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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My wife and I have cruised many times with Celebrity and always received 1st class service. We have completed many of the popular cruises more than once so was looking for alternative itinerary's. We booked an Explorer Suite with ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised many times with Celebrity and always received 1st class service. We have completed many of the popular cruises more than once so was looking for alternative itinerary's. We booked an Explorer Suite with Viking (similar price to a Penthouse with Celebrity) expecting a premium cruise experience but how wrong we were. We opted for the flight and cruise package just in case of any delays etc but unable to pre-book our seats so we could not sit together. Check-in was OK but the welcome champagne was an inch in a glass and no member of staff to show us our suite. The suite was as expected, sensible size decorated with furniture from Ikea. The one big issue was trying to keep the room warm as the outside temperature was as low as -18. We had all the curtains closed, all heating including an electric panel heater on full, blankets on the bed and still cold. The same for the pool area and the world café, you needed a sweater or fleece to eat your lunch. Service was very slow with many dirty tables waiting to be cleaned and members of staff just walking past. Must say food quality and variety was good. Room service was very slow to start, 1230pm and still no clean, 8.40pm no clean or turn down. After a couple of complaints this did improve. Shore excursions a complete joke, they were either cancelled or changed at the last moment and those that did proceed were poorly organised. I complained to Judi Buikman the shore excursion manager as she cancelled Northern Lights tours as not dark enough, tidal water phenomenon as it was low tide and a train and snow mobile tour as there was a road incident at 7am and she was worried the bus could not return passenger's back to the ship at 4pm. When I pointed out she failed to do her homework on the excursions, she replied "fair comment". We had arranged dinner reservations prior to sailing for the specialty restaurants but then refused to alter the seating from 2 to 4 persons as we had met new friends. After a sharp conversation with the Hotel Manager and Restaurant Manager this was changed but it should not be this way. The service in the Lounge Bar was very slow if at all, quicker to order drinks at the bar. The evening entertainment was fine for us, either a guitar or piano entertainer. One day the Cruise Director Drew Raitch performed his song book for us, it was embarrassing, the man cannot sing at all so please don't try. Viking Ocean Cruise are a new start-up cruise line (not river cruises) and it shows. The staff are not trained or experienced at ocean cruises and require constant direction from the Officers who themselves require more training. The ship itself was very well maintained but then it is only 2 years old, it is however very noisy when in rough seas and when using the bow thrusters, no pods fitted to this ship. My wife and I really wanted to like Viking as our new "go to" cruise line with different itinerary's but not a chance. Viking are now what the cruise industry was 10 years ago and customers paying premium rates for the top suites and Penthouses demand service. Celebrity have a Butler who takes care of everyday issues such as excursions, dinner reservations, laundry etc. They also have a dedicated restaurant and lounge bar with concierge for suite guests only and unlimited use of the speciality dining rooms. We are so glad we booked Alaska with Celebrity in May and not Viking, we would have been so disappointed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Chose for Northern Lights/Arctic Circle Itinerary. Ship was beautiful and was very impressed at first. We selected a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom and it was quite small. There was not enough hanging space. Fortunately we knew enough to ... Read More
Chose for Northern Lights/Arctic Circle Itinerary. Ship was beautiful and was very impressed at first. We selected a Deluxe Balcony Stateroom and it was quite small. There was not enough hanging space. Fortunately we knew enough to bring magnetic hooks or it would have been a worse mess. The food was average and the service was average at best. Some people were great, like our room steward. The reason we didn't rate guest services and the shore excursion staff well was the following: they played the blame game. They had many, many excursion difficulties to the point of having to fully refund, or partially refund, the money back to passengers. Never once did anyone say "I'm sorry". No, they blamed the tour operators or used the excuse "this is the first time we have been to this port" or (best one!) "it wasn't listed online". Bear in mind that the tour operators complained of how difficult it was to even REACH the Viking Sky staff, much less, that Viking did not listen to the tour operators when they made suggestions and believe me, they should have listened. It was a bucket list trip for me and I refused to let anything ruin it, but the disorganized, poorly planned, not properly vetted, pricey excursions were very disappointing. And the attitude of the Viking staff really added insult to injury. I spoke to many people who were long time cruisers but first time Viking Ocean cruisers and the consensus was the same...one and done. Back to Regent. Back to Azamara. Back to Celebrity...you get the drift. I wanted to love it...I love Viking River Cruises. But it was just too disappointing. The ship was gorgeous, the itinerary was amazing, and I did see the Northern Lights. But the rest was not great, except for embarkation, which was the best I've experienced out of 25 ocean cruises. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
We choose Viking to visit Norway in January, as if the weather was going to be inclement, we would have luxury on board, and we were not disappointed! From the first moment we arrived at Tilbury, a porter was waiting to take our luggage ... Read More
We choose Viking to visit Norway in January, as if the weather was going to be inclement, we would have luxury on board, and we were not disappointed! From the first moment we arrived at Tilbury, a porter was waiting to take our luggage from the car. We proceeded through check in where there were no queues and was very fast and efficient. We were welcomed on board with a glass of sparkling wine and from that first moment to the very end of our trip, we were made to feel very welcome and at home. We were again welcomed in our stateroom by Shella, who was our attendant. She happily explained how to use all the facilities in the room and other useful information, such as where the self service laundry was, which incidentally is complimentary and even provides the detergent! We were in a normal balcony stateroom on the third deck, but it was very spacious and every small detail has been thought about. There is a hairdryer, shoe horn, clothes brush, minibar which is included, a coffee maker, a dressing table with large mirror, but also part of the top of the dressing table lifts up to reveal a small vanity unit with a light up mirror. The lighting is also excellent, and can be controlled from the bed, including strip lighting for use during the night. The bathroom was also brilliant with underfloor heating, a proper glass door on the shower cubicle, very nice toiletries and as many soft fluffy towels as you could possibly wish for, along with bathrobes and slippers. I must just add that the room was serviced twice a day and there was never even a mark on the chrome taps, spotless! The restaurants are all fabulous, with a great variety of choice. The speciality restaurants you need to book, but this is easily done either on the Viking App which is very easy to use, or at the World Café. I can honestly say that the quality of both the food and service are the best we have ever experienced. We had the silver spirits package, because we have been caught out by other cruise lines, who charge very high rates for their wines and cocktails, but on Viking Sky the prices were very reasonable, approximately $6 per glass of wine or beer. The bars and lounge areas are exceptionally comfortable and nowhere on board ever feels crowded, even on sail days. The spa and gym are also wonderful. Like everywhere on board the changing rooms have all the little extras that make this ship so special. You use your room key to use the lockers and each one is equipped with flip flops for use in the spa, towels, a hanger for your clothes and even a shaving kit! We used and thoroughly enjoyed the steam room, the snow grotto (but not for very long!), pool and hot tub. We do not usually need much in the way of on board ship entertainment, so did not go to any of the shows in the theatre, but we did enjoy the live music supplied in the Viking Bar and Explorers Lounge in the evenings, provided by very proficient musicians and they also covered a wide range of genres. We also enjoyed the electronic games tables and placing the odd piece into a jigsaw. The tours were also to a very high standard and you really do feel that you are being treated as very special visitors, not just another load of tourists. We were very lucky and delighted to get to see the amazing spectacle that is the northern lights, and although it is a quiet ship, announcements are made in all public areas and you can receive them in your room during the night by leaving the TV on the bridge cam channel with the sound turned up. Disembarkation was as fast and efficient and simple as embarkation. When the coach arrived at Bergen airport we were asked to wait in the warm on the coach whilst the baggage was unloaded, which only took a couple of minutes and when we got off our suitcases were already stacked on a trolley ready to go. What can I say to be negative about this holiday, well the only possible thing I can think of is that they have probably spoilt any future holidays with another travel company, as we now know what level of comfort and service can be provided. Huge thanks to all the Viking team, not forgetting the booking staff, for a wonderful all round experience, keep up the fantastic work. Very much looking forward to our next trip, Imperial Jewels of China in April, Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
Cruising in general is a low stress and (relatively) high reward experience, though I find more active vacations more rewarding if riskier. Be that as it may I’ve gone on 20+ cruises over 35 years including cruises on Oceania, Holland ... Read More
Cruising in general is a low stress and (relatively) high reward experience, though I find more active vacations more rewarding if riskier. Be that as it may I’ve gone on 20+ cruises over 35 years including cruises on Oceania, Holland America, Crystal and Viking in the past two years. This was my first Viking cruise and Viking’s first winter cruise to Norway.. The lure of the Northern Lights was strong; I not only booked the cruise but also 3 northern Light excursions; on the other hand I failed to read up on the requisite camera I should bring and left my Digital Nikon at home, relying on my Apple 8. On board I read that i world NEVER get a viable picture with that. Oh well. We tend to get up early and go to sleep early on cruises; on our night at Tromso I woke at 11:45 pm and based on a feeling we out on deck 7. A few others wee out there setting up, we got a pretty nice light show for about 5-10 minutes, with visible green light bands including some whirling ones. Despite the experts I got some nice pics. The 3 tours were a bust and many passengers including my wife never saw the aurora borealis; despite some weather science it’s largely luck of the draw. The Sky is a beautiful ship because of the well designed public areas, with great art (the best I’ve experienced) scattered about. The library, which features many classics is also scattered in a very attractive and effective way. The main dining room is made up of numerous smaller rooms - much nicer than the usual gigantic room. The “cafeteria” is pretty standard as are the speciality restaurants. The specialty restaurants were nice but generally not as good as the other 3 lines we mentioned. Dining room had a somewhat limited menu but usually did well especially with Fish; nice breakfasts there too. Cafeteria/buffet was good except on specialty items like Foie Gras which should not sit around. Momsen’s Scandinavian Deli has very good herring, bread, smoked cheese and Scandinavian waffles! Opened early. Good coffee, good room service burger (medium rare!). Cabins have some issues with poor design of storage and a smaller than usual balcony. Very nice bedding and climate system. Cabin steward, assistant and crew in general were nice. The Spa has a very excellent and underutilized indoor Sauna. Bring your bathing suit! Covered pool area was usually a little cold but again was under utilized. Passengers were overwhelmingly American with a few Brits and Ozzie’s. Embarkation and Disembarkation were very smoothly done, including buses to and from the airport. Other points: we found the included base wines to be mediocre and repetitive; classical music duo pretty amateurish. Personnel very helpful relative to self tour questions. Included “panorama” bus tours not very worthwhile and we skipped a few. VERY quiet ship at night.which we appreciated.. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
It is probably important for you to know my family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 25 years we’ve sailed a total of 31 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princes, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was ... Read More
It is probably important for you to know my family and I are seasoned cruisers. Over the past 25 years we’ve sailed a total of 31 times on Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Princes, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, NCL, and MSC. This was our first sailing with Viking Ocean. We’ve wanted to try another upscale, luxury line after sailing on Azamara a few years ago, but have never been ready to spend the extra money, which typically cost $400 to $500 a day, per person. We picked this cruise largely because it was a Northern Lights cruise in an area of the world we had never been, the Arctic Circle. The question is was the Viking Sky worth three to four times the cost of mainline cruises? One note of caution: even though we thought were prepared for the cold temperatures that awaited us, we discovered that we had not anticipated the severity of the bitter cold temperatures we would face and the length of time we would be exposed to them. On several days temperatures dropped to -25 F and we spent up to 5 hours on day without a break other than a camp fire. More about this later. Overview The Viking Ocean is a smaller ship than many of those found with the major lines, but not the smallest of the luxury lines, with 930 passengers. One of the more noticeable differences about sailing on some smaller ships is the lack of public areas from which to choose, less entertainment choices, and smaller cabins. Those deficiencies were really not present on the Viking Sky, which is one of the finest ships we have sailed on in terms of style and amenities. I really didn’t feel like I was on a small ship, even though there were fewer common areas. I can’t really say there is any more or less feeling of crowdedness on the smaller ships than with a larger ship. It seems to be all relative to the space per person. Where I did notice a difference was embarking or disembarking the ship. The smaller number of passengers reduced the lines and wait times considerably. Another benefit of sailing on a smaller ship was the nimbleness they have over their larger brethren to alter their itinerary or add a fresh food to the menu. The public rooms are nicely done and have a feel of warmth and elegance. There are four dining options aboard the Viking Sky making it equal to or a step above larger ships. The state rooms are among the most efficient and modern we have encountered. I loved the heated floor in the bath room and linens are a step above what you would expect from the more major cruise lines. Unlike many other lines, Viking Ocean is an oenophile’s heaven as wine is embraced and welcomed. You can bring onboard as much wine as you can carry and there is no corkage fee! All totaled, we noticed very few weaknesses, and there really wasn’t a lack of things to do, especially if you enjoy lectures, which is a feature of Viking. I think what was noticeable is what was missing, no art auctions, pushy promotions, a casino, baked Alaska parades, and much of the other glitzy fluff found on most other lines. Many frequent sailors of Viking Ocean that have tried other luxury lines like Oceania, Azamara, Seaborne, Regent and Crystal, swear that Viking Ocean is the gold standard for luxury cruises. The bottom line question: is Viking Ocean worth four to five times the cost of other upscale lines like Celebrity? I will address that later, but first a few more details. Embarkation The embarkation experience was one of the best in our 31 sailings. It took about ten minutes from start to finish. There were no lines, no customs, no waits, and no hassle. I only wish all our embarkations were this easy (see my 2013 review of the Infinity). Wine lovers will love that, unlike Celebrity who confiscated our wine when we sailed them in 2013, Viking Ocean welcomes bringing as much wine and spirits that you wish on board. While we often bring wine onboard cruises from our cellar, we’ve learned to become very creative in how we bring our wine onboard so as to avoid confiscation. Not so with Viking Ocean that also charges the lowest corkage fee of any line we know, which is zero!! Viking Ocean’s attitude toward wine certainly is one of the benefits that may bring us back again. The Ship The ship was new in 2017 and it really shows. We haven’t taken pictures of a cruise ship in years, but we did of the Viking Sky. The contemporary design coupled with the modern efficiency of the ship were stunning. There were a lot of places to sit and read a book, or write a cruise review, while enjoying a cup of espresso or a drink. One benefit is that the elevators were the fastest I’ve encountered on a ship and almost always available without a long wait. Dining If food is your thing, like it is mine, then you will be very satisfied on the Viking Sky. All of the dining rooms feature “anytime” seating. While the main dining room, The Restaurant, doesn’t accept reservations, we never had to wait more than 2 minutes for a table for two. Every other evening we skipped the main dining room and spent our evening in one of the two specialty restaurants, Manfredi’s or the Chef’s Table. One tip is to book your reservations immediately when you board. These fill up quickly and getting reservations later in the cruise, especially at Manfredi's can be difficult. The food quality and presentation in The Restaurant was certainly above average and what you would expect for an upper end cruise line. All of the waiters and waitresses who served us were extremely personable, helpful, and attentive. However, we enjoyed the service in the specialty restaurants a bit better than in the main dining room. The specialty restaurants, Manfredi’s and Chef’s Table, have no cover charge. They offer passengers a break from the main dining room with a quality of fare a slight step above. Manfredi’s features a wonderful Italian menu while Chef’s Table offers a set menu that changes every three days. One experience we’ve come to enjoy on other ships that would be fitting to an upscale ship like the Viking Sky would be an automated wine bar where guests can enjoy an assortment of wine available in 1oz, 2.5oz, and 5oz pours. This allows you to inexpensively sample a broad variety of wines you might not otherwise have the courage to try. One thing we appreciate about Viking Ocean is the fact that juice and espresso coffee drinks are available anytime during the day at no charge. Some lines make free juice available only in the mornings and charge for all espresso drinks. Wine As we mentioned earlier, we were especially pleased with how Viking Ocean embraces and welcomes wine lovers who want to bring their wines on board to enjoy. One of my perennial complaints on other lines, like Celebrity, is the high price of their onboard wines, which are priced about 4x’s retail, they also have the highest corkage fee of any line at $25 a bottle. Of course, since Celebrity will confiscate all but two bottles of wine you bring on board to enjoy, what’s the point of having a corkage fee at all? We found the Viking Sky was unequaled in being the most wine friendly cruise line we’ve sailed. The per bottle charges were reasonable and there are no corkage fees. One deviation from other lines is that the Viking Sky had noticeably fewer wine events than other lines. They had a few whiskey, vodka, and aquavit tastings, but no wine tastings that I recall. Fitness and Spa This is an area in which the Viking Sky is slightly above average. While they don’t have a lot of cardiovascular machines (three stationary bikes, two elliptical machines, six treadmills, and two stair-steppers) I never only had to wait for a machine once in 12 days. Notably, and unusual for most lines, every cardio machine was working for length of the cruise. Another abnormality, the men’s locker’s worked perfectly and there were a sufficient number of lockers which were all keyed to your stateroom key. The men’s locker room featured a dry sauna and plunge pool. The sauna was perfectly hot and in working order for the cruise. On many other cruise lines the saunas just don’t get hot enough to break much of a sweat, but this is not the case on the Viking Sky. There was also an area with hot tubs, cool rooms, and a steam sauna. One unique feature was an individual dryer for your swim suit that was really helpful. An extra bonus was the spa did not have a daily charge, which can cost up to $20 a day on other lines. Entertainment We thought the entertainment was surprisingly good for a smaller ship. The Cruise Director, Drew, and his assistant, Courtney, had amazing voices and both did their own shows which were very enjoyable. This is more probably due to the lack of a theater than anything else. It was refreshing that the Viking Sky had a live band rather than rely on sound tracks, which is becoming common on other cruise lines. The theater is quite expansive and comfortable. We never had a problem finding a seat in or near the front row. The onboard entertainment found in the lounges was very good. There wasn’t a disappointing instrumentalist or singer in the lineup, which is certainly unusual on a small ship. In contrast was our experience on Azamara where there wasn’t a lounge entertainer that rose above substandard. The enrichment talks were really outstanding, again in contrast with our experience on Azamara where they were consistently disappointing. We had four lecturers on board who were all phenomenal in their field. We were especially treated by having Dr. Ed Kopp from the Griffin Observatory in Los Angeles who was outstanding. Internet I run a small business and being connected to my staff is imperative, even on vacation. I depend on having a functioning Internet while on board any ship. The Internet on the ship was as good as or better than any I’ve had at sea. I got access 95% of the times I attempted to get online. And the fact the Internet was free was an experience I’ve never had with another line. On Azamara I paid $0.43 a minute for their lease expensive package. Having access to the internet on all my devices whenever I wanted it without having to pay attention to my usage was a game changer for me. For that reason alone Viking Ocean will be at the top of my list for future cruise consideration. Shopping The shopping experience is on par with most every other cruise line, boring! There is nothing exceptional to highlight here, except that they did not bombard you with specials and promotions which was refreshing. Afternoon Tea I have never reviewed an afternoon tea experience on a ship as most are not worth mentioning. However, the afternoon tea on the Viking Sky was the best we have had at sea. Not only are you served a three tier plate of sandwiches and desserts, they will also bring you proper sconces with jam and Devonshire cream. Yes, real clotted cream not the standard whipped cream. I don’t recall Cunard Line served clotted cream, but I can tell you no other ship I’ve been on has. This was a real treat! Ports of Call, Port Talks and Shore Excursions Our 12 day cruise started in London, England and went up the west coast of Norway, stopping at Stavanger, Bodo, Tromso, Alta, Narvik, and Bergen where we disembarked. The specific theme for this cruise was chasing the Northern Lights. And “chasing” is the right term. I was unprepared for how difficult it would be to see the Northern Lights. I assumed we would see them often or every night from the ship. I was wrong! The guides will tell you there are four things necessary to see the Northern Lights, but I say there are five: solar activity, cold weather, darkness, a clear sky, and luck. If any one of those is absent you will not be successful. The hardest one of these was a clear sky, which thwarted our efforts to see the lights continuously. While there was one really good sighting from the ship, it came and went very quickly. To see the lights really necessitated booking a Northern Lights tour that attempted to find a clear sky within a few hours’ drive of the ship. Even then spotting the lights was still a crap shot. We did have one night where we got to see a nice display of the lights for less than five minutes returning from an outing where we waited in -25 degree weather for 3 hours with nothing but a campfire to cut the bitter cold. This leads me to the most unexpected aspect of this trip, campfires and frozen food. We returned home with our clothes smelling of smoke because of the many campfires we encountered on our excursions. Whether it was dog sledding, reindeer sleighs, Sami camps, or Northern Light tours there was a campfire present in everyone to help with the bitter cold. There were very few heated buildings or shelters expect for a few tepees with campfires. At times the temperatures were so brutal that even the bread offered us was frozen. Which leads me to another unexpected aspect, the extreme bitter cold and the randomness of the tour vendors providing thermal suits, boots, head gear, and gloves. About ½ of our tours provided such apparel, and believe me we needed it even though I was wearing 5 layers of clothing, three pairs of socks, winter boots, two pairs of pants, a balaclava, knitted wool beanie, and a hoodie, a down vest, an outer coat, and gloves inside mittens. Which meant that the other ½ of the time the vendors provided no additional clothing. And in -25 degree weather, where you are outside for up to 5 hours at a time with only a campfire, this is a problem. My hands and toes were perpetually cold, even with hand warmers stuffed in my boots and gloves. Many people on our tours were simply unprepared for this and suffered because of it. I cannot stress enough how critical it is you don’t underestimate the cold. Here is the crazy thing, the tours we booked off ship provided thermal gear while those booked on the ship did not. The tours provided by the ship were significantly over priced and under delivered. Which leads me to this very important tip: don’t book tours with Viking Sky. Instead book only off-ship local tour providers. For example, with a local tour provider of dog sliding we were provided thermal gear and able to drive our own team of dogs. The tour provided by the ship offered no thermal gear, you could not drive the team, and was very poorly organized. Many in our party waited up to two hours in 15 F degree weather with no shelter and no campfire before getting a 30 minute ride. There was no food offered except for some frozen cake midway into the trip. The bus was so late arriving back at the ship that many missed their second tour. And for this, we paid $430 per person. Our request for even a partial refund fell on deaf ears, which really disappointed us given Viking Ocean’s stellar reputation for providing a top quality experience. We were told other tours that had similar misfortunes did remit refunds to passengers. Typically we save 25 to 75% off the ship’s prices by making our own arrangements prior to departure or using the Internet onboard the ship to contact several tour companies that are highly rated by TripAdvisor.com. Another great place to book private tours prior to departure is by looking under “Tours” and on the chat boards on CruiseCritic.com. We’ve never been disappointed following the advice of previous travelers. Our favorite ports were Stavanger, Bodo, and Tromso where the ship docked in the middle of town. However, even though in Alta and Narvik the ship docks some distance from the center of town the ship did provide shuttle buses. Quite frankly, there was really nothing to see in the town of Alta, where the emphasis is on booking tours to see the Northern Lights and staying warm. In Summary So, back to the question I posed earlier. Is the Viking Ocean experience worth three to four times the cost of other lines like Celebrity or twice the cost of Azamara? Certainly Viking Ocean has Azamara beat for value. Celebrity is often a good value for what you get, but Viking Ocean is in a whole different category and price range, so it’s a hard question to answer. However, if price is no factor, Viking Ocean is the only way to go! The service, stateroom amenities, ship amenities, free inclusions like wine and Internet, and dining room experience are undoubtedly among the best at sea. So is the ability for a smaller ship to get into, or nearer, ports the large ships can’t. For many people, this may be reason enough to pay the extra fare. For me, I will certainly sail with Viking Ocean again when I find an itinerary that is highly unique (like this cruise to the Arctic Circle) or heavily discounted. But I will be absolutely certain not to book any of their shore excursions!! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
We chose this cruise to see the Northern Lights! We did see them, although they were not very vibrant. The ship was very nice, the food very good, and the staff went out of their way to make our cruise very special. The beds were very ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see the Northern Lights! We did see them, although they were not very vibrant. The ship was very nice, the food very good, and the staff went out of their way to make our cruise very special. The beds were very comfortable and we had chairs in our room to watch the talks, tv, and movies. There were educational sessions 2-3 times a day on subjects pertaining to Norway and the Vikings. We also listened to an astromer while watching the Lunar eclipse. The tour excursions were great and there was something for all activity levels—from easy to demanding. We saw lots of snow, visited with locals, and had a ball. Wine is included with dinner and lunch and the evening entertainment shows on the boat were excellent! You have your choice of two restaurants, two specialty restaurants, a pool area eatery, and Mansums which served Scandanavian food. We tried them all and can tell you there is something for all to eat—even those with special diets. Afternoon tea is served at 4:00 and the tea, food, and entertainment is wonderful. I highly recommend this cruise. We have also done the Land of the Midnight Sun cruise with Viking and can recommend it also. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this cruise as a nice break before catering for a busy family Christmas. It is a while since we have been with P&O our last cruise on Aurora was to the fjords and lofoton island about 3 years ago which we loved. We have ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a nice break before catering for a busy family Christmas. It is a while since we have been with P&O our last cruise on Aurora was to the fjords and lofoton island about 3 years ago which we loved. We have recently travelled several times with Princess HAL and celebrity. I know Aurora is due for another refit next year but we found our cabin A205 a mid ships balcony to be clean and comfortable. The only sign of wear was the bathroom sink. The public areas and carpets were kept clean and appeared to be in reasonable condition, and the ship was nicely decorated for Christmas. We have been on Aurora several times but always in the summer and the ship did seem smaller when we were we were unable to use the outside spaces. A bonus for the few people with young children on board was the covers pool which enabled them to swim. The food was reasonably good. The meat dishes were not up to the quality on Princess or Celebrity and were generally cheaper cuts. The portions were also smaller which suited us. We booked a select fare and so were on freedom dining as we requested, however we had to wait around 45 mins a night for a table for 2 which was a bit frustrating, but we had a pager and went for a drink whilst waiting. We ate twice in Sindu where we had excellent food and service and once in the Glass house where we had a good meal with a beautifully presented steak with prawns. Wine and drinks are reasonable price and much cheaper then other cruise line, and there is no 15 or 20 percent service charge on drinks with P&O, I fact we get an 8 percent discount on our whole bill due to our past cruises with them. We have seen all the shows before with different groups of headliners some good some really not good so we didn’t bother with them. After other passengers comments on the comedian we gave that a miss too. We visited Hamburg where we took the shuttle bus to the markets in the city then we booked an evening excursion to the markets at nightwhich included a tour of the city with an entertaining Commentary from our guide especially when driving through the red light district. We finished with a visit to a beer Keller. Next was Copenhagen where we have been before, having visited Tivoli Garrdens in the day and evening we decided to take the shuttle bus and walk to the waterfront. We found Christmas market stalls all along the front, from there we walked back into town and went into a store for coffee and a warm up. Oslo was next and although freezing cold, but we were well prepared, it had a beautiful Christmas market with fantastic lighting and an ice rink in the centre. The city was very clean and very expensive with lots of designer shops. Again we went in a store for coffee and a warm up. The final port was Amsterdam, which was much warmer but for us a real dissapointment. We went on a ships tour which included a city walk followed by free time and a canal trip. The walk guide was not very good and the city was very dirty with blue rubbish bags piled up around all the bins. We thought there must be a strike on but apparently when I asked the guide it is due to people having no space to store their rubbish so they just put it out in the street every day. We went into a cafe for coffee and cake as we couldn’t find a store, and when we asked to use the facilities we were told it was for staff only. On meeting up With the others before the canal trip we found others had the same experience in other cafes. We were supposed to be in Amsterdam for nearly 2 days but the Captain decided to leave early morning on the second day due to weather warning as he has to get from the canals back to the North Sea. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Just back from the Christmas Market cruise to the Baltics, let's start with the positives. The crew were absolutely fantastic, polite, efficient and humble in every area of the ship. Our cabin steward was exceptional and the ... Read More
Just back from the Christmas Market cruise to the Baltics, let's start with the positives. The crew were absolutely fantastic, polite, efficient and humble in every area of the ship. Our cabin steward was exceptional and the waiting staff, especially in the bars were great. The food was very good in the Alexandria restaurant and there was plenty of choice in the buffet, if not always to the highest standard. There was also a good mix of passengers on board, from young families to the elderly. Most people seemed to be having a good time and overall, we had a great holiday. Now for the negatives, unfortunately there are quite a few... The ship is old, so has its issues relating to this and certainly lacks a lot of things that are standard on the newer ships. Stability is poor, with excessive movement even in calm seas. Ironically, it seemed to cope better in the force 9 winds we had on the way home than the calm waters on the way out. Our cabin creaked like an old pirate ship during the night. They seem to have some sort of sewer problems as the bathrooms stink like a public convenience, not just ours, others also complained to be told there was nothing that could be done. The sound insulation between cabins is non existent. You can hear every word of your neighbours talking in normal voices and listen to their TVs. The TVs are pointless and the entertainment was adequate at best but nowhere near the standard of what we saw on Britannia in May. In summary, we liked some aspects of Aurora but prefer the modern comforts of the newer ships. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would ... Read More
WOW ! Saga thank you very much. What an amazing experience cruising with your Company. Everything from being collected from home until the second of arriving home was done with a professional approach and the level of caring staff I would imagine would be difficult to find anywhere else. The age range was from mid 50’s with a large % in their late 80’s up to the grand age of 98. As with anything in life ‘money doesn’t buy manners’ and so sadly there were some sad miserable people who we quickly learnt to avoid! Their desire to talk loudly about how many nights cruising they had done soon ended as people were bored rigid about having to listen to this pretentious nonsense! There were also people who weren’t safe being there and whose families had obviously booked a cruise to escape from their relatives for a week. There were at least 2 people who didn’t even know what they were doing there. Saga need to somehow deal with this and ensure everybody is safe but equally neither they as staff or ourselves as fellow passengers should have to cope with this. The staff are caring NOT carers and the other passengers are on holiday. It is NOT a residential or nursing home and nobody should even consider going unless they are safe, independent and aware of why they are on a ship. We were disgusted that somebody’s relative had obviously considered this suitable for someone with advanced dementia but selfish people in life exist and money equally doesn’t buy common sense either! There were several people using walking sticks who would complain they couldn’t walk but kept their sticks at least 6 inches off the ground and as soon as they wanted to do something could mobilise like a 5 year old complaining loudly about younger disabled people who were slowing them down ! Again money doesn’t buy manners and they had no understanding that disabilities are nothing whatsoever about age ! A standard cabin is very nice and more than adequate for most people who use it to sleep in ! A small bathroom,, an upright chair next to a small desk and another chair were more than adequate for anything you might need. A very comfortable bed and excellent cabin service was very much appreciated. Dining was either a formal dining room or exactly the same food in a more relaxed atmosphere thankfully. The waiters and wine waiters learn people names and quickly they can manage to keep track of what you like/need and provide excellent care and attention to detail. A very nervous young waiter who was learning how to work there was the only time we had to wait and explain anything but he was very friendly and we expect the next time we see him he will be one of the best as had a fantastic smile too. People on special diets have amazing care and attention to detail if it is really required. Embarkation was ok although the lady didn’t seem to understand very much about the process or show interest in answering questions or talking to anybody. There are a wide range of activities although some of there were heavily about ‘up selling of expensive/extremely over priced goods or services in the salon or spa which is extremely poor. There were people employed to assist with crafts and some demonstrations about food etc. Some of these were good, some were excellent and some were at best chaotic and extremely poorly arranged- we are unsure if this was saga or the actual people they chose to employ! We suspect it is however the latter as saga seem to expect a very high standard for everything as it should be! Some of the entertainment was excellent and some favoured heavily the extreme upper end of the cruise ship age range. They need to remember something a 50 year old might enjoy would not be met necessarily by someone singing songs from the 40’s -60’s OR playing some game they haven’t even heard of ! Similarly they need to consider not everybody can cope with late nights and some fantastic entertainment doesn’t start until about 22.30. A lot of people who cruise sit in the same seats in the library and do nothing else. They glare at you if you speak and don’t want anything to do with other people. There’s a mixture of others who are fantastic fun and age is irrelevant. Be prepared for anything that happens is the best way to cope with this situation! The consumption of alcohol is encouraged heavily. People would buy drinks in the bar before their lunch, have 2/3 glasses of wine with their meal and then drink in the bar again! They would also be there again in the evening and repeat this process. After dinner there was also a push on buying more alcohol at your dinner table. Saga need maybe to consider the effects this can have on people especially after a week or more of this. Their responsibility for mature adults is zero but stupidity doesn’t also get covered by having money and inclusion of alcohol seems to mean a % of people will see it as their right to drink it all regardless of their health , wellbeing or the comfort and safety of other passengers too. One lady was ridiicculed by rude elderly lady who fancied herself as important because she chose not to drink. She was unable to drink due to medication but the elderly lady knew better evidently and was extremely rude and actually sadly offensively awful about how cruising was that important everybody had to drink especially with the captain! The captain was rather slow in talking and would talk a lot about the weather- all information you could get by looking out the window or seeing details on your cabin tv about wind speed or how many nautical miles we have traveled! There was a few things to do re fitness but the assumption seemed to be you were either super fit or helpless- we didn’t get to the small gym after hearing what was there . Wait and see if the new ships will be better for younger but sadly disabled people. Not everybody who has limitations is 99 !!!!!! Saga don’t seem to grasp this at all from our experience with this cruise. The public rooms were excellent and the library was large and spacious with a wide selection of books magazines and information. The bar and other rooms have a wide range of chairs and were clean bright and very well maintained considering how old the ship is. The shop staff seemed less interested tha. Anybody else about anything. Be warned- it is ridiculously expensive and a can of deodorant was £5 !!! Don’t forget yours if you use it! Cabin service is fantastic and all other aspects of service were excellent too. Some people complaining made it dull but you learnt how to avoid them quickly so your holiday wasn’t ruined! Remember to pack some basic first aid supplies and your medication! Medical care is expensive and we were shocked at how some people had used this service and had massive bills without having had more than some very basic first aid care. Several people seemed very unwell and again please take into consideration your health and well being before deciding on a cruise holiday. talking to some people it seems their health isn’t very important until they are there , away from home and forgetting the sea happens to have a naughty habit of moving but they didn’t pack anything to assist them with sea sickness or know how they would cope with poor mobility when the ship was moving through rough seas ! Equally they didn’t have a clue about the currency they would need or where they were in the world ! It has a bit of a habit of being cold in Norway in winter and also dark by mid afternoon | makes sense to research the cruise holiday you will be going on and what to expect from the areas before complaining its cold or dark etc etc. Someone was moaning they almost fell over on the ice ! That was not SAGAS responsibility! In the main the shore excursions were excellent. The level of walking isn’t always accurate but sadly maybe people have no idea what people can manage. Don’t book tours unless you are really certain you can manage the coach steps and this means getting on AND off the coaches without ANY help or ANY support whatsoever- there isn’t anything saga or the coach staff can or will do to assist you. Rudeness was again heard from the selective few who were so affected by their snobby views about people being slow, we even heard one lady said maybe if they lost weight the coach would not have been so slow- be prepared for anything that anybody might come out with. There were some lovely people who were ready for a good time with their new friends. It is at risk of being a floating residential home and this is a concern. We had several people who were taken to hospital and sadly even on the day of disembarkation someone was very poorly. A lady who was waiting for assistance was complaining about delays as she was a special level with priority for everything! We just quietly said ‘be thankful that you are going home and think about other people for a second’ she just said she would be complaining and demanding to know what happened to stop her disembarking before other people were going! Unbelievable that level of ignorance exists. Overall thank you saga. You are not responsible for the rudeness of a small minority of ignorant and rude elderly people especially it seems ladies who almost sound like they will choke themselves when they speak. We just spoke to everybody in our normal voice about life. Some very odd people exist in this Country and we just hope they weren’t so rude when on land if they bothered to get there. A % never ever get off the ship and evidently never ever do on any cruise they do as they go for the food and fact they aren’t alone or having to cook at home !! Extremely expensive for that service! There were a lot of people on their own. They had a special meeting so they could get them together and stop them crashing in on couples time together thankfully. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this trip as we wanted to see Norway and the Northern lights. When we got to Tibury we were sent round in circles. The signs were few and far between and not very well positioned. We followed the signs only to be told that we ... Read More
We chose this trip as we wanted to see Norway and the Northern lights. When we got to Tibury we were sent round in circles. The signs were few and far between and not very well positioned. We followed the signs only to be told that we were in the wrong area. It was like Custers last stand! There were cars going round and round in circles all being in the wrong place. We finally got to the right area and had to sit under a marquee with rain, whipped up by high winds, blowing through!! The first impression of the ship wasn't good. It looked pretty unkempt . We were on deck 7 and the smell of sewage and fuel oil was overwhelming . I made a comment to one off the crew and we were told " It's an old ship " and that this was it's last trip before a refit. The smell got worse over the next 4 days particularly when the Captain made a decision to sail with a force 11 predicted!! We had 7/8 metre waves and hurricane force winds. This was a full day at sea. The opinion if the guests was that we shouldn't have sailed. The smell after was REVOLTING. It made your eyes sting and you held your breath until you got away from the stairwell. The food was bland and pretty much the same every day. The trouble was seating. There simply wasnt enough seats and tables to cater for everybody. We had to sit on the window sills on two occasions!! They were constantly running out of cutlery and crockery. Mugs were at a premium. The room staff were SUPERB, as were the waiters, but other bar staff had a couldn't care less attitude. We were served the wrong drinks numerous times and had our cards swapped on 3 occasions. The shows were, well what do I say?. Queen tribute night summed it up. The backing ' band' were terrible. The 4 singers went from English to their native tounge if the couldn't remember the words. I didn't know if to laugh or cry! We walked out after the third song. Some people did say they enjoyed it to be fair. The comedian we saw had the oldest jokes you could think of. To make matters worse he tried to play the guitar! He couldn't keep up with the back music AND played out of time and time. The tours were good and we saw the Northern lights, which was the reason for the cruise. The tour guides were very helpful. We wouldn't sail again on the Meggelan. I know this was it's last trip and it showed, but it just lacked the things that make it a nice ship. Perhaps after a refit things might be different. But going on our experience, this was a outdated old smelly ship and had we known that, we wouldn't have booked it. Read Less

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