We just returned from a Viking River Cruise starting in St. Petersberg and ending in Moscow. We love river cruising and had cruised with Viking through France. The experience of being in Russia was outstanding, however, the cruise ship was a big disappointment. There were about 160 passengers on board, but facilities, such as lecture rooms, meeting rooms, diningroom, and lounge areas were crowded and inadequate. The standard rooms were expecedly small, but in half the ship, the air conditioning wasn't working .
This was the third cruise in Russia with English speaking passengers. The crew, for the most part, was not ready for American, British, Canadian, and Scottish passengers. Few crew members, especially in the diningroom spoke or understood English. Service was far less than adequate, food selections were poor, although everything was presented beautifully. The kitchen continuously ran out of basics, such as bacon, tomatoes and MILK! To add to this problem, no apologies were made, we were told "no more" when asked for these items. The maitre 'd was rarely seen during meals- she should have been assisting the wait staff, particularly with requests or questions in English. she also needed to instruct them as to how to smile. A smile and simple "hello" from the crew makes a big difference on a ship, particularly a small one.
If Viking puts their name on a ship, they need to live up to the standards which they claim to maintain on other ships.