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Viking Homelands - Recommended Excursions?

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We are booked for the Viking Homelands cruise (Stockholm to Bergen) this summer.  The list of excursions just became available.  As I am now compiling our 'Wish List' before actually being able to book, I was wondering if any previous Viking Homelands travelers have recommendations for favorite added excursions (or if there any we should avoid)?  I thought the following looked interesting:  

Helsinki - Reideer feeding

Tallinn - Chocolate workshop

Gdansk - Culinary and precious treasures

Alborg - Day in the life of a Viking

Stavanger - Traditional fishing trip

 

Any thoughts?  Your advice and experience would be most appreciated!  Thank you!

   

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Here's what we did May-June 2017

1 Did the tram up the hill in Bergen by ourselves. Cheaper & easy.  I walked the 3Km down back to the town.
2 Pulpit Rock excursion is pricey. Just walk past the bow of the ship and take the local Pulpit Rock RODNE cruises. Book it online.
3 At Eidfjord (a beautiful spot) the Flamsbana train trip thru the mountains is expensive but totally worth it. Waterfalls galore. Tunnels thru the mountains have huge roundabouts inside!
Alternatively, folks who just hiked the area on their own had a better time than the local Viking tours offered.
4 In Alborg Denmark, A Day in the Life of a Viking was good fun.
5 In Copenhagen I loved the excursion to the Roskilde Viking Ship Museum. Terrific. Saw old ships & saw new replicas being built using the old tools & ways.
6 Rostok Germany we opted out of long Berlin trip taking included local Rostok walking tour, OK and later the fun trip along the coast Molli Railway.
7 Gdansk Poland wife went to Malbork castle & loved it.
8 Tallinn Palmse Manor Tour (lunch & seaside walk in National Park) included an Upper Town Walk in Tallinn. Excellent!
9 St Pete we joined others on a private TJ Travel 2 day tour. Less $$$ than Viking. Saw more and very personal guise service. Wife added evening ballet alone and had a TJ personal escort. Got back close to midnight. Was well taken care of. Cheaper than Viking, same seats.
10 Helsinki Porvoo tour was OK at best.
11 Vasa Museum & Stockholm by Boat pricey with nice lunch. But EASY to do on your own without advance reservations. Save the $$$.

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Philw1776 - Thank you for sharing.  My husband and I usually travel independently (skip the group walks, bus tours), but I thought some of the excursions might be worth doing with Viking.  I have already made a plan for most of the ports and wanted to add on with some of the more interesting Viking excursions.  I appreciate your input!    

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We did the Viking Homelands August 2018 and did a mix of Viking tours, private tours and DIY tours.  

 

Stockholm - arrived few days prior to cruise, so had ample time to explore, but the highlight was definitely the Vasa Museum.  It's very easy to do on your own, short ferry ride to the museum and used the excellent audio guides.  The museum does get crowded, so the earlier the better.  Second favorite was the Stockholm City Hall tour.

 

Helsinki - we did the included tour, which was OK, but a bit too much time on the bus.  We then explored on our own and walked to the Rock Church.  Well worth the time, as the included tour did not stop there.

 

SPB - we did a two-day private tour with Tzar Travel.  Excellent!  We (group of eight friends) enjoyed a custom tour and moved at a much faster pace than a large bus tour.  So much to see, but we all loved the subway ride, Hermitage and canal boat ride.

 

Tallinn - we also did the Tallinn Palmse Manor tour, which was wonderful.  Nice excursion and allowed us time to tour the old (Upper and Lower town) of Tallinn after the tour.  

 

Gdansk - we did the included tour, some bus and some walking.  It was a short visit, but had a wonderful guide that lived in the old quarter of Gdansk.  

 

Rostock - we all opted for the Berlin excursion.  Yes, it is a very long day, but Viking executed the excursion details with great efficiency.  The train was fun, as they had local college students assigned to each car to answer questions and provide details.  We  (group of eight) had a private walking tour upon arrival in Berlin and returned on the Viking train. 

 

Copenhagen - we explored on our own and did a canal boat ride, which was great!  Easy (flat) walk from the ship past the Little mermaid to the historic center. 

 

Aalborg - several in our group did A Day in the Life of A Viking  tour and thought it was great fun.  I did the walking tour and it was interesting, but wished I had taken the other excursion.

 

Stavanger - as Philw1776 stated above, take the Rodne boat excursion to Pulpit Rock!  

 

Eidfjord - we did the included tour and then a short hike in the afternoon.  Beautiful area, so you can't go wrong with most of the excursions. 

 

Bergen - we explored on our own with a guide book.  As stated above, take the tram to the top and walk down.  Beautiful city and easy to navigate on your own.  

 

Enjoy your cruise!  

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Travelpanther, my husband and i did the chocolate workshop in Tallinn - liked it so much that we have made truffles from their provided recipes for Christmas gifts the past two years!! The young woman who was our "teacher" was adorable!

 

We also used Tzar Travel in SPB for two days - organized an excursion on our roll call and the six of us had a ball! We saw waayy more than we could have using Viking's excursions for two days!

 

In Eidfjord, we took the Flamsbana tour in the morning, and hiked on our own in the afternoon after we got back!  A beautiful port.

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4 hours ago, travelpanther said:

We are booked for the Viking Homelands cruise (Stockholm to Bergen) this summer.  The list of excursions just became available.  As I am now compiling our 'Wish List' before actually being able to book, I was wondering if any previous Viking Homelands travelers have recommendations for favorite added excursions (or if there any we should avoid)?  I thought the following looked interesting:  

Helsinki - Reideer feeding

Tallinn - Chocolate workshop

Gdansk - Culinary and precious treasures

Alborg - Day in the life of a Viking

Stavanger - Traditional fishing trip

 

Any thoughts?  Your advice and experience would be most appreciated!  Thank you!

   

 

Hello Travelpanther:

We also took the Homelands Cruise - last May.  One of the best vacations we had!

Certainly which tours you take depend upon what you enjoy, what kind of pace (demanding/moderate/easy) you like, and such, but here is what we did:

 

Stockholm - Fantastic City!  We spent a couple days on our own ahead of time.  Vasa Museum was a huge highlight.  Easy to get to from Gamla Stan (Old City) by ferry.  Get there when they open though as crowds can be large.  Also took the boat to Drottingham Palace - another spectacular place and wonderful boat ride.  Lastly we toured the City Hall where they do the Nobel Prize dinner.  Beautiful place and worth the tour and climb to the top of the tower.

 

Helsinki - took included bus tour.  Least favorite place.

 

St. Petersburg - fabulous Hermitage Tour - well worth it.  Peterhof palace was another great tour.  Did the included tour which was so-so - bus went through bad St. Pete traffic though.

 

Tallin - one of the best included walking tours we had.  Nice paced, saw a lot, learned a lot, great guide (which we learned makes all the difference)

 

Gdansk - same as Tallin.  Great guide, great included walking tour.  Loved the included tours that had 3 or 4 miles of walking.  Didn't like the ones that were mostly bus rides.

 

Rostok - we'd been to Berlin so did the included tour to Rostok.  Very good - learned a lot, walked a lot.

 

Copenhagen - another great included walking tour and guide.  Walked about 4 miles on the tour.  saw a lot.

So took the canal cruise in the afternoon which was quite pleasant!

 

Aahlborg - another walking included tour.  Good exercise.  Guide not as good though.  But pleasant.

 

Stavanger - the best guided included walking tour yet.  Great guide.  Lots to see.  Good exercise!

 

Eidifjord- took the optional Train/Flam all day tour - wonderful even if expensive.  Wouldn't miss it!

 

Bergen - included tour was a bus ride - disappointing.  We stayed several days afterwards and can recommend taking the finicular train up the mountain for incredible views.  Short walk from the ship and easy to do!  You can even walk down if you want to.  Also Bergen is an easy city to just wander around on your own.

 

Hope this helps!

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Just an FYI on the Traditional Fishing in Stavanger.  My father and husband had that booked when we were there in May (my mom and I were doing the Pulpit Rock cruise) but when we got on board we were notified that due to lack of interest the fishing was cancelled.  They ended up doing the walking tour with oil museum and enjoyed it but were very disappointed to not go fishing.

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We took this cruise in 2016 and the itinerary has changed slightly as have the choices for shore excursions.

 

Stockholm:  We took a walking tour of old town then visited an Ice Bar.  The walking tour was great ... the ice bar was dumb ... probably why it is no longer an option!

 

Helsinki:  We took the excursion to the Fiskars Village and enjoyed it.  It is a lovely little village with an interesting history ... we do, however, regret missing the city of Helsinki entirely.

 

Tallin:  We did the walking tour and chocolate workshop and while it was "okay" I found myself wishing the workshop would end so we could have some time to explore the lovely city a little more on our own.  It is really a beautiful city and it was a beautiful warm and sunny day.  All of our chocolate melted anyway!

 

Gdansk:  We did the tour that included the Amber Museum.  It was nice, the museum was interesting and there was enough free time to satisfy our wanderlust.

 

Berlin:  We opted out of the trip to Berlin and did the Rostock tour.  It was  charming little city and we enjoyed the brewery as well.  We spent a fair amount of extra time in the city and indulged in a little shopping while we were at it!  Again it was a pretty nice day so we enjoyed the outdoor time!

 

Copenhagen:  We did the Coastal Copenhagen tour and had a great time.  I believe it included lunch in a nice restaurant on the water.  After the tour we returned to the city for an afternoon of wandering about.  We enjoyed a glass beer al fresco at a cafe on the Nyhavn.

 

 Alborg:  We LOVED our excursion here ... we did the Beer tour and despite the fact that we took some grief from some of our fellow passengers for indulging in this "walk" at 8:30 in the morning, we had a ball!  The guide was knowledgeable and had a wicked sense of humor.  The bars that we were slated to visit weren't technically open at that early hour but they welcomed us ... and a contingent of local chaps who apparently know that early morning libations can be had if you follow the "flag".  This added another dimension to the tour that was priceless.  The group we were with was a lot of fun and by the end there was singing and dancing ... and some mighty fine open faced sandwiches too!

 

Stavanger:  We did the Pulpit Rock cruise and it was okay ... the scenery was amazing and despite the rain we enjoyed out time on the water.  I do regret the fact that we missed the city here ... my husband's family is from Norway and his grandfather grew up in Stavanger ... would have liked seeing some of the city he heard so much about growing up.

 

Eidfjord:  We did not have this stop on our cruise ... we were in Flam instead.  We did, however take the Flam railway trip and enjoyed it very much.  Not sure if they still do it but we took a bus back down the mountain and it was a twisty, curvy road that provided some white knuckle goose bumps on the way down.

 

Bergen:  We made the trip up to Ulriken then wandered about on our own for the afternoon.  We ate lunch in the fish market where they prepared the fish on open grills and ranges.  It was delicious!  

 

St. Petersburg:  We had spend a fair amount of time in SPB on a previous trip so we opted for two lesser excursions while we were there ... I think a private tour would be your best bet here.  

 

Have a wonderful trip!

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, travelpanther said:

Philw1776 - Thank you for sharing.  My husband and I usually travel independently (skip the group walks, bus tours), but I thought some of the excursions might be worth doing with Viking.  I have already made a plan for most of the ports and wanted to add on with some of the more interesting Viking excursions.  I appreciate your input!    

 

We took the Homelands cruise in August and just got back from the West Indies Explorer yesterday. My advice is going to go against everything you will read on these boards, but if you are truly independent travelers then you should skip most of the Viking paid excursions and all of the included ones. We had excursions booked in every port ahead of time and ended up cancelling six of them. We much prefer doing our own thing at our own pace.

 

We started in Bergen and did the Funicular on our own before boarding. We took the included Bergen tour the next day which was terrible. A bus drive to a few scenic spots for photo stops. This is what prompted us to cancel the included tours.

 

Stavanger - We walked around town on our own. Easy to navigate.

 

Eidfjord - Got a map from the visitor center at the pier and took a beautiful walk through the woods to a lake and then up a hill past some farms. Very peaceful and we had the path to ourselves.

 

Aalborg - Took a paid excursion to Voergaard Manor House. This was very good.

 

Copenhagen - Had the included walking tour booked, but the port talk convinced us to cancel it after they said there would be a brief 15 minute photo stop at the Little Mermaid statue. Really, 15 minutes to take a picture of a statue? We ended up walking around on our own and visited an art museum.

 

Berlin - Skipped the long train ride and walked around the lovely local town on our own.

 

Gdansk - Took the paid tour to the concentration camp which was excellent. However, the tour of Gdansk and included dinner were bad.

 

Tallin - Took the paid chocolate tour which was OK, but the group we were with ruined it. They had a bowl of chocolate on the table with enough candy for everyone to get a least 10 pieces each, however the feeding frenzy that ensued left my wife and I with two pieces each. It was embarrassing to see grown adults attack candy like little kids at Halloween.

 

St Petersburg - Took a 2 day tour with TJ Travel that was the highlight of the trip. Just 8 of us in the van and we saw twice as much as the Viking tour for half the price.

 

Helsinki and Stockholm - walked around on our own. Viking provides a free shuttle to town.

 

 

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Two excursions we took that we enjoyed immensely- 

 

Copenhagen: the canal cruise. The jazz group was very good- number of very seasoned musicians with terrible/funny jokes and great music. They also served champagne during the trip. We did buy the cd and have enjoyed reliving the memory while listening to their music.

 

Tallinn, Estonia: Soviet Flashback. The tour is on an old Soviet bus, the guide is dressed as KGB, and the history, sites, and personal stories of life under the Soviets were memorable. 

 

We did St. Petersburg with Alla Tours- very good. Our guide had lived in the U.S. for about 5 months, spoke excellent English, and provided side trips and insights beyond the scripted ones.

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We also did the Soviet Flashback tour in Tallinn and loved it.  Very well run tour.  Very interesting.  We had enough time to do this tour and the included Walking Tour which was also very good.  

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Has any tried the option bicycle tour in Helsinki? How was it? We will be there mid-May. Should I be concerned about the weather?

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We are booked for the HL cruise in June. Does anyone know where Viking Ocean docks in Stockholm?

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20 minutes ago, VJMAZZ said:

We are booked for the HL cruise in June. Does anyone know where Viking Ocean docks in Stockholm?

 

We did HL in July 2017 and the ship berthed at Stadsgarden - a nice walking distance to the Old Town. Of course probably best to check the port schedule to confirm ...

 

http://crew-center.com/stockholm-sweden-cruise-ship-schedule-2019

 

Enjoy

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We did Homelands, Stockholm to Bergen, in May 2018. One of our best vacations and cruises. Scandinavia was having a bit of a heat wave.  Great weather. One of the great things Viking does -- free shuttles in most ports.

 

Stockholm - We booked an AirBnB in Sodermalm for 4 nights pre-cruise, walking distance to Old Town.  The Hop-on-Hop off bus and boat give a great overview and is an easy way to hit the highlights of the city. Stockholm is well suited to self-touring with great bus and subway services.   The ship was docked within walking distance to Old Town. Check you port departure time -- we left earlier than indicated on original schedule.  

 

Helsinki  included tour was a panoramic (bus) tour.  The guide provided information on the history of Finland, current initiatives, key points in Helsinki and, most importantly, showed us where to get the return shuttle for those who decided to stay and wander.  

 

St Petersburg - We booked a custom 2 day tour with TJ Tours and can’t say enough about how great they were in helping us plan our time. 

 

Tallinn & Gdansk- Included walking tours and had great guides.    Wonderful cities to wander but wish there was more time in Gdansk. 

 

Copenhagen - Included walking tour and learned the value of a good guide as ours was not.  We left the tour,  wandered on our own and took advantage of the return shuttle. 

  

We treated Alborg as a rest day in preparation for our busy Norway stops.  Nice to have the ship mostly to ourselves!

 

Stranger - Pulpit Rock tour was ok.  The tour boat was crowded and the sound system poor. The included town walking tour was excellent and the Oil Museum was a great place to visit.

 

Eidfjord (Flam tour) - What a beautiful, tiny port and one of our best days.  We debated about taking the tour to Flam from this port, especially as we would be spending several days in Bergen and could possibly do the Flambosa on our way to Oslo. So glad we opted for this tour.  We saw parts of Norway that were so beautiful.  And those tunnels and round-abouts in tunnels, amazing! 

 

Bergen– Grieg excursion was great and recommended for music lovers.  It also included a panoramic tour so skip the included tour if taking this excursion.  We stayed in Bergen for a few days before heading to Oslo.  It is a lovely city to wander.  Lots of history.  The funicular train up the mountain was fun (short walk from the cruise ship) and you get great views of the city.  You can return by the train or walk down.

 

Our planned train trip to Oslo turned into a long bus trip (technical difficulties) but what a great bus trip over the tops of those mountains. Wonderful scenery.  Again Oslo is a great city to visit and easy to get around.  We purchased a 2-day HOHO pass and that worked well. The airport isa distance from the city - expensive taxi ride but the subway/train also does the route.

 

Edited by 2cruisecats
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On 2/9/2019 at 7:33 PM, VJMAZZ said:

We are booked for the HL cruise in June. Does anyone know where Viking Ocean docks in Stockholm?

Hello VJMAZZ:

Here's hoping you have a great Homelands Cruise!

We went in May of 2018 as our first VOC from Stockholm to Bergen - and it was spectacular!  Of course, we had great weather as well.  We spent a couple days ahead of time in Stockholm to see the city and the environs.

Regarding where we docked, we were at Stadsgarden, which was quite close to the Old City Gamla Stan.

I highly recommend if you have the time, to take the tour of City Hall and even to pay a bit extra a go up the tower - such a great view.  In fact, I have attached a picture I took from the tower that shows quite well Gamla Stan and where the ships dock.  The Viking SKY is the 2nd ship from town in the picture.  Hope this helps give you a feel.

I already posted my thoughts on tours - but I want to emphasize how great (even if expensive) the Flag/Train excursion was out of Eidifjord.  Well well worth it!

1087794732_2018May11-VikingSKYinStockholm.thumb.JPG.81ca1cc3f1ef241f6e9773dc2f8b8aa7.JPG

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