Game Changer: My Experience With Viking Ocean Cruises

I’ve always like cruising. One of the first trips I went on as a young adult was a cruise and since then I’ve been on many, from those 4,000-person mega-ships down to small expedition style vessels that shuttled me safely around Antarctica. Since that first trip I’ve experimented with a variety of cruise niches and, overtime, I’ve narrowed in on the types of cruises that I truly enjoy. As I wrote last week, a disastrous experience with Princess Cruises in 2014 was the final straw for those mega-ships, a style I had never particularly liked, and I thought that my days of cruising onboard larger vessels were over. And they are. But that’s why I was so eager to try out the newest player in the ocean cruise market – Viking Ocean Cruises. We all know Viking from their commercials touting some of the best river cruise experiences in Europe and around the world. And having sailed them, I’d agree with that. But it’s because I had sailed with Viking that I really wanted to try out their ocean ships, to see if the promises held true. Lauding smaller ships (around 900 passengers) without those annoying features like casinos and endless stores along with a design aesthetic that can only be called modern Scandinavian – these were the promises that had me so intrigued. I thought that if they were able to execute everything as well as in those sketches I saw a couple of years ago, then not only would this potentially be the ocean cruise line for me, but I also knew that it would forever change how many of us perceive cruising moving forward.

Viking Ocean cruise ship viking Star

What Makes Viking Ocean Cruises Different

People who have never cruised before tend to have what I think is an unfair perception of what the experience is really like. They see them as floating cities not interested in the travel experience per se and more interested in partying and eating. And you know what, for many cruise lines that isn’t totally inaccurate. Ultimately any cruise is what you make it, but it’s easier to do that on some ships than others. These reasons are ultimately why I decided that the large, 4,000 passenger ships are no longer my thing. I hated being treated like a number, like a walking ATM. I enjoy travel experiences that make me feel special, as if the staff actually cares that I’m onboard and where the destination is the focus. You find this on the very small ships and I shouldn’t have been surprised when I also found this onboard the Viking Star.

The Star is the first of several ocean liners that Viking is building and onboard you won’t find the mainstays of other ocean going vessels. There is no casino, no endless array of ways to spend your money, no gold by the inch, no theme parks whose sole purpose is to separate you from as much as your hard earned money as possible. No, on the Viking Star the experience is one of premium hospitality and respect. Respect that you’re on vacation, that you have selected to sail Viking for the destinations but as well as their service and even better, Viking has no interest in nickel and diming anyone. There are a few ways to spend money onboard, but not many and they aren’t constantly being sold as on so many other cruise lines. No, instead the attitude onboard was as relaxed as I’ve ever experienced, the passengers as happy a group as I’ve found on the high seas and the entire experience fills a void that many of us didn’t even realize was there. Called inclusive pricing by the company, it means that many of the things we have to pay extra for on other cruise lines are included in the base fare like: every stateroom has a balcony, there is an included excursion in every port, all onboard meals (even premium), beer and wine served with meals, Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, access to the full Nordic-themed spa facility, 24-hour room service and so on. That’s a tremendous value and does a lot in creating a more relaxed and hospitable atmosphere. If passengers aren’t constantly being asked to sign for a variety of charges they’re happier, more relaxed and as I said before, they feel more respected as guests onboard the ship.

VIking Ocean Cruises Viking Star Ship

The Ship and Onboard Experiences

Spending more than a week onboard the ship I had the opportunity to chat with many of my fellow passengers, to get their thoughts and opinions on this new ship. Their thoughts were interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that for about half of everyone I polled, it was their first ocean cruise. So why were they there? Why would they choose an upper premium cruise line like Viking as their first foray into the world of cruising? The reason was simple; they had sailed on several Viking River Cruises and so enjoyed the experiences they knew that would translate into the new ocean series. And from my own experience, I have to say that they were absolutely right in that expectation.

Décor and ambience shouldn’t mean as much to me as a traveler as it does, but it does help create the mood for any trip. Whether it’s in a hotel lobby or on a cruise ship, the look and feel is important and that’s an area where Viking and I mesh on every level. Last year I sailed on a Christmas sailing along the Danube, and I loved exploring the ship, discovering the quiet alcoves and even the large public areas that were elegant, refined and not ostentatious. Clean lines, muted colors and understated elegance define the Viking River ships and I was thrilled to find that carried over to the Viking Star as well.

Viking Star Cruise Ship

Viking Star Cruise decor

Technically called a “small ship” ocean liner, the Star didn’t feel too small at all; in fact it is a very manageable size and getting around it was easy and made sense. Like their river cousins, the ocean ships have that same level of refined elegance, without ever wasting space. Everything makes sense, from the artwork to the lounge areas. You’ll never see a tassel on these ships, but what you will find are public areas where you actually want to be. While it’s not as big as those massive mega-ships, not once did I feel as if space was at a premium, far from it, in fact there are so many options for guests that it guarantees no one will ever feel that way. From the Explorer’s Lounge at the front of the ship with its library and telescope, to the Wintergarden next to the outdoor area, the ship was designed to facilitate any sort of relaxation guests might want to try.

There is so much to say about the ship itself I think I may have to devote an entire post to it, but one area I want to highlight was my favorite spot onboard the Viking Star – the spa and fitness area. Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first; the fitness area is a great size and has all of the equipment you’d need to stay healthy while sailing. It was also heavily used, which was great for me to see. The modern traveler, no matter age or background, wants to be a healthier traveler and that was proven to me by the near-constant popularity of the fitness area. Walking from the center though into the locker rooms is where the true magic of this section comes to life. The locker room isn’t your standard space and in fact rivals the best spas I’ve been to around the world. Lockers, sauna, plunge pool and a relaxation area make it the perfect spot to decompress and freshen up after a workout or spa experience. It’s that spa experience though that stole the show for me.

Drawing upon Scandinavian traditions and preferences, the spa includes a sauna, steam room, therapeutic pool (imagine a giant Jacuzzi) and even a snow room (with actual snow) where you can recover from the hot steam or sauna experiences. The spa area is relaxing and includes every amenity you could imagine. What’s even better about it is that it’s complimentary for all guests to enjoy. When I sailed the Celebrity Solstice a few years ago, they had something similar but it came at an extra cost. But you don’t find that on Viking, instead you find areas like the spa that add so much value to the trip and which are just included in the overall cost of the cruise.

Ephesus Turkey

Destinations and Excursions

The ship was great, but just as with their river cruises the Viking Ocean Cruises are intensely focused on their itineraries. Ultimately, that’s why we all travel and that’s at the heart of Viking, to experience the world in comfort and ease. That’s especially true with Viking’s passengers. I noticed this last year on the river cruises as well, but most of the passengers I met on the Viking Star were extremely well traveled and had a fierce intellectual curiosity. Not unlike me, most of them have a tremendous wanderlust and have spent their lives feeding it whenever they can. Any of them could have booked a cruise to nowhere if they just wanted some fun in the sun, but that wasn’t the main goal for any of them. No, like me they wanted to see new sights and visits areas of the world foreign to them, and that was wonderful to see.

Most of the Viking ocean itineraries aren’t like anything else available. They feature ports that most cruise lines don’t or can’t offer, due to size of ship more than anything else, as well as experiences in those ports that are more immersive than anything else offered in the industry. Keeping to their philosophy onboard the river cruises, each port includes a complimentary tour for guests who want to take advantage of it. That’s huge; no one else does that and it is a tremendous value add for all passengers. The complimentary excursions aren’t watered down versions either; they’re robust and engaging tours that offer a fantastic introduction to the various ports. There are also excursions that have extra fees, but those fees weren’t excessive and they were interesting enough day trips that I availed myself of many. Viking prides itself on keeping the destination front of mind, and so many of those excursions are immersive opportunities to learn more about the destinations, from private experiences to meeting and sharing with local residents. You don’t find that on any other ocean cruise lines and it makes the overall travel experience so much more robust and interesting than it would be otherwise.

I sailed on their Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary which included stops in: Venice, Pula Croatia, Dubrovnik Croatia, Kotor Montenegro, Santorini Greece, Athens, Kusadasi Turkey and Istanbul. Some of these ports you’ll definitely find on other cruise line sailings, but not all and given the fact that Viking sails the Mediterranean later than anyone else, our ship was the only one in port at each of these stops. Not only that, but the excursions truly were extraordinary. From visiting Bosnia to trekking through the mountains of Montenegro, the excursions I selected, both included and paid, came together to transform the travel experience from something nice to something extraordinary. I travel to experience the world and learn, both of which were greatly enhanced by my Viking experience.

Cabins and Food

At the end of the day though, where we sleep, relax and eat are important aspects of any cruise, and Viking kept that in mind when designing these new ships. The room sizes of course range depending on category, but even at the tier I was booked on I was shocked by the size of the stateroom. It was extremely generous and made relaxing there something that was actually enjoyable. This may sound trivial, but the bathrooms are also large and the base shower has to be the largest standard shower at sea. I’m tall, and being able to get around the cabin, including the bathroom, was a luxury unto itself. As I mentioned before, every stateroom also has a veranda so that you can enjoy a morning coffee outside in privacy, or watch the sunset with your loved one over a glass of sparkling wine. Some category types also include complimentary sodas and snacks or alcoholic beverages in the minibar and are replenished daily as an extra benefit. It may seem like a small thing, but being able to grab a Diet Coke every morning from the privacy of my room was a great perk to enjoy.

Viking Star Cruise Tea

The food experience is not dissimilar from other cruise ships in that there is a variety of light dining options for all meals, as well as a main restaurant for dinner. There are also two premium restaurants available for dinner bookings and a generous tea service offered every afternoon with sandwiches and desserts. But what is different is that every food experience, from a special dinner at the Italian restaurant, to grabbing a snack or even the delicious tea sandwiches are all included. There are no extra fees for any restaurant or anything you’ll eat onboard. Cafes, special stations – it’s all included and that is where Viking sets itself apart. Of course it helps if the food is actually good, and it is. I’m a picky eater and found great options throughout the day from the room service breakfast, to that fantastic Italian restaurant I mentioned. One area where frequent cruisers will note a big different is what Viking calls the World Café. On a conventional cruise ship, I’d probably call this a buffet, which it sort of is but not really. In a first at sea, almost everything on this “buffet” is made fresh and the entrées are almost entirely made to order à la minute. All that means is that they have several entrée options that instead of being prepared in giant vats and left to dry out under a heat lamp, are made as the guests request them, with a wait usually under a minute. No one else does this, and the ability to have a quick but delicious meal onboard a cruise ship is a luxury unto itself.

Viking Star Cruise

How It All Comes Together

Visiting fun destinations, meeting interesting people with similar interests, not experiencing one line for anything ever, eating delicious food and enjoying the ability to relax without stress – these are some of the reasons why I think Viking Ocean Cruises are unlike anything else on the market. The company doesn’t like to use the word luxury, but this is a luxury travel experience. All of these minute details come together and coalesce into a travel experience that is unexpected and leaves you craving more. From the many dozens of people I spoke with onboard, everyone was thrilled with the cruise. That never happens. It’s impossible to please everyone, and yet that’s exactly what I found. In fact many of the couples I got to know well over that week booked their next Viking cruise while still onboard the Star. Leaving nice comments is one thing, but the true validation that a travel company is doing something right comes down to dollars and cents, and those passengers proved that they agreed with me in thinking that Viking is now the best ocean cruise line in the world. Are there options out there that are higher end? Of course, several in fact. But they don’t combine the resources that a ship carrying 1,000 people can offer with the degree of attention to detail found on Viking. The Viking Star provides the best of the luxury cruising experience at a price point that is attainable with results that are extraordinary.

Viking changed the world of river cruising when they first started sailing through Europe. They turned a down and out industry into one of the hottest new travel trends and now they will do the same for ocean cruising. Before Viking Ocean Cruises you had two options – go on a mega-ship at a reasonable cost and deal with the annoyances or pay an extreme premium for an over-the-top luxury cruise experience. There was no middle ground and now there is. I honestly and truly believe that Viking has created the cruise line for people who hate cruises, or at least who think they do. They have removed everything that is annoying about cruising and instead accentuated all of the many wonderful positives of the experience. They have once again filled a gap and will once again transform an industry in the process. Many will seek to replicate this success, but just as in river cruising, there will ever only be one original innovator.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

81 Responses

  1. Amanda

    This sounds great! My parents love cruising, but the huge ocean liners don’t really do it for me. I’m totally going to suggest looking at one of these for our next family vacation – sounds like the perfect compromise!

    Reply
  2. Karen Loftus

    Phenomenal post!

    Reply
  3. Steven

    Wow! This sounds amazing. We have never been on a cruise, and really have had zero desire to do the normal Carnival-type big ship cruise. Some of that feeling was recently strengthened by attending a wedding on board a cruise ship in Florida before it left port later that day. But, this sounds really incredible, and the kind of thing we’d enjoy.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Yup I think so too, it really is the cruise for non-cruisers LOL

      Reply
  4. Brianna

    I’m typically one that avoids cruising but dang, you have me sold! I could give cruising a shot if its this good.

    Reply
  5. David Hilton

    Sounds great! I’m not sure if I’ll be able to afford this sort of quality, but I’d like to one day! I like the lesser known ports with character like Bodrum and I’d probably love Pula! One question- they include a port excursion: Do you have a large choice or is there only a standard one or two that are free at each port?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      There’s one included tour and just like on their river cruise ships it’s a general overview walking tour. But they’re robust, in Ephesus it was a tour of Ephesus and lasted several hours as an example.

      Reply
  6. Tom Bartel

    We’ve done two Viking river cruises and have loved them. I’ve pretty much had the same opinion as you about the one mega ocean cruise I did. If Viking brings the same quality and attention to detail to their ocean cruises as they do to their river cruises, I think I know where I’m going next.

    Reply
  7. Heather

    Matt,discovered you’re website one night a week or so before you were going on the Viking ocean cruise. We were really interested to hear your experience as we had just booked the Mediterranean odyssey for next October. So chuffed to hear you loved it. We had done a river cruise a couple of years ago and felt that that great experience should translate well with Viking to an ocean cruise. Sounds like they’ve outdone themselves and now we can’t wait to go. Thanks for the review- and love your website as well!!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thank you so much and I hope you have a great time – it’s an amazing experience!

      Reply
  8. dana freeman

    Absolutely fantastic post. So thorough and your photos make me want to book a trip asap!

    Reply
  9. Nancy D Brown

    Very well written post as it truly makes me want to try a Viking Ocean Cruise. I have sailed with Viking River Cruises before and leave for the German Christmas Markets next week. My husband is not interested in cruise ships but I think he would like this experience. What a trip! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      oh thank you, so glad you liked it and have a great trip!

      Reply
  10. Eileen

    Well written review. Answered a lot of questions about the new Viking Ocean cruises. GLAD there are no casinos. How was smoking handled on the ship. On the recent river cruise with Viking there were definite areas for smokers…being a non smoker , I hate to have something ruined by 2nd hand smoke.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      all ships have set areas for smokers and I think that’s only fair. On the Star there was a spot on the top or Sun deck reserved for smokers, but it was away from any activities anyone would do.

      Reply
  11. Rob

    We have been on two Viking river cruises – Amsterdam to Budapest and the Yangtze in China.
    Both were great experiences and we booked our Ocean Cruise 18 months ago after our China adventure and are on the 22 day Cruise from Barcelona to Instanbul in August.
    Your incite full post has only fuelled our enthusiasm to get back on board with Viking.
    Thanks

    Rob

    Reply
  12. Ellen

    We are booked on the Star in May to do the Viking Homelands cruise. We have been on one of their River cruises and thoroughly enjoyed it. We have done some of the large cruise trips but prefer the smaller vessels. Your review has me looking forward to our trip even more than I was!

    Reply
  13. Kathy Garrett

    Hello Matt, thank you for your comments on the Viking cruise experience. You have been more than helpful! My husband and I have a reservation on the Mediterranean Cruise in October. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary and have never been on a cruise before and hoped to avoid the mega ship experience! I wanted to ask you two things: what is the dress code on Viking and do we need adapters for our electronic chargers?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Oh how nice, you’ll love it! Viking is usually always on the casual side of things. There’s no formal night or anything, but for dinners I noticed most people wearing smart attire. Few men wore jackets, although some certainly did. The great thing about Viking is that the clientele really isn’t judgemental. And no, you won’t need adapters although if you’re doing a hotel night before or after you will.

      Reply
      • Maxine

        Thanks for clarifying the dress code at evening meals Matt i must say that eas the one thing i was worried about and has probably put me off cruising until now, thinking i may have to buy a whole new wardrobe of cocktail dresses just to go to evening dinner, not thst i haven’t had to dress smartly for dinner in must of the 5 star hotels ive stayed in. I’ve always thought cruising was a whole different ball game of pretension its glad to hear that won’t be the case on a Viking ocean Cruise.
        As i will be traveling with my mother of 75 would you say their itineraries and guest age demographic would suit her

  14. Ron

    Thanks, Matt, for your rather extensive and definitely enjoyable review of your cruise aboard Viking Star. We are booked for the West Indies Explorer cruise in October 2016 and I am greatly looking forward to the new experience. Having cruised some 48 times, including 6 Viking River cruises, I too have “had it” with large mega-ships and anticipate that the Viking Star will be quite a welcome change.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      You’ll have the time of your life!

      Reply
    • Barbara

      Ron, Noticed that you booked the West Indies Explorer October 2016. We have reserved the same cruise for 2017. While we have Viking River Cruise experience, this will be our first open ocean cruise and we are a little apprehensive about the days at sea on this re-positioning cruise. How was that part of your experience last year?

      Reply
  15. Stephany

    It’s been 2 weeks since we returned home from our 24 days in Europe-pre tour,15 day viking river cruise and post tour- the Viking Grand European river cruise was AMAZING! We’ve done many cruises, but this was our first Viking River Cruise. In doing research for our 2017 travels, I’ve come across your site and I have to admit when I heard about Viking having ocean cruises, this was at the top of my list to find out more. Thank you for a great review and side note, I just put in a request for pricing/dates for the 36 day Viking Nordic Explorer Ocean Cruise in 2017! So much excite!!

    Reply
  16. John Prann

    Your review of the Viking Ocean cruise line is spot on. My wife and I sailed on the Viking Star on their Viking Home Land cruise in May 2015. We both found that everything you spoke of in your review was very factual and true. A wonderful cruise to a beautiful area of the world.
    My wife and I then booked the Constantinople to Catalonia (Istanbul to Barcelona) trip on their new ship Viking Sea for May of 2016 . If possible, this cruise should be taken by anyone interested in the Mediterranean ports of call . Viking’s wonderful itinerary and the crew on the Viking Sea were just fantastic. For once in my life I didn’t look forward to coming home from a cruise.
    During this cruise we booked Viking’s Around the World Cruise (141 days) on their new ship the Viking Sun . I just can’t imagine this trip and the way Viking will handle it. From Havana, Cuba to stops in Australia/New Zealand then to Thailand and the rest of the world, it’s truly exciting . What a wonderful way to see the world on a brand new ship – The Viking Sun .

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      That’s amazing! Always so glad to hear that my experiences weren’t unique, but rather the norm. And so jealous of your mega-trip! What an adventure that will be 🙂

      Reply
    • Sallee

      Matt Thanks for your detailed report. Makes me feel confident that I made the correct choice. I just booked the Around the World Cruise!!! I hope to meet Mr & Mrs Prann. As a single senior this is a once in lifetime investment in what I hope is to be the most rewarding journey ever. I’ve been around the world working as a boat Captain and solo explorer of ancient civilizations. Now, no longer the crew, I am ready for luxury, lots of spa time and being a pampered guest. Whoo hoo

      Reply
      • Matt Long

        Oh wow! I am very excited for you and know that you will have an amazing adventure. Be sure to let us know about the experience!

  17. Kimberly Hile

    Matt, thank you so much for such a wonderfully detailed story about your experience. I set sell in September for a similar itinerary (minus Turkey) and I am so looking forward to it. Did they have any cooking demonstrations on board? I love food and learning about food so I was just curious. Also, with the excursions you purchased from the ship did you feel like they were worth the price as opposed to those you could find on your own in the ports? Thanks again for your detailed description.

    Reply
  18. Lorraine deschamps

    Thanks for your post , we are planning a Mediterranean cruise, but the thing I don’t understand is why the cruises are so limited . We are planning for 2017, but the only one available is October. There is a couple in the spring , which wouldn’t work for us. Do they all book up that far ahead, or do they just go certain times.?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Be sure to expand your search as I know there are lines that run throughout the summer. But they are certainly seasonal. Unlike the Caribbean, they can’t go year round.

      Reply
      • Lorraine

        We really want to go with Viking, but concerned what the weather may be like in October . Also looking to go when it’s not overly crowded. Thanks so much for your input.

      • Matt Long

        The weather where?

  19. Sylvia

    We have booked a Penthouse Veranda suite where the mini-bar will be replished daily. Do you know if we have a choice of liquor and soft drinks?

    Reply
    • Glenna

      I am not sure about the mini-bar and what it contains. Let me tell you, though, that when we put in to ports on our river cruise, we were busy from breakfast to dinner sometimes until dinner, at which time wine or beer were served. There is so much to see and do, we spent very little time in our cabin. Chances are, after dinner with wine or beer, you won’t need any more liquor!
      It will be our first time having a mini-bar, too, so it will be interesting to see what is stocked.

      Reply
  20. Dave S.

    We have done two Viking river cruises and did the Viking Ocean cruise in march. Our first ocean cruise and it was all that you wrote about. They are the gold standard for cruising. The staff on river and ocean is top of the line. Tours were excellent and very informative. We’re booked again with Viking in April 2017 on the Rhine.

    Reply
  21. Joy

    I’m interested if you departed from Venice for your Empires of the Med. cruise. We are getting our flights through Viking and hoping to have time to get a good look at the sights after we arrive in Venice. Have you had experience with Viking booking your airfare and if so, how did you find that service? I am hoping they are looking for the best and shortest duration flights.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Yes, we sailed from Venice and yes they booked my flights. Everything went really smoothly. I checked into the ship and then had plenty of time to check out the city. A few hours at least, I’m sorry I don’t remember exactly how long. I believe that the all-aboard time is early evening and depending on your connections, you should arrive into Venice mid-morning most likely. Have fun!

      Reply
  22. Glenna

    We are booked for a March, 2017 sailing of the Sea next March (2017) for Empires of the Mediterranean. We are booked for the extensions pre/post, as well. This is our first ocean cruise with Viking. We took a Viking River Cruise in April, 2014, which was an incredible experience. We booked our airfare through Viking because they were offering quite a discounted fare. The cruise was not only comfortable, but the service was wonderful. The shore excursions were positively the best part of the adventure. We are looking forward to a similar experience on our journey from Venice to Athens. I am worried that the shore excursions that we will want to take will be booked, and they can’t tell us in advance what they may be at each port so that I can prioritize my preferences. Did you have any difficulty obtaining the excursions you wanted to take?

    Reply
  23. Ian

    My wife and I were looking forward to our first experiencence with Viking in January 2017, buoyed up by positive reviews such as yours. We were due to board in Rome, sail down to North Africa via Malta and return to Barcelona where we had booked a hotel to explore this fascinating city for a few days.
    Having paid in full, we were more than disappointed to receive a phone call on 28 Oct., cancelling our trip! The Foreign Office had renewed advice not to travel to Tunisia following the terrorist violence in 2015. Viking had not issued any information on this topic when advertising the cruise. In vain, we pointed out that other cruise line frequently change the port of call under similar circumstances and we have experienced this with Holland-America, P&O and Cunard. American and Canadian tourists do not appear to have received similar advice from their governments, so they are OK, only the Brits have been evicted.
    As compensation, we were offered a discount of 10% of the cost of this cruise against future Viking cruises. It is unlikely that we will take them up on this offer, as the whole episode was a P R debacle as far as we were concerned.
    We have not seen this reported on any cruise websites, and wonder just how many people were similarly affected?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      This is really something you need to take up with them, but it doesn’t appear that the cruise is cancelled rather you’ve decided not to go on the advice of your government, correct?

      Reply
  24. Ian

    Hi Matt,
    The cruise will go ahead with non-British guests, as other governments have not issued a similar warning to their nationals. Viking gave the Brits no option as (quote) visiting Tunisia would invalidate your travel insurance (unquote), and simply cancelled our booking. No ifs, no buts. We would still go and not get off the ship in Tunis, but even that was rejected, hence our acute disappointment.

    Reply
  25. Ian

    Hi Matt,
    Not quite: the cruise will go ahead with non-British guests, as other governments have not issued a similar warning to their nationals. Viking gave the Brits no option as (quote) visiting Tunisia would invalidate your travel insurance (unquote), and simply cancelled our booking. No ifs, no buts. We would still go and not get off the ship in Tunis, but even that was rejected, hence our acute disappointment.

    Reply
  26. Ron

    When you describe the food, you don’t mention accommodations for special diets?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      That’s because I don’t have special diet needs. I only write about personal experiences, but I’m positive they accommodate any needs. I’d check their website.

      Reply
  27. George

    Hi Matt…
    I have been searching for a honest Viking Ocean Cruise review for a few weeks now. Thank you for your in depth review of Viking. My wife and I have been on a few cruises and were contemplating Viking since it deals with a smaller passenger number and tends not to be the typical $$ gouging cruise lines we are used to.
    I think you have sealed the deal for us!!! I am just concerned with the weather in December from Barcelona to Rome (cold and rain?) but we would just suck it up. Viking looks amazing!

    Reply
  28. Larry

    So after all this wonderful banter on the ocean cruises, is the suggestion to just do that and skip the river cruise experience?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I wouldn’t say skip the river cruise experience, they’re two very different types of trips. It depends what you’re looking for really.

      Reply
      • Larry

        My wife and I are struggling between the Tulips and Windmills or Empires of Mediterranean. Only negative on ocean is our room category is more pricey than we like because we always take lowest category because we are out and about. We love scenery. She wants windmills. I would love to see Dubrovnik and Greece… thoughts..any input? Have only done large ocean cruises.

      • Matt Long

        It’s a tough call, no doubt there. Overall, I think you’d probably get more out of the ocean cruise. The windmills are nice and if you go during peak tulip season, then those areas are pretty too buuut after an hour or so you still have just the flowers and windmills. You’d see and do a lot more along the Mediterranean, but that’s just me. Everyone’s travel style is different, it’s honestly a matter of personal preference. I know this doesn’t help exactly…

  29. Larry

    On the contrary, you are a great help. Thank you for taking the time to answer. Leaning towards ocean but 4K higher so little hesitant

    Reply
  30. Mary

    Hi Matt
    My husband and I are booked on the Viking Sea…Homelands cruise of the Baltic in June. My husband has always wanted to cruise I was not so enthusiastic. After reading about the Viking trips we booked. I am so excited. The gentleman from Viking convinced me to take the deluxe veranda instead of the penthouse veranda. The reason, our particular stateroom is the very back of the boat facing behind the boat. He said that was better than a more expensive penthouse verranda on the side of the boat.
    I love your review of the spa and plan on visiting it for sure. I was also happy to hear that the food was a notch above because basically you are eating at the same restaurant 3 meals a day for 2 weeks. That’s a lot of meals if the food is not what you expect.
    Now I need advice on the daily excursions. Any thoughts
    Thank you for the wonderful and most helpful post

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I haven’t taken that itinerary actually, although I’d love to. I’m sure whatever you decide will be wonderful. Don’t forget that complimentary excursions are also offered in every new port. 🙂

      Reply
  31. Joan

    We did the Viking Grand River Cruise (Budapest to Amsterdam) in 2014 and are booked to do their Homelands Baltic Cruise in July….can’t wait. Love cruising on Viking!

    Reply
  32. Jeanne

    Thanks for your review! We are looking forward to our cruise to Cuba this November.

    Reply
  33. Evan Fournaris

    Last month, we celebrated our 50th Wedding Anniversary with a cruise to the West Indies on Viking Star.
    It was our first cruise of any kind. It was an amazing trip. The Viking Star’s staff, facilities, and dining were 5 star.
    We are now looking at taking a Rhine River Cruise on Viking next year.
    Highly recommended!!

    Reply
  34. Gail Temple

    My husband and I have taken most of the European River Cruises and have loved them. Haven’t been on the new long boats as they were not introduced at the time we cruised. Would love to repeat a cruise just to travel on the new boats. We also cruised in Myanmar and Viet Nam with Viking on smaller, slightly more primitive boats, but those two cruises were wonderful too. This fall we are taking our first Viking Ocean Cruise on the Viking Sea, from Bergen to Montreal and we are very much looking forward to it. Agree with all your comments on the mega ships; they are cheaper but you are nickel and dimed and have to put up with bad shows, gambling and extra costs for shore excursions. Viking knows how to do it!

    Reply
  35. Tom Gauthier

    On the money, Matt! We are taking our second river cruise in October, this one on the Rhine (Sailed Danube in 2013). We are also taking our second ocean cruise next April (2018) from Rome to Barcelona. Our first was the Viking Homelands on the Baltic Sea. We are Viking fans to the core! Thanks for a great review.

    Reply
  36. Nancy

    Thanks for your review. We took the Constantinople to Catalonia cruise in October 2015 and are booked on the world cruise departing December 15, 2017. Our Viking experiences mirror yours. My only regret is that we took so long to decide to go on the world cruise that we didn’t get the cabin category we prefer, but we are waitlisted for an upgrade. The staff and crew, excursions, at-sea activities, entertainment and lectures, food, and shipboard ambiance are extraordinary. The spa services and limited shopping are welcome. We anticipate a grand experience.

    Reply
  37. Barbara

    Matt, really appreciate your review of your Viking Ocean Cruise experience. It did reinforce our expectations of Viking on the sea, having personally experienced their river cruises. We are booked on the West Indies Explorer for this October. This being our first open ocean experience, we are becoming slightly apprehensive about the weather and the “ride”. After receiving all the details of ports etc, it appears that we will be at sea for five days rather than the three days shown on the PR itinerary. Any experience on Atlantic travel in the fall?

    Reply
  38. paul sharp

    Matt, your review had me salivating. My wife and I have been on a number of cruises with various companies and are always looking for different ships with different itineries. In the next 18 months we will cruise with Princess, NCL, Cunard (3 Queens) and Carnival but as they say you leave the best to last and that is the yet to be built VIKING SPIRIT out of Hong Kong in April 2019 to Tokyo. New ship, new company, great itinery through Japan and all inclusive what more could you want! I believe this ship has a few changes but not major. Thankyou

    Reply
  39. Alexa Burt

    My husband and I did the Romantic Danube 4 years ago with Viking. We travel frequently but usually on our own. I loved the Viking experience. We are booked for our first ocean cruise with Viking at the end of September–Venice, the Adriatic and Greece plus 3 days in Tuscany pre-cruise. This trip is my choice to celebrate my 70th birthday. We are so excited. And your detailed description makes us even more excited. We will post comments when we return.

    Reply
    • Tracey

      We are planning on booking the Venice, Adriatic and Greece cruise for November 1, 2018. Trying to decide whether to stay in Athens 2 days at the end. Hoping the weather will be okay that time of year. Alexa – would love to hear your experience and any tips!

      Reply
  40. Dorothy Ware

    My husband and I are sailing South American/The Caribbean , San Juan to San Juan November 16, post Hurricane Maria. Had to cancel our 2 day hotel stay post cruise but excited anyway. Your post very informative , having made several cruises on the bigger casino/children liners, looking forward to the enjoyment of ports and no rush to pack everything in a short time. Thank you again.

    Reply
  41. Hugh cameron

    Your evaluation of viking ocean cruises was a glorious piece of journalism. We have taken seven river cruises with viking, so we are viking fans. We will be going on our first viking ocean cruise in march 2018–empires of the Mediterranean. We have done several cruises with Holland American and were very happy. This viking. Cruise sounds extraordinary and we are excited. We had to cancel earlier because of family illness , so we are finally ready.
    Thanks for the exciting information—can hardly wait!

    Reply
  42. Soopeen

    We will bring along our 19 and 20 year old young adult children. Is the ocean cruise anything like the river cruises that cater to more of the ‘older’ crowd?
    anyone has any idea if they will find people of the same age group to potentially hang out with on the ship or go on excursions?

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      It’s very much the same demographic.

      Reply
  43. Carin Davis

    Hi, Matt: Can you recall the hours of the fitness center? I’ve heard all different answers. (on the website it says 8am w/supervision). Wondering how early we’d be able to use the fitness center Thanks in advance!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Not sure, maybe earlier than that but the hours are listed onboard.

      Reply
  44. Rogers Smith

    Thinking about the Viking Around the World cruise. My problem is hearing loss that has left me with sea sickness. I don’t want to be miserable for four months. How stable are the Viking Ocean ships? My only other ocean cruise experience was handled with a medical patch behind the ear that worked well.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      That’s really impossible for me to day. It depends on you and your body as to what is tolerable and what isn’t. It also depends on weather, location, etc. We had a few rocky nights, no doubt there, but any cruise ship would handle the waters in the same way.

      Reply
  45. Sandi

    Great post. Planning a trip for Nov 18 and look forward to a civilized and relaxing adventure

    Reply
  46. Lori

    Hi Matt — thanks so much for this great article. Very informative and parallels my own experiences. I have taken 2 Viking cruises — a river cruise in China and an ocean cruise from Venice to Barcelona. Both exceptional in very different ways. For our 30th anniversary, my husband and I are thinking of booking the “Trade Routes of the Middle Ages” from Bergen to Barcelona this coming October. (His first cruise!) I have 2 questions: any thoughts on what the waters will be like in the North Sea or Atlantic Ocean at this time of year? I’m a bit anxious about many days with rough waters, illness, etc. Also, I see there are plenty of sites that offer “deals” as opposed to booking directly with Viking (for instance, priceline). Do you have an opinion whether there are worthwhile deals out there beyond what Viking offers of do you feel it is better to book directly with Viking? Thanks in advance for any insights!

    Reply
  47. Max

    Hi Matt, great piece and for me having only cruised once on a Princess Cruuse to Alaska, very comforting to know my choice to go onViking Sky this summer is well supported. Can you tell me what cabin you booked, and how you felt about the room. I am deciding about upgrading from a delux veranda to penthouse veranda, for the additional room.

    Reply
  48. Evangeline

    I was interested in your comments about the Princess Cruise which showed a link but then the link went no where. Can you reprint it and have the link work (or has Princess threatened to sue you?) I hope you are continuing to read comments, noticed you have not answered any lately.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Hi and not all comments require response 🙂 And lol no one threatened me. The post was out of date and I’m waiting to update it.

      Reply
  49. neil robinson

    We are just back from our first Viking Cruise aboard the Orion. We could not be more pleased; from the booking experience; the seamless land transfers; spectacular food (all day long); a wonderfully attentive staff; interesting optional daily tours; the immaculate ship; an intriguing itinerary from Venice to Croatia to Montenegro; to Greece. We are now looking to book another cruise early next year.

    Reply

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