We chose this cruise because we had long talked about going to Aus/NZ and with free airfare, it was time to go! A storm out of Antarctic kept us from stopping in the port of Dunedin, and fire danger cancelled out Melbourne "Koalas and kangaroos at Sunset" special tour, but with 105 degree temps from winds blowing off the outback, I can't say I was all that disappointed! The rest of the cruise was up to our expectations from having taken a number of Viking River cruises before. This was our first ocean cruise and it gave us just enough of a feel for NZ that we now want to go back, take the Trans-Alpine train, visit greenstone country on the west coast of the S. island, go to Te Anu, visit Queenstown, and see Milford Sound, all things that weren't on the cruise itinerary to start with.
The Viking Orion has an on-board planetarium and we had University faculty lecturer experts in Astronomy, History, Military History, and Geology. The on-board entertainment was above our expectations and Brian, our Cruise Director, blew us away when he performed NessUN Dorma to close the evening's entertainment one night. Viking is known for it's more cerebral entertainment and it did not disappoint. We loved the onboard experts' presentations and the planetarium, which doubled as an IMAX 3D type theater with the initmacy of only 20 some seats, was a huge bonus and is not available on all Viking Ocean ships. We will book on the Orion (or one of the other 2 that have a planetarium) whenever we can! We will for sure choose Viking again!
Staff were super friendly and expert. We tried the specialty restaurants (Manfredi's - Italian, and The Chef's Table - fixed menu with wine pairing - menu varies throughout the cruise) the main restaurant (called The Restaurant), and we kept going back to the World Cafe, which had fabulous views from the 7th deck, a wide selection on the buffet and the choice to dine inside or out on the deck. We loved the high tea, served all 'sea days', but we found that too many scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam and finger sandwiches can ruin your dinner appetite, and with the great seafood buffets, BBQ buffet, sushi, and always a carved meat and far too many sides to begin to mention, on top of the gelato and dessert buffet, we had to skip high tea, if we wanted what was being served for dinner that night!
There was a little glitch with Embarkation that resulted in passengers standing out in the sun, uncovered for almost an hour because the boat was not docked at the main terminal in Sydney. The next day we were docked there and all embarkation and disembarkation went flawlessly, but the first day was well over an hour standing, most of it out in the hot sun, while everyone went through a makeshift screening - just very slow. We were grateful it wasn't pouring rain, but the hot sun was burning people because of how long they had to be out in the sun.
Highly recommend Viking. The quality of staff and service we came to expect on Viking River Cruises happily extended over to this Ocean Cruise. We'll be back!
The cabins on the Viking Ocean ships are double the size of the Viking River Cruise rooms, much to our delight. We had an excellent Cabin Steward, Edy, and he took very good care of us, even assuring our ice bucket was always filled when I had an insect bite to nurse with ice! The room was made up at least twice a day and always clean.