|The Viking Sea sets sail on her maiden voyage. Photo: © Edelman and Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
The Viking legacy continues this year with the maiden voyage of Viking Ocean Cruises' second ship, the Viking Sea, right on the heels of the recent Viking Longships christening in Amsterdam last month. The maiden voyage of the line's second ocean-going vessel sailed in early April 2016 from Istanbul to Venice and then continued through the Mediterranean, around the Iberian Peninsula and eventually to London's Thames where she'll be christened in Greenwich on May 5. Following the christening, the ship will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.
|The Viking Sea to be christened in Greenwich on the Thames River in London May 5, 2016. Photo: © Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
|The Viking Star Christening Celebration Event May 17, 2015, in Bergen, Norway. Photo: © Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
Last May, I had the pleasure to sail on the Viking's first ship, the Viking Star for an unforgettable journey from Barcelona to Lisbon. I am not an avid ocean cruiser but because it was Viking, the leader of the river-cruise industry, I knew that this would be a voyage filled with the quality experiences and guest service that I have come to love having sailed on an number of Viking river cruises. With that said, I am sure the Viking Sea will live up to every expectation that Viking guests have come to love as well.
Except for subtle differences as pointed out in this Travel Weekly article, the Viking Sea is very much like her older sister whose christening in Bergen, Norway, last May was a touching moment, especially for Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises, not only for reaching another milestone in his career but to have that career come full circle back to Bergen where the new Viking Star met another "star," the Royal Viking Star, a memento from his previous life as CEO of Royal Viking Line during the 70s and 80s.
|The atrium on board the Viking Ocean Cruises ships is known as the Living Room for its inviting alcoves and intimate gathering places for guests.|
The Viking Sea, born of the same Norwegian heritage and tradition as the Viking Star but boasts subtle changes all her own. Rest assured, the spirit of those legendary sea explorers who charted their courses by the stars is very much alive and well on this ship too; through artifacts, artwork and décor that celebrate the rich Norwegian heritage and Viking lore. Echoes of the Viking Longships resound throughout the ship's intimate gathering places that welcome guests with cozy comfort and an invitation to cuddle up with a good book or to update your travelogue.
|The Viking Star as seen in Cartagena, Spain.|
Hands down, I know exactly where my favorite spot on board will be—the two-deck observatory with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking new horizons while the astrolabes, antique globes and other maritime instruments beckon the explorer within.
|The spirit of Exploration is palpable in the two-deck Explorer's Lounge. This is the view from the upper deck. Photo: © Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
|The Chef's Table is another specialty dining location and what the chef says, goes! The menu is not open to negotiation. ;)|
Dining options onboard Viking Sea include: World Café with its convenient global cuisine amid open kitchens; The Restaurant is the main dining room and offers local favorites as well as American traditions in intimate gathering places; Mamsen’s features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as “Mamsen;” The Chef’s Table celebrates cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine pairings; and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant, my favorite on board the Viking Star, embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine. With the Kitchen Table experience, guests have an immersive opportunity to shop, cook and eat with the Executive Chef.
|Welcome to rejuvenation at its best—Liv Nordic Spa. Photo: © Viking Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.|
LivNordic Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is brought to life and designed to invigorate your body from head to toe. Relax in the hydrotherapy pool, perhaps a calming massage treatment or a blast of frigid Nordic temps in the snow grotto.
Cultural immersion—the heart of the journey
Exploring the world and connecting with cultures is at the heart of all journeys on board Viking Sea. I too, share this vision wherever my travels may lead. Through Viking's Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences, the "Viking Difference" provides travelers with well-designed itineraries maximizing cultural immersion with extended time in ports including overnights; ports that include cosmopolitan cities as well as "collector ports," those that appeal to lovers of art, history, music and cuisine! At least one free excursion is offered in every port, plus a variety of optional excursions. Further enrichment awaits back on board in the form of lively entertainment and informative lectures.
“Too often in recent years the most talked about ships have been the biggest ships. It is our view that some cruise lines have focused too much on building bigger ships and not enough on helping guests connect with the destination,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “We have created ocean cruises that put the destination at the center of the experience, with smaller ships that are smarter in design. As our second ship sets sail with her first guests we look forward to introducing more travelers to the unique way that Viking does ocean cruising – a style of cruising that was inspired by our experience and success on the rivers.”And it's not only the itineraries that are designed for destination immersion. Each of the Viking Sea's 465 staterooms offer a veranda and you'll find floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the ship, even the aft infinity pool takes you one "dive" deeper into your destination.
|For the ultimate in destination immersion, head to the industry's first infinity pool on Deck 7 aft.|
Not one but two pools are offered on the Viking Sea including the cruise industry's first-ever infinity pool Deck 7 aft providing for the ultimate in destination immersion. Swim out in the heart of some of the most exciting places in the world! Or enjoy the midship main pool that offers protection from inclement weather with its innovative retractable roof.
|The main pool midship has a retractable roof so that you can swim without regard to the elements. The Wintergarden is just beyond those darkened windows to the left.|
The future is bright!
Viking's third ship, Viking Sky, is scheduled for delivery in early 2017 with three yet-to-be-named vessels to be delivered in late 2017, 2018 and 2020 respectively.
Live Voyage Report
For live coverage all week long, Gene Sloan from USA Today is on board the Viking Sea sharing updates and photo tours from bow to stern!