Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Wed April 27 2016

How Viking Ocean Cruises Is Creating a New Cruising Category

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Viking Cruises | Jason Leppert | April 27, 2016

How Viking Ocean Cruises Is Creating a New Cruising Category

While sailing on Viking Ocean Cruises’ newest Viking Sea, it’s immediately apparent that both the line and the ship are something special. In fact, the cruising team behind the successful Viking River Cruises brand is crafting a whole new category in the ocean industry.

When the Viking Star launched last year, a new ocean cruise line was born, and Viking is now well on its way to a fleet of at least six ocean ships on order through 2020. What the line does very well is exactly what it does on the river: provide high quality at a great value.

READ MORE: 10 Reasons to Love Viking’s Ocean Cruises

The line does not espouse to be a luxury brand to avoid setting the bar too high, but it comes extremely close, besting other upscale lines like Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania Cruises with newer ships and a luxury pedigree. Ask around, and you’ll find many staff that came from the upper echelon of cruising. The Viking Sea’s captain came from Crystal Cruises and its general manager from Seabourn Cruise Line, and the line’s director of culinary development actually came from aforementioned Azamara and Oceania.

Both the hardware and software compete with luxury lines at a lower cost, and therein a new category of cruising is established, somewhere just shy of, say, Silversea Cruises. For one, the ship features a harmoniously casual design that accentuates the destination like a frame draws a viewer’s eye to art. Key to its success is lots of outward-facing glass, floor-to-ceiling windows that cleverly open The Restaurant and World Cafe buffet for al fresco dining and a spectacular two-deck observation lounge – always a welcome feature that is sadly less common these days.

Accommodations are equally unbeatable with generous space that thankfully extends to the private bathrooms and showers. Every design has been expertly thought out, from low bathroom and shower thresholds – seen nowhere else on cruise ships – to an abundance of USB charging outlets (nine in penthouse veranda rooms). Plus, friendly and attentive service is also on point with many crew calling you by name, another hallmark usually reserved for luxury lines.

READ MORE: What the Viking Ocean Cruises Expansion Could Mean for the Future

And the food is top notch to say the least, regardless of the location. Room service is just as good as the main dining room and just as good as the specialty restaurants, and even those are included. Reservations are required at the specialty pair, but all the food onboard in any venue is free. The only exception is The Kitchen Table, a unique destination excursion and dining experience rolled into one for $199 per person. Speaking to the quality, which was great to begin with, the line has recently upgraded its meat selection from choice to prime, hamburgers included.

If there is just one shortcoming of Viking, it’s entertainment, but with a destination focus, it’s easily forgivable. While production shows are a bit lackluster, live music is excellent, and there’s a great selection of movies, TV shows and TED talks to watch around the ship or on-demand in your cabin. Overall though, between the ship itself and the service, no other cruise line feels quite as effortlessly comfortable and homey as Viking Ocean Cruises.

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