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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

Never have I ever….

Day 13/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise

What do we do on sea days I asked myself before I got on this cruise ship? I mean I have never been on a cruise ship before, so I had no idea what I would be faced with when having multiple days at sea. Thinking I might be really, really bored, I brought my Kindle to read books from our library back home; brought a craft to do, brought the game of Wizard to play with people we would meet and I knew I would definitely go to the gym and also have 3 meals a day that would will up some time. We are definitely on my longest time at sea without seeing land.

There we are. The blue ship off the coast of Mexico. At noon today our Captain told us we had just passed Acapulco 15 miles off our starboard side. Of course we couldn’t see Mexico, but it was nice to know it was there somewhere.

Today is Day 3 of not seeing any land and we have one more sea day before we reach Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and the good news is I am definitely NOT bored with these sea days. When my husband Richard used to say to me he would like to “take a cruise to nowhere.” I used to think he was quite strange. Who would ever want to take a cruise to nowhere? Now I get it. The cruise ship is the destination. In fact I was so busy today I did not get done what I had planned for today.

The gym was calling for me again this morning after that fabulous meal last evening at Manfredi‘s. In fact I realize now I cannot eat a heavy meal as late at night as we have been doing, so we will have to re-think our timing if the meal is going to be heavy, as Italian food usually is.

We got smart this morning though on figuring out how to get breakfast after our gym time. We ordered room service before we left for the gym, and told the room service person on the telephone to please leave the meal for us, even though we wouldn’t be in our stateroom! We’ve really got hooked on the cold muesli cereal with fruit in it, so we ordered two bowls of muesli, extra fruits, some yogurts, and for Richard Norwegian smoked salmon, capers and cream cheese. Throw in a pot of hot water in a thermos and some peppermint tea bags for me, and we were all set for our post work out feast in our cabin. The Neptune has 24 hour room service and even if something is not on the menu, like berries or plant based yogurts, and all bran cereal, we still request these items and Viking’s very accommodating staff find a way to get us what we order. Perfect!

Today seems like it went by in a bit of a blur. The snowperson building competition has taken on a life of its own! Having 4 women on a team with lots of creative juices flowing is great, but I think we are building the Taj Mahal of all snowpersons! I think I must have spent at least 4 hours today just on the snowperson, so hence I did not get to my ‘To Do List’. I cannot wait to reveal to you on January 6th our finished project when we will be judged on our creation!

So what exactly is on my ‘To Do’ list? Well that is a story! Here goes…..

If you read the blog from Day 11 when we were in Costa Rica, you will know that the long bus ride on very twisty, windy roads made me quite nauseated. Rather than be sick on future excursions I’m trying to be proactive to do some research on the excursions I’ve chosen for the rest of the trip, to understand the following:

  1. length of the excursion

  2. distance from point A to point B (and to point C and point D, if applicable),and back to the ship after visiting point A and point B.

  3. look at Google maps to see what the terrain is like, in the country I’m researching

  4. determine if I’ve chosen an excursion in a small boat, to see how long the boat ride is

  5. try and under how many people will be on an excursion to know how fast we can move, or how much we will be able to see

I did inquire yesterday at Guest Services onboard if anyone would be able to help me with determining answers to the above questions on each future excursion I’ve chosen and unfortunately there are no more details on the excursions currently available, but Viking would get more information for me, if I detailed my questions on the excursions I was concerned about. So now I’m doing my homework in preparation for asking Viking to reach out to their local Destination Management Companies (DMC) who have prepared the tours for Viking.

For some background, I am a very detailed person and I agonized over researching each of the excursions I chose for us, for months and months. I would pull up ‘My Viking Journey’ app at night when the tv was on hockey, football or golf (something I knew they would replay if anything important happened), and look at a few excursions, right down in my notebook what looked interesting and then do some research on other tours operated in that destination by either ’Viator’, ‘Tours by Locals’ or some other tour provider that may have been recommended by a former Viking World Cruiser on our Cruise Critic Board that was set up for the 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. I read reviews and let me tell you I read a lot of reviews on what people liked and didn’t like about each tour offered by these other Destination Management Companies. Reading between the lines on Viking’s excursions, I could pretty much match up a DMC’s private tour to what Viking was offering as either an ‘included’ or ‘optional’ excursion. This is the reason for example, why we did a private walking tour in Cartagena, Columbia vs doing the Included bus tour of Cartagena, or even the optional walking tour. I knew that if we had a private guide for the two of us, we would see more, be able to amend or adapt the tour and frankly see places a large group might not see. I read the words very carefully in the description of the tour as well. If the language in the description of the tour says “You will be whisked through the town, viewing sights….” you can pretty much tell you’re going to be sitting on a bus, looking out the window at the city you are in. That may be ok if you are comfortable with that type of experience, or have mobility issues and that kind of tour suits you. For us, who are both very active, we want to walk the city, meet the people, smell the smells, visit where the locals go and really immerse ourselves in the culture of the place we are visiting. If we can hop on a tram, metro or bus we often do that too, so we can ‘figure’ out a place on our own. Sometimes we get lost, but there is always someone who an help us out if we try to communicate with them. There are of course places where we would not be comfortable with venturing out on our own and that is why we have included excursions and optional excursions provided by VIking.

So, getting back to my story, yesterday after my discussion with Viking’s Guests services area, I came back to our cabin and started looking at our destinations where we are actually taking an included or optional Viking Tour. I reviewed a few spots and have a few questions for Viking in which I will draft an email seeking to understand a bit more information than what is published in the description of the tour on ”My Viking Journey”.

After reviewing a few destinations thought I came to Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Now this tour that I had chosen is called “Bay of Islands Panorama”. Sounds good right? A 2.5 hour bus tour of Bay of Islands stopping at a few places and then back to the ship. Being a curious individual I pulled up Google Maps to look at the actual time to each of the destinations on the proposed included tour. 22, 8, 33, 21, 21… the math please…..approximately 1.75 hours of driving time between each destination out of a 2.5 hour tour. From my calculations, we will not be off the bus very much exploring the sights in Bay of Islands, but instead will be “whisked by local sights” on Bay of Islands. Onto Plan B…..

Plan B: Viator: Kawiti Glow Worm Cave Tour & Opua Forest Walk. The great thing about Viator is you can use ‘Wha’ts App’ to start a chat with them to review the proposed tour. We checked the time in New Zealand and sure enough, they were working, so I sent them a What’s App message and asked 1) how many people would the tour hold? 2) do they pick up at the cruise port terminal? and 3) what is the vehicle size used for the transport? 4) length of time on the transport to the tour and 5) condition of the roads we would be travelling on. Within a few minutes, all of my questions were answered and I was ready to go to Plan B and book this tour. Now I know there is a cost to booking a tour with an outside provider, but since we’ve already spent a lot of money to go on this cruise, its like my old boss used to say “Penny wise, pound foolish”. Just spend the money, its not like we will ever be in Bay of Islands again…or will we?

So yesterday I was not able to get more than one destination researched sufficiently to make a change to a planned excursions, which I had already researched at home before we left. I think reading the descriptions of the proposed excursion is definitely not enough to understand the excursion and that is why I’m now spending a lot of sea days, cruise time trying to make sure the rest of the planned excursions are better than the first one I had in Costa Rica.

If I have bored you with my long winded descriptions of what kind of “Devils in the Details” (another saying from my old boss Mr Porter), I do when doing my research on anything, I apologize.

Now onto a very beautiful picture.

Never have I ever seen such a glorious sky as we saw tonight after the sun set off the port side of the Viking Neptune. I grabbed my Fuji XT-4 and snapped a ton of photos because it was such a beautiful sight.

Here is one of the best of the sunset taken with my 10-24 XF Zoom lens.

I also took a video because I wasn’t sure I would capture the scene before me fully in one frame of a photo. The video seems to be taking very long time to load, so I will put it on the Viking World Cruise website on Facebook. I took the video with my Fuji as well.

If you’ve ever played the party game “Never have I ever” you try to stump your friends with things you have not done before. There may of may not be some drinking involved with the game, but I wanted to use the title ”Never have I ever” today because ‘Never have I ever‘ seen such a beautiful sunset and ‘Never have I ever’ been on an ocean cruise before; Never have I ever spent 3 full days at sea without seeing land. I’m sure you get the picture…there are definitely a lot of firsts occurring on this Viking Neptune World Cruise for me!

One more day at sea, for a total of four straight days at sea, before we dock in Cabo San Lucas and where we will get to golf again! I’ve been missing golfing so I’m happy I can golf again soon!

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Ruth - With respect to the answers you received from Viator, I hope they advised that Bay of Islands does not have a cruise port terminal. It has 2 separate piers that the ship's tenders land pax ashore. The 2 piers are about 1 mile apart, and with another ship in port, you will need to determine which pier Viking is using and advise the vendor.

Hoping that Viator explained this, or I would question some of their answers, as they aren't the vendor, only a booking agent.

A quality vendor in Bay of Islands is New Zealand Shore Excursions. Here is one of the tours I was considering -!



So much great advice. We go in a year and I have free time now to be able research. I have learned that the words in the descriptions are chosen carefully and to read carefully. Again thanks for doing this.


Marie Aspinall
Marie Aspinall

You are so right to be doing the research you are. Best of luck with the rest of your research. The only thing you have to careful about is that your private tour will get you back in plenty of time for 'sailing' time. Check this out with Guest Services.

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