On Top of the World with Viking
by Michael Morcos
Let’s start with what went wrong on our Viking Ocean Cruise ‘Into the Midnight Sun’ through Norway, Scotland and England.
Umm…..well let’s see…thinking this through (this and that, that and this) oh well, nothing on this front. It was smooth sailing for two wonderful weeks, and the waters were calm too.
After three river cruises, our forth sailing with Viking would be our first on an ocean; once again it was perfection, this time on the Viking Sea’s 14-day itinerary from Bergen to London.
In this first part of a two part article we will look at the marvelous ship the Viking Sea and devote the second piece on the magnificent destinations and ports-of-call!
Small ship, big heart
With a maximum capacity of only 930 passengers, the Viking Sea, like it’s four identical sister ships, is considered small in the industry when compared to other mass market ships that hold thousands of guests, (some up to 6,000). This alone made our trip more pleasurable, as there was very little to no waiting times for embarking/disembarking, and many restaurants and all other activities were available right away as well. This beautiful ship had plenty of public spaces, so much so that at first we thought this sailing was not fully booked but found it was near capacity.
Design and comfort
The exterior views of the Viking Sea are well balanced and quite pleasing with beautiful, uncluttered lines. This look repeats itself inside the ship. Less is more in its Scandinavian style and yet there is plenty to enjoy with wonderful art and sculptures throughout the ship. The first thing a passenger would notice when entering the ship is the atrium. It is lovely to the eyes and soothing to the mind. One can think properly in all corners of this vessel without being bombarded with excesses. Design wise, nothing is just placed, but rather each part of the ship is well planned, even on the staircases are reproduction of the colorful and historic Bayeux tapestry and in the elevators there were hidden mystical Troll figures in the panels. All this made the Viking Sea special, unique and made for great conversations.
Staterooms and suites
In keeping with the Nordic design, our suite was stylish, well lit, very practical, and we felt at ease for the full two weeks. Our greatest joy was the private balcony where we would spend many hours watching the great scenery drift on by. Our washroom was quite spacious considering it was on a ship, and had plenty of room. Bi-daily room service by a dedicated professional cleaning staff was perfect and our stateroom was always looking and smelling fresh.
So much space, such little time, so to speak. It took our first week to finally find all the nooks and crannies and experience what they had to offer. Our favorite was the Explores lounge on the upper deck in the bow of the ship. This lounge covered two floors with lots of quieter corners for curling up with a book. The views from here were amazing and you could see for miles ahead. Drinks and cocktails were served most hours of the day and there was live music at peak hours.
Other spaces open to all passengers include the Winter Garden with its fabulous Nordic inspired wooden columns and spiral ceiling. The Aquavit, found in the back of the ship is open aired and has a wonderful heated infinity pool and was great for outdoor dining. The main pool is both indoor and outdoor, that being it has a gigantic retractable glass roof and perfect for all weather bathing. There is the ‘Living Room’, a tranquil area by the atrium for socializing and the Torshavn bar, for late night partying, drinks and dancing.
The main theatre on the bottom floor is spacious and well designed and is the meeting place to hear lectures and entertaining live performances.
For those who want to keep in shape, there is a full gym to help burn off those excess calories. On the top deck there are outdoor exercise machines, golf putting greens and shuffle boards.
The spa found on the Viking Sea is unique and a delight to visit. It consists of a large heated indoor pool with powerful jets as well as steam rooms, small plug pools and a below zero snow grotto for that invigorating Scandinavian experience.
Variety of dining options
How do I love thee, let me count the restaurants! A great cruise can be judged by its gastronomical choices and on the Viking Sea, it was ample. So much so that after two weeks we never got tired of the choices. Our favorite, and that of many passengers, was the World Café located on the upper levels. It is easy to see why so many people went so often, as there were floor to ceiling glass windows for great views of the surroundings that were open at times to get the fresh ocean breeze. Passengers can even sit outdoors on the balconies.
The World café is buffet style for three settings a day. With a multitude of options, there was something for every palate, from freshly prepared meat and fish dishes to vegetarian plates and even vegan choices; it was always mouth-watering. My routine on most nights was to visit Sushi bar that included locally sources king grab legs, Norwegian Salmon and fresh prawns. Chefs on the spot prepared these exquisite delights and I just could not get enough!
Another restaurant is ‘The Restaurant’. Yes, that is its name. It is an enormous space but did not feel like it as there were partitions for noise and privacy. This is a sit down service open for breakfast and suppers with many choices by a menu and, as on all Viking cruises, beer, wine and soft drinks are included. Guests have an extensive wine list to pick from at an added cost.
For something different, there is Manfredi’s and The Chef’s Table. These two restaurants are smaller and quite intimate. Both need reservations. Manfredi’s is an Italian style cuisine, while the Chef’s Table has a rotating theme of international dishes.
Other options are The Pool Grill that serves great burgers, while at Mamsen’s they serve late breakfasts and snacks and delectable pastry and cakes. Afternoon tea and snacks are served daily at the Winter Garden.
For refreshments, bars are found throughout the ship and on every public floor. Getting a drink is very easy and made easier by waiters who were always available to assist. We had the Silver Sprits package which allowed us unlimited soft drinks, cocktails and premium spirits.
What would a trip be without bringing home gifts and souvenirs? The shops on the Viking Sea are well presented and tax free while sailing, offering anything from the essentials to brand name perfumes, fine jewelry, designer clothing and hard to find local spirits.
They really were great. The ship’s staff was genial, happy and always ready to assist us. Anywhere and everywhere the crew, from the Captain and his team down through the program director, to the kitchen staff and all and maintenance personal, all made our trip that much more pleasant. Kudos to the Viking management, they set the tone and everyone naturally followed.
Destinations and tours
Please join us again in our next issue as the adventure beings. We will explore the many wonderful ‘Midnight Sun’ destinations and ports on the Viking Sea’s itinerary. Starting in the beautiful and tranquil coastal city of Bergen and ending in cosmopolitan London with many other special places in Norway and Scotland in between. Sail with you soon!
This is a seasonal cruise sailing in the height of summer with very long days and some endless days. Viking has introduced another special Norwegian cruise ‘In Search of the Northern Lights’. This one is in the direct opposite season. In the heart of winter they and their guest will sail to the far north to witness this incredible northern lights spectacle. Dress warmly; this is the arctic after all.
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