7 reasons to ocean-cruise with Viking
58 people found this feature helpful
1. Viking is probably the safest way to cruise
Aboard each ocean-going Viking ship, every
imaginable effort is being made to keep you safe. Once aboard, everyone is effectively
in a bubble, meaning that currently, you go ashore on organised excursions
rather than roaming independently, but still with opportunities to stretch your
legs a bit during the tour if you choose. On board, you wear or carry a small tracking
device (this has no personal info on it but monitors who you’ve been near to,
just in case) and this disc also triggers your temperature being discreetly
checked as you enter dining areas each day. There is a daily four-question health check to be completed on a paper
form, or via the easy-to-use in-cabin TV or on the app. Everyone wears a facemask while moving around
the inside areas of the ship, and packets of masks are thoughtfully provided in
your cabin, along with antiseptic wipes and bottles of hand sanitiser. There are also plumbed-in washbasins at the
entrance to the deck café where a steward invites you to wash your hands before
entering – a reassuring way to ensure compliance. But the stand-out feature of Viking is
having its own PCR testing lab on board. You simply supply a saliva
sample in a mini test tube each day (I did this before going to bed at night, so
I had my sample ready for collection by the cabin steward each morning). Overall, these relatively unobtrusive but
sensible measures made Viking feel like the safest possible way to sail without
really impacting on the quality of your cruise experience on board. I met
a couple who had not been anywhere public since March 2020 because one of them
is clinically vulnerable. Their children
convinced them to take a cruise with Viking because of the testing regime, and
they were absolutely loving being on board.
2. Viking represents great value for money
While Viking are not inexpensive, the
quality of their cruises and the amount their prices include makes them very
good value for money. Viking can perhaps
best be described as the equivalent of the luxury experience offered by top-end
boutique operators, but on a larger ship.
The following are included as standard with Viking:
Coffee and tea – including speciality varieties – throughout the day.
Wi-Fi– with enough bandwidth to send emails and photos and to post on social media (just not enough to stream films).
Gratuities on board – which can amount to a significant sum on other cruise lines that don’t include them.
A shore excursion at every port – often a simple guided coach tour with stops for photos, but a good way to get orientated at each new place. More in-depth optional excursions are available at extra cost.
Spa entry, where the thermal suite includes a mixed steam room (plus separate saunas in the men’s and women’s changing areas), pool, hot tub, snow grotto (yes, really) and a cold-water bucket you can tip over yourself – which felt better than it sounds!
All meals on board at six dining venues, including at the two excellent speciality restaurants – Manfredis for top Italian cuisine and The Chef’s Table, where the menu changes three times a week with Asian, British and Chinese themes.
A full menu of room service options, available throughout the day at no extra charge. Breakfast on your private balcony is strongly recommended!
Still or sparkling drinking water is provided in glass carafes in your cabin each day, is poured by waiters at mealtimes and bottles are offered as you leave the ship on excursions.
Laundry – and even the washing powder – is free and available on each deck with ironing boards also provided, and a pressing service is offered at no extra charge through your room steward.
3. The Viking ships are a Scandi-chic delight
Viking Star, like her sister-ships,
accommodates a maximum of just 930 passengers, making her a relative tiddler in
this era of mega-liners. With just seven
main decks, the ship is large enough to offer a variety of lounges and restaurants, plus well-spaced sun beds and various nooks and hideaways for
book-reading and wave-watching. Yet the
ship is also of a size to feel intimate and small enough to easily walk around
– and for those seeking a spot more exercise, Deck 2 has a loop around the ship:
4 laps to the mile. The décor is
tasteful Scandi-chic, with reindeer rugs over the sofa backs and modern chair
designs that offer proper comfort as well as contemporary style. Colour pops from curated art pieces carefully
placed on tables and displayed on room dividers, creating a feel of upscale
homeliness. The whole ship seems
designed to create the feeling of ‘hygge’ (Norwegian for cosiness and
conviviality) of the highest order.
4. Cabin-design is a masterpiece of space and airiness
The sense of space and calm extends to
your stateroom too, with the tranquil palette enlivened by Scandi design
accents. With only six main room types,
choosing the one best suited to you is easy, but every Viking cabin benefits
from a generous walk-on balcony making fresh air just a step away plus the sort
of clever design touches that make you wonder why every cruise line doesn’t
offer them. Like glow lighting for
finding your way to the bathroom without waking your partner at night. Toiletries provided in packaging that is not
only easy to open but has a legible typeface, so you can tell the body wash from
the body lotion, mid-shower. There’s a
pod coffee machine – or a kettle for tea-drinkers on request, after which a jug
of cold milk will be delivered daily to your room. The contents of the refrigerated mini-bar are
provided free (refreshed daily and including a welcoming bottle of champagne in
Private Verandah rooms and above). All cabins provide plentiful drawer, hanging
and flat surface space with thoughtful lighting (including inside the wardrobe)
and sockets in the right places, so you can plug in your phone at your bedside
5. Grace-notes mark out the very best in cruising
The Viking team is exceptionally
well-schooled in good manners and making people feel welcome. Every I passed a
member of the crew – across all departments – I was greeted with a cheery ‘good
morning’ or ‘hello’. No-one spoke in a
foreign language in my earshot. Smiles
seem to come naturally to the Filipino waiting staff which all contributed to
this feeling of a happy ship, even in recent circumstances. But it is also the intelligence and
thoughtfulness of the ship’s design and the little extra touches that make
Viking special. Like having birdsong
piped into the communal loos on each deck. Like my room steward adding a Viking bookmark to the novel where I had
been keeping my place with turned down pages. Like having a backdrop to the main lift shaft showing silver birch trees
with fairy folk peeking around the trunks. Like having a tray of scrambled egg on display at the deck café, but
your own eggs being cooked from fresh. Like keeping us entertained as we waited to disembark by tender by
having a film about Shackleton running in the background – interesting enough
to watch, but not a problem to leave when the tenders were ready.
6. The thinking person’s cruise
Viking is unlike many cruise lines, most notably for what it
leaves out as well as what it includes.
There are no casinos, no dancing girls, no bling, no announcements other
than by the Captain at noon each day, no formal nights (smart casual is always just
fine), and no photographers jostling to take your picture. Evening entertainment tends to be guitar or
piano recitals or vocalists covering favourite songs from musicals. This is a ship where the hum of happy
conversation takes precedence over muzak, and books are distributed throughout
the ship for dipping into as you choose rather than being corralled in a
library. The front-most armchairs look
out to the horizon in the delightful Explorers Lounge and sun loungers face the
sea, not each other, around the pool. This is a ship for curious minds and casual conversations, removed from
the noise of modern living.
7. Solo travel is easy on Viking
Travelling alone can be a great adventure, but it can also
feel a little uncomfortable. Viking made it easy. Solo travellers are invited to meet on the
first day at sea – five of us came along on my trip, and we soon got to know
others on their own. But in the relaxed,
easy atmosphere on board, meeting all sorts of people happens quite
spontaneously. I started eating alone on
the first night but was chatting away to my socially-distanced neighbours by
the time the second course arrived.
More to the point, Viking is currently offering sailings in September
2021 with no single supplement.
Making now the perfect time for solo travellers to enjoy the luxury of
their own private space on sailings from Malta
to the Greek Islands, sailing
right around Iceland, sailing
from Iceland to Iberia, and on river
and ocean cruise combinations taking in the fjords.
Viking offers a relaxing, stimulating and lavish way to
explore, be that near or far away. And it
feels as safe on board as it can possibly be – so much so that returning home,
you may find yourself missing that reassuring daily PCR test that meant you
knew all was well as you looked forward to another day of sailing and
Viking’s ‘Welcome Back’ cruises for this
Autumn include sailings including Malta, Croatia, the Greek Islands, Iceland
and the Western Mediterranean. Fares
start from £2,690 per person, based on two sharing including all meals, wine
beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, on board entertainment, entry to
the spa, Wi-Fi, a complimentary tour in each port, flights and transfers.
Find out more
Silver Travel recommends Viking.
58 people found this feature helpful