5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
Viking Ocean Cruises, the coastal cruising company that's a sister to Viking River Cruises, debuted in April 2015 with the launch of its first ship, Viking Star. Its second new build, the nearly identical Viking Sea, debuted in April 2016.
Blending facilities found on ocean ships and also adding touches that are distinctly river oriented, Viking Ocean Cruises will have a fleet of six by the end of 2020.
Viking Star has more facilities than Viking's river vessels which makes sense because the cruise line is not limited by river-specific bridges and tides (The brand's river-going Longships have capacity for 190 passengers.) On the ocean cruise ships, there are 11 dining venues, a Nordic-influenced spa, two pools (one with a retractable glass roof and the other, located aft, with an infinity edge) and numerous cocktail lounges. Other features include a promenade deck that wraps all the way around the ship, a top-deck Explorers' Lounge with nearly 360-degree views, and a fitness center and sports deck. Almost as notable are the amenities Viking Ocean Cruises' ships will not have: casinos and a kids clubs.
All cabins have balconies and, with a standard size of 270 square feet (including the balcony space), they're larger than the industry average. Larger accommodation categories include the 338-square-foot Penthouse Veranda, 405-square-foot Penthouse Junior Suite and 757-square-foot Explorer Suite.
Like its river brethren, Viking Ocean Cruises' ships feature the popular Aquavit lounge and terrace for alfresco dining and cocktails. The ocean ships also have a similar Nordic design theme, which emphasizes natural woods, naturally lit spaces and contemporary decor. Other shared traditions include complimentary onboard Wi-Fi, a selection of included-in-fare shore excursions, and free wine and beer with lunch and dinner.
Viking Ocean Cruises also takes a page from the rivers' playbook when it comes to creating itineraries that are destination-focused. Sailings, which feature the Mediterranean, Norway and the Baltic Sea but will also venture westward, to the U.S. and Canada in 2016, offer marquee ports and out-of-the-way stops. There are few sea days. Often, ships stay longer in port than the norm. Onboard enrichment -- featuring destination experts on topics ranging from cuisine and culture to history and geography -- takes center stage. The ships' chefs have created menus inspired by each cruise's region.
Passengers are generally English-speaking, well-traveled cruise veterans in the 55-and-older age bracket. They're active and want an itinerary packed with ports and ample time for meaningful exploration.