Following an advertisement in the daily press we made a late booking just 3 days before departure. We sailed as Viking Virgins - around 100 of us in this category we were told, together with just over 200 previous Viking Explorers on board so the ship was barely a third full. Wonderful experience from start to finish. The care over our safety at a time when the delta Covid variant was in ascendancy nationally was magnificent and most welcome. The routine requested of us and the protocols in place were not onerous or intrusive and certainly did not in any way affect out enjoyment. All credit to the company for such rigorous adherence to standards.
The ship is beautiful ; only on its fourth week of cruising on our voyage so sparklingly new and clean. The décor was fresh and the layout both in the stateroom, and the public areas spacious and light - some brilliant floor to ceiling windows - we loved the Explorer's Lounge forward on two decks and the Norwegian style food in here at lunchtime was just so lovely. We have cruised 29 times with just one other cruise line which has suited us well as it seeks to provide a calm and refined ambience. This was exactly the case on this ship. No sales pitch; only one short public announcement each day at noon. No loud shows, no pub, no casino, no pressure to buy stuff. Yes, a few very high quality retail outlets on board; lectures or discussion forums replace glitzy shows; resident musicians appear in certain venues through the day and on some evenings on board musicians and singers offer evening performances with strong and gifted support from both the Assistant Cruise Director and the Cruise Director herself - both talented performers. A fascinating library collection is literally scattered around the ship for anyone to browse at any time - it feels just like home!
Included good quality wine at lunch and dinner and proper coffee at several venues are served with grace and charm and quiet efficiency. We used the main restaurant for 5 nights and also visited both of the two speciality restaurants - all were working on tables for 2 well separated - with reservations and times only being requested for the speciality venues. Outstanding food every day.
[Cabin} was ideally situated midships and close to lifts and stairs. Lovely bathroom with glass door shower and heated bathroom floor. Two arm chairs in the stateroom; very comfortable king size bed. Wardrobe storage is a little tight due to the larger size of the bathroom - not a problem for us. Clear view balcony. Fridge with soft drinks and a bottle of bubbly to get us going on arrival. All the Covid testing was provided to the stateroom and undertaken in there and collected from the room. Room service was included and very good. All information appears on the room TV screen from the safety briefing on arrival to the final farewells - this is a high quality IT ship - included WIFI welcome.