About oriana77

We are retired and enjoy travelling and seeing the world. On the highways and byways of North America you'll find us in a Ford F350 towing our very comfortable Redwood 5th wheel, which we share with our 2 dogs and cat. In addition we love to cruise and make extensive use of our Worldmark Timeshare.

Andy & Judi’s 2020 World Cruise Review – Vol III

Viking Sun in Noumea

This is a continuation of our 2020 World Cruise Review, which is based on a similar format that I used after our 2015 World Cruise. Volume III of the 2015 Cruise covered the negatives, or areas needing improvement, but after many hours of post cruise reflection, we can only think of 1 negative – missing most of the ports, but this was completely outside the control of the cruise line. Therefore, Vol III will address even more positives:

  • Ship – Viking Sun
  • Meals

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Andy & Judi’s 2020 World Cruise Review – Vol II

Ship's Sections

Viking Sun Schematic

Welcome to Vol II of our 2020 World Cruise (WC) summary. The review of our 2015 WC discussed positives in Vol II and areas for improvement in Vol III. However, with the exception of completing the itinerary, the 2020 WC is all positive. Therefore, I will align the 2020 summaries, with same headings as 2015, but both posts discuss positives.

This post, will cover the following areas:

  • Itinerary
  • Master
  • Officers and Crew
  • Cabin
  • Entertainment

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Day 98 – 11th April 2020, Homeward Bound

welcome home sign

This morning found us at the Novotel T1-3, which is close to LHR terminals 2 and 3. After a good nights sleep, we headed down to the lobby, checking out the arrangements for breakfast. Sitting on a lobby table were multiple identical brown bags, each of which contained:

  • Container with cornflakes
  • Container with a veggy sausage and scrambled egg
  • Brown roll, butter and jam/marmalade
  • Individual portion of cheese
  • Utensils and napkin

In addition, they had tea, coffee, milk and juices. Just grab a bag, tea/coffee and milk, and return to the room. They also had a microwave available to warm up the sausage and egg. All in all, not a bad brown bag breakfast.

The Toronto flight departed at 12:05, so the others were picked up from the hotel at 09:15, so Judi & I headed down to say our goodbyes. We did capture a final photo, but unfortunately, we didn’t have a camera or laptop, so didn’t get a copy. At 11:00 we returned to the lobby, for our 11:15 pick-up. Cruise Consultant Charaine was flying to New Zealand from T4, so we brought her with us, convincing the van driver to head to T4, after dropping us off.

AC B-787

AC B-787 Dreamliner

Arriving at T2, we were met by the same chap who escorted us through T5 yesterday. Wow, the new T2 is a vast improvement over the original terminal built in the mid-1950’s. Opened in 2014, it is named the Queen’s Terminal. We were escorted through check-in, security and then the extensive hike to to the furthest gate in the “B” zone. Kudo to Viking for providing such excellent service.

As we reached our gate, the Toronto flight was pushing back from their gate, right on time. We read Kindles at the gate, until boarding our B787-900 commenced, about 50 mins before scheduled departure. We were fully loaded and pushing back about 5 mins early. With only 1 or 2 flights per hour, we taxied directly to the end of the runway, being wheels up about 6 min after our scheduled departure time. LHR is often up to an hour between push back and wheels up.

Air Canada B-787 Business Class Seat

Photo courtesy of “Travel with Grant”

The Air Canada flight was OK, we like the Business seat layout better than BA, but we find the BA seats more comfortable, especially when the A-380 flies to YVR during the summer. Since these are exceptional times and full service is curtailed, I am only providing brief notes, not my usual in depth flight review.

Similar to yesterday, the only drinks served were bottles of water, with snacks provided about 1/2 hr after take-off and again about 1 hr before arrival. Between those snacks, all we received was water.

  • Snack # 1:
    • Corn and lima bean salad, with a little lettuce & dressing
    • Quinoa and chick pea mixture
    • Brown roll
    • Chocolate cake
  • Snack # 2:
    • Bag of apple slices
    • Granola bar
    • Banana bread
    • Roll
    • Cheese

While not the usual standard of catering, the snacks were fresh and edible, keeping the hunger pangs at bay.

On arrival YVR, we had multiple levels of Government checks to go through, prior to entering the arrivals hall:

  • Health Canada – they set up office on the overhead walkways, with about 8 agents, shortly after departing the aircraft. Each individual or family group received an individual meeting with a single agent, ensuring each agent was > 6′ apart. We submitted the form we received on board the aircraft and then discussed quarantine arrangements and any assistance we required.
  • Customs & immigration – normal YVR process
  • Health BC – effective 10th April 2020, British Columbia requires all returning residents to submit a quarantine plan. We submitted the form online and developed a written plan, which we provided. Once reviewed and approved, we departed the airport.

Outside at passenger pick-up, our son and DIL brought 2 vehicles, leaving 1 of them for us to load and drive home. Once home, we started our 2-week quarantine period, but received a welcome sight. We can’t get hugs for 2 weeks, but the sign is safely attached to a bulkhead.

welcome home sign

 

Viking Ocean – Explorer Suite (ES 1) Review

Viking Sun Deck 4

When we were unable to disembark in Dubai, the 8 Canadians remained aboard the ship, as it sailed from Dubai on March 26th, for port or ports unknown. After a brief sojourn in Dubai, the Magical Mystery Cruise resumed.

Suite floorplan

Floorplan – Stbd side Suite, 4001 or 5001

A couple hours after sailing from Dubai, the 8 remaining passengers met with Norbert (GM) and all his Department Heads. First topic Norbert discussed was cabins, as Norbert graciously offered us all suites. It was resolved rather easily, as most of us moved to the fwd Suite on our deck and side of the ship. For Judi and I, it entailed moving from 4058 (DV 4) to 4000 (ES 1). By the time the meeting with Norbert concluded, Anna the Executive Housekeeper had arranged keys for our new cabins and adjusted the Cabin Steward assignments, so we retained our original Cabin Stewards. Extremely thoughtful.

Suite lounge from windows

Living Room from the fwd windows – balcony access through curtains on right

Entering the Suite, the first impression is wow!!, this is huge and it has a great view, almost as good as the view from the Bridge, 2 decks above.

Suite lounge from the door

Living/Dining Room from the entrance

The open plan Living Room, Dining Room and Office (desk) is spacious, with the cabin having lots of natural light streaming through the large deck to deckhead windows across the fwd bulkhead and down the ship’s side. Each window has 2 curtains, a sheer that provides great slightly diffused light by day and a heavy blackout curtain for night-time. As suites are fwd facing, it is imperative that the heavy blackout curtain is closed before sunset and remains closed until sunrise. Failure to comply degrades the Bridge Team’s night vision and risks incurring the wrath of the Captain or Senior Officer of the Watch.

Suite dining room and desk

Dining Room & Office (Desk) from balcony door

Unlike the Owner’s Suite with the 65″ B&O TV, the Suite TV was similar to the excellent one in our previous cabin. In addition to the size, the flooring materials on the deck are also an upgrade from regular cabins. In the Living/Dining Room, most of the flooring is laminate, with the only carpet being in the vicinity of the couch, table and chairs.

The Suites are all stocked with library books, about a couple of dozen, and some are huge and expensive coffee table publications. Each Suite had a large Atlas/Map. Although we never ordered Room Service in the Suite, the dining table would be an excellent upgrade over the low tables in the DV cabins.

Suite bedroom

Bedroom

The Bedroom is a separate area and can be closed off from the Living Room with the door adjacent to the desk. For us, this is an excellent feature, as I am awake about 05:00 and Judi prefers to sleep in, so having the connecting door let her sleep in peace.  The bed was aligned athwartships and at the fwd end of the bedroom. This made it rather tight at the fwd end, but at the aft end there was about 8 feet of empty space to reach the bathroom.

Suite closet

Walk-in closet

An excellent feature was the night-light, which can be activated on either side of the bed. It has 1 light in the bedroom and a couple of lights in the bathroom, which makes it easy getting up at night, or when the curtains are closed.

Suite double sinks

Double sinks with lots of additional storage

The bathroom was huge with double sinks, 4 huge drawers and even a heated towel rack.

Suite heated towel rack

Heated towel rack

That’s only 1/2 the bathroom, as they also have a massive walk-in shower and bath tub.

Suite shower and bath tub

Shower and Bath Tub

As seen above, it looks like a mirror at the end of the bath tub, but it is actually another TV. The TV remote is bottom right of the above photo, at the side of the tub.

Suite balcony with loungers

Balcony with loungers, table and chairs

The balcony is located on the side of the ship, with deck to deckhead windows affording protection up fwd. The deck does wrap around and all the way across the fwd bulkhead, but structural beams render it inaccessible. However, we still had great views ahead and down the Port side.

As seen above, the seats were aligned outboard for our daily viewing of the moon, stars and a planet. During the Suez Canal transit, I spent most of the day on the balcony, with all Suez photos taken on the balcony.

Summary

We greatly appreciated the opportunity to try a Suite for our remaining 2+ weeks aboard the magnificent Viking Sun. The bright and spacious cabin with incredible vistas and additional features was amazing. Closing off the bedroom and living area when I got up early certainly assisted Judi in getting more sleep.

However, for Judi the extreme fwd location did not work, as the pitching motions in a seaway are extenuated this far fwd. Although she loved the spaciousness and additional features, she prefers the reduced motion of a midships cabin. The Suites are also in close proximity to the anchors, so when weighing anchor at Suez, 6 of us were wide awake by 04:00.

Our thanks to Viking Ocean and the incredible Officers aboard the Viking Sun for providing us the opportunity to experience a Suite.

 

 

 

Andy & Judi’s 2020 World Cruise Review – Vol 1

2020 World Wonders – Viking Sun – 4th January to 2nd May (119 days)

World Cruise Map

2020 World Wonders Itinerary

Welcome to Volume 1 of our 2nd World Cruise review, which will be in a similar format to the 2015 WC Review Vol I. This is primarily a record of our travels, for Judi & I to review at a future date and reflects our personal opinions and experiences, as paying passengers. We have no prior or current connection with Viking Cruises and this was the 2nd cruise in 40 years, where I did not know the Captain, an officer or crew member before boarding.

For those interested in a Viking cruise, or even a Viking World Cruise, I encourage you to research other passenger blogs, to gain a wider and possibly more balanced review of the cruise. The other blogs that I know of are:

In addition, to discussing our experience, I will also provide comparisons between this and out 2015 World Cruise on a different company.

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Day 97 – 10th April 2020, Disembarkation

Viking Sun at anchor Komodo Is

Sadly, every good thing must come to an end, and for the 8 remaining pax on the Magical Mystery Tour to Somewhere, today is that day. Slow steaming Westwards, in early morning it was “Land Ahoy”, as we spotted the Rock of Gibraltar. By Noon, we were brought up to the anchor, on the West side of the Rock.

Yes, with the ship, “Swinging on the pick” we disembarked by tender, but not a ship’s tender. Read on for our adventure, once we stepped off the ship.

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Day 96 – 9th April 2020, At Sea

Officers and Guests Apr 9th between cocktails and dinner 4

OMG!!! our last full day aboard the magnificent Viking Sun and what a spectacular day, with special lunch, cocktail party, special dinner with a brilliant dessert followed by birthday cake, then an amazing show staring Viking Vocalist Tobias.

A couple of days ago, I mentioned we had completed all the behind the scenes tours, but NO, we had another one tonight, after dinner. Read on!!

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Day 95 – 8th April 2020, At Sea

Dubai Baffo Officer v's Pax 2

Yesterday we received the shock news that we are going home, so the cruise is starting to wind down, Other than a very competitive Baggo match against Engineering, today was a rather quiet and relaxing day. Quite a contrast to tomorrow, which will be busy.

Note: above photo is one I found on the laptop when flying home yesterday that I hadn’t posted. It is from Dubai, so some participates had already left the ship in Dubai. This was after the Officers v’s pax match, which the pax won by almost 100 points.

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Day 94 – 7th April 2020, At Sea

Induction certificate

Today we received information that changed Mystery Cruise to Somewhere, to the Mystery Cruise to Gibraltar. Yes!, we now have an end in sight, so read on to find out when and how we are all getting home.

In addition to receiving flight instructions, we participated in a thank-you message to the Hagen Family from the Officers & Crew, and participated in a Viking Crew Induction Course, we even received a certificate upon completion.

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Day 93 – 6th April 2020, At Sea

Name badge

We have completed all the behind the scene ship tours, but still have the HR Crew Induction Training to attend, so we scheduled that for tomorrow afternoon. Since we were provided “Honorary Crew” badges, the H/R Manager offered to host a quick crew induction session for us.

Today we resume the Baggo challenge, after a 2-day sabbatical, read on to find out the result. Hint – it was really close < 100 points.

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