While Viking Ocean Cruises' fourth ship, Viking Sun, will be virtually identical to the line's three predecessors, it does have one feature that has cruisers excited: The 930-passenger ship will spend its maiden season sailing the line's first world cruise, a 141-day itinerary visiting five continents.
Departing on December 15, 2017, the Miami-to-London route will stop in 66 ports, ranging from Cuba and the Caribbean to Asia to the Middle East to Europe. Twelve of the stops will be overnights in cities such as Havana, Papeete, Auckland, Shanghai, Sydney, Bangkok and Singapore.
The other main change passengers will see when Viking Sun debuts in October 2017 is that the ship will have an expanded gym; space is being taken from the salon area. The changes were made after feedback from passengers.
Cruises on Viking Sun will include at least one excursion in every port, and also a choice of premium excursions that cost extra. Book your excursions online before you board to ensure you get the tours you want. Fares also include free internet, self-service laundry, access to the thermal suite, all dining (an exception is The Kitchen Table, which is more shore excursion than restaurant), and beer, wine and soft drinks at mealtime.
Gratuities are not included (except when sailing in Australia and New Zealand); Viking recommends passengers tip US$14 per person, per day. Tips are added to onboard bills automatically.
Viking Ocean is "resort casual." There are no formal nights.
As with other Viking Ocean cruises, Viking Sun will be geared toward adults with no facilities or programming for children. The minimum age to sail will be 18.
Viking Sun Cabins
Viking Sun will have the following cabin categories:
Veranda and Deluxe Veranda: These categories are largely identical, especially in size (224-square-foot cabins with additional 46-square-foot balconies). These staterooms feature seating areas, each with two armchairs and a coffee table; outside on each balcony are another two chairs with a table high enough to dine on. The minor difference is that the entry-level priced Veranda has no mini-bar, and passengers are not entitled to pre-book restaurant reservations. Deluxe Verandas each have a mini-bar that's stocked daily with complimentary juice and soda. Passengers in Deluxe Verandas can check in to their cabins an hour earlier than those in Verandas (2 p.m. instead of 3 p.m. on embarkation day).
Penthouse Veranda: This stateroom measures 280 square feet and has a slightly larger balcony at 58 square feet. (The balcony furniture is the same as in the other Veranda categories.) The added space means there's a larger seating area, with both a sofa and an easy chair. Extra drawers provide more storage. Complimentary alcoholic drinks join sodas, juice and snacks in the mini-bar at this level. Service perks include priority reservations at the main restaurant and the ship's two alternative eateries, as well as complimentary pressing and shoe shining. Passengers in this category can access their cabins at 1 p.m. on embarkation day.
Penthouse Junior Suite: The smallest of the three suite categories, the Penthouse Junior Suite measures 336 square feet, with a veranda that's got 69 square feet of lounge space. The living area, though still part of one main room, has a couch and two easy chairs. One flat-screen television hangs across from the bed, and another lies opposite the seating area. A curtain can divide the bedroom from the living space. Key perks that come with this category include the ability to check in to the cabin at 11 a.m., guaranteed reservations in the ship's alternative restaurants and complimentary dry cleaning and laundry, in addition to pressing and shoe shining.
Explorer Suite: The Explorer Suites, which vary in size from 458 to 700 square feet with an additional 167 to 490 square feet of balcony space, will be located on the corners at the front and back of the ship, which gives them wraparound views on two sides. Each Explorer Suite will feature a dining table for four, a living room with a couch and a pair of armchairs, and walk-in closets. Perks are otherwise similar to those of the Penthouse Junior Suite.
Owner's Suite: What's should be most memorable about the Owner's Suite is not just its sprawling size (1,319 square feet inside, with 156 square feet of balcony space), but also that its decor is influenced by Viking president Torstein Hagen, a Norway native. The suite will feature a living room, wet bar and dining nook that seats six, along with a powder room. The balcony is equipped with cushioned wooden loungers for two, as well as a table and two chairs. Its bedroom has a king-sized bed and walk-in closet. The master bathroom features double sinks, a large glassed-in power-shower and a private ocean-view sauna. Also unusual for a cruise ship suite: This one's got its own boardroom, so Hagen (or any other passenger staying in the suite) can hold meetings while onboard. It's also useful for large dinner parties. (There's even a small oven in the butler's pantry.)
Viking Sun Dining
Viking Sun will have the same dining options as the other Viking Ocean ships. Here's what to expect:
The Chef's Table (Deck 1): Offered every night throughout the cruise, The Chef's Table menu is themed to a certain region or food style, such as Chinese, Norwegian or sweet and salty. The menu rotates to a different theme every three days, so passengers who dine there several times will have the opportunity to try several different menus. Menus are set and include five courses paired with wines.
Manfredi's (Deck 1): Manfredi's is the ship's Italian restaurant, open only for dinner.
Viking Living Room (Deck 1): Really part of the Living Room Bar, a small display case offers various snack options during the day. You'll find pastries and muffins in the morning and cookies and sandwiches in the afternoon.
The Kitchen Table (Deck 1); $199 per person: The Kitchen Table is as much a shore excursion as it is a cooking and eating experience. Your day starts in port, where you join the ship's chef on a journey to the local market to pick out fresh ingredients for that night's meal. In the evening, you visit the beautiful Kitchen Table space, an area that includes a large table for seating, a show kitchen with flat-screen TVs and stations set up for hands-on prepping and cooking. If you're in a small group -- eight people or fewer -- you'll get a chance to do some of the cooking. Larger groups will have to be content to watch, eat and drink, though passengers really intent on cooking can join in.
The Restaurant (Deck 2): This is the ship's main dining venue and accommodates the largest number of passengers at mealtime. It's open for breakfast and dinner every day and lunch only on sea days and select port days. While the space is large, it is divided into smaller areas, providing a sense of intimacy. Tables are available in a variety of sizes, so you can eat privately at a table for two or dine as a group at larger tables. Reservations aren't accepted, but you won't need them.
The World Cafe (Deck 7): The ship's buffet, The World Cafe will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. The Aquavit Terrace is located at the very back of The World Cafe, where glass doors allow in light or can be opened for indoor/outdoor seating. The Terrace is a staple on the line's river ships, and on all vessels; it combines drinking, dining and the outdoors. Tables and chairs are available in full sun or shaded, and you have unobstructed views.
The Pool Grill (Deck 7): This is Viking Sea's version of a burger bar; it also includes a small salad bar. The Pool Grill is open for lunch daily.
Mamsen's (Deck 7): Mamsen's is more a kiosk in the Explorers' Lounge than a true restaurant, though wait staff serve passengers sitting at set tables during mealtimes. Late-risers will love breakfast at Mamsen's, which is open later than other morning meal venue options. Lunch offers open-faced sandwiches -- the same sandwiches as you'll find served at the Living Room bar, while dinner is a variety of cured meats and a delicious, hearty bacon and pea soup, which is served late into the night.
Room Service: Passengers can order room service at any hour, any day. The menu is complimentary.
Viking Sun Outside Recreation
Viking Sun has a main pool, located in the center of the ship on Deck 7. The pool is flanked by a long, narrow hot tub. The entire area can be covered by a retractable roof, which is closed during inclement weather and at night.
A second, smaller pool and hot tub are located at the very back of the ship on Deck 7 -- literally, the very back; this infinity pool almost hangs from the ship.
The whole of Deck 8 is a sun deck, with loungers located all the way around. A small portion of Deck 8 is open to smokers.
There is also a small seating area on Deck 9, with shuffleboard, a putting green and bocce ball green.
Viking Sun Spa and Fitness
A highlight of all Viking Ocean ships is the thermal suite, which is open -- and complimentary -- to all passengers regardless of whether they've booked a spa treatment. The suite is beautiful, and all elements in it are based on the Nordic bathing concept of alternating hot and cold treatments. The unique feature is the snow grotto, a small, glass-enclosed room that is filled with ice shavings (that really do replicate snow).
The thermal suite also includes two therapy showers, a thalassotherapy pool and an adjacent hot tub. The thermal suite, including the steam room and snow grotto, is unisex.
If you'd rather not use the unisex facilities, the men's and women's changing rooms each have their own hot/cold options: a dry sauna and a cold-plunge pool.
Spa treatments include a variety of massages, such as detox, Swedish or deep tissue, as well as facials. The space includes a salon for haircuts and styling as well as manicures and pedicures, although this will be smaller on Viking Sun than on the previous three ships.
The fitness center on Viking Sun is located adjacent to the spa. Due to passenger demand, it will be larger than what's on current Viking Ocean ships. A jogging track on Deck 2 wraps the entire ship.