Viking Ocean Cruises, one of the world’s newest ocean cruise lines, made a promise back in 2013 to reinvent ocean cruising. They wanted to go back to what made cruising great. Their river cruise guests said that cruise ships have become too big, too little time was spent in each port, the value wasn’t as good as you think, and most small ships were old and outdated.
Viking launched their first ocean cruise ship, Viking Star in May 2015, and currently has a fleet of two cruise ships (Viking Star, Viking Sea) with four more either under construction or on order. Viking Cruises has not only created a vision to reinvent ocean cruising in seven different areas, but exceeded on every one of them.
1. The destination is the key to the experience – People go on cruises to see the world, visit new countries, and to learn about cultures they aren’t familiar with. Realizing how important the ports of call are on a cruise, Viking has a motto that they aren’t going to charge to take you to a destination, and then charge you again to see it. Makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it? If one of the keys to cruising is the destination, then it needs to be included as part of the cruise fare.
One shore excursion is included every port of call. After taking cruises on both Viking Star and Viking Sea, I was impressed with at the high quality of the included tour in each port. In Jerusalem, the included excursion is a 10 hour tour that takes you through the Old City visiting the Western Wall, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and lunch at a local restaurant. When visiting Rome, you will see the Colosseum, Arch of Constantine, Baths of Caracalla, the Vatican area, and St. Peter’s Basilica in the included tour.
Viking cruise ships spend more time in port than any other cruise line. The Northern Europe itinerary averages over 12 hours spent in each port. Most embarkation/disembarkation ports have overnight stops so you won’t miss out on visiting those cities as well, adding to the cruise experience. This includes Barcelona, Venice, and Athens, just to name a few.
2. A small ship at a great value – In the day and age of mega cruise ships, Viking ocean ships carry just 930 passengers and are 47,800 gross tons in size. This allows Viking to offer a small ship experience at a great value compared to other cruise lines. Every stateroom has a spacious balcony and with all of the extras that come included in cruise fares, Viking Ocean Cruises offers one of the best, if not the best, overall value in cruising today.
3. A serene ship of understated elegance designed for comfort – What you won’t find on Viking ocean ships are casinos, water slides, or the latest headline grabbing wow feature that cruise lines are consumed with adding to their ships. Their ships are all about comfort and that can be seen everywhere from the Living Room, to the Wintergarden, to Explorer’s Lounge. The ships are designed to be practical, and this leads to a better cruise experience for everyone on board.
4. Great food, locally inspired – Viking bucks the cruise trend by having the best food on board in the main dining room. The Restaurant features changing entrees including regional specialties made with fresh, local ingredients. The Kitchen Table gives you the opportunity to go into a local market with the chef where you choose the ingredients. That evening, the chef will prepare your dinner (with the meat, fish, vegetables etc that you chose) in front of you for a one of a kind experience at sea.
5. Culturally enriching shore excursions and onboard programs – The shore excursions offered by Viking will not only allow you to experience new ports and cities, but will also allow you to immerse yourself in new cultures. From eating in a local restaurant for lunch to visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the destination on Viking is key to the cruise experience.
6. No nickel and diming – “There’s no extra charge for that” is a common theme throughout Viking’s ocean cruise ships. Room service, unlimited Wi-Fi (Viking considers this a basic need), specialty restaurants, drinks during meals, the best thermal suite at sea, specialty coffees (cappuccinos, lattes, mochas etc), laundry machines, ground transfers, and one shore excursion in each port all come with no extra charges.
If you hate being nickel and dimed on a cruise, then you’ll love Viking Ocean Cruises.
7. Not to try to be everything to everyone – Things you won’t find on Viking are gimmicks that many cruise lines use to try and be everything to everyone. By having a single focus on the mature traveler, Viking is able to offer a better cruise experience for cruisers who are looking to travel and see the world in comfort.