Viking onboard response to critical feedback

The evening of Sunday July 30th 2023, after sailing out from Isafjordur, we went to The World Cafe for dinner. There were a number of reasons why we had quickly found ourselves more comfortable at World Cafe for all our meals:

  • We could usually get one of the tables to the side of the Akvavit Bar, two tops that offered great views but were also out of the main traffic and spaced further away from each other.
  • Beverage service was excellent because you’re right at the bar
  • It was quieter than the Restaurant, and felt a little less energetic
  • World Cafe serves largely the same menu as The Restaurant, but buffet style
  • We didn’t have to dress any smarter than we wanted to
  • It was easier to pick and choose from items on offer to accommodate low fat/vegetarian needs

One this evening, only our 3rd onboard, were sat on the Port side of the Akvavit bar just opposite the noodle station. To our side, a little closer to the outdoor area than us, was the General Manager – the chap responsible for everything onboard that wasn’t ship operations.

Two tops on the Port aft side

On Saturday I’d shared on the Viking Cruise Fans FB group my concern that I seemed to be invisible to wait staff, and we’d had to track people down to get wine with our meal. I’d also observed that our first breakfast in The Restaurant was sub-par, with a barely set poached egg and very slow service.

The GM approached us, introduced himself, and said he understood we’d had some concerns with food standards. He must have recognized me from either my FB profile picture on the security photograph Viking takes when you board, because he seemed fairly certain who we were.

Within a matter of moments he was joined by the Executive Chef, Wait Service Manager, and World Cafe Chef de Cuisine. We were still seated and, to be honest, it felt a little intimidating – absolutely not the intent I’m sure. The mood was serious, there was no suggestion that any concern we had was anything less than entirely valid, and the message was that things would be perfect going forward.

It was a little intense, and perhaps a little more “serious” than I would have wished for – but in part I could perhaps have avoided that by making our concerns known directly to staff onboard rather than online – I’ll own that.

One of the outcomes was that I got to know Executive Chef Alistair quite well, and he offered to have the kitchen prepare us a special Indian meal – which we happily accepted.

Careful what you wish for!

If we’d had any concerns about the attentiveness of service, they were swiftly banished. It seemed that everyone, everywhere, now knew us. Executive Chef would pop up out of nowhere to check in on us – I assume they know where you’re dining based on check in at the desk (we were in Manfredis one time) or your room number for a bar order.

The Waiter Manager Singh was now our best friend. He’d stop by with wine recommendations, bottles would appear that weren’t otherwise where we were, he found breakfast tea when none was visible. He was the very model of professionalism, engaged, attentive, but never aloof or too present.

One of Singh’s wine recommendations, an unexpectedly excellent German red.

For someone with extrovert tendencies like myself this was quite fun – I enjoyed chatting food and wine with those who worked in that field. If you’re a tad more introverted like Tracey, it was a little more “special” than she cared for. Lesson learned.