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We do not have as many cruises “under our belt” as many on Cruise Critic, but know we prefer smaller size ships, e.g. Oceania, and select our ships based on the ports rather than on onboard amenities. That said, we were on the July 2015 “Homelands” sailing of the Viking Oceans “Star” from Stockholm to Bergen which broke down in Tallinn so we are able to compare what we remember from the ship then to this, our second sailing, in the Caribbean “West Indies.” NOTE: This cruise was paid for mainly with a voucher and reimbursement we received for our experience. Thank you, Viking! As before, we thought the bathroom was fabulous! Roomy tiled shower with glass doors and a small narrow seat/ledge to help with leg shaving. Mirror that doesn’t fog with drawers and shelves - plenty of room for all our toiletries. Heated floor! Towels were changed 3 times a day even though we hung them up as a sign we didn’t need fresh. Powerful hair dryer (though that had to be used in the main bedroom area). Comfy, but not too heavy bathrobes. An “A+” for the bathroom which I believe is standard for most cabins. We were very happy we chose to upgrade to a Penthouse Veranda cabin. (Had Deluxe Veranda on last cruise.) Cabin feels much more spacious. Closet is on the wall as you walk in rather than next to bed. Extra dresser with drawers underneath the TV. As before, really comfortable king bed with storage for luggage underneath. Lots of electrical sockets. Only thing we would change about room is to provide an on/off switch so we could choose to hear announcements in cabin. It’s very inconvenient to have to run to open door to hear public announcements in the halls re meeting for tours, etc. An “A” for the cabin. Food was not as good as we remembered from our first time on the “Star.” The Restaurant food was a bit uneven. Manifredis - the first night food was wonderful but took a while to be served and our round table was too small for four. Our second night in Manifredis, the pastas seemed reheated. I know several who made reservations at the Chef’s Table but then canceled when they saw the menu. The menus were also switched with little notice which added to confusion. (Not the “usual” every 3 nights.) Scones at tea time were definitely not up to par. (Wonder what the many Brits on this cruise thought.) Did enjoy burgers and other items at the grill close to the pool. Be sure to try the fruit smoothies brought to your table at breakfast time. Freshly made waffles at breakfast and sushi in the evenings were quite good. Sorry, only a “C+” for the food. Service was unpredictable – sometimes slow, other times fast. It did seem to improve when I mentioned this in a mid-cruise comment sheet. We even got a call from the Restaurant Manager. Maybe a "B-" for service. Reservations for specialty restaurants were very confusing. We were traveling with another couple and we each had to make our own reservations for table for 2. We got up at 3 a.m. (midnight West Coast time) to get the times we wanted. Then when we got on ship went to desk set up at entrance to World Café to actually cancel those and make new reservations for table for 4. This should be easier! I certainly wouldn’t recommend getting online at 3 a.m.. A “D” for the reservation system. Very glad we didn’t buy a drink package. I was looking forward to a week of Caribbean drinks, but the pina coladas were watery and too heavy on the rum. My one mojito was sour. A plus - They did allow us to bring on our own wine with no corkage fee and stored it for us each night. A hard time locating the bottles a few nights between the specialty restaurants and main dining room but they always found it. Only thing we drank from the refrigerator in our cabin was Diet Coke. Also ate the occasional candy bar. Could have had much more as we were in a PV cabin. Entertainment - enjoyed music and dancing under stars on pool deck but the “veterans” of the July 2015 sail all agreed the shows weren’t as good this time. Maybe a “B-” for entertainment. Additional positives – We were pleased with laundry service – returned that night even though we checked “next day.” Well worth the reasonable cost. We were very impressed to find a $5 bill attached to the hanger on one of our returns. Evidently had been found in the pocket of my husband's pants. Disembarking at ports was very easy. The Cruise Director even helped us get off quickly when we had to meet a private excursion. Didn’t need the umbrellas which were available as we left the ship. Sunny the whole cruise! Plenty of beach towels there though and nice to just drop them as we returned. Medical facility on board a big bonus! My husband visited the ship’s doctor for a sinus infection. Returned to cabin with medications that really helped us enjoy the remainder of the cruise. We couldn’t believe the whole cost was only $100! Not even worth filing with our trip insurance. And one of the biggest positives – we left the ship with only a $450 bill which included tips, a few specialty drinks, and the doctor’s visit. No “nickel and diming” on Viking Oceans! Excursions - We usually arrange our own excursions but mixed it up this time with 3 ship's tours. I'll review them separately.

Will Seriously Consider Going Back to Oceania Next Cruise

Viking Star Cruise Review by OBX Cruisers

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: January 2017
  • Destination: Caribbean
We do not have as many cruises “under our belt” as many on Cruise Critic, but know we prefer smaller size ships, e.g. Oceania, and select our ships based on the ports rather than on onboard amenities. That said, we were on the July 2015 “Homelands” sailing of the Viking Oceans “Star” from Stockholm to Bergen which broke down in Tallinn so we are able to compare what we remember from the ship then to this, our second sailing, in the Caribbean “West Indies.” NOTE: This cruise was paid for mainly with a voucher and reimbursement we received for our experience. Thank you, Viking!

As before, we thought the bathroom was fabulous! Roomy tiled shower with glass doors and a small narrow seat/ledge to help with leg shaving. Mirror that doesn’t fog with drawers and shelves - plenty of room for all our toiletries. Heated floor! Towels were changed 3 times a day even though we hung them up as a sign we didn’t need fresh. Powerful hair dryer (though that had to be used in the main bedroom area). Comfy, but not too heavy bathrobes. An “A+” for the bathroom which I believe is standard for most cabins.

We were very happy we chose to upgrade to a Penthouse Veranda cabin. (Had Deluxe Veranda on last cruise.) Cabin feels much more spacious. Closet is on the wall as you walk in rather than next to bed. Extra dresser with drawers underneath the TV. As before, really comfortable king bed with storage for luggage underneath. Lots of electrical sockets. Only thing we would change about room is to provide an on/off switch so we could choose to hear announcements in cabin. It’s very inconvenient to have to run to open door to hear public announcements in the halls re meeting for tours, etc. An “A” for the cabin.

Food was not as good as we remembered from our first time on the “Star.” The Restaurant food was a bit uneven. Manifredis - the first night food was wonderful but took a while to be served and our round table was too small for four. Our second night in Manifredis, the pastas seemed reheated. I know several who made reservations at the Chef’s Table but then canceled when they saw the menu. The menus were also switched with little notice which added to confusion. (Not the “usual” every 3 nights.) Scones at tea time were definitely not up to par. (Wonder what the many Brits on this cruise thought.) Did enjoy burgers and other items at the grill close to the pool. Be sure to try the fruit smoothies brought to your table at breakfast time. Freshly made waffles at breakfast and sushi in the evenings were quite good. Sorry, only a “C+” for the food.

Service was unpredictable – sometimes slow, other times fast. It did seem to improve when I mentioned this in a mid-cruise comment sheet. We even got a call from the Restaurant Manager. Maybe a "B-" for service.

Reservations for specialty restaurants were very confusing. We were traveling with another couple and we each had to make our own reservations for table for 2. We got up at 3 a.m. (midnight West Coast time) to get the times we wanted. Then when we got on ship went to desk set up at entrance to World Café to actually cancel those and make new reservations for table for 4. This should be easier! I certainly wouldn’t recommend getting online at 3 a.m.. A “D” for the reservation system.

Very glad we didn’t buy a drink package. I was looking forward to a week of Caribbean drinks, but the pina coladas were watery and too heavy on the rum. My one mojito was sour. A plus - They did allow us to bring on our own wine with no corkage fee and stored it for us each night. A hard time locating the bottles a few nights between the specialty restaurants and main dining room but they always found it. Only thing we drank from the refrigerator in our cabin was Diet Coke. Also ate the occasional candy bar. Could have had much more as we were in a PV cabin.

Entertainment - enjoyed music and dancing under stars on pool deck but the “veterans” of the July 2015 sail all agreed the shows weren’t as good this time. Maybe a “B-” for entertainment.

Additional positives –

We were pleased with laundry service – returned that night even though we checked “next day.” Well worth the reasonable cost. We were very impressed to find a $5 bill attached to the hanger on one of our returns. Evidently had been found in the pocket of my husband's pants.

Disembarking at ports was very easy. The Cruise Director even helped us get off quickly when we had to meet a private excursion.

Didn’t need the umbrellas which were available as we left the ship. Sunny the whole cruise! Plenty of beach towels there though and nice to just drop them as we returned.

Medical facility on board a big bonus! My husband visited the ship’s doctor for a sinus infection. Returned to cabin with medications that really helped us enjoy the remainder of the cruise. We couldn’t believe the whole cost was only $100! Not even worth filing with our trip insurance.

And one of the biggest positives – we left the ship with only a $450 bill which included tips, a few specialty drinks, and the doctor’s visit. No “nickel and diming” on Viking Oceans!

Excursions - We usually arrange our own excursions but mixed it up this time with 3 ship's tours. I'll review them separately.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 4023
We were very happy we chose to upgrade to a Penthouse Veranda cabin. (Had Deluxe Veranda on last cruise.) Cabin feels much more spacious. Closet is on the wall as you walk in rather than next to bed. Extra dresser with drawers underneath the TV. As before, really comfortable king bed with storage for luggage underneath. Lots of electrical sockets. Only thing we would change about room is to provide an on/off switch so we could choose to hear announcements in cabin. It’s very inconvenient to have to run to open door to hear public announcements in the halls re meeting for tours, etc.
As before, we thought the bathroom was fabulous! Roomy tiled shower with glass doors and a small narrow seat/ledge to help with leg shaving. Mirror that doesn’t fog with drawers and shelves - plenty of room for all our toiletries. Heated floor! Towels were changed 3 times a day even though we hung them up as a sign we didn’t need fresh. Powerful hair dryer (though that had to be used in the main bedroom area). Comfy, but not too heavy bathrobes. An “A+” for the bathroom which I believe is standard for most cabins.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Island Tour
    “Antigua by Sea & Land” (6 hours)
    On a previous time in Antigua, we had enjoyed a lobster/catamaran experience. This time we wanted to see more of the island. This ship’s tour was a good combination. For the first half of our day, our group of about 30 was divided into two comfortable air-conditioned vans. We lucked out and had a really entertaining guide, actually the most personable of our entire cruise. “Jo”, is a DJ when he’s not leading tours and made our travel time fun. (He also shared his experience in New York City where he was working as a bicycle messenger on 9-11.) The vistas from Shirley’s Heights were gorgeous. We didn’t see the multimedia presentation but instead spent time outside on the overlook with a guide who covered the history. The views from above of English and Falmouth Harbours set the stage for our visit to Nelson’s Dockyard. Short tour there by a park service guide and free rum punch. My husband found a unique t-shirt in the sail shop. It’s on the right – worth a peek to see them still sewing sails. Warning: The rum punch is ridiculously strong! Some folks got one rum punch and one plain punch and mixed them. Just wish we had a little more time to fully explore the historic area.

    From that point, it was a very short distance to the beach. Only a few glimpses of the “lush rain forest” as we drove quickly through. When we reached the beach, we said good-bye to “Jo” and were transferred by a rubber dinghy to the catamaran. I hadn’t put my swimsuit on yet and wasn’t prepared to get as wet as we did. (Not complaining, just a “heads up.”) We waded about knee deep into the waves and then sat on the edge of the dinghy and swung our legs over. At the catamaran, it was a bit awkward to climb from the dinghy onto the steps at the back of the boat but lots of help from the crew. (It could be difficult if you are at all mobility impaired.) Then we set sail back to St. John’s, enjoyed a Bajan chicken lunch with salad and other local fixings. Stopped at a reef for those who wanted to snorkel. My husband jumped in, but I thought the water was a little too choppy so just relaxed and enjoyed the rum punch and music. I was impressed they had the dinghy in the water keeping an eye on the snorkelers. Finished with a slow, gentle sail back to St. John’s. (Rain storm over the mountains in the distance made for great photos.) Plenty of room on the cat for everyone either in the shade or up front on the nets. A wonderful day!
    View All 160 Island Tour Reviews
  • Island Tour
    “Best of Barbados” with Glory Tours
    Full day. 6 of us in very comfortable van with ac.
    Our guide was pleasant and professional. “Rattled off” history and other information on Barbados as we traveled between sights but we didn’t feel his heart was in it. A few times he even repeated himself.
    We were dropped off at Harrison’s Cave, Welchman Hall Gully, and Pirate’s Cove for lunch and snorkel with turtles. He made sure we had what we needed but at each stop he disappeared until time for us to leave.

    Harrison’s Cave – We arrived early and were on first tram into caves. Very different from the caves we’ve seen in the U.S. but just as beautiful. Tip – You don’t need a jacket (it’s not cold) but a rain hat and bag for camera would be useful (lots of drips).

    Welchman Hall Gully – Our guide made it a point to say he couldn’t promise we’d see monkeys and we didn’t. Saw where they were fed earlier in the morning. Only a brief glimpse of them in the trees on the road back to Bridgetown. My husband saw one, but by the time I looked it was gone, of course. Would have liked more time at Gully and a guided tour rather than just being handed a brochure with numbers and names of what we would see. Wasted time just looking for numbers on the various trees and really didn’t know what we were seeing.
    Then we took off on steep and bumpy back roads to Bathsheba. Our guide/driver laughed that it was a special “short cut”. Still took a lot of time and even though the coastal scenery was beautiful, we only spent 15 minutes for a photo op there before getting back in the van for the long drive on to Pirate’s Cove.
    Lunch at Pirate’s Cove was a buffet with main courses which looked like they had been sitting awhile. Light in building was low so hard to see what we were getting and servers not very pleasant. Ate outside at picnic table under pavilion. Beautiful beach not far from ship. We were picked up off the beach in a flat bottom boat. Just had to wade to about our knees. Cruised just a little up the beach and dropped anchor for snorkel with turtles. Our “captain” and his “mate” were lots of fun and the turtles were awesome. Just four of us by that time (2 others left us before lunch) so very uncrowded around our boat. Got “up very close and personal” with 5 different turtles.” When we finished, Glory Tour guide was again waiting to take us back to ship.
    I’m glad we got to see more of the island and the Glory Tours driver/van was certainly convenient. Don’t feel we were treated to the “Best of Barbados” though. + Harrison’s Cave; snorkeling with turtles. - No monkeys or tour at Welchman Hall Gully; wasted time driving for 15 minutes at Bathsheba; awful lunch at Pirate’s Cove.
    Our friends went through Costco tours for just Harrison’s Cave. It turned out their vehicle was Glory Tours too. Perhaps we would have been happier with one of Glory Tours shorter excursions. Didn’t have an opportunity to discuss all the options though as communication with owner was poor prior to the tour. The only thing that went smoothly was payment. This was the most expensive excursion of our cruise ($140 each) which had to be paid in advance.
    View All 123 Island Tour Reviews
  • Guadeloupe
    Guadeloupe: “Panoramic Tour of the Butterfly Island (5 hours)
    We had opted for this included tour as we thought it would give us the best introduction to both sides of Guadeloupe. When we arrived on the “Star”, however, we found that Viking had shortened the tour to just Grand-Terre, the eastern island (3.5 hours). Evidently they had received complaints about the long bus ride necessary to see both sides. At that late notice, we decided to just stay with the included tour though we were disappointed not to see the mountains and waterfalls. We were on a large but very cramped bus. Almost no leg room. (Perhaps the reason for those complaints?) One saving grace was that it did have a back door so we could all get off quickly at the stops. Checkerboard cemetery was very unique and worth a visit. Scenery at Castle Point was spectacular. Be sure to look for the young lady hand-cranking and selling coconut ice cream. A yummy treat! Short time in Saint Francis crafts market rather than Sainte-Anne. Just wish I had realized we weren’t also going to stop in Sainte Anne and I might have shopped a little more in Saint Francis rather than waiting in the very long line to use the restroom. Very surprised at the “freeways” that allowed us to go quickly across the island. Seemed out of place on a Caribbean island.
    View All 12,811 Guadeloupe Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Guadeloupe Cruise Port Review
  • Culinary Excursion
    Looking for options pre-cruise in San Juan? We really enjoyed our Old San Juan Food Tour with Flavors of San Juan. We actually took this tour our first morning on the "Star". A small group - about 12 - met our guide just a few blocks from the dock. Started with a really interesting introduction to Puerto Rican rum at Princesa and included a yummy Pina Colada. (The best of the trip.) 11 a.m. may be a little early for that, but it does have fruit juice. Continued with delicious small bites of very traditional Puerto Rican foods. Combination of walking through the heart of old San Juan and relaxing in small, "off the beaten path" restaurants. Was delighted we were able to go in the cathedral for a few moments and major sights were pointed out but didn't get to the forts, etc. We were back on the ship by 2 p.m. and could have taken Viking's included walking tour at 2:30 p.m.. Decided though we were too full and tired at that point. We always look for a food tour when we visit a new city and this one didn't disappoint!
    View All 32 Culinary Excursion Reviews
  • Island tour
    Really enjoyed our “Grand Tour of St. Kitts” with Henry Williams of Thenford Grey Tours
    We were met at the visitors center by a young woman who put us into the very capable hands of our guide, Henry Williams, and we boarded a small, comfortable van with just 4 others. Started with a quick drive through of Basseterre pointing out the important sights. (Some day I’d like to spend more time exploring the “city.”) Then a drive along the coast through an area of “offshore” medical and veterinarian schools. (I didn’t realize there were so many on St. Kitts.)
    The grounds at Romney Manor were lovely and Henry pointed out many of the unusual plants and trees such as the Traveler Palm. Good amount of time to shop at Caribelle Batik there and enjoy rum punch and a small piece of locally made rum cake. (These snacks and later lunch were not included in the price of the tour. That was fine as the cost of $55 was so reasonable.)
    From Romney Manor it was just a little further to Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth the climb up the stone steps to the top for the fort and beautiful views of St. Kitt’s coastline. Fort was really well preserved and fun to explore as well with many exhibits.
    None of us felt we needed to shop (one of the options) so we drove instead out onto the Southeast Peninsula stopping for pictures of the Atlantic and the Caribbean (in just one shot). When we arrived at South Friars Bay on the Caribbean side, we were given the choice of beaches between a more upscale resort or less expensive but with all the amenities. We decided on Shipwreck Beach Bar & Grill and it made for a very fun afternoon. Rustic décor but good showers, changing rooms, and excellent drinks and local menu with fresh seafood. Picnic tables under shady pavilion or trees. Beach was a little narrow but they had plenty of umbrellas and lounges available. We brought our own snorkel masks and blow-up vests but rented fins for just $5 for the two of us. There was a sign warning about black sea urchins, but we only saw them on the reef further out where the water was deep and they could easily be avoided. Not spectacular snorkeling but life along reef was good. The day would have been perfect if the monkeys on the hill behind the beach had decided to come out but not my cruise for monkeys. (Didn’t see them on Antigua either.) Easy ride from there back to the ship and arrived in plenty of time before sailing.
    Definitely the best value excursion of our cruise. Saw the best of St. Kitts in a comfortable van with only 2 other couples, excellent guide, fun beach/snorkel time, and fresh a la carte food from the Shipwreck Grill. Can’t believe it was all for just $55 per person!
    View All 263 Island tour Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    Just returned from our West Indies sail on the Viking Oceans "Star" and second time in St. Lucia with Spencer Ambrose. This time we did the Beach Break - took his speed boat directly to Sugar/Jalousie Beach and spent the entire time snorkeling under the Pitons. The best snorkeling of our cruise! The squid were still there - and beautiful as ever! Maybe even a few more?
    Just a few small rocks so glad to have our water shoes. Thought we might need to rent snorkel gear but they did have enough for everyone. I particularly like that we could walk in from the beach rather than jumping off a boat into waves.
    We were among the first to arrive and easily found four good chairs together under the shady trees. No need at all to rent lounges from the resort. Plenty of long chaises in good condition. Buffet Creole lunch was delicious. I also really enjoyed the fresh fruit smoothies from the "Banana Boat" vendor on the beach. Spencer met us at the pier, but wasn't able to join us that day. Instead, his daughter and crew took really good care of us. Wonderful day!
    View All 53 Snorkeling Reviews
  • St. John Snorkel/Sail
    “St. John National Park Catamaran Sail & Snorkel” (4.5 hours)
    Long ride in open-air “jitney” over bumpy roads on St. Thomas to board catamaran. Really enjoyed the “sail” and time on Honeymoon Beach on St. John. Transferred to beach via dinghy. (A possible problem for mobility impaired as it was “rocking and rolling” as we climbed into the dinghy from the ship’s ladder.) Beach was beautiful and some spread out towels while others rented beach lounge chairs. Saw snorkelers from this same company, the “St. John Champagne Cat,” but our tour off the “Star” wasn’t provided snorkel gear and we were discouraged from snorkeling with our own masks and snorkels. Catamaran crew didn’t want to discuss the reason. We had been told earlier when we arrived on the “Star” that the tour would no longer include snorkeling. Not sure why but no partial refund offered. Notice that the excursion description on the Viking web site still says “Sail & Snorkel” so you may want to check whether this was only a temporary situation.
    View All 180 St. John Snorkel/Sail Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    Enjoyed full day on the "Lionheart", a sister catamaran to the "Aristocat". Really appreciated their working hard to help combine us with another ship so we could have enough people to sail. Two different snorkeling stops on Norman Island the one at The Indians. Nice, uncrowded cat. Crew very personable and food good. Nothing to complain about. and would certainly recommend. Just suffers a little when we compare to snorkeling with turtles on the Calabazza in Barbados. Also hard to beat snorkeling off Jalousie Beach under Pitons on St. Lucia with Spencer Ambrose. A good option for Tortola though!
    View All 67 Snorkeling Reviews