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vslyko

Viking compared to Crystal and Seabourn

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We traveled on Crystal Symphony in March - April 2017 for a B2B from Hong Kong to Tokyo.  We loved our itinerary, the staff, the food was excellent, especially the specialty restaurants.  The excursions (especially a side trip to Xian, flying from Xiamen, returning to Shanghai) were exceptional, however extremely pricey.  What we didn't like was eating in the main dining room w/ a set table every night; dinners were very long & drawn out.  Crystal really didn't have a casual option for dinner like what you could do for breakfast & lunch, except for a couple of nights.  On Viking you always have the option to eat casually up in the World Cafe for all meals.  I didn't care for how Crystal handled the logistics for getting people out for excursions, it was always crowded getting out of the area where we met to depart; people crowding the exits & aisles.  We are not big alcohol drinkers so having the alcohol included in the fare was excessive for us.  We did enjoy the cocktails that we had but we are fine w/ what is served on Viking for lunch & dinner and we hardly drink even then.  I found the Symphony to be a bit tired but I understand it's been refurbished since 2017.  And what I  really didn't care for on Crystal were a number of the other passengers.  Those that were doing a World cruise were extremely cliquish and I saw a lot of boorish, self-absorbed, entitled 'Ugly American' behavior that was so awful, I was embarrassed to be an American citizen.  Having said that, prior to the pandemic, I would have considered another Crystal cruise for the right itinerary.

 

We have traveled w/ Viking for three river cruises and four ocean cruises.  What brings us back to Viking is the seamless manner in which everything is handled from beginning to end(especially if you do your air w/ them).  When embarking on Crystal in Hong Kong, it was pretty unorganized and difficult.  It was hard to find any Crystal staff to determine where we needed to be to get onto the cruise.  We have never experienced that w/ Viking.  Viking staff service is also exceptional, every staff person tries to be as accommodating as possible.  Included excursions are generally pretty good, optional ones are even better.  The ships are just beautiful and the individual cabins are well designed(&  the Penthouse Verandahs are extremely spacious).  Food is also excellent but I think Crystal has better specialty restaurants.  I prefer Viking's afternoon tea in the Winter garden, each person/couple gets a tier of goodies and the scones are the best.  As you know on Crystal, it's up in their area that is like the Explorer's Lounge on Viking and it is buffet style.  The spa facilities on Viking are included, you don't have to schedule a spa service in order to use the sauna, whirlpool or the snow grotto.  I have also found Viking customer relations to be extremely responsive when positive and negative feedback are given.  I definitely feel that we are valued clients of Viking.  

 

We haven't traveled w/ Seabourn, but if service and food are high on your priorities, I would consider Oceania.  We did a B2B on Riviera(one of their larger ships) from Athens to Barcelona and felt Oceania was comparable to Viking.  Out of the three cruise lines, Oceania's food is definitely a notch above and their specialty restaurants are exceptional.  We were scheduled to travel on one of their smaller ships for November 2020(Athens to Athens) but we canceled that cruise before final payment.  

 

Given what I have read on the Oceania boards versus Viking w/ regards to cancelations and refunds, Viking has been exceptional, though in my own experience, I didn't have any issues w/ Oceania.  

 

However going forward, I think we stick w/ Viking.  It would have to be an itinerary that we really want to do 'jump ship' so to speak.  Hope my perspective has been helpful!

 

 

 

 

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On 9/7/2020 at 9:56 AM, Clay Clayton said:

oh, no fresh flowers anywhere on board

 

Fresh flowers can be an issue for some people. Even with daily doses of ClaritinD and flonase, DH is allergic to some flowers, usually the ones that are very fragrant. More than once, we have had to ask to have vases moved.

 

On 9/8/2020 at 9:27 PM, Cienfuegos said:

While I would have appreciated a baseball bat or Taser to encourage people to sanitize on the way into dining rooms, that might not fit into their hospitality protocol.

 

Many, many times we have been directed to the sink or sanitizing station before entering a dining room. I noticed this past January, just as the news of virus outbreak in Wuhan was starting to break, that they were more insistent than normal about the handwashing.

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"more insistent than normal" is a good thing.  I thought they were far too polite in October of 2019.

 

While the Covid-19 has focused attention, the prior recurrences of norovirus and rotovirus should have been a reminder that constant vigilance is important.

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On our March 2020 cruise they were very insistent that we sanitize before being allowed into the Restaurant. After being told the table number by the Maitre’d, the seater stood beside the dispenser until you had used it.  Same think at Manfredi’s and Chef’s Table.  At the World Cafe and Pool Grill there were crew beside the dispensers requesting your use them.  Not quite Norwegian’s “WashyWashy” but very similar!

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We have sailed Crystal and Viking, once each.  We experienced Crystal Serenity at the worst possible time:  before the recent renovations that made true anytime dining possible but at the point where Crystal was selling very well – since our ship was full, we did not experience the service standards that Crystal is known for.  But I have been following the renovations and expect that sailing on Crystal in 2019 would have been much better.

 

We sailed on Viking at the best possible time:  our ship was brand new, and so was our itinerary (British Isles Explorer).  We found the ship breathtakingly beautiful – yes, the Nordic design is cool but the quality of the finishes is very high so we compared it to a Four Seasons hotel – and very well laid out.  We had a PV cabin which at 338sf is comfortably spacious – and the bathrooms on Viking are world class!  The food was excellent – all venues were good but being able to experience five different Chef's Table menus was amazing.  The only real disappointment was that the 'included' shore excursions were all very basic, so we ended up not taking any of them – and that really changed the value proposition.

 

What has kept us from going back to Viking is:  partly the outrageously early final payment dates (yes they have been very good about refunds due to Covid, but they had already held everyone's money longer than the cruise lines who are being criticized for slow repayments!), and mainly the limited number of itineraries.  This is where Crystal really excels – and if you like to do back-to-backs it may be a problem for you even on the first cruise.

 

Going further afield, have you looked at the Cruise Critic section for Solo Travelers?   It doesn't focus only on luxury cruises, but there is a thread with recent solo fare bargains.

 

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Thank You so much Host Jazzbeau for your review and comparing both Crystal's Product to Viking's Product.  I will check out the link on Cruise Critic for solo travelers.  I didn't even know of it and appreciate you educating me that it even existed.

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On 9/10/2020 at 8:22 PM, Peregrina651 said:

Many, many times we have been directed to the sink or sanitizing station before entering a dining room. I noticed this past January, just as the news of virus outbreak in Wuhan was starting to break, that they were more insistent than normal about the handwashing.

 

On the Sun, the Master included, "Wash, wash, wash" in every Noon announcement and every venue had crew stationed at the entrance ensuring pax used the gel/washed. At the buffet, although the gel was available, washing hands was mandatory.

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