This was our second Viking Ocean, and the quality and level of service was five star just as it always has been in the past. It doesn't ever seem like there are 930 passengers on the ship because of Viking's clever way of providing multiple living spaces throughout the ship, from the Explorer's Lounge at the front of the ship, to the Living Room on Deck 1, and many other delightful, comfortable, and tastefully designed nooks where one can read a book, take a nap, or enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail while mesmerized by the passing ocean. Our Northern Lights cruise left London as scheduled, and we enjoyed a visit to Vondendam, just outside Amsterdam, on a paid excursion. This little town is located on a dyke, and we visited a cheese factory/shop where we sampled some delicious locally made cheese, and a quaint little fish shop where we were treated to samples of some different fish pieces. Two days at sea took us north, and we luxuriated in the thermal pool, hot tub, and snow room in the Spa. Viking does not charge any extra for this fabulous way to pass a few hours.
After arriving at our first port, Narvik, we donned winter gear and spent the afternoon in a Sami tent, learning about the indigenous people's way of life. Another night at sea, and we found ourselves in Tromso, which has a wonderful bridge and a beautiful Arctic Cathedral. Further up the Norwegian coast, almost as far as anyone can go, we visited Alta, a small and very remote town surrounded by picturesque snow covered mountains. Then it was two days at sea on our way back down the coast, ending in Bergen, one of our favorite cities, full of Hanseatic League charm with its 12th century waterfront buildings. It was unquestionably cold on this trip, but we took warm coats, gloves, wool socks, thermal undies, warm hats and neck warmers, and sturdy shoes, so we were quite well protected from the elements. Viking's buses are always warm and comfortable, with professional and friendly drivers and guides. The photo opportunities were everywhere, from quaint red Norwegian houses to huge snow covered peaks. The open sea was a little rough at times, but my Seabands worked great. In the fjords it was quite calm.
Did we see the Northern Lights? Yes, we absolutely did one night from the ship in Tromso. The captain always makes an announcement on the PA to alert everyone if Northern Lights are spotted. All in all, we would do this trip again in a heartbeat. But we're already booked on another Viking trip, our third River cruise, in a few months. We will never cruise with anyone but Viking because everyone we spoke to who had cruised with other cruise lines told us the same thing, over and over. That Viking is far superior in every way to the other cruise lines, with the bonus of less passengers and more personal service. What's not to like about that?