Making the most of your Viking Ocean Cruise
We just completed the Viking Ocean Cruise Viking Homelands itinerary and, as relative newbies to ocean cruises , we learned how to get the most out of our cruise. Or at least we think we did and hope you can benefit from what helped to make our trip so enjoyable. (And not repeat our mistakes.)
Choose your shore excursions before you leave
Well in advance of your sailing date Viking Ocean Cruises will send you a link to set up your account, choose your excursions and schedule appointments using My Viking Journey. Take the time to read the descriptions of each excursion; don’t quickly judge what would be a fit for you and what wouldn’t be. Some of the more unusual ones – a lighthouse we visited via horse-drawn carriage on a beach in Denmark- might be the ones that give you lasting memories than the more conventional choices.
Be honest with yourself about how many excursions you can do in a day. Excursions are fun and interesting but they can also be tiring. We overbooked ourselves on a couple days and only gave ourselves a half hour between excursions. That was stressful and not a good idea.
Sometimes less was more and prioritizing was important. Pay close attention to the times and, although they run amazingly on time, always give yourself a little slack.
If you wait until you’re on the ship to plan your excursions you may miss out on some because they have sold out or the time slot you want is no longer available.
Tip: Take your “Quiet Vox” listening system on every excursion. It’s possible the daily newsletter will say it isn’t necessary but the local guide may decide to use it so it’s best to be prepared.
Get to know and enjoy the ship
The Viking Ocean Cruise ships are new and beautiful. But they can feel confusing if you figure them out on the fly when you’re trying to get somewhere.
We suggest that you get unpacked in your spacious, comfy stateroom and then spend a little time prowling the ship to get the layout. See where the specialty restaurants are located, the main restaurant, the pools, the theater, the fitness center and the spa. We didn’t do this and it took us longer than it should have to quit heading to the wrong floors for everything. Be smarter than we were!
In addition to knowing where things are, make the time to experience them. The ships are more than a way to transport you; they’re floating resorts.
We loved the infinity pool, enjoyed massages, treated ourselves to (free) room service on our balcony and did (also for free) laundry before heading home. The ships have been built for your comfort and enjoyment so be comfortable and enjoy them!
Tip: If you want to go to a specialty restaurant or use the spa on a day at sea be sure to make that reservation before you leave home. This will have occurred to other people too!
Go to the daily port talks
The Cruise Director and Shore Excursions Manager provide daily briefings to let you know what to expect at the next day’s destination and they preview the shore excursions. The port talks are usually 45 minutes and provide the right level of detail for you to know what to expect on the following day.
You may also realize, based on what you hear, that you want to make a change to your schedule for the next day. It’s better to attempt any changes the day before instead of in the heat of the moment in port.
One thing we liked learning about was when shuttle buses would be provided at certain ports so guests could do independent exploring without worrying about how to get back to the ship. We took advantage of the shuttles in Tallinn and Copenhagen and really appreciated the flexibility they provided.
Tip: Just in case you miss the shuttle take the portion of your daily newsletter that says in the local language where to take you to get the ship. (We didn’t need to use this but that’s only because a kind shuttle driver in Tallinn indulged our frantic flagging him down as if he was a cab.)
Check out the entertainment
Viking Ocean Cruises has an impressive array of entertainment options and we liked that they can all be consumed in bite sizes. Blonde has a fear of commitment and the idea of a couple hour show could send her overboard but the 45 minute musical productions were perfect. They were enough to entertain without using up a whole evening.
There are classical and contemporary music options, movies (complete with popcorn), TED talks and presentations by various experts about topics relevant to the cruise itinerary. On our cruise Viking also flew in a singer/comedienne who performed two nights. If you’re bored you really aren’t trying!
Tip: Don’t wait until the last minute to go to the theater or you might have trouble getting the seats you want. The shows are deservedly popular.
Allow unplanned time
We had some times when we just sat on our verandah and watched the spectacular scenery go by. Remember that this is your vacation and you want to learn and experience but also relax. Without a little downtime every now and then it can be hard to process everything you’ve seen.
Tip: Keep your Viking Daily newsletters from each day so you can review what you did when you get home. It can be nice to look back on your trip after you return. (You can also use them to resolve arguments about where you went and when.)
We hope our advice will help you prepare to get the most enjoyment from your Viking Ocean Cruise; Viking will do the rest to ensure you have a memorable experience.
Disclosure: We were the guests of Viking Ocean Cruises but they’re smarter (and nicer) than to even try to tell us what to say.