Back in 2015, Viking Cruises introduced Viking Star, the long-standing river company's first oceangoing ship. Bringing river cruise-style inclusions and Viking's trademark Scandinavian influence to the high seas, Viking Star was received with rave reviews from passengers and media alike who praised its inclusions, its design and decor, and its focus on destination immersion.
Viking Venus continues that tradition. The seventh sister ship in the company's ambitious oceangoing fleet, Viking Venus debuts in Northern Europe in 2021. It doesn't tinker a lot with the magic formula, and that's a good thing. To that end, passengers who have sailed aboard the company's other ocean vessels will find themselves right at home aboard this spacious 930-passenger ship, and those who have sailed with Viking on the company's river cruises will find the experiences surprisingly comparable.
Like its sisters, Viking Venus will continue to offer the hallmarks that have made these ships so popular. Expect an expertly curated selection of books on exploration, maritime history and influential people to line shelves throughout the ship's window-lined public rooms, all of which have been arranged to create a feeling of "home away from home."
Viking includes a number of features aboard its oceangoing ships, including free beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, complimentary Wi-Fi internet access and at least one free shore excursion in each port of call. The line also throws in access to the sumptuous thermal suite -- outfitted with a hydrotherapy pool, thermal loungers, saunas, plunge pools and even a proper Snow Room -- in the LivNordic Spa for no additional charge.
Viking Venus, like all Viking Ocean ships, is also noteworthy for what it lacks. Cruisers won't find a clattering casino onboard, art auctions, pushy photographers or hard sells for pool drinks. Viking founder and Chairman Torstein Hagen likes to call Viking, "The Thinking Man's Cruise," and that tradition continues aboard Viking Venus.
Viking Venus offers a number of complimentary dining options.
The Restaurant on Deck 2 serves as the ship's primary dining venue, offering breakfast and dinner in a contemporary setting where nearly every table is within sight of the massive floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap 180 degrees around the room. Meals here are open seating and offer a menu that rotates daily along with an "Always Available" menu (check out the Chairman's Poached Salmon for a take on Torstein Hagen's favorite dish).
Up top, the World Cafe is Viking Venus's casual buffet eatery. The food served here is anything but standard, however, with many of the same high-quality dishes on offer, and action stations making different specialties a la minute. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, it also features windows that open fully when conditions allow, along with some great outdoor seating overlooking the ship's infinity swimming pool.
The Pool Grill is open for casual lunches and offers some of the tastiest hot dogs and hamburgers at sea, along with an adjacent salad bar and plenty of seating on both port and starboard sides of the ship.
Mamsen's is an oft-overlooked favorite that is situated on the starboard side of Deck 7, within the Explorers' Lounge. At breakfast, the to-die-for heart-shaped waffles win cruisers over every time, and lunchtime brings forth an array of open-faced sandwiches done in the traditional Scandinavian way. Head there at night: The line trots out some soothing split pea soup every night at 10 p.m.
Viking Venus offers a variety of specialty restaurants onboard. These carry no charge but require reservations. The number of guaranteed reservations a passenger is given depends on the cabin category booked:
Manfredi's is an Italian-themed venue named after Manfredi Lefebvre D'Ovidio, friend of Viking's Torstein Hagen and founder of luxury line Silversea. Come hungry: Dishes like the Bistecca Fiorentina, ossobuco and numerous pastas are so well-prepared that leaving food on the plate is almost a sin.
The Chef's Table offers up five separate themed menus that rotate every three days or so. These set tasting menus are paired with a selection of complimentary wines that can be upgraded if cruisers so choose for a modest price. A leisurely five-course meal, the offerings at The Chef's Table are continually changing, making it a good choice for repeat cruisers. Best of all, the line has no issues modifying the menu for dietary restrictions.
The Kitchen Table is the only dining venue to carry a surcharge. While pricing hasn't been formally announced for Viking Venus, other Viking vessels offer this for \$199 per person. Housed inside a test kitchen set attractively underneath the main Restaurant, the Kitchen Table invites passengers to go on a shore excursion with the executive chef for local ingredients. In the evening, they prepare those ingredients (somewhat -- the actual galley staff do most of the heavy lifting) into a multicourse extravaganza. The vessel's sommelier pair complimentary wines with dinner.
Finally, it would be a shame to not mention the excellent (and free) Room Service Menu aboard Viking's oceangoing ships. Repeat cruisers swear by the line's in-room breakfast offerings, not to mention snacks, light bites, full meals and Scandinavian dishes like Norwegian gravlax.
Afternoon Tea, with all the requisite trimmings, is held daily in the Wintergarden. Get there early; this is the only venue on Viking's oceangoing ships that is currently too small to meet demand.
The all-balcony Viking Venus offers a wide array of well-designed staterooms that are automatically inviting. Well-lit and adorned with Scandinavian motifs and accents, they range in size from the entry-level Veranda Stateroom at 270 square feet to the whopping 1,163 square feet lavishness of the ship's two-bedroom Explorer Suites.
Viking ratchets up the amenities depending on the cabin category booked. Standard Veranda staterooms include embarkation at 3 p.m. and a mini-bar stocked with soft drinks, water and snacks. Move on up to the larger Deluxe Veranda Stateroom and passengers are graced with 2 p.m. stateroom access and in-suite binoculars, coffee maker and a mini-bar replenished daily.
The Penthouse Veranda Suites are perhaps the best value. Actually, the middle of the road accommodation level despite the name, these offer 1 p.m. stateroom access, priority shore excursion reservations at 77 days out, a mini-bar with alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks replenished daily, shoeshine and pressing included, and a welcome bottle of Champagne.
Of course, if money isn't an issue, the Penthouse Junior Suites (450 square feet) and the aforementioned Explorer Suites offer a touch of the good life.
For those who want to live like Chairman Torstein Hagen, the one-off Owner's Suite (1,448 square feet) offers a prime Deck 7 location just outside Mamsen's, complete with separate living, sleeping and dining areas, a private sauna, and books and photos curated by Hagen himself. There's even an adjacent boardroom for those all-important conference calls.
All accomodations are filled with a number of niceties, including clever pull-out drawer-style mini-bars, plenty of USB and North American power outlets, heated bathroom floors, a bathroom night light and antifog mirrors.
Top Deck Attractions
Up top, Viking offers plenty of open deck space that completely encircles the vessel on several levels. An open-air sports deck all the way forward by the radar mast, however, really takes the cake, offering mini-golf, lawn bowling and quiet seating options. Water stations are located on port and starboard sides for quenching thirst in hot destinations, and clear glass wind screens still manage to offer up some superb views.
Viking Venus has two pools: an infinity pool located all the way aft on Deck 7 flanked by a hot tub, and a main pool and two hot tubs situated underneath a retractable Magrodome roof amidships. Neither are terribly crowded, and surrounding pool seating -- both indoors and out -- is plentiful and readily available. No need to have that copy of the latest Stephen King novel to save the deck chair for you.
Viking hasn't revealed yet if Viking Venus will be graced with an upper-deck Planetarium like sisters Viking Orion and Viking Jupiter (but given its similar name, we'd bet on it).
Entertainment is plentiful aboard Viking Venus, in a low-key but enjoyable sort of way.
Live musical acts perform nightly across the ship and usually consist of a pianist, a classical trio and a classical guitarist who set up in various venues including the ship's three-story atrium and the always-popular Explorers' Lounge.
Late at night, a jazz and blues band sets up shop in Torshavn, a dark and cozy room tucked away amidships. Torshavn also happens to offer the largest selection of vintage Armagnac at sea; order a flight or splurge on a vintage from 1943, the birth year of Chairman Torstein Hagen.
While Viking does offer evening production shows in The Theatre, they don't quite compare to the glitzy spectacles found on bigger, mass-market liners. Still, Viking has been consistently improving the quality of its shows since its ocean ships debuted in 2015.
More fascinating are the ship's onboard destination experts and lecturers, who present on a wide array of itinerary-related topics and interests. These are typically held during the daytime, but it's not uncommon to see the odd predinner lecture offered as well.
Movies are also screened in the Theatre on select days, complete with freshly popped, theater-style popcorn. Unlike most cruise ships, the Theatre has been outfitted with a complete cinema-quality sound system that shook the room during a screening of "Dunkirk" aboard sister ship Viking Orion.
Viking also runs movies on a high-definition screen that's cleverly hidden behind decorative panels on the ship's Pool Deck. The nighttime movies won't bother passengers looking for some quiet time; moviegoers are issued a pair of wireless Bose headphones in order to hear the soundtrack.
Apart from that, Viking Venus offers a wide array of books, board games, digital games and more scattered in nearly every public room throughout the ship. It's a thoughtful touch that Viking has made standard issue on all of its oceangoing ships right from Day One.
Viking Venus will sail some of Viking's most popular itineraries in Northern Europe for its maiden season, including the line's iconic "Viking Homelands" and "In Search of the Northern Lights" voyages.