Most people think of river cruises when they hear the Viking Cruises name. Did you know Viking has ocean cruises too? Viking only recently, in 2015, joined the ocean cruise ranks with the Viking Star, yet they are on track to be the largest small-ship ocean cruise line by 2019 and already one-third of their revenue comes from their ocean cruises. Viking has been named the world’s #1 ocean cruise line by Travel + Leisure and Cruise Critic. What is the secret of their success? They know who their customer is and they do everything to make sure that customer gets the best experience possible. Viking has reinvented ocean cruising. Here are three reasons to choose Viking Ocean Cruises for your next ocean cruise.
Viking Ocean Cruises’ Ships are Comfortable and Elegant
As soon as you board one of Viking’s ocean cruise ships, which are all exactly the same, you can see the difference between Viking and other cruise companies. You aren’t surrounded by gold and mirrors and crystal chandeliers. The Viking Living Room, as it is called, is understated elegance; a wood staircase wider yet reminiscent of those in their river cruise ships, a slideshow of photographs taken by their resident photographer from Viking’s destinations around the world, and multiple levels with lots of wood, leather railings, and the minimalism of Scandinavian design.
There are lots of public spaces around the ship perfect for quiet relaxation. At the top of the ship are a sports deck, pool with lounge chairs, outdoor seating areas, and the Wintergarden where afternoon tea is served. Scattered around the ship are cozy seating areas, some with shelves of books nearby.
All staterooms on the ship have a veranda and are quite similar to the rooms on Viking’s river cruise ships. No interior rooms or tiny porthole windows. Bathrooms are small, providing just enough room to be comfortable, but not taking away room from where it’s important and not wasting space. Just like the Viking river ships, the bathroom floors are heated, one of my personal favorite features.
There are some things you won’t find on Viking’s ocean cruise ships: casinos, children under 18, umbrella drinks, photographers hawking photos, art auctions, formal nights, and smoking.
Viking Ocean Cruises Provides Experiences
Viking’s focus is not keeping guests on the ship to spend money, but rather providing them with amazing travel experiences. Because of this focus, their ocean ships are small, holding only 930 guests. Because of the ships’ smaller size, they can sometimes dock rather than having to shuttle passengers by boat. When only one day is spent in a destination, the ship arrives very early in the morning so guests have more time on land. They also sometimes overnight at a destination, allowing even more time on land.
Viking Ocean Cruises destinations include the Baltic, northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Asia, Australia, Central America, and South America. They even have an epic World Cruise, the first of which sailed out of Los Angeles on January 5, 2018. The 930 guests onboard the Viking Sun will spend 120 days visiting 27 countries. Some of those guests boarded 21 days earlier and visited destinations in Central America. Viking also has itineraries for a mix of both river and ocean, the best of both worlds.
Even on the ship, Viking provides experiences. Local music and lectures about destinations are offered. The restaurants offer both standard fare and local specialties. There is also an excursion offered that visits a local market where passengers can sample new things and ask questions, and then return to the ship in the evening to have a meal prepared with what they discovered at the market.
Viking Ocean Cruises Offers a Truly All-Inclusive Package
One of the things founder and Chairman Torstein Hagen hates is that cruise companies fleece their passengers once onboard. He believes that cruises should be all-inclusive with no hidden surprises. Viking’s ocean cruises include in the price one free shore excursion in every port; unlimited Wi-Fi; spa access; beer, wine, and soft drinks at meals; specialty coffees and teas; port taxes and fees; alternative dining (including the Chef’s Table); 24-hour room service; ground transfers with purchase of airfare; and free laundry machines. Not included are extra excursions, liquor and premium wines, and tips.
Dining at any of the ships’ restaurants is included in the price, just some require a reservation. This even includes the Chef’s Table. One thing I noticed on the Viking ocean ship that is different from the river ships is that there are a number of two-person tables in the restaurants.
While there is a charge for spa treatments, all passengers can use the Nordic spa and workout facilities for free. The Nordic spa includes a pool with a water vapor fireplace, a steam room, a sauna, a snow grotto, a polar plunge pool, and even one of those showers where you pull on a rope and a bucket tips over, dumping freezing cold water over you, the quintessential Nordic experience.
One more note about Viking Cruises, not specific to its ocean cruises. Viking is a family business. Torstein Hagen founded the company 20 years ago, and his daughter Karine Hagen, SVP, will one day head the business. The importance of family can be glimpsed in Mamsen’s, the ship’s Norwegian deli named after Torstein’s mother and serving her recipes on replicas of her dishes. They care about their 2,000,000+ customers, and they care about their 6,000+ employees, and they want to be the best company they can be for both groups. The plan is to always stick to their high standards and provide the best experiences on oceans, rivers, and land for decades to come.
So now you know.