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peasmith

Viking Sineus - Ukraine

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We are booked on this cruise on the 4th September but can't seem to find any recent reviews on the ship or the itinerary or the airlines that Viking uses i.e. LOT polish airlines. Seems strange that no one has put a review anyway since it has started sailing in May. Would love to hear from any one that has recently done the cruise.

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Why is it strange? Fewer than 1,000 people (maybe considerably fewer) in the world have sailed the route. The probability that one of them is on CC is quite small.

 

 

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We leave in Early August for this cruise. We are booked on a Delta flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam and change to KLM to Kiev. We then fly from Kiev to Athens to do a Viking ocean cruise.

 

 

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Why is it strange? Fewer than 1,000 people (maybe considerably fewer) in the world have sailed the route. The probability that one of them is on CC is quite small.

 

 

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It wasn't just on here that I was looking for reviews but the whole of the web. We have come across many journalists from America and Canada who have been paid by Viking (and received a good balcony cabin on the river cruises) to do just that review the cruise and that is why I find it strange!

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We are booked on this cruise on the 4th September but can't seem to find any recent reviews on the ship or the itinerary or the airlines that Viking uses i.e. LOT polish airlines. Seems strange that no one has put a review anyway since it has started sailing in May. Would love to hear from any one that has recently done the cruise.

 

We did this in 2013, before the political upheaval caused Viking to pull out the region.

 

At the end of the 2013 season, the Lomonosov (which Viking leases from its Ukrainian owners) went in for a complete update of its interior and became the Sineus. The Lomonosov was really a throw back to an earlier age of river cruising -- Pullman beds and "yacht" style bathrooms with a curtain that pulled across the room and a drain in the floor for a shower.

 

Before the newly rehabbed Sineus could even take on its first passengers, Russia invaded Crimea and war broke out in the country. Viking pulled its cruises from the Dneiper almost immediately. Viking is just now getting back to the Dneiper (last season may have been the first year of their return but I honestly don't remember). And that is one of the reason there are no recent reviews.

 

When we did this cruise, the itinerary included Yalta and Sebastopol on the Crimean peninsula. Now they only cruise the Dneipr and have added time in Odessa and Kiev. This was our second cruise with Viking but it was very different from our first which was China. China is tourism-ready with highly trained guides, etc.; Ukraine was "not ready for prime-time". Fortunately, Viking operated the three buses that accompanied us for the entire trip and our three guides stayed with us for the entire trip.

 

As for the trip itself, I loved it. I was exploring my roots. My grandmother was born along the Dneiper in Kanyiv (and I was sound asleep when we sailed through the lock in Kanyiv; I couldn't even pick my head up off the pillow to look out the window to see the town that was part of my grandmother's stories). Odessa and Kiev are major cities with long, long histories that have come to life again and are able to once again restore and maintain the great edifices of their past after years of Soviet domination.

 

There are a number of older threads about these cruises in this forum including Viking 'Footsteps of the Cossacks' (Ukraine). If you search the forum for the word Cossack or the word Lomonosov, you will find more to read.

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Thank you peregrina651 an interesting read. Looking forward to our cruise on the 4th September and no doubt will soon come round.

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We just returned from this cruise on June 17th. My understanding is that we were the third cruise on the Sineus since they started cruising this year. The ship is newly refurbished and the cabins are very clean and modern. The crew is still a little green and some of the stewardesses in the dinning room a little unsure of themselves, but overall they were very good. There were four tour buses that followed the ship from port to port for the excursions. Which bus you ended up on for a given excursion was random, as was which tour guide was assigned to the bus. By chance (or luck) we alternated between two tour guides for almost all of the excursions, Olga and Ninna. They were excellent. We went on all the included tours. I wish we had taken the optional tour to the opera house in Odessa. They performed Swan Lake and we heard it was very good. We liked the Ukraine and the people we met. We learned a lot of history, both old and new. We had planned on taking a private tour to Chernobyl but had to cancel at the last minute because the Viking home office gave us the wrong departure time from Kiev. They told us 5 PM but we found out the day before that it was 1 PM which didn't give us enough time to make the trip. We went to the local Chernobyl Museum instead (about a mile walk from the ship) and found it interesting and worth while. They have English audio guides available which were very good.

I suggest that you use the ATM's in the Kiev airport to get some local currency. The ATM's will only let you get 2000 hryvnias per transaction (about $76), but you can do more than one transaction.

We flew to Kiev on Lufthansa from Seattle, changing planes in Frankfurt. Our return flight from Odessa was Austrian Airlines to Vienna, overnight in Vienna, then Lufthansa from Vienna to Frankfurt to Seattle. Be aware that airport security in Germany is even worse than TSA.

Overall we enjoyed the trip and I think you will too.

Jeff

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We just returned from this cruise on June 17th. My understanding is that we were the third cruise on the Sineus since they started cruising this year. The ship is newly refurbished and the cabins are very clean and modern. The crew is still a little green and some of the stewardesses in the dinning room a little unsure of themselves, but overall they were very good. There were four tour buses that followed the ship from port to port for the excursions. Which bus you ended up on for a given excursion was random, as was which tour guide was assigned to the bus. By chance (or luck) we alternated between two tour guides for almost all of the excursions, Olga and Ninna. They were excellent. We went on all the included tours. I wish we had taken the optional tour to the opera house in Odessa. They performed Swan Lake and we heard it was very good. We liked the Ukraine and the people we met. We learned a lot of history, both old and new. We had planned on taking a private tour to Chernobyl but had to cancel at the last minute because the Viking home office gave us the wrong departure time from Kiev. They told us 5 PM but we found out the day before that it was 1 PM which didn't give us enough time to make the trip. We went to the local Chernobyl Museum instead (about a mile walk from the ship) and found it interesting and worth while. They have English audio guides available which were very good.

 

I suggest that you use the ATM's in the Kiev airport to get some local currency. The ATM's will only let you get 2000 hryvnias per transaction (about $76), but you can do more than one transaction.

 

We flew to Kiev on Lufthansa from Seattle, changing planes in Frankfurt. Our return flight from Odessa was Austrian Airlines to Vienna, overnight in Vienna, then Lufthansa from Vienna to Frankfurt to Seattle. Be aware that airport security in Germany is even worse than TSA.

 

Overall we enjoyed the trip and I think you will too.

 

Jeff

 

 

 

Thank you Jeff. I’m glad you enjoyed the cruise and I’m sure we will also.

Kathy

 

 

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We are booked on this cruise on the 4th September but can't seem to find any recent reviews on the ship or the itinerary or the airlines that Viking uses i.e. LOT polish airlines. Seems strange that no one has put a review anyway since it has started sailing in May. Would love to hear from any one that has recently done the cruise.

 

 

Just a quick message to say we are also on the 4th September cruise , we will no doubt meet in the bar at some point, at least 4 from the UK then , I only say this as the last river cruise we were on - "Romantic Danube" we were the only 2 passengers from the UK. We did have a great time with guys from the States and Canada and still keep in contact with some of them:)

 

Jim and Hilary

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Thanks Jeff for your review on your cruise. It was nice to read one eventually. Still intrigued to see what LOT airlines are like and hoping the weather will be nice in early September.

 

 

 

Hilary and Jim - yes sure we will bump into each other at some point and as you say probably in the bar! We have also done previous river ones with Viking where we have been the only ones from the UK. What times are your flights - we are leaving Heathrow at 0630 and then the layover in Warsaw for the 1130 (I believe) to Odessa with LOT Airlines.

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We did this in 2013, before the political upheaval caused Viking to pull out the region.

 

At the end of the 2013 season, the Lomonosov (which Viking leases from its Ukrainian owners) went in for a complete update of its interior and became the Sineus. The Lomonosov was really a throw back to an earlier age of river cruising -- Pullman beds and "yacht" style bathrooms with a curtain that pulled across the room and a drain in the floor for a shower.

 

Before the newly rehabbed Sineus could even take on its first passengers, Russia invaded Crimea and war broke out in the country. Viking pulled its cruises from the Dneiper almost immediately. Viking is just now getting back to the Dneiper (last season may have been the first year of their return but I honestly don't remember). And that is one of the reason there are no recent reviews.

 

When we did this cruise, the itinerary included Yalta and Sebastopol on the Crimean peninsula. Now they only cruise the Dneipr and have added time in Odessa and Kiev. This was our second cruise with Viking but it was very different from our first which was China. China is tourism-ready with highly trained guides, etc.; Ukraine was "not ready for prime-time". Fortunately, Viking operated the three buses that accompanied us for the entire trip and our three guides stayed with us for the entire trip.

 

As for the trip itself, I loved it. I was exploring my roots. My grandmother was born along the Dneiper in Kanyiv (and I was sound asleep when we sailed through the lock in Kanyiv; I couldn't even pick my head up off the pillow to look out the window to see the town that was part of my grandmother's stories). Odessa and Kiev are major cities with long, long histories that have come to life again and are able to once again restore and maintain the great edifices of their past after years of Soviet domination.

 

There are a number of older threads about these cruises in this forum including Viking 'Footsteps of the Cossacks' (Ukraine). If you search the forum for the word Cossack or the word Lomonosov, you will find more to read.

 

Thanks for this informative post. So glad Viking is able to resume this cruise. One for the bucket list.

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Just a quick message to say we are also on the 4th September cruise , we will no doubt meet in the bar at some point, at least 4 from the UK then , I only say this as the last river cruise we were on - "Romantic Danube" we were the only 2 passengers from the UK. We did have a great time with guys from the States and Canada and still keep in contact with some of them:)

 

Jim and Hilary

 

Hi - just seen this online - bit worrying? https://***************/ship/viking-sineus/review/475818

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Hi - just seen this online - bit worrying? https://***************/ship/viking-sineus/review/475818

 

 

 

I could not open this link. But I did see a review from May 2018 on another web site that was not good. They were upset that the crew could not speak English and only one tour guide who could speak English. They didn’t have any complaints about the ship.

 

 

 

 

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I could not open this link. But I did see a review from May 2018 on another web site that was not good. They were upset that the crew could not speak English and only one tour guide who could speak English. They didn’t have any complaints about the ship.

 

 

 

 

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It looks like peasmith tried to post a link to some website that is on the CC forbidden list. The CC software automatically blanked out the name of the website. There isn't much we can do to get around these restrictions.

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The tree tour guides we had experience with spoke very good English, as did the folks at the front desk. Some of the waitresses in the dinning room spoke good English, the others spoke enough to do their jobs. My only problems with the cruise were with the home office, not the staff on board.

Jeff

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Hi - just seen this online - bit worrying? https://***************/ship/viking-sineus/review/475818

 

With the help of Google, I was able to find the review. I just typed in Viking Sineus and the review number.

 

Mr. P is entitled to his opinions but you know from the start that the man has an axe to grind and that nothing will be acceptable.

 

So, let me speak to some of his complaints. The Viking Sineus is owned and operated by a Ukrainian company. Viking leases it and runs the hotel operation; the ship itself is operated by the owners, thus the Captain and his staff and crew are Ukrainian and they don't speak English--anymore than the passengers speak Ukrainian. The Viking staff is a mixed bag and there are requirements to hire local labor. When we sailed with them the hotel management team was from home office and crew and guides were local.

 

As for the Captain, his job is to sail the ship. Those duties override a date to hobnob with the passengers.

 

As I said before, the tourism industry is just getting off the ground and they are still learning how to handle foreign travelers and the concept of line free touring. However, I did not find the guides we worked with to be as awful as was described but they were not as well trained as our guides in China and Viking does need to do some work here. Still, this is not a reason to cancel the trip. The country is fascinating.

 

We did the tour of the Jewish sites in Odessa. Timing was poor, it was Saturday. Many of the buildings of the old Jewish community have not been preserved and the best you can do is a drive-by. BabiYar was not on our itinerary and yes it is just ravine. Then again, it isn't just a ravine but the site of a mass murder. If you are interested in the tour, read up on the places it will cover before you book.

 

I'm sorry Mr P did not do a good job of picking his cruise but we can learn from his mistakes and perhaps be better prepared for what will be encountered.

 

I will try to comment further on his review when I can do it on a real keyboard.

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The tree tour guides we had experience with spoke very good English, as did the folks at the front desk. Some of the waitresses in the dinning room spoke good English, the others spoke enough to do their jobs. My only problems with the cruise were with the home office, not the staff on board.

Jeff

I did this boat back in 2011 (okay quite awhile ago) but this description of the cruise closely matches my experience. A number of our waitresses were just out of the hotel training school in Kherson and probably the first time they had been away from home. Some were overly afraid of doing something wrong and losing their job that they would get flustered on occasion- an over bearing Mr. This is the Worst Trip I’ve Ever Seen I’m sure would be more than some of these girls (and they were girls, not women with experienced with dealing with disgruntled curmudgeons). A little gentleness and speaking slow and simple and we got wonderful cheerful caring service.

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I did this boat back in 2011 (okay quite awhile ago) but this description of the cruise closely matches my experience. A number of our waitresses were just out of the hotel training school in Kherson and probably the first time they had been away from home. Some were overly afraid of doing something wrong and losing their job that they would get flustered on occasion- an over bearing Mr. This is the Worst Trip I’ve Ever Seen I’m sure would be more than some of these girls (and they were girls, not women with experienced with dealing with disgruntled curmudgeons). A little gentleness and speaking slow and simple and we got wonderful cheerful caring service.

 

(y)

 

We did the cruise on a "mixed" sailing, half English speakers and half German speakers. That was even harder on the dining room staff. Here's a photo from "Pirate Night." But, Viking is a good gig and for some of these young ladies, it is a stepping stone to other postings with Viking. I remember that the CD/hotel manager on our cruise was very demanding of all the staff that interacted with the passengers and I can imagine that this would have been hard on the freshmen members of the crew.

 

enhance

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I did in fact try to delete my posting as I could see CC had obliterated the particular cruise board's title but it appears it didn't delete!

 

 

 

I have contacted Viking about this and they have confirmed that they have had no complaints from the UK passengers who have travelled on this cruise this year so may be just a disgruntled one-off passenger.

 

 

 

I believe that if you are visiting another country why should they speak English - I go to Spain and Greece but only have a very limited holiday vocabulary but normally get by with a few hand actions if they don't understand!

 

 

 

I do think it is strange that the passenger has put all his personal details on the review as though it was only Viking that was seeing it rather than the whole cruising world.

 

 

 

I'm still looking forward to it and having travelled a lot of Europe looking forward to visiting a country I have never been to. We did a Thomson cruise in April and one of the young bar waiters was from the Ukraine and he was very pleased that we were visiting his home country and showed him our itinerary and one of the ports was actually where he was from.

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I did in fact try to delete my posting as I could see CC had obliterated the particular cruise board's title but it appears it didn't delete!

 

 

 

I have contacted Viking about this and they have confirmed that they have had no complaints from the UK passengers who have travelled on this cruise this year so may be just a disgruntled one-off passenger.

 

 

 

I believe that if you are visiting another country why should they speak English - I go to Spain and Greece but only have a very limited holiday vocabulary but normally get by with a few hand actions if they don't understand!

 

 

 

I do think it is strange that the passenger has put all his personal details on the review as though it was only Viking that was seeing it rather than the whole cruising world.

 

 

 

I'm still looking forward to it and having travelled a lot of Europe looking forward to visiting a country I have never been to. We did a Thomson cruise in April and one of the young bar waiters was from the Ukraine and he was very pleased that we were visiting his home country and showed him our itinerary and one of the ports was actually where he was from.

 

You cannot delete a post once it has been posted. However, if you feel that what you have said really, really should be deleted, then you use the blue triangle beside the post number to report the post and ask that it be deleted, stating why. It is up to the moderator to decide if it should be deleted. Also note that sometimes CC will truncate a very long URL on display but that is different from censoring; the former will work while the later will get you nowhere.

 

The review that you found may well be bogus but it does give a chance for those of us who have been with Viking in Ukraine to respond and to speak more about our experiences. Suffice it to say that they do things differently and one should expect a certain amount of strangeness.

 

One preconceived notion that you should abandon is "service with a smile." In fact, I have been told that folks in this part of the world find our easy smiles to be a bit phony; it is a two way street-- we judge them and they judge us right back. One smiles and laughs with friends but one does not smile while one is working.

 

Oh, and be prepared for smoking in the bars and restaurants.

 

Review said: Also I can’t even start to explain our air travel, too many stops, too many layovers plus much confusion with all the booking problems. It would take another page to explain all of the problems we had with our air travel. Extremely terrible planning on your part. My response: Next time pay the extra $50pp for Custom Air and be part of the planning process. Flying to Ukraine is a complicated process and from the West Coast will involve multiple stops unless you can get a non-stop that will fly you direct from your home airport to an airport in Europe with a direct connection to Odessa or Kiev (and there aren't a lot of those).

The rest of the review I am not going to bother with. There is nothing else to be learned from his observations that would be helpful to prepare future travelers.

On one of cruising days, they did a buffet of local foods. Watch out for the local onions, they are very, very strong. The pickles and herring are not as sweet as we are accustomed to in the US.

enhance

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Hilary and Jim - yes sure we will bump into each other at some point and as you say probably in the bar! We have also done previous river ones with Viking where we have been the only ones from the UK. What times are your flights - we are leaving Heathrow at 0630 and then the layover in Warsaw for the 1130 (I believe) to Odessa with LOT Airlines.

 

We are on the same flights, I think the Warsaw to Odessa leg is actually 11:20 , but pretty certain we will be on same flight(s).

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We are going on our first Viking cruise beginning July 15 from Kiev to Odessa and are really looking forward to the experience. We will be on the Sineus, and reading all these entries is interesting. Any and all information is appreciated.

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