Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
ColW55

First ocean cruise - what preparation should we be doing?

Recommended Posts

Hi everyone. We have done three Viking river cruises and are booked on the Viking Orion ‘Far East to Alaska’ cruise in April 2019. This will be our first ocean cruise and I thought I was pretty comfortable with my preparation until I read a post from Pushka who is joining Orion’s return cruise from Vancouver in May. Pushka knew about tenders being used for embarking/disembarking in Vancouver and Puska has also booked a private scenic flight over Misty Fjords when her ship stops in Ketchikan.  I’ve done the checks in ‘My Viking Journey’ but wonder what else are the experienced cruisers doing? We will be sailing into Canada so we don’t need an ETA. Pushka, do Australians need any visas other than an ESTA for the US? What else do I need to check and research? Should we be comparing private tour costs with the optional Viking excursions? Any recommendations for the Viking excursions or private tours in any of the ports?  BTW the helicopter flight to the volcano crater in Kamchatka sounded great until I saw the US$2699 price per person for the 4.5hr excursion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just read another post and discovered that we need to sign-up for the roll call for our cruise. Not sure what this means but I'll do it once I find it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just look on this website for 'find your roll call', then put in the name of your cruise line, then the ship and the date - and then you will see your cruise.  Just follow through to the discussion, post something and then the rest will follow on.

 

Meanwhile, you will already know the itinerary, so a good start is to look on whatsinport.com, you should be able find your day to day stuff on there by first selecting the country for a specific port of call, and then the actual port of call, and then look for cruise calendar on the following page.  You will also get an idea of what the temperatures may be whilst you are on your cruise, and you can start to plan your clothing requirements accordingly.

 

You'll find stuff like local public or religious holidays for your particular day of visit, and then lots of other information.

 

Next, it can be a good idea to have a look at any special visa or passport type requirements, and after that maybe have a look at any vaccination requirements, and finally check on the currencies and decide what you are going to do.

 

One additional thing is that if you are making your own way to your airport of departure - how are you getting there, and will you need to book accommodation for the night before the flight.

 

Good luck - and enjoy!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I posted as Parsley suggested and were added to the roll call - success! The cruise roll call is an interesting concept as it seems to be one very long disorganised discussion covering many topics. Not sure why there aren't different discussion threads in the roll call. We fly into Hong Kong on the 19th and have two days before our cruise commences. We have also booked 12 nights in Vancouver, Banff and Jasper at the end of the cruise. Flights and hotels are booked, just need to sort out the details for the actual cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We will be on your ship. This is our second Viking Ocean and fourth Viking overall. Preparation is not too bad. Be sure you have whatever VISAs are required for Australian citizens (I suspect none unless you go off on your own in Russia... why would you?). 

 

The biggest differences between Viking River and Viking Oceans are the number of passengers (and therefore no "evening meeting" for everyone in one space), MANY more dining options, some ports are closer into town as with river cruises -- and some NOT. Viking handles the customer service VERY well -- just as they do on river cruises. The Viking Daily and/or new shipboard app are vital to keeping yourself informed, and you'll want to get to know Explorer Desk staff (the people who answer questions and help fix excursions, etc.). As always, you get further being nice than crabby!

 

 Since we will be the "guinea pigs" on the final portion of our itinerary (Japan to Vancouver), we should all be flexible about possible changes. Viking always learns from the first time they do something, and we are the people who will be discovering what they need to fix 🙂 We were on Viking Star in their first summer of ocean cruising and only the 3rd time they did the Baltic itinerary. We thought they handled the issues that came up pretty well. If you have to have everything P-E-R-F-E-C-T, you might want to add the silver spirits package so you can have a drink 24/7 (just kidding). 

 

The cabin space on Oceans is a bit better, depending on your category, and the bathroom definitely bigger. There is a decent amount of drawer space in PV cabins. We are trying to figure out what LIGHT weight gadget we can take to maximize the vertical space for hanging things. It was fine for 15 days. We are facing climates with highs from 45 degrees F to 100 degrees F on the LONG cruise... therefore more clothing options needed. I plan to use a suitcase under the bed! 

 

Book excursions and dining options as soon as you are allowed, even included ones. Unlike River cruises, excursions CAN get full. You need to reserve the time slot you want for included ones. Dining.... you can ALWAYS add more reservations when you walk on the ship. Just go to the Manfredi's or Chef's Table desk or call from your cabin any time. There is NO LIMIT to how many times you can to the special dining venues, just to how many you can reserve in advance. And the World Cafe is always wonderful. The grill by the pool offers another lunch time option. MANY more places to eat on board, each with its specialties and all included.

 

Final prep advice: take everything on Cruise Critic with a grain of salt. There is a definite element of panic-or-complaint present here, but MOST advice here is very, very helpful!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, ColW55 said:

I posted as Parsley suggested and were added to the roll call - success! The cruise roll call is an interesting concept as it seems to be one very long disorganised discussion covering many topics. Not sure why there aren't different discussion threads in the roll call. We fly into Hong Kong on the 19th and have two days before our cruise commences. We have also booked 12 nights in Vancouver, Banff and Jasper at the end of the cruise. Flights and hotels are booked, just need to sort out the details for the actual cruise.

 

Roll calls are a "meet your neighbor" kind of place: it is by nature a long rambling kind of thread and not broken up into sub-topics. Organized discussion of topics can be found in this forum, Viking Oceans. Roll calls are also the only place we are allowed to organize the sharing of private tours.

 

So, what should you be doing to prepare? First, learn all you can about the Viking ships. They are all the same except in some minor design details. There are a few helpful threads in this forum that you might want to read and are linked to below (and probably in huge type caused by some flaw in the formatting for this website).

 

Read everything there is to read on the Viking website and MyVikingJourney. Sign up for the Meet and Mingle (link at the top of every page here); meet and mingle is by invitation only, so you have to sign up in advance. Read the Terms and Conditions and the FAQs on both the Viking Website and MVJ (lots of juicy bits of information to be found, such as what electrical devices you may not plug into the ships electrical system).

 

Don't forget to check the weather and note that where you are sailing can still experience winter weather--yes, the white stuff included.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/17/2019 at 5:23 AM, ColW55 said:

I posted as Parsley suggested and were added to the roll call - success! The cruise roll call is an interesting concept as it seems to be one very long disorganised discussion covering many topics. Not sure why there aren't different discussion threads in the roll call. We fly into Hong Kong on the 19th and have two days before our cruise commences. We have also booked 12 nights in Vancouver, Banff and Jasper at the end of the cruise. Flights and hotels are booked, just need to sort out the details for the actual cruise.

Don't forget to sign up for the Meet and Mingle for your cruise. It's a gathering which takes place a few days after you board where you get to meet face to face those you've been conversing with on the roll call for your cruise. It's a very nice reception. arranged by Viking with cocktails and goodies. It's a lot of fun. If nobody has started it yet - don't worry - sigh up for it and then broadcast like mad on roll call about it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, CharTrav said:

Don't forget to sign up for the Meet and Mingle for your cruise. It's a gathering which takes place a few days after you board where you get to meet face to face those you've been conversing with on the roll call for your cruise. It's a very nice reception. arranged by Viking with cocktails and goodies. It's a lot of fun. If nobody has started it yet - don't worry - sigh up for it and then broadcast like mad on roll call about it. 

Yes indeed, singing up for the M&M could be a good thing - I think that there is a minimum number of potential attendees for a M&M before it gets 'authorised'?  QED signing up might just be a good thing.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agree that signing up to the Meet an Mingle is a good idea.  On our New Year cruise the Hotel Director was persuaded to ask the group to introduce themselves with their cruise critic name and some background like, where they were from and how many Viking cruises etc.  I found this extremely helpful, as it was nice to put a name to a face.  However this has not been done on our previous Viking cruises but has always been part of our Meet and Mingle parties on Azamara where the Cruise Director hosts the party.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you haven't already done so, put in time researching each port. This is the single thing that helps me make the best use of my time in any city---whether on a cruise or land trip.

I make a list of ports  and port times (keep in mind these can change slightly), then start a page of notes for each port. Include the anticipated weather for the time of year you will be in each port.  Make note of tipping customs in each port so you are prepared. Have some basic knowledge of transportation in each port if you are going out on your own (is Uber available, do taxis charge set rates, etc.).  If there is a must-see attraction in the port--make note of it's opening hours for the day of week you will be there---this could impact which time slot you choose for a Viking included excursion. 

Plan ahead for getting local currency if you desire---where is the nearest ATM in each port and is it compatible with your bank/credit card? 

What is your phone situation in each port---do you have cell coverage or do you need to purchase a SIM card?

Once I have all the info, I consolidate it into a daily trip planner spreadsheet so it is easily edited, email it to myself (easy to retrieve on phone if necessary), and print a paper copy. This spreadsheet is my daily calendar and includes Viking specialty restaurant and spa reservations, pre and post cruise information, flight info, hotels, etc.

 

Review what Viking may offer in each port well before your booking window for excursions. This will give you time to consider non-Viking excursions and see if they would suit you better. Even if you do the Viking included tour, it often leaves lots of time for you to do more exploration either via private tour or on your own. 

 

You have a great itinerary! With several days in Tokyo I would definitely look into some non-Viking tours as well as some self-exploration.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Mrs Miggins said:

Agree that signing up to the Meet an Mingle is a good idea.  On our New Year cruise the Hotel Director was persuaded to ask the group to introduce themselves with their cruise critic name and some background like, where they were from and how many Viking cruises etc.  I found this extremely helpful, as it was nice to put a name to a face.  However this has not been done on our previous Viking cruises but has always been part of our Meet and Mingle parties on Azamara where the Cruise Director hosts the party.

 

That is a very good idea. I did bring name tags for the first two M&Ms. On this last cruise there were only three Cruise Critic members, along with their spouses, who showed up. There was more staff than participants. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

Yes indeed, singing up for the M&M could be a good thing - I think that there is a minimum number of potential attendees for a M&M before it gets 'authorised'?  QED signing up might just be a good thing.

 

 

For some cruise lines, the minimum number of signups is 25 but on Viking, the minimum number is 1 person. Although someone did report that the ship they were on decided to cancel the party when there were only 8 people signed up; it is the only time I have heard of an M&M not taking place.

 

Moreover, CC members are encouraged to bring along the other members of their traveling party. One time, a member brought her entire party of 10.

 

You do need to give the full names of everyone in your party when you sign up. This is so that Viking can deliver your invitation to the correct cabin. Viking will be given only the list of names; they are not given our screen names.

 

Finally, if your specialty restaurant reservation conflicts with the M&M, talk with the maitre d' in advance and try to arrange to arrive later. M&M is a lot of fun and it is a good way to meet people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Parsley Cruises said:

Yes indeed, singing up for the M&M could be a good thing - I think that there is a minimum number of potential attendees for a M&M before it gets 'authorised'?  QED signing up might just be a good thing.

 

The minimum - and I’m not kidding  - is 1! 😄Oops!  Inadvertently echoing Peregrina651! Sorry!

 

Let me add this tidbit. The window for adding yourself to the M&M online closes a week before the cruise start date. However, it is possible to get yourself added on boarding day. Right after boarding, you or the instigator of the M&M zip down to guest services desk on deck 1, and ask to be added. I was able to add a roll call member who gave me their cabin number. And I know others on our roll call did it for themselves. 

Edited by CharTrav

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, CharTrav said:

The minimum - and I’m not kidding  - is 1! 😄Oops!  Inadvertently echoing Peregrina651! Sorry!

 

 

 

 

LOL!  Not the first time. Not the last time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks everyone and I've followed the collective advice and joined the roll call and meet & mingle for our cruise. We have our flights and accommodation before and after the cruise booked and I'm pretty sure that Australians only need an ESTA for the US for the countries visited on the Far East & Alaska cruise. We are actively working through the excursions in MVJ and adding the ones we like to our wishlist. I'll keep following the roll call and see if other passengers do a shout-out for interest in spare spots on private tours. Many thanks again for all the suggestions. Colin and Michelle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FYI, unless something has changed,  the wish list for excursions on MVJ is really for your use only....Viking will NOT notify you or put you on an "official" cancellation list in case someone cancels, so keep checking back to see if space opens up.  Once you are on the ship go to the shore excursion desk and see if there is availability and they WILL put you on a list and notify you if/when space becomes available.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • 2019 Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards
      • Celebrity Cruises President and CEO Lisa Lutoff-Perlo invites you to #CrewUpWithWomen
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...