Viking Star Cruise Review by teamflames
- Sail Date: October 2018
- Destination: Caribbean
Overall we thought Viking was a beautiful ship with amazing food and service. The inclusives don't suit our style and the fellow passengers are more mature (no problem for us) and quite conservative, they felt similar to the crowds you encounter on HAL sailings.
We embarked smoothly in New York, sailing down the Hudson being gorgeous. Restaurant was limited to the buffet which was a surprise, service at the outdoor tables is a problem and continued all cruise. Our cabin was available from 2pm which was good.
The ship is lovely, clean Scandinavian design which makes for a comfortable atmosphere. The design leads to a feeling of space and we rarely encountered crowded spaces. The rear infinity pool is a highlight as is the atrium with its amazing screen. The double story explorers lounge is comfortable and one of the better crows nests we have experienced.
Our cabin was a DV1 on the 8th floor (top floor) amongst the suites.As a DV it had a coffee machine which I loved. It was a good size with a light colour palette. The balcony had 2 chairs and a table but was only half covered on that level. Noise was rarely a problem. The smart TV was easy to use and had loads of movies and all the lectures available.The bathroom was a good size with heated floors. The bed was very comfortable. Our attendant was superb. The negatives are storage, it is really poor with so much under utilised space and a cupboard that is tight against the bed and difficult to access and led to us bumping into each other regularly. Our airconditioner was broken and we almost froze to death, after being repaired it was so noisy we had to have insulation installed to cover it.
Dining - a real highlight. The restaurant did superb food, Manfredis the Italian was probably the best I have had at sea. The waiters were very good and the wine stewards were excellent.The buffet had very good quality (especially sushi and seafood at night) but the fact that you serve yourself is unhygienic and the lack of table service made it feel a little ordinary. The Chef Table was hit and miss, we thought the Asian menu was some of the worst Asian food we have eaten (we are Australian and travel to Asia frequently) the spice menu was superb. However this restaurant felt like a cafe at best and was clearly used as a training ground for staff with service patchy at best. The wine was never ready with the courses except for the cold sweet wines which were inexplicably poured half an hour early.
Dress code is very relaxed and surprisingly there is no dress code on foot wear at all so it was strange seeing men wearing reef sandals and women in basic flip flops.
Entertainment - average at best but to be fair we knew this beforehand. The Viking vocalists were underutilised. The guest entertainers were mixed, we loved the female vocalist but underwhelmed by the magician. The CD was an excellent performer as was the ACD. The classical trio, pianist and guitarist and Viking band were all excellent. I enjoyed the nightclub atmosphere which was quiet but fun. There were many lectures throughout the cruise on a variety of topics but with great weather throughout the cruise we missed many of them. There is a putting green and shuffleboard. Loads of board games. We loved walking the promenade or top deck for exercise.
Viking includes access to the Spa which surprisingly we utilised frequently. The facilities were first class. The only problem is you have to share it with other guests the majority of which don't shower before using the facilities and even worse many leave the steam sweaty and enter straight into the spa pool (gross). Similarly at the outdoor pools we never saw one person shower before entering.
Drinks - we bought the drinks package as included beverages was limited to beer and wine at meal times. We prefer more flexibility. We thought the package was good value but would rather not have to buy it and forgo wifi and shore excursions. One annoying aspect was the reluctance of the ship to provide San Pellegrino sparkling water despite having the package. It took 3 days of relentless pursuit to receive a bottle and then a complaint before it was provided without resistance. Small aspects like this hold Viking back from feeling truly luxurious.
Wifi was poor, skype impossible, Facebook inaccessible. Basically limited to email and simple web pages. Not worth it as an "incusion".
Service - very good overall. We had a poor experience early when a bartender yelled at my wife despite her not uttering one word, other guests left the bar in protest and several others along with 2 staff members checked to make sure we were ok. The first few days also saw us being ignored by staff to the preference of older passengers. Once we informed management these issues were corrected immediately and the rest of the cruise was generally perfect. We are fortunate to have visited many of the countries the crew are from and this led to many great conversations.
I think the fact that tips are extra is cheap given how much Viking is charging.
Shore excursions - as it was our first Viking we limited our excursions to the included ones. These were generally bus tours doing general overview tours. They were very average in quality (most regular passengers said they were much poorer than what is experienced in Europe). The weather was great and if we had our time again we would simply do our own thing and spend more time on the beautiful beaches.
We met many great people but we also encountered many judgemental fellow passengers who seemed to be upset that "younger" passengers would be onboard. This was annoying and very strange as we are hardly teenagers.
In summary, we loved the ship and service, the itinerary was fun and the weather was superb. We felt the price was high relative to their luxury competitors and the inclusions don't fit our cruising style (would prefer drinks and tips than poor wifi and excursions) however given Viking's success I think they are unlikely to change anything. Clearly more popular with the more mature crowd.
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