WHY IT RATES: Cruisers are extraordinarily loyal. After dominating the river cruise sector, it will be interesting to see how passengers react to the new ocean cruises from Viking. - Rich Thomaselli, TravelPulse Senior Editor
PHOTO: The Explorers Lounge aboard the Viking Sea. (Courtesy Viking Ocean Cruises)
Viking Ocean Cruises® today announced its second ship, Viking Sea, has embarked on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice, officially doubling the size of the company's fleet and continuing its vision for destination-focused cruises.
From Venice, Viking Sea will sail through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened on May 5 on London's Thames River in Greenwich. Following the christening, Viking Sea will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.
"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."
SEE MORE: Viking's Growing Fleet
Ships Designed for Destination Cruising
Classified by Cruise Critic as "small ships," Viking's ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, boast 465 cabins and accommodate 930 passengers. Viking Sea is the second of six ocean cruise ships on order. The third ship, Viking Sky, will be delivered in early 2017; the three remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in late 2017, 2018 and 2020, respectively.
Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Sea, like her sister ships, was designed by experienced nautical architects and engineers, including the same interior design team responsible for the award-winning fleet of Viking Longships®. Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings.
A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.
Onboard Viking Sea, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods - imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts.
In the LivNordic Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia is in mind - from the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and a real Snow Room, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron.
In the Wintergarden, blonde wood "trees" stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.
Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests "the thinking person's cruise" as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world.
Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and "collector ports," appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine. And only The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.
While onboard, guests enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking Sea elevate food as a cultural experience - the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen's features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen's mother, Ragnhild, otherwise known as "Mamsen."
READ MORE: Viking Ocean Cruises Takes Delivery of Viking Sea, Floats Out Viking Sky
The Chef's Table celebrate cuisines from around the world with multi-course tasting menus and wine parings; and Manfredi's Italian Restaurant 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.
While every cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port, Viking's optional excursion program was designed to provide guests with enriching experiences that go beyond the iconic and expected. Highlighted examples include:
• Cooking with a Countess, Venice, Italy - Countessa Lelia Passi welcomes Viking guests to her home, which has been in her family for hundreds of years. In the magnificent surroundings of this lavish palace, the countess and her teaching staff share with guests the secrets of Italian cooking.
• Sail & Swim the French Riviera, Toulon, France - Guests have the opportunity to try their hand at sailing a luxury sailboat on the Bay of Toulon. Weather permitting, the yacht will anchor in one of many small coves, where guests can relax with a drink or snack, or perhaps a swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
• A Normandy Countryside Cheese & Brandy Tasting - In the village of Pont L'Évêque, savor a special Norman lunch amidst the Calvados barrels of Les Tonneaux du Père Magloire restaurant. After your meal, you will visit the cellars to learn how apples are transformed into the "eau de vie," the water of life-Normandy's favorite brandy.
• King Crab Safari, Honningsvåg, Norway - Guests set off in a deep-sea raft into the pristine waters of Sarnesfjorden, where the vistas are breathtaking, with green slopes soaring on all sides. From there, fishermen guides show guests how prized king crabs are harvested before heading back to shore, where a feast is prepared under a Sami tent.
• Fjord Safari to a Goat Cheese Farm, Flåm, Norway - This tour provides the rare opportunity to experience Norway's great outdoors by small boat and by hiking trail through a spectacular fjord-all rewarded with lunch at an authentic farm.
• A Beer Lover's Adventure & Walking Tour, Ålborg, Denmark - Guests sample some of the best-loved Danish beers on this walking tour of the district surrounding Jomfru Ane Gade, where Danes come to relax and enjoy local brews.
• Jerusalem & Bethlehem Private Tour - Guests have an opportunity to tailor their exploration of Jerusalem and Bethlehem to suit their personal interests with a private guide and transportation.
Topics From This Article to Explore