Easy Viking Embarkation Starts Caribbean Season

We have been looking forward to the arrival of Ocean Cruises in the Caribbean for quite some time.  Sailing first in the Mediterranean then again as the ship repositioned to North America, we enjoyed features of the Viking experience every step of the way.  Still, the first Viking Caribbean season promised something different in a very familiar part of the world that would naturally draw comparisons to other cruise lines.  After an easy embarkation, Viking is off to a good start, for a number of reasons.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Our version of Viking’s West Indies Explorer sailing actually began in New York City as part of a 15-day New York To The West Indies itinerary.  On board for the first four days, a number of travel professionals becoming familiar with the ship.  For them, the sailing was one from New York to San Juan, two U.S. ports.  As they were familiarizing themselves with the ship, the Jones Act requirement of visiting at least one foreign port of call was waived and they disembarked upon arrival in Puerto Rico.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Other passengers, along for the entire voyage, were still required to verify citizenship, much like if on a back to back sailing. Basically, those staying on would be required to leave the ship, bringing the passenger count down to zero, before other passengers could embark.  It’s a secure way US Customs and Immigration as well as the Coast Guard can be sure that cruise ships return with the same number of passengers they left with.    We “in transit” passengers planned on disembarking the ship at 9:15AM with a plan of getting back on board about 10:00AM.  After experiencing this process with other cruise lines, we planned on that 10AM return time being pushed to 11 or 12, just to safe.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Interestingly, just about the time we were to exit the ship, the plan changed.  Required when going through this process at the San Juan cruise terminal, going up an escalator.  When Viking found out that the escalator was broken, they arranged for US Customs to come on board the ship to verify our citizenship without the inconvenience of leaving and walking up a broken escalator.   A little thing really in the grand scheme of things that I mention here only because it would be the first of a number of interesting Viking advantages we would experience throughout the day.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Another advantage of sailing Viking in the Caribbean came as more of an indirect realization.  We have sailed with Viking on river cruises and ocean cruises before, departing from European embarkation ports.  The process of getting there always required an international flight that made for a very long travel day, just to begin sailing.

Easy Viking Embarkation

That brought our recommendation to always go a day or two early to begin that European cruise, just to get the long travel day behind us and adjust to the time zone difference.  For those who do not travel internationally often, that first day in Europe basically brings a brain full of mush and a hazy memory of arriving as well as the nearly-required additional expense of that 1, 2 or 3-night pre-cruise hotel stay.   Sailing Viking Star from San Juan?  For those who flew to the embarkation port from North America: no big deal.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Interestingly, the passenger mix on this particular sailing seems to have a number of travelers from the UK and Australia too.  Good news for them, the ship overnighted in San Juan.  Good news for us: that meant a staggered arrival of passengers throughout the day.

Easy Viking Embarkation

That staggered arrival totally eliminated the mob of people wanting to get on the ship, cramming the buffet and hoping to get to their stateroom at a decent time.  Checking in was done at the Explorer’s desk in the ships Living Room atrium. I can not recall a more pleasant embarkation day on any cruise line we have ever sailed.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Had we wanted to go ashore, Viking Star was docked at the San Juan Cruise Terminal, steps away from a Walgreen drug store, other stores and services one might need to take advantage of.  When visiting San Juan before, if the day ran into the night we were lucky but could indeed go ashore and enjoy local nightlife.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Interestingly, that thought never crossed our minds, it was just too pleasant on the ship. This was an embarkation ambiance unfamiliar to us in the Caribbean as well as other travelers we met. Some came on board and were chilly, so Viking crew found them Norwegian throws to make them comfortable.

Easy Viking Embarkation

Other passengers enjoyed dining, drinking and entertainment venues scattered around the ship throughout the day and evening.  Ending with a lovely sunset as it had began with a pleasant sunrise, we were off to a good start.

 

Viking Ocean Cruises In The Caribbean

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Viking Caribbean: Pre-Cruise Countdown

  1. Coming Up: Viking West Indies Explorer, Epic Invasion
  2. Viking Cruises Caribbean: Island Connected Dining Like Never Before
  3. Viking Cruises Caribbean: Panoramic Island Hopping\
  4. Viking Cruises West Indies Explorer Countdown
  5. Viking Caribbean Shoreside Focus Different, Included
  6. Thinkable World Of Viking To Meet The Caribbean
  7. In The Viking Caribbean, No Smuggling Skills Needed, Door Wide Open
  8. Uniquely Different Viking Ocean Cruises: Specific Features That Caribbean Travel Will Like 
  9. Follow Viking Star In Real Time Satellite View
  10. Flexibility Enables Surprise Viking Exploration, Again
  11. Coming To North America: Our Viking Adventure Begins 
  12. Viking Introduces Previously Ignored Caribbean 
  13. Viking Welcome Home: It Can Happen Anywhere
  14. Exploring Iceland Like Vikings: Thoughtfully
  15. Vikings Explore Prince Christian Sound, Very Carefully
  16. Spectacular Travel Moments With Viking Ocean Cruises
  17. Interesting Viking Tour Brings Global View In Very Simple Terms 
  18. Viking Star Passes Ultimate Cruise Traveler Test
  19. Viking Caribbean: Something New For Someone New
  20. Aggressive Repositioning Itinerary Highlights Viking Commitment To Travelers
  21. Thoughtful Canadian Port Choice Typical Of Viking Destination Focus 
  22. Features Not Part Of The Viking Caribbean Experience
  23. Viking Star Caribbean Dining: New Cuisine For Cruise Travelers
  24. Actually, Viking Star Is Designed For Caribbean Cruising
  25. Incomparable Viking Star
  26. Viking Star Base Features To Elevate Caribbean Cruise Experience
  27. In The Wake Of Vikings [PHOTOS] 
  28. Viking Caribbean Preview: Your Questions Answered
  29. Viking Caribbean Preview: More Of Your Questions Answered
  30. Reader Question Highlights Viking Attention To Detail 
  31. Slideshow: Favorite Viking Star Features I Can’t Wait To See
  32. Viking World Cruise: I Could Do That
  33. Viking Star Arrives In New York City  

Flickr photo albums

  1. A Day In Reykjavik, Iceland
  2. Icelandic Air
  3. In The Steps Of Vikings: Cruising Prince Christian Sound
  4. Nanortalik, Greenland
  5. Qaqortoq, Greenland
  6. Viking Star Penthouse Verandah Staterooms
  7. Viking Star Ship Shots
  8. Viking Star At Sea
  9. Northern Lights
  10. Viking Star Culinary: Mamsens
  11. Viking Star Nordic Spa
  12. Viking Star Living Room Bar
  13. Viking Star Culinary Sampling
  14. Viking Star Explorer’s Lounge
  15. Viking Star Pool Grill
  16. Viking Star Past Guest Party
  17. Viking Star Living Room
  18. Saguenay, Quebec, Canada
  19. Viking Star Infinity Pool
  20. Sailing To Canada On Viking Star
  21. Viking Star Top Deck Spaces
  22. Viking Star Aquavit Bar
  23. Viking Star Crew
  24. Viking Star Main Pool Area
  25. Greenland From The Deck Of Viking Star
  26. Viking Documentation
  27. Al Fresco Seating Areas

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