Q – We completed our first cruise on the Viking Star, which was highly recommended by our agent. Since this line does not appear to be in the Top Ten Ratings of cruise lines we were skeptical. We’re in our mid-forties and were told that Viking had a younger clientele. We boarded in Venice and kept looking for the folks our age and never found them.
We thought the ship was absolutely beautiful and the food was as good as advertised. We particularly enjoyed Manfredi’s, the “by-reservation only” Italian venue. The Spa was absolutely gorgeous and we really appreciated the well-designed Scandinavian decor. What we didn’t like was the cancellation of our day in Istanbul, one of the main purposes of the trip. The substitution of Canakkale was not planned well and a waste of time. The port information was confusing and poorly planned. I suppose our question is did we receive the right advice about the ship in the first place and should we make a stick about the fact that they caved in to fear by eliminating Istanbul. It was pretty clear to us that they were afraid of lawsuits.
A – The Viking Star is making headlines and winning awards for its affordable package pricing and striking contemporary decor. It is not, however, a line that seems geared to attract forty-somethings. You are, truth be told, in an age group where the finer options in travel will be heavily populated by retirees. Our advice is just to accept that fact. If you don’t, you will be sentencing yourselves to a self-imposed state of travel mediocrity.
Viking’s new cruise product is still being inspected and evaluated by our staff. But initial reports would seem to indicate that Viking has a good chance to enter the world’s “Top Ten”, displacing one of the existing lines.
There are reports of confusion at the front desk and an inability to react quickly and with grace when things head south. Viking is not good at improvisation at sea, a characteristic of their river boat product as well.
You have absolutely no basis for complaining about the elimination of Istanbul on your itinerary. There have been attacks on tourist sites within the country and the government is in the process of striking down the opposition with a rather heavy hand. Viking made the absolutely correct decision of not placing their guests in harm’s way. Every bit of fine print in every cruise line brochure explains that port substitutions may be made based on local conditions. If you wish to spend time in Istanbul we suggest you fly there for a few days. You will find that Turkish Air and local hotel rates are at their lowest point in years. And, the very best local guides are not all booked, as has previously been the case.