We have just returned from our latest adventure, a voyage on Viking Jupiter, the newest vessel in the Viking Ocean Cruises fleet. This luxurious ship offers cruises throughout Europe. We sailed an 8 night portion of the Viking Homelands itinerary, visiting some historic ports of call around the Baltic Sea. Of course, we want to share every minute of the trip with you. So, here is our signature day-by-day Viking Jupiter cruise review.
Disclaimer: We were invited on Viking Jupiter as guests of the cruise line; however, all reviews and opinions in this post are our own as always.
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review
Viking Jupiter Cruise Ship Overview
The sixth ship in the Viking Ocean Cruises’ fleet, Viking Jupiter offers many of the same comforts as her previous sister ships. In Viking’s point of view, if it isn’t broke, why fix it. For the most part, this is an accurate assessment as the cruise line delivered an exceptional experience throughout the entire trip.
At only 9 decks, the ship dwarfs in comparison to the mega-ships we are accustomed to sailing. Less is more on a Viking Ocean cruise ship. The ship’s venues have been thoughtfully designed and appointed to provide a comfortable and elegant onboard experience.
Public venues offer plenty of space and have features you would expect on any ocean cruise. The Explorers Lounge on deck 7 forward is the perfect spot to relax in the morning or after a long day ashore. It also hosts live music in the evenings to enjoy along with a night cap.
Similarly, the public spaces on Deck 1 and 2 offer a great opportunity to mingle with other guests. The decor is sleek with a muted color palette and a design that is very reminiscent of the line’s river ships. Onboard games and a living room-like feel make it easy to start up a conversation with fellow cruisers before or after your adventures ashore.
Viking prides itself on being destination focused, so there is no over the top decor or flashy production shows. Still, there are plenty of onboard amenities to serve as an entertaining and enriching backdrop during the cruise.
We particularly found the casual dining to be among the best that we have experienced on a cruise. The World Cafe, the onboard buffet, offered a diverse selection that changed daily, along with some upgraded options like a sushi bar. Other favorites were the included espressos and small bites at the Viking Bar, as well as Mamsen’s. This cafe served up one of the Princess’ favorite dishes, the traditional waffles.
Viking Jupiter was the perfect medium for us to explore a brand new region of the world. The ship delivered exceptional service, superb dining, and engaging activities overseen by the cruise director Heather and her assistant Ian.
For us, it was the ideal mix of cruise essentials and features coupled with authentic daily explorations of the noteworthy cities we visited along the Baltic Sea.
Related Post: Viking Jupiter Ship Scorecard Review
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 1 Stockholm, Sweden
Arriving at the Ship
Our pre-arranged flights through Viking Cruises had us departing on Saturday evening. With the time difference, we were scheduled to arrive in Stockholm on Day 1 of the cruise around 10:30 am. In hindsight, we should have traveled the day before and spent a night in a hotel in Stockholm. If this was any other cruise that we booked ourselves, we certainly would have done a pre-cruise stay. Why we didn’t think to do so for this trip still has us puzzled.
The pre-arranged Viking transfers from the airport to the cruise ship took just under an hour. Pulling up on a gloomy and overcast day, we were at the embarkation tent by 11:30 am. Unlike the large terminals in Florida or other ports, getting checked-in and through security occurred dockside of the ship. This was quaint and efficient with plenty of staff to make the process seamless.
We were onboard with a glass of champagne in hand in under 15 minutes; however, we were not able to check into our room until 2 pm. We took this time to explore the ship for a bit. As usual, we headed to the top decks, decks 8 and 9, for a self guided photo tour. Capturing photos and video with few cruisers yet on the ship, we decided to head out and explore Stockholm.
A Half Day Ashore in Stockholm
While we did not have as much time as we had planned, we took the ferry and were able to spend close to two hours on the island of Djurgarden.
With the limited time we had, we decided to explore the Skansen open-air museum. This massive complex includes farmsteads, a replica of an early 18th century town, and several animal exhibits. With the cold weather and time of year, we did not find the area busy at all.
Swiftly reviewing some of the highlights of “the town” and animal exhibits, we caught a ferry back and took the 20 minute walk to our ship, arriving around 4 pm. On a future trip to Sweden, we would certainly visit this venue again, along with the other attractions like the Vasa Museum.
Needing another dose of caffeine, we grabbed some included lattes at the Viking Bar and headed to our room to unpack and get ready for dinner. While there was a port talk this afternoon, we both needed to shower and change up as we had been going for over 24 hours at this point.
By know, the time change and travel fatigue were setting in. We knew it was going to be an early evening. Our media group had an introductory meeting at 6 pm, so this was our next order of business.
A Quick First Night
We were up to Deck 7 at the Wintergarden, where our host had some cocktails and light bites arranged.
We made the rounds introducing ourselves to other writers, bloggers, and influencers who were joining us on the voyage. Over the course of the next 8 nights, we would get to spend more time with this dynamic group of travelers.
The cocktail reception lasted until about 7 pm, when most of us headed to the World Cafe for dinner.
Yes, the Princess was so tired that she was fine with having her first dinner at the buffet.
In fairness, the buffet on Viking Ocean cruises is certainly a step above the typical buffet on larger vessels. Disappointingly though, they did not have much in terms of chicken dishes for her this evening.
On the other hand, I was very impressed with seafood selections, including the crab legs and shrimp cocktail, as well as the sushi. While I usually avoid seafood on a cruise ship, the selections and preparation on Viking Jupiter exceed even my standards!
Dinner was not very busy, so after a few rounds and an exceptional sunset, we were certainly ready to call it a night. Spending a short amount of time on social media, we both fell asleep by 9 pm.
Related Post: Everything Included in Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 2 Stockholm, Sweden
A Morning Tour of Stockholm
While we both could have slept longer, the alarm was set for 6:30 am. Today, we had our first included shore excursion, a bus tour of Stockholm. Our meeting time was 8:30 am on the pier. While the Princess prepared for the day, I went to grab our customary morning coffees.
During my travels, I was sure to capture more video and photos of the indoor public spaces, as well as the morning light highlighting the city.
For breakfast, we had just enough time to test out the waffles at Mamsen’s on deck 7. Yes, this was a top priority for the Princess.
While not usually a fan, I do have to admit the waffles were by far the best I have ever had on land or sea. The venue was relatively empty when we arrived at 7:45 am. It took about 5-7 minutes for the custom waffles to be made. So, we might have also ordered a morning pastry as a starter!
Finishing up slightly after 8 am, we returned to our room to grab our bag and head off the ship. Another benefit of being on a smaller vessel is that it only takes a few minutes to get from one end of the ship to the other.
We were off the ship and loaded onto a bus for the complimentary tour which was a two-hour ride around the city. It included one stop at City Hall. For the most part, we drove by landmarks, including a vantage point above the ship and Alfred Nobel’s family house. Unfortunately, we did not stop at most of these locations.
The tour was done at 10 am, and we spent about two hours doing our own self-guided tour around Gamla Stan. Prior to the cruise, we had mapped out several places that we wanted to see in the city’s old town. Among the locations were Stortorget (the oldest square in Stockholm), the Stockholm Cathedral, Marten Trotzig Alley (the narrowest alley in Stockholm), and the Royal Palace.
After viewing some of these notable landmarks, we hustled back to the Royal Palace to catch the changing of the guards. Of course, we were in the wrong location at the Palace. By the time we were at the correct spot, there was a decent crowd and the ceremony was already in progress.
This also meant that we just missed the 12:30 pm shuttle bus back to the ship. With the extra 30 minutes, we took some pictures of the Parliament building and the Royal Swedish Opera. Catching the 1 pm bus, our time in Stockholm was over, and it was time to prepare for sail away.
An Uneventful Sail Away
Back onboard the ship, we made a quick turn on deck 1 to the Viking Bar for some coffee and a snack.
With muster at 1:45 pm, we had to make our way straight to the Star Theater on Deck 2 upon finishing our snack. With no evening show on Night 1, this was our first time sitting in the theater.
Muster was quick and efficient, and we were up to decks 8 and 9 to watch sail away in no time. We were not alone, as there was a sizable group all the way forward on deck 9 to watch as the ship maneuvered through the channels and passing coastline.
I guess we waited a bit too long to get lunch at the World Cafe, as it closed promptly at 2:30 pm. So, we had to settle for a few small bites from the Pool Grill.
Our next scheduled event was the port talk for Helsinki, Finland at 4 pm. With about an hour or so to kill, we roamed the ship and the onboard stores. Unfortunately, there were no ship ornaments in the logo store.
However, we had received a generous amount of onboard credit, so we used it to purchase some Viking Cruises’ apparel.
While the Princess went to get seats for the talk, I dropped off our new purchases in our room. The talk was part informative background on the destination and part shore excursion sales pitch. This was fine with us, as it provided a good refresher on some of the highlights that we wanted to visit. The talk was over in about 40 minutes, and it was back to the room to change for dinner.
Testing out the Main Dining Room on Viking Jupiter
The main dining is open seating, and you can not make reservations. After doing some work and changing for dinner, we were off to the venue by 6:30 pm. On our way there, our stateroom attendant Jackie greeted us both by first name. Geez, she was good, since she had never officially met me.
At the main dining room, there was virtually no line, and we were escorted to the back of the restaurant at a table for 2.
While so far we were impressed with the dining options, the Restaurant was one venue that felt like any other cruise ship. Don’t get me wrong, we thought the food was fine, and the service was passable. Yet, it didn’t feel any more upscale than dining on mega-ships from other cruise lines.
I had the crab cake starter and the beef wellington for an entree. The Princess went with a salad and vegetable lasagna. Dinner was satisfying, but nothing wowed us. For dessert, I enjoyed the carrot cake, and the Princess felt the cheesecake was a better representation of a New York style cheesecake than most cruise ships.
Tonight was the Captain’s Welcome reception at 9:15 pm in the theater. Out of dinner before 8 pm, we decided to start our drink around the ship with cocktails at the Viking Bar.
Sampling the Entertainment
For the most part, all of the venues have the same drink menu with an occasional different cocktail or two. The only caveat is the night club Torshavn which does have a specialty cocktail menu.
As part of the trip, we were given the Silver Spirits beverage package. This covers virtually every drink, except the aforementioned specialty cocktails at the nightclub. Still, drinks are very reasonably priced, so even if you want a few evening drinks without a beverage package, you will not rack up much of a bar tab.
Sipping our cocktails for a bit, we walked over to the theater when doors were supposed to open at 8:45 pm. At the Star Theater, there was a small queue, mainly because the staff were handing out glasses of champagne for the event.
The show was a pretty typical welcome aboard show. The Captain introduced the senior officers, and the cruise director Heather and her assistant Ian performed during the event. The quartet of Viking singers also sang a few numbers, and we learned of the shows that would occur on the cruise.
Along with Heather singing opera and Ian scheduled to do an Elvis tribute, there was one headliner performing on two evenings, one destination performance during our overnight in Russia, as well as other review shows. Again, this was not really a departure from a typical cruise. We were not surprised that the music was a bit dated, with other shows featuring music from ABBA, the Beatles, and more.
The entire production was done by 10:45 pm. Given our location on the globe, we had to turn our clocks ahead one hour tonight. So, with another early morning, and still trying to adjust to the original time change, we headed back to our room. By the time we were done working, it was close to 12:30 am. So much for a early night!
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 3 Helsinki, Finland
Another Early Morning
This morning, it was another 6 am alarm (which really felt like 5 am). By now, we have the same routine regardless of the ship or itinerary.
The Viking Bar did not open until 6:30 am, so I was able to survey the ship taking more photos and video with very few people.
With coffees in hand, I was back to the room and went through my much shorter morning routine. Today, we had to meet our tour dockside near the ship for another included bus tour of the city.
Ready for a quick bite, we were up to the World Cafe around 8 am. This was perhaps the only time that the ship felt busy. Still, we found seats rather quickly.
The food itself was pretty typical, but it is hard to mess up breakfast. We did like the extra staff coming around to the tables with beverage service. Also, each table had a small carafe of coffee which was a nice touch.
Devouring breakfast, we were back to our room to grab our belongings and head ashore. Off the ship by 9:15 am, we were directed to a bus for our tour.
A Day in Helsinki
The bus tour was similar to the day before. Honestly, neither were that exciting. As we left the cruise terminal, our tour guide provided the usual commentary about the city’s history and landmarks.
About 30 minutes into the trip, we stopped at the Sibelius moment. Here, it was a sea of tour buses and tourists all trying to snap selfies and photos of the modern art tribute to the country’s famed composer.
Following this 20 minute stop, we drove east toward the Olympic Stadium. This was also a restroom break. With the current construction, it was tough to get an uninhibited photo of complex.
Heading into the city, the bus drove by other stops that we would later return to on foot. These landmarks included the Train Station, Finlandia Hall, and the Esplanade.
The tour arrived at Senate Square around 11 am. Here, we were given the option to continue the rest of the day on our own or spend some free time exploring the nearby sites, including the Helsinki Cathedral and Market Square, before taking the bus back to the ship. With plenty more to do and see, we told our tour guide that we would be catching one of the shuttles back to the ship later in the day. Confirming the meeting spot for the shuttle, we were off for close to 3 hours of our own touring and shopping.
During our travels, we made sure to snap plenty of photos of the Helsinki Cathedral and other buildings in Senate Square, Uspenski Cathedral, and the Waterfront, along with doing some shopping at Market Square. Heading back towards Mannerheim Street, Helsinki’s main route, we strolled through the Esplanade. Among the famous spots that we returned to photograph were the Helsinki Train Station and the Museum of Contemporary Art with the statue of the street’s namesake, the Finish leader Carl Mannerheim.
Of course, the Princess had done tedious research, and another place on her list was the Rock Church. Using our cell phone maps, we plotted a course to this more remote location. Along with a few other tourists who were obviously using cell phone GPS as well, we ended up on top of the church instead of at the front entrance. Eventually, we found our way to the entrance and paid the small fee to tour this unique location.
On the suggestion of one of our followers on Instagram, we stopped in at the Cafe Esplandi right before 2 pm to try the Finnish specialty, korvapuusti. This locale was close to the shuttle stop. Luckily, we had just enough time to enjoy our midday snack and make it to the stop for the 2:30 pm shuttle back to the ship.
Wait, We Missed the Show?
Back onboard, it was our regular routine. A coffee and small bite at the Viking Bar. Today’s port talk was 5 pm, and we had dinner reservations at Chef’s Table for 7 pm with some members of our travel group.
So, it was back to the room for some social media before heading down to the lecture on tomorrow’s port of call, St. Petersburg, Russia. Again, the talk was a good mix of information and sales pitch. Prior to the cruise, we paid for the cruise line’s Ultimate Russia shore excursion, a comprehensive tour including several stops over the two full days.
The talk ended by 5:40 pm, and we were back to our room to change and get ready for dinner.
Our group had a private room near the Chef’s Table restaurant. The service was very attentive, and they did a great job of accommodating our large group along with all of the food requests and allergies among us. The Chef himself came out to the table to check everyone’s food preferences. The Princess even had customized chicken options.
The five course tasting menu this evening was Xiang. It is probably the menu we would have picked ourselves had we made the reservation.
For me, the crispy prawns and the wok fried beef that were actually on the menu, along with the paired wines, were perfect. Given that dinner lasted close to three hours, we did not get to see the night’s headliner show in the theater.
With a very early start tomorrow, we said good night to the rest of the travelers and headed back to our room by 10:15 pm.
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 4 and 5 St. Petersburg, Russia
An Immersive Introduction to Russia
Our two-day program in Russia was by far the highlight of our trip. The tour was fast paced and covered a lot of territory. Here, there was not much room for free time or self exploration. Partly, this is due to the travel and visa requirements of the country. We lucked out with an amazing tour guide, Sasha.
We had to meet in the Star Theater for 7:45 am to be assigned to our tour. It was obvious that this was a very popular excursion.
When our group was called, we followed the herd of cruisers off the ship and through the immigration process. Once passed the checkpoint, we were assigned to a bus and we were off to explore St. Petersburg a short time later.
From the beginning, Sasha was upfront that this was going to be an intense couple of days. As we drove around the city and out to the different locations, she would provide plenty of information on the sites as well as some cultural and historical backdrop.
While the tour could go in any order, we were off to explore Catherine’s Palace and the Winter Palace of the Hermitage Museum today and would end the night at the Russian Ballet.
A Guided Tour of Everything
While it doesn’t sound like a lot, between the driving and time spent at each location, it was a busy day.
Our first stop of the day was Catherine’s Palace, located in the town of Pushkin. We arrived by 9 am and had to wait in a small line to enter the Palace. Unlike our normal self guided tours, we stopped in many rooms as Sasha described the artifacts and room’s purpose. Within Catherine’s Palace, we saw the Great Room with its ornate gold carvings, the Amber Room, and more. There were several tour groups, but the museum staff kept groups moving in a seamless manner in and out of the various rooms.
Following our tour of the interior palace, we walked through the gardens on our way back to the bus. We departed around 11:30 am to make our way to our lunch stop.
We stopped for lunch halfway between destinations at Pectopah for an “authentic” Russian lunch that included a bottled of vodka. While the food was nothing to write home about, we did get serenaded with some Russian songs during the meal.
Given we spent two full days touring with the same individuals, we got to know a few couples. One was from New Hampshire, not far from us. Another couple had just retired and were on day 70 something of 90 days of travel literally across the globe.
Following lunch, we continued on to the Winter Palace of the Hermitage Museum. We arrived here around 2:45 pm and were greeted with quite the crowd. Sasha maneuvered her way to get us quick access into the site. Given that this museum boasts over 3 million works of art, we barely made a dent during the few hours we spent here. Among the highlights, we got to see the Throne Room, the Pavilion Hall with its Peacock clock, and some Rembrandt masterpieces. Neither of us are art experts, so having someone to explain the meaning and symbolism of the different pieces was very helpful.
A Night at the Ballet
Leaving the museum, it was a quick bus ride back to the ship. We arrived for 5:15 pm and had to be back on the bus for 7 pm. This meant it was a mad dash to the buffet for dinner followed by a quick costume change.
I was glad to hear the ballet would be a performance of Spartacus at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. Not a connoisseur of ballet by any means, at least I knew the story and was able to piece together the acts with the English program. The Princess on the other hand was not as familiar and did not follow along as well.
The performance was engaging but long given that we had been going all day and that the temperature in the theater was very warm. During the 20 minute intermission, Viking Cruises hosted a champagne reception for cruisers at the ballet. It added a bit more class to the entire evening.
Back at the ship by 11:30 pm, we had to meet up again for 8:15 am the next morning. Unlike some of the other individuals on our bus, we did not catch any naps during the day. So, we made it back to our room and crashed!
More of the Same on Day 2
With some much needed coffee and a quick stop at the buffet, we were at our bus right on time. Today’s itinerary included the complimentary city tour, lunch, and a tour of the Peterhof Palace. The city tour had a photo stop near the two Rostral Columns, where you can see the massive Hermitage Museum, as well as the Peter and Paul Fortress.
After this photo stop, it was on to the two most iconic churches in the city. Along the way, we passed other ornate and massive buildings, but it was tough to keep track of all the awe-inspiring pieces of architecture. It was all so impressive and over stimulating that we just tried to keep up with the narration and snap photos when a clear picture was possible.
Next, we had a 30 minute stop at St. Issac’s Cathedral. Here, we were free to explore the area on our own or to enter the church if we wanted to pay the fee. We opted for taking photos. We captured this largest Cathedral in St. Petersburg from a few different angles then headed to the nearby Senate Square to have a look at the Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great.
At the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, Sasha gave us a quick guided tour of the inside of the church, then we had about 20 minutes to walk around on our own. The intricate tile mosaics and the elaborate exterior were certainly sights to behold. This 40 minute stop was just long enough for us.
Our bus then headed out towards the Peterhof Palace, about an hour drive from the city. Along the way, we stopped at a hall for lunch. We have to say that the food here was a bit underwhelming.
Arriving at Peterhof Palace about 2 pm, Sasha gave us a tour of the luxurious interior. We then had some time to explore the even more ornate outdoor gardens on our own. Perhaps the biggest masterpiece on the grounds is the Grand Cascade. With three waterfalls, 64 fountains, and numerous statues, this grand display depicts Samson prying open a lion’s jaw.
Again, the total time at this location was close to 2.5 hours. Taking the 4:30 pm hydrofoil from the palace, we met up with our bus for another 20 minute drive back to the ship.
It was an exhausting but illuminating two days, so we thanked Sasha for being such an open, entertaining, and amazing tour guide.
Like Any Other Night on Viking Jupiter
Back on the ship by 5:30 pm, we treated this like any cruise evening. First order was caffeine, as we planned to stay up for this evening’s entertainment. We were changed and ready for dinner by 6:30 pm. With a small line at the MDR tonight, we were escorted to a table on the starboard side of the ship.
Our experience in the Restaurant was similar to night 2. We found the food and service to be rather typical of a contemporary cruise. Actually, my rib-eye steak was rather fatty and slightly overcooked. The Princess’ chicken was a large, unseasoned half of chicken that was passable. The highlight of this meal was my dome of chocolate which was a rich and decadent dessert. Dinner took the customary 90 minutes, and we were out of the venue around 8 pm.
We planned to see the headliner, a comedy magician Mel Millers, at the 9:15 pm show. With time to kill, we hit our second venue for our “drink around the ship”. I know, it is weird that we have only been to two bars in 5 days on a cruise!
The cocktails at the Explorers’ Lounge were well made, so we relaxed here for a bit while enjoying our drinks. Nearing show time, we took our libations to the theater with us and found seats in our usual area. The headliner was rather funny, and he had some pretty basic illusions. For a cruise ship headliner, he was slightly better than average. His show did seem short though, as it was over before 10 pm.
On the recommendation of a fellow traveler, we wanted to catch one of Matthew’s acoustic sets. So, we headed back up to the Explorers’ Lounge for one more round and about 30 minutes of his pop hits. Matthew was one of the best cruise ship musicians that we have seen. Making use of the complimentary WiFi which actually worked much better than what we experienced on our Viking river cruise, we multi-tasked while listening to the music. When he finished his set a little after 10:30 pm, we did too.
Returning to our room by 11 pm, we were both exhausted. How do all of these other cruisers that are double our age do it?
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 6 Tallinn, Estonia
Another Early Morning
Our fourth port in a row, today’s stop in Tallinn, Estonia was our first walking tour through Viking Cruises.
The night before, we decided to do room service. Still, I had to be up for 6:30 am to get the Princess her morning latte. The room service was on time, arriving at 7:15 am as we requested.
My morning walk revealed that it was sunny and seasonably warm today. So, all the more reason to spend as much time as possible ashore.
Finishing up our breakfast, we were ready with our bags and off the ship by 8:20 am.
The city center is about a 25-30 minute walk from the cruise terminal, but the excursion bused us to the top of the upper town instead. So, we began the first part of the walking tour right around 9 am.
A Picturesque Walking Tour of Tallinn, Estonia
Our tour guide was nice, but she had a heavy accident which the Princess had a hard time understanding. Plus, she did not seem to know how to work the whisper microphone system well.
Starting off near the Toompea Castle which is the current home of Estonia’s Parliament, we took a quick visit inside the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral located directly across the street. We then weaved in and out of the cobblestone streets passing many of the main attractions for the next two and a half hours along our trek from upper town to lower town.
Among the sights were several churches, two lookout points for picturesque views over Lower Town, and Town Square. We were given some free time to stroll the streets around Town Square before meeting back up to finish the tour. The final attractions on our walking tour were St. Catherine’s Passage and the nearby old city wall.
Instead of following the group back to our bus, we decided to hang back and continue strolling the area on our own for a bit longer.
We paid a few euro to climb to the top of the city wall to score a new perspective of the town and some additional photos.
We also made our way back to the Town Square to explore some more. With the extra time, we visited the old Apothecary and browsed a few of the shops to find our much needed souvenirs.
Having the Ship All To Ourselves
We decided to head back to the ship around 1 pm. Catching the shuttle at the designated location, we were back to the ship in a short 10 minute drive.
The beautiful weather meant it was time for some ship selfies! We could not pass up this sunny weather or the perfectly positioned ship. This was actually the first location where we could get the entire ship in a photo.
Back onboard, we grabbed lunch just before the buffet closed. While the Princess found some selections from the World Cafe, I tried the wings from the Pool Grill. Although, they were not my favorite food items of the cruise.
Given the glorious temperature and sun, most cruisers were probably still off exploring, so the ship was virtually a ghost town. We were able to get additional photos and video of the outdoor areas and enjoy the sun for about another hour.
With only a few days left onboard, there was no better time than today to try out tea in the Wintergarden. This offering which is unique to Viking Ocean cruises occurs daily from 4-5 pm.
Arriving promptly at 4 pm, we grabbed a table and were quickly greeted by a server. We each sampled one of the tea selections from the menu on recommendation from the server as neither one of us are big tea drinkers. This afternoon social includes some small bites, such as scones and a tray of goodies. Atop this multi-layer tower are some petite desserts, along with additional plates of small finger sandwiches. Not that we needed anything else to eat, but we did sample them for research purposes of course.
Finishing up at 4:30 pm, we went back to the room for a quick break before our bridge tour. Our media host had been nice enough to get us exclusive access to tour the bridge.
This is one tour that we have never done, so I was excited to check out the controls and technology of this brand new ship. While the captain was not present, one of the officers was available to provide an overview of the ship’s systems. I still marvel at how these massive ships can maneuver in such tight quarters and the intricate and precise controls.
Dinner onboard Viking Jupiter
The bridge tour lasted about 45 minutes, and it was time for us to head back to our room to change up for dinner. Prior to our cruise, we made reservations for the specialty restaurant Manfredi’s for 6:30 pm. It was the only day that we could get a reservation at a decent hour.
Manfredi’s was perhaps our favorite restaurant on the ship.
Everything about this specialty restaurant was extraordinary. From the service, to the freshly made bread basket and homemade pasta, to the house wines, and the entrees. We could not say enough great things about this venue.
The pasta dishes were a bit small, but we were encouraged to order pasta as a first course followed by an entree. Now, this is my kind of restaurant.
On any other cruise line, this restaurant would easily cost $40+. So, having it included as part of the cruise fare is another great perk. With daily specials and a diverse menu, it is completely reasonable to dine here multiple times during the same cruise. We would have to settle for only two visits on our trip.
Traditional Cruise Entertainment
Given our numerous courses, dinner at Manfredi’s lasted closer to two hours. After dinner, we had about 30 minutes to kill before the doors opened for the first production show of the cruise, a tribute to ABBA. We used this time to review the daily for the following day. It was the only sea day of the trip, and we didn’t want to miss any of the activities.
Time seemed to go by rather quickly, so before we knew it, it was showtime. The show was as expected, a bit stale and predictable. It consisted mostly of the quartet of vocalists singing snippets of the super-group’s major hits.
Done before 10 pm, we grabbed a table for two at Torshavn. Now, we could cross off the third venue on our drink around the ship. We planted ourselves here for the next 90 minutes. Along with testing out some of the specialty cocktails, we were able to watch another set from Matthew, the acoustic guitarist. This time around, his songs were popular hits from the 50’s and 60’s.
The Viking Band took the stage around 11 pm, so we listened to them for a bit then called it a night.
It didn’t matter what the Princess had planned for the next day. Sleep was on my agenda. Luckily, this was the one day that we could get a full eight hours of shut eye. Especially since we were putting the clocks back one hour.
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 7 At Sea
A Lazy Day Onboard
With the clocks set back, we were able to sleep in until 7:30 am. This was a strategic decision, as I needed to be up and ready to get photos and video of the Thermal Suite when it opened at 8 am.
Back to the room around 8:30 am, we were ready to start our day.
The weather outside was gray and windy, so we were going to be stuck inside. The day before, it was announced that the chef was hosting a brunch at the indoor pool deck from 10 am to 1:30 pm. So, the Princess was fine skipping breakfast as we planned to graze from this impressive selection later.
Grabbing our usual coffees, we found some chairs facing the ocean in the pool area and started working on articles for the blog, until it was time to have a look at the brunch options.
With a mix of hot breakfast items, a pasta station, pastries, and seafood samplings, we were glad that we opted to wait for brunch.
Our media group had a 12:30 pm reservation for the Explorers’ Dome, so we headed up there after a rather uneventful morning.
More Indoor Fun While At Sea
The Explorers’ Dome is a planetarium that is found on the two newest Viking Ocean cruise ships. Viking Jupiter has three different shows scheduled at various times over the course of the cruise.
The Aurora Experience is an interesting look into the Northern Lights that lasts about 30 minutes. Everyone in the group thoroughly enjoyed this presentation, present company included.
We had also booked the 2 pm 3D presentation of Hidden Universe for this afternoon. So, after the first show, we hung around in the Explorers’ Lounge until then.
This presentation was also very interesting, detailing the physics and composition of deep space. The 3D graphics were impressive and brought the show to life. It was a little bit longer than the Aurora Experience, lasting until about 2:45 pm.
With the port talk for Gdansk scheduled at 4 pm, and the weather outdoors not improving, we were lucky to secure one of the digital gaming tables on deck 2. These interactive displays have games for up to 4 players. Among the options were air hockey, black jack, memory, and solitaire. We played for about an hour, trying out a few of the different games. The touch screen sensitivity was not the best for some games like air hockey.
We decided to grab another coffee before the port talk. An announcement had been made previously that due to the forcasted weather conditions, the ship would actually be docking at the nearby port of Gdynia instead of Gdansk.
At the talk, the assistant cruise director gave an overview of the original port, as well as a few key notes about this new location. The cruise line would be offering a shuttle into Gdynia. In order to see Gdansk, you had to be booked on a tour through Viking. Good thing we had booked the included walking tour before the trip.
The Standard Evening Routine
We were to the main dining room for dinner around 6:30 pm tonight to find a line! I guess everyone else had the same idea. The staff did a great job keeping the line moving, so we did not have to wait too long for a table.
Our final visit to the Restaurant was not much different than our other visits. We sat next to one of the entrances to the kitchen and watched as the busy staff scuttled around. Our server was very slow, but our assistant waiter recognized us from the Viking Bar so helped with getting us drinks and our food order placed.
I will admit that my meal tonight was the best of the three visits. I ordered the broiled lobster and short rib. Both were well prepared and quite large portions. While an odd rendition of surf and turf, it was a satisfying way to bid farewell to this venue.
We finished just around 8 pm, which gave us enough time to find seats and a team for the music trivia. Our team, comprised of the two of us and three British cruisers, did quite well. We finished in the top but did not come out the winner.
After trivia, we headed up to the Explorers’ Lounge to listen to Matthew play another set.
His set ended at 10 pm, so it was back down to Torshavn for one more drink and a few songs by the Viking Band before calling it a night. Tomorrow was our last included shore excursion of the trip.
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 8 Gdansk, Poland
Another Fantastic Walking Tour
The morning alarm came quicker than we hoped. Last night, we put out a card for room service, and the meal came exactly at the requested time of 6 am. We were in the midst of getting ready, but the staff found some room on our coffee table.
Given that the ship was now docking about 30 minutes away from Gdansk, our early morning tour was bumped up even earlier. Our meeting time on the pier was now set for 7:30 am.
We were outside and boarded on a bus in a timely fashion. Our tour guide Peter had a distinct sense of humor and was very thorough, providing plenty of narration during the bus tour and the walking tour.
We arrived in Gdansk around 8:15 am and his guided portion of the tour lasted until about 9:45 am. The tour highlighted landmarks including the waterfront with the wooden crane in the background, the Green Gate, the Town Hall and Neptune’s Fountain, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the Golden Gate. The tour concluded at an Amber shop for a brief informational session.
We were then given about 75 minutes to explore on our own. This was not as much time as we would have liked to revisit a few spots, get some additional pictures, and sample some pierogis. Although, given that it was a Sunday and the end of the tourism season, many of the shops and restaurants were closed anyway.
Meeting back at our arranged location, it was a short walk back to the bus, and we were transported back to the ship by noon.
Checking off Some Last Minute Items
Since all aboard was early today, almost all of the tours were arriving back to the ship at about the same time. I mentioned that we should go straight to the buffet to beat the crowds. By the time we finished eating, the World Cafe was teeming with fellow cruisers.
This last lunch was as satisfying as the other visits, as I sampled a little bit of everything, including a giant puff pastry with hazelnut cream filling that was perhaps one of the best desserts of the trip. It was okay to eat one of these at 12:30 pm in the afternoon, right?
We had a reservation for the final Explorers’ Dome show at 3 pm today. Done with our lunch around 1 pm, we walked around the ship for a bit. Arriving at the Lounge early, we struck up a conversation with a fellow writer, and the Princess got her must-take Instagram photo in front of the fireplace.
The third Explorers’ Dome show, Explore, was my least favorite, but the Princess enjoyed it more than Hidden Universe.
With the show complete, it was nearing tea time in the Wintergarden. How could we pass that up? Our favorite musician Matthew was even providing the background music today. It was definitely a nice way to spend our last afternoon on Viking Jupiter.
Following tea, we headed down to the onboard shops to use up the last of our OBC for a hand painted Russian ornament. Our final meal was a group dinner at 7 pm at Manfredi’s.
One Final Night on Viking Jupiter
Changed and ready for dinner, we were escorted into the private dining room. Dinner was fantastic again tonight, and we were able to get to know everyone a bit better.
Dinner was a solid 2+ hours, so we passed on dessert in order to catch the variety show in the theater. I started with two appetizers, the frutti di mare app and the eggplant which were both perfectly prepared. I went with the special pasta of the day, a baked ziti bolgnese, for my entree. It was a great choice.
The Princess was able to convince the chef to swap the veal for chicken in the Marsala entree.
Scrambling out of the venue a bit past 9 pm, we were able to find seats in the theater, though not in our ideal location.
The Variety Show tonight was probably my favorite of the production shows, as it included a range of different styles of music. The foursome of singers performed mostly show tunes, Heather and Ian did a pretty solid duet from the Blues Brothers, and all of the performers appeared on stage for a number from Les Miserables. While the nightly entertainment is not Viking Cruises’ strong point, the shows were a nice way to unwind after a long day ashore.
The show ended around 10 pm. We mentioned to some of our colleagues about getting a last round of drinks at Torshavn. We arrived to find some of them securing tables near the stage. A few additional members would come and go, and somehow we closed the place down, throwing back three rounds of cocktails in the meantime. It was a fitting end to an amazing trip!
Viking Jupiter Cruise Review – Day 9 Berlin, Germany
Saying Goodbye to the Ship
Our media group was getting off the ship today. We were being replaced by another group of writers and influencers that would be finishing the typical 14 night itinerary.
We had to vacate our rooms by 8:30 am, with our transport to Berlin, Germany scheduled for 9 am. We packed our two larger bags the night before, as we had to leave them outside of our room by 10 pm.
Up at 6 am, I waited my turn to get ready and put away our last remaining belongings in our carry-ons. With most individuals doing the included tour of Berlin, the ship was rather quiet this morning. We made our way to Mamsen’s around 8:00 am to enjoy one more of those delicious waffles.
With all our gear in hand, we met at the arranged spot on Deck 2. For some reason, our shuttle was delayed about 30 minutes. Of course, we had a tour booked in Berlin, and we did not want to miss it!
The weather outside was rainy and windy. Pouring was actually a better description. The weather forecast did call for clearing later in the day, but if this weather persisted, it would be one wet city walking tour! Once loaded onto the bus, we started the 3 hour ride to the city.
Saving the Best For Last
We arrived at our hotel, the Radisson Blu Hotel, by 1 pm. We grabbed our luggage and were in the front of the line to check-in. Another couple was joining us on the walking tour, so we arranged to meet them in the lobby for 1:30 pm.
Getting to our room and dropping our bags off, we did a quick bag switch to head out for the day.
We were at the arranged meeting spot in Hackescher Market slightly before the 2pm meeting time. Checking in with our online tickets, we were divided into groups and the tour started promptly at 2 pm. We booked the tour with Berlin Original Walks, as they were highly rated online.
We lucked out with an amazing tour guide, Sam W. A PhD in literature, this British born tour guide provided an in depth and extensive history of the city and each location that we visited. He was a wealth of knowledge, as we traced the path from Museum Island and the Berlin Cathedral through the city to essentially all of the main tourists spots.
In fact, he ended up going 30 minutes over the scheduled tour time. We visited sites including the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the site of Hitler’s Bunker, and more. We also toured many of the notable city squares including Gendermentmarkt and Bebelplatz, the home of the Nazi book burning.
A Sample of Oktoberfest
With the tour ending at 6:30 pm, we thanked Sam W. with a well deserved gratuity and started our walk back to the hotel. Along our travels, we stopped in a few shops for some souvenirs. After all, we needed an ornament and a t-shirt.
Earlier in the day, we had heard that there was a small Oktoberfest celebration not far from our hotel in Alexanderplatz. While not the true celebration in Munich, giant 1 liter beers and bratwurst sounded like the ideal way to end this European adventure.
I think the Princess was less enthusiastic than I was about this dinner, but she went along with me. It was past 7:30 pm by now, and we were both hungry and tired.
We were able to easily find the outdoor festival which was filled with food, gifts, and of course beer. First, we made a quick loop around the area to see what was available from the different vendors.
There was a sizable crowd for a Monday. The crowd appeared to be a mix of tourists and locals. It took some google translate to find chicken for the Princess, as most of the entrees were beef or pork. We would later snack on some freshly roasted nuts and a warm pretzel before calling it a night.
Arriving back at our hotel room by 9 pm, we made sure our bags were weighed and ready as we were being picked up the next morning at 7 am for our flight home.
Escorted to the airport in style via a private Mercedes, it was a long day of travel back home; however, it was a small price to pay for an amazing trip!
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