Just how empty is the ship?

Viking announced a temporary change to their cancellation policy last week due to Coronavirus concerns which allowed anyone who canceled at least 24 hours before the cruise to apply the full fare to a future cruise within 2 years. Apparently a number of folks on this crossing took advantage. Based on our CruiseCritic rollcall (obviously not a very scientific sample) it appeared about 20% canceled.

However after seeing how few there were at the muster drill, in the World Cafe (buffet) and in the Restaurant (the main dining room) I think it may be a higher percentage. No word on an upgraded cabin yet…we had a voice mail stating we could meet with the guest services manager tomorrow between 5 and 7 pm to discuss any “offers”. Hmmmm, I was hoping for a complimentary one. 😢

I purposefully took the picture of Mike to emphasize how empty the room was, there were actually full tables to his right. But typically the room would have been full or close to it at 6:55 when that picture was taken. During our two hours at dinner (great conversation with our neighbors), no one was ever seated at the banquets along the interior wall to his left.

Dinner was tasty as expected-I had the only new dish to us-bacon wrapped plantain on a guava sauce. Very interesting and tasty!

Mustard! lol

Civilized “mustard” drill (we are “Stone Ground” today😂) aboard Viking Sky. Hope we never have to actually participate in a real muster but happy to review the safety procedures each cruise just in case!

Doesn’t seem as crowded as previous so it will be interesting to learn just how full the ship actually is.

Next up, time to sailaway and the weather has cleared!


Landed 10 minutes late so of course no one to operate the jetway so we sat on the plane for another 10 minutes. Our new luggage worked great as it is the largest size that will fit overhead so we were able to go straight to the hotel shuttle area shown above.

Jeez, I had forgotten how hot and humid Miami is 😅

We just got to the Hyatt Place (scored for free on points!) and are soon going to head to bed.

Tomorrow morning to the ship!😁

Almost time!

We are finishing up our packing today and Mike is at the barber getting his old man faux hawk. Lois is taking us to Greensboro airport tomorrow afternoon for our 6:30 pm flight to Miami.

Monday, we met with the flooring people and they had a sample of wood that matches what is already in the entry, dining, and kitchen. We are going to extend it to the rest of the unit except for the bathrooms which are tiled. We then also met with the painter and after reviewing the paint samples Mike had put on the walls earlier, we selected Sherwin Williams “Crushed Ice”. It’s a white that has a little bit of gray to it, it looks good with the existing builder’s beige tile and white trim. We are hoping that the paint and floor will update the condo from it’s early 2000s!

Yesterday was another long day. With the help of Lois’ Danville fireman friend, we loaded up a rental sprinter van with the few things we had stored here in Danville and unloaded them at our new place in Raleigh. After the firemen left, Mike and I got all the kitchen stuff unpacked, run through the dishwasher and into the cabinets. So we are as unpacked as we can be. Doesn’t take a lot when you don’t have much! LOL

We left the little bit of furniture (bed, chair, dining table) in the center of the dining room and kitchen so that while we are gone, the wood floor can be extended . And so it will be out of the painter’s way. Hopefully when we return in May we will be able find some furniture and get settled into our new home.

May? But wait Clay I thought you were going to be gone until June? We got a notice last week from American that our flight home in June had changed and we both read it as saying our first flight from Bilbao to Madrid was leaving late in the afternoon and we would have to overnight in Madrid. On the same day, all the One World partner’s announced a biz class sale from Paris to various places in the US. So we figured we would use the schedule change to cancel and redeposit the award points for our original flight and come back early.

So we are now booked on the same flights that our niece Madison and her friend Katie are on from Paris to Charleston (RDU wasn’t included in the sale). We will spend a few days with my brother and his wife and then take the train to Raleigh.

Unfortunately, either we read the schedule change wrong or it was a mistake originally-the schedule change was actually on our connection from Philadelphia to RDU and would have gotten us back an hour or two earlier. But since corona is playing havoc with airline schedules, we are keeping our fingers crossed that their is another schedule change that allows us to freely redeposit our points. If not then it will cost us $175 and another wasted $160 for the exit row seats we bought. But given the business class seats were only $1,291 each roundtrip we believe it is still a good exchange.

Yes, that’s right, it means we will be headed back to Paris in November and hopefully catching a deal on a cruise back before Christmas. We think we may spent a week or so and visit some Christmas markets in France and Germany. Time will tell what we end up doing.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll stay tuned as we make our third Viking transatlantic cruise!


WhooHoo! We’ve booked our ride to Europe for the spring. We leave Miami on March 6 aboard Viking Sky headed to Barcelona. lol Can’t wait!

We will be in Europe (somewhere) until early June when we will return for Niece Madison’s Graduation. She and her BFF are meeting us in London in late April and after seeing Harry Styles and the sights for five days we will spend five days in Paris before they fly back in early May to finish up their studies.

Guess I need to get busy and finish catching up on our fall travels!!!


WhooHoo! We’ve booked our ride to Europe for the spring. We leave Miami on March 6 aboard Viking Sky headed to Barcelona. lol Can’t wait!

We will be in Europe (somewhere) until early June when we will return for Niece Madison’s Graduation. She and her BFF are meeting us in London in late April and after seeing Harry Styles and the sights for five days we will spend five days in Paris before they fly back in early May to finish up their studies.

Guess I need to get busy and finish catching up on our fall travels!!!

Final Thoughts

After several weeks to contemplate our spring trip, I think all three of us will say it was most enjoyable.

Mike and I enjoyed our return to Viking and noticed some differences none of which negatively impacted our time onboard. The food portions seemed to be slightly smaller which given all the good food available was appreciated by our waist lines. This transatlantic seemed to be more crowded than last year but perhaps that was due to us eating earlier than just us two would normally do. We don’t know whether it is a cruise line initiative or simply the difference between Hotel Directors, Chefs and Cruise Directors but there were many more “special” events this year-pool side lunches (Cesar Salad, Mexican, etc.), pool side events (two or three dance parties, ship building competition), Port Greetings when we returned to the ship, Sunday Brunch in the Winter Garden and of course this year they made an event out of our passing of Gibraltar-even though it was still too dark to really see it.

We missed having the Virginia Gentleman aboard but the entertainers did a fine job despite there being two less singers and no dance couple. The shows seemed a little more professional and used the show band more than the prerecorded music that was typical last spring. There was at least one more lecturer than last trip and their topics were more diverse as well as interesting. There was also a bridge instructor on this crossing which I don’t recall from last time.

You may recall that part of the last minute deal we got was to pay for the lowest category cabin -Veranda (V) and reside in a higher category – Deluxe Veranda (DV). The staterooms are identical except the DV comes with a coffeemaker. I thought this would be great but turns out I only used it once. The other differences are “soft” ones-the sodas in the fridge get replenished daily and we could make reservations for the alternative dining venues before we boarded. Since one staying in a Veranda could replenish the soft drinks by asking at the bar during meal time for an extra can or three and we ended up changing all our reservations once onboard (so as not to miss lobster nights) I don’t think the perks of a DV would be worth paying any extra. Guess we are just too frugal. But when offered for free, they were great!

We also enjoyed the included airfare although I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see whether we could deal with long haul economy if it was “free”. Well maybe not really disappointed, the ice cream sundae in AA business class fixed that!😂

The Viking officers and crew were just as friendly and helpful as previously, the room lovely and we continue to think that Viking is a great value for their repositioning cruises. Lois really enjoyed herself and now is sold on the benefits of smaller ships. Having John the Scotsman aboard and his friendliness to her and willingness to have two special meals made just for her probably helped in this regard.

Of course no one aboard will ever forget the Great April Fool’s Day Toilet Paper Fiasco! LOL

Our post cruise time in Barcelona was great as it was in Rome. I think the highlight for Lois in both was Sagrada Familia and I certainly was blown away again by it. Even though it had only been 6 months since our last visit, we saw progress so maybe they will be finished with construction by 2026 as they are predicting (while crossing their fingers according to our guide).

Thanks for following along, hope you enjoyed it as much as we did…and that you will stay with me as I blog about our upcoming North American roadtrip (hopefully with a cruise to Japan 😲🤞thrown in). We leave Danville on Friday headed for DC and don’t expect to be back to the southeast coast until Christmas. Stay tuned for details…


I put together a group that totaled 11 from our CruiseCritic roll call and we had a nice van that picked all of is us (and our luggage) at the ship after disembarkation 😢 and drive us with a great guide to Montserrat, the serrated mountain with a monastery about an hour from Barcelona pictured above at the entrance and below when we first saw it from the freeway.

During the curvy drive up we could see the snow covered Pyrenees and maybe even France.

The town itself is very small, really only a hostel, small hotel, a cafeteria, a museum and of course a gift shop. Our guide explained that prior to four or five years ago, few visited except pilgrims coming to see the Black Madonna (carved of wood and blacked by centuries of candlesoot). The whole area is now a protected park and is full of hiking trails and of course mountain climbing possibilities.

The primary purpose of our visit was to hear the boy’s choir. It was impressive to hear the pipe organ and the choir in the beautiful church.

The Madonna is in the small apse way above the altar. Here is a slightly closer view. There are two people (who waited in a VERY long line) standing in front of her so they can reach thru plexiglas and touch her. The legend is that when you touch her you touch the Universe.

The church is very beautiful thought most of it had to be rebuilt after Neapolitan destroyed the original area.

We had hoped to be able to take a funicular to the very top of Montserrat but the lines were crazy long and our time was limited. Always leave something for the next trip right?

We had a beautiful day and I certainly enjoyed it. Our guide was very informative and at the end our tour as he was taking each of us to our hotels he explained that the real importance of Montserrat to the Catalonians is because it was the one place where the Catalan culture was kept alive during the time of Franco. He says that often you see people who weren’t allowed to speak Catalan during those times at home crying when they visit Montserrat. They recognize the importance it had to letting their culture live today.

We arrived at our hotel about 3. We have a two bedroom/two bath apartment one block from Sagrada Familia. Mike and I stayed here over twenty years ago (it was brand new then) with our friends Scott & Robert.

Later tonight we are going to a concert and tomorrow we tour Sagrada. Will hopefully be a fun time.

Final Tea 😢

We purposely didn’t have dessert at lunch today so that we would have room for tea. How’s that for good planning?

Today is our last sea day and we have done a little bit of work and a little bit of relaxing. After a leisurely breakfast in the Restaurant (we half and halfed lamb chops and steak with eggs) And our walk on the promenade, I started a load of wash and went to Trivia while Mike showered and moved the clothes.

We lost again though I was one of only two people in the theatre (the other was Jenna, the Cruise Director) who knew the name of the 1992 Release that is the world’s best selling soundtrack. Can’t believe everybody didn’t know it was The Bodyguard!

We then had lunch watching the water over the stern. We split a burger and made some nachos from the poolside bar they had special today.

After lunch we folded and packed our bags with everything but our clothes for tomorrow and Thursday. 😢. We then attended a small talk by one of our fellow Cruisecritics who is also a music critic. He gave us some insight into the concert we are attending Thursday night in Barcelona.

So now we are having a late dessert! I just love their scones. We taste tested and decided we like Devon scones better than Cornwall. Special thanks to Jenny & Brian to introducing us (when we visited them in Aberdeenshire last Fall) to milk in our tea. I never really liked tea before, but now I do.

Off to relax on the balcony until time to eat again! LOL (FYI, we didn’t eat all the sandwiches and desserts on the tiered platter)