As an avid traveler I have traveled extensively on river cruises and have taken 5 cruises on 4 different cruise lines: (Royal Carribean, Cunard, Celebrity and Crystal. Perhaps because of my past cruise line experiences, over the last five years, I have chosen to travel almost exclusively on river cruises with Vantage and Viking. Norway was on my bucket list and along with 9 other friends we booked a two week ocean cruise on the Viking Sea for a trip titled "Into the Midnight Sun." Hands down, this was the best cruise ship and cruise line on which I have traveled. It is hard to explain the beauty of Norway's Fjords and the magnificance of the Midnight Sun but this trip was a visual delight. The ship itself is bright, airy and its many varied sitting areas with great expanses of windows enhanced your ability to take in the views. The two story Explorer's lounge offers the best views and cocktails.
What makes Viking Ocean Cruise Line so different from the others? Size matters. The Viking Ocean Liners are the perfect size. We traveled at full capacity but the ship almost never felt crowded. Instead, there always seemed an abundance of seating in almost all of the common areas. The only two exceptions were the Star Theater for the evening shows (go early to get a good seat) and the women's locker room particularly during At Sea days. There simply aren't enough lockers, dressing room space for spa and pool users. You need to be prepared to be jostled. Better yet, change into your bathing suit, leave your valuables in your room and wear your robe to the spa or pool. Having substandard space, one bathroom and one shower in the women's locker room when there is an abundance of unused space around the pool was the only design flaw I could find in the whole ship. On the plus side, the spa pool, steam and ice room were wonderful. I also had two good massages and a great facial, eyebrow and lash treatment from well trained and pleasant staff.
Traveling with 11 people who have rooms and suites spread throughout lthe ship can create logistical hurdles relative to meeting up for the times 9 or more us chose to eat together as a group. Even though we didn't book a group tour, Viking bent over backwards to accomodate our needs. On 6 occassions they sat us in private rooms at the two excellent speciality restaurants on the ship. The food and service on the ship are very good, but the speciality resturants earn special mention. The menu, particulary at the Chef's Table changes every few days as do the wine pairings. Unlike on other cruise lines one does not pay an upcharge to eat at either speciality resturants. However, advance reservations are made by guests who have upgraded rooms.
Speaking of rooms, we booked into a Penthouse Veranda Stateroom which gives you about 60sq. ft more than a Deluxe Veranda. This was a great size and gives you much needed drawer space for your clothes and additional surface space for all the papers and souveniers you tend to accumulate overtime. The upgrade also provides you some preference for booking private excursions and eating at the speciality resturant. Some of our friends purchased Junior Suites. These are a considerable upgrade from the Veranda rooms. They provide you with much bigger bathrooms, a larger sitting area and a large blackout curtain that you can pull between the bed and the sitting area. This is a good feature if your spouse is an early riser or if you want to sleep in the room without having to pull all your curtains tight to block out the light from the Midnight Sun. (If you don't upgrade bring a sleep mask if you are sensitive to light at night).
Finally, my hats off to a very friendly, service oriented staff and crew. The captain's self proclaimed review: "We are the Happiest Ship on the Sea" rang true. I can't wait to take my next trip on a Viking Ocean Liner.
Bright Airy. Enough space for two travelers who tend to sleep and rise at the same time.
Good variety of Movies and TV programs were available.
Internet Service was not, however, strong or even available at many times. But that may have been related more to traveling in the Artic Circle and to remote areas.
Seeing the Standing Stones of Stenness was interesting. The tour guide was less informative than I would have liked.
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