Best for: Education-minded adult travelers who lean toward the highbrow
Not for: Families with kids under 18; people expecting loud bands or a party atmosphere.
Bottom Line: Smart inclusions, coupled with outstanding cabins, dining, enrichment and spa, make Viking Venus perfect for an upscale PBS crowd.
Viking Venus is the sixth ocean cruise ship built by Viking, and while it follows the exact same formula as the vessels that came before it, the design remains as smart and innovative as it did when it debuted in 2015. The 930-passenger ship is adults only.
Viking Venus is built for comfort, no matter what the climate. In cooler ports such as Scandinavia, the ship exudes hygge with its cozy bars and lounges, complete with faux fur pelt blankets; and the steam rooms, saunas and faux fireplace of the LivNordic Spa included in the fare. And in warmer areas of the world, the infinity pool at the back of the ship joins the main pool as a haven for sun worshippers, where the Aquavit Terrace servers not only bring you drinks from the open air bar, you get coffee granitas and cool towels delivered to your lounger.
Viking does not call its ships "luxury" but the smart inclusions that you find on Viking Venus, coupled with intelligent service and the ship's amenities, create a comfortable experience that can compete with cruise lines that embrace the title. (And the extensive health protocols, which include daily COVID-19 saliva tests processed by the ship's onboard lab -- a first at sea -- only add to that; Viking's Chairman and CEO Tor Hagen notes, rightfully, that feeling safe while traveling is a luxury in 2021).
We already mentioned the spa, which we consider one of the best at sea. The tea in the Wintergarden, too, is a must. The World Cafe buffet boasts fresh sushi and seafood every night. The Viking Bar on Deck 1 offers excellent specialty coffees and pastries every morning.
Cabins are beautifully designed in cool Scandi-chic and are full of thoughtful touches like USB ports by the bed and a pop-up mirror in the desk so you can do your makeup; all come with balconies; and all bathrooms have heated floors and toiletries that you want to use (rather than generic ones).
Viking prides itself on its attention to enrichment, and you'll have plenty of opportunities to learn on Viking Venus. A resident historian, as well as a guest lecturer, join every cruise. Shore excursions are generally focused more on history than lighter pursuits; when you see culinary, wine or active tours, sign up fast. Don't be surprised to find a simulcast of an opera or classical music from Edvard Munch on the evening program (although there's usually at least one Beatles or Abba show per cruise too).
If there's one aspect that Viking needs to watch, it's making sure that this lean toward the high brow mirrors the interests of its demographic, as the generations change. The line sets its appeal to travelers age 55 and up; on our sailing, we'd put the average age higher, around 70 or so. Yet the Torshavn nightclub was full every night, with younger Boomers and older Gen Xers eager to listen to rock music and dance. The ship's free Wi-Fi is so good that people yet to retire can keep in touch with the office; we met several entrepreneurs in their 60s who were dipping in and out of work during the trip.
All in all, though, Viking Venus gives the PBS crowd exactly what they want, and then some. In 2021 and beyond, it's hard to think of what more you'd need to have a comfortable and safe cruise, as you begin to explore the world again.
Health and Safety Protocols
Fully vaccinated two weeks before boarding, both passengers and crew.
Passengers and crew both undergo daily COVID-19 saliva testing that starts as soon as you embark. Viking Venus has a complete onboard COVID-19 lab for processing.
Completed health check form
Mask wearing required in public areas for passengers; mandated for crew
Off the ship
Ship sponsored "bubble" shore excursions may be required, depending on destination
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