After 26 cruises this was our first on Viking; surely, not our last. I'll get over our one gripe first and move on to the positives. On the evening sail from Bergen, we visited the ship's apparel shop in search Viking's red and white signature Dale of Norway sweater. My wife resisted buying other attractive sweaters in Bergen's shops with Viking's signature sweater in mind. The shop had no stock of size medium. The excuse was that they sold out on the last voyage. That is lame excuse since we just sailed from the cruise line's home port and the Dale of Norway production center. The salesman offered no recourse, eg. a special order that could be shipped home, and assumed a rather indignant, huffy attitude. The message. "Clients from the Bergen cruise origin aren't as worthy as those from the Greenwich start of the same cruise itinerary."
That said, now to to the cruise. Despite scheduling 13 excursions in 11 ports over 13 days, we felt that this was one of our more relaxing cruises. The casual, unbustled on-board environment undoubtedly contributed to that feeling. We used Viking Air for flight arragements and arrived in Bergen around noon after a short connecting flight from Oslo. There were at least half a dozen Viking representatives at the airport to assist passengers and get us on the way to the ship. This exemplifies a typical pattern that we experienced on the whole cruise. Ample Viking staff are readily available where needed to assist customers. A seamless check-in at the port had us in our stateroom before the scheduled time. Our luggage had already been delivered, a first time experience on any cruise.
The Atrium serves as the core public area from deck 1 to 3. Above The Viking Living Room on deck 1 with its nooks of lounge furniture, book collections and artwork, deck 2 has a perimeter balcony with lounge and table game areas and deck 3 features sitting areas along with exhibits of Norwegan traditional ceremonial dress; deck 2 has a nook with Viking cultural artifacts. My wife, a serious fiber spinner, delighted in the spinning artifacts. Stateroom corridors and public areas abound with artwork. Explanatory narratives are available through an on-board dedicated phone app. At the head of the grand staircase in The Atrium is a 2-deck electronic panel with changing images of Norwegan and Viking culture and the voyage's port areas. Beneath the staircase is a garden of multi-colored visual delights. At the deck 1 staricase base performance space features daily soothing classical performances on the Steinway by Olga, resident pianist, and the Viking classsical duo on violin and cello. Other performances included well chosen port-based ensembles providing local cultural programs and the ship's staff who shared diverse talents.
From our arrival to our debarkation 15 days later, our cabin steward, Sugara, provided congenial, excellent service. The stateroom brightly appointed in contemporary Scandanavian decor was a Deluxe Veranda that included two comfortable lounge chairs and ample below the bed storage for luggage. Closet access was somewhat cramped because of its position spanning one side of the bed. And, the night stands could use a drawer or cubby in place of a decorative facia panel. Overall, drawer space in the cabin was adequate. Most convenient on the night stands were 110/220 volt electric and USB outlets. The desk also had outlets and a hinged top that presented a lighted make-up mirror and storage space for small items, including provided binoculars. The bed was comfortably firm. Adjustments can be made, as Sugara asked us if we were satisfied with the bed's comfort.
The bathroom offered ample drawer, counter, and shelf storage. But, with only one towel rack that served hand towels and face clothes, it lacked hanging space for bath towels, unless one used the door hooks intended for the provided comfortable robes. And, thanks for the slippers, useful for treking to the spa. Bathroom mirrors were steamless after showers; and, what a treat to step onto the user controlled, heated bathroom floor. Excellent water control and flow typify the sink and shower. And, to lead us to the bathroom at night was a floor nigh light toggled by switches on both sides of the bed.
Kirkwall's center is a delightful walking area to explore. The cruise's included tour, Highlights of Historic Orkney, gave us a good sample of the countryside, a small fishing village and the Bronze Age Ring of Brodgar.