The Timeless Appeal of Viking’s Oceangoing Ships
Earlier this week, Viking Cruises announced it had taken delivery of Viking Sun, the line’s fourth oceangoing ship following the 2015 introduction of Viking Star. Viking Sun’s debut is also important for another reason: she’ll be hosting Viking’s first-ever World Cruise that begins this December in Miami.
But since Viking Star first debuted in 2015, followed quickly by Viking Sea and Viking Sky, Viking’s oceangoing ships have been winning awards from passengers and industry folks alike. They are, quite simply put, some of the best-designed ships at sea.
River Cruise Style Inclusions
Taking a page from their successful river cruise arm, Viking Cruises brought river cruise-style inclusions to the world of ocean cruising. This means things like complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, free juices and specialty coffees served throughout the day. Wi-Fi internet access is free, as are the surprisingly diverse collection of movies on-demand that can be played in your stateroom.
Ashore, Viking has also assembled a collection of excursions that are free-of-charge, with at least one offered in every port of call. These are usually informative walking tours or panoramic bus visits, but should be enough for the casual explorer. For those with more specific interests, optional-cost excursions are also offered, but we’ve never felt overly pressured to take part in them.
That’s the other thing about Viking’s ocean ships: the complete lack of any sort of hard-sell, upsell, or revenue-generating tactics. Sure, you can go nuts with the optional shore excursions, but no one really pushes you towards that. Viking also doesn’t do the hard-sell in its fabulous LivNordic Spa, where the ship’s hydrotherapy pool, thermal suite, and Nordic bathing experience are also offered free of charge. And while additional-cost beverages are certainly available (check out the vintage collection of Armagnacs in Torshavn), Viking’s Silver Spirits Beverage Package makes nightcaps ridiculously affordable.
Onboard Libraries Have Never Been So Fun
One of the primary reasons that we’re in love with Viking’s ocean ships is for their onboard libraries. Rather than a forgotten-about room tucked away in the corner of the ship, the entire vessel is a floating library in its own right. There’s nary a public room that lacks books of some sort, with new and vintage titles lining shelves at every turn.
This is, without a doubt, one of the best-curated collections at sea, with titles on polar exploration, Norwegian explorers, travel, history, famous literary giants, European composers, architecture, and, of course, maritime history in all its many forms.
Like the library in your own house, you can just grab whatever you’re interested in and go. Take it to another public room, read it in the dining room, or take it back to your cabin. Their ship is your ship on Viking.
From its cozy Living Room atrium to the breathtaking Wintergarden, there are design elements that Viking has incorporated into its first oceangoing ships that don’t just raise the bar, they shatter it entirely.
Take the windows in the ship’s main restaurant and casual World Café. In inclement weather, these floor-to-ceiling windows are closed off but provide excellent views. In good weather, however, nearly the entire length can be opened up to create an al fresco dining experience that is unparalleled on the oceans right now.
When most other river cruise lines are doing away with their promenade decks and observation lounges now, Viking’s oceangoing ships proudly have both – and bring new features to boot.
Viking’s 360-degree Promenade Deck wraps around the entire vessel, and has some attractive seating areas all the way aft, plus windows that let guests look in on the mooring operations all the way forward.
In Viking’s two-deck Observation Lounge, ample resources are devoted to making this space cozy and inviting by day and night, with plenty of curated books, a spectacular bar, a forward-facing outdoor deck, and Mamsen’s – a unique café serving up traditional Norwegian recipes culled from the kitchen of Viking’s chairman and founder, Torstein Hagen. Come for the amazing heart-shaped waffles in the morning, but be sure to drop by after 10pm for a bowl of the best split pea soup on the high seas.
Viking’s ships are stars in their own right, but they can’t do it alone. To complement them, Viking has crafted some of the most unique oceangoing voyages at sea, from explorations of Norway and Scandinavia departing from Bergen, to innovative transatlantic crossings that depart from Bergen and arrive in Montreal, Canada.
But Viking isn’t resting there. It has already lined up a full slate of cool itineraries around the world for 2018, and in 2019, Viking will set sail for Asia and Alaska for the first time. It might be difficult, in late 2017, to imagine this, but some of Viking’s most popular itineraries for 2019 are already selling out. If you’re interested, for example, in crossing from Tokyo to Vancouver in the spring of 2019, you’re out of luck – the voyage is pretty well waitlisted across every category.
Viking’s oceangoing ships marked a new chapter for Viking when they were first announced in 2013. Together with the company’s river cruising division, there are now more ways than ever to sail like a Viking – and the list of possibilities grows with each passing ship.