I’m aboard the floating-boutique-hotel called the Viking Sea. Viking Cruises has six of these stunning ships, all almost identical, with more coming over the next few years. I’m first impressed with the beauty of the Viking Sea’s Nordic design, then with the luxury offerings on board, and most impressed with the kindness and professionalism of Viking’s crew. As my 11-day cruise through the Caribbean continues, my appreciation for everything Viking continues to grow.
Viking Sea Caribbean Cruises
Viking’s ocean ships are designed so that their 930 guests don’t feel crowded, don’t have to wait in line, and don’t feel like their options on board are limited. In fact, I sometimes think there are too many choices and that I don’t have time to try everything!
Food and drink on The Viking Sea
Viking offers an abundance of restaurants (and is incredibly accommodating toward my multiple-food-allergy prone companion). I think my breakfast favourite might be Mamsen’s, with made-to-order waffles topped with fresh berries accompanied by views off the bow to the sea and whichever pretty island we’ve just docked at. Other choices are The Restaurant with its à la carte breakfast and dinner (the latter’s menu changing daily), the buffet at The World Café (cocktail-hour ahi tuna sashimi is my top pick ) with al fresco dining on the Aquavit Terrace, the pool grill, plus the reservations-needed Manfredi’s for Italian and the tasting menus at The Chef’s Table. And I can’t forget the sunlit Wintergarden for afternoon tea, a handful of snack and drink spots, plus the 24-hour room service.
Unlike many other cruise lines, Viking offers speciality coffees and teas plus lunch- and dinnertime beer, wine and canned soft drinks at no additional charge. It is fun, though, to level up to the Silver Spirits Package. It includes all drinks, except Champagne, up to $15, which means almost everything on board. I happily sample my way through the cocktail menu before determining that Hendrick’s gin with Schweppes Bitter Lemon is my sunny day drink of choice.
Things to do on The Viking Sea
To accompany drinks, Viking has live music at various locations throughout the afternoon and evening, capped off by evening singalongs and cabaret shows. Live discussions, movies, and recordings of Ted Talks are also available, and there are books everywhere to pick up and read in countless cosy corners. The multi-level atrium has two tables with communal jigsaw puzzles and hosts chess, backgammon, Scrabble, and bridge games. Free wifi is available throughout the ship, so it’s easy to stay connected.
It’s also easy to be active aboard Viking. Almost all of deck 2’s quarter-mile track is in the shade, so it’s great for a run or walk. Sunny deck 8 is good for walking laps too. It’s also the Sports Deck with a putting green, bocce ball, shuffleboard, and a few outdoor exercise machines. I prefer the air-conditioned big-windowed gym on deck 1 with its extensive equipment choices. There are two pools and two hot tubs (one set is under a retractable sunroof, in case of a tropical shower and for colder-clime cruises).
One of my favourite spots is the spa. It not only has the usual massages and beauty treatments, but also a Nordic circuit complete with sauna, steam bath, bucket shower, warm and hot pools, and even a Snow Grotto. It’s the ultimate place to relax and rejuvenate.
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Caribbean Cruising on The Viking Sea
Onboard offerings tempt, but so do the ports we visit. This 10-night cruise takes us to nine different Caribbean islands. We start and end in Puerto Rico and go as far southeast as Barbados. Viking includes a shore excursion in each port, usually a walking or bus tour to help passengers learn more about each destination (Viking is known as “the thinking person’s cruise”). We also take advantage of several snorkelling excursions to enjoy the Caribbean’s sandy beaches, calm waters, and abundant sea life.
Accommodation on the Viking Sea
At the end of the day (or, I confess, even for the occasional afternoon nap), our relaxing stateroom beckons. The kingsize bed with luxe linens ensures a smooth sleep. While I love the feeling of being rocked to sleep on a ship, I can barely feel the ship’s movements thanks to Viking Sea’s stabilisers. We can watch movies-on-demand and several TV stations, pipe in various music channels, and even check out the sites from our balcony with provided binoculars. Our mini-bar gets refilled daily with drinks, chocolate, and nuts. I especially love the spacious bathroom with lots of storage spots, the surprisingly spacious glass-walled shower, and the heated floors.
Viking Ocean Cruises
As lovely as all of these offerings are, it’s the ship’s crew that really sets Viking apart. Everyone is exceedingly professional and clearly knows their jobs perfectly. But above that, they are welcoming, quick to laugh and engage in conversation and make you feel like nothing (even a complex set of food allergies) is too much trouble.
Viking’s ocean cruises sail all over the world from popular spots like the Caribbean and Mediterranean to more unusual places like the fjords of Chile, the Suez Canal, remote islands like Mauritius, and longer cruises like Durban to London and Tokyo to Vancouver. Viking also has over 50 190- to 256-passenger longships that navigate the Nile, Mekong, Douro, Danube, Elbe, Volga, and more.
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Viking Ocean Cruises
Canadian writer & photographer specialising in travel, food & responsible tourism