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Nippy Sweetie

Does Viking Ocean want UK cruisers?

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This is an honest enquiry. It's just that reading, in particular, the Alaska cruise info it seems very US oriented. We've done several European trips with Viking both Ocean and River but have been aware that we were overwhelmingly outnumbered by Americans. Not a problem I hasten to add! It was interesting to meet so many people with such different approaches to life and also some kindred spirits. 

However, I did feel that, somehow, we were not expected on the Alaska cruises. Rather offhand references to the need for visas and some other aspects were off-putting for us. 

Maybe we should stay this side of the pond!! 

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Hi Nippy,

An interesting point.  As my Mother is English, I am somewhat bi-lingual and always enjoy meeting Brits in our travels.  I honestly do not think Viking is "against" any group on the planet as long as their e-check clears on time.   You might be noticing Viking's inexperience in the Alaska market.  There are a few posts describing "rookie" problems and lesser port positions in Alaska for the new kid on the block, Viking.  If you have not been to Alaska before, I would encourage you to go as it is stunning.  I used to work up there so have noticed many changes but the land is still amazing.  HAL and Princess are the "old hands" in Alaska and usually operate very smoothly up there.  Anyway, hope you will go and post your experiences.  🍸

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Jim definitely beats me with time served in Alaskan waters, but I'm certainly a close second having spent 2 full seasons and numerous cruises as a pax. Now living in Vancouver, it is so easy for us to complete a R/T.

 

Sadly Alaska is highly congested, with an increasing number of ships, including mega ships. In addition to the ever increasing pax demand, Alaska is also one of the cruise lines regions with the highest returns. Shore-ex in Alaska is extremely lucrative. Totally agree with Jim that HAL/Princess rule Alaska & sounds like Viking had a tough experience with their first season. I've never tendered in Alaska, but with waters congested with float planes, fishing boats, cruise excursions, private boats, etc. I can only imagine the Harbourmaster's restrictions placed on the ship, with respect to operating tenders. However, with additional experience in Alaska, it can only improve for Viking.

 

I note Viking already have itineraries available for 2021, so they may have a jump on some other Cruise Lines, as they don't all plan that far ahead.

 

Also agree with trying Alaska, as the scenery is spectacular. However, don't just focus on Alaska, consider the entire Pacific NW, with a trip through the Rockies and then a cruise up the coast to Alaska. Based on their website, Viking mentions they will cover the entire BC Inside Passage, most of which is in daylight. For me, the BC Inside Passage is even more scenic than some areas in Alaska, but the mega ship mostly by-pass it for the faster route up Hecate Strait.

 

With respect to Visas, sadly this is the reality of modern travel. I have both a Canadian & UK passport and use them to my advantage, based on which gets me the best deal for Visas. My dad still comes over a couple times a year, but now requires to keep his Canadian eTA valid along with US ESTA. Since we are only 20 miles from the border, we often travel down for the day.

 

Please don't be discouraged, hoping to see your reports of experiences in Alaska within the next few years. Suggestion - fly into Calgary, drive across the Rockies to Vancouver (only 600 miles), spend a few days on the coast/Victoria prior to a cruise.

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This is an honest (Fifer) suggestion for an ethnic minority (tongue in cheek) of explorers.

 

Perhaps Viking's London office wants to protect its own client base from the trials and tribulations of a new route on a new ship with new ports and new tour companies.  Yes?   We followed the exploits of Orion after we left her last year in Beijing (new ship with new route and new ports and new tour companies) and were disappointed but not surprised to read the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Pacific to Alaska.  Having done the Canadian Pacific Hotels coach tour many years ago from Calgary to Vancouver (excellent) and then sailed the Inside Passage (OK), we found that the cruise itself was not awfully different scenically from west Norway cruises, and quite a bit more expensive and time-consuming.  Viking must have a significant problem breaking into local tourist-aligned businesses, based in small towns with a limited (experienced?) workforce and facilities, long the established patch of the large cruise companies.  Thus Viking gets the scraps.

 

So, until Viking sorts itself out in the world outside Europe, perhaps you would be better to stick to more local routes,  unless of course you crave the excitement of the unknown, and want to take your lang spoon with you.

 

PS   The London office doesn't seem to attract the sort of whinges aimed elsewhere, for some reason.  We don't seem to have a "Tell Us".  Possibly haven't needed one.

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8 hours ago, Rawmac said:

Having done the Canadian Pacific Hotels coach tour many years ago from Calgary to Vancouver (excellent) and then sailed the Inside Passage (OK), we found that the cruise itself was not awfully different scenically from west Norway cruises, and quite a bit more expensive and time-consuming. 

The "Inside Passage" has many options with respect to routing. Back in the 70's & early 80's we did the entire Inside Passage between Vancouver & Prince Rupert, which included the Vancouver Island Portion and Boat Bluff/Heikish Narrows to Grenville Channel.

 

Sadly, since the late 80's, most cruise ships bypass the best part of the coast and head up Hecate Strait after clearing Vancouver Island, but their marketing departments still refer to it as scenic cruising the Inside Passage. On N'bd you miss the best part of the coast at night.

 

After leaving the cruise ships, I spent way too many summers on the local ferries, alternating daily N'bd & S'bd voyages, spending 12 hrs per day enjoying the scenery. Never did get tired of the views, it was even impressive in the winter months.🙂

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Thanks all for your helpful comments. We'd thought that the Alaska cruise with Rocky mountaineer extension would be good. I've been to Vancouver and BC before and really loved it. My husband hasn't been to Canada at all and I wanted him to see it. 

However, being in the fortunate position of being able to pay Viking's pricing came from a lifetime's caution and looking for value for money. We are not sure if Viking is worth it. Eg the 5 day Rocky Mountaineer trip consists of 3 days in Banff with one day trip included and the rest of the time there left to our own devices unless we purchase an optional tour. Then 2 days on the train with an overnight in one place then an overnight in Vancouver. I would expect more to be included for almost £3000 per person. The cruise price seems more expensive per night than other Viking itineraries. In all, I'm torn. I like Viking but don't like feeling taken advantage of. I'm going to check out the other smaller cruise ship companies. 

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23 hours ago, Nippy Sweetie said:

This is an honest enquiry. It's just that reading, in particular, the Alaska cruise info it seems very US oriented. We've done several European trips with Viking both Ocean and River but have been aware that we were overwhelmingly outnumbered by Americans. Not a problem I hasten to add! It was interesting to meet so many people with such different approaches to life and also some kindred spirits. 

However, I did feel that, somehow, we were not expected on the Alaska cruises. Rather offhand references to the need for visas and some other aspects were off-putting for us. 

Maybe we should stay this side of the pond!! 

Hi NS,

 

I know what you mean.  We're certainly not new to cruising, and have cruised worldwide.  However, to repeat - I know what you mean about being outnumbered.  For us it's never been a problem as we believe we are all simply just 'citizens of planet earth'.

 

We refuse point blank to 'staying this side of the pond' - time is always valuable for each and every one of us on this planet, use it or waste it - it's an individual choice.  I must point out though, that I do sometimes feel with VO that folks from 'over there' get better deals, better obc etc; but I make my choice and do my best to make the utmost of an situation.  

 

 

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Just now, Nippy Sweetie said:

Thanks all for your helpful comments. We'd thought that the Alaska cruise with Rocky mountaineer extension would be good. I've been to Vancouver and BC before and really loved it. My husband hasn't been to Canada at all and I wanted him to see it. 

However, being in the fortunate position of being able to pay Viking's pricing came from a lifetime's caution and looking for value for money. We are not sure if Viking is worth it. Eg the 5 day Rocky Mountaineer trip consists of 3 days in Banff with one day trip included and the rest of the time there left to our own devices unless we purchase an optional tour. Then 2 days on the train with an overnight in one place then an overnight in Vancouver. I would expect more to be included for almost £3000 per person. The cruise price seems more expensive per night than other Viking itineraries. In all, I'm torn. I like Viking but don't like feeling taken advantage of. I'm going to check out the other smaller cruise ship companies. 

Hi NS, 

 

This is one we are looking at, but as we are keen photographers we don't think that being on a moving train is going to be 'just the thing' for us.  Cruise yes, but we are going to try and plan a route/schedule to drive across to get the flight back home.  Two other family members have already done the drive section, and we truly think that by driving, we can stop precisely when and where we want to get the photos we want.  Going back to your opening post comment, maybe the drive (for us) is especially a good idea.  It's bad enough being outnumbered on a ship, but on a small space like a train being outnumbered - earplugs wouldn't cut the mustard!   Having said that, have a grand time, Gromit.

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We have just returned from Viking Orion, from Alaska and the Inside Passage, less than 2 weeks ago. The whole trip including the extension through the Rockies, by coach, not the Rocky Mountaineer, was amazing. There definitely is no bias against UK travellers, we were warmly included in everything. 

 

On our extension there were 12 of us, 8 Brits and 4 US residents, we had a wonderful time and made some truly lovely friends. We went by coach, as when we booked the Rocky Mountaineer wasn't offered by Viking, that came later. We had a 36 seater coach for 12, so loads of room to spread out, no fighting for window seats. We saw things I never thought I'd see in my life time; Grizzly bear and cub, Black Bear, Elk, Long Horn Sheep, and more, the bonus of being on the coach was that the driver could stop at the road side so we could get a better view, wonderful. The extension was 7 nights, it wasn't cheap but worth every penny. 2 nights in Banff, 2 in Jasper, 1 in Sun Peaks and 2 in Vancouver.

 

The cruise itself was fabulous. The 2 ports we tendered at, Juneau and Icy Strait Point, were well handled. We didn't find any issues with getting onto a tender at all. Yes we had one very disappointing trip, in Valdez, which we reported to the Excursions Manager and a 50% refund is being processed, I can't ask for more.

 

It might be Viking's 1st season in Alaska, I know there have been complaints, either Viking have learned incredibly quickly or people had unrealistic expectations. Before anybody suggests we are novice cruisers and don't know what to expect, wrong, we have done about 20 ocean cruises with several lines and 8 river. We expect value for our money, Alaska is not cheap but it was worth every penny. For the bonus of small ships, no children etc. etc. Viking fulfil my requirements.

 

I can only say Go, Enjoy, we did!

 

 

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The Rocky Mountaineer travels low down, in the valleys and lower passes.  Coaches use the higher passes.  The views are better, and that's what you want.  Isn't it?

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Hmmmm... I think part of many passengers OBC is mostly a travel agent issue (convention) and not strictly up to the cruise line--whichever it might be. 

 

I try really hard (as U. S. citizen) not to mention other nationalities by name when it comes to cruise passengers.  One reason is that I know so well that you cannot successfully stereotype anyone--whether they be British, Australian, New Zealanders, U. S. Citizen and Wester Europeans.  Yes, we are different---we have different cultures even if we do share some languages.  

 

 

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Hi again. Actually OBC was never an issue on our last cruise (Viking Homelands) as gratuities and silver spirits drinks package plus upgraded cabin were all included. (I told you I looked for value for money!!)  It's not as if we were new to Viking having done several river cruises with them. 

I've been in contact with some other cruise lines. Will see how that goes although I'd really prefer Viking. Maybe a matter of better the devil you know though! 

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12 minutes ago, Nippy Sweetie said:

Hi again. Actually OBC was never an issue on our last cruise (Viking Homelands) as gratuities and silver spirits drinks package plus upgraded cabin were all included. (I told you I looked for value for money!!)  It's not as if we were new to Viking having done several river cruises with them. 

I've been in contact with some other cruise lines. Will see how that goes although I'd really prefer Viking. Maybe a matter of better the devil you know though! 

We agree that Viking suits us best but we did have a nice cruise to Alaska on Pacific Princess.  Princess Cruise's  smallest ship with 900 passengers.  One of the old "R" ships we had one of the aft Owner's Suites for less than the published price of a Viking DV.  On that ship we had 1,100 sq ft and TWO bathrooms.  The veranda had 270 degree views up the port side and across the stern.  Very nice.  But then there were all those kiddies in the pool and elsewhere.

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6 hours ago, Nippy Sweetie said:

We are not sure if Viking is worth it. Eg the 5 day Rocky Mountaineer trip consists of 3 days in Banff with one day trip included and the rest of the time there left to our own devices unless we purchase an optional tour. Then 2 days on the train with an overnight in one place then an overnight in Vancouver. I would expect more to be included for almost £3000 per person. The cruise price seems more expensive per night than other Viking itineraries. In all, I'm torn. I like Viking but don't like feeling taken advantage of. I'm going to check out the other smaller cruise ship companies. 

The Rocky Mountaineer is tourist orientated and priced accordingly. However, you have many other more reasonably priced options between Calgary & Vancouver. A couple of popular options are:

  • Hiring a small motorhome (self-powered caravan) - lots of private and Provincial campgrounds enroute. Smaller MH's can access most of the Provincial sites. Real easy driving for a small MH, as I routine transit both ways with our 41' trailer.
  • Hire a car & stay in hotels, B&B's or AirBnB's.

Either of the above options will be cheaper than the Rocky Mountaineer & you can set the schedule. Also lots more to see than what the train & coach tours visit.

 

If you enjoy wine then you definitely want to spend at least a couple of days in the Okanagan Valley. Craft beer is also huge on the West Coast, so many of the small towns will also have a brewery. In Vancouver, we have almost 100 craft breweries and a few wineries in the valley.

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Great advice and suggestions. Thanks all. We're not motor home people but I certainly see the wisdom of a road trip rather than the Rocky Mountaineer extension.The coach trip sounded great. I'm waiting to hear back from another cruiseline right now. Will keep you informed. 

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21 hours ago, old biddy said:

We have just returned from Viking Orion, from Alaska and the Inside Passage, less than 2 weeks ago. The whole trip including the extension through the Rockies, by coach, not the Rocky Mountaineer, was amazing. There definitely is no bias against UK travellers, we were warmly included in everything. 

 

On our extension there were 12 of us, 8 Brits and 4 US residents, we had a wonderful time and made some truly lovely friends. We went by coach, as when we booked the Rocky Mountaineer wasn't offered by Viking, that came later. We had a 36 seater coach for 12, so loads of room to spread out, no fighting for window seats. We saw things I never thought I'd see in my life time; Grizzly bear and cub, Black Bear, Elk, Long Horn Sheep, and more, the bonus of being on the coach was that the driver could stop at the road side so we could get a better view, wonderful. The extension was 7 nights, it wasn't cheap but worth every penny. 2 nights in Banff, 2 in Jasper, 1 in Sun Peaks and 2 in Vancouver.

 

The cruise itself was fabulous. The 2 ports we tendered at, Juneau and Icy Strait Point, were well handled. We didn't find any issues with getting onto a tender at all. Yes we had one very disappointing trip, in Valdez, which we reported to the Excursions Manager and a 50% refund is being processed, I can't ask for more.

 

It might be Viking's 1st season in Alaska, I know there have been complaints, either Viking have learned incredibly quickly or people had unrealistic expectations. Before anybody suggests we are novice cruisers and don't know what to expect, wrong, we have done about 20 ocean cruises with several lines and 8 river. We expect value for our money, Alaska is not cheap but it was worth every penny. For the bonus of small ships, no children etc. etc. Viking fulfil my requirements.

 

I can only say Go, Enjoy, we did!

 

 

Morning!

 

Cheers for that - worthwhile information.  However,  I still think we're going to do the 'land bit' by driving ourselves (at the moment).   Once again, thanks.

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2 hours ago, Nippy Sweetie said:

Great advice and suggestions. Thanks all. We're not motor home people but I certainly see the wisdom of a road trip rather than the Rocky Mountaineer extension.The coach trip sounded great. I'm waiting to hear back from another cruiseline right now. Will keep you informed. 

We're not going for a motor home option either!  We'll look for hotel accommodation to book well before we make the final payment for the cruise (as and when we get around to it).  We've currently got over 30 cruises behind us, and so for what we want to get out of a cruise we think we've got it sorted.  We've done several hotel/fly holidays/business trips over to Canada, so we know where we want to stay and what we're looking for.  The hotel bit is further helped by feedback derived from daughter's honeymoon (they did a fly/drive from Vancouver to Calgary if memory serves correctly), so we've got a pretty good idea of where to stay and driving conditions. 

 

Before anyone asks, our reasons for not using a motorhome is that we'll be on holiday, and that means total enjoyment and relaxation (and that's all).

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Posted (edited)

Well Old Biddy,  Parsley and Rawmac, we've been and gone and done it! Based on info from this thread, we decided against the Rocky Mountaineer extension and went for the 7 day tour. 

Viking UK seemed in the end willing to make it worth our while to go ahead with booking. We've got a nice stateroom and the tour hotels look good. Just have to get US and Canadian visas. Oh well. There's always something!

Edited by Nippy Sweetie

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Getting the visas is easy, all done on line. Just make sure you go to the official site otherwise they cost a fortune. I can't remember the exact cost, I think it was about £40 for both of us for both Visas. It took about an hour for everything. Good luck.

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What Hotels?  Banff Springs?  Chateau Lake Louise?  Jasper Park Lodge?  The bus is very friendly, but for some unaccountable reason, the Canadians don't approve of a nippy sweetie in the back-seat-bar en route!  The French influence, I suppose.  Wonderful vistas.  A good start to your holiday among the Canadians, most of whom have MacGenes.

 

There are a number of charlatan websites advertised in Google, which will get your travel documentation (eg ESOS) for you, maybe, just perhaps, but always for a price, a large price, the price being the only certain thing.  DO NOT USE THEM!!!  It is easier, cheaper and better to get them yourselves, online, at the cost charged by the relevant authorities.  (Look up Martin Lewis' website to get chapter and verse, if you need it.)

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, Nippy Sweetie said:

Well Old Biddy,  Parsley and Rawmac, we've been and gone and done it! Based on info from this thread, we decided against the Rocky Mountaineer extension and went for the 7 day tour. 

Viking UK seemed in the end willing to make it worth our while to go ahead with booking. We've got a nice stateroom and the tour hotels look good. Just have to get US and Canadian visas. Oh well. There's always something!

Where does the tour stop, as I can probably offer some suggestions. Also, which month is the tour/cruise.

Edited by Heidi13

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Obviously I can only tell you which hotels we stayed at, they could change year by year. The extension is actually subcontracted to a company called Jonview Canada. We stayed at Fairmont Banff Springs, Fairmont Jasper Lodges, SunPeaks Grand and Fairmont Waterfront, Vancouver. 

If you want any more info just post on here and I'll try and oblige. From what I can gather I seem to be the only one on here who has actually done this specific extension.

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Sorry, just had a thought, other extension passengers (eg 2 day Vancouver) stayed at the Vancouver Hyatt, so it is possible that may be used. I have to say the Waterfront was lovely. Banff Springs lives on its reputation, the breakfast was probably the best of all of them but the hotel needed a bit of TLC. Jasper Lodges was fine if very different, Sun Peaks was ok nothing outstanding, but nothing for object to.

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Posted (edited)

Will definitely swerve those dodgy sites. I've already checked via the gov.uk site which highlight the correct ones. 

It looks like we're to be in the same hotels as on previous tours but the literature always says 'or similar'. That should be OK. Viking have put us in pretty nice hotels on previous cruises. 

The land tour ends in Vancouver. I've been before - one of the reasons I'm keen to go back- but my husband hasn't. 

BTW I'd be surprised if nippy sweeties are banned on buses. A nippy sweetie in Scotland is a strong peppermint boiled sweet! It's also completely coincidentally (!) a sharp tongued woman. As if! 

Edited by Nippy Sweetie

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I know a nippy sweetie only as slang for a dram.  I've never heard it used as a confectionery item  before.  Imbibing on public transport is not regarded with favour.

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