It’s often the attention to little things that makes the biggest impact. After all, if it’s the little annoyances that can spoil a vacation it’s also the little pleasant surprises that crescendo into the trip of a lifetime. When a cruise line pays attention to those little things it strikes a chord that resonates long after the trip is over.
I am currently enjoying day 3 of a 2-week sailing on Viking Sky that will take me from London to Norway. This is the cruise Into the Midnight Sun that will allow a view of a sun that doesn’t set as we explore the northern most regions of northwestern Europe. A special thanks to Viking Cruises for providing this 2-week glimpse into a Viking ocean cruise.
After the cruise is over I will give a more detailed write-up on our explorations on this cruise, but for now I wanted to give some quick insights into my first impressions as I soak in this marvelous ship.
After being on two Viking river cruises this is my first ocean cruise with the company. It’s amazing how Viking has infused this ocean ship with the same style and elegance that came with their Viking Longships.
There was an immediate sense of familiarity as I walked on board, but it’s been that innate attention to detail that has impressed the most. The leather wrapped handrails and simple, elegant furniture were some of the first notes of detailed attention I observed. I will draw attention to just a few of these other impressions.
If you never had heated floors in your restroom cabin you simply don’t know what your feet are missing. I keep forgetting that the floors are heated until I walk into the restroom in the morning, and then I quietly give a sigh of relaxing relief. I really enjoy this feature.
A pitcher of water is provided in the room as well. It is filled up throughout the day, and as a big water drinker I really appreciate this.
Everything in the mini-fridge in the cabin is free of charge. With the deluxe veranda (which we have) and above the drinks are replaced every day with no surcharge. What a nice contrast to the $2 per can charge to which you might be accustomed.
A television with new release movies and shows and tons of on demand content is a nice bonus as well. Sure, we are busy exploring each and every destination, but at the end of a long day when we walked almost 10 miles (like we did yesterday in London) it’s nice to have a little R&R in the cabin. By the way, the televisions are really nice.
An excellent quality shower head awaits in the larger than normal glassed-in cabin shower. There is plenty of pressure and plenty of heat too.
A few other cabin features I liked were the automatic closet lights, the outlets and 2 usb ports on each side of the bed for convenient device charging, and well, that in-room coffee maker is going to get plenty of use.
I have noticed something in cruising. When cruise passengers are treated well by the crew they tend to treat each other better as well. The crew on Viking Sky have been both courteous and insightful, and it’s a bit infectious. There is already a synergy of serenity and civility, and it’s awfully refreshing. I was not sitting for 5 seconds at the buffet and someone was already asking me what I would like to drink. The cabin steward (Dewa) gave a mini-tour of the cabin and took the time to show us how the coffee-maker worked. Just sitting around the pool deck I have been offered ice-water, ice cream sorbet, coffee, and an assortment of offerings. So yes, I’m enjoying how proactive the crew has been in going out of their way to make us all care-free.
The Pool Experience
I don’t have many pet peeves, but my biggest one is pool loungers being saved all day long. This is not an issue on this Viking ocean cruise. In fact, every lounger already comes with a towel you can use, and the main pool area is never crowded. There is a feeling of spaciousness in this spa-like environment. I love the retractable roof over the pool for the chilly mornings and the fact that the pools are heated.
In fact, I am going to stop writing this post right now just so I can take a quick dip.
Ok, that felt great! Let me continue as I dry off. The main pool feels about 92 degrees Fahrenheit and the hot tub right next to it feels more like 101. Alternating back and forth is my idea of a refreshing morning.
The infinity pool on the aft side of the ship is heated as well, even more so than the main pool. I’m sure when we are in Norway on those 40 degree days that extra heat will be appreciated.
I may not be the typical 37-year-old cruiser. I go on a cruise to relax, explore, and learn and not to party and lose sleep. Viking Sky offers an environment that is perfect for those who want to read a book in peace or simply relax on a padded lounger while watching scenic views pass by.
Wintergarden is one of the best places to truly catch the serenity on board Viking Sky. Always plenteous in soft light and free from distractions, it’s a wonderful place to get away from it all.
I also found a tranquil respite in the Explorer’s lounge on deck 8 forward. I actually moved to this lounge to finish this post. Being surrounded by ship models, maritime books and décor, the views of the open ocean pair well with the surroundings.
I absolutely MUST mention the spa here. I get relaxed just thinking about it. From the hot salt-water therapy pool to the sub-freezing snow grotto everything is designed to both rejuvenate and refresh the senses. There is even an ice-bucket you can pour over your body after getting out of the steam room if you have the guts to pull the rope.
Travel is about a lot more than just seeing new things in new places. It’s about learning new things as well. Viking offered several enrichment opportunities today, as this is our first sea day. Things like art guide introductions, a talk on hand-blown glass jewelry, afternoon teas and other educational workshops all help to keep the mind stimulated as much as it is relaxed. I’ve really enjoyed the Viking Classical Trio as well, as they fill the air with perfect blends of flute, violin, and cello.
And I must mention Viking Sky’s resident pianist András. This guy can bring a piano to life like no one else as his hands dance across the keys. It’s obvious he enjoys the music he is playing as much as we enjoy listening to it.
I already mentioned how staff will take your drink order at the buffet. This is not your typical ocean cruise buffet experience. If you want a NY strip steak, the crew will cook it to order. The same with pasta and other dishes that are made-as-you-order at the buffet. The variety and quality of food at the buffet was so good that I hesitate in even calling it a buffet, since for most people that conjures up images of masses or people being herded into a line to be fed bland, stale food. Not the case here.
The first night we saw there some open spots at Manfredi’s, which has been heralded as one of the best Italian restaurants at sea. So, of course I had to find out for myself. After eating the Bistecca Fiorentina I found it to be one of the best ribeye’s I’ve ever had. Viking recently went from choice to prime and this slab of meat was 9 oz of pure flavor. With Italian offerings changing every night this is a restaurant I cannot wait to visit again soon. By the way, there is no surcharge at Manfredi’s. You just need to make a reservation.
To wrap it up
The Viking Sky itself is a 745 ft long ship that holds 930 guests. I have found that this provides a more personal experience for each passenger. We aren’t just a room or folio number. And we can get to know the crew on an individual basis as well. Again, it comes down to the details.
Each one of these details have made a striking impression on me as I’m only on my 3rd day of this 2-week voyage. I’m sure as the cruise goes on I will find even more details that have been addressed, but for now I am thankful for one more detail that allows me to post this article: Free Wi-Fi for the duration of the cruise.
Now if you will excuse me, I will have to wrap this up. I moved to the Wintergarden to finish this post and they are getting ready for a tea-time at 4pm.
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