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minka34

Live from Star Into the Midnight Sun, June 30th -July 14th

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Speaking of lunch... :D

I'm very happy that Viking Ocean has the same wonderful quality salad greens at lunchtime, similar to their river cruises. Note, they also have really good ice creams!

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(The Shetland Islands) The trip to Lerwick was pretty cool for us "Shetland" fans! I just liked being there. We took the included drive-around which had a good tour guide (I loved how she talked, especially how she said "the ponies" when talking about going to see the Shetland ponies). The drive took us out into the countryside, plus past some iconic buildings from the show "Shetland" and our guide said that they just announced another season... yay! Afterwards, we shuttled back into town for a walk. The old buildings and walkways are quaint. Many of the homes have stone walls surrounding a front yard with thoughtful gardens. It was just a neat place, in my opinion.

The Restaurant food was outstanding last night. We both had scallops with pumpkin puree... so good. The show was entertaining. A variety of music by crew performers. The theater was unfortunately standing room only. There's only one big show and if it's popular, you have to be early to get a seat.

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We have a misty cool morning... it just seems right for some reason. Still hoping it clears up for afternoon.

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(Kirkwall) We have a misty cool morning... it just seems right for this location. Still, hope it will clear up for the afternoon. More later.

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(Kirkwall) The included tour first went out into the countryside to see some of the neolithic artifacts. We got a history lesson from our guide, who was very knowledgeable. We stopped for about 40 min. in a small town and then continued back on our history tour back to the ship. Again, we immediately boarded the shuttle back to town. After a brief photo stop at the Cathedral, that we heard so much about on our morning tour, we walked to the Highland Park Distillery using Google maps as our guide. The walk was about 20-25 minutes, much of it uphill. The tours are every hr on the hr, but it's hit or miss if they are full, so best to reserve spots in advance. For us, only the 1pm tour would work (don't forget you have to leave at least half hour to walk back to the shuttle stop!). You must email at least 3 days in advance to reserve in advance. Tours are £10 for 1hr and 2 tastes, £20 for 4 tastes 1hr 15min. The tastes were very small (!) maybe a tablespoon or less, but you get to keep your tasting glass. I think that the Viking excursion gets 4 tastes, but maybe better tastes?, maybe 2 hrs?, and I think maybe a bottle to take home. But I haven't spoken to anyone that did the ship excursion... maybe someone else will fill in the details of that tour, which included lunch and an afternoon outing as well as the Scotch experience.

By the way, the weather never did clear up fully, and we walked back from the distillery in light rain. Bad time to find out that my previously waterproof jacket is no longer waterproof. :( Still, a fun day.

:D

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DIY Edinburgh excursion.

 

We've been to Edinburgh before at the start of a Windstar cruise around the British Isles, so we didn't feel the need to take Viking's 'panoramic tour', or any of the pricey optional tours. so instead, we did our own thing, starting with the tender off the ship to Newhaven Harbour.

 

Got a proper map from local Tourist rep, since the Viking port map is rubbish, again. (The Viking map shows us docked at Leith. The Viking ships can't even get into the Leith basin since they're too long to fit through the lock). Got someone to mark the location of Charlotte Square on the map - that's the drop-off/pickup point for Viking's shuttle bus.

 

We walked to Ocean Terminal to see the Royal Yacht Brittania. It's an easy 15 min walk. The tour of RYB was very interesting, with an included audio guide providing tons of information. We spent a couple of hours there.

 

Then took City bus #22 to get downtown. Fare is £1.70pp. Cash only, exact fare required.

 

Got off at Princes Street. Walked down into the park below the Scott Monument, and had our Viking take-away lunch (muffins, cheeses, fruit, cookies). Then walked up to the Royal Mile. Lots of tourists wandering the Mile, shopping, and enjoying the antics of various street performers.

 

We continued all the way up the Mile, shopping for Scottish scarves. There are dozens of tiny shops specializing in wool and cashmere. An interesting stop is a big shop (forget its name) on the right side just before the Castle. There's a long sign on the wall claiming it's the oldest woolen mill in Scotland, or something like that. A vast selection of woolen items, as well as the usual assortment of souvenir dreck. The upper floors are worth a visit, with a nice selection of Harris Tweed clothing back in a far corner. Way down in the basement (Level -3) is the mill, with a dozen old knitting machines. And I mean old. These machines have been in production for decades. We visited the Dale factory outside Bergen, and the contrast between the two facilities was quite amazing.

 

Last stop was the Castle. We walked into the parade square, where the famous Military Tattoo is held each season. (We saw it a few years ago on a previous visit to Edinburgh. It's quite the spectacle.) Unfortunately, there was a big stage erected on the parade square, blocking the view of the Castle. No decent photos.

 

Time to return to the ship. Walked out of the Castle courtyard and back down the Mile, turning left onto the first 'street', which is a narrow lane going down the hill and around a bend. Nice views over the City. Turned left onto The Mound, continuing down the hill past the National Gallery, then left onto Princes Street. It's a few longish blocks to get to Charlotte Square. The shuttle bus stopped at the west side of the square, in front of #17.

 

Shuttle ride to Newhaven was about 20 minutes. Then onto the tender, and back to our floating home.

 

Be advised that Edinburgh is fairly hilly. The maps don't really show the terrain. The walk up to the Castle (and back down to Charlotte Square) might be challenging to those with impaired mobility.

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Thanks for the updates. I was supposed to be on the Sky last year when my wife suddenly passed.. We were on the Star in April 2015, was actually first passenger ever. There were no drawers except in the bathroom. Glad they listened to the complaints.

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Is it really July 14th? It was just yesterday we boarded! . To all those boarding today in London in the Star - say hello to Rei in the dining room from Mr. Mike and Mrs. Elizabeth. He is a sweetheart!!!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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Thanks screen-gem, for taking on Edinburgh! I have a few comments to fill in, as we did some DIY after our included tour, but different from you. We got off the tour close to the castle, and told our guide that we would return to the ship on our own. We didn't go into the castle, just took a few courtyard photos and used the wc. :D Down the royal mile about a block or two, we went on the tour "Scotch Whisky Experience" (DH idea... after a tiny taste, he drank mine). It was interesting and entertaining. Cool scratch and sniff cards to show the different aromas of whisky typical of different regions. On display, was the largest unopened collection of Scotch Whisky in the world. The different containers were interesting; an entire chess set with every piece being a "bottle" of Scotch. We then wandered around the corner a block away to take photos of the street that was supposedly inspiration for "Diagon Alley" in Harry Potter Books (from the bus, I had photographed the cafe where the first book was written). Since we had seen the grounds of Holyrood on our tour, we decided to head back toward the pickup location. We walked through the free museum of money (Museum on The Mound) attached to Bank of Scotland, and also the free National Gallery. We walked up to the bus with a minute to spare - they were running every half hour.

That evening, Manfredi's for dinner. It was a beautiful evening, and we scored an awesome window table. We liked the included red wine. The rib eye steaks were very tender. I was hoping to try the Tiramisu that the head chef presented in the cooking demonstration earlier in the week, but to my surprise, they don't serve it in the Italian restaurant ...? Only Tiramisu mousse, which is called " Tiramisu Classico" on the menu, go figure. DH though he was getting berries topped with foam, but it seemed to be a large stemmed dessert dish full of foam with about 5 berries at the bottom. The look on his face made me giggle. We ran into screen-gem who came to ask us how we scored our table ... we arrived at 6pm and had a reservation for 6pm. Probably also a bit of luck.

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Minka, Elizabeth, and screen-gem, thank you for your detailed commentary on the ship and the ports. Minka, we are thinking of taking part of the included Edinburgh tour and then bailing to see some things we missed on Edinburgh land tour last year (we also enjoyed the Whiskey Experience for a quick intro to good whiskey). Thanks for details on that. But also thank you screen-gem for providing the alternative. People boarding the star today-please write if possible about starting from London like we will in a little more than a week.

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we also enjoyed the Whiskey Experience for a quick intro to good whiskey

 

Enjoy your cruise, especially Edinburgh, but please note the correct spelling of Scotland's National Beverage - "Whisky" no "e".clear.png?emoji-smile-1742

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Thank you, I forgot it was whisky already-good thing we are going again. This year we will sample our whisky in Kirkwall!

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Tips on disembarking at Greenwich:

 

As is the norm, luggage is left outside the cabin by 10pm. In the dead of night, hard-working Viking elves transport it off the ship via tender boats, and organize it on shore under a tent in a small park just east of the Cutty Sark. There is no cruise terminal building at the Greenwich Pier.

 

One can take luggage off the ship on your own in the morning, but it can be a bit of a struggle getting heavy cases on and off the tender (which is a TfL 'Clipper Ship', not Viking's tender boats). Then it's a long uphill climb to drag the cases up the ramp from the Greenwich Pier to land. The angle of incline depends on the tides, and it was quite steep this morning.

 

Upon request (well before disembarkation day), Viking will arrange transfers to local hotels. The price was exhorbitant - $495 as I recall. Maybe more. It was so expensive, my brain refused to store the data point. On Friday night, I booked a car with Addison Lee for transfer to our hotel in Kensington. That cost £30! Plus tip. Driver arrived right on time at 930am. I booked the car using the AL app. It's very slick, much like Uber. Their system sent me a message when the driver was 5 min away, providing the car's make, colour, and licence number.

 

I believe AL bookings can also be done by phone.

 

Note that vehicles can't drive right to the Greenwich Pier. The roads are blocked at the south side of the Cutty Sark. So you'll have to drag your luggage from the small park to the street. We asked Viking Guest Services for details on exactly where the luggage would be located, and exactly where taxis would pick up passengers. They had no clue, and provided conflicting/confusing information.

 

We found that the pick-up location for pre-arranged taxis is on the little lane that dead-ends past the right side of the Cutty Sark (with your back to the river).

 

Here's a link to the location:

Dropped Pin, near 60-54 Greenwich Church St

https://goo.gl/maps/z7iRErfN8CR2

 

There were very few taxis in evidence on Greenwich Church Street on Saturday morning, and lots of Viking pax trying to find one. Pre-booking a taxi is strongly recommended.

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Thanks screen-gem – that information about disembarking in Greenwich is very helpful. Will pre-book a transfer asap!

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Thank you, I forgot it was whisky already-good thing we are going again. This year we will sample our whisky in Kirkwall!

 

Orkney has at least 2 Distilleries that I remember - Highland Park & Scapa. Might be others, but these are the 2 that I remember.

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(Kirkwall) The included tour first went out into the countryside to see some of the neolithic artifacts. We got a history lesson from our guide, who was very knowledgeable. We stopped for about 40 min. in a small town and then continued back on our history tour back to the ship. Again, we immediately boarded the shuttle back to town. After a brief photo stop at the Cathedral, that we heard so much about on our morning tour, we walked to the Highland Park Distillery using Google maps as our guide. The walk was about 20-25 minutes, much of it uphill. The tours are every hr on the hr, but it's hit or miss if they are full, so best to reserve spots in advance. For us, only the 1pm tour would work (don't forget you have to leave at least half hour to walk back to the shuttle stop!). You must email at least 3 days in advance to reserve in advance. Tours are £10 for 1hr and 2 tastes, £20 for 4 tastes 1hr 15min. The tastes were very small (!) maybe a tablespoon or less, but you get to keep your tasting glass. I think that the Viking excursion gets 4 tastes, but maybe better tastes?, maybe 2 hrs?, and I think maybe a bottle to take home. But I haven't spoken to anyone that did the ship excursion... maybe someone else will fill in the details of that tour, which included lunch and an afternoon outing as well as the Scotch experience.

By the way, the weather never did clear up fully, and we walked back from the distillery in light rain. Bad time to find out that my previously waterproof jacket is no longer waterproof. :( Still, a fun day.

:D

We did the Viking Whisky Experience and, despite it's high price tag, it was a great day. Our guide for the day picked the 11 of us up in a Highland Park van and took us to the distillery.

 

We had a tasting of the 10 yr as we watched the intro video and then we were taken on a tour throughout the distillery - not sure how that part compares with the regular tours. After. We were taken to the tasting room where we were led through a tasting of their Viking series. Four generous pours of Thor, Loki, Freya, and Odin. Very high proof and not for the faint of heart... but excellent experience. Popped in the gift shop where we learned those whiskys are approx £400 each!

 

Our tour continued to lunch at a hotel just down the road. Not fancy but local and generous and tasty. Local cheeses, homemade oat cakes and desserts were included.

 

Following lunch we drove to the moor where HP harvests their peat...and had another sample there while learning about the peat and also history of Orkney and Scapa Flow (which the moor overlooks)

 

Onward to a viking site and a roundkirk with another taste. Then a scenic drive back to St Magnus to look at and visit the cathedral. And one final dram :-)

 

Throughout the day our guide was excellent. She Provided us history and legend and was just a delight. We arrived back at the ship close to back on board time so the only downside of the day was that we did not get to explore Kirkwall.

 

Sent from my SM-G960U using Forums mobile app

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Disembarkation from Greenwich

We purchased airport transfers to Heathrow from Viking for a 11:30 am departure from terminal two. When we received our vouchers about 3 days before the end of the cruise they required a 2:30 am departure from the ship. We felt this was ridiculously early and asked for a later departure. After several unfulfilled promises to change we finally received vouchers for a much more acceptable 5:45 am departure. The departure tickets were color coded but did not specifically state which departure terminal assigned to each bus. When we arrived at our assigned bus we found that that we had been assigned to a bus for terminal 5 rather than terminal 2, and only found this out by checking the label at the front of the bus. Staff accommodated us by switching us to a different bus at the pier, but had we not been vigilant we would have arrived at the wrong Heathrow terminal.

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Disembarkation from Greenwich We purchased airport transfers to Heathrow from Viking for a 11:30 am departure from terminal two. When we received our vouchers about 3 days before the end of the cruise they required a 2:30 am departure from the ship. We felt this was ridiculously early and asked for a later departure. After several unfulfilled promises to change we finally received vouchers for a much more acceptable 5:45 am departure. The departure tickets were color coded but did not specifically state which departure terminal assigned to each bus. When we arrived at our assigned bus we found that that we had been assigned to a bus for terminal 5 rather than terminal 2, and only found this out by checking the label at the front of the bus. Staff accommodated us by switching us to a different bus at the pier, but had we not been vigilant we would have arrived at the wrong Heathrow terminal.

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Thanks mariavii, for posting your review of the Viking excursion "Whisky Experience" which visited the Highland Park Distillery. I think that the quality, variety, and generous pours must have added to the cost over DIY - the port talk had mentioned exclusive pours, so it's great to hear that it was indeed something special. It sounds like you had a really full and fun day. We watched your van return from your tour from the World Cafe. So glad to get the scoop from an insider!

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(Sea day) (I know, I'm not "live from" anymore, but I have a keyboard now!) We still had a bottle of champagne left, and DH said that there was no way he was carrying THAT back home, so we had to drink it :rolleyes::D. I wanted to get one more trip to the fitness center in, attend the port talk at 11am and the 5pm "Captain's Farewell", so we had to strategically plan out the drinking, or else :eek:. We decided to try the fitness center right after the port talk at noon, when most people were headed to lunch. That worked out pretty well for a fairly empty fitness center :). (Actually, I did that timing most days that I wanted to work out.) After that, since I had not used the pools at all, we donned our suits, grabbed our ice bucket etc, and headed to the pool area. As many before have reviewed, there is a lot of seating by the pool; there are many loungers circling the pool in a double ring, out further on one end are tables and on the other end, cushy couches and chairs. Something for everyone. There are more loungers along both sides facing the windows. I got plastic champagne flutes from the pool bar and we sat by the pool. The hot tub there is more of a warm tub, which is fine for me, but may bother others. The pool is cool, not cold. Since we missed lunch (oh no!), we decided to have a late snack size meal from the pool grill and found a table. Meanwhile screen-gem and DW showed up and said that they were going back to the infinity pool... hurray! I hadn't tried that yet either, so we followed them there (Thanks screen-gem, for sending the infinite photo of us!). Infinity pool is cool, not cold; it is deep (I think I covered this earlier). Next was dress for dinner, and attend the Captain's Farewell party. There were a few musical performances and banter from Nolan, our Cruise Director. The Captain read a story written by his younger self about wanting to be a captain someday; it was cute. Then there was a crew parade so we could thank them - it was nice - they were a great crew. Such a fun, packed day so far, and we still had an invite to join screen-gem and DW plus DrJJ for dinner after the guitarist Daniel finished his set. Daniel is really enjoyable, but after all of the "fun" :bottle-pop::champagne-toast: and the light lunch, I needed to eat earlier. So mid-Daniel, we went to The Restaurant. DH said it was the best meal of the cruise, which is saying a lot. We both had Lobster Thermidor. Even with an after meal coffee, I was not able to stay up for the show so sorry, no comments on that.

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(London) I'm not going to comment too much on London, as I think our experience was tainted by traffic due to the protests going on over a certain political visit. Enough said.

 

Our afternoon visit to the Tower of London as the second part of our included tour was good, but it was crowded. Our guide kept us entertained by talking over the audio vox while we waited in line to see the Crown Jewels.

 

Note: We did get a fairly nice tour on the way to the airport the next morning during our transfer, which I think made up for the morning traffic the day before.

 

We made our 3rd visit to the Chef's Table that last night before packing. The menu was Xiang; we enjoyed it a lot. I really liked the dessert wine and gave the rest of my red to DH, who promptly gave the rest of his dessert wine to me :D. The dessert wine was white with a hint of grapefruit to it. Very refreshing and I will try to find it now that we are back home. DH didn't like it. Since we had to pack, that was our evening entertainment... :(.

 

We had a wonderful cruise!

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As one who is signed up for the Viking Sea taking the reverse itinerary on July 24, I would like to thank all of the posters for the information, hints and observations about your trip. I am sure it will help us immeasurably.

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I also would like to thank you for all the wonderful information you provided. We are so looking forward to our trip on the Viking Sea next week. I plan to print off some of your shore ideas to take with. I am sure your posts will enrich our trip.

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(Geiranger) We got up for sail in to Geiranger Fiord and it did not disappoint... spectacular. Finally got to try the famous Mamsens waffles with brown cheese. The waffles were very sweet so the rich cheese really was a great accompaniment. I was pleasantly surprised. We did the inclided bus tour which drove up the hairpin switchback roads up to a beautiful mountain lake, and the down town and up again to a different viewpoint of the fiord and town. I'm glad that we did it. If i had known that our weather would be so calm and bright, I would've tried kayaking; the morning fiord water was like glass (WOW). After a round trip back on the tender for lunch, we explored more on foot. There is a stairway that follows a long waterfall from town up to a museum. We wandered up a different route and then took the stairway down. Nice day. Sail away was different as the sky had become overcast. The fiord has different looks with the weather and lighting so more nice photo ops!

 

The weather in Norway is quite changeable. We were on the June 12th Into the Midnight Sun cruise, and Geiranger was raining and 50 at the bottom of the mountain, and 37 degrees and sleeting and windy at the top. We took Geiranger Fjord Service 3 hour panoramic bus tour which includes a stop at the top of Mount Dashnibba, for a cost of $63. The tour was awesome and would highly recommend it.

 

Our weather in Nordkapp was great, sunny, calm, temperatures int the high 50's.

Enjoy the rest of your journey.

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(Geiranger) We got up for sail in to Geiranger Fiord and it did not disappoint... spectacular. Finally got to try the famous Mamsens waffles with brown cheese. The waffles were very sweet so the rich cheese really was a great accompaniment. I was pleasantly surprised. We did the inclided bus tour which drove up the hairpin switchback roads up to a beautiful mountain lake, and the down town and up again to a different viewpoint of the fiord and town. I'm glad that we did it. If i had known that our weather would be so calm and bright, I would've tried kayaking; the morning fiord water was like glass (WOW). After a round trip back on the tender for lunch, we explored more on foot. There is a stairway that follows a long waterfall from town up to a museum. We wandered up a different route and then took the stairway down. Nice day. Sail away was different as the sky had become overcast. The fiord has different looks with the weather and lighting so more nice photo ops!

 

 

 

We also were up on deck for sail into Geiranger. We were surprised at how few people were there! It was absolutely stunning and I was able to get a picture of the waterfalls with a rainbow . I’m sure we must have seen each other. We missed the meet and mingle. It pays to look at all the cards placed on the desk. We put them into the desk and never looked until 1/2 way through the cruise. So we were never able to meet the others but I’m sure we met without realizing it as all the passengers were so friendly and warm. What an amazing cruise it was and we are now enjoying the memories.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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