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Viking Orion -Reviews for excursions getting worse???

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Viking Orion Bali to Sydney Worst Shore Excursions Ever   https://www.cruisecritic.com.au/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=643734

I am booked on the Hong Kong to Beijing tour (Far East Discovery) in September and was disappointed to read bad reviews about the recent tours.  I had wanted to go on the Bali To Sydney tour but my husband liked the China tour.  It was a hard job to get him to go on an ocean tour as he only likes river cruises.  Convinced him that Viking Oceans was different and included tours and was small.    Seems like the Bali To Sydney tour ( Komodo and the Australia Coast), tours were even worst.    The link above is a recent review of this tour.  I expected the included tours to be a bit basis, and I do not mind it just being a bus tour, but the tours on this trip sound appalling.  The cruise does include tours, so they should be of a reasonable standard. otherwise why bother.  The paid for tour also sounds extremely disappointing.   Has anyone got anything good to say about any of the Asian cruises, or the Australian  and New Zealand  cruises regarding the included tours.  I know this area is new to Viking this year, but some research must have gone into it.  Where is the quality control.    Come on Viking, review these poor tours and make changes.

 

Edited by harbourside

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I agree, no excuse for bad tours consistently.  One correction, Viking is not new to this route.  Orion might be new to this area but we did most of the same ports this time last year and other Viking ships have been there in between.  Hope they sort out the tours or as you say, what's the point.  Most cruise for more than just a "boat ride".  

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I was hoping for better things from Viking.  I like river cruises, but Europe is so far from New Zealand, and I cannot face another long, long flight and have done the Asian river cruises.  Just returned from Myanmar .    Viking seemed a good fit to change from River to Ocean, and shorter flights in the Asian and Australian region.  Even South American has a direct flight from New Zealand and about 11 hours flight.  Was just checking that out for next trip.  Will hold judgement until I have actually done a cruise with Viking.

 

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Unlike river cruises, Viking doesn’t have a dedicated bus service so are reliant on locals. I’m not a fan of Asian cruises from Bali through to Australia. Bangkok port is a very long drive from the city, as is Kuala Lumpur. In Bali the traffic is so bad that even bothering to visit the port on a shore excursion is frustrating. I’ve never seen a luxury bus in Bali. Komodo Island just sounds rather weird. An overnight in Darwin may have given the chance for a (albeit expensive) flight to the Kimberlies, otherwise there’s not much else. The only ports I’d enjoy would be Singapore and Hong Kong. There’s a lot that needs to be done to shore up the experience in this part of the world. 

 

Im not sure about the issue with drivers licence in Hamilton Island. Your usual one from your country would have been acceptable. 

 

But its summer here. It’s always going to be hot and in the tropics, humid as well. 

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We are on Orion Auckland to Bali Feb 24. Sure hope that Viking takes this to heart and  changes some things. I did email tellus a few weeks ago to say I was concerned about the excursions.

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We did the Orion Hong Kong to Beijing cruise in October '18.  This was our opinion:

  • Hong Kong Included:  Short sail on junk in harbour, which was nice. Good bus tour on hairy roads with an excellent driver and excellent guide.  Enjoyed it.
  • Xaimen island Gardens optional:  Dreadful.  Dire.  Young guide had only fractured English, and little knowledge.
  • Xaimen included: Even worse than Gardens.  Extreme language problems.  Shown pigeons being fed in a park!!!
  • Okinawa included:  Bus tour.  Interesting visit to war memorial.  Good knowledgeable guide.  Good tour
  • Shanghai Maglev train and 88-floor tower optional:  Good guide.  Pricey tour.  Enjoyed it.  Boxes ticked.
  • Shanghai included:  Bus tour then Museum.  Poor guide, poor bus tour (Heavy traffic), not all of museum open. Escaped early!
  • Quingdao included:  Bus to Olympic sailing venue.  Guide left us to wander on our own on sunny shorefront.  Why were we here?
  • Dalian Included:  Longest brand new empty cruise terminal in the world between ship and coach.  Why were we here?
  • Great Wall included:  Good guide, with good English.  Long bus trip >3 hrs, countryside very interesting , as was lunch!  This was what we came for.  Couple of hours to wander the Wall and environs.  Excellent.  

 

Post-cruise extension:  Disembarked and bussed to Marriott in Beijing.  Interesting countryside.  Top-notch professional guide with excellent English, and knew it all, and how to look after westerners.  We were lucky here.  Dumped luggage and off to T Square and the Forbidden City.  Learned a lot.  Good pace, but plenty time to look around.  Guide stayed with us in hotel to answer questions and look after us. 

Next day, same guide, off to Summer Palace and sail on the lake, then to the zoo and the pandas.  Good lunch, then off to the Lama Temple, again with full commentary from guide.  Very good day. 

 

Last day, off to airport through Beijing traffic, again with our guide telling us about all sorts of things Chinese.  Post-cruise extension tours were excellent in all respects, and what we had expected throughout from Viking.

 

The Orion onboard Shore Excursion Manager, Manuel, was put in an impossible situation by Viking shoreside who designed and organised the included tours.  The poor man was in a state of continuous embarrassment and apology and we felt so sorry for him.  The excellent post-cruise extension was obviously designed and organised by someone else!

 

Below, in the Review section, you can read a full review about the return cruise from Beijing to Hong Kong.

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Rawmac, also Viking has much, much, much more experience in Beijing since, from March to November and for the past, what 15 years, Viking River has been bringing boat loads of people to Beijing multiple times per month. They have had plenty of time to learn the city, learn what people really want to see and design the perfect extension. It would not have surprised me to learn that your guide in Beijing has been working for Viking for a while now and knows the Viking way of doing things.

 

Otherwise, these are new ports for Viking in parts of the world that just are not accustomed to the demanding tourists that Viking is bringing. Viking is trying to bring us to new places but it sounds like it is going to take a while to tweak the details and to learn just how much "different" Viking pax are will to accept and how to prepare us for the fact that things are going to be different from what we are accustomed to.

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Excellent post @Peregrina651  Many of the ports are really demanding in terms of climate, traffic, language, and distance. And most cruise lines even those experienced in this area, don’t get it right. Our Princess cruise which berthed in Langkawi provided an abominable excursion yet they’ve been there many times before. Add the expectations of Viking cruisers (which is fair enough as the Viking cruises are expensive) and in new areas, well, it can only improve. I just hope the Alaska brand new itinerary doesn’t throw them also. At least language won’t be an issue. 

Edited by Pushka

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I have booked the 4 day extension to the Terracotta Warriors and Beijing.   At least they are going to be professional.  I hope Viking does do some improvements to the Far East Discovery Tour, but I doubt it as they are only 2 tours this year, then they seem to have cancelled it.  Not dates for 2020 or 2021.  No excuses for the Australian cruise .  You should be able do do a good tour at the stops in Australia.

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Yes, many, many cruise lines have been doing New Zealand and Australia tours for years. I am very disappointed with the reviews of these tours and hope that by Feb they take it to heart and improve.

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There’s certainly no excuse for poor excursions in NZ and Australia. 

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We are on the 23 day Tokyo to Vancouver and the recent reviews are very troubling. Just hope they can figure things out before our trip in May. We have been on three other Viking Ocean cruises and they have been wonderful; food, service, cabins, everything. Some of the included tours could have been better but the latest reviews have me wondering what has happened with Viking Ocean and how soon they can fix it.

Edited by Insanityx4

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We are on the 23 day Tokyo to Vancouver and the recent reviews are very troubling. Just hope they can figure things out before our trip in May. We have been on three other Viking Ocean cruises and they have been wonderful; food, service, cabins, everything. Some of the included tours could have been better but the latest reviews have me wondering what has happened with Viking Ocean and how soon they can fix it.

We are on the cruise after yours in Alaska. One of our included excursions is described as DIY. It consists of a shuttle drop off. None of the included excursions are of any interest to me except for the Train in Skagway but won’t be bothering. The extra excursions are great but very expensive when compared with the same one but organised privately. I’m talking of $200 cheaper for the same thing. I think the ship will be lovely but for Ocean cruises the included excursions seem pretty much useless. And Asia is a really difficult area to get excursions that are close by due to the nature of the ports.

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Husband took tha Skagway train last year and booked the tickets himself. Paid half the price as the ship's tour price and had an entire car almost to himself. He did the same thing in Flam a couple of years ago.

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Husband took tha Skagway train last year and booked the tickets himself. Paid half the price as the ship's tour price and had an entire car almost to himself. He did the same thing in Flam a couple of years ago.


We’ve booked Michelle of Island Wings independently and also TEMSCO for a helicopter trip to Medenhall Glacier and Dog sledding. Our excursions don’t open up for booking for another 50? days and if they get booked out it will likely be too late to book them independently so I got in first. Let alone the cost savings. Overall I’d say around $1000 difference for the two. Yet the descriptions are identical. And of course fully refundable if we don’t arrive or weather stops the trip. I don’t really like Vikings method of excursions allocation; I know that people pay more but on the other hand the cabin they receive is significantly better. But it is what it is and I’m sorting out my Plan B.

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15 hours ago, Insanityx4 said:

We are on the 23 day Tokyo to Vancouver and the recent reviews are very troubling. Just hope they can figure things out before our trip in May. We have been on three other Viking Ocean cruises and they have been wonderful; food, service, cabins, everything. Some of the included tours could have been better but the latest reviews have me wondering what has happened with Viking Ocean and how soon they can fix it.

 

If you have had three wonderful Viking Ocean Cruises I am sure that the one in May will be wonderful as well.  The food, service and cabins don't change with the venue ... just the excursions which are subject to the unique conditions that each port "provides". 

 

Honestly I read reviews but take them with a "grain of salt".  Some people are simply determined to find fault in anything that is different or "not what I'm used to".   Embrace the adventure!  Private tours are almost always an option as well.

Edited by molymoo
Correction

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so sorry these Excursions have not been exceptional because that is what Viking seemingly is striving for....destination oriented and being travelers not tourists. I think many of us on the WC did a good job letting the excursion people know what was working and what wasn't....they often had staff on the tours  too so I can't imagine those opinions were not shared!!!

 

If Viking charges a premium for their cruises then I expect that they should deliver a quality product or don't include a sub par included "panoramic AKA drive around" tours.  As the fleet grows I am fearful that this may become an even bigger issue.

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17 minutes ago, deec said:

so sorry these Excursions have not been exceptional because that is what Viking seemingly is striving for....destination oriented and being travelers not tourists. I think many of us on the WC did a good job letting the excursion people know what was working and what wasn't....they often had staff on the tours  too so I can't imagine those opinions were not shared!!!

 

If Viking charges a premium for their cruises then I expect that they should deliver a quality product or don't include a sub par included "panoramic AKA drive around" tours.  As the fleet grows I am fearful that this may become an even bigger issue.

 I have to agree.  We are very happy with VO cruises, but I don't think there is any disputing the fact that too many of the included tours are low quality, mass-market events, entirely inconsistent with Vikings price and advertising. My wife and I generally stay 3-4 days in the embarkation and debarkation cities on our own before and after the cruises. In most cities, we can book small group (8-12 people) tours for something like $60 per person that do an excellent job for 6-8 hours. This is the retail cost of booking as an individual. Using this as a basis of comparison, if Viking is spending $15 per person on some of these drive-by bus tours, they are overpaying. There are places where tours for 900 people can be difficult. There are places were it should be better.

Edited by Richard2
correct spelling typo

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It is also troubling that the itinerary has changed. We are now on a 22 day cruise instead of 23 day with 10 tours instead of 11.

They seem to have sold this cruise before ironing out all of the wrinkles. They are still advertising the cruise through 2021 as 23 days, and 11 tours. Also many of the people on our ship have arranged for their own air and the ship is getting in a day earlier than advertised by some TA's and other websites.. We booked through Viking so had the date right, but not the number of days. We also booked our air through them so no problem there. But because of the lost day we will have to tender for debarkation, as the Port of Vancouver already had other ships scheduled. I can't even imagine that nightmare.

I agree some people just are just plain negative if something doesn't go their way but we tend to be flexible and take everything in stride. I am sure we will have a wonderful trip but with so many negative reviews in the last two months, it does send up some red flags.

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Have many traveled too far, perhaps too often, and expect too much.?? Remember some Ports, especially in New Zealand are now overwhelmed by very large ships ,several at once, the laid back feeling of many Ports, all around the world is no longer. We ,and I include myself... are inundating small places ,in large numbers.. Take a walk perhaps, as we did a lot in Northern Europe, feel the places you visit,and most of all, carefully do your homework, on where you are going ,and what to expect.That takes time and effort.. Asia is different,and perhaps not quite what you may expect,is that not what travel is all about..?. Cruise lines cannot be all things to all people, everyone expects or likes different things.Enjoy the moment,there is so much about cruising to simply love...its different from where you live, but that should be what you come to enjoy..How fortunate we are, to see the world in such a wonderful way. Be grateful you can do this...! 

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2 hours ago, Insanityx4 said:

It is also troubling that the itinerary has changed. We are now on a 22 day cruise instead of 23 day with 10 tours instead of 11. 

They seem to have sold this cruise before ironing out all of the wrinkles. They are still advertising the cruise through 2021 as 23 days, and 11 tours. Also many of the people on our ship have arranged for their own air and the ship is getting in a day earlier than advertised by some TA's and other websites.. We booked through Viking so had the date right, but not the number of days.

What stop have they dropped, and was there any price adjustment.  This trip (North Pacific passage) is on my want list, but I was concerened about the Bering Sea.  Would be interested to hear your review when you return.

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We were supposed to be in Petropavlovsk, Russia for two days with a different included tour on each day. Now we are only there one day from 8am-6pm. Their website still says the ship will be there two days but with only one included tour offered. The second included tour from our original itinerary is now being offered for $319 for the day we are there. No price adjustment or even an email saying we were losing a day. Found out about it in "My Trip" when reading about the offered excursions, both included and paid tours, and realized the schedule adjustment. Will definitely post a review after the trip.

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4 hours ago, Insanityx4 said:

It is also troubling that the itinerary has changed. We are now on a 22 day cruise instead of 23 day with 10 tours instead of 11.

They seem to have sold this cruise before ironing out all of the wrinkles. They are still advertising the cruise through 2021 as 23 days, and 11 tours. Also many of the people on our ship have arranged for their own air and the ship is getting in a day earlier than advertised by some TA's and other websites.. We booked through Viking so had the date right, but not the number of days. We also booked our air through them so no problem there. But because of the lost day we will have to tender for debarkation, as the Port of Vancouver already had other ships scheduled. I can't even imagine that nightmare.

I agree some people just are just plain negative if something doesn't go their way but we tend to be flexible and take everything in stride. I am sure we will have a wonderful trip but with so many negative reviews in the last two months, it does send up some red flags.

 

I read somewhere that as you cross the date line then you have one date twice so you still have the same number of nights. Just not ‘the date’. We are on the cruise after yours and disembarkation and embarkation is still being worked on. Likely a tender. Will be very difficult. I suspect we will be late leaving. 

 

Like you, there has been no comment from Viking about this and have only received updated information when I contacted them after I’d read something here that sounded weird. This was back in December. I figured if they hadn’t thought it out then they have time. 

 

One thing that would really press  my button is if Viking try to blame exceptional circumstances for missing a port (once we know other ships were there) and blame the weather/wind/seas when we know it will be because of the messed up embarkation if we depart late from Vancouver.

 

As far as expecting too much, Viking is very expensive. I could have a similar and far cheaper experience on Princess. Ok, no included excursions but for this trip that is irrelevant. No wine at meals, I’ll fund that. As nice a boat? Probably not, I don’t know yet. No Kids. Yes, that’s a bonus. No casino. Well I just don’t go there anyway so I avoided that place. No Art auctions. That’s good.  But it’s a lot of thousands to avoid those things. 

 

Thinking honsetly, I would never have booked Viking if I had known that we would be embarking by tender in a Port, Vancouver, which already is known to be extremely busy and with lengthy immigration processes. But there was nothing whatsoever to indicate this would be the case. There still isn’t anything notifying us of the tender in MVJ. I like tenders in other ports but never in the process to embark for the first time. I’m really disappointed in the lack of proactive comms from Viking. I did expect better for the $$ I am paying. 

 

The included tours such aren’t worth the marketing hype to be honest. The exception being Egypt. Maybe River Cruises are better for the excursions. 

Edited by Pushka

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8 hours ago, Pushka said:

 

I read somewhere that as you cross the date line then you have one date twice so you still have the same number of nights. Just not ‘the date’. We are on the cruise after yours and disembarkation and embarkation is still being worked on. Likely a tender. Will be very difficult. I suspect we will be late leaving. 

This depends on whether your are steaming East or West. When Orion is bound for Vancouver, she will cross the International Dateline while heading East. Therefore, the ship will experience the same date twice. The Cruise Line should have adjusted the number of nights on the cruise accordingly.

 

When heading West, you actually miss a day. 

8 hours ago, Pushka said:

One thing that would really press  my button is if Viking try to blame exceptional circumstances for missing a port (once we know other ships were there) and blame the weather/wind/seas when we know it will be because of the messed up embarkation if we depart late from Vancouver.

Missing a port for weather, or other issues is hopefully the sole decision of the Captain, which is based on his/her risk tolerance and the ship's handling characteristics. While the Captain keeps shore management appraised of the local conditions, I personally will never cruise with any company that puts pressure on a Captain to maintain schedule.

 

If other ships docked, I would be questioning those Captain's risk tolerances and what, if any pressure was applied by the company. Personally, I'll sail with the Captain that values my safety.

 

The problem in Vancouver is not a Viking issue, the fault lies solely with Port Metro Vancouver, as they have insufficient berths to accommodates the number of ships in Alaska. We did have additional berths, but they closed them about 5 years ago.

8 hours ago, Pushka said:

 

As far as expecting too much, Viking is very expensive. I could have a similar and far cheaper experience on Princess. Ok, no included excursions but for this trip that is irrelevant. No wine at meals, I’ll fund that. As nice a boat? Probably not, I don’t know yet. No Kids. Yes, that’s a bonus. No casino. Well I just don’t go there anyway so I avoided that place. No Art auctions. That’s good.  But it’s a lot of thousands to avoid those things. 

With about 35 years with Princess, both working for them and cruising as a passenger, I concur the base fare is cheaper, but I certainly couldn't consider the cruises as being similar. The old ships from the 70's & 80's (Island/Pacific/Sun) were comparable to what Viking now offers, but the new Princess ships and standards are not even close. Carnival have reduced Princess to a budget cruise line.

 

While our Viking WC base fare is considerably higher than our previous Princess WC, the total spend will be virtually identical.

 

Only benefit of cruising Princess to Alaska is seeing Glacier Bay, but then you only see Ketchikan, Juneau & Skagway with thousands of other passengers from other ships. Viking has a great itinerary, which visits smaller ports and also more of the Inside Passage.

8 hours ago, Pushka said:

 

Thinking honsetly, I would never have booked Viking if I had known that we would be embarking by tender in a Port, Vancouver, which already is known to be extremely busy and with lengthy immigration processes. But there was nothing whatsoever to indicate this would be the case. There still isn’t anything notifying us of the tender in MVJ. I like tenders in other ports but never in the process to embark for the first time. I’m really disappointed in the lack of proactive comms from Viking. I did expect better for the $$ I am paying. 

Viking can only provide you information when they receive it from Port Metro Vancouver. When ships are in port the Port provides the berth & services.

8 hours ago, Pushka said:

 

Viking uses tenders for TAR ports in Greenwich without any problems, so I wouldn't anticipate any issues in Vancouver. You still have almost 4 months before departure and in the marine industry, many changes can happen in that time frame. With 4 ships in port, the embarkation may be rather crowded, but remember you will board a spacious and spectacular ship, while passengers joining 2 of the other ships will be crowed also on board. 

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Yes, I knew they embark through tender in UK but there’s no immigration out and in to contend with. And I’m neither Canadian nor USA citizen so back to the end of the queue. 

 

I haven’t  cruised with Viking yet so have yet to establish the trust that others have. But I’m hoping issues will be short lived and planned for. 

 

But back to the included excursions, they are rather ordinary. And a DIY?

Edited by Pushka

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