy to get a reservation. Manfredi's was good but way too much food for our liking. My advice is to check the interactive menu outside of the restaurants to see what is on the menu for that day and make your decision from there where to eat for lunch and dinner. We never called room service so I can't address it. If you like shrimp salad, go to the pool side restaurant and have their shrimp salad sandwich. I am already craving it.

 

Viking on all of their paperwork and on their website suggests to tip the drivers and guides on the tours. We saw very little tipping going on. It did make me sad.

 

I found the ship chilly in the common areas so ladies bring a sweater just in case.

 

Stop by the Explorers Desk every night after dinner and pick up a map of the port for the following day. It is not very detailed and got us frustrated often but at least we had something. Some ports have maps right by the ship or on the bus. Those maps are by far better than Viking's.

 

Just in case anyone is wondering, the guides do a great job of bathroom breaks. They always point out where they are and when the next break will be.

 

Viking offers a shuttle bus in most of the ports which was fantastic. My advice is to make sure you are getting on the RIGHT cruise line's shuttle bus even if there is a Viking representative standing right next to the bus. Otherwise you will find yourself at the wrong ship and need to take a 15.00 taxi ride to get to the right ship. Don't ask me how I know.

 

I'm sure I am leaving out a few things but I hope someone finds some of this helpful.

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I just realized that I typed Baltics cruise. It was the Homelands cruise. I don't know if it is possible to edit the title.

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Agree with your review of Viking...it was so great! And Alla Tours for 2 days in St Petersburg was such a highlight...BUT....you got on the wrong shuttle bus and went to the wrong ship?? SO SO funny!!!!

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It's true. We did it. What a stupid thing to do. Holland America was excellent about the whole thing, hahahaha. It was their embarkation port and they were busy checking people in but they took the time to get a taxi for us. Sheesh, made for a great laugh though.

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Thank you very much and IT IS helpful! I too booked Norled and worried about this choice because it seems Norled is less known. Now I know we are in good hands. Good to know that it's chilly on the ship. Wouldn't think about sweater in July. I did think to bring shawl though. I'm so glad you had a good time! :)

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You are both welcome. vnb2003, Norled and Rodne are both in several ports. I think they both have a ferry service as well as the fjord cruise.

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Jiminy so funny!! On our cruise we were the only ship in port (first of the season). When we stayed in Stockholm a few extra days we joked about getting onto the Viking shuttle if we needed to go in that direction...

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stretchcruz, too funny. I didn't think about that. We were there early, too. Why didn't you give that advice earlier?

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We just returned from our cruise on the Viking Star. I asked so many questions so I thought that maybe I could start a thread that might be helpful to others.

 

First off, I was worried about our DV category being too small and not having enough storage. I was pleasantly surprised. We are over packers but still found plenty of room. I did ask that the coffee maker be removed for the extra storage. I have read that some would like to see the bathroom smaller for more storage but honestly I wouldn't. It, too, has lots of storage. The shower and heated floors are the best part. I thought the bed and nightstand right next to the closet that I had seen in pictures was going to make it tight but it isn't at all and that happened to be "my" side of the bed. Loved the USB ports at bedside. We did bring a converter from home that had 3 outlets and 4 USB ports. I found it on Amazon. We mainly used it and plugged it in at the desk.

 

Get familiarized with the TV and all the offerings it has. Take advantage of the port talks on the TV. Check your account. Find those hidden movies that I found on the last night. I saw the movies listings but didn't realize that there are many to choose from. Enough for men and women.

 

The included tours ended up being pretty good. I did hear some grumbling from other cruisers on our ship about how boring Stockholm included tour was so we decided to skip it.

 

Alla Tours in St Petersburg was definitely the best decision we made in tours. It worked out that there were only 3 couples. We were kicking ourselves for not booking them in the other ports as the Viking tours are somewhat large at around 26 people. I highly recommend anyone to consider using them.

 

We took the train to Berlin and then the Historic tour of Berlin with Viking. Enjoyed it very much. I did hear people saying that the included tour left them alone too many hours in Berlin so if you can't keep yourself entertained then you might want to consider a different tour.

 

One of our favorite stops was Eidfjord. We did it on our own. Someone here recommended stopping at the tourist office and pick up a map that shows two different walks. To that person I want to say THANK YOU. The yellow walk is more of a nature hike that they say takes 90 minutes. It took us 3 hours. We stopped along the way and soaked it all up. We took so many pictures. We loved not being on a bus. We loved doing something on our own, with no crowds. We loved the fresh air. It was an easy walk for the most part but it did have a steep climb in the middle. The blue walk is more of an in town walk which we did not take since it took us so long on the yellow walk, haha. There is very little shopping there. Viking suggests that you get up early and watch the sail in to Eidfjord. We got up at 5am and it was worth it to us. Few people did it so it was easy to sit inside or stand outside for the full view. It was very, very pretty. Sailing out they go fast so you don't really get the same affect.

 

Some of you know that we decided not to go through Viking to get to Pulpit Rock in Stavanger. We ended up using the company Norled instead of Rodne because of their better time. It was fantastic. We even had enough time to explore Stavanger afterwards. Both Norled and Rodne are easy to find right at the port. I was looking for some sort of a kiosk or something big with their names on it but all they had was a little table and an umbrella. Both are right next to each other. We had bad weather so we didn't get to see the top of Pulpit Rock but it was still worth it. We were fully prepared for rain so we stayed outside on their deck most of that cruise and the 360 view was worth it It costs considerably less than Viking's tour to Pulpit Rock. The only difference between Viking's tour and Norled's was that Viking stops at a beach for a waffle. We actually saw them on land getting their waffle in the rain.

 

We were disappointed in our post stay. When we first booked we thought we would have more time in Oslo. We did find out differently before we left so we were prepared but it still left us disappointed. It was a 7 hour train journey which was beautiful. Our guide that we had in Bergen for our first day of the post stay stayed with us on the train where we were handed over to a different guide at the train station in Oslo. We arrived around 3 or 3:30 and then had a bus tour around the City, visited the Viking Ship museum (which was fantastic) and Statue Park. We were to see a Ski jump area but the low clouds prohibited it so we went to Statue Park which everyone loved. We arrived at our hotel at 6pm. It left us pretty much no time to explore on our own. We ate dinner and then went back to the room to prepare for our flight home the following morning.

 

Viking was EXTREMELY organized on our pre and post stays. We were impressed.

 

All of the Viking staff were attentive and professional. All the tour guides were excellent.

 

Food.....very subjective but we found it excellent. We loved Chef's Table the most. Make sure to try and get in all menu rotations. At the end of the meal they encourage you to make a reservation for the next menu. It was easy to get a reservation. Manfredi's was good but way too much food for our liking. My advice is to check the interactive menu outside of the restaurants to see what is on the menu for that day and make your decision from there where to eat for lunch and dinner. We never called room service so I can't address it. If you like shrimp salad, go to the pool side restaurant and have their shrimp salad sandwich. I am already craving it.

 

Viking on all of their paperwork and on their website suggests to tip the drivers and guides on the tours. We saw very little tipping going on. It did make me sad.

 

I found the ship chilly in the common areas so ladies bring a sweater just in case.

 

Stop by the Explorers Desk every night after dinner and pick up a map of the port for the following day. It is not very detailed and got us frustrated often but at least we had something. Some ports have maps right by the ship or on the bus. Those maps are by far better than Viking's.

 

Just in case anyone is wondering, the guides do a great job of bathroom breaks. They always point out where they are and when the next break will be.

 

Viking offers a shuttle bus in most of the ports which was fantastic. My advice is to make sure you are getting on the RIGHT cruise line's shuttle bus even if there is a Viking representative standing right next to the bus. Otherwise you will find yourself at the wrong ship and need to take a 15.00 taxi ride to get to the right ship. Don't ask me how I know.

 

I'm sure I am leaving out a few things but I hope someone finds some of this helpful.

 

Thank you for posting this. In Stavenger, we booked with Rodne--they have a 10:00 excursion and our ship sails at 2:00--Norled shows only one departure at 12:15 which doesn't work. Did Viking use Rodne or Norled for their trip to Pulpit Rock? Did you notice if the Rodne boat returned close to when yours did? Just don't want to be left!

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Thank you so much for the info. Looking forward to our Homelands Cruise!

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We did the 10.00 Rodne Pulpit Rock trip and arrived back at 1pm, just as it was supposed to. We too sailed at 2pm so were back on board in plenty of time. I can really recommend it, just be warned it can be quite chilly.

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We did the 10.00 Rodne Pulpit Rock trip and arrived back at 1pm, just as it was supposed to. We too sailed at 2pm so were back on board in plenty of time. I can really recommend it, just be warned it can be quite chilly.

 

Thanks for telling me that! I would hate to be left!

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I just realized that I typed Baltics cruise. It was the Homelands cruise. I don't know if it is possible to edit the title.

 

I fixed it for you. Thanks for the review -- I'm filing this away with tips for our British Isles cruise.

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Thank you for posting this. In Stavenger, we booked with Rodne--they have a 10:00 excursion and our ship sails at 2:00--Norled shows only one departure at 12:15 which doesn't work. Did Viking use Rodne or Norled for their trip to Pulpit Rock? Did you notice if the Rodne boat returned close to when yours did? Just don't want to be left!

 

I had a nice email conversation with Rodne and they told me that Viking does not use them. I had read here somewhere that they do so I asked hoping it was the case. I knew if we were going to be late they would hold the ship for Viking tours but when I learned Viking doesn't use them I cancelled Rodne and booked Norled. We actually watched Rodne leave the port at 10 on our cruise and there was absolutely no way we could have made it to them in time for 10. Their 2:00 cruise was cutting it too close for comfort for us. I know port times vary from cruise to cruise and which direction you are coming from.

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We just returned from our cruise on the Viking Star. I asked so many questions so I thought that maybe I could start a thread that might be helpful to others.

 

First off, I was worried about our DV category being too small and not having enough storage. I was pleasantly surprised. We are over packers but still found plenty of room. I did ask that the coffee maker be removed for the extra storage. I have read that some would like to see the bathroom smaller for more storage but honestly I wouldn't. It, too, has lots of storage. The shower and heated floors are the best part. I thought the bed and nightstand right next to the closet that I had seen in pictures was going to make it tight but it isn't at all and that happened to be "my" side of the bed. Loved the USB ports at bedside. We did bring a converter from home that had 3 outlets and 4 USB ports. I found it on Amazon. We mainly used it and plugged it in at the desk.

 

Get familiarized with the TV and all the offerings it has. Take advantage of the port talks on the TV. Check your account. Find those hidden movies that I found on the last night. I saw the movies listings but didn't realize that there are many to choose from. Enough for men and women.

 

The included tours ended up being pretty good. I did hear some grumbling from other cruisers on our ship about how boring Stockholm included tour was so we decided to skip it.

 

Alla Tours in St Petersburg was definitely the best decision we made in tours. It worked out that there were only 3 couples. We were kicking ourselves for not booking them in the other ports as the Viking tours are somewhat large at around 26 people. I highly recommend anyone to consider using them.

 

We took the train to Berlin and then the Historic tour of Berlin with Viking. Enjoyed it very much. I did hear people saying that the included tour left them alone too many hours in Berlin so if you can't keep yourself entertained then you might want to consider a different tour.

 

One of our favorite stops was Eidfjord. We did it on our own. Someone here recommended stopping at the tourist office and pick up a map that shows two different walks. To that person I want to say THANK YOU. The yellow walk is more of a nature hike that they say takes 90 minutes. It took us 3 hours. We stopped along the way and soaked it all up. We took so many pictures. We loved not being on a bus. We loved doing something on our own, with no crowds. We loved the fresh air. It was an easy walk for the most part but it did have a steep climb in the middle. The blue walk is more of an in town walk which we did not take since it took us so long on the yellow walk, haha. There is very little shopping there. Viking suggests that you get up early and watch the sail in to Eidfjord. We got up at 5am and it was worth it to us. Few people did it so it was easy to sit inside or stand outside for the full view. It was very, very pretty. Sailing out they go fast so you don't really get the same affect.

 

Some of you know that we decided not to go through Viking to get to Pulpit Rock in Stavanger. We ended up using the company Norled instead of Rodne because of their better time. It was fantastic. We even had enough time to explore Stavanger afterwards. Both Norled and Rodne are easy to find right at the port. I was looking for some sort of a kiosk or something big with their names on it but all they had was a little table and an umbrella. Both are right next to each other. We had bad weather so we didn't get to see the top of Pulpit Rock but it was still worth it. We were fully prepared for rain so we stayed outside on their deck most of that cruise and the 360 view was worth it It costs considerably less than Viking's tour to Pulpit Rock. The only difference between Viking's tour and Norled's was that Viking stops at a beach for a waffle. We actually saw them on land getting their waffle in the rain.

 

We were disappointed in our post stay. When we first booked we thought we would have more time in Oslo. We did find out differently before we left so we were prepared but it still left us disappointed. It was a 7 hour train journey which was beautiful. Our guide that we had in Bergen for our first day of the post stay stayed with us on the train where we were handed over to a different guide at the train station in Oslo. We arrived around 3 or 3:30 and then had a bus tour around the City, visited the Viking Ship museum (which was fantastic) and Statue Park. We were to see a Ski jump area but the low clouds prohibited it so we went to Statue Park which everyone loved. We arrived at our hotel at 6pm. It left us pretty much no time to explore on our own. We ate dinner and then went back to the room to prepare for our flight home the following morning.

 

Viking was EXTREMELY organized on our pre and post stays. We were impressed.

 

All of the Viking staff were attentive and professional. All the tour guides were excellent.

 

Food.....very subjective but we found it excellent. We loved Chef's Table the most. Make sure to try and get in all menu rotations. At the end of the meal they encourage you to make a reservation for the next menu. It was easy to get a reservation. Manfredi's was good but way too much food for our liking. My advice is to check the interactive menu outside of the restaurants to see what is on the menu for that day and make your decision from there where to eat for lunch and dinner. We never called room service so I can't address it. If you like shrimp salad, go to the pool side restaurant and have their shrimp salad sandwich. I am already craving it.

 

Viking on all of their paperwork and on their website suggests to tip the drivers and guides on the tours. We saw very little tipping going on. It did make me sad.

 

I found the ship chilly in the common areas so ladies bring a sweater just in case.

 

Stop by the Explorers Desk every night after dinner and pick up a map of the port for the following day. It is not very detailed and got us frustrated often but at least we had something. Some ports have maps right by the ship or on the bus. Those maps are by far better than Viking's.

 

Just in case anyone is wondering, the guides do a great job of bathroom breaks. They always point out where they are and when the next break will be.

 

Viking offers a shuttle bus in most of the ports which was fantastic. My advice is to make sure you are getting on the RIGHT cruise line's shuttle bus even if there is a Viking representative standing right next to the bus. Otherwise you will find yourself at the wrong ship and need to take a 15.00 taxi ride to get to the right ship. Don't ask me how I know.

 

I'm sure I am leaving out a few things but I hope someone finds some of this helpful.

JiminyC_fan, Wonderful information. I read a thread recently which indicated that the poster did not see much tipping to guides and drivers while off the ship. I don't know that it was you who commented on that, but did you notice the same thing? I'm wondering whether all of the different currencies at ports intimidated people? Any ideas on that? If folks did not plan on dining ashore or making purchases, perhaps they did not go to the ATM for local currency??? I've been thinking about that myself, although I will almost certainly make some small purchases so I hope to have local currency. Thank you for your input on this matter. Except for our trip to China and a tour which included a few days in Northern Ireland, we've used Euros throughout our trips.

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Some of you know that we decided not to go through Viking to get to Pulpit Rock in Stavanger. We ended up using the company Norled instead of Rodne because of their better time. It was fantastic. We even had enough time to explore Stavanger afterwards. Both Norled and Rodne are easy to find right at the port. I was looking for some sort of a kiosk or something big with their names on it but all they had was a little table and an umbrella. Both are right next to each other. We had bad weather so we didn't get to see the top of Pulpit Rock but it was still worth it. We were fully prepared for rain so we stayed outside on their deck most of that cruise and the 360 view was worth it It costs considerably less than Viking's tour to Pulpit Rock. The only difference between Viking's tour and Norled's was that Viking stops at a beach for a waffle. We actually saw them on land getting their waffle in the rain.

 

Thank you for the review.

 

How did you manage Norled? The tour leaves at 12:15 and is 2 hours.

The ship leaves at 2.

 

Thanks

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It may have been me that mentioned the tipping, who knows. But, I do know that we didn't see much of it. Many did but many did not. They would slither right past the guide and driver, LOL. We were told that USD would work fine for tipping but we used local currency. We stopped at the bank at home for all the different currencies before leaving and IMHO that was a blessing. We never had to go on search for an ATM. We could focus on the port itself. I kept all the currency in separate bank envelopes marked with the country in the safe and at night I would put back that day's and pull out for the next day. It never got mixed up and was a great routine.....for us. Just today we went to the bank and they bought back all the bills that we had leftover. The cost of doing it was minimal and it was peace of mind while there.

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Thank you for the review.

 

How did you manage Norled? The tour leaves at 12:15 and is 2 hours.

The ship leaves at 2.

 

Thanks

 

Hi, we left at 6:00. Your hours are different than ours. My suggestion for you is Rodne at 10:00. I assume you will arrive earlier than we did.

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It may have been me that mentioned the tipping, who knows. But, I do know that we didn't see much of it. Many did but many did not. They would slither right past the guide and driver, LOL. We were told that USD would work fine for tipping but we used local currency. We stopped at the bank at home for all the different currencies before leaving and IMHO that was a blessing. We never had to go on search for an ATM. We could focus on the port itself. I kept all the currency in separate bank envelopes marked with the country in the safe and at night I would put back that day's and pull out for the next day. It never got mixed up and was a great routine.....for us. Just today we went to the bank and they bought back all the bills that we had leftover. The cost of doing it was minimal and it was peace of mind while there.

 

I did the same putting tip bills in different marked envelopes to pull out for the day's tour. Leftover small bills I added to the bonus Euros cash tip for housekeeping. Didn't want to go on an ATM quest per port with limited time. Also may ATMs don't issue smallest bills so you then next need to find change. Not worth the hassle with limited time in port and many tours starting 7-8AM.

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I did the same putting tip bills in different marked envelopes to pull out for the day's tour. Leftover small bills I added to the bonus Euros cash tip for housekeeping. Didn't want to go on an ATM quest per port with limited time. Also may ATMs don't issue smallest bills so you then next need to find change. Not worth the hassle with limited time in port and many tours starting 7-8AM.

Very true!

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Thank you for the review.

 

How did you manage Norled? The tour leaves at 12:15 and is 2 hours.

The ship leaves at 2.

 

Thanks

 

Derrick22, their ship sailed from Stockholm to Bergen so they stayed longer in Stavanger. I have contacted the Rodne company and have been assured that we would be back by 1:00 and our ship leaves at 2:00. We booked with them on line, and they immediately emailed our tickets. We are on the same ship so come with us! Others have said the scenery is beautiful and trip cost much less than Viking!

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