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  1. I actually really liked Viking’s approach to tipping on our 2018 cruise. They automatically added a gratuity charge to the onboard bill; if you wanted to change it, you had to take action. That seemed like a reasonable compromise between putting all responsibility on you (which meant you would be more likely to skip or forget it) vs. baking the gratuities into the price of the cruise. I admit to not really understanding the latter option, since tipping is supposed to be for excellent service. If it’s just another fee, then wouldn’t that just be considered a salary raise? That’s fine too, but then why call it a gratuity?
  2. Hi, Sparkles — I think we purchased our shuttle tickets online through Viator: https://m.viator.com/tours/Bruges/Return-Cruise-Shuttle-Service-from-Zeebrugge-to-Bruges/d4836-22540P1 But you probably could just show up without an advance ticket. Other people did. You do have a short walk from the shuttle drop-off into the city center because Bruges doesn’t allow buses there. If that’s a problem, there are always taxis. We went in April, so the weather is probably similar. Probably cool rather than cold. Layers are a good way to go. I think you can check the weather online at places like weather.com. I brought a lightweight jacket, a cardigan, a couple sweaters, and some tank tops to layer underneath in case it got especially cold. (Hello, Norway!) And some pretty scarves. I think there were a few warmer days in Spain where I wore a lightweight shirt. There’s quite a temperature range on this cruise, given that it runs between Norway and Spain. Layering is your friend. It’s a fantastic cruise. Have a great time!
  3. I had the best negroni of my life in the Explorer’s Lounge on Sky. (Well, more than one, actually.) There was a particular bartender that made them; the other guys weren’t able to produce it. Aside from the extra orange peel and a bit of soda, I don’t know what he did differently. I got one most evenings when he was on duty!
  4. Glad you’ll get to see Bruges. It was a real highlight for us when we took your cruise in 2018. For anyone else reading this thread and wondering, it’s very easy to get into Bruges on your own. That’s the one place where we did our own thing rather than take an excursion. When you walk out the gates of the port area, there’s a shuttle company to your right and across the street. It’s cheap and runs frequently. You can book ahead or you can just show up. Rick Steves goes into more detail, or I’d be happy to provide more info if desired. My only complaint about Bruges is that we didn’t have nearly enough time there!
  5. So, gently nudging us back on track here, thanks to everyone who has posted their thoughts about this line so far. What I’ve heard people say they liked about Regent: - the all-inclusiveness of the fare - perks with higher-end cabins - more onboard space per passenger - business-class flights - itineraries - larger cabins - informal daytime dress code - friendly passengers - familiarity Anything else?
  6. Probably depends on what happens afterwards.
  7. Hello, all. My DH and I took our first cruise together last year with Viking Ocean and had a wonderful time. Since then, Regent has discovered us and we’ve been receiving a lot of their marketing materials. We’re pondering another cruise in a year or two, so we’re looking at options. I’ve paged through a bunch of the posts here to get a better picture of how Regent differs from everybody else but it’s still unclear. So I’ll just ask: What sets the Regent experience apart from other cruise lines?
  8. It’s only found on the Viking Onion ship, I believe. (Get it? Onion, Orion? See?) (I’m obviously not very good at puns. But I am enjoying this thread.)
  9. As Capt_BJ says, the seats are the same. Plenty comfy. You get a couple of perks with comfort class, but they don’t really have much to do with the comfort of your backside. If you take the Viking excursion, you sit in a car reserved just for Viking folks, you get a lovely guide to tell you all about Norway, and you get fed. Plus they take your luggage to Oslo in a separate vehicle. And my backside was happy. The bench seating seems to be more a feature of trains that take the small offshoot mountain railway to/from Flam. Some folks do that as part of a route informally known as “Norway in a Nutshell,” which would also be fun to do some day.
  10. We took the Viking extension last year, from Bergen to Oslo. Viking took over a couple of train cars, and we had an excellent tour guide for the 7-hour trip. I believe there were snacks and drinks, and we had lunch vouchers. No need for comfort class. Upon arrival in Oslo, we had another tour guide and a short tour of Oslo, followed by an excellent (though quite late) dinner. Everyone was pretty tired at the end. We were very glad we booked an extra day in Oslo to just relax, sleep in, and see a few sites on our own. Highly recommended.
  11. Here’s another take on the subject: We loved our experience last year on Viking Sky. We’re seriously considering another Viking cruise. We’d like to book one for next year, and the ones we’re interested in are already selling out. I found this thread while checking to see what Viking’s current payment policies are. Sadly, it looks like we can’t book a cruise for next year because we won’t have saved up enough money in time to pay a year in advance. If we go with Viking, we’ll have to wait until 2021 or later. If Viking had a more delayed payment policy, this would be a no-brainer decision. We’d be on a Viking ship next year! But now we’re going to look at other options and see what else is out there. Maybe we’ll decide it’s worth waiting an extra year to stick with Viking, or maybe we’ll have a different and hopefully equally lovely experience somewhere else in 2020.
  12. Glad folks are finding that horribly long review useful! It was fun to re-read it today (nearly a year later!) and remember our wonderful trip. For those considering Monet’s Gardens, I would suggest checking out what will be blooming during the time you visit. I imagine it can look quite different depending on the time of year, which might help you make your decision. Our next overseas trip is coming up in about 6 weeks — Israel! Not a cruise this time, more’s the pity. Those cruise vacations really spoil you, don’t they? Happy travels!
  13. Those of you who have been on this cruise, how much of a slant did you perceive in the information you received during the Viet Nam portion of the trip? From what I’ve been able to tell, the victors of the war — the North Vietnamese — have dominated the narrative about the war ever since, which makes sense because they now control the country. I’m interested in seeing Viet Nam (and Cambodia) but not in propaganda. Background: I worked in Southeast Asian refugee camps for 3 years and heard the South Vietnamese perspective, which directly contradicts some of what I now hear from current-day Viet Nam. I’d love to see the country and talk with people, especially if they’re not heavily controlled in what they’re allowed to show us or say. But if tourists are heavily shepherded toward hearing only certain people’s (officially sanctioned) stories, I’m not sure how much I would enjoy this cruise. I’d be interested in your thoughts.
  14. I mostly just remember wailing and gnashing of teeth. Mine in particular.
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