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minka34

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

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We were sorry not to meet you while on board. Screen-gem and I talked about how we should have thought ahead and planned a second get together. By the time we did, it was that last sea day and it was really too late to get a message out to everyone. Had we been thinking about it sooner, Viking might have been willing to put the notice out to everyone on the list... something to think about for other cruisers. We met so many great people on this cruise. I think that the format of Viking Ocean really encourages this. Note - Many of us were wondering about you elizabetho55! You now have that mystery woman quality. :D

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Arrival at Greenwich

 

Sailing up the Thames was everything I'd hoped for, and more. The first surprise appeared while sailing south, just before turning right (west) into the Thames estuary. There are several large wind farms at sea - hundreds (thousands?) of wind turbines, row upon row, glinting in the late afternoon sun.

 

The journey up the river began about 6pm. For a while, there's not a lot to see. Miles of industrial docks, freighters, tugs, gantries, and warehouses. We passed the Port of Tilbury on the right, which Viking sometimes uses as a London 'port-of-call'.

 

The first notable event was passing under the Queen Elizabeth bridge, but It's pretty ho-hum as Bridges go. Passengers began to assemble in the Explorers Lounge and on the bow decks to watch the sail-in.

 

We reached the Thames Barrier behind schedule, just before midnight. A tug appeared and connected a tow line to the bow of the ship. I suspect there was a second tug at the stern. They helped guide the Star through the Barrier, which is somewhat like a multi-booth toll plaza on a Thruway, with green and red lights indicating which lanes are open. (The Viking has a Seapass, and did not have to stop to Toss coins into the toll collector:-). It was quite amazing to see the giant ship slowly ease between the barriers.

 

Soon we came upon the large circular O2 stadium (port side). It was all lit up, with a dozen towers which hold up the dome, illuminated in red.

 

Just past O2 came the next surprise. There's a powerful green laser beam shooting up and across the Thames from the Royal Observatory. The laser is almost exactly on the Prime Meridian, marking longitude 0.000000. You'll know you've crossed the PM when you see the laser going straight up at 90 degrees (on the port side). It looks like it's going up, but in fact you're passing under it.

 

Next - the tugs helped the Viking do a 180, and the ship then reversed backwards up the Thames, and was gently guided into its docking location at the Greenwich Tier, which is a floating pontoon (officially named "Welcome").

 

Thus ended a remarkable journey. The few die-hards still in the Lounge drifted off to their cabins to get a few hours of sleep before exploring Greenwich and London.

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Nice, now I feel like I didn't miss the sail in! Thanks for the great review.

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Nice, now I feel like I didn't miss the sail in! Thanks for the great review.

 

 

 

We watched a lot of it from the explorer’s lounge balcony but finished up in our cabin which was directly aft - right on the back of the ship for all non-sailors, like me. There was a 2nd tug guiding in the rear. It was really an amazing thing to watch! I didn’t make it to very end but enough to see what a feat it was for them to accomplish docking. Thank you for letting us know about that green spot light. I wondered what it was!

 

 

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We were sorry not to meet you while on board. Screen-gem and I talked about how we should have thought ahead and planned a second get together. By the time we did, it was that last sea day and it was really too late to get a message out to everyone. Had we been thinking about it sooner, Viking might have been willing to put the notice out to everyone on the list... something to think about for other cruisers. We met so many great people on this cruise. I think that the format of Viking Ocean really encourages this. Note - Many of us were wondering about you elizabetho55! You now have that mystery woman quality. :D

 

 

 

WOW! Mystery woman. I like it! 🤣🤣. I am betting we met on the sun deck during the sail in to Geiranger. There were so few people and pretty much everyone said hi to each other while taking pictures. I am short so I was standing on that covered up, elevated “thing-a-mabob” taking pictures.

 

 

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Thanks for your excellent narrative on your transit up the Thames for arrival in Greenwich.

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(Lofoton 2) We got off the tour bus and immediately onto the shuttle bus back to the city. There was a sign with a map, posted right at the bus stop, for a couple of short hikes from town. There was an information building just around the corner, on the main street so I got a paper copy of the map, some advice that we only really had time for the shorter hike, and of course, WC. The route took us from town on a gravel path up to a ski area and then up a steep dirt and rock trail to the top of a relatively small peak "Himmelsteinborga". Flora photo ops for me. Also, great views of the fiords and city, plus you could see our ship and a Crystal ship anchored in the harbor with mountains all around. Awesome. On the early trail while still in the outskirts of the city, DH was obsessed with the giant Norwegian dandelions! We had to have photos taken with them, of course. They were hip height on me. Yikes! Maybe the long daylight hours make them grow like crazy??? DH said to make sure none of the mutent fluff rode home on us (he slays dandelions in his spare time "for fun" at home ;p). The overall hike for us took under 1.5 hrs. Probably plan 2 for safe measure. Make sure you find out the time of the last shuttle - I only knew "all aboard" time, the last shuttle was apparently 30 min before that. It's only a 10 mim ride. Walkable, but we were cold and ready for a cushy seat! Back on board, I was so ready for a hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps in it, but alas, no peppermint schnapps on the Star. :(

I heard the the ship's hiking excursion was really good, but strenuous, especially for the first half hour... up, up, up! Maybe one of our Cc cruise mates will be able to review that, or other tours.

Cheers - we're off to our second visit to the Chef's Table, menu: La Route Des Indes. :D

 

Thank you so much for sharing about your journey! I was wondering how far away the port from Leknes centre and how often the shuttle buses go there and back? I'm thinking about renting a car for a few hours to drive around and see all the beautiful spots. Do you think it's doable? If the ship leaves at 3pm, what is the latest time I should get back there by?

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Thank you so much for sharing about your journey! I was wondering how far away the port from Leknes centre and how often the shuttle buses go there and back? I'm thinking about renting a car for a few hours to drive around and see all the beautiful spots. Do you think it's doable? If the ship leaves at 3pm, what is the latest time I should get back there by?

 

The shuttle buses were on an irregular schedule. Seemed to be on demand.

 

 

Another passenger told me that he had rented a car from an agency at the Leknes airport (which is small, and not too far out of town). He was able to get the rental firm to deliver the car to the port. That arrangement might be unusual. At another of the ports (Molde, I think), someone else I spoke to had rented a car at the airport, but he had to take taxi to/from the port to get the car.

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Thanks for all the great info on this itinerary, it’s all been very helpful!

 

A question on your disembarkment - did the ship dock in Greenwich or London Tilbury? Our itinerary says Greenwich but Cruise Mapper shows London Tilbury. Trying to get transportation into London set up. Thanks!

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Thanks for all the great info on this itinerary, it’s all been very helpful!

 

A question on your disembarkment - did the ship dock in Greenwich or London Tilbury? Our itinerary says Greenwich but Cruise Mapper shows London Tilbury. Trying to get transportation into London set up. Thanks!

 

From either Tilbury or Greenwich I would suggest a limo service. From Tilbury we used Addison Lee to our hotel at Tower Hill. Cost was UKP 55, which was significantly lower than London cabs (quoted UKP 75 to 85).

 

From Tilbury you can also get a train, with the train station about 1 mile from the cruise terminal. Trains go to Fenchurch St Station by Tower Hill in London. We consider the train, but when adding taxis to/from the stations it was only a few pound cheaper than the limo.

 

In Greenwich you have the Tube Station (DLR Line) and Thames River services, however I wouldn't want to travel the Tube with suitcases.

 

Hope this helps with your research.

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Thanks for all the great info on this itinerary, it’s all been very helpful!

 

A question on your disembarkment - did the ship dock in Greenwich or London Tilbury? Our itinerary says Greenwich but Cruise Mapper shows London Tilbury. Trying to get transportation into London set up. Thanks!

 

Cruise Mapper is incorrect. The Viking Star (June 30 sailing from Bergen) docked at the Greenwich Tier, and used tenders to transfer pax to/from the Greenwich Pier.

 

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=56531785&postcount=63

 

All the Midnight Sun sailings this season are scheduled to go to Greenwich. The transit through the Thames barrier is one of the highlights of the MS itinerary.

 

We used Addison Lee to get from Greenwich to our hotel in Kensington. The cost was £30.

 

There's a DLR station right by the Greenwich Pier which is one way to get into London proper.

 

Or take a London Clipper (river transport). It has stops at Embankment and Westminster - both are easy connections to the Underground.

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I am sorry to not have gotten to know our roll call friends better but glad to have met at the M&M. There was so much to do, see, learn and so little time! We were traveling with old friends that we rarely see anymore so spent much of our time with them. For us it was a spectacular trip and our Viking experience was everything we had hoped. It looks like there are only two more Into the Midnight Sun sailings for July this year and I see none for August. However I look forward to reliving our experience by hearing about the future sailings and perhaps helping the 2019 cruisers with their questions.

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"There was so much to do, see, learn and so little time! " (by TayanaLorna)

We have been saying the same thing. Where was all the time I planned to spend reading? I came home with 6 unread books on my kindle. The cruise was packed with activity and had such a great assembly of ports. We loved it! We met so many more people on this cruise than on previous NCL cruises (where we tend to try to ignore all of the other people). Most of the people on the Star for Into the Midnight Sun were so pleasant and friendly... just a great time!

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Thank you for starting this thread. I had a question whether it was more of a scenery cruise or a typical European cruise of churches and palaces. My husband has tired of them both. I think your thread has answered my question and this cruise will be perfect for us. The only down is that we've already taken the train between Bergen and Oslo and visited the spots that you mentioned. I will have to research more on that. Once again, thank you.

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Hi All,

I thought about starting a new thread for this but I am interested in the opinion of my fellow passengers on this Star cruise. DW and I have been debating the quality of food on this cruise. It was our first Viking cruise. We have cruised extensively mainly on Regent, Seabourn and Oceania. We are not foodies but we do like an outstanding meal once in awhile. I don't want a special dinner every night because I get jaded if I do this. However, our general opinion is that Viking fell short on food and food service. I'm not saying it was bad just not great and not up to the standards of our other cruises. I didn't think the Chef's Table delivered anything special. It was like an experiment that had some good parts and some bad parts. It was the only venue where I ate dessert because I hadn't really enjoyed the dinner. The World Cafe was OK but we found the selections repetitious and somewhat limited. On other ships we have enjoyed a variey of cuisines at lunchtime. Manfredi's was our favorite as we loved the Osso Buco, the pork bellies, and the antipasto. It also had some ambiance which the other venues very much lacked. The pool grill was not good. Everything we had was overcooked. Then the buns which they tried to warm never made it to warm. Mamsen's was OK and had good quality for the limited choices. We also found the service to be spotty as there seemed to be little flexibility in the kitchen,e.g., I ordered a baked potato instead of fries and the meal came with both. Another time I ordered 3 courses, DW ordered 2 and I didn't get my third until I asked for it after the entree was served. Small things but these weren't the only instances. Again, the food was OK but that's all. I'm posting this because DW has ruled out Viking because of the food and I don't want to rule out Viking. I'm wondering if folks who have cruised Viking before can comment on the relative food quality on the Star on this trip. Thanks in advance!

Stan

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Oops! I should have said why I don't want to rule out Viking. I loved the innovative ship and the passengers were the friendliest ever. The itinerary was great.

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Stan, we were on the Star a year ago and found the staff and food outstanding with zero complaints. We ate in all venues. Even liked the pool grill. Chef's Table was one of our favorites. I truly feel that food is highly subjective. We found the wait staff exceptional.

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I'm wondering if folks who have cruised Viking before can comment on the relative food quality on the Star on this trip. Thanks in advance!

Stan

 

Stan,

Like you, we were less than impressed with the food nor service on the Star this month. The specialty restaurants were the most disappointing, esp in terms of service. We found the service in CT to be generally sub-par. Servers in World Cafe were more responsive in terms of basics like refilling water and wine glasses. Intervals between courses was excessive. We had a reservation for 7:30pm -- the mains didn't arrive until after 9. One the other hand, the main course on that menu was lamb tenderloin, and it was outstanding -- one of the best lamb dishes I've ever had. It was a shame that the overall meal experience was sullied by the service.

 

We dined in Manfredi's one night, and the food was quite good. But again, service gaffes spoiled the experience. They got one order wrong, and thus served the wrong meal. Apology, apology, new order submitted to the kitchen. More delays.

 

We were generally quite happy with the MDR. I think it's highly dependent on which waitstaff you get. At all the venues (except World Cafe), I observed a lot of the servers spending a lot of time staring into the tiny screens on their fancy Order Entry Devices (iPods). I wonder if this season there's a higher percentage of new less-experienced staff on the Star, who are relying more on automation and less on experienced waitering.

 

We've sailed on Viking Ocean once before, in fact on the Star two years ago. I don't recall being quite so disappointed in the food experience after that voyage. I remember really nice meals in both CT and Manfredi's. In the MDR that year, we gravitated to one table at the stern, and had the same (excellent) waitstaff pretty much every night we ate there. That made for a very nice and consistent experience, and we were traveling with another couple which added to our enjoyment.

 

I certainly wouldn't rule out Viking simply because of the food. It might not have been the best available on the high seas, but the Midnight Sun itinerary was great, the weather was exceptional, the ship was comfortable, and our fellow passengers (mostly) great company! And both the chocolate and Gran Marnier soufflés were top-notch.

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Thank you for starting this thread. I had a question whether it was more of a scenery cruise or a typical European cruise of churches and palaces. My husband has tired of them both. I think your thread has answered my question and this cruise will be perfect for us. The only down is that we've already taken the train between Bergen and Oslo and visited the spots that you mentioned. I will have to research more on that. Once again, thank you.

 

I would definitely say this was a scenery and countryside cruise. Having taken the train and visited some spots is not a downside. In and around Bergen there is so much to do that has not been discussed. In Geiranger there is a wonderful walk up a waterfall to a fjord center doable by oneself. The only cities on the itinerary are Edinburgh and London. We skipped London and had a very full day in Greenwich alone.

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Stan, This was our very first cruise ever so I cannot compare the food service to another cruise. We were very happy with the food and the service was good, however, I thought it would be better.We loved the Chefs Table and thought the service to be excellent all but one of the four nights there. The service in the Restaurant seemed to depend on the time of evening and at the 7:30 hour was painfully slow at times. Almost every time we were there we heard a clattering and breaking of dishes behind the scenes. Manfredi's did have the best ambience with the photos and decor. However the rib eye steak that everyone on CC had been raving about was tasty but grisly for me. For what it's worth from a newbie. What dismayed me is they kept running out of wines we liked.

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No one mentioned the living art in the Chef's Table... we loved that! I missed noticing it the first 2 visits.

Look for it!

When the Chef's Table was busy, it was not pleasant. Noisy chatter and dropped dishes crashing. Our 1st and 3rd visits to CT were very pleasant. We had the same staff for those two visits, and I liked them very much. All in all a fun time. We liked the MDR very much. No real complaints there.

Wish I were eating there tonight...

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We mostly ate in The Restaurant and almost always had wonderful service and never had a complaint about the food (until our last night...creme brulee was not...er...bruleed). We were late eaters, typically seated around 8, sometimes later so service was attentive, but we did lose the wine stewards as they left dinner to head to there night assignments.

 

We were disappointed that our 2 favorite wines ran out as we reached Scotland.

 

As for specialty restaurants, we only ate at Chefs table once as SO does not eat fish l. The one time we did eat there (gastronomic journey menu) the food was excellent. Service, however was atrocious. We were seated at 8pm and it was 20min before a waiter or the wine steward came over. It was 1/2 empty so I'm not sure what that was about.

 

We tried manfredi and were excited for an excellent meal when we saw the interesting bread basket. However the food did not live up to the hype...heck aome of the food didn't even resemble the menu descriptions. It was not Italian italian... closer to over seasoned and improperly prepared italian-american fare.

 

But we decided to give it a second try thinking maybe it was an off night. Not really.

 

Lunch was typically at the pool grill and we enjoyed that. As we did the world cafe for lunch.

 

 

 

 

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Hi All,

 

I thought about starting a new thread for this but I am interested in the opinion of my fellow passengers on this Star cruise. DW and I have been debating the quality of food on this cruise. It was our first Viking cruise. We have cruised extensively mainly on Regent, Seabourn and Oceania. We are not foodies but we do like an outstanding meal once in awhile. I don't want a special dinner every night because I get jaded if I do this. However, our general opinion is that Viking fell short on food and food service. I'm not saying it was bad just not great and not up to the standards of our other cruises. I didn't think the Chef's Table delivered anything special. It was like an experiment that had some good parts and some bad parts. It was the only venue where I ate dessert because I hadn't really enjoyed the dinner. The World Cafe was OK but we found the selections repetitious and somewhat limited. On other ships we have enjoyed a variey of cuisines at lunchtime. Manfredi's was our favorite as we loved the Osso Buco, the pork bellies, and the antipasto. It also had some ambiance which the other venues very much lacked. The pool grill was not good. Everything we had was overcooked. Then the buns which they tried to warm never made it to warm. Mamsen's was OK and had good quality for the limited choices. We also found the service to be spotty as there seemed to be little flexibility in the kitchen,e.g., I ordered a baked potato instead of fries and the meal came with both. Another time I ordered 3 courses, DW ordered 2 and I didn't get my third until I asked for it after the entree was served. Small things but these weren't the only instances. Again, the food was OK but that's all. I'm posting this because DW has ruled out Viking because of the food and I don't want to rule out Viking. I'm wondering if folks who have cruised Viking before can comment on the relative food quality on the Star on this trip. Thanks in advance!

 

Stan

 

 

 

We have done 4 Viking river cruises. This was our first Viking ocean cruise. We feel the food on the river cruises was better. There was nothing wrong with the food on the ocean cruise and IMO compared to other cruise lines it was outstanding. We were disappointed in the bread choices for breakfast. On the river cruises they have hardy, whole wheat bread selections. We wondered if the ocean cruises are catering to the SAD (the Standard American diet). We didn’t find a lot of healthy choices. We were also unimpressed with The Chef’s Table but we really liked Manfredi’s and ate there twice. Except for one night we never ate dinner at the buffet. It appeared as though they offered a variety of seafood each night (sushi, crab legs, shrimp, etc.) as well as the same entrees offered in the MDR. We thought the MDR was good. Not outstanding but very good. The only miss for me was the night I ordered scallops. They were delicious but that’s all I got - 5 small scallops. No sides, no rice, potatoes. Just 5 scallops. It was an appetizer not a main in my opinion. Other than that the rest of our dinners were very good and we enjoyed them. I agree that the lunches at the buffet were somewhat repetitive although the main entree and soup varied each day. The soups were excellent. The pool buffet was basic hot dogs and hamburgs which is what we expected.

Overall, I would give the food an A-. Any other ocean cruise we’ve been on the food gets maybe a C. The river cruises get an A+. I just hope they continue to offer healthy choices on the river cruises and do not start to cater to an American diet as they seem to be doing on the ocean cruises.

I think it’s a mistake to rule out Viking based on food as it is so much better than other cruise lines. Not sure how many ocean cruises you’ve been on but IMO Viking’s food outshines any other ocean cruise we’ve ever done.

 

 

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Geiranger - instead of taking one of Viking's excur$ions$, we booked the Geiranger "Exclusive Panoramic Tour", a 3hour tour to all three of of the main sights (Eagle Bend, Flydalsjuvet, and the very top of Mt. Dalsnibba)

https://www.geirangerfjord.no/panorama-exclusive-bus

It was a fantastic excursion, with spectacular views of the fjord below. Instead of being packed onto a 40-pax bus, we were on a brand-new Mercedes mini-bus with one other couple from the Star.

The drive up/down the twisty turny mountain road was great fun. See video here:

 

In the better late than never category:

I just noticed that I had previously posted the wrong URL to the drive down the twisty turny road from the Eagle Nest lookout at Geiranger. Here's the correct link.

 

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wkmoe9epvqch34k/Video%202018-07-02%2C%20Geiranger%20bus.mov?dl=0

 

Our driver was a local, who has been driving tour buses there for years. Note how he would often pause just before entering a 180-switchback in order to let an oncoming bus get around the turn. A lot of tourist drivers (and itinerant bus drivers who come in to Geiranger from the cities during peak periods) are not so talented. We heard that every season, a few buses will get 'stuck' on particularly tight turns - can't move forward, can't back up (without toppling down the mountain). The locals then have to assist with jockeying the bus around the turn, while the traffic backs up each way.

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