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Shore Excursions
Ruth Rosenthal

Age: mid 60s


Number of Cruises: 14

Cruise Line: Viking Ocean Cruises

Ship: Viking Star

Sailing Date: 2015-11-12

Itinerary: Venice to Istanbul - Empires of the Med

Cruised on the new ocean liner, Viking Star, late September in the Med. It exceeded our expectations, and we will certainly consider booking Viking Star cruises along with our other favorite ocean cruise line, Oceania. Don't believe the people who didn't like it or had problems. By September, any small problems experienced and detailed in picky detail on another cruise review site had been corrected. (Ship started sailing in mid-April.) We had a wonderful cruise and at the end of the cruise, could find little to complain about. Of course, if you're used to cruising on Seabourn or one of the more expensive and luxurious lines, your experience may be different. Itinerary was great (few sea days) and amenities on ship were great. Ship itself (inside) was beautiful. Service was uniformly excellent. Basic shore excursions were included in price and saves us a lot of money.

Excellent, even in the buffet, which includes more than just a buffet. At least one hot item could be cooked up for you right before your eyes, as World Cafe kitchen was an open one. Specialty restaurants were quite good and included in cruise price. Restaurant, the basic dining venue, had quite good food. Other places such as Mamsens offered variety we appreciated. We loved being able to eat outside a lot. Room service (except breakfast) was a little limited but we didn't use it at all, so didn't care. Breakfast in stateroom was excellent - hot foods, great choices.

We had a deluxe veranda stateroom, same as veranda stateroom except that we got to book specialty restaurants and excursions earlier than those in veranda staterooms. Room was excellent - lots of innovation (as is true throughout the ship), the usual size for a basic veranda-style cruise stateroom, very comfortable. Someone complained about the nightlight, and it WAS bright, but it can be turned off with a switch by the bed. Temperature in room and on ship was fine. Service by room steward and his assistant was excellent. Storage space was what we're used to on other ships (4 drawers) but there was more shelf space, so we had plenty of room for clothing. Desk held a lot of little things, which was very useful. Bathroom was gorgeous, with lots more space in the classy shower than we're used to, and drawers to hold your personal things out of sight. I thought the heated floor would be a trivial, not useful things, but turned out loving it.

There are enough activities to keep a person busy, but since I cruise mostly for the destinations, I didn't make it to very many. Activities focus on cultural enrichment, plus some purely fun things like Trivia contests. Entertainment at night is fairly low keyed but professional and entertaining. There is tea at 4 (will spoil your appetite for dinner!). There are port talks and leaflets, a fitness center, pool, infinity pool, spa area, extra charge cooking classes, and other things to keep you occupied if you're not as destination-focused as I am. Cruise Director was professional and low keyed, which as an older person, I found refreshing. Music was mostly for the older set, but with some rock and roll, especially in the nightly shows. The usual introduce the captain and past passenger parties were also held.

Keep in mind that although the basic excursions are free, in many cases they will not provide you with a comprehensive tour of major cities like Athens. If you want more, pay a little more for one of the paid tours or arrange your own. You may never get back to these places, why skimp? Also, if you want to sleep in, remember that some excursions, including the free ones, are offered in the afternoon. This isn't always the case on other lines I've used.

This review is for the new (as of April 2015) ocean liner Viking Star, not a river cruise ship. Ocean and river cruising ate not the same. We boarded in Venice and left at midnight. Went to 2 places in Croatia, 1 in Montenegro, 2 in Greece and 2 in Turkey. Disembarked in Istanbul. One and a half sea days - not enough to truly enjoy all of what Star offered, but enough to at least sample it. Viking is very generous with their spa area - no charge for the pools and saunas and ice room. No casino. We love smaller ships with fewer passengers, and this certainly applied to Star. It never felt crowded, and we never had to wait more than five minutes for anything. We loved that we didn't have to dress up, and could eat when we wanted, and that a basic excursion was included in each ports, except if the ship embarked and debarked passengers on the same day when turning around (e.g., Venice for us). Excursions were typical of what you'd get on other cruise lines around the same quality as Viking Oceans. They were well organized and local guides were quite good. Favorite ports were Istanbul, Santorini and Kotor, but we enjoyed every one. It was certainly one of the best cruises we've been on, and pricewise, we thought it compared well with Oceania. Both are excellent lines. We hope to do Viking Ocean's homelands cruise next, which would take us way up into Norway.

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