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Posts posted by MVCACruisers

  1. 1 hour ago, GVHarrier said:



    I just read a forum from another cruise line where the passenger mentioned having to repeatedly go through immigrations and how it took hours re-entering Japan from Busan. I wondered about your experience with 4 countries and entering Japan twice.


    Our experience was quite good as we always take the earliest tour possible.  In Kagoshima immigration was in the cruise terminal where they scanned our fingerprints.  Took about 5 minutes.  Hiroshima immigration was on board the ship and with far fewer stations.  Again they had to scan fingerprints.  We were on the first or second tour to leave the ship and it was a little slower maybe 15 minutes to clear immigration.  I didn't realize that the later tours were so delayed.  I guess I would recommend taking as early a tour as possible for the 1st ports of entry into Japan (Kagoshima and Hiroshima) to minimize wait time. 

  2. Why is this not working 

    3 minutes ago, MVCACruisers said:



    3 minutes ago, MVCACruisers said:

    Again a test



  3. We just completed the April Far Horizons cruise from Hong Kong to Tokyo.  I believe it may have been Viking’s first or second time into some of these ports so I thought I would would provide some input on the tours we took to those of you will be doing these tours later this year and next. I have always gotten a lot of value from Cruise Critic’s reviews and wanted to pay it forward. 


    We generally like to do a combination of included, optional, private guides and do-it-yourself tours and that is what we did this time.


    We arrived 2 days early on our own and stayed at the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel, a lovely hotel and the one used by the Viking Pre-tour, although we paid less.  The first day we used Tours by Stephen https://www.stephentourhk.com to visit Lantau Island. He was an  excellent guide with great input on the culture and history of Hong Kong.  I would highly recommend him.  He gave us numerous suggestions  for things to do on our own the next day, and by then we had mastered the metro with Stephen’s help. 


    After boarding the ship we did the included Postcards of Hong Kong which was excellent and we got a great guide. I believe Viking has experience in Hong Kong and had a great tour and guides as a result. 


    In Taipei we did the Taipei in Brief included tour. We did 3 stops, the Taipei Tower 101.  No time to go to the top and just enough time to run down the street to get a photo. Not sure why we went to the deck on the 5th floor, was just a place to take a photo in front of a screen. Silly really.  Second stop Chiang Kai-shek Memorial for the changing of the guard, very interesting, but not much time wish we had more.  Third stop the Martyrs Shrine for a photo op. Good guide and just about what expected from a included tour.  Remember the port is at least 45 minutes from Taipei, so DIY is more difficult here . 


    At Kagoshima we took the optional tour to Sakurajima Volcano.  Nice ferry ride over with the bus and a circling of the island with a stop at the lava flow, a buried shrine gate and a foot bath at the hot springs.  Good value for the money. It was a rush to get back in time for the Kagoshima scenic ride, which was the included tour for this stop.  It was 2 stops, one to a high point in the city to view the volcano and a stop at a small museum. It was our first stop in Japan and the guide gave us a lot of basic information on Japan.  If that was the only tour in Kagoshima, I might have been disappointed. 


    Nagasaki was one of my favorite ports.  The cruise ship docks right in town.  We took the included Peace Park tour and left the tour after the walk through the Peace Park, walked about 200 yards through ground zero and then to the Atomic Bomb Museum on our own.  Museum cost was less than  $5 each including the wonderful English audio guide.  Went through it at our pace and then took the tram back to right in front of the ship.  Way cheaper than the Optional tour to the museum. In the afternoon we walked from the ship to Glover Gardens and Orau Church (about half a mile), both worthwhile stops and easy to do on your own. 


    At Busan we took the Igade Park Coastal Hike and Skywalk tour.  It was rated demanding and it was very difficult. My iWatch recorded 65 flights of stairs.  Lots of steps, if you have weak knees don’t go.  We are in good shape and enjoyed the beautiful coastline, but you must be in shape to tackle this one. We did not make it back in time for the included Busan Panoramic Drive so I can’t comment on it. Sometimes it looks like you can do both a morning tour and an afternoon tour, but if you are late,  its a no go.  Be sure you do the paid tour in the morning. 


    In Hiroshima we did the Postcards of Hiroshima, which walked us through the Peace Park and the site of the remnants of the bombed out dome. Because there was a shuttle offered here, we left the tour after it went through the park.  Our intention was to go thru the museum on our own, but the crowds were too great.  So we walked to the nearby Hiroshima Castle (it was ok) and after that walked about a mile to the Sukkei-en Gardens which were excellent.  Then back a mile to the shuttle stop to get back to the ship.  Lots of options here if you are willing to DIY.


    There was an overnight in Hiroshima and the second day we did the optional Itsukshima Tour.  This takes you on a ferry to a beautiful Torri gate in the water and a shrine again a very good tour, but with a not so good guide. Many on the tour missed going in the shrine because the guide didn’t tell them they needed to go with him and not explore on their own until after the shrine visit. Hopefully Viking will improve on the guides they get as they become more experienced with these ports. 


    In Osaka, we took the optional Ancient Kyoto tour.  Again it was a good value and we enjoyed it despite the crowds of Japanese there because it was Golden Week..  About 1 hour drive each way, and visits to the bamboo forest, a shrine, a temple for a vegetarian lunch, and the golden pavilion.  Really worthwhile and we had a very good guide here. 


    In Shimizu we took the included Stunning Vistas of Shimizu to see Mt Fuji which very fortunately was visible both days. This tour goes to 2 stops, first a great observation deck and then a local beach with pine forest and some hiking trails.  My hope is Viking will add an hour to this tour because both places were beautiful and we could have used more time at each. 


    In Tokyo we used www.triplelights.com to find a private guide.  We did a 6 hour tour of the city and guide picked us up at the ship in the  Hurami Cruise port and delivered us after the tour to the shuttle bus location downtown.  We visited Skytree tower for great views, Asakusa Shrine, Edo Museum and Imperial Gardens. You can pretty much design a tour with the sites you want. Note that the guide is paid in advance to TripleLights and you pay for all transportation costs, lunch and entrance fees for you and the guide.  Good value and saw a lot more than if we did a included or optional tour.


    We also stayed in Tokyo on our own 2 extra days at the Marriott Prince Sakura Tower using points.  One of the best hotels we have stayed in.  We did the Meiji shrine and Shibuya Crossing on our own using the metro card we got the day before.  Both give a good feel for life in Tokyo.


    Our last day was also a private tour of Kamakura using TripleLights again.  Our guide was Eiko and she was excellent. Saw both shrines and temples and participated in a teamasters tea ceremony.  Best guide of the trip and a lot fun.  There is a Viking optional tour that goes to Kamakura, but we felt we got so much more out of a personalized tour that costs just slightly more for 2 and would have been less if there were 4.


    One other note...proper dress is required in the shrines with shoulders and knees covered.  Bring slip on shoes that can be worn with socks because shoe removal is required at several places and its easier if you don’t have to retie shoelaces at those stops 


    I hope you all enjoy your cruise as much as we did. 

  4. We were on the post-Iceland add-on in 2015 and the cost of the flight to Iceland was included at that time. The tour was quite nice. We took an early afternoon flight and arrived at the Hilton Hotel in Reykjavik late afternoon. The hotel is a bit out of the downtown, but downtown was accessible by bus and the Hilton provided a free bus card. There are quite a few nearby restaurants as well as the Hilton dining room.


    The first day of the tour was the Circle tour and covered the geothermal areas , the UNESCO site where the tectonic plates meet, and wonderful waterfalls and views of the glaciers from a distance. You were gone all day with an included lunch at the geysers. The second day was a city tour in the morning and the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon (bring your bathing suit). All in all a very informative and enjoyable tour.

  5. We are currently on the West Indies cruise and my husband and I were signed up for the Virgin Gorda Baths tour. I believe that Viking was very upfront about the difficulty of the tour. In the documentation it was rated a "d" for demanding. Because my husband has a bad hip, the rating caused me to look it up on YouTube. The videos show how tight the maneuvering is at the Baths. So he cancelled out. At the port talk the tour director also made the same warning as well as the chance for rough seas on the ferry ride over.


    I went on the tour and it was simply wonderful. The hike down was a bit difficult as was the trip though the boulders, but the conditions and circumstances on any particular day do make a difference. We had calm seas, there was no rain and the path down was not slippery. There was only one ship in port and the park was not very crowded. We had an easy trip through the boulders and the water was fine. There was an easier way down to the right and I noticed that an older couple took that route down and chose not to go through the cave at all. You can still see the unique bolder formations.


    My suggestion is to read all the Viking material carefully, listen to Viking port talks and you'll have a great time.



    Sent from my iPad using Forums

  6. We are currently passengers on the Viking Star and are docked in Tallinn, Estonia. Although yesterday was a bit chaotic, we are amongst the group of passengers who are quite happy with what Viking has done too ease an understandably difficult situation.


    They have provided complementary Tallinn tours for the next 2 days to all the sights in the area including the Happsuala Summer Resort, Viimsi Peninsula, Kakumae Peninsula and Seaplane Harbor, Wilderness hike in Korvemaa Nature Reserve, and bicycling around town. Yesterday we went into town and enjoyed a folk music concert in the town square with the locals.


    We will be taking option 2 described in the Viking response (see earlier posting) and will hope to enjoy Bergen as well. There are those that are disappointed and very unhappy and are leaving the ship ASAP (option 1). But for us this is an unplanned adventure. The crew and staff are doing the utmost to ease the pain of a cancelled cruise and the excellent meals, lectures and on board entertainment continues.

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