From time to time I’ve seen comments/questions people trying to compare Oceania to Viking Ocean. We have recently returned from the Viking Star (Venice to Athens) and I can tell you, there is no comparison! We won’t be booking Viking a second time, we are eagerly anticipating our returning to Oceania! I have started a thread in the Viking section which offers more details on the ports as well as lots of pictures, that can be found here:
First off, we did enjoy our cruise, the ports were amazing and we hope to return. We didn’t setoff to compare Viking to Oceania but considering when Viking launched I remember seeing a number of presentations by their chairman trying to compare their produce to O’s. In addition they are in the same price bracket (although I think our Viking cruise was more expensive than a similar O cruise) so comparing the two products seems very fair to us. Naturally there will be people who completely disagree with what I say, and that's fine. These are simply my random opinions.
Just a little background, we have only sailed R class ships so far. We haven’t actually sailed on Marina or Riviera...yet.
Physical Ship: We loved the physical ship, to us Viking Star was near perfection. Almost everything onboard the ship was well thought out and very comfortable. The pictures you see online just don’t do that ship justice. There are so many comfortable places to sit and read. One of the nicest places is the “living room” (or atrium) spanning decks 1-3. It is a lively area in the evening with live music from 6 until late in the evening. There are numerous areas with comfy couches, chairs, etc.. that just beg for you to sit down and socialize or curl up with a book. Either a book you brought or one of the many books that are all over the ship. There were numerous times I’d sit down to read my kindle and one of Viking’s books would catch my eye and I’d spend my time reading that book instead. Also, don’t forget the full walkaround promenade deck. Such a nice feature to find on a modern ship.
Cabin: Although the cabins we have had on Oceania are smaller (Interior, Ocean View, and Balcony) we find them better laid out and have more storage. We had a DV6 cabin on Viking Star and although it is large the storage was very poor. The biggest waste of space is the desk. There are no drawers, just one very large mini-bar that contains 6 cans of luke warm soda. The bedside tables do have US, Euro, and USB outlets but besides a small drawer don’t offer much use. One huge plus on Viking is that the beds are couple of inches higher than O, which meant our suitcase could easily slide under and out. That same suitcase on O has been a struggle to get it to fit under the bed. Given the lack of storage on Viking we found ourselves keeping a few items in the suitcase under the bed.
Bathroom: This where Viking shines! The bathroom is huge! Two drawers, multiple small shelves on both sides of the sink, and multiple shelves below the sink. The actual glass enclosed shower is pretty large as well with a big shelf to line up all the soaps and plastic bottles one may have. The two best features of the bathroom have to be the heated floor and the night light!
Cabin softgoods: This is an area where Viking really misses the boat. The sheets and towels although spotlessly clean don’t feel to be of a particularly high quality. The bath towels felt “scratchy” not the wonderful fluffy towels we find on O. The same could be said for the bed sheets. Considering Viking’s price point and the many other thoughtful touches around the ship this seemed like a strange area to cheap out on. Also, the pillow cases were the strangest pillow cases we have ever encountered. All of the pillow cases on our pillows (and we had extra because of my bad back) opened on the long end, not the short end, which meant that during the night the pillow cases tended to come off much to easily. It seems a silly thing to call out here, but we’ve never seen pillow cases (except possibly a decorative one) that was open on the bottom instead of the side. I could see them really upsetting a germaphobe.
Food: No comparison. Oceania Wins! Trust me we didn’t go hungry, there were multiple occasions of “why?” or “ummm, nice try” or “think again” uttered under our breath during meals on Viking. First off baked goods, on Viking seemed fresh, but not even close to the wonderful treats one receives on O.
Buffet (Terrace cafe/World cafe). O wins. Viking does offer some ‘cooked to order’ items but not many. Most items are pre plated sitting there waiting for you. Eggs benedict at breakfast is plated and sitting on the line, not cooked to order as they are on O. Considering the World Cafe on Viking has a huge open Galley between the buffet lines there is no excuse for not cooking to order. Even HAL poaches eggs to order!
Pool Grill. O Wins. On viking they precook pretty much everything and warm it up. O’s system of placing your order, and taking a number to your table to have a freshly cooked burger delivered to you wins hands down!
Viking seems like they think they have 3,000 people to cook for onboard, not the 900 they actually have onboard. I wouldn’t be surprised if the people who developed their F&B programs came from mega ships. Those were just a few examples of how the food quality and preparation is vastly superior on O compared to Viking. I won’t even compare their “speciality” restaurants, I think actions speak louder than words. After just one meal at Manfredi's we cancelled our second.
Mamsen’s: This is a small cafe that Viking has off the side of the Explorer’s lounge (think Horizons) that in the mornings serve WONDERFUL Norwegian waffles and other breakfast items. Later in the day they serve the waffles again with some of other sweet and savory items and offer some late night munchies (mostly cold cuts).
Espresso Machines: On Viking every bar has their own espresso machine to make wonderful coffees. Some of the bartenders ability to use these machines and make an espresso can be questioned, but that’s a simple training issue.
From time to time we’d make conversation with other people onboard. I’d say the vast majority of people who we met that have cruised before have either only done river cruises or have only cruised Viking. A couple of people seem literally flabbergasted that we’ve cruised other cruise lines! So Viking’s marketing is working, and it seems like there is nothing to slow them down.
If you have any specific questions feel free to ask!