Celebrity Eclipse

Reviewed by: Kathy Fossati   

Date: 20 March 2023

Cruise line and ship: Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Eclipse

Size of ship: 317 meters in length – 122,000 grt

Passenger capacity: 2,850 (Crew: 1,210^)    Year built: 2009

Year refurbished/revitalised: 2016

Where the ship cruises: Alaska, South America, Hawaii, South Pacific, Mexican Riviera, Australia & New Zealand, Eastern Caribbean, Southern Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada & New England

Currency onboard: USD

Main features/highlights

Celebrity Eclipse is the third ship to be built in the Solstice class ships. She is the sister ship to Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox she brings elegance to this medium-sized ship allowing you to experience destinations with intimacy and without feeling crowded with quiet spaces to relax and robust suite perks.

The Lawn Club at the top of the ship is an unusual feature only on the Solstice class. Featuring real grass, this area often hosts lawn games or picnics. The Persian Garden is the onboard spa facility which is large, airy and included for AquaClass guests.

Those who love shopping will find a large shopping area set apart from the main lounge areas and includes labels such as Tiffany & Co. The Martini Bar and Crush feature a clever ice-covered bar so your drinks don’t get warm and up to 100 different brands of Vodka.

Most suited to

30 to 70 year olds wanting a modern experience with exceptional food and luxurious surroundings. Music fans will also appreciate the diversity of bands, duos and soloists that perform in various venues from early evening until late at night. Perfect for first-time cruisers as it’s not so big that it’s overwhelming but not so small that you get bored.


Vibrant yet calm and relaxing. The ship is so spacious and nowhere seemed to be crowded. With three pools there are plenty of sun lounges and spaces to sit on deck with several bars meaning you never have to go far or wait long for a drink.


It’s a food-lovers paradise, with many options onboard from the complimentary Moonlight Sonata, which will satisfy almost any tastes, to the upscale but extra-cost French bistro Murano and the fun, animated experience at Qsine.

We had lunch in the Grand Epernay Dining Room – absolutely lovely food and the service was exceptional. There are so many options so we’ll just highlight most of them below:

  • Moonlight Sonata Dining Room – is the ship’s main dining room, spanning two decks at the aft end of the ship. The room is bright and light in tone and makes ample use of the ship’s signature design element, glass. The two-story glass wine tower is a showstopper. (B,L,D)
  • Oceanview Cafe – a multi-station buffet for breakfast, lunch and casual dinner. Outside of regular mealtimes, ice cream, pizza, pasta, sushi, afternoon tea and late-night snacks are on offer, all without additional charge. The buffet layout is excellent, with many serving and prep stations situated as islands in the middle of the room, rather than stretched along the walls. The result is a dependably uncrowded, spacious operation offering an extensive number of choices.

  • Mast Grill – Outside and forward of the main swimming pool, the Mast Grill serves burgers, hot dogs and fries.
  • Luminai – This restaurant is free, but only for those in suites. Lunch and dinner menus change daily – often with produce sourced from the port visited that day. The food, service and ambiance are excellent.
  • Blu – A private dining room reserved for passengers booked in Celebrity’s AquaClass. The atmosphere and theming are wellness, meaning there are healthier options with fresh and creative dishes with a changing menu. Blu is open for breakfast and dinner and does not take reservations.
  • AquaSpa Cafe – is located in the adults-only Solarium, and serves food like small salads and wraps for breakfast and lunch. They also offer yogurt parfaits, juices and smoothies, although these cost extra. It’s usually quiet and relaxing in the early morning and is very popular with solo travelers.

  • Murano – Only open for dinner, Murano is a nouveau take on classic French cuisine with a contemporary twist. There is a charge for this venue, with the centerpiece being a six-course tasting menu, with the option to have a  wine pairing. You can also order from the a la carte menu. Good luck choosing between the Châteaubriand, venison filet, duck confit, lamb in herb crust… or the lobster flambeed at your tableside!
  • Tuscan Grille – an Italian steakhouse restaurant, has the best view of any restaurant aboard the ship, being situated all the way aft. The grilled meats and seafood are outstanding. Other signature touches are an antipasti bar and Caesar salad prepared tableside. There is a charge for this specialty restaurant.
  • Qsine – a cute, animated show is screened on each diner’s plate and across the table in between four courses. Known as Le Petit Chef, because the cartoon stars a little chef who mutters in French as he struggles to prepare and deliver your meal through 3D visual mapping. Kids would enjoy it as much as adults! There is a charge for this specialty restaurant.
  • Sushi on Five – is more than just sushi, offering sashimi, hot pots, noodle dishes and snacks, which can also be delivered to your cabin. There is also a charge for this restaurant.


All cabins, regardless of category, come with robes, safes, hair dryers and stocked mini-bars. A large interactive flat-screen TV in every cabin allows passengers to book reservations, services and excursions; check accounts and menus; and watch on-demand entertainment (for an extra fee). There is plenty of storage space, with many nooks and crannies. Most cabins also feature two twin beds, which can convert to a queen; a sofa bed, cabinet with shelving and desk with chair.

The bathrooms are lovely, with curved shower doors and ample shelving for your toiletries. If you upgrade to the ‘Aqua Class’ and ‘Concierge Class’ the benefits including priority check-in and exclusive access to certain restaurants and spa retreats are great, but without paying for a suite-sized cabin!

Having said that, the suite privileges on Celebrity Eclipse are robust and there are many categories – definitely worth looking into! They are plentiful and large with incredible features such as marbled bathrooms, deep baths, and private outdoor spas. Suite guests have access to an exclusive restaurant and an exclusive sanctuary deck, not available to other guests.


You will be sure to be impressed with world-class entertainment and bars onboard Celebrity Eclipse.

There is lots of live music in the evening, on deck, in lounges and in the main foyer including a classical string quartet, a jazz orchestra, solo pianists and singer/guitarists. You’ll also find evening entertainment up at The Lawn Club when weather permits. Other entertainment at night includes blackjack at the casino, karaoke in Quasar nightclub and a DJ in Sky Lounge, with a silent disco proving the most popular event for all ages.

Eclipse offers a diverse mix of drinking destinations, from relaxed bars with spectacular views to excellent cocktail options to energetic places to dance.

The most popular spot on the ship is the Martini Bar, attracting party people from late afternoon until late at night. The ice-topped bar features more than 100 different varieties of vodka and a long list of flavored martinis. Order a martini flight; it comes with a free show of the fabulous bartenders.

From early morning, Celebrity Eclipse has nonstop activities, such as gym and dance classes, trivia, bingo, game shows, lectures and workshops,  wine and whiskey tastings…  the list goes on.

Spa & Fitness

The spa offers a wonderful menu of body treatments, facials, medi-spa and hair services, including full-body wraps, scrubs, various types of massages and facials, couples treatments, teeth whitening services, to  name a few. There is also a hair salon and barber shop.

The Persian Garden thermal suite includes a sauna, steam room, tropical rain shower and heated relaxation chairs with ocean views. The facility is available for free to AquaClass passengers but there is a minimal fee for everyone else.

Family facilities
The children are well looked after with kids clubs catering from 3 years plus areas for parents with toddlers to enjoy. Kids can experience activities such as pizza making classes, teenage retreats, campouts on the lawn and Xbox tournaments.

The forward area, including the basketball court, on Deck 15 is ground zero for children aboard Eclipse. The X-Club (for kids ages 12 to 17) is on the port side and Fun Factory (for 3 to 11 year olds) is on the starboard side.

Eclipse also offers movies, toys and activities that are suitable for kids with autism.


Dining in the main dining room is included however there are several extra tariff restaurants. Drinks are not included however Celebrity Cruises often have deals available that include a beverage package, WiFi or onboard credit. Blu restaurant is included for Aqua Class and the new Luminae Restaurant is included for suite guests.


Specialty restaurants, beverages, gratuities, shore excursions, laundry and all items of a personal nature. Note that generally gratuities can be included in your fare and deals often include beverages or more.

Self Service laundry

The ship offers a paid laundry and dry cleaning facilities.

Insider tips

Remember to take a power adaptor as the ship has US style plugs. The ship does have formal nights however leave your tuxedo at home. A nice suit or little black dress will go a long way. Don’t eat to much before going onboard – there are so many fantastic places to try so you will be eating a lot!

Viking Orion

Viking Orion reviewed by: Kathy Fossati

Date: 2 March 2023

Cruise line and ship: Viking Ocean Cruises – Viking Orion

Size of ship: 227.2 metres (745 feet) in length – 47,842 grt

Passenger capacity: 930 (430 crew)

Year built: 2018

Where the ship cruises: Australasia, Alaska, The Americas, the UK, the Mediterranean, Western Caribbean, World

Currency onboard: USD

Godmother: Retired NASA astronaut Anna Fisher, the first mother in space is “godmother” of Orion – one of the most recognizable constellations in the night sky and can be used to find the North Star, which interestingly early explorers relied on to navigate the seas.

Main features/highlights: 

Viking Ocean Cruises launched its first ocean ship in 2015 and based it on Viking’s river cruise line experience. Everything is included such as food, beer and wine at lunch and dinner, wifi, drinks in your fridge (what will depend on your stateroom category) and specialty restaurants. With 10 decks (and even a promenade deck which is almost unheard of these days) there are no casinos, they won’t try to sell you artwork or jewellery by the chain, no photographer and no children.

The elegant Scandinavian interior design makes you feel immediately at ease in the light and airy environment. Of particular note is the hot tub and infinity pool at the stern of the ship – possibly the best place on the ship to enjoy a sunset. Another highlight is the central pool with a retractable roof permitting all season swimming. This area offers headphones so you are never overwhelmed by a noisy pool deck. It’s these thoughtful features that reflect how well you are looked after while you are onboard.

Most suited to:

Curious travellers who love to explore – Viking is often referred to as ‘the thinking person’s cruise line’. These are smaller ships so they can access less visited ports and often stay longer which is ideal for those wanting to explore a destination in more depth.


Viking Orion is relaxed and friendly. The Norwegian heritage of the ship is evident with the light wood grains throughout that show their natural beauty. The colourful textiles including tiles, rugs and tapestries recall the patterns of early Norwegian artists and craftsmen.

Subtle accents of leather handrails and touches of slate and teak express warmth and character. There are no formal nights or times when you have to wear a jacket. So relax – you are on holiday!


Guests on Viking Orion can choose from five stateroom categories. All staterooms feature a king sized bed, verandah, heated bathroom floors and a large shower. The lead in Verandah and Deluxe Verandah staterooms are 25m² making them quite spacious. Once you step outside your cabin, all guests are treated equally. For example, there are no ‘suite only’ restaurants or relaxation areas.

Each stateroom is equipped with a mini-bar that is stocked at the very least with snacks and mixers and you are free to bring as much alcohol onboard as you like, but do remember beer and wine are included at lunch and dinner.

The higher end categories also include coffee-making facilities in the rooms, which, designed by famous designer, Richard Riveire, really do feel more like hotel suites than ship’s cabins.


There are ten onboard dining options on Viking Orion and many are alfresco.

The Restaurant – fine dining and the largest dining venue on the ship (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner)

The Chef’s Table – more intimate, degustation meal and wine pairing with each course

The Kitchen Table – in ‘interactive cooking lab’ where you head on a shore tour to the local markets with the Head Chef and come back and learn how to cook incredible locally inspired meals (this tour sells out first and quickly so be sure to book as soon as you board)

Manfredi’s – a stunning Italian restaurant (only open for dinner)

World Café  – the buffet with extensive food offerings (open for breakfast, lunch and dinner)

The Pool Grill – gourmet burgers, salads, hot dogs and sandwiches

Mamsen’s – offering tastings of a Norwegian snack bar and specialties

Aquavit Terrace – sublime alfresco dining at the stern

Wintergarden – a stunning venue on deck 7 for afternoon tea from 4pm to 5pm

Our inspection did not include trying any of the food however the dishes we saw available in the buffet looked delicious!

Bars & Lounges:

There are 5 of these onboard.

The Viking Bar – spread over decks 1 & 2 around the atrium, offers comfortable lounges and is open from morning until midnight.

Torshaven – located on deck 2 has more of an intimate nightclub atmosphere with live entertainment, perfect for the night owls looking for a little more after dinner.

The Pool Bar – can be found on deck 7 mid ship

The Aquavit Bar & Terrace – can be found on deck 7 aft

The Explorers Lounge – deck 7 forward, incredible views to be had from here. Here you can also find a planetarium in the Explorers Dome (only Viking Orion & Viking Jupiter have a planetarium)


While there are some live shows, Viking focuses on relaxation and destination rather than Broadway style entertainment that you’ll see on larger ships. There are movies on the pool deck, the Star Theatre offering lectures, destination performances including musicians playing local music, a cooking school, and so much artwork to peruse (you can even do a walking tour with headsets!).

You’ll also find a classic duo or a pianist playing the grand piano in the atrium at various times throughout the day.

Afternoon tea is served in the delightful Wintergarden under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood – an homage to Norse mythology and Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life.


While there is a substantially well-equipped gym, the most beautiful onboard activity is the LivNordic Spa which offers a wide variety of treatments and massages and has a full hair and nail salon. The LivNordic Spa also includes a hydrotherapy pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna and snow grotto where flakes of snow actually fall down on you.

Regardless of where you are in the world, you can go into this little room and be surrounded by snow but first you must begin in the sauna or steam room, and by Nordic tradition do this three times over – invigorating! After this, try relaxing on one of the heated relaxation beds – a perfect way to dry off.

Above Deck 8 forward you’ll find the Sun Deck with mini-golf, table tennis, lawn bowling and shuffleboard.

While some shore excursions are included, there is always the option of going further afield depending on your budget.

Family facilities:

All Viking Cruises vessels are adults only.


Onboard meals, beer and wine at lunch and dinner, government taxes, onboard gratuities, wifi, access to the LivNordic Spa, 24 hour room service, drinks in your stateroom fridge, premium dining reservations and self-service laundry.

Self-service laundry: 

Dry cleaning and laundry services, including pressing, are available for a fee. Depending on your stateroom category, laundry and pressing may be complimentary. A self-service laundry including detergent, irons and ironing boards is free of charge. 

Electric plugs:

You will find both 110V and 220V electrical outlets in your stateroom. All outlets are European style (2 pin) with a ground, except for two US 110V sockets above the desk and one US 110V socket on each side of the bed; there are no Australian 3 pin sockets.

Oceania Regatta

Reviewed by: Kathy Fossati

Date: 13 February 2023

Cruise line: Oceania Cruises

Capacity: Regatta-Class with 656 passengers (410 staff)

Year built: 1998 (refurbished September 2019)

Size of the ship: 30,277 GRT

Where the ship cruises:

During the Australian summer, Regatta arrives for a number of sailings around New Zealand and Australia before returning to the United States via Papeete for the Alaska season.

Currency onboard: USD

Embarkation/disembarkation: Due to the ship being mid-size, we found both getting on and off the ship very quick and efficient. Although we only spent the day aboard at White Bay Cruise Terminal in Sydney, we did go through all security and health checks seamlessly.

Main features/highlights: Oceania has a huge focus on food even claiming they offer the ‘finest cuisine at sea’™ – hard to dispute with stunning food, exceptional quality and authentic cuisines. They are said to spend more money on food than any other cruise line and this is obvious from the minute you step onboard. 

Unique to Oceania is The Culinary Center, a hands-on cooking school at sea, unique with fully equipped state-of-the-art teaching kitchens for hands-on cooking lessons.

The giant library on Deck 10 is a perfect place to escape, with plenty of chairs and sofas and a large variety of books there is truly something for everyone. One of the best features on board is having gratuities included with all fares, so you won’t be hit with an extra 18% on your bill at the end of your cruise which can happen on other cruise lines.

Most suited to: Oceania’s cuisine sees any lover of food or self-proclaimed “foodie” right at home onboard! It is also suited to couples looking to relax and with a number of solo nights/gatherings and the ease of booking “shared” tables, is great for solo travellers too.

Regatta will appeal to a more mature market as well as those who have tried suites on larger ships but wish to experience a more intimate onboard atmosphere. Oceania also specialises in unusual cruise routes and more remote destinations, which appeals to passengers who like more of a destination focus, including guest lecturers on board. 

It’s also a great option for those who like lots of inclusions onboard with room service, specialty dining, soft drinks, specialty coffees, teas and juices all being complementary. Keep an eye out for bonuses and special offerings that may also include free drink packages, shore excursions and onboard credit.

Atmosphere:  There is a very relaxed atmosphere onboard Regatta from the numerous deck chairs around the pool, a large library and plenty of sofas and chairs around the cafe and bars. There is also a feeling of “home” around the ship with many passengers making a personal connection/friendship with the friendly bar and waitstaff onboard. 

While the ship feels upmarket on board there is no need to pack your black tie or ball gown for dinner. There is a lovely smart casual feel on board and lots of comfortable sitting areas so you can always find a space to sit and relax away from any crowds, not that there really are any on Regatta.

In 2019 Regatta underwent a significant renovation as part of Oceania’s $100 million OceaniaNEXT program.

Encounters with staff: all staff were very attentive, friendly and helpful.

Staterooms: The average room size isn’t huge but the cabins are super comfortable and well appointed. Enjoy the ‘Prestige Tranquility Bed’ with 1,000 thread count linen, free wifi, Bulgari amenities, chocolates with the nightly turndown service and 24-hour butler service in all suites.

Staterooms are a very comfortable size for two passengers. Whilst not huge, there is definitely enough space to relax and move around. The bathrooms are fairly small but the space is used well for what they have been given. If you book a Concierge cabin or above you also get a nice bottle of Heidsieck & Co Monopole Champagne.

Dining: There is no shortage of food onboard and no expense spared as Oceania really does live up to their “Finest cuisine at Sea” tagline. The main dining room is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner on sea days and serves a great variety of dishes. The staff work together seamlessly to have you seated, ordered and looked after with drinks and a selection of bread or during breakfast plenty of pastries and sweets.

There are two specialty restaurants onboard, Polo Grill, a steak lover’s dream, and Toscana, a traditional Italian restaurant serving handmade pasta and beautifully cooked seafood. Both are only open for dinner and reservations are a must, there is no charge for any of the food onboard so feel free to try these restaurants over and over again.

If sitting down in a restaurant setting doesn’t take your fancy, there is a lovely selection of food in the buffet, a salad and burger bar open all day by the pool and complimentary 24-hour room service where you can get a perfectly cooked steak delivered straight to your door. If for some reason you need an excuse to indulge in more food then look no further than the high tea served at 4pm sharp every day in the Horizons Lounge.

Picture freshly baked scones with jam and cream, sandwiches and much more washed down with a large selection of teas, coffee or champagne while the string quartet play in the background.

Oceania serves local cuisine wherever they are in the world. Don’t miss the vintage wine and gourmet menu pairings, uniquely designed by the onboard sommeliers or simply indulge in Oceania’s well respected and varied wine cellars.

Entertainment: The production shows, while not huge, glamorous and over the top as with many other ships, they are sophisticated and intimate.

On the nights when there is no stage show there is still something on offer, with performances from local talent including magicians, comedians and musicians. The string quartet performs daily at 4pm during high tea, as well as a small intimate performance every night in the foyer where they take requests from passengers. For those looking to sing and dance the night away, the Regatta band performs nightly in the Horizons bar playing everyone’s favourite songs.

Activities: You can choose to do as much or as little as you like onboard, participate in the numerous O’life tournaments such as table tennis and mini golf or get a team together and test your trivia knowledge. At every port Oceania has a variety of excursions to choose from ranging in fitness levels and time away, and you also have the opportunity to explore at your own leisure. Oceania’s itineraries are designed to spend as much time as possible in port, with a number of locations offering an overnight stay, allowing passengers to further explore what each destination has to offer.

Family facilities: Regatta is not a particularly young family focused ship. While Oceania is not adults only, anyone under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult and occupy a stateroom with them. There is also no supervision or entertainment for children.

Inclusions: Oceania has a lot of added inclusions to make your cruise as enjoyable as possible, they also give you different options as they know not everyone enjoys the same thing. All staterooms come with free WIFI access. While the internet is not extremely quick it works perfectly fine to check emails, Facebook and other social media platforms. All food onboard is included from the specialty restaurants to the 24-hour room service and even the coffee from the cafe.

When you book your cruise you get the option to pick your “Olife” extra, a choice between either free shore excursions, onboard credit or a drinks package to have beers and wine with lunch and dinner (pay an extra to have unlimited drinks 24/7). Concierge class receive the added bonus of having  laundry included as well as a beautiful bottle of champagne waiting for them when they board while the suites have a full mini bar included.

If the gym is your thing then all of the classes onboard are complimentary, just sign up to the class you would like to do and turn up, there are so many options from morning stretches to healthy eating. One big plus is the inclusion of bottled water, every day your stateroom will be stocked with two 1.5L bottles of water and there are tables set up onboard with cold bottles whenever you need them and waiting for you when you get off the ship for your shore excursions.

Exclusions: There are not many places you need to or can spend money once onboard, but the spa would be the place to do it. With a range of different massages, acupuncture and beauty treatments it is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Depending on which O’life extra you choose (beverage package, onboard credit or shore excursions) you would have to pay for the others.

Self-service laundry: Oceania has self-service washers and dryers onboard. There is also the option of having items laundered for you.

Spa and Fitness Facilities: For a small ship the fitness facilities onboard are excellent, there is a large stretching area which also gets used for classes, while the rest of the space is filled with different weight machines, treadmills and cycle machines. While it may not be as big as your gym at home it definitely has the facilities and space to keep you active while away on your cruise. Once you’ve finished your workout then walk through the changing rooms to the quiet hydrotherapy pool which is located at the front of the ship. Here, surrounded by deck chairs, is a perfect place to relax and read a book (this is also a perfect place for sail away as it is normally very quiet and has a great view).

There are six massage rooms and a large beauty room where you can get your haircut or your nails done. The staff are very helpful and will happily talk you through all of the different services on board. There is also a fully stocked fridge with water, sports drinks and a range of herbal teas on offer for after your massage.

Insider tips: You will need to pack a US adaptor as there are no standard AU/NZ plugs onboard and if you forget it you will have to buy one from the general store onboard. Make sure you reserve your tables in the specialty restaurants as these can fill up, and if you want to meet new like-minded people why not opt to share a table with other passengers? You never know who you’ll meet.

Dress codes: The dress code onboard is very relaxed and in Oceania’s words it is “Country Club Casual”. You are advised to dress as you feel comfortable, shorts and a t-shirt are very much accepted as are a dress shirt and pants. The Captain’s party on the second or third night is generally the most formal night of the cruise and if you would like to wear a dress or suit, this would be the night to do it.

Viking Herja

Reviewed by: Tina Wheelock

Sailed: ‘Rhine Getaway’ – Amsterdam to Basel

Date: 21 May 2022

Cruise line and ship: Viking River Cruises / Viking Herja (pronounced ‘Heria’)

Passenger capacity: 190 passengers maximum (50 crew)

Year built: 2017

Currency onboard: Euro

Staterooms: 95 Outside staterooms (25 Standard, 22 French Balcony, 39 Veranda, 7 Veranda Suite). All suites feature two full-size rooms with a veranda off the living room & a French balcony in the bedroom.

Ship Features
  • Restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views
  • Library & onboard shop
  • Elevator from Middle to Upper Deck only; no elevator access for categories E & F
  • Free Wi-Fi (connection speed may vary)
  • Laundry service
  • 42″ flat-screen TV with infotainment system featuring Movies On Demand, CNBC, CNN, Nat Geo ++
  • Sun Deck with 360-degree views & shaded sitting area
  • Organic herb garden & solar panels; putting green & walking track
  • Aquavit Terrace & Lounge, a revolutionary indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow for al fresco dining
  • Lounge & Bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors
  • Ecologically friendly hybrid engines producing less vibrations for a smoother ride

Pre Cruise Experience
Arrived at 5pm to Sydney airport for my 9pm flight. I had pre-booked a PCR test as this is a requirement for boarding a  Viking Cruise. This is not a requirement to fly with Emirates nor to enter The Netherlands.

The PCR test did take 90 minutes for the results and I was able to receive a printed copy for my records. It is a good idea to have all documentation printed as you may not have access to wifi at all times. I also recommend a copy of your passport and an international vaccination certificate.

Emirates flights were enjoyable and the stopover was a quick 2 hours en-route to Amsterdam. You do need to allow at least 30 minutes to move between terminals in Dubai.

Upon arrival at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, I had the option of a taxi or train to Amsterdam Central. I opted for a train which was 5 Euros and only 14 minutes. A taxi was 30-50 Euro and 30 minutes. The Doubletree by Hilton hotel in town was a short walk from the station in the heart of Amsterdam and chosen as it is just moments from the cruise departure point.

Check-in for the ship was 11am.  My cabin was available and I was able to check in after a RAT test was conducted by the ship’s staff. I was able to do a tour of the cabins prior to other guests embarking Viking Herja ( pronounced “Heria”).
My cabin was a Standard stateroom with a panoramic window, and it really was a high window. My recommendation would be the French Balcony or above as the ships travel through some dramatic scenery and it is amazing to experience travelling through the many locks on this itinerary – in my cabin type you would need to be in the public areas in order to make the most of this experience.

Our journey was from Amsterdam down to Basel in Switzerland.

Day 1 – As the ship was in Amsterdam until 11pm, I decided to walk back into town and take a 75-minute canal cruise for approx 15 Euros. I was back onboard the ship by 5pm for live music and pre-dinner drinks, we had a muster at 6pm and then a meet and greet and ‘what to expect onboard’ until dinner at 7pm.
Day 2 –  We cruised into Kinderdijk visiting a farm where we experienced the art of cheese making and also visited the famous windmills.
Day 3 – Cologne. We started the day with a walking tour of the old town and in the evening experienced a cultural beer and dinner tour.
Day 4 – Koblenz. A visit to the medieval Markenburg Castle with breathtaking views over the Rhine River and a day of exceptional beauty as we slowly cruised the Rhine River.
Day 5 – Rudesheim to Mannheim and an afternoon Speyer walking tour.
Day 6 – Strasbourg. ‘Flavours of the Alsace’ walking tour from 10am until 5pm. This was really a highlight. The tour guide was so knowledgeable, the town was so picturesque and as it was a small group we felt like locals wandering through town. Our guide took us to the markets to buy fresh strawberries, we visited local bakeries and sampled delicious pastries, coffee and cheeses before a long lunch at a little local wine store. She really made us feel what it was like to live the day of a local.
Day 7 – Medieval Colmar. Charming medieval lanes and squares. We explored its ‘Little Venice quarter with its 9th-century streets, 13th-century Gothic churches and original Old Town, Colmar seems torn from a storybook. We were told that parts of the movie ‘Beauty and the Beast’ were inspired by this town. In the afternoon a trip up to the Back Forest for a stroll in the countryside before we were treated to a Black forest gateau cooking demonstration.
Viking has an included shore tour every day plus optional shore tours at an additional fee that you can pre-book prior to your departure.
Overall Experience
The meals were lovely with a set menu every evening as well as a changing menu daily for lunch and dinner, so a wonderful variety. We had an option for three dining venues (same menu). The Aquavit Terrace was indoor and led to a terrace that opened in fine weather, The Lounge area, and the Main Restaurant.
The staff onboard Viking Herja could not be more accommodating, the ship had a lovely cozy feel and after a day of exploring it was like coming back home each afternoon as we were made to feel very welcome onboard. The ship briefed us each evening before dinner with a short port talk, an update on the evening events and a little rundown on what to expect for dinner. We had a great German night on board where some of the staff dressed up for the evening and the dining room was converted into a lovely German-themed dining room.
It was lovely to experience life onboard a Viking Ship. I opted to include the Silver Drinks package which includes unlimited drinks. Otherwise, Viking does include Wine and Beer with Lunch and dinner. You are also able to bring your own drink onboard if you wish.
Our final day was in Basel, Switzerland. A short taxi ride can be organised by the ship to the train station or the city centre if required.

Silver Dawn

Reviewed by: Meg Hill and Tina Wheelock, Cruise Express

Sailed: ex Lisbon, Portugal

Date: April 2022

Cruise line and ship: Silversea – for the official launch of  Silver Dawn

Size of ship: 40,700 GT

Passenger capacity: 596 passengers maximum (411 crew)

Year built: 2021

Currency onboard: USD$

Where the ship cruises:  The Mediterranean, Northern Europe and the British Isles, Transoceanic and the Caribbean


Pre-cruise – Silversea ‘Door to door’ experience – We were met in the Arrivals Hall at Lisbon Airport by a local English speaking guide and escorted to the transfer area and our Mercedes mini-coach for the transfer to our downtown hotel. Brief orientation en route (approx. 20 minutes). Overnight stay at the Tivoli Avenida Liberdade Hotel, a 5-star hotel in the heart of the downtown area, surrounded by designer label stores and a short stroll down Liberdade Avenue to the commercial centre for shopping, dining and sightseeing. Extensive buffet breakfast included before transfer by coach to the pier.

OPTIONAL Panoramic Lisbon and Tagus River cruise included this morning


Embarkation – Short transfer by 45-seat coach to the pier. Luggage transferred separately and delivered to Suites onboard. On arrival, passengers need to present passports (held for the duration of the cruise), proof of full vaccination, proof of a negative COVID-19 test (PCR within the past 3 days or RAT within the past 24 hours). RAT testing is also available at the pier but will slow down the embarkation process.

Complete health declaration form (similar to past norovirus forms) and undergo a temperature check (wand on inner wrist). Overall, the process was very smooth with extremely helpful and friendly staff…perhaps 20-30 minutes total.

Suite – Though not ready on arrival (approx. 2pm) it was available by 3.30pm.  We stayed in a Deluxe Verandah Suite #707 (located forward, starboard side on Deck 7). Single vanity, separate bath and walk in shower, walk in wardrobe with chest of drawers, hanging space and shoe racks. Hangers include some satin-topped for knitwear, etc. Racks set up for suitcases. Spacious main cabin area with twin or queen bed set-up, quality linens and pillow menu.  

Each Suite has a Butler rather than a cabin attendant and they will assist with unpacking if required. Bottle of Pommery champagne set up in ice bucket in the sitting area – two-seat sofa plus armchair with a cashmere blanket.

Balcony with sliding glass door, two sun chairs and a small round table. Large enough for drinks and snacks but not full meals.

Other in-Suite facilities – a device charging plate also with USB point, swivel tv, mini bar with still and sparkling water and mixers.

Your Butler will stock the mini-bar with your alcohol and soft drink preferences – for example a bottle of whisky or gin and/or wine. Replenished daily at no additional cost! Snacks such as nuts (cashews with truffle oil) are also replenished daily and canapés are available daily on request.

Announcement made at 4pm. Lifeboat drill at 5pm, preceded by mandatory video viewing in the Suite.


Dining – 8 restaurants

La Dame – French inspired fine dining serving a degustation dinner menu nightly (Cover charge of USD60 per person)

La Terrazza- Serving breakfast and lunch buffet style (served by wait staff). Dinner a la carte Italian. Offers inside and outdoor deck dining

Arts Cafe – A small venue serving tea and coffee, fruit-infused waters, fruit and cheese plates, sweet pastries, cookies and sandwiches during the day

Atlantide – Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner a la carte with the evening emphasis on steak and seafood dishes

SALT Kitchen – A light and airy room with fresh herb pots as centrepieces on the tables. Serves food using the local ingredients of the region the ship is cruising in (Portugal in our case). Wines are also available from the region

Kaiseki –A small Japanese restaurant serving lunch (included) and dinner ( cover charge of USD40 per person). Lunchtime offers an extensive sushi and sashimi menu as well as udon and ramen bowls. At dinner, choose from an a la carte menu of up to six courses per person (the Chefs’ recommendation). Japanese beers and sake, matcha tea, etc are offered as well as the usual wine list

ScappaNapoli – A wide selection of authentic oven baked Italian pizzas served between 11am and 11pm. A small anti-pasta platter (olives, cheese and bread) is served whilst waiting for the pizzas. As the venue is outside on deck there are overhead heaters and lap blankets available if the weather is cool

Pool Grill / Hot Rocks – Serving burgers, fries, mezze plates, salads, etc poolside throughout the afternoon. In the evening the venue offers a ‘hot rock’ dining experience where hot stones are brought to the table with your choice of meat (steak, chicken, prawns, salmon, etc) and you cook at the table. Again, as the venue is outside there are overhead heaters and warm shoulder wraps to keep the cool night air at bay.


Nightly in the Panorama Lounge – A selection of shows including tributes  (The Beatles, Queen, etc)

Silver Note – a late night supper club atmosphere with live jazz from 8pm to late. Serving small  dishes 

Dolce Vita Lounge – Piano tunes

Inclusions – All meals at most restaurants onboard, all drinks including mini bar set up and daily stocking, premium coffees and teas, room service, wifi, onboard gratuities, a shore excursion in each port of call, shuttle bus service from pier to downtown.

PLUS – Door to Door
Executive car transfer from home to airport (and return), small vehicle transfer from airport to hotel and hotel to pier, local orientation tour, one night pre-cruise in the city of embarkation including breakfast.
OPTIONAL return airfares with Business class upgrades.


Butler Service
Prior to hosting a Facebook Live segment from the ship, we asked our Butler if he would make up our Suite early (by 9am) and add an ice bucket, champagne and glasses as if on embarkation day. His eyes lit up and he then proceeded to list all the things he would be happy to arrange for us:

  • A bath with salt crystals, candles, a portable speaker playing classical music, and a glass of champagne
  • A breakfast tray set up on one of the beds with tea for two
  • Truffle popcorn and blankets for an in-Suite movie night
  • Hot chocolates with liqueurs on the balcony table

All with a wide smile and included as complimentary in-Suite options for all guests at any time during your cruise!

On the last night of our cruise, the official christening of the ship, we were due at the first official function at 5.45pm, a black tie event. At approximately 5pm Tina had a serious dress ‘malfunction’. We paged the butler to ask for his help and he was on the doorstep in less than 5 minutes and said he would take the dress to the tailor to see what could be done. A few minutes later he called to say they were working on a solution. By 5.30pm the dress was back, good as new!

SALT – Sea and Land Taste
New and exclusive to Silversea, this is an immersive experience for guests to learn more about the fresh produce, cuisine and dishes of the region the ship is travelling to/through. Dine in SALT Kitchen, enjoy pre or post-dinner drinks in the SALT Bar, choose from a selection of SALT shore excursions and take part in cooking demonstrations and food tastings in SALT Lab, a purpose-built kitchen with nine cooking stations.