10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
food was never served hot... dining hours were awful... ALL dining venues closed at 9:30 for breakfast and 10 pm at night..even the upstairs buffet... wanted a cookie at 10:00 ..everything was put away... upstairs, downtstairs, all over ... Read More
food was never served hot... dining hours were awful... ALL dining venues closed at 9:30 for breakfast and 10 pm at night..even the upstairs buffet... wanted a cookie at 10:00 ..everything was put away... upstairs, downtstairs, all over the ship.. i was told to call room service... got up late one morning at went upstairs for breakfast... it was closed... nothing avail until 11:30.... crew were nice but most were new..hadnt been on board long. didnt understand english well.. espcially at the pool grill... ordered a burger that was varied from the menu , they were confused... it was our first viking and will be our last... the river may be better but we usually do river with Uniworld and after this Viking experience i dont think i would try them again... excursions were HORRIBLE. car ride in havana was good thing but 7hr bus ride was the pits... bathrooms didnt work well... Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We wanted to see Cuba without having to experience the land based hotels which all of our friends who had traveled there said were not pleasant. And so we figured we would try a Viking Ocean experience based on several of their river ... Read More
We wanted to see Cuba without having to experience the land based hotels which all of our friends who had traveled there said were not pleasant. And so we figured we would try a Viking Ocean experience based on several of their river cruise trips. To tell you the truth is was truly a mixed experience. The ship was very manageable, clean and convenient. The cabin was great. Well stocked, king size bed, heated bathroom floors, great ventilation and temp control and the cabin steward was a 10+. The tours were mixed - some good, some bad - but it's always based on who your guide is. What was truly disappointing was one of the "included" tours which the ship's staff advised us not to take. Say what? You put us on a tour that's no good? Well then change it - don't advise us to pay more for an optional one. The dining room was not ready for prime time. There is a big difference between "unhurried" dining and SLOW. One night we sat at the table for 15 minutes waiting to be approached and nothing happened. Had to raise my hand and ask who had our table and one could tell by the looks on the faces that no one had a clue. But every night the service was that way. Alternate dining room reservations were simply put, a pain and not worth the effort. The buffet was good though and never disappointed. When the staff was asked how long they had been on board or with Viking the lack of experience was astounding. We really felt we were providing on-the-job- training and it was annoying. Entertainment was a mix of lectures and some shows. Lectures were great and shows were okay but in fairness it is a smaller ship and lacks some facilities We're booked to be on that same ship next year for an extended voyage but we are seriously rethinking it. I don't want to suffer more Viking growing pains. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the amount of time visiting Cuba. We toured Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Havana and Santiago de Cuba. All the tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and cautious for our safety. The ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and the amount of time visiting Cuba. We toured Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Havana and Santiago de Cuba. All the tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and cautious for our safety. The ship was spotless, the crew always friendly and sincere no matter when and where. Embarking the ship's tenders was done with ease. The were more concerned for our safety and we felt comfortable with their assistance. We enjoyed the lectures offered. There were no big production shows. However, the singers and dancers were superb including the Cruise Director and his assistant. The fact that the Viking Star passenger load is less than 1,000 people, you get to know most of the entertainers, officers and other crew members personally. Meeting for the tours was handled very smoothly with hardly any wait time. The public rooms including quiet areas were decorated in good taste and very comfortable. The cappuccino was adequate, but most of the time it was machine made. I would like to have had it otherwise. Overall, I recommend Viking Ocean Cruise to Cuba. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We liked the ship, the Star, very much -- size, etc. We had a suite and it was great -- large and very comfortable. We were very disappointed with the food and the service. The food was just average -- like a Princess or Royal Caribbean ... Read More
We liked the ship, the Star, very much -- size, etc. We had a suite and it was great -- large and very comfortable. We were very disappointed with the food and the service. The food was just average -- like a Princess or Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Certainly nothing special. The service in the restaurants and buffet was very spotty -- sometimes good but sometimes very lax. The staff seemed inexperienced and not able to attend to the guests properly. The entertainment was below par -- second or third rate. We docked in Cienfuegos, Cuba and had to take tenders for all tours and then had to take very long bus rides to get anywhere. My husband took the Caribbean Cold War History tour (Bay of Pigs) and was very disappointed with the museum (they closed the bathrooms when they saw the bus pulling up and told everyone they would have to use the restroom on the bus). And he said the restaurant was terrible. The tour to the Botanical Garden and Laguna Guanaroca included, again, a long bus ride. The Laguna Guanaroca was a waste of time -- really nothing to see. The Botanical Garden was my favorite and if the Laguna Guanaroca visit was eliminated, it would allow more time there. Our guide at the Botanical Garden was informative and did a wonderful job. The Day in Havana was interesting -- seeing the old cars and our lunch was nice. The ship was able to dock in Santiago de Cuba -- so no tenders. The The included Panoramic Santiago de Cuba tour was okay but walking through the business/store area was crowded and unnecessary. All the tours were expensive and not worth the money. Cuba is really not yet ready for tourists. Wonderful having wi-fi and free internet and it worked well. The TV was a little iffy but better than other cruises we have taken. We took the cruise because it was round trip Miami and just visited Cuba. We thought it would be interesting to finally be able to visit Cuba -- but there really wasn't a whole lot to see. Perhaps if we didn't have to take such long bus rides we would have seen more. Cuba is a very poor island. Our tour guides on the buses were informed and did a good job. Personally, I would not recommend this cruise. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise because we had heard such wonderful things about Viking River cruises. The timeframe and itinerary fit our needs. Our expectations were of luxury and perfection. Pros: The ship was beautiful and well ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we had heard such wonderful things about Viking River cruises. The timeframe and itinerary fit our needs. Our expectations were of luxury and perfection. Pros: The ship was beautiful and well maintained. The staff was so friendly. We were in Explorer Suite 3095. We have been on other high end cruises, also in suites. The suite was the largest one we had been in: an actual living room, a dining table that sat 4, a bedroom (with a door), and a double sink bathroom with plenty of storage . Our cabin stewarts, Erik and Puput were so friendly and most helpful. The toiletries (constantly replenished) were wonderful. And the wrap around deck was fantastic. The enrichment programs were very interesting. Great speakers, interesting and varied topics. Cons: The food was hit or miss. When it was good it was delicious. When it was bad it was awful (Example: Twice at the World Cafe the roast beef, being carved at the station, was so tough and inedible. Heard from other people that they also had this problem.). It is a matter of opinion whether the menu was varied enough. The ridiculous: At the World Cafe (buffet) at breakfast there was sugar free syrup. However,at the main dining room (The Restaurant) we needed to ask for it. Every waiter who got it for us made sure that we knew that they had to go from the Restaurant (2nd floor) to the 7th floor (World Cafe). One time I was finished my pancakes before the syrup came. Twice..count ‘em..twice they printed the wrong time to meet for our tours. We were tendering in so it wasn’t as easy as going down the gangplank on to shore. We miraculously were early enough to make all the tenders but those two times it was by dumb luck. An example: the first time that was wrong is when they told us to be at the meeting place at 8:15. We were called for our tender at 8:01. One person on our tour actually believed the 8:15 time. We had to wait until 9:00 for our tour bus to begin driving! That was when the next tender arrived. Everyday at the same time (6-6:45) there was a program of live music with a viewing of Munch paintings. We never heard or saw it because we always ate at 6 when the restaurants opened, Unchangeable due to medical issues. The tour talks downplayed (at least one of the two) the included tours. The tour director actually downplayed two paid tours. We definitely disagreed with him on one but didn’t on the other. He said that unfortunately the description of the botanical garden that we were given in our initial information, at the time we booked it and paid for it, was too nice and it wasn’t that interesting. It wasn’t. On other lines we recieved more perks as suite passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
It was an opportunity to travel to Cuba, which hasn't been readily available and may not be in the future, who knows! Traveled with my husband, my mother, and my sister. We stayed in Key Biscayne for 3 days prior to the cruise, and ... Read More
It was an opportunity to travel to Cuba, which hasn't been readily available and may not be in the future, who knows! Traveled with my husband, my mother, and my sister. We stayed in Key Biscayne for 3 days prior to the cruise, and got to the ship terminal 2 hours prior to our 3:00 pm embarkation time. But very few people were there, and we breezed through. We were given our room key and our luggage was there when we arrived. Disembarkation was equally as smooth. Our overnight trip to Havana was marred by the tornado, so we didn't see the Tropicana show. But friends of ours were there the previous night, and said it was fantastic. The Melia Hotel was quite nice (we were expecting worse). And the CARS!!!! The tour guides were very knowledgeable. The tour to Trinidad was a long bus trip, and not as interesting as we anticipated. In Santiago de Cuba, we decided we couldn't stand to be on another bus, so we went out on our own. We (my sister, my mother, and I) passed through customs, and were kind of standing around considering our options, when a man came up to us and asked if we needed a guide for the day. He was wearing a blue Infotur shirt and hat, and was very professional, explaining that he was with a state-run agency. It cost $40 an hour for the driver and old-car taxi, and $20 an hour for the guide. We took the taxi to the cemetary, and arrived well before the tour busses, which were arriving as we were leaving. This in itself was worth the $40! We then drove through the streets around town, and were dropped off in the city center. Our guide, Wilbert, stayed with us for over 3 hours, and only charged the $20 (I gave him a $20 tip, bought him lunch and drinks too). He took us all over, and it was a true person-to-person experience. He took us inside his home, showed us the ration book, took us to a neighborhood restaurant for lunch. My mother and sister had coffee with him in his home, and we all ate the local lunch (yes, including fresh veggies and lettuce) and didn't get sick! We brought a bag of toiletries, which he was very thankful for, and said he would share with people who needed them. Advice: Don't be afraid to interact with local people. They are very friendly and appreciate tourists. I would definitely go again, when we're able to just go as tourists, and do what we want. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Honestly, we chose this cruise because we didn’t have to do international flying to take the cruise. Along with that, it’s cold weather at home and a warm climate was appealing. We were also intrigued by stories of Cuba and it sounded ... Read More
Honestly, we chose this cruise because we didn’t have to do international flying to take the cruise. Along with that, it’s cold weather at home and a warm climate was appealing. We were also intrigued by stories of Cuba and it sounded interesting. Everything on board was top notch. Food, service, entertainment, all excellent. Excursions were ok. a lot of emphasis from the guides was on helping us buy cigars and rum. Guides were very much into promoting Us/Cuba relations as they “love Americans”. It was heartbreaking to see the areas that clearly had once been so beautiful now delapidated and in disrepair. The guides were so proud of their heritage it seemed they didn’t see it the same way. Probably the highlight of the excursion was the ride through Miramar in Havana in one of the iconic classic cars with the top down looking at the once wealthy area’s beautiful (then) homes. The weather caused us to miss a port of call so we had an extra day at sea. We already had two days of the cruise as “at sea” so there was definitely a lot of boat time. It was good to see Cuba but I would not go back again. It truly is an eye-opening trip to see what can happen to a once prosperous country when put in the wrong hands. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We did cultural Cuba cruise from Miami.It was our first Viking ocean cruise,but we have been on river cruises and ocean cruises with other companies.The ship is nice,nice layout,great food and good service except the main restaurant,where ... Read More
We did cultural Cuba cruise from Miami.It was our first Viking ocean cruise,but we have been on river cruises and ocean cruises with other companies.The ship is nice,nice layout,great food and good service except the main restaurant,where it took2 hours to have dinner for 2 people every time.The Manfredi restaurant is excellent,great food and service.But The cruise was very boring,because there was nothing to do in the evening.The had singers3nights and a local band.Each performance took45 min,so after that there was nothing to do in the evening.There is so much music you can listen to.There was no topical cruise games and except lectures during the day,you had nothing to do.We missed last port,because it was too windy and spent extra day at see,which was extremely boring!We didn’t docked in Havana and it was3.5 hours each way to go there on the tour.We did 1 day trip for 290$ per person,some people went on overnight trip for 790$ per person.We spent more time on the bus than in Havana.The botanical garden tour we took in Cienfuegos was complete waste of time and money,there is nothing to see there.I will definitely go on another Viking river cruise,but never on the ocean cruise,because it’s luck of entertainment and it’s boring. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
We heard so many positive things about Viking that we thought we would try them. We have been on 21 cruises with various cruise lines and we can honestly say this is the best of them all! We had originally booked a cruise with them last ... Read More
We heard so many positive things about Viking that we thought we would try them. We have been on 21 cruises with various cruise lines and we can honestly say this is the best of them all! We had originally booked a cruise with them last Jan and also booked our flights with Viking Air to go to the West Indies out of San Juan. Our flight from Toronto to Charlotte was cancelled by weather issues and when we phoned Viking Air all she would say is "I can't get you to San Juan". Thankfully our cancellation insurance refunded all of our money and we promptly booked for this cruise to Viking. 7 days is the shortest cruise we have ever done so we booked a hotel in Toronto for 1 night, 2 nights in Miami (pre cruise) and then one night in Miami and one night in Toronto post cruise to stretch out our holiday. Our experience with Viking was just so outstanding! Not one complaint about anything. The ship is fairly new (2 years old) and she is beautiful! We had a Deluxe Verandah portside. OUr embarkation time was 1 pm but because our shuttle got us there for 11 we were prepared to wait but we were ushered right on board! Very friendly happy staff on board. We had signed up for a Meet and Greet (the Viking Star board wasn't very active) and we received a card in our room with our invite. Even though only 4 of us were there the ship's officers came up and we had champagne and apps during our time with them. Food was delicious! Specialty restaurants are included and because so many passengers went to Havana for an overnight tour we ate in Manfredi's a second night. Chef's Table was an Asian Theme and we loved it. You really don't need a drink package as they are very generous with wine and beer and water during your lunch and dinner meals. We enjoyed our included shore excursion in Cienfuegos and also the one we paid for (Bay of Pigs museum). Glad there is no casino aboard and no little ones around. Loved the spa facilities (everything included except the treatments) and the pools. Service was excellent. Our port stop in Santiago de Cuba was cancelled due to high waves but we enjoyed another sea day. Love, love, love Viking!!!!!! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise due to the high Viking reviews. The Star ship was a great ship, but the ports in Cienfuegos and Santiago De Cuba are horrible. We took a private tour to Havana, and Havana is a great city, but it was a 3 hour plus ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the high Viking reviews. The Star ship was a great ship, but the ports in Cienfuegos and Santiago De Cuba are horrible. We took a private tour to Havana, and Havana is a great city, but it was a 3 hour plus drive. We would recommend you finding a cruise ship that ported in Havana before choosing the Cultural Cuba Itinerary. What we loved about the ship were: 1) The well appointed junior suite staterooms with large bathrooms 2) The room attendant Janice was fantastic 3) The bartenders Eddie and I Made 4) The Chef's Table restaurant 5) The drink package for mixed drinks 6) The large spa 7) The free laundry and dry cleaning with the junior suite 8) The piano player and guitarists The improvements that need to be made: 1) A better itinerary for ports 2) The free excursions were very lame. I wonder if anyone on the Viking staff actually took the excursions 3) The TV signal kept freezing up 4) The wine list had wines that were 2 years younger than the list 5) Need a larger pool area as seating was very limited 6) Some of the staff had an attitude of indifferance 7) Better communication 8) Softer beds, but they will give you toppers upon request 9) Better entertainment as the Viking band singers were not very good 10) Room service was late many times and the food was always cold Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
TBN hubby here: We are normally Celebrity loyalists -- Elite Plus and all that -- which means that we have spent $150,000, more or less, on cruises and now get a free coffee ;-). For this cruise we found the timing, ports of call, and ... Read More
TBN hubby here: We are normally Celebrity loyalists -- Elite Plus and all that -- which means that we have spent $150,000, more or less, on cruises and now get a free coffee ;-). For this cruise we found the timing, ports of call, and time in port to our liking, and we have friends who have raved about Viking Ocean Cruises based on their life total of two ocean cruises.So....why not? For a quick summary: we liked it! A Lot! Good food. Roomy cabin (penthouse veranda 5089). Restocked minibar daily -- no charge. A neat on-board cellphone app. Essentially unlimited soft drinks, wine, coffee, iced tea, hot chocolate. Ample sun deck area and minimal Chair hogging. A wonderful, included, warm pool, sauna, hot tub, snow-room area in the spa! Lots of open space. Guests must be 18 or older. No photographers, No casino. No formal nights. unlimited WiFi. Tasteful European-style decor with some nice historical touches. Did I mention good food! Entertainment choices in the theater were a bit thin but the cruise experience is geared toward folks that can entertain themselves and enjoy the many cultural enrichment offerings. There is nice, live music nearly all afternoon and evening in various venues and always a quiet place to relax. There was also evening dancing somewhere, but we didn't check it out. We didn't miss the lack of belly flop contests or officer/guest pool volleyball, egg drop, and so forth. And, if you are looking for a climbing wall, ice rink, or merry go round, you are in the wrong place. Trivia IS still available 'though. Price is bit of a downside because we can take nearly 2 cruises with Celebrity for the price of one on Viking, but that does not necessarily mean Viking is overpriced, just that being Elite Plus on Celebrity gives us some perks there. Many of those hose perks are available at no additional cost to the Viking guests, like we were, on the first cruise, This is based to some extent on the choice of cabin class. Unlimited WiFi, pressing service for our cabin class, guest laundry, essentially unlimited good quality house wines and soft drinks, and some other stuff I can't remember right now, are included in your first cruise with some discounts on booking on later cruises through the Explorers Club. Viking also offers an included tour of some type at every port.. Food was outstanding in the dining room, the buffet, and one of the (no additional cost) alternative dining restaurants. More on that later. The welcome aboard buffet set the tone with some of the best fish I have had anytime, anywhere, as well as delicious beef and excellent 'fixings' as we say here in the hills. For most of the cruise, the evening buffet area had king crab legs, rock shrimp, large shrimp, sushi,and varied "turf" dishes including prime rib, roast turkey, pork loin and more. Breakfast and lunch were equally impressive there. Dining room fare was also very good to excellent and service was good with a nice variety of daily menus and a standard everyday menu. We never had a long wait to be seated. For our taste the included house wine was very good and they offered refills almost instantly when your glass was low. I told my wife there must have been a large group of bird watchers in the dining room on our cruise, because several times the waiters gathered at a table with a cake and sang a rousing rendition of "Hoppy Bird Day". The ornithologists seemed appreciative, but DW only groaned at the bad joke. An evening, themed (Mexican, seafood, Cuban, etc.) buffet adjacent to the infinity pool was interesting and photogenic. Then there was Mamensen's Deli in the Explorer Lounge (gotta try the waffle), as well as the Living Room offering light fare such as snacks, deserts, and cookies depending on the time.. The pool grill offered burgers, pulled pork, and dogs and a selection of salads. Plenty of variety for our trip. The desserts in general were good but not outstanding in the buffet. better in the dining room, and spectacular in Manfretti's. Some of the cakes were unusual but were said to be Norwegian recipes from the owners grandmother (Mamensen). I liked them, wife not so much We liked the alternative dining restaurant called, I believe, Manfretti's. We used both our reservations there and the steak (I had) and the seafood (she had) dishes were very nice. The other, The Chef's Table, appeared to have the same menu most of our trip and a second menu for the weekend. Although I thought it was fine, my wife is more of a sprouts-and-twigs kind of girl and she did not like the menus for Chef's Table at all. I understand that it changes, so your experience may differ, In fairness, as we were waiting to cancel our reservations, two people exited and were raving about how delicious it was. Personal preferences at work here! A note: reviews on Cruise Critic and some friend's personal experiences indicate some cruise lines very strongly discourage independent exploration and lead people to believe that using independent tour companies or self guided tours are not allowed. We were concerned about this but it was NOT an issue. Viking clearly states in the port briefings and in their daily that independent tour guests are accommodated. They provide very nice city maps of the ports. The Viking tour participants do get priority. as they should, but we were on some of the earliest tender boats with no issues at all. Yea Viking! Viking has some great tours but we like to avoid buses of people and enjoy the flexibility to lengthen, cancel, add or shorten stops as we see fit. The itinerary is another personal preference type thing.. We liked this one. The two night stay in Cienfuegos allowed us to venture off on our own (sort of) with a very satisfying independent tour in a classic 1957 Chevy (excellent restored body and interior, highly modified drive train, and added AC). After a short preview of Cienfuegos and approximately 2-hour drive and some side trips we arrived for our visit. We stayed overnight in Trinidad, Cuba at an AirBnB lodging dating from the 1830's and were pleased with the very hospitable owners who lived there. They were the 5th generation of the family that built the lodging. The adequate and clean room was $30 and a wonderful breakfast was only $5 each. The lodging was called CASA COLONIAL and, while underwhelming from the outside, the lobby was a classic beauty. The arrangements were made online. Our tour guide, Alejandro, and Leo, our driver/taxi owner/builder and their company are fully licensed by the Cuban Government. Their company, FER TOURS was easy to deal with when we booked online with them and they did all they promised and more. We were treated to wonderful local restaurants and they customized their standard tour to include what my wife wanted to see. We stopped by the road on the drive in and purchased some local plantino manzanas (apple bananas) and some other exotic fruit. We particularly enjoyed these small apple flavored bananas that I have enjoyed in the past but wife had never tasted. A nice surprise was that our visit coincided with the 505th anniversary celebration of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a real experience, with seemingly a hundred restaurants, live bands fireworks all in a celebratory atmosphere. It was something that wasn't planned but very much enjoyed. A decent sleep after turning in late, and our fine breakfast in the morning and then more touring in the Trinidad area and then the drive back. As the day wound down we spent short time touring Cienfuegos before the end of our second day and our return to the ship around 6pm. Next day we did a self guided walking tour of Cienfuegos. Our guides from the previous day had given us a quick tour of the route to the central square and we simply walked off the tinder and spent a few pleasant hours on our own. Pictures of classic cars and beautiful old buildings were the order of the day. The last stop was Santiago de Cuba. Again we had arranged another licensed independent tour and met our guide, driver, and the company owner of OUT OF THE BOX TOURS at the large CUBA sign, just a few minutes walk, and easily seen from the ships tender location. My wife had a couple of sights she wanted to see. The most important (to her) and beautiful was the Our Lady of Charity, which was 'a ways' out of town. We went there first and our Guide Alex an our driver Marion (sp?) were really on the ball for us. We arrived well before maybe two hundred of our closest friends (in Government-owned tour buses) from the ship's tours crowded into the parking lot of the cathedral. The alter and church is very beautiful. Ernest Hemingway's Nobel prize is among the many interesting and worth-a-photo displays. Lucky, our visit and the beautiful photos we took were complete because, as we were leaving, they were overwhelming the interior of the church. This was a short stay for this port and we did not stop for lunch, but we did visit the roof top bar of the Casa Grande Hotel beside the town square.. A very nice setting for a lovely drink and panoramic views of the city. This time our ride was a similar quality classic, but was a 1957 Ford Fairlane instead of the Chevy. Note: no shorts allowed for men or women and shoulders must be covered to enter the church so ladies take a wrap here or other churches just in case. Final thoughts. We had a great time. The Cuban people are friendly, even though they have a different view of many world events than those of us from the USA. Immigration was a non event but you do need to keep track of your visa. The classic cars are all over and make good photo opportunities. AMERICAN credit cards are not accepted although cards from other countries are accepted. There is a 13% penalty for changing US dollars. We had a bunch of Euros so changed them. Might be worth buying Euros to use on the trip depending on the exchange rate when you take your trip. This review is based on our unique combination of guides, weather, fellow cruisers and any number of other things that make up a individual journey. Your mileage may differ. Objects are closer than they appear. This review is not intended to treat,cure, or diagnose any disease....... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I had already cruised to Havana, Cuba aboard the NCL Sun, which didn't give us enough exposure to the Cuban Culture, music and art. We chose to cruise to Cuba again, this time with Viking Ocean Cruises. The itinerary, ... Read More
My wife and I had already cruised to Havana, Cuba aboard the NCL Sun, which didn't give us enough exposure to the Cuban Culture, music and art. We chose to cruise to Cuba again, this time with Viking Ocean Cruises. The itinerary, which includes a visit to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, and which also has extensive educational opportunities and onboard lectures given by knowledgeable Cuba experts was deeply important in our choice. The Viking Star is considered a small ship at a maximum 900 passenger capacity. This was immediately appreciated upon embarkation, which went flawlessly and we were processed and onboard ship within 15 minutes. We took the Viking two-day extension in Miami, which included a five hour panoramic drive through the city, including a stop at Calle Ocho and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on the day of embarkation. Arriving onboard ship, we were delighted to find our cabin ready and our steward available to deliver our luggage and address any of our concerns. The in-cabin experience was enhanced by our Steward, "K," and he went the extra mile to ensure our comfort. Unfortunately, the ship's digital system, including interactive in-cabin monitor, live TV, movies and recorded lectures and entertainment given in the theater crashed during the last three days of the cruise, which we found regrettable, since we couldn't catch up with any of the events we missed during the cruise. We found the dining aboard the Star to be excellent, with an ample variety of dishes and wines that changed daily, both in the Restaurant and up in the World Cafe, the casual buffet venue. We also had dinner in Manfredi's Italian Restaurant, which is included in the cruise. The food at Manfredi's is fresh and abundant, and we ended up ordering half portions because the regular size is astronomical. The complementary wine or beer at lunch and dinner is a fantastic feature, as the house wines change each day, giving us a wonderful tasting experience. The servers at all the dining venues were eager to please, and took time to get to know our preferences. Not having children onboard Viking cruises also makes the voyage more enjoyable. On land in both Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba, we took the complementary city tours, which we found to be average and not really worth the three hours. Sitting in a bus, that travels at high speed through the city, doesn't really give one the smells, taste and feel for the people of Cuba. The mandatory stops at cigar and rum shops ate up whatever free time we had. In Cienfuegos, my wife and I went off the grid and hired a private pedicab with driver to give us a personal tour of the city. This three hour tour included many places not covered by the complementary tour, and we stopped numerous times to meet and greet the REAL people of the city. My fluency in the Spanish language helped us to take full advantage of the driver's personal knowledge of his hometown, and we were able to meet many of his associates at local haunts. This direct contact with the Cuban people was what we were after when we chose the cruise. My only advice is to settle on a price BEFORE hiring a private tour guide. This is hard to do, as many of the private tours don't have posted prices or tour descriptions. However, Jordan, our pedicab driver gave us a private tour of a lifetime, and we gladly paid him $60 for the personal service he provided. In Santiago de Cuba, we only had a few hours, but the tour of the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity, the patron saint of Cuba, was truly amazing.and well worth the time spent there. The educational lectures and round tables are exceptional. The topics covered were truly current and topical on Cuban history, culture and arts. This is a hallmark of Viking Cruises, and a good reason why Viking remains as one of the best ways to the immersion into the local ports visited. Being on a small ship makes the voyage comfortable and uncrowded all onboard venues. Even though we didn't dock at the two ports, the four tenders got us off the ship and back on very efficiently. The digital glitches were unfortunate, but, in contrast to other cruise lines, Viking delivers a good cruise value. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Celebrating my 25th Wedding anniversary we chose Viking because a year ago it was one of the only 5 star under 900 passenger cruise ships going to Cuba for less than 10 days and its high rating. Our last cruise was on a Crystal ship from ... Read More
Celebrating my 25th Wedding anniversary we chose Viking because a year ago it was one of the only 5 star under 900 passenger cruise ships going to Cuba for less than 10 days and its high rating. Our last cruise was on a Crystal ship from Singapore to Hong Kong so the bar was set high. I have to admit Viking was up to the challenge, outside of our room attendant the service was excellent especially at the piano area bar where we had sparkling wine included in the Silver package that was pretty good. and I took full advantage of opportunity throughout the ship pre dinner after dinner and during the shows. we met some great people on the ship and even ran into some co-workers that we had no idea were going we closed the piano bar area down several nights. The majority of the guests were well over 70 so bedtime was pretty early. but wake up time was early also. :) The ship is very modern with wi-fi throughout and touch screen directories through out the ship. all orders taken by staff were on cell phones which made things much faster. The afternoon tea was a daily occurrence as the sandwiches and deserts were delicious and the service top notch. I ordered coffee and expresso instead with a splash of Cuban rum I brought back from the Tropicana show. I would cruise Viking again the beds and suite amenities were great . No nickel and diming with photos and extras or artwork etc. The excursions were good especially the Havana one. Cuba is still a 3rd world country going there was like going into a B&W movie and returning to Miami was like returning to a Digital Film ! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Everything was top notch from the service to the food. Nice shore excursions and great staff. Loved the fact that there was no photo taking event when boarding, no casino on the ship and no kids allowed on the ship. Such a peaceful trip. ... Read More
Everything was top notch from the service to the food. Nice shore excursions and great staff. Loved the fact that there was no photo taking event when boarding, no casino on the ship and no kids allowed on the ship. Such a peaceful trip. The cabin was well laid out and comfortable, the bathroom was best we have experienced on any cruise. There is not a lot of drawer storage but the closet is large and there is plenty of space under the beds. We went to the World Cafe and had lunch and it was very pleasant. The layout and general look of the buffet is very nice. The food on the ship was excellent in both the buffet and dining room. We ate two nights at Manfredi's, the Italian restaurant, and were very satisfied. Beer and wine is served at lunch and dinner and as much as you wanted. The staff was uniformly friendly and helpful. My only grip would be the gym is too small and there was never any hot drawn butter for the cracked crab, you always had to ask for it. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I was in Havana in 1952, and I wanted to compare that Havana with the Havana of today. Returning to the "first world" of the ship was a welcome change after a day spent in "thirld world" Cuba. We had traveled throughout ... Read More
I was in Havana in 1952, and I wanted to compare that Havana with the Havana of today. Returning to the "first world" of the ship was a welcome change after a day spent in "thirld world" Cuba. We had traveled throughout the Soviet Union in the mid-1980's, and our Cuba experience resembled that. In contrast- Cuba was clean and the people were very friendly. The Cienfuegos city tour was adequate, and we did have time to shop... but there is very little to buy other than rum and cigars. Our city tour guide was very informative about most peoples' way of life. We had the same guide on our tour of the Botanical Garden and Laguna Guanaroca. We thought this tour to be a waste of time and money. We had expected to see birds and flowers on the Botanical Gardens tour, but the local tour guide rushed us through so fast that we saw very little. Tour buses from the ship were arriving there too close together, and he had to rush us through so he could get to his next tour group. The one-day trip to Havana was just what we had expected. The tour literature had advised that it was a 3½ hour trip each way; so we were prepared for that. The mid-way rest stops were just what we had expected, from having traveled in third world countries. Viking had pre-paid the tips to the restroom attendants. We had adequate time for a walking tour around the restored part of Old Havana. I stood on a street corner and took photos of each old American car that passed by... and there were many of them! Our tour bus took us east along the Malecón to a state-run restaurant, El Aljibe, along Embassy row. The roast chicken breast was tasty, but I fed my entire meal to six hungry feral cats begging at our table. The restaurant is open-air, and the cats appeared well-fed, going from table to table, begging. The local musicians were very good. After eating lunch, a caravan of old 1950's convertibles picked up our group. My wife and I and two ladies rode in a restored 1954 Chevy Bel-Air convertible. As we returned to the downtown area our young driver decided to show us more of Havana, and we circled around el Capitolio, and newer office buildings. Back on our tour bus, we stopped at a store selling all sorts of souvenirs. Leaving Havana we went to the eastern suburb of Cojimar where we walked along the waterfront, saw a memorial to Hemingway, and had a rum drink at a local bar that he used to frequent. Here a local music group broke into a cha-cha-cha song, inviting our group to join in the dance. My wife got to play a gourd instrument, and we had a really lively time. We got back aboard the Viking Star just before the evening dinner time ended... and my dinner there took the place of the Havana lunch that I fed to the cats. Our sailing into the harbor at Santiago de Cuba was uneventful. We took the city tour which went first to the Shrine of the Virgin of Charity at the nearby village of El Cobre. There were too many tour buses there. The crowds made it almost impossible to see inside the Sanctuary. Our city tour guide was quite informative, talking mainly about Fidel Castro and his life in and around the city. We thought it interesting that this city still reveres Fidel and his revolution. After departing the harbor at Santiago de Cuba we cruised east along the southeast coast of Cuba. Shortly after sunset we sailed by the harbor at Guantanamo Bay. We knew where we were, but almost no one else on our ship had any idea that we were sailing by GITMO, and there was no notice from the ship about our location. While we couldn't see the military community inside the Bay, we easily spotted the detention camp which faces the ocean. We had a memorable dinner on the aft deck at the Aquavit Terrace, with GITMO's lights disappearing in the distance. Both our pickup and drop-off at Miami airport were timely and went without a hitch. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We choose the Viking Star knowing that they would provide a quality cruise. The Cultural Cuba Itinerary would give us more time to explore several cities of Cuba and not just the one port of Havana. We were so impressed with the ... Read More
We choose the Viking Star knowing that they would provide a quality cruise. The Cultural Cuba Itinerary would give us more time to explore several cities of Cuba and not just the one port of Havana. We were so impressed with the friendliest of the staff, the design of the ship and the quality of the food. We were always greeted with a smile and a hello from every staff member each day. The ship invites one to relax. The decor is calming and peaceful yet elegant. The food in all the dining rooms was excellent. One of our favorite dinners was at Manfredini's. People we met were all friendly and eager to meet fellow cruisers. We never felt crowded on the ship, and never had to wait in any lines for dining. The only waits were for the tenders which were well organized and moved quickly. We took all our excursions through Viking and found them to be very good. The excursions provide People to People opportunities. We just wish the buses were for smaller group sizes. Trinidad was very interesting, and European like, with the old cobblestone streets. The privately owned restaurant they took us to was very good with a variety of menu choices for us that evening. It was great that we got to tour the city during the afternoon and the evening. We choose the day trip to Havana knowing this was a 3 hour drive, that we would also have the opportunity to see more of the Cuban way of life outside of the cities and away from the port. We also took the included excursions of Santiago and Cienfuegos. Both included some walking. Cuba has beautiful architecture, landscape and history and the Viking Speakers are onboard to Educate. We appreciated that there were no added charges for use of the spa facilities, which provided that extra level of relaxation. How pleasant to not have announcements all day being broadcast or photographers onboard. The singers and dancers were entertaining and the television choices were good. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We are currently on the cultural Cuba cruise, and I would not advise anyone to take any cruise to Cuba unless you can be in Havana for 3 days. The Cienfuegos and Santiago ports are very lame. Havana was fantastic but the drive is over 6 ... Read More
We are currently on the cultural Cuba cruise, and I would not advise anyone to take any cruise to Cuba unless you can be in Havana for 3 days. The Cienfuegos and Santiago ports are very lame. Havana was fantastic but the drive is over 6 hours on very poor roads. We will try to plan another trip to Havana only in the future. The ship is beautiful, but seems to shake more in the ocean than other cruise ships we have been on. We had a junior suite that was very roomy with great bathrooms. The beds are very hard, but they gave us a topper to make it more comfortable. The internet was very slow and movies kept freezing up at night when more users were on. The premium wine selection was not good but the drink package was worth it for great mixed drinks. A big miss was not showing the college football National Championship game and it could not be watched anywhere on the ship. The food in the 2 specialty restaurants was excellent and the pool side grill had a great hamburger and tuna burger. The other restaurants were just ok. Room service seemed to run behind schedule most days for breakfast, so order at least 30 minutes early. The fitness center is small and we would have liked to see more weight machines but it seemed to work for us. On the plus side, Janice our cabin steward was excellent and we had fantastic bartenders in I Made and Eddie. The spa staff that did the pedicures were fantastic. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Love cruising with Viking so wanted to take this cruise with them. This was our 4th ocean cruise with them. The ships are spotless. The crew is friendly and polite. You can rely on them. The rooms are larger. Bathroom larger. Every ... Read More
Love cruising with Viking so wanted to take this cruise with them. This was our 4th ocean cruise with them. The ships are spotless. The crew is friendly and polite. You can rely on them. The rooms are larger. Bathroom larger. Every room has a lanai. Loved our cabin boy. Anything we needed, he got for us. The food was excellent. All freshly cooked. No preservatives. The lectures were very good but I would have liked more entertainment. Playing Trivia was not my cup of tea. A 22 day cruise needed more to do. The shore excursions were well organized. Our guides were knowledgeable and spoke good English. Not like some places. The poor countries were a little depressing but we knew that would be. We were lucky to have sunny weather. The fact that it was Central America, it was extremely hot and humid. We wanted to visit Cuba and travel through the Panama Canal. Each country was so interesting. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
I’m currently on a 21 day Cuba, Panama and the Pacific Cruise on the Viking Star. This is our 5th cruise, we have been on Celebrity Infinity and Reflection, Crystal Symphony and a Uniworld river cruise. The Viking Star is nice but lacks ... Read More
I’m currently on a 21 day Cuba, Panama and the Pacific Cruise on the Viking Star. This is our 5th cruise, we have been on Celebrity Infinity and Reflection, Crystal Symphony and a Uniworld river cruise. The Viking Star is nice but lacks some of the luxury touches found on other ships in this rather expensive price range. Perhaps I prefer a different design aesthetic. We are in a Penthouse Veranda, which we paid to upgrade to in order to have enough storage space. Thanks to previous CC reviewers I was warned of the limited drawer space in the regular veranda cabins. We opted not to purchase the Silver Spirits package and feel that it was a smart financial move. Most of the included wines have been fine, on days when we don’t care for the offerings we purchase a bottle and have come out ahead. The wine list to purchase from is fairly limited, so if you are very particular I suggest bringing your own wines. Cocktail prices are very fair at $5-8. Finally, by not having the package I don’t feel motivated to drink my moneys worth! Dining on the ship has been mixed, I’ve been surprised that some of my best meals have been in the World Cafe. The menus have been very good with a nice variety to choose from. I can control my portions and not waste food. The Restaurant has had some serious fails with slow delivery, mixed up orders, cold soups, sauces and gravies. We’ve dined in Manfredi’s twice and the food is good, but portions are huge. I learned to ask for half portions. Feeling a bit under the weather today, I ordered room service. I was hoping for a nice hot cup of soup, unfortunately it was barely lukewarm. On a positive note, the waitstaff are the friendliest and most professional I’ve ever encountered on a cruise. We have not dined at Chefs Table yet so I cannot comment on that. Regarding the excursions, We have only done the included excursions so far and most have been disappointing, somewhat unorganized, very limited as to what you see and two ran quite late. I would suggest if time permits that you plan your own excursions. Many offered by Viking were overpriced compared to arranging our own. I understand the risks involved in doing so. Finally, big kudos to our stateroom attendants Sam and Borche. They are the sweetest gentlemen and have kept everything in immaculate condition. We are still undecided if we would cruise with Viking again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
Just coming off a 22 day cruise sailing Miami to Los Angeles. First time cruiser on Viking but not my last. Hubby and I are seasoned travelers and cruisers and believe we have found the cruise company for us. Smaller (900+ passengers), ... Read More
Just coming off a 22 day cruise sailing Miami to Los Angeles. First time cruiser on Viking but not my last. Hubby and I are seasoned travelers and cruisers and believe we have found the cruise company for us. Smaller (900+ passengers), sophisticated but not stuffy, great food, cabins are spacious and comfortable, super clean, enjoyable entertainment, included shore excursions and so much more. Ultimately though my love of this cruise was because of their staff. From the top down, ALL are committed to making this the best cruise you have ever been on. During the 3 week cruise we always met staff asking how we were doing, did we need anything, were we enjoying our cruise and what could they do for us. It appears the crew are treated well and love their jobs. The smiles are amazing. On board surveys were acknowledged with a phone call and a promise to review something, make a change or take immediately correction. The general manager and all department heads were available and approachable. We thoroughly enjoyed our meals in The Restaurant, Manfredi’s, Chef’s Table, Mamsens and the World Cafe. Room service was always available. Complimentary beer and wine at both lunch and dinner was a nice perk. Complimentary adult beverages at sail away’s, parties, receptions, etc. The food was plentiful, varied and beautifully presented. Loved Mamsens yummy light snacks with their Norwegian influence. Manfredi’s had an Italian styled menu and was always fantastic. Please note that there are no up charges for the specialty restaurants either! Our penthouse veranda cabin was spacious and very well organized. The bathroom and shower were roomy. Plenty of electric plugs and charging ports for your electronic devices. Tired of paying for wifi on other cruises? Well Viking’s wifi is FREE and generally worked very well ( even in the Pacific Ocean). Entertainment was appropriate for the passengers sailing with a classic and contemporary mix. The very talented Cruise and Assistant Cruise Director were fully engaged with the passengers. The ship’s band and small troup of singers were very good. Some special performers ( magician, violinist, local culture group,etc.) were also good. There were enrichment programs with guest speakers as well. Each port had a complimentary excursion provided plus other interesting choices. A lovely spa was also available plus 2 small ( but adequate) swimming pools. Quality and value through and through. No nickle and diming you as the passenger. I loved this cruise and have already booked another Viking adventure. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
We wanted to experience The Viking Ocean experience. We were extremely impressed with all aspects of the Viking ocean experience. From the easy embarkation process, to our explorer suite being ready as soon as we boarded, and the very ... Read More
We wanted to experience The Viking Ocean experience. We were extremely impressed with all aspects of the Viking ocean experience. From the easy embarkation process, to our explorer suite being ready as soon as we boarded, and the very helpful suite stewards. The steward gave us a tour of the suite and explained all the specific details of the suite as well as what was included in our package. The Explorer Suite was well laid out and the wrap around verandah was to die for. We were also very impressed with the quality and taste of all the meals we had on board. Although we indulged a lot it felt like we were eating healthy. We were not too impressed with the destination. We were anchored in both the ports and the water was definitely not Caribbean blue. More muddy than blue. That was disappointing. However, being on the super luxurious cruise ship was well worth the trip. We will certainly go on another Viking Ocean cruise and hope they expand their destinations out of Florida into the Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
I have done 2 Viking River Cruises so I wanted to see what the ocean cruise with Viking would be like. I was not disappointed and my only negative comment would be the overnight shore excursion was rather expensive ($799 each) and we were ... Read More
I have done 2 Viking River Cruises so I wanted to see what the ocean cruise with Viking would be like. I was not disappointed and my only negative comment would be the overnight shore excursion was rather expensive ($799 each) and we were not advised of this cost until shortly before our sailing date. Also they didn’t allow for the fact that there was a Marathon run that day so we were delayed waiting in the hotel lobby for over an hour. Everything else was above average though. The cabin was adequate and the bathroom was the best on any ship I’ve been on. Crew were great and with my garlic allergy the dining staff went above expectations to take excellent care of my needs and even provided me with garlic free dinner in Manfredi’s. Overall I would recommend Viking and would love to cruise again with them. Being a smaller ship there wasn’t the usual night club type shows but the did have local talent come on board as well as informative lectures. The included shore excursions were well done with great guides and lots of local information. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Our friends invited us on this cruise because they had taken other Viking cruises and were happy with them. The food was very tasty and fresh. We enjoyed the various talks every day. At night the entertainment was 1st class. We ... Read More
Our friends invited us on this cruise because they had taken other Viking cruises and were happy with them. The food was very tasty and fresh. We enjoyed the various talks every day. At night the entertainment was 1st class. We play Trivia every week so we enjoyed that. We met lots of interesting people who had taken lots of Viking cruises. We enjoyed the infinity pool and hot tub. I would like to take another Viking cruise. Cuba turned out to be an interesting destination. We had not considered visiting earlier to a large extent because of the apparent discouragement of travel there by the US government. We found the people there to be mostly apolitical and living as they had to. There was certainly no feeling at all of anything but friendliness among those we met or all the others we simply met or saw on the streets. I certainly think US sanctions do much harm and essentially no good. Hopefully our relations with the Cuban people will continue the improvement that has finally begun to take place during the last few years. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
First Viking Cruise, my wife and I enjoyed it immensely. Good staff, very engaged and aware of customer needs. Lots of attention to detail like constantly refreshing buffet offerings in World Cafe. The "all in" policy on tips, ... Read More
First Viking Cruise, my wife and I enjoyed it immensely. Good staff, very engaged and aware of customer needs. Lots of attention to detail like constantly refreshing buffet offerings in World Cafe. The "all in" policy on tips, free mini-bar etc was nice. The Port Talks were excellent, and gave a good idea of what to expect. The talk and slides on the antique cars was great. How do the Cubans maintain 60 year old cars, and get simple things like oil filters. All answered. Talks on politics, on the cities to be visited, etc. Room 6031 was clean, and perfectly fine for a short cruise. The lack of drawer storage was notable,so we threw the hair dryer, shoe shine pack, etc into the closet to create more space. Dining was fine. We had dinner in Manfredi's, and at the Chef's Table, as well as in the World Cafe. The wine selection was OK, the (free) base wines ranged from good down to swill. Beer was fine with a good range of European choices. Several special nights with pig roasts out on the aft deck, seafood spectacular, etc. All were done well. Full breakfasts were available, with alcohol for those who wanted it. The excursions are a work in progress. Cuba doesn't have a lot of experience in tourism, and more remote places like Cienfuegos and Santiago are behind the curve. That's to be expected. On four excursions, we had two superb guides, one OK, and one awful. I'm not sure how much control Viking has over the tour operators (I only saw one provider in both places). In one case, we were expected to walk through knee high grass, down a washed out culvert to see a lake. And back up via another route. Older people had trouble other , people were concerned about ticks in the grass. Another guide engaged us in a forced march, so we could spend a whole half hour in yet another a rum / cigar shop. The third in four excursions. Several people had trouble with the pace. There was a lot of overlap, as we received the Cienfuegos city park talk twice, from two different guides. It was interesting what they chose to emphasize. Some guides were great, and the excursions provided a great window into a lovely country. Hard working people, horse drawn carts, street musicians, vivid colors, wonderful sunsets. I had the opportunity to walk by myself through the mercado and beyond after one excursion ended. The guide had received 30 people, and delivered 30 people back to the dock. After that, I walked off on my own. About a two mile walk. Friendly people selling wood carvings, hats, gourds, etc. Didn't feel the least bit threatened. The neighborhoods looked a little more worn than those traversed by the tour buses, but it seemed more real. Street musicians, very lively areas. I speak a little Spanish, and did fine. The US government requires that the trip address certain people to people needs. So, we saw an honors arts school, with young children demonstrating high levels of musical proficiency. And visited the adjacent painting studio where the instructors displayed their work, most in support of the revolution. For sale, too. Other schools visible on our trip did not appear to have the same level of maintenance or exterior paint. But, all kids wear uniforms, and those we met were exceptionally polite. I'd go back to either Cienfuegos or Santiago de Cuba in an instant, and I will. But, I know it will be different, just like it was different five years ago. A government patrol boat sat near our ship in both ports. In Santiago, the ship was required to anchor about 30 minutes outside the main harbor, making a long tender ride Practical notes: I tipped guides, taxi drivers, etc in all of US dollars, Cuban convertible pesos, and Euro. They were grateful for the tips, it's a big part of their income. The government takes a cut off the conversion of all US$ to Cuban currency, so most preferred the Euro We departed Santiago de Cuba in the late afternoon, bound for Miami. A day at sea, and a 6am arrival in Miami. Customs doesn't report for work until 7am, so it was 7.15 before the first people were processed. Everyone was required to be out of their cabins by 8am, and off the ship by 9am. I would have liked a few more hours in Santiago de Cuba, and an hour more sleep in Miami. This is not a child friendly cruise. No kids activities, and most excursions were adult level. Not too much partying, the average age was probably mid-60s. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
My husband and I just returned from the one-week Cultural Cuba cruise aboard the Viking Star. First of all, this is a beautiful ship, stylish and very comfortable and just the right size at about 900 passengers. When we arrived at the ... Read More
My husband and I just returned from the one-week Cultural Cuba cruise aboard the Viking Star. First of all, this is a beautiful ship, stylish and very comfortable and just the right size at about 900 passengers. When we arrived at the Miami airport, the Viking personnel were waiting at the baggage area to take our bags and get us on a bus to the ship. It was very efficient and when we arrived at the port the check-in was also quick and painless. We were able to use our cabin 5051, a deluxe veranda, immediately. The cabin was well laid out and comfortable, the bathroom the best we have experienced on any cruise. There is not a lot of drawer storage but the closet is large and there is plenty of space under the beds. We went to the World Cafe and had lunch and it was very pleasant. The layout and general look of the buffet is very nice. We were very tired from an early flight so made an early night of it. The next day was a sea day and there was plenty to do, three lectures on Cuba during the day and entertainment in the evening. There are no "grand" productions but the entertainment was very professional. The highlight of the cruise was the show by Cuba musicians called Legends.Com. these were well-known Cuban musicians who gave a fabulous performance. I wish we could have seen another show! The stay in Cienfuegos was spread over three days so some passengers could go to Havana. We did the included city tour and enjoyed it very much. It is obvious that this was once a wealthy city and the cubans are slowly renovating the many old and beautiful colonial buildings. The guides on our tours were a real highlight of the cruise. They were open about the benefits and shortcomings of the Cuban system, free health care and educations, etc. but not full of propaganda. Really there was not a lot of overt political propaganda in the city. We were more than satisfied with the 3-4 hour tours because the heat and humidity really take it out of you. We were also very happy to return to the comfort of the ship and the tender ride was not a problem. The food on the ship was excellent in both the buffet and dining room. We ate one night at Manfredi's, the Italian restaurant, and were very satisfied. Beer and wine is served at lunch and dinner and as much as you wanted. The staff was uniformly friendly and helpful. Santiago was a very interesting city. While Cienfuegos is a cultural interesting provincial city, Santiago could be a really world-class city with adequate investment. Really, this was an excellent cruise and the Viking Star is a great ship -- no casino, no photographers or staff constantly trying to sell you something. I look forward to another Viking Ocean cruise. Read Less
Viking Star Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.8
Dining 5.0 4.7
Entertainment 3.0 4.1
Public Rooms 5.0 4.8
Fitness Recreation 5.0 4.3
Family 1.0 4.3
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 4.3
Service 5.0 4.8
Value For Money 5.0 4.4

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