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Review- Viking Sea: From the Caribbean to the Amazon (Dec 16, 2017 to Jan. 6, 2018)

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..other than to remove Belem (rightfully so) from the itinerary.

 

Belem was never on the Sky's Miami to the Amazon itinerary. It was always a different itinerary. I notice Miami to the Amazon is no longer offered, just Caribbean to the Amazon.

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We are sailing on Viking sea this December Caribbean to Amazon ( first time cruisers )

We are looking forward to this holiday I certainly hope this itinerary is not pulled as we had booked and payed for our airfares as we are flying from Australia.

I have read a review from Viking sky from the last trip in February and they loved it they have shared 21 photos and gave it 5 stars.

Yes I have been following all the threads and decided there are over 900 people on each cruises that have sailed already to the Amazon and only a hand full people have been disappointed so that’s why we have decided not to cancel.

So the count down starts for us!

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We are sailing on Viking sea this December Caribbean to Amazon ( first time cruisers )

We are looking forward to this holiday I certainly hope this itinerary is not pulled as we had booked and payed for our airfares as we are flying from Australia.

I have read a review from Viking sky from the last trip in February and they loved it they have shared 21 photos and gave it 5 stars.

Yes I have been following all the threads and decided there are over 900 people on each cruises that have sailed already to the Amazon and only a hand full people have been disappointed so that’s why we have decided not to cancel.

So the count down starts for us! ��

 

It is true that it is easily possible to get a distorted view of things based on just a few negative or positive posts. However we were on the first Amazon cruise back in December 2017 and it was far from perfect. We are big fans of Viking (and are booked on our future sixth Viking river/Oceans cruise) but they dropped the ball badly with this itinerary. I expect them to put a lot of effort into improving things (excursions need a lot of attention).

 

While on the cruise I made a point of asking others what they thought about this specific cruise (not about Viking, the ship or the crew - all of these were great). I only found one couple who had a positive experience. At least ten other couples were in the range of "so-so" to "never take Viking again".

 

I see you are first time cruisers. Be forewarned that this part of Brazil has suffered badly from their political and economic crisis. You can see evidence of past greatness but you also see a lot more decay. This is not something one generally expects on a Viking cruise.

 

As the year progresses I hope you see more positive reactions on Cruisecritic to future Amazon cruises. However, I think at this point you will easily see more negative than positive reactions to the past Amazon Viking cruises

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Thank you BC Eddie in regards to Brazil we have travelled all over Asia and have lived in 3rd world countries so this will not impact on our visit.

 

It’s wonderful to hear you are a big fan of Viking and I hope we will be too as we have picked some other cruise with VIcking we would love to do.

 

We are looking forward to the Caribbean islands and the beautiful ship.

Edited by Rabbit27

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We are huge fans of Viking. Love the ships, the crew, the people. We have every intention of continuing to travel on Viking in the future.

Thank you stilltrucking for clarifying the Miami trip was always three ports. The San Juan itineraries were always four, however Belem went south on the first trip - so hopefully that is addressed as well as the excursions. Other lines make 5 ports in the Amazon, we knew that when we signed up so we hope that they fix this itinerary rather than cancel it. But it needs to be fixed and that is not based on just a few negative reviews. Viking is aware of this, they are not disagreeing it needs to be improved, and they have assured me that they are working on it. I am hopeful that they will be communicating their changes and improvements prior to 121 days before sailing because we would love to take this journey. I am going to keep running with the fact that they didn’t have enough time between these first two sailings to do anything and they will be true to Viking’s high standards on future Amazon sailings.

Edited by Vineyard View

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This is NOT encouraging. We are booked on the Viking Ra, new ship on the Nile, for the middle of October.

 

I started a thread on this roll call and found out today the ship is NOT finished and another older ship was substituted for their first trip (March 8 I believe) and the peeps next month were notified only 3 weeks before it would not be ready for them either, and no one seems to know if and when it will be ready.

 

Here is link to thread.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?p=55581368&posted=1#post55581368

 

I called Viking today and was told yes, they don't know when it will be ready but if not by October they will put on a master chef. Wheee.

 

We bought this trip because of the limited number of passengers, 48. And most of all, a brand new refurbished all suite, modern ship. Travelogues have had pics of the finished product and have been raving about a ship that apparently doesn't exist. At least not in time for its passengers.

 

To say I'm upset isn't even close.

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We are huge fans of Viking. Love the ships, the crew, the people. We have every intention of continuing to travel on Viking in the future.

Thank you stilltrucking for clarifying the Miami trip was always three ports. The San Juan itineraries were always four, however Belem went south on the first trip - so hopefully that is addressed as well as the excursions. Other lines make 5 ports in the Amazon, we knew that when we signed up so we hope that they fix this itinerary rather than cancel it. But it needs to be fixed and that is not based on just a few negative reviews. Viking is aware of this, they are not disagreeing it needs to be improved, and they have assured me that they are working on it. I am hopeful that they will be communicating their changes and improvements prior to 121 days before sailing because we would love to take this journey. I am going to keep running with the fact that they didn’t have enough time between these first two sailings to do anything and they will be true to Viking’s high standards on future Amazon sailings.

 

Please make sure you see my post today 3-17-18.

 

Thanks.

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I will second what Shoalwater said, Viking also contacted us and seemed to be listening to both the bad and the good there were serious issues on this cruise and I think the next Amazon cruise will probably be better.

 

My hope is you will see some changes in ports of call for Brazil, more varied entertainment, more wait staff and better supply planning.

 

It is to bad for those of us on the 12/16/17 we spent a lot of money but can't go back and change it so will move on and will still have fond memories we met a lot of wonderful people and the ship is very nice. I told Viking of a private tour that we took in Manaus and the Rep seemed interested in hearing the details so maybe they will add it or parts of it to their tours.

 

 

My husband and I are going on the December 2018 cruise San Juan to Amazon. Could you provide any information regarding the Private tour you took in Manaus? Thank you.

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Thought all knew "Frisco" is short for San Francisco. Guess I was wrong,

 

The only Frisco I know of is a city in Texas! No one from northern California would call San Francisco 'Frisco'. They might say 'San Fran' but never 'Frisco'. That's like pronouncing Houston Street in Manhattan as if it was a city in Texas and not House-ton. LOL

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I wish we had seen Shoalwater’s comments before we took this cruise.  His points about the ports are misunderstood by a few people who replied: what he is criticising is the paucity of the port experiences not their poverty.  There is so much more to see and do in the Amazon than we did or were shown. There is the rub. But perhaps a more useful comment is this: is it likely that you can have a rewarding experience of such a vast and inaccessible area from a cruise ship carrying 900 people? What chance you will see ANY of the stunning vistas or wildlife you are shown in the destination lectures? This is something you should do with a back pack at age 26.

 

The entertainment on our cruise was actually very good. We were way less excited by the food. The World Cafe is like a stressed version of a self-serve restaurant. It is way too cramped for its purpose. The Chef’s Kitchen is a lottery both in terms of choice and standard. Some of the included port tours are badly designed (destination: souvenir shop) and miss important sights.

 

Overall, I think it was the substance, not the style, that failed to meet our expectations. 

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Interesting comments on this Wamaker. Valid points to be sure. A ship of 900 in the Amazon could not possibly provide the land experience of backpacking nor of staying in a lodge. 

 

What I am reading here and on another thread is that while promises were made that excursions would be researched and improved over the initial voyages a year ago, it does not appear this was in fact accomplished. And while a land based, or small boat experience can offer greater insight and experiences, there are also quality tour companies one can hire in at least a couple of ports that were visited. I had booked independent small tours in Manaus and in Santarem prior to needing to cancel this trip. Maybe these companies that I located on TripAdvisor cannot accommodate the large group experiences that Viking offered, however might they be able to offer smaller group experiences to those interested?  There are a lot to of these tours to choose from in Manaus, fewer in the Santarem/Alter de Chao region - but they are out there. 

 

I do not pretend to understand the logistics and planning for so many people......so maybe expecting to really experience the Amazon while traveling on a cruise ship is just not doable. It might just be that our expectations to actually be able to explore the Amazon and culture are not realistic. 

 

We had considered rebooking this itinerary later this year, however after reading recent posts by Deec and others on different  threads who traveled this year with similar results to last year, we are setting our sights elsewhere. I sincerely appreciate the time taken to provide feedback. 

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We are taking this cruise in Dec of this year despite what we read about the inaugural 2017-2018 cruises.  We saw a small Amazon tributary in Ecuador a few years ago and would like to see a little more of the Amazon before we get too old to travel.  We lived in South America for a few years when we were young and did not back pack but did go to some of these places (Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil-all of South America is worth a detour!) on trains, buses, etc.  You cannot get those experiences from an ocean ship in one day or an overnight but sometimes that is the only way to get to see a little of some other place.  We have enjoyed ocean cruising the last few years but it will never replace land trips unless all you want to do is check off ports on your personal map.  I do like Viking but when planning a trip I think you need to keep in mind that the included trips do not work as well on the ocean as on the river and are more impersonal even with good guides.  Their paid extra tours are better but still not as good as private small group tours so thanks Vinyard View, I will be looking for those Tripadvisor recs.  When we hired guides in these exotic places when we were young, we just did it when we got to a new place, now there are so many tourists, you have to book ahead.  Look at the birds, butterflies and plants too!

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tVMpvie lover, I am happy to share off line with you some that I found if you would like. LMK how to reach you if there is any interest. Tip: Also negotiate maximum group size. 

In Manaus I was able to get a highly rated company to agree with 6-8 maximum and Santarem maximum 4. I wasn’t asking for a tour with just the two of us so did not ask for that. Second tip: negotiate to pay in cash local currency with no advance down payments. Enjoy the research!

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There haven't been any comments posted here for over a year.  I would like to hear reviews of the more recent cruises up the Amazon.  Did Viking fix some of the problems?

 

We are scheduled on the Star for November 29, but if we don't hear that things have improved we may change our mind.

 

 

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3 hours ago, daryllafferty said:

There haven't been any comments posted here for over a year.  I would like to hear reviews of the more recent cruises up the Amazon.  Did Viking fix some of the problems?

 

We are scheduled on the Star for November 29, but if we don't hear that things have improved we may change our mind.

 

 

Hi Cool Cruiser, 

We traveled on the Viking Sea in December 2018 on the Caribbean to the Amazon. I am sorry I didn't get a chance to write a full review.

Most of the included excursions were not great. Beware of the word Panorama. It means they just drive past the sights. The Boi Bumba show in Parintins, Brazil was the exception. It was a colorful display of singing and dancing with Brazilian flair. However, the excursions that we paid extra for were good to very good. My favorites were being in the water with pink dolphins in the Rio Negro (a tributary of the Amazon) and visiting and dancing with the indigenous people in their village in the rain forest. I also enjoyed hunting for caiman in the dark in small boats. I did get tired of being told AGAIN how rubber was made. But, that is probably because I signed up for so many excursions. I don't expect to be back in Amazonia again so I signed up for everything. In Belem, the Panorama was disappointing but the walking tour that I paid for was interesting. This is a very depressed part of the world that doesn't get a lot of tourist ships. Sometimes, things were a little rough. Distances to points of interest were an issue also. We had long boat rides to the dolphins and the indigenous people's village.

We had to conserve water while on the Amazon river. The ship normally treats sea water without problem but evidently that muddy river water was a problem. The launderettes were closed during that period.

The ship staff lived up to their Viking standards. They go out of their way to please. ASK them if you need any assistance or information. Make sure that you either attend the Port Talks or listen to the recorded version on the television in your cabin.

Both my husband and I really enjoyed the entertainment. The guitarist was phenomenal. The classical string duo and pianist were very good. The shows put on by the singing-dancing groups were good. The band was very good. Three out of four enrichment speakers were very interesting. We also had 'guest' entertainers - an excellent Brazilian singer and a magician. In December 2019, we traveled on the Viking Sun from Rome to Lisbon. The entertainment and enrichment were not as good. So, no promises about the quality. My full review of the Viking Sun last month has been submitted to Cruise Critic. 

I found the food was very good. We love Mamsen's for a light meal and don't eat in the World Cafe very much. The Chef's Table can be a bit pretentious but Manfredi's is excellent. We eat most of our dinners in The Restaurant where we get a full meal with service. At least 50% of the time, we take room service for breakfast to get us to our morning excursions on time. The Pool Grill has a small salad bar and excellent hot sandwiches. No fees for room service or specialty restaurants. 

As you know, there is no casino, no one under 18 years old, and beer, wine, and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. In addition, depending on your cabin category, you may get some extra perks. Our Penthouse Veranda included free ironing and shoes polished and a stocked mini-frig with alcohol, beer, limited snacks, and one bottle of champagne for the trip. Other than the champagne, it was restocked daily. 

We are very glad we made the trip!

 

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On 9/17/2018 at 6:26 PM, Small is better said:

 

The only Frisco I know of is a city in Texas! No one from northern California would call San Francisco 'Frisco'. They might say 'San Fran' but never 'Frisco'. That's like pronouncing Houston Street in Manhattan as if it was a city in Texas and not House-ton. LOL

You're from the Bay Area? Me too. Silicon Valley. Grew up here since age 5. 🙂 Maybe I see you on a cruise someday 🙂

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I was born and raised in Oakland, CA but I have lived on the East Coast since 1970. We are taking the June cruise of Land of the Midnight Sun (Norway and UK) plus a pre-trip of five nights in Iceland. In January 2021, I think we may take the South America and the Chilean Fjords cruise but not booked yet. 

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14 hours ago, daryllafferty said:

There haven't been any comments posted here for over a year.  I would like to hear reviews of the more recent cruises up the Amazon.  Did Viking fix some of the problems?

 

We are scheduled on the Star for November 29, but if we don't hear that things have improved we may change our mind.

 

 

Maybe take a look over on the Viking forum on another social website. There have been a number of really informative posts With pictures from a person named Trich. She just completed her cruise of this itinerary. 

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12 minutes ago, Vineyard View said:

Maybe take a look over on the Viking forum on another social website. There have been a number of really informative posts With pictures from a person named Trich. She just completed her cruise of this itinerary. 

Look on that other social site. Phil Buzby has pictures. They completed about 2 weeks ago.

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1 minute ago, daryllafferty said:

Thanks for the tip.  I assume the other social website is Facebook...

Haha. You’re not supposed to use that word here. 

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21 hours ago, Small is better said:

Hi Cool Cruiser, 

We traveled on the Viking Sea in December 2018 on the Caribbean to the Amazon. I am sorry I didn't get a chance to write a full review.

Most of the included excursions were not great. Beware of the word Panorama. It means they just drive past the sights. The Boi Bumba show in Parintins, Brazil was the exception. It was a colorful display of singing and dancing with Brazilian flair. However, the excursions that we paid extra for were good to very good. My favorites were being in the water with pink dolphins in the Rio Negro (a tributary of the Amazon) and visiting and dancing with the indigenous people in their village in the rain forest. I also enjoyed hunting for caiman in the dark in small boats. I did get tired of being told AGAIN how rubber was made. But, that is probably because I signed up for so many excursions. I don't expect to be back in Amazonia again so I signed up for everything. In Belem, the Panorama was disappointing but the walking tour that I paid for was interesting. This is a very depressed part of the world that doesn't get a lot of tourist ships. Sometimes, things were a little rough. Distances to points of interest were an issue also. We had long boat rides to the dolphins and the indigenous people's village.

We had to conserve water while on the Amazon river. The ship normally treats sea water without problem but evidently that muddy river water was a problem. The launderettes were closed during that period.

<snip>

We are very glad we made the trip!

 

I had pictured the trip up the Amazon like an adventure movie with green walls of jungle on both sides and tropical birds and animals occasionally seen or heard.  Are parts of it anything like this?  Or are the banks of the river pretty much all cleared, farmed and settled?

 

Does the ship stay mostly in the middle of the river, or is it sometimes close enough to the banks to see things?

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Viking Ocean ships hold 930 passengers. They can only go up to Manaus and still turn around. That is a 1,000 miles inland. In the Amazon region, there are very few roads. People travel by boat between towns. All goods and supplies arrive by river. Large container ships are on the river. There is plenty of land that is still forest. However, the Amazon is a very wide, muddy river up to Manaus. They use pilots to guide them. Going close to the shore doesn't sound like a good idea in such a large boat. When we transferred to smaller boats (12-20 passengers), we could get really close and even land and go ashore. But, even the small boats avoid the edges of the river until they are landing. Our Viking ship needed a big dock or tenders. On our excursions, we also traveled on the Rio Negro which is much less muddy and smaller. I went into the water in the Rio Negro to interact with the pink dolphins but I would never have gone into the Amazon. It is just too muddy and unappealing. 

 

Also, on our excursions we walked a little ways into the rain forest. By the way, no surprise, it rains in the rain forest. It can rain incredibly hard. Those rainy photos were taken at a historic rubber farm home. 20181204_092011.thumb.jpg.4b925acb1b5378c85389ea87bb811d20.jpg

 

I have friends who have traveled in the upper reaches of the Amazon in small boats (24 passengers) approaching the Amazon from Ecuador or Peru. They then transferred to dugout canoes to get to the towns. Of course, they don't have the amenities of a Viking Ocean cruise. You will not find those boats on Cruise Critic. 

 

[information from the internet]

3,980 miles (6,400 kilometers)

The world's largest river by volume, the Amazon starts in Peru and flows through Brazil, emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon also boasts the wLower Amazon20181208_120223.thumb.jpg.13778815621294eda88655ab8dedc31f.jpgorld's largest river drainage basin, which includes portions of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia. Located throughout the basin is the extraordinary Amazon rainforest, home to an astounding variety of birds, mammals, and other wildlife, including 4,000 species of butterflies.

Parts of the river exceed 120 miles (190 kilometers) in width during the wet season, and to date, no bridge spans the Amazon along its entire length, according to the Amazon Center for Environmental Education and Research (ACEER). The river's present bed is estimated to be about 11 million years old.

20181204_092112.jpg

20181205_103003.jpg

20181208_095258.jpg

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