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Cahpek

Viking star with cancelled tunis/algiers port stops - our experience so far.

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Thanks all for the reviews. We are on the Jan 4 voyage and find your input very helpful.

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

We are also on the January 4th cruise , along with another couple ( Europebound...cc name) .

We understand the change in itinerary, but booked mainly for Tunisia and Algeria. Been to most of other ports a few times ....we will have a great time ...no matter .:D

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We are also on the January 4th cruise , along with another couple ( Europebound...cc name) .

We understand the change in itinerary, but booked mainly for Tunisia and Algeria. Been to most of other ports a few times ....we will have a great time ...no matter .:D

 

So how about joining us on our roll call and signing up for Meet & Mingle. We are gonna have a wicked good time.

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Since Naples was added to the itinerary at the last minute, perhaps the best vendors were already booked up, and/or it was a new port for Viking and so they didn't have much opportunity to get the best possible tour for 900 people.

 

But thanks for the information. I need to keep telling myself that just because those included excursions don't cost me anything more, and ARE convenient, they may not be the best excursion to take!

 

I certainly agree that because an excursion is included at no additional charge, does not mean that it is the best choice. While we are always cost conscious ( least expensive cabin for us!), when I have already spent many thousands, I am willing to spend the relatively modest amount for a few of the optional excursions. From the port of Naples, I would be looking to visit Pompeii or Herculaneum.

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DAY 3 of VIKING SEA DEC 21st Cruise (today is Dec 23rd).

 

 

After lunch, we went to our cabin (we prefer to call it that , rather than a "Stateroom", the latter sounded a bit too posh and pretentious) and switched on the TV. When we switched onto the Viking Dailiy channel, we were surprised to hear the Cruise Director mentioned that the all-aboard time today in Naples is 5.30pm. In the Viking Daily newsletter, it is stated that the Back on Board time is going to be 4.30pm. We thought we did not hear that right, and we repeated the broadcast and sure enough, she said 4.30pm.

 

We called the Explorers Desk (Viking's name for Reception) but they seem rather cool about it . We were concerned because we did not want any passenger to be left in Naples while the ship sailed away! One of us went downstairs to speak to someone at the Explorer's Desk. The man there called the Assistant Cruising Director, but she seemed a bit off-handed about it. She just indicated something about passengers should know the correct time because it was stated in the Viking Daily and on the board before they leave the ship. When she was asked should the broadcast not be changed or an announcement made to highlight the mistake, but she said that could not be done.

 

It is hoped that the Captain is aware of this, and that people in the Cruising Director department are not trying to hide their mistakes! What is more important, it is hoped that every passsenger will get back on board and no one is caught by listening to what the Cruising Director mistakenly announced.

 

We mentioned that the man called the Assistant Cruising Director, actually, it was possibly not her Assistant, but the Cruising Director herself.

 

Just at the end of the evening show (it was the Clarinet and Piano duo called the "Virtuosos", curiously not the "Virtuosi" as the latter name would be more correct), the CD came on stage, and she did not even mentioned about her mistake and apologise. It was everything was just fine. Not that impressed with her.

 

Going back to the musical duo, they have been on Viking 2 or 3 times before. Their style in playing not too well known compositions apart from the American Rhapsody seemed to be appreciated by the audience although they were not my cup for tea. My partner liked it, but I had trouble not falling asleep (my partner had to me several times to keep me awake, I have to confess! Gulp!!!)

Edited by Cahpek

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Very much enjoying your reports! Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. We are doing the B2B in February, originating in Barcelona, and it's our first VO cruise, so this is all very helpful.

 

Just curious, about how many people are in a single group on the included tours?

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For those taking the later sailings of this itinerary: the included Naples tour would be much better if you buy a copy of Rick Steves Italy and follow his Naples walking tour after they leave you off. It will also let you prioritize the sights in Rome to better plan your day there.

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I've uploaded some photos of the new excursions but could only do it as a review. I don't think it's available yet as it needs to be approved by a moderator of Cruise Critic.

 

I'll post the link once approved.

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Our included tour of Barcelona and Stockholm were dismal failures on Barcelona, Baltics and Beyond Cruise ...all others were good to excellent! Interestingly these were the ports for embarkation and disembarking, fortunately we had extended in both cities.

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I certainly agree that because an excursion is included at no additional charge, does not mean that it is the best choice. While we are always cost conscious ( least expensive cabin for us!), when I have already spent many thousands, I am willing to spend the relatively modest amount for a few of the optional excursions. From the port of Naples, I would be looking to visit Pompeii or Herculaneum.

We enjoyed Pompeii when we were in Sorrento on a cruise, although I think we took the train there rather than doing it on a ship's excursion. In any case, I thought it was a worthwhile place to visit.

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Very much enjoying your reports! Thanks for taking the time to share your experience. We are doing the B2B in February, originating in Barcelona, and it's our first VO cruise, so this is all very helpful.

 

Just curious, about how many people are in a single group on the included tours?

 

There are 3 or 4 large coaches full for the included tours. They are staggered so everyone isn't rushing at once. All very well managed.

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There are 3 or 4 large coaches full for the included tours. They are staggered so everyone isn't rushing at once. All very well managed.

 

That did not apply to us last year in Tunis. There were three coaches, pretty full, and we all had to wait to travel together. I think it was because we were escorted by police. It created quite a problem when everyone decided they needed to use the facilities before getting on the bus. Everyone on our bus was ready to leave, but we had to wait a half hour on the two busses behind us. That half hour wait cut into our next stop.

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Thanks for the comments on tour size. Didn't mean to sidetrack this great reporting thread.

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We mentioned that the man called the Assistant Cruising Director, actually, it was possibly not her Assistant, but the Cruising Director herself.

 

Just at the end of the evening show (it was the Clarinet and Piano duo called the "Virtuosos", curiously not the "Virtuosi" as the latter name would be more correct), the CD came on stage, and she did not even mentioned about her mistake and apologise. It was everything was just fine. Not that impressed with her.

 

Going back to the musical duo, they have been on Viking 2 or 3 times before. Their style in playing not too well known compositions apart from the American Rhapsody seemed to be appreciated by the audience although they were not my cup for tea. My partner liked it, but I had trouble not falling asleep (my partner had to me several times to keep me awake, I have to confess! Gulp!!!)

 

About this show and trying not to fall asleep, my partner had to JAB me in the ribs several times to wake me up! I promised I did not SNORE in the theatre though! Lol.

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For those taking the later sailings of this itinerary: the included Naples tour would be much better if you buy a copy of Rick Steves Italy and follow his Naples walking tour after they leave you off. It will also let you prioritize the sights in Rome to better plan your day there.

 

Thanks for the information.

 

By the way, are you the MODERATOR FOR THIS VIKING thread? There is an earlier Viking thread related to this one which I started. https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2574444

 

When that thread was put on, only the Viking Star Dec 21st cruise was affected (stopovers in Tunisia and Algeria cancelled). However, since then , at least 2 other Viking Cruises (Jan 4th and Jan 18th) are affected. Could you please change the title to something more appropriate to the current situation? If you could, that would be appreciated. Perhaps, it could be amended to FLASH NEWS! VIKING STAR DEC & JAN CRUISES - STOPOVER IN TUNIS (LA GOULETTE) & ALGIERS CANCELLED. Thank you.

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DAY 4, DEC 24th - X'MAS EVE. IN TRAPANI ; ARRIVED 8.00AMBACK ON BOARD 4.30PM

 

Breakfast this morning seemed to be a great improvement on previous days. The scrambled eggs was still most and not dry and overcooked, the sausages tasted succulent, they had American style crispy bacon (hooray) and they even had the wonderful Scandinavian bread which we found at Mamsen's for their toast (maybe the bread was there every morning, we just did not know it was there!). What was more, there was no "scrum" to find a table at the World Cafe restaurant.

 

My partner went for his Marsala tasting wine tour. It was a pleasant surprise in one way, but not in the other. The group was taken in a coach which went through the beautiful countryside outside Trapani, passing through the salt-pans and wind-mill. Then, they arrived in Marsala, a town of 80,000. It appeared much smaller than Trapani, which is strange because Trapani has only 10,000 more inhabitants with a population of 90,000 ,not that much more. The tour group got some time to visit the town before going to taste the Marsala - and this was the one part that was a bit of a let down. They were not taken to a winery but to a marsala wine shop in town. They were only given very small samples of 3-4 Marsala in small paper cups (like you find in Airport Duty Free shops giving out whiskey or wine samples) and that was it. However, fortunately, this was compensated with another pleasant surprise. After the Marsala sampling, they were taken to a gorgeous house set in an elegant estate complete with lovely gardens. Eventhough it is winter, there were still some plants in flower, including the "Bird of Paradise" (Kniphoffier). They met the hosts who owned the property. Then, they were led to a wonderful dining room, with a table completely laid out in style . In the dining room, there were waiters/waitresses ready to attend to the guest visitors. There was even a menu on what they would be served that afternoon. When they sat down, they were offered tastings of different wines, this time in proper glasses, with accompanying cheese. The wine portions were generous, and they could have a refill if they wished. Then, there was a substantially filled baguette, followed by a tasty parfait of some sort. This was much more than what a normal excursion would do, so a "pat on the back" for Viking for offering this excursion!

 

For me, I was planning to take the free walking tour at 1.15pm, but when I got out of the ship to wait for the group, I met an English couple who had been on an earlier similar tour. They said that there was not much in the tour and they did not show them very much. With that in mind, I decided not to go with the tour. I walked around Trapani for a bit, but there was not much to see. It felt a bit like a "dumbed down" version of Cadiz, and not quite so nice.

 

Tonight, there will be a Christmas theme show, "The Night Before Christmas" which will be shown twice, at 6.30pm , and at 9.15pm. (I hope it will be good. In any case, I will have to make sure I won't fall asleep this time like I did during last night's show! ) Not sureyet what they have in the menu in the Restaurant, but as it is Christmas eve, it is hopefully going to be nice. (I remembered several years back when we were in Benidorm, and at the hotel, we were served a Spanish Christmas lunch. Each one of the guests were served a huge piece of "Roast Goat" , not roast lamb. It was so huge each portion was enough to serve a dozen people. Unfortunetly, it was tough and smelt awful !!!! It was "memorable" but for the wrong reasons!)

 

What I like about Viking is we seem to discover new things the longer we are on the cruise. Two days ago, I discovered that in Mamsen's they had the "Success Cake" (a kind of meringue cake filled with some ultra rich creamy filling and topped with almonds). It was so good that I have eaten so much of that , probably too much, now I think I will not want to see it for another ten years (so I say)! . However, I discovered that Mamsens has another cake equally as good, if not better. They have a kind of frangipane tart Prince's Cake (or in Norwegian , Fyrstekake, but as it is Norwegian, I won't even try to pronounce it as I won't wish to cause offence to gentle souls!). It is so good that I have even went onto the internet and found the recipe. I won't DARE think about calories because it won't surprise me if they (those tempting cakes) are a zillion calories; even if they are, I won't care, I am on a holiday- and it is Christmas after all - two very good excuses!

 

To get themselves in a Christmas mood, saw the staff in the Explorer's desk, one was wearing a Santa hat, and another a reindeer head gear! What a shame we do not have a huge Christmas tree in the main hall on the Viking Star, that would have been the icing on the cake. Nevermind, life is not perfect.

 

Yesterday, I visited the sauna, but have not used it yet. It was completely desserted when I was there. I wonder if the sauna , like many hotels we have been, may seem like a very good idea, but in pratice, very few people actually use it. And if they do use it, they do it only once in a while. I could be mistaken of course but I bet the restaurants are many times more popular than the saunas!!!!

Edited by Cahpek

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Just came back from the free/included "Naples Highlights" excursion.

 

Compared to yesterday's excursion to Rome, the Rome free/included excursion was miles better.

 

For the Naples Highlights excursion, the first part was quite nice, with a coach ride up the hilly area overlooking Naples Bay. There were to very short stops, the first one was a view overlooking a derelict factory which was not very inspiring. Then, we were taken to the centre of the city, and was dropped there to be on our own. More than half of the tour was a unguided and almost do-it-yourself. All the guide suggested was for us to go try some local foods in Naples. So, all in all, it was not much of an excursion and certainly nothing to write home about. The ship is docked very close to the city centre, so we just walked back. Really, Viking needs to improve offering of the Naples Highlights tour, especially when this tour was supposed to replace the excursion either in Tunis or in Algiers. In our view, this excursion was a POOR COMPENSATION. We would not recommend this excursion to anyone going on further cruises. It felt rather perfunctory in its offering. Not so good.

 

I have to tell you that your experience with the Naples Highlights tour was not poor compensation for what you would have gotten in Algiers--it was exactly the same. Well, actually now that I think on it, you did better in Naples than we did in Algiers.

 

 

We were on Viking to Tunis and Algiers in January of this year and while I can't comment on Tunis because we took a for-fee tour, the Algiers included tour was even more lackluster than your experience in Naples. A bit of a bust. We were taken on a bus through the city to the Martyrs Memorial on the hill and walked around it. We were not allowed to wander far from our group and after about 15 minutes it got a little boring looking at the sculpture. We were then walked back to the bus for a ride to the ship where we reboarded. That was it.

 

 

Algiers was a strange experience. The country is not used to tourists, which made for an awkward day. Our guide was friendly but it seemed like he was given a script for what to tell us. He was guarded in his replies to questions about Algiers. And the whole thing about an exorbitant visa fee to see Algiers on our own effectively made us prisoners on the ship until it was time for our scheduled tour. ($160 each for US citizens for the privilege of wandering around for the few hours we were in port? No.....) It was a shame because from what we saw from the bus, the city--though desperately shabby and poor--was interesting, the people looked welcoming, and we'd have loved to have walked around for a bit. The ship was docked right there.

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DAY 4, DEC 24th - X'MAS EVE....EVENING.

 

Dinner at the Restaurant - they had a nice menu, which included smoked fish with cavair, soft shelled crab in light batter, Chateaubriand, Lobster Thermidor, etc. Partly because we went fairly early, around 6.10pm, the first two courses were served relatively fast. Then, as the crowds came in and the tables became filled up, we waited so long for the desserts, about 30 mins and since it did not come, we decided to leave and get some desserts in the buffet restaurant instead.

 

Indeed, at the World Cafe dessert offered included a couple with Christmas theme, eg Yule Log Cake and Christmas Pudding. However, the pudding was served COLD and without custard. In good spirits, the server joked perhaps it is from the Baltic! No, I said, it could be Norwegian Christmas pudding from the freezing Artic! We both laughed. That's what I like about Viking staff, many of them have a good sense of humour!

 

CHRISTMAS SHOW. I had thought those folks that had mentioned that entertainment is not one of Viking's strengths were wrong, but I am afraid I am beginning to feel that they are indeed correct. Apart from the first day, and arguably the third day entertainment, the res were below expectation. This evening's Christmas show felt like a school production with adults. It was a kind of home-made show with Viking staff. Before that, at the back screen, it showed greetings from about 14-15 different Viking staff on how they feel over Christmas. That was fine, until it repeated itself again. And again. On the third time, it felt like we were tortured for doing something we did not know what. Then , the staff singers came, and that sent me to sleep on a show (again). To be fair, the Filipino couple who sang was quite nice, but some of the others, left a lot to be desired. Some of them seem just to enjoy their own voices by thinking singing as loud as they could would improve their singing. IF ANYTHING THAT WOULD PUT US OFF SAILING WITH VIKING ON A CHRISTMAS CRUISE, THIS SHOW WAS IT. Instead of feeling inspired over Christmas, after the show, we felt rather DEFLATED !!!! (Not everyone would agree with us, of course, but like food, Christmas shows can be subjective).

 

We ended the evening listening to Classic FM in the cabin TV, at least,there was nice Christmas music. However, the transmission was regularly interrupted.

 

Nevermind, c'est la vie! We still look forward to visiting Cagliari on CHRISTMAS DAY tomorrow.

 

LESSON OF THE DAY FOR US: If we like good Christmas entertainment on a cruise next Christmas, it won't be on a Viking ship. (unless they improve the quality of their entertainment).

Edited by Cahpek

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The Xmas eve dinner offerings sound delicious.

 

Thanks for your continued, balanced reporting.

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Thank you very much for all these info so we know what to expect. we will be sailing Jan 18

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The Xmas eve dinner offerings sound delicious.

 

Thanks for your continued, balanced reporting.

 

 

 

Thank you very much for all these info so we know what to expect. we will be sailing Jan 18

 

 

Our pleasure. And a Merry Christmas to you.

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DAY 5, CHRISTMAS DAY 25th DEC.

 

Another early morning rise. The wake up call rang at 6.30am as we have to assemble at 8.00am for the included Panoramic Cagliari tour. The ship was already in port at 7.00am, very close to the city.

 

We were soon on our buses and before we knew it, going up around the streets of the city. Although the forecast for the weather was 16 degrees C/ 61 degrees F, and the sun was out, it felt more chilly than anticipated. Cagliari is such an attractive city with so much charm and character. Although it is part of Italy, it does not look like or feel like an Italian city. It is certainly cleaner looking and more attractive and more interesting than our last stop Trapani. The palm trees dotted around the city and its environs certainly help make it look so nice. It is one place we would like to visit again, perhaps not on a cruise, so we could stay for a few days.

 

The Viking free tour today was great - it took us on a bus up a hill to the Bonaire (?) cathedral, then to the top of mountain viewpoint which gave us a panoramic view of the city on one side, and on the other side was an equally breath-taking view of the salt lakes and the beach. Of course, the winter sun shining onto the buildings in the city created the lights and shadows that enhanced the beauty of the scenery. The bus to us down and drove past the salt lakes and back into the city. We ended up at the old town but on a raised hillly part of the city. We got down the bus and the guide took us on a walking tour visiting several attractions . It was an easy walk because we were walking downhill, not uphill, so we took advantage of gravity! During the walks, we noticed the "Cagliarians" (if that is why residents of the town are called) have lovely dogs. Trouble is, those dogs seem to be notorious in doing their doggie toileting in the public greens and after their "relief" ,they would use their doggie paws and dug the lawn to cover what it did. We love dogs but if we have a dog like one those ones, we would not have much of a garden left!

 

Back on the ship, lunch at the World Cafe was alright although it included last evening's leftover turkey! It was quite busy by then (1.30pm ish ) as everyone had been back onto the ship because the departure time was 1.00pm.

 

When we first arrived, probably as part of the Deluxe Verandah deal, we had two bottles of wine waiting for us when we first arrived a few days ago. They were both the same kind of wine. When my partner opened one bottles, it had an "unpleasant nose" and it gave no pleasure to drink (this was probably kept for too long). However, we mentioned to the ship staff and they changed them for something more acceptable without an issue.

 

From yesterday, we have adopted a new "trick" on how to get through dinner more quickly, given how long it could be by dining in The Restaurant especially when it gets busy. We would try and go to The Restaurant early-ish, just after when it opens at 6pm, order the starter and main course, BUT leave the dessert. We found that if we have to wait for desserts, at that time, the tables would be filling up and it gets busy and we would have to wait for a long time for it to come. So, instead of doing that, we have our desserts in the World Cafe buffet. Simples.

 

We also went to check our booking for the specialty restaurants and change some dates for the evenings at the Chef's Table. Experienced Viking cruisers would know that the menu at the Chef's Table changes every three days. It is a meal that offers wine pairing. We wanted as much as possible to try the restaurant when the menus will be offering Continental fare rather than Asian fayre, as drinking wine with the former would be more enjoyable to us (even though we like Asian foods too, but on other occasions.)

 

There is a song and dance show with the Viking Singers. Not too sure whether we would like to go.

 

Tomorrow, at least, we won't arrive in Palma de Mallorca till 12noon, so we will not have to wake up early for another early excursion. Horray!

 

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Edited by Cahpek

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This is our initial Viking Ocean Cruise ( but we have done 5 Viking River Cruises)

We are currently on this same cruise and have used the spa area 3 times. Often we are the first in the area but then soon others arrive. It has never been what I would call crowded. The pool is comfortable temp with jets one can relax in or swim into as they offer quite a bit of resistance.

Each locker or changing area has a dry sauna and cool plunge pool.

There is a wet sauna in the pool area, warmed tile lounge area, a shower, a shower with a cold bucket and a snow grotto and a hot tub.

 

We did all included tours with the exception of Ostia in Rome. The included tours were hit or miss depending on guide. Some folks complained because everything was closed on Christmas Day while in Cagliari but I loved it as we practically had the city to ourselves. So nice to walk around freely without dodging people or vehicles.

 

Each port offered free transport to/ from the city center. So one could take the included tour, break off from the group and still get back to the ship. This was very nice option. Make sure to pick up a city map when exiting the ship. It took me a couple of days to realize they existed.

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Of course everything would be closed on Christmas day! Very surprised that some people expected business as usual on such a major international public holiday.

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