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corpkid

Oceania --> Viking Ocean?

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We took Empires of the Mediterranean in 2017, embarking in Athens on April 1. I really don't recall where we docked in Venice, as there is not really any time in port unless you do an extension. We left Koper, Slovenia at 6:00 PM, and arrived in Venice in the night with an early flight out the next morning. Since we have been to Venice several times, we did not add time at the end of the cruise.

 

For us, it was a perfect time to cruise, with very pleasant weather (sunny and highs of 60/70) the whole trip. Being early in the season, we also had the incredible bonus of being the only ship in port in Santorini. The shops and restaurants were just beginning to open for the season, but we almost had the place to ourselves. It was a perfect introduction to ocean cruising and Viking has two more dedicated fans from that experience.

 

I am so happy to read this! We are booked on this itinerary next April, to celebrate our 25th anniversary. This will be our first Viking Ocean cruise, and we are really looking forward to it. We tend to travel this time of year, and are happy to exchange lots of crowds for weather that may be a little cooler. Santorini was the main reason we chose this cruise over Venice, The Adriatic, and Greece.

 

Thanks for your insight.

 

Robin

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I am so happy to read this! We are booked on this itinerary next April, to celebrate our 25th anniversary. This will be our first Viking Ocean cruise, and we are really looking forward to it. We tend to travel this time of year, and are happy to exchange lots of crowds for weather that may be a little cooler. Santorini was the main reason we chose this cruise over Venice, The Adriatic, and Greece.

 

Thanks for your insight.

 

Robin

We also happily sacrifice the summer heat in hopes of fewer people. One year we hit the spring school break in Rome, so our strategy was less successful, but still probably better that peak summer. Wishing you a voyage as wonderful as ours was, and congratulations on your anniversary!

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We love to travel in the spring before schools get out. Having traveled sea, rivers, and DIY land several times through Europe in late April & May, it remains our favorite time. Less crowds, beautiful flowers, cooler weather -just that Spring freshness in so many places. Most likely some rain will find you at times - but we will take that over the summer heat and crowds anytime.

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These opinions - are just that: opinions. We have done both and feel they are very close to one another - what might be a plus for one is a negative for the other (and vice versa). They are my two favorite cruise lines and in the future I will choose which one has a better itinerary (IMO of course).:p

 

 

We agree with you.

 

Each of the cruise lines, Viking Ocean and Oceania, have their differences but the "whole package" of experience seems to meet similar level of satisfaction from both cruise lines.

 

Things which Oceania is better than Viking Ocean (just our views):

 

1) Afternoon tea. Oceania offers both a buffet selection of pastries, cakes and sandwiches which you could choose. They also have a trolley pushed around the tables and offering their delicious offerings to those who prefer not to go to the buffet table. Viking serves passengers on three-tiered afternoon tea trays, which means it comes with some items which you would not choose yourself, and service can be slow. For afternoon tea, the tables have proper table cloths while on Viking, the tables are low tables or even worse, some wobbly "mushroom shaped" tables that are too small. Pretty often, on Viking , it is not easy to find a table , but on Oceania, there are so many tables there is never a problem getting one.

 

2) Speciality restaurants: Although Viking Ocean's Italian speciality/alternative restaurant Alfredi's was preferred by us than Oceania's Toscana Italian offerings, on the whole, on Oceania, the speciality restaurant experience for us is more "special" and more an "occasion" (but when it comes to food and restaurants, we know that can be very subjective). Oceania's larger "O" ships have 4 speciality restaurants but Viking has only two. (Granted the smaller "R" ships on Oceania have only 2 speciality restaurants). And as for Viking's Chef's Table, their offerings are a bit like "Marmite", some love them and others almost "detest" or are "shocked" by them - they tend to divide opinions! The dishes on Viking's speciality restaurants have less tendency to do so.

 

3) Breakfast on Oceania in their buffet restaurant seems to offer a better lay out. They usually have a wide selection of fruits, and you'd get an impression that they offer more selections of everything. In fact, Viking may offer a lot of the items as that on Oceania, but they layout of the buffet (some items in the starboard buffet , and some items in the port side buffet,) give us the feeling that less is being offered.

 

4) Oceania's "O" ships may be larger than Viking Ocean's fleet of ships, but some its "R" ships are smaller in size than Viking Ocean's

 

5) If you are keen on lobsters, Oceania has their lobster-to-grill in their buffet almost any night. Not so on Viking.

 

Things which Viking Oceania is better than Oceania:

 

1) Mamsens - the pastries/cakes and open sandwiches at Mamsens has NO COMPARISON on Oceania. In fact, Oceania does not even have anything like Mamsens.

 

2) Included excursions, gratuities, and drinks with meals. To us, this makes life so easy. We were pleasantly surprised when at the end of our last Viking Ocean cruise, that the bill came and the amount to be charged was ZERO ! Mark ups on prices on wines on Oceania are usually high to very high, and Oceania's excursion prices are high too. Sure, the standard wine offered during meals may not be the top range wines, but they are fairly good and drinkable - wish they do not repeat their wines so regularly though! Oceania do not usually include gratuities in their fares , with the exception of their "Olife Choice" special offers.

 

Keen supporters of Oceania would argue that they would prefer not to pay a package fare as on Viking which include things they might not wish to use (eg wine and excursions). Well, perhaps, they have a point.

 

3) Included wifi. Wifi on Viking Ocean is free, and on Oceania, unless it is on their special offers, there is a charge and the prcies are pretty steep. Besides, although Viking's wifi connection is not that fast, it is reasonable, and it is faster than Oceania's slow connections (Since on our last cruise on the Riviera, we were told that they are upgrading their wifi speed).

 

4) While there is included free use steam rooms/sauna on Viking Ocean , there is a charge for standard cabin passengers on Oceania.

 

5) (see also 4) above) Oceania have their O ships (two) which are larger than Viking ships, and they have 4 "R" ships which are smaller. The "R" ships are pretty old, although they are regularly refurbished, but for us, we would avoid them. One of the "R" ships, the Regatta has had quite a number of negative reviews (some would argue it is due to its old age) to the point where we would avoid the Regatta on any cruises offered by Oceania.

 

6) Oceania's captains , ship officers , and the general managers tend to have the reputation of being a bit "aloof" (or perhaps rather "shy"?). Although Viking's officers are not the friendliest of all ships (the friendliests are those on Azamara, the captains on Azamara are in their elements when it comes to mixing with passengers!), they are just a tad better. Having said that, on our last Oceania cruise, the French general manager was always around and greeting passengers - so maybe Oceania has started to listen to customer reviews!

 

Items which BOTH cruise lines are not very strong and could improve (in our opinion)

 

1) Entertainment and on board activities on both cruise lines could be improved. Compared to the "mass market" cruise lines like Holland America, Celebrity, or even P&O, both these cruise lines (Oceania and Viking Ocean) could do with better entertainment and on-board activities. On our Christmas cruise on the Viking Star, their Christmas celebrations entertainment was like some high school production - poor and amateurish, and Christmas on the Viking Star was pretty uneventful and disappointing for a Christmas.

 

This is also why for Viking, we would choose to go on their port intensive cruises, but feel we could be "bored" by their trans ocean cruises with many days at sea, due to its lack of activities, and few sea port visits (thus no excursions).

 

 

2) Recently, there has been some issues with the website on Oceania. However, for Viking's website, at least until our last cruise less than a year ago, seemed to be riddled with issues and mistakes (mistaken/not updated information)

 

Having said that, we like both cruises, and in spite of their "faults", we still think their cruises are generally EXCELLENT. No cruise company is perfect, is it? We would happily cruise with either Oceania or Viking Ocean. Both offer good cuisine, the staff that serve you are always friendly, and the accommodation is super comfortable. We like luxury cruising , but unfortunately, our budget would not extend to those of Regent, Seabourne, Silverseas , Hapag Lloyd or Crystal, etc. So, choosing to cruise with Oceania or Viking Ocean suits our pockent, but it still depends on their itinerary and if the fare is "right". We have booked our next Viking Ocean cruise already and looking forward to it. At least for a few months, we can get rid of the "TONS and TONS" of Cruise Brochures !:)

Edited by Cahpek

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Cahpek - thanks for your post, an excellent summation of the differences and similarities between Viking & Oceania.

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Cahpek has done an excellent job of comparing the two lines-we would take either if the itinerary was one we liked and enjoy the differences. The only thing I would like to say if some here have not tried Oceania is that the O ships are great but the R ships-aside from Regatta which is getting very negative reviews at present-are my favorite for ocean cruises because they are smaller than other lines in our price range and itinerary choices. Our Iberian cruise on Nautica was a favorite among all. It was very cozy. OTOH, I am looking forward to our Midnight Sun cruise with a few hundred more later this month.

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Each of the cruise lines, Viking Ocean and Oceania, have their differences but the "whole package" of experience seems to meet similar level of satisfaction from both cruise lines.

 

:)

 

Thanks for this extensive post, but I see only "half package" here.

Yes, the "Hotel package" is relatively similar.

What about the ships?

Do they have open spaces? Pools?

Promenade decks?

Observation decks?

How about sports facilities? Gyms?

Spa?

:)

Considering all that, the "whole package" is very different.

Edited by ronbe65

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Cahpek, interesting comparison.

 

One update from Oceania, Internet is now included for all guests, one device in use at a time per stateroom. Internet speed is much improved. You can pay an additional charge for streaming capability.

 

I was not impressed by Mamsens, other than the desserts looked good. I kept looking for a restaurant and a couple days in I figured out it is just a counter bar. Pre-made refrigerated sandwiches do not impress me.

 

Also, we paid gratuities each time on Viking, it is a line item charge unless you booked a special package. Just like Oceania. (We have done enough Oceania cruises to qualify for free grautuities, each and every sailing).

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Cahpek, interesting comparison.

 

 

 

Also, we paid gratuities each time on Viking, it is a line item charge unless you booked a special package. Just like Oceania. (We have done enough Oceania cruises to qualify for free grautuities, each and every sailing).

 

Did you say your gratuities are not included in your fare on Viking? In the UK, all Viking fares include gratuities amongst all the other things mentioned above.

 

It's a shame you did not appreciate Mamsens. Yes, like yourself, initially we saw it as just a "counter bar". But once we tasted those pastries on offer, we felt we were on Cloud Seven !!! One thing Mamsens could improve is to allow it to open every day, not just on selective days and on on selected times of the day. Initially, when we did not realise it has particular opening times, when we went a couple of times, we could not find it because it was closed.

 

Also, you mentioned you have done enough Oceania cruises to qualify for free gratuities. How many cruises do you have to do to qualify for that? (If it means having to do dozens and dozens of Oceania cruises, then, unfortunately, not that many of us are fortunate enough to have the wealth to cruise that frequently).

 

Anyway, glad you did try both Oceania and Viking Ocean (VO), eventhough it sounds like you might still prefer "O". At least, you are not some of those Oceania cruisers who criticise Viking Ocean eventhough they have not been on VO. So, you do know what you are talking about. For us, we like both VO and Oceania.

 

Just wish Oceania have more modern ships than their "R" ships though . In our opinion, Oceania should "not" let VO keep expanding while they almost lie back and do "nothing" to their expansion plans. It is good for the two companies to have "healthy" competition, it benefits the passengers. Oceania's "O" ships are just fine but they need more than just the two "O" ships - their speciality restaurant experience, on the whole , surpasses VO. And the Sea Bass dish itself in Red Ginger restaurant on the Marina and Riviera, that is one "heavenly" dish that you could not find on VO.

Edited by Cahpek

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Did you say your gratuities are not included in your fare on Viking? In the UK, all Viking fares include gratuities amongst all the other things mentioned above.

 

It's a shame you did not appreciate Mamsens. Yes, like yourself, initially we saw it as just a "counter bar". But once we tasted those pastries on offer, we felt we were on Cloud Seven !!! One thing Mamsens could improve is to allow it to open every day, not just on selective days and on on selected times of the day. Initially, when we did not realise it has particular opening times, when we went a couple of times, we could not find it because it was closed.

 

Also, you mentioned you have done enough Oceania cruises to qualify for free gratuities. How many cruises do you have to do to qualify for that? (If it means having to do dozens and dozens of Oceania cruises, then, unfortunately, not that many of us are fortunate enough to have the wealth to cruise that frequently).

 

Anyway, glad you did try both Oceania and Viking Ocean (VO), eventhough it sounds like you might still prefer "O". At least, you are not some of those Oceania cruisers who criticise Viking Ocean eventhough they have not been on VO. So, you do know what you are talking about. For us, we like both VO and Oceania.

 

Just wish Oceania have more modern ships than their "R" ships though . In our opinion, Oceania should "not" let VO keep expanding while they almost lie back and do "nothing" to their expansion plans. It is good for the two companies to have "healthy" competition, it benefits the passengers. Oceania's "O" ships are just fine but they need more than just the two "O" ships - their speciality restaurant experience, on the whole , surpasses VO. And the Sea Bass dish itself in Red Ginger restaurant on the Marina and Riviera, that is one "heavenly" dish that you could not find on VO.

 

Americans pay gratuities on Viking and Oceania.

Oceania passengers get free gratuities beginning with the tenth cruise credit earned. One cruise credit is awarded for a cruise 24 days or less. Most of our Oceania cruises were lengthy, so we dropped serious money to earn this perk.

You are correct, we prefer Oceania for the onboard comfort.

We had issues with the open decks on Viking, and lack of shade. The pool deck roof was mostly closed and ventilation was poor. It was hot, stuffy and irritating to sit there. Lounge chairs were uncomfortable. We didn’t find open air shade anywhere with comfortable seating. We thought the poolside grill had good food but no seating, a big comfort drop off from Waves. Outdoor seating for the buffet was in full sun.

 

Oceania has a couple rows of divine, open air seating under the poolside overhang. They also have several large, open air shade areas with divine loungers. We love the outside shaded seating behind Terrace, offering some overhang and table umbrellas. And we love open air, shaded Waves to death.

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I just returned this week from our seventh O cruise, this time on the Regatta in Alaska. I had been concerned by some negative reviews and was also wondering if there would be a drop-off in service and food since it had been purchased by NCL. To my relief, it was as good as all our other O cruises on both the O and R ships. The food in the MDR on Regatta last week was probably the best yet. Since we have been on 93 cruises and traveled the world extensively on both land and sea, I am not too concerned about shore excursions. Just give me maximum comfort, great food and quiet surroundings.

The O food really compares favorably to haute cuisine of many European Michelin restaurants. Perhaps the VO menu is geared more to folks who prefer food with less rich and exotic sauces. But for us the more exotic the better. For instance , we rarely order a steak unless it is something like Beef Wellington. Certainly VO has food of very high quality but it seems to have a more generic approach. For instance, on Regatta in the main dining room we had caviar on two occasions and great foie gras three times although it was prepared differently on each occasion. This doesn't mean that VO isn't a wonderful experience and we will sail again on the STAR in October. It is just that each line emphasizes different elements.

For Alaska we love the small R ship because it can sail to less commercial ports that are not laden with souvenir ships. On this cruise it included Haines and Hoonah where we were the only ship in port. We were also pleased that O now includes free internet on all their cruises and it operated perfectly.

From a design standpoint I think that the VO ships have many furnishings that are

inspired by classic Scandinavian museum quality pieces and they are truly special in that regard. Both lines have fantastic service and try to create a refined, quiet atmosphere. We are lucky that these two lines are both available for elegant cruising and we will continue to consider both lines depending on the itineraries offered.

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