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palermo22

Viking Orion Review

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Just returned from a 17 day cruise from Bali to Sydney. I hope this review gives you answers that you haven't been able to find elsewhere. I won't go into a lot of detail but if you have questions then by all means let me know. We were on the Sky about 1 1/2 years ago so a lot of my comparison is with that cruise (Barcelona, the Baltic and Beyond).

 

Last cruise we were in a Deluxe Veranda and this cruise we were in a Penthouse Veranda. While they are similar, the Penthouse Veranda is almost 70 square feet bigger. The closet inn the Deluxe Veranda is only accessible by climbing over the bed - while the PH Veranda was in a different location and was so much more practical. If we ever take Viking again - and I am sure we will - it will definitely be in a PH Veranda.

 

The food: definitely was better this time around - we were very critical of the food last go-around - while the portions were smaller - there was more variety and more flavor. I'll give the food a 4* rating after giving it a 3* last year.

 

Entertainment: this was a surprise as we weren't expecting an extravaganza show and we didn't get one. What we did get was four talented singers/dancers who put a good show (one night show tunes and another night Beatles song book).  The cruise director (Bevan) did a show and he pulled it off with his great singing - and then there was Ian - the assistant cruise director who id an Elvis show. Mixed in were a few different singers. I would give the entertainment a 3+.

 

Here comes the negatives: of course we knew what entertainment was on the ship and what there was to do on sea days. But it was really noticeable that there just isn't a lot to do. Make sure you have a good book to read or that one of the speakers aboard is talking about something that you have a deep interest in.

 

Finally the worst part of the cruise: the excursions! Just to give Viking everything they deserve (both good and bad) - I obviously can't blame the negatives on the weather which was awful. Almost every port was 100% humidity with showers. This is the rainy season from Bali through the Australian East Coast - so they get a pass for the weather. But I (and most of the others) found both the included and paid for excursions to be quite simply awful. The companies that were hired didn't follow the agendas and at times seemed lost (both literally and figuratively). In one of the ports we were to go to a museum - the driver got there at 9:30 only to find out that it opened at 10 AM. Then he allowed two hours to go through the museum telling everyone to be ready to leave at 12 Noon - problem was the museum at best only took an hour. Everyone climbed back into the bus except for two couples - who were adamant that they were going to stay until 12 Noon - no matter what. The driver lost complete control of the situation and 40 people wound up waiting 45 minutes for four people. One of our port stops was Hamilton Island (part of the Thursday islands) - there was absolutely nothing to do there (there were no formal tours - and we had to use a Tender to reach the island) - most people (including us) walked around for a n hour and saw nothing of interest - and we took the first Tender where there was room and went back to the ship. The most horrifying excursion was going to Komodo Island. Temperature was around 90 with 100% humidity and when the tour was complete - Viking was unprepared for the people taking the Tenders back to the ship. We all waited about 45 minutes for Viking to get their act together - and meanwhile we were all lined up on a pier that probably was a hundred yards long - absolutely no cover from the sun was provided - and at least two people needed medical attention from passing out.

 

As it turned out, the best tour (excursion) that we had was the three days (after the cruise was completed) we spent in Sydney. We signed up directly with Blue Mountains tour company and had a delightful time.

 

I would definitely take a Viking cruise in the future but I would have to be convinced that the problems attached to the excursions for this cruise would not be repeated.

 

   

Edited by palermo22
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Thank you so much for your in-depth review!  Good to hear that the food is better.  We will be going from Sydney to Bali in March; hopefully it will not be as hot (but I expect humid) and will set expectations accordingly.  We realize that this is a new route for Viking so I guess we will be guinea pigs as well.  I'm hoping our Auckland to Sydney leg will be better.

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Jerry, I hope that you filled out the review forms for each of the tours you took and if you haven't, please share your comments directly with Viking so that they can work on fixing what went wrong--and its seems a lot did. Write them at tellus@vikingcruises.com and they will forward your remarks and criticisms to the correct department.

 

Thank you for the weather report. I've been considering this itinerary but you have confirmed that at least in December, January this cruise in  not for me.

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Thankyou for all the info. I’m going to say now that other than Hong Kong and Singapore, Asian Tour ports are pretty poor. The harbours are miles from anywhere. Bangkok is the worst. 

 

Having been to Bali multiple times on land and once by cruise, on the cruise I’d stay on the ship to be honest. Traffic is awful. You can’t really get anywhere meaningful on a day trip. Staying overnight in a hotel and it’s a different place. 

 

Its disappointing you didn’t like Hamilton Island though. It’s a beach destination so that’s what you do, and the Harbour there is quite nice. We stay there on land trips every few years. 

 

The weather - from December until April the weather will be hot and humid and likely wet. It’s that time of the year. Singapore (if Orion goes there) will always be hot.  

 

The excursions - the included ones for our Alaskan cruise are quite mundane. We will only do one. The paid for excursions are very good and very expensive. We’ve booked the same excursions privately for significant savings. The only Orion one we are doing is the train as it’s a long one. 

 

Seems Viking did not contract with good vendors. Ships have been going to Asia for years. I’ve done some dreadful tours in Asia with Princess. This was January 2 years ago. Truly awful and all of us lined up at guest services afterwards. Nothing happened. 

Edited by Pushka

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Pushka: got a little confused - it wasn't Hamilton Island (which is part of the Whitsunday islands) where we had a bad time - it was the Thursday islands that we had a horrible time.  No, Hamilton island was very nice (the weather wasn't). For the Thursday Islands we were all asking "why did we go 200 miles just to be disappointed on Thursday Islands"?

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5 minutes ago, palermo22 said:

Pushka: got a little confused - it wasn't Hamilton Island (which is part of the Whitsunday islands) where we had a bad time - it was the Thursday islands that we had a horrible time.  No, Hamilton island was very nice (the weather wasn't). For the Thursday Islands we were all asking "why did we go 200 miles just to be disappointed on Thursday Islands"?

 

Oh ok. You mentioned Hamilton Island in your post. So I got confused. It’s just not a great itinerary is it which is a shame. 

Edited by Pushka

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Thank you for the review palermo22 ... you confirmed what we had been expecting. Puska is right about many of the Asian ports being remote / undeveloped and we were aware of that - what we didn't know was if Viking would perform some sort of miracle and overcome these issues. Obviously not. On the basis of your review and others we have read, we will book Viking South America for 2020 rather than Asia (we already have bookings for 2019). 

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Palermo22,

 

A good part of the cruise was also on the Northern & Eastern part of Australia, how were those ports?  Darwin, Cairns, Townsville,  Brisbane, Newcastle.  You mentioned Thursday Island wasn't good & liked Hamilton Island.  Did you take any excursions to the Great Barrier Reef?  It seems that being so humid and rainy made it hard to enjoy the ports.  We are hoping to do Southeast Asia in 2021 on Viking - I expect travel to this part of the world to be challenging having been in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.   I guess I will be reminded when visiting Indonesia.

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11 hours ago, SM77 said:

Palermo22,

 

A good part of the cruise was also on the Northern & Eastern part of Australia, how were those ports?  Darwin, Cairns, Townsville,  Brisbane, Newcastle.  You mentioned Thursday Island wasn't good & liked Hamilton Island.  Did you take any excursions to the Great Barrier Reef?  It seems that being so humid and rainy made it hard to enjoy the ports.  We are hoping to do Southeast Asia in 2021 on Viking - I expect travel to this part of the world to be challenging having been in Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines.   I guess I will be reminded when visiting Indonesia.

 

The trip was challenging yet a lot of fun. Where else can you get within a few feet of a Komodo Dragon or hold and feed a Kuala Bear or rome among Kangaroos and feed them?

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Dear @palermo22,

 

Welcome home, and thank you for this opportunity to learn more about your recent voyage aboard Viking Orion

 

The detailed overview you have provided, including your much appreciated constructive comments regarding the shore excursions and onboard entertainment on sea days, is insightful and has been noted for further review by our Executive Team. 

 

In light of that, we do regret to learn that this journey left you feeling disappointed and assure you your feedback has not gone unheard. Should you like to discuss your Viking experience in more detail we would be happy to connect you with a member of our Customer Relations team via TellUs@vikingcruises.com. 

 

Thank you for cruising with Viking, and we hope to welcome you aboard again in the future.

 

Warm regards,
Viking Cruises
 

On 12/25/2018 at 1:50 PM, palermo22 said:

Just returned from a 17 day cruise from Bali to Sydney. I hope this review gives you answers that you haven't been able to find elsewhere. I won't go into a lot of detail but if you have questions then by all means let me know. We were on the Sky about 1 1/2 years ago so a lot of my comparison is with that cruise (Barcelona, the Baltic and Beyond).

 

Last cruise we were in a Deluxe Veranda and this cruise we were in a Penthouse Veranda. While they are similar, the Penthouse Veranda is almost 70 square feet bigger. The closet inn the Deluxe Veranda is only accessible by climbing over the bed - while the PH Veranda was in a different location and was so much more practical. If we ever take Viking again - and I am sure we will - it will definitely be in a PH Veranda.

 

The food: definitely was better this time around - we were very critical of the food last go-around - while the portions were smaller - there was more variety and more flavor. I'll give the food a 4* rating after giving it a 3* last year.

 

Entertainment: this was a surprise as we weren't expecting an extravaganza show and we didn't get one. What we did get was four talented singers/dancers who put a good show (one night show tunes and another night Beatles song book).  The cruise director (Bevan) did a show and he pulled it off with his great singing - and then there was Ian - the assistant cruise director who id an Elvis show. Mixed in were a few different singers. I would give the entertainment a 3+.

 

Here comes the negatives: of course we knew what entertainment was on the ship and what there was to do on sea days. But it was really noticeable that there just isn't a lot to do. Make sure you have a good book to read or that one of the speakers aboard is talking about something that you have a deep interest in.

 

Finally the worst part of the cruise: the excursions! Just to give Viking everything they deserve (both good and bad) - I obviously can't blame the negatives on the weather which was awful. Almost every port was 100% humidity with showers. This is the rainy season from Bali through the Australian East Coast - so they get a pass for the weather. But I (and most of the others) found both the included and paid for excursions to be quite simply awful. The companies that were hired didn't follow the agendas and at times seemed lost (both literally and figuratively). In one of the ports we were to go to a museum - the driver got there at 9:30 only to find out that it opened at 10 AM. Then he allowed two hours to go through the museum telling everyone to be ready to leave at 12 Noon - problem was the museum at best only took an hour. Everyone climbed back into the bus except for two couples - who were adamant that they were going to stay until 12 Noon - no matter what. The driver lost complete control of the situation and 40 people wound up waiting 45 minutes for four people. One of our port stops was Hamilton Island (part of the Thursday islands) - there was absolutely nothing to do there (there were no formal tours - and we had to use a Tender to reach the island) - most people (including us) walked around for a n hour and saw nothing of interest - and we took the first Tender where there was room and went back to the ship. The most horrifying excursion was going to Komodo Island. Temperature was around 90 with 100% humidity and when the tour was complete - Viking was unprepared for the people taking the Tenders back to the ship. We all waited about 45 minutes for Viking to get their act together - and meanwhile we were all lined up on a pier that probably was a hundred yards long - absolutely no cover from the sun was provided - and at least two people needed medical attention from passing out.

 

As it turned out, the best tour (excursion) that we had was the three days (after the cruise was completed) we spent in Sydney. We signed up directly with Blue Mountains tour company and had a delightful time.

 

I would definitely take a Viking cruise in the future but I would have to be convinced that the problems attached to the excursions for this cruise would not be repeated.

 

   

 

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Thank you for the review. We are going in Feb/March Auckland to Bali. We booked our shore excursions the other day, mostly the includeds. I'm really sorry to hear that they were so poor. We were hoping for more. Did anyone that you spoke to book either of the Great Barrier Reef excursions? We booked the one in the Whitsundays,  but it is $600 and I'm having second thoughts about if it's worth it.  Would you skip Komodo the next time? I booked the included but standing in the sun in an hour doesn't appeal. Thank you so much.

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2 hours ago, stretchcruz said:

Thank you for the review. We are going in Feb/March Auckland to Bali. We booked our shore excursions the other day, mostly the includeds. I'm really sorry to hear that they were so poor. We were hoping for more. Did anyone that you spoke to book either of the Great Barrier Reef excursions? We booked the one in the Whitsundays,  but it is $600 and I'm having second thoughts about if it's worth it.  Would you skip Komodo the next time? I booked the included but standing in the sun in an hour doesn't appeal. Thank you so much.

 

We did the Barrier reef excursion on another ship and have also done the trip on land based trips as well. We always enjoy them. I do like snorkelling though but even if you don’t its still worth being taken to the pontoon and doing the submarine style trips. Take seasick meds if you don’t like choppy seas. Not always an issue but better to be prepared. 

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We don't get seasick. We've been snorkeling for years in the Caribbean and I guess I am just wondering if we should spend $600 just to say we did the Great Barrier Reef? It's a TON of money for us....

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17 hours ago, stretchcruz said:

We don't get seasick. We've been snorkeling for years in the Caribbean and I guess I am just wondering if we should spend $600 just to say we did the Great Barrier Reef? It's a TON of money for us....

Yes those trips are always expensive even for land trips. And then there will always be the cruise ships add-on. It’s usually a full day and includes a large buffet, the long boat ride of usually an hour each way, use of all the facilities on the pontoon etc. It’s really hard to call. You will be cruising through the GBR anyway - well we did on QM2 and I really enjoyed that.

 

I’m not sure if it’s really going to be such a Wow moment if you’ve snorkeled around the world to be honest. There is usually a large crowd of people doing it and maybe other boats as well using the pontoon so it does get busy. 

 

Are you going to Hamilton Island? You can snorkel off the beach there. Or Hayman Island? It’s all part of the GBR 

Edited by Pushka

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We are going to Hamilton Island. That's where the tour I booked leaves from:

 

Explore the stunning beauty of the largest living organism on Earth—the iconic Great Barrier Reef. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this natural wonder is composed of almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch across 1,400 miles off the coast of Australia. Embark on a scenic cruise past deserted islands, secluded bays and isolated beaches on your way to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Upon arrival at Hardy Reef, transfer to your semi-submersible pontoon vessel. Anchored inside the calm, confined waters of Hardy Lagoon, you will have free time to relax as you choose. Easy access to the water from your vessel will give you the opportunity to snorkel among the colorful coral and abundant marine life. You may also view the reef from the vessel’s underwater viewing chamber or relax on deck. Enjoy a buffet-style lunch on board before returning to shore and your ship.

Edited by stretchcruz

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Dobie,

Do NOT miss the Komoda Dragons!!!  Some people chose to snorkel that day BUT were also able to see the dragons without a long walk!!  Yes, it was HOT but you will be fine.  Those who are frail, with limited mobility will be challenged by the heat....we too had fainting passengers that had to be carried out of the park.  People know your limits!!!!

 

Your Great Barrier Reef tour sounds quite good.  Make sure there is a limited number of people on the excursion, we were disappointed in our tour from Cains on a very large boat and then onto a anchored pontoon.  I am sure Viking is offering choices now. 

 

We were on Thursday Island on Sunday and it was mostly closed...but the city's people did offer an introduction with dancing and had some vendors set up in the main park.  We went to Church and that was an experience!!!!  The view from the top is worth the hike or cab ride.  Not sure why this city continues on the itinerary but you can make the most of the day by exploring!!!

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Just commenting here to echo what deec said about the Barrier Reef excursion.  We were on an Australia land tour a couple of months ago and went with our group out to the reef on a large boat to a pontoon boat.  Everything about this tour was uncomfortable.  The 2 hour trip to the reef was very choppy and so many folks suffered from sea sickness.  The area of the reef by the pontoon boat looked very dead, probably because too many people have visited that part of the reef.  It was crowded and the lunch was terrible.  This was the one part of our tour we wished we could have skipped.  My advice is to find a small, quality tour if you are going to the reef.  Someone on our tour skipped that excursion and had a fantastic time scuba diving with a smaller private tour he booked independently.

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On 12/31/2018 at 7:57 AM, stretchcruz said:

We are going to Hamilton Island. That's where the tour I booked leaves from:

 

Explore the stunning beauty of the largest living organism on Earth—the iconic Great Barrier Reef. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this natural wonder is composed of almost 3,000 individual reefs and 900 islands that stretch across 1,400 miles off the coast of Australia. Embark on a scenic cruise past deserted islands, secluded bays and isolated beaches on your way to the outer Great Barrier Reef. Upon arrival at Hardy Reef, transfer to your semi-submersible pontoon vessel. Anchored inside the calm, confined waters of Hardy Lagoon, you will have free time to relax as you choose. Easy access to the water from your vessel will give you the opportunity to snorkel among the colorful coral and abundant marine life. You may also view the reef from the vessel’s underwater viewing chamber or relax on deck. Enjoy a buffet-style lunch on board before returning to shore and your ship.

 

It sounds like this is not a Viking Excursion?  We have done this trip on a land vacation staying at Hamilton Isl. Many overseas tourists who don’t speak English did get seasick as the crew only said to take the provided Ginger tablets in English. There is an area that you reach not far from the Island that is called the washing machine as waters flow in from various channels. The cat they used was good. You will get views of Whitehaven Beach which is beautiful. You can snorkel off the beach at Hamilton but it isn’t brilliant at all. At low tide you can walk a long way into the bay. Your trip will start at the Harbour. 

 

Is there an excursion to Whitehaven Beach? That truly is stunning. Not much to snorkel with but the beach is beautiful with pure white sand and on a good day, crystal clear water. 

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7 hours ago, slewis7 said:

Just commenting here to echo what deec said about the Barrier Reef excursion.  We were on an Australia land tour a couple of months ago and went with our group out to the reef on a large boat to a pontoon boat.  Everything about this tour was uncomfortable.  The 2 hour trip to the reef was very choppy and so many folks suffered from sea sickness.  The area of the reef by the pontoon boat looked very dead, probably because too many people have visited that part of the reef.  It was crowded and the lunch was terrible.  This was the one part of our tour we wished we could have skipped.  My advice is to find a small, quality tour if you are going to the reef.  Someone on our tour skipped that excursion and had a fantastic time scuba diving with a smaller private tour he booked independently.

Hi slewis7,

 

Do you remember where (or who) you took your GBR excursion from?  The Viking excursion from Hamilton Island (as described by Stretchcruz) is run by Cruise Whitesundays and the TripAdvisor reviews of the company are quite good.  

 

Thanks for your input

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The excursion I quoted is a Viking excursion but it is $600. My husband tonight said, hey, we have snorkeled with sea turtles, we have seen octopuses, many fish, small sharks, sting rays, ship wrecks...he can't imagine that it is worth $600 and I think I am agreeing with him. $600 can be better spent elsewhere.

Dee, thanks, I may email you for more info but for sure we have signed up for the Komodo Dragons and want to do it. A review or something (can't remember) mentioned seeing 3 drugged dragons that could be seen in a zoo?

I'm going to look more at the responses tomorrow, thanks all, I worked today over 10 hours but off tomorrow!!

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11 hours ago, SM77 said:

Hi slewis7,

 

Do you remember where (or who) you took your GBR excursion from?  The Viking excursion from Hamilton Island (as described by Stretchcruz) is run by Cruise Whitesundays and the TripAdvisor reviews of the company are quite good.  

 

Thanks for your input

 

It was from Cairns and from a different company (I do not remember the name).

 

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2 hours ago, slewis7 said:

 

It was from Cairns and from a different company (I do not remember the name).

 

Thanks for replying.  I had heard that the Cairns GBR excursions were not so great so we decided to do the one from Hamilton Island through Viking and the description matches the company Cruise Whitesundays which is highly rated on TripAdvisor.  We are hoping for a better excursion than what you experienced.  It is an expensive excursion but going to the GBR is a bucket list item for me and considering the overall expense of the B2B cruise w/ the Bali extension, the excursion cost pales in comparison.  It is highly unlikely we will be traveling to Australia & New Zealand again.  Happy New Year!

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I happened to notice the discussion about snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.  Weather can have such an impact on the experience.  We have snorkeled for years.  Our trips to the GBR were beyond anything we had ever experienced.  We were on a land based tour  and booked two trips from port Douglas.  We booked two separate trips because friends and family had experienced windy rough trips to the reef.  Both our trips were out of this world!!!! We did one to the platoon which was good-you need to go out as far as possible for good snorkeling.  Our favorite was a large dive boat which visited three reefs.

If you snorkeled don't miss the GBR!!!!

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6 hours ago, SM77 said:

Thanks for replying.  I had heard that the Cairns GBR excursions were not so great so we decided to do the one from Hamilton Island through Viking and the description matches the company Cruise Whitesundays which is highly rated on TripAdvisor.  We are hoping for a better excursion than what you experienced.  It is an expensive excursion but going to the GBR is a bucket list item for me and considering the overall expense of the B2B cruise w/ the Bali extension, the excursion cost pales in comparison.  It is highly unlikely we will be traveling to Australia & New Zealand again.  Happy New Year!

 

The trip from Hamilton is much better than the one from Cairns. Even the scenery as you wind your way out to the reef is much nicer. 

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