I recently returned from the Lisbon to Miami December 2018 Mid-Atlantic Crossing on the Viking Sun. And, while Viking claims to be the Number One Cruise Line in the premier 600-2199 passenger ship category, I do not completely agree. Why? Because too many of the Viking passengers sole ocean experience is on Viking after having taken one of their river cruises. These first time cruisers are quite impressed, as they should be, because the Viking Sun and its sister ships are very classy vessels. The Sun was launched in 2017 and is the fourth of five ships currently in the fleet, although there are plans to have ten ships in the fleet by 2027. However, once you have sailed on Regent, Crystal, Azamara, Silversea, Oceania or Seabourn, you have a point for comparison and can determine for yourself how Viking compares in different ways to these lines. Some of these competitor ships are smaller than Viking and some are larger, but each company has a niche and their customers are happy with that offering. Regent is fully inclusive offering air, food, accommodation, tours, alcohol and personnel tips in their price whereas Viking offers just food, accommodation, tours, plus a limited selection beer and wine with lunch and dinner. Viking does offer a reasonably priced air option but does not include tips which are added to your bill as is done by Princess, Holland America, and Celebrity which have larger ships and cater to a somewhat different clientele. Here are some of my observations about the Viking Sun during my voyage.
The positive observations:
The “lobby” of the Sun is a stunning three stories high with a two story electronic billboard on which they display notes of local historical interest such as events, birthdays, etc. and also photos of birds, stamps, coins, flowers, artwork, etc. Overlooking the lowest level are public seating areas on the two higher floors that afford the passengers an opportunity to watch or listen to what is going on below (piano or string duo) or to play games at electronic tables or assemble jig saw puzzles or just relax. There is also a self-service laundry on each of the guest room floors starting on level 3. The ship wide electronic information screens allow you to catch up on news, daily activities, weather, dining menus, shore excursions, etc. and you can also get this information in your room on the tv set which is a large wall-mounted flat screen. The entertainment on the ship is very good: the speakers were almost uniformly excellent, there is a resident historian to provide salient talks on subjects of interest, and the four singers/dancers were very good. The two alternate restaurants provide a choice of Italian food at Manfredi and a rotating fixed menu at the Chef’s Table (Mexican, French, Chinese…) which can be paired with selected wines in place of the regular wine selections if you have the optional beverage package. The food is generally good and there is a nightly sushi bar in the buffet. The cruise director on this voyage, Heather Clancy, was one of the best I have encountered. In addition to doing the daily activities briefing each morning on tv, introducing speakers, and generally interacting with guests all over the ship each day, she also sang at one show and performed the Sunday church service and Christmas observance as well. Amazing! The staterooms are large compared to Holland America, Princess, and Royal Caribbean and all come with a balcony.