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Considering Viking - Questions


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Hello cruisers!

I have been on many cruises, mostly with Royal Caribbean or Carnival with a sprinkling of Celebrity, MSC, and Princess. My fiancé and I are really wanting to do a cruise visiting both Norway and Iceland in the summer of 2021. While we have found a few itineraries including both places, they haven't fully sold us. The Iceland's Majestic Landscapes itinerary by Viking looks promising for several reasons. However, having never been on Viking and after doing a bit of research, we have a few questions we would love to ask the CC community.

  1. We are youngish (31, 39) active, fun-loving travelers. We've done ice climbing, hiked to the top of a volcano, etc. and like being social with other like-minded travelers. While we can fit in with the typical boisterous Carnival/Royal crowd, we can both become the sophisticated traveler Viking appears to seek (we are both classically trained musicians - I'm soon to have a PhD, yay!, teachers, enjoy learning/experiencing new cultures, etc.). Will we fit in with the typical Viking customer? In other words, who is the typical Viking customer? I know that's a somewhat vague and subjective question, but hopefully some insight can be provided. 
  2. How/when does one find out port times? In looking through several of the threads on Viking, I stumbled across a post where someone had posted port times for this itinerary. I am wondering if these are consistent or dependent on the particular voyage/date. Browsing the available shore excursions through Viking, many seem a bit tame for our taste so we would likely be doing something independent in most ports. It would be nice to be able to plan in advance.
  3. In a similar vein, having never traveled to Norway or Iceland, what are the chances of missing a port? Another subjective question, but just out of curiosity. 
  4. In this particular itinerary, is there an advantage to going Norway - Iceland or Iceland - Norway? Our flights would be from Austin, Texas if that makes any difference. 
  5. Is there anything else we should know about Viking? What else could sell us on Viking and this itinerary versus, for example, Royal's Anthem or Jewel, MSC's Preziosa, or Grand Princess, most with comparable itineraries?

Thank you in advance for your responses! Viking may or may not be for us and as this will likely be a pricey trip regardless of the cruise line (that we are starting to save for more than a year in advance), we want to make the right decision!

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1.  The average age for most on Viking is about 15 years older.  So whether you fit in depends on how much you need to be entertained.  We were sitting on our last cruise next to a woman who was 35 years old.  She was complaining to her mother that she never wanted to do this again, she was bored out of her skull.  But that was just one example.  Do you need to be entertained all the time, or do you enjoy down time? 
2.  Port times vary some.  Someone recently posted their Trade Route port times and even though we took that cruise this past Oct., the port times were different for us.

3.  I would never attempt to guess.  We just got off South America and Chilean Fjords a couple weeks ago.  We didn’t miss a single port, but subsequent cruises did.  
4.   You’d have to see what kind of flights you can get out of each, and what kind of connections you’d have.  If you call Viking, some of the reps can give opinions for this, I know they have had insight into if one direction is better than the other when I have asked them.  
5.  Someone posted a list awhile ago about ‘why cruise with Viking?’.  It really did detail nicely what Viking has that other cruise lines do not.....and what other cruise lines have that Viking does not.  You might want to look for this to help you decide.

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1. We've done ice climbing, hiked to the top of a volcano, etc. and like being social with other like-minded travelers.
Opposite poles from vast majority Viking customers at this stage of their lives & 90% of Viking excursions.  There WILL be some younger adventurous folks aboard.
2.  Port times can vary on same route cruise to cruise.  Weather can be a factor anywhere.  Missed Naples in the Med because of high winds in Rome.  Ships even miss ports in the Caribbean. Port times (goal, not guarantee) will be on your invoice.

You should make all your ports Norway or anywhere, but stuff does happen.
We've done private tours but you need to be absolutely certain you'll be back on time.

3. Entertainment vs the cruise lines you were on is a huge difference.  Not elaborate. Best if you're self entertained.  
4. Pay $50 per person for Viking Air Plus for control over your flight selections.

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1. It seems to me you need to decide how critical it is for you two to have other super active folks aboard. While the included excursions are a big selling point in Viking's marketing, I suspect in most places you will want to DIY some more active excursions.  If you are comfortable being on your own off the ship, it sounds like Viking's typical guest who is open to new ideas, interested in learning, etc.  With your educational and musical background as well as being among the youngest aboard you'll have plenty of folks interested in conversations on the ship.  We had a couple of 30somethings couples on our Transatlantics and it was great to get to know them. 

 

5. The smaller size of Viking ships would be the biggest benefit over the other lines in my opinion. Keep in mind the included extras with Viking (wine at meals), spa, internet as you're comparing prices. You may find that the total cost is not much different than the mainstream lines.  That was the case when we recently compared a Royal Caribbean transatlantic to Vikings. With the OBC that our Travel Agent offers on Viking cruises it worked out that sailing on Viking Sky with only 928 other guests was only $10 per person per day more than aboard Allure OTS with 5000 others....it was a no brainer for us!

 

Have a great cruise and congratulations on your upcoming wedding!

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Hi, bobcatcruiser - thought I would take a shot at responding to your questions, as we took the Iceland/Norway cruise last year in June, and it was our first Viking Ocean cruise.  

Some background - we are in our early 60s and very active.  We have cruised a lot, mostly some years ago, as we have been focusing on active land journeys.  Also, as the cruise ships got bigger and the nickeling and diming commenced, we did not enjoy cruising as much as we once did.  We chose this Viking cruise because we really wanted to go to Iceland and a return to Norway was a bonus, and because the size of the Viking ships and the all inclusive pricing were of interest.

 

We loved the cruise and the ship.  It was like cruising was 30 years ago (pre-megaships), but updated with wifi, etc.  The itinerary was great for us - we did the Iceland pre-cruise package, so were able to see a lot of the Reyjavik/South Coast area.  We did a combination of optional and included excursions, and our own thing.  We like to hike, and I researched the ports and we were able to get some very good hikes in, on our own.  We would not have been satisfied with only the included excursions because most of them are quite sedentary.   I will add that the weather was very good and we met some very nice and interesting folks on the trip.

 

As noted by others, the demographic skews older on Viking, so you would be younger than the majority, but for this itinerary most (but not all) passengers were fairly active.  In the old days, we were the "kids" on a lot of cruises, and it was fine.  We did our own thing.  I have always thought that the entertainment on cruise ships is just ok, and that was my view with Viking as to the evening shows.  We did enjoy the live music in the lounge areas.  I thought the food on Viking was very good - definitely better than Royal, Princess, Holland, Celebrity, Windstar.  We did not take advantage of any of the lectures, as we were enjoying the sunny evenings.

 

So, it depends on what you and your fiancé are interested in.  As someone else suggested, I recommend that you read through this forum.  If you like the action of the large cruise ships,  you may not be satisfied with Viking.  I was really happy with the Iceland/Norway cruise with Viking, but to be honest, I would not choose to travel on the Anthem,  the Grand Princess or with MSC, as the ships have gotten too big for us.

 

 

 

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"Will we fit in with the typical Viking customer? In other words, who is the typical Viking customer?" 

 I'll take a stab at answering some questions..

think your parents...active, interested in life, curious folk but a bit more mature..

 

Shore excursions - I have done many private excursions.. always made it back to the ship on time.. I prefer more stops, smaller group.. more active!

 

Missing a port - we explored South America last year - Barcelona to Santiago - we had beautiful weather, never missed a port ..the cruise before ours missed several due to weather and so did the cruise after ours.  one never knows!

We were in Viking Homelands mid May - weather was 70s..our friends were on the same cruise in June and had 60s and below..so weather is weather...it may be nice or not..

 

 

 

 

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Took my my daughter  (32) on VO cruise, she enjoyed it  - she is very outgoing and comfortable w all ages - I  did think it was was funny that she  mentioned that she "felt treated like an adult" on Viking. 🙂  vs her previous experiences on several Caribbean "party cruises". 

 

She is very active and and took several of the the more "energetic" optional tours and was pleased with them.  She enjoyed the on board lectures and although she rolled her eyes at the Beatles tribute, she loved the ABBA show.  

 

If you are comfortable with no casino and all the "bells and whistles" of the bog boats, I think you will enjoy it. 

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Age isn't as important as mindset. Only you can decide what is important to you. Do you want to party hardy all night long? Do you expect Viking to fill every moment of your day with activities? If yes, then perhaps Viking is not for you? Viking is definitely not the cruise lines you named but it is not the old age home either and on this particular itinerary, you will find many people of all ages who are still quite active (just don't look at me), you will find family groups with older offspring, and you may even find younger couples like yourselves because of the more active excursions that are on offer. This itinerary is high on nature and landscapes and low on museums and indoor activities.

 

Take Liz up on the invitation and stop by our roll call to check out the list of links to various threads and posts about the itinerary (a lot easier than trying to find them using the Cruise Critic search engine). There are a couple of live threads from last year that will answer some of your questions.

 

 

8 hours ago, Mich3554 said:

5.  Someone posted a list awhile ago about ‘why cruise with Viking?’.

Tell Me Why.....

 

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Hi Bobcatcruiser

 

Although not in the same age group as you (we are a mid-50s/mid-60s couple), we had similar concerns about fitting in given we are a gay couple.  But given everything we read about Viking, we jumped right in and took the 38 day Vancouver to Hong Kong cruise this past August & September.  It turns out Viking had promoted the cruise heavily in Australia and 50% of the passengers were Aussies, many in there 50s and 40s. We thoroughly enjoyed it, met two other gay couples and made connections with others. 

 

Given you are classical musicians, teachers and enjoy learning, I believe you will enjoy the Viking experience. We had a whale/dolphin researcher, astronaut and historians that gave informative daily lectures. Classical music is offered during the evening cocktail hour at one venue and evening drinks are available in the Torshavn bar 'til midnight. The fitness center had everything we needed and the spa facilities were very enjoyable and never crowded.

 

One consideration regarding Iceland/Norway:  rather than cruise Iceland, we passed up on that offering since we thought driving through Iceland provided more opportunities for adventure and sightseeing.  Instead, we booked the Viking Homelands cruise (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and St Petersburgh, Russia) and planned a week layover in Iceland along the way.  We just booked a 7-day self-drive tour of Iceland and are looking forward to a 3 week long adventure.

 

It turned out that leaving from Tucson AZ, flying via Iceland was the easiest way to get to Bergen, Norway, our embarkation point.  We skipped Viking Air and found our own flights.  By booking early, we found great prices on an open jaw ticket: Delta: Tucson to Reykjavík (premium economy) with a return from Stockholm (first class, same $ as premium economy). We then used Iceland Air to fly to Bergen. Note: Iceland Air also offers non-stop flights via Denver to Reykjavík, free layovers in either direction and non-stop flights from Reykjavík to Bergen and other Scandanavian cities.  

 

Best of luck to you with your upcoming travel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by WestW
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The time of year you are cruising will influence the composition of the passengers.

 

We cruised last summer with our daughter and son-in-law, both 35 year old teachers with PhDs) and our 31 year old niece.

 

They were not the only "young" people on board ship.

 

Because it was summer,  a portion of the passengers were teachers (elementary - college) taking advantage of their summer break and many were in the thirty - forty age group.

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5 hours ago, WestW said:

Note: Iceland Air also offers non-stop flights via Denver to Reykjavík, free layovers in either direction and non-stop flights from Reykjavík to Bergen and other Scandanavian cities.  

 

 

Icelandair offers non-stop to KEF (Iceland) from a number of cities in the US and Canada with the same stopover provisions. The easiest way to see what is arriving from where and when is on the Keflavik Airport website. Daily it has a complete list of arrivals and departures. Sometimes easier than using the airline timetables.

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This is a great thread.  Awesome questions and equally awesome answers.

 

I have a question for you BobcatCruiser.. Given that you’ve been on so many cruises with so many other lines, and given that this itinerary fits you so well, don’t you owe it to yourself to try Viking this one time to see for yourself?  I would love for you to revive this thread after you’ve gone and answer your own questions.  The curious minds of the typical Viking cruiser want to know how it turns out for you.  🙂 

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On 1/20/2020 at 11:06 AM, bobcatcruiser1331 said:

 

  1. We are youngish (31, 39) active, fun-loving travelers. We've done ice climbing, hiked to the top of a volcano, etc. and like being social with other like-minded travelers. While we can fit in with the typical boisterous Carnival/Royal crowd, we can both become the sophisticated traveler Viking appears to seek (we are both classically trained musicians - I'm soon to have a PhD, yay!, teachers, enjoy learning/experiencing new cultures, etc.). Will we fit in with the typical Viking customer? In other words, who is the typical Viking customer? I know that's a somewhat vague and subjective question, but hopefully some insight can be provided. 
  2. How/when does one find out port times? In looking through several of the threads on Viking, I stumbled across a post where someone had posted port times for this itinerary. I am wondering if these are consistent or dependent on the particular voyage/date. Browsing the available shore excursions through Viking, many seem a bit tame for our taste so we would likely be doing something independent in most ports. It would be nice to be able to plan in advance.
  3. In a similar vein, having never traveled to Norway or Iceland, what are the chances of missing a port? Another subjective question, but just out of curiosity. 
  4. In this particular itinerary, is there an advantage to going Norway - Iceland or Iceland - Norway? Our flights would be from Austin, Texas if that makes any difference. 
  5. Is there anything else we should know about Viking? What else could sell us on Viking and this itinerary versus, for example, Royal's Anthem or Jewel, MSC's Preziosa, or Grand Princess, most with comparable itineraries?

Thank you in advance for your responses! Viking may or may not be for us and as this will likely be a pricey trip regardless of the cruise line (that we are starting to save for more than a year in advance), we want to make the right decision!

 

Being teachers, educated, artistically-minded, and so forth - I would predict that Viking is a nice fit for both of you. If you're looking for and expecting the fun/party ship atmosphere and the many types of activities to be found there , then...no..I could see how you might be wanting for a bit more in the way of entertainment and stimulation.

 

We did Viking for the first time last year - Northern Lights cruise (fantastic trip) - and DID miss several ports, but it was due to a rather unique and unfortunate set of circumstances (LONG story that you're probably familiar with anyway), and having come from mostly Royal Caribbean and Celebrity, really found it a refreshing change - lots of small areas to just sit and enjoy a good book, no photographers going around trying to get your picture every few days (or more), no casino, just....quiet and relaxing (well...until it wasn't).

 

Now, we're 30 years older than you guys, so, likely have a bit different outlook on what we want, but if you've never been on a ship with only 900+ passengers, I think you might really enjoy it. We liked not having to make any sort of reserved times for the MDR as well. Viking's spa facilities look great too - unfortunately never got around to trying it until it was too late to do so. Appealing to your intellectual and educator mindset will very likely be the most enjoyable and interesting guest lecturers that were along. The presentations were great, and it was so nice to see the theatre packed with people wanting to learn more about where they were going.

 

I know demographics have already been mentioned, but I might add that - yes - while it's generally an older crowd for the most part - I also got the impression it is also made up of curious, educated, cultured, often WELL-traveled clientele who are very interesting to talk to, and I believe fair to say having an above-average socioeconomic background. 

 

Hope some of that helps, especially since alot of it reiterates what has already been said. Best of luck with whatever you decide. Maybe see you onboard sometime 🙂 

Edited by OnTheJourney
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I'm just going to reply with something very vague which may or may not be helpful.  Do you like being treated like an adult, or do you like being treated as not being trusted (see towel counts, mini bars, etc)?  Do you like having to not worry or work for open space at the pool?  Do you like rules about where you can eat and what times, or do you want to again be treated like an adult.

 

I think the whole bit about Viking being for older people is kind of oversold.  I consider myself a pretty active 55 YO and I was wupped by some of the Viking excursions.  Most are fast pace but not like extreme adventures.  

 

When I seek out a vacation, what I don't want is a 'type A' vacation.  I don't want to wind up needing a vacation from my vacation making me exhausted.  I like to go in spurts but I definitely like chilling with the friends over drinks or something at night. 

 

From what I have seen of the crew, if you have to miss a port due to weather or whatever, the captain made a wise decision to do so and didn't do so without careful consideration.

 

Hopefully this helps.

 

Just my $0.02.

 

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9 hours ago, flashfearless said:

Do you like being treated like an adult, or do you like being treated as not being trusted (see towel counts, mini bars, etc)?  Do you like having to not worry or work for open space at the pool?  Do you like rules about where you can eat and what times, or do you want to again be treated like an adult.

 

flash, love it! you hit the nail on the head! Everything you said is spot on!

 

Viking treats us like adults (and expects that we will respond as such). 

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The funny thing is when I read about certain cruise lines being for "older" cruisers (such as HAL or Viking), I smile to myself.

 

My husband and I started cruising in our twenties and we have now aged into the "Old" category, but what we wanted in a cruise experience has not changed in the past forty years.

 

Being old is not a determination of mind set or activity level although wear and tear on the joints does start to factor into some decisions.

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Wow! You guys are awesome! I love reading through all the responses. Part of what is drawing me to Viking is that it is so different from other cruises I've traveled. This will probably be a honeymoon trip, so I like the idea that it would stand out. 

Responding to some comments and some additional thoughts -

  • On such a port intensive itinerary, I don't think the lack of activity will be a downfall. It would be nice to just come back to the ship and relax! 
  • I like the inclusive nature of Viking, but I almost wonder if the value is worth it for us personally. We typically cruise in an inside cabin, don't buy beverage/wifi packages, etc. We do indulge in specialty dining on some occasions, but in our defense the food on other lines can be mediocre. I agree the value in Viking is worth it when comparing a similar experience on, for example, the 12-night Jewel of the Seas Norway/Iceland sailing we are also considering. We can have a balcony or junior suite, beverage, wifi, dining package and other things included with Viking for a similar price. However, if we went with that particular sailing we wouldn't add those things. Obviously, we would need to decide if those inclusions with Viking are meaningful enough to us to warrant the additional cost. 
  • Regarding passengers, we can easily associate with people outside our age group. But, we don't really desire to be on a ship where we can't relate to anyone. Based on what I've read, it seems like that shouldn't be a problem. It seems as though "normal" people cruise Viking. 
  • Regarding ship size, for me I can enjoy any ship! I've cruised as large as the oasis class and as small as the Empress of the Seas. My fiancé gets a bit seasick and has to wear the bracelets or some other item to deal with the motion. The smallest ship he's been on is RCI's Vision and did fine with the motion. However, I think ship motion is subjective. I've felt more motion on a freedom or voyager class ship than on a vision class, or even the Empress. 
  • Thank you for suggestions with other threads. I am slowly reading more Viking threads as I take breaks from my research/writing. 
  • A final question - If we booked Viking, we would likely book one of the lower category staterooms. I know these are the last available for shore excursion bookings. While I would anticipate us doing some independent tours, there are a few through Viking that I think we'd enjoy, especially in Geiranger. Does anyone have any input/knowledge about shore excursions becoming fully booked? Is it really THAT important to book a higher category stateroom to have access to excursions further out?

Thank you again for all your input! I look forward to continuing to read more!

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LOL - our cabin of choice is also an inside cabin, we also don't buy drink packages,wifi, ;etc.

 

I joked with our travel agent when booking the Viking cruise that for the price we were paying, the cruise line could surely find a low and amidship spot for our inside cabin.

 

The value in Viking is the overall quality of the onboard  and shore service. Yes, you could pay a similar price for a Royal Caribbean cruise, but the quality just isn't the same.

 

You will never feel that the food is mediocre in the dining room or buffet. While we are not drinkers, I did enjoy my half glass of wine at lunch or dinner (really am not a big drinker) and the occasional glass of beer (biggest problem was convincing the server to bring me only a 4-6 oz glass).

 

My very - err- "thrifty" husband even commented after the Viking cruise that the price was high and it was worth every penny.

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2 hours ago, Not a Georgia Peach said:

I used to feel that way about the food until our cruise a few weeks ago.  We felt that much of it was mediocre and many other passengers felt the same way.

Sorry it was bad!  Hopefully a very unusual experience.  Don't know which ship or itinerary as you didn't state.

We've been on four VOC's and the food has always exceeded our expectations.  In fact, the last one (Jupiter around Cape Horn), the sushi chef was the best ever - and we absolutely gorged ourselves on the best sushi we've had on Viking.  In fact, all the food the last trip was a level above the very nice food on the previous Viking cruise.

Hopefully you'll look at it as an aberration and give Viking another chance.

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9 minutes ago, Not a Georgia Peach said:

It was on the Viking Sky, this was our 4th ocean cruise and there was a noticeable difference.

 

We've been on three VOCs, all last year (including the Viking Sky in July).  The food was great on each cruise.  To each his or her own, I suppose.

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In response to your question about level of stateroom and excursion selection, we have been in a V stateroom and a DV. both rooms are indentical  but difference is location.  I  never had an issue with shore excursion selection. But I have always booked exact moment I could, I did not delay a day or two. Word of caution, the rooms over the theater are very noisy..especially during rehearsals..

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11 hours ago, Not a Georgia Peach said:

It was on the Viking Sky, this was our 4th ocean cruise and there was a noticeable difference.

We are on the Viking Sky now, someone told us there was a new chef on board, it is our first Viking cruise and I can tell you I had one of the best meals I have ever had at Manfredi ‘s this week. 

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