During the day onboard Viking Akun, there’s a number of talks and lectures for passengers to attend on tropics from Russian cuisine to President Putin, as well as Q&As with the captain. These are all complimentary.
There are also daily port talks which are incredibly detailed and packed with useful information such as facts about the excursions taking place, what to take, timings, if food will be provided, availability of ATMs and how long the transfer to various attractions is likely to take. This is often concluded with a run-down on what dishes the chef recommends that evening. Port talks and lectures can also be viewed in your cabin on the TV if you prefer to view in privacy.
In the evenings, entertainment is fairly low-key and is either a quiz or game, followed by live music and sometimes dancing, which tends to wind up around midnight.
Port talks and quizzes are hosted by the incredibly talented Russian program director Margo, who speaks perfect English and is a goldmine of information as far as both the cruise and the itinerary are concerned.
Another of Viking’s USPs and something which many passengers seem to love and appreciate is the inclusion of one free excursion for every passenger in almost every port. Optional excursions are also offered for an additional charge so guests can maximize their time in port. Privileged access is sometimes available, giving you the chance to skip the queues and browse in privacy.
Excursions last between one and 10.5 hours and include anything from museum visits and ballet performances to night tours, authentic home-hosted visits and Matryoshka doll painting. English-speaking local guides will accompany you on your shore excursions. We found the guides to be very knowledgeable, with an excellent standard of English and good personalities. QuietVox audio receivers are used to enable you to hear your guides’ commentary.
Once you have a booking with Viking, you can log onto myvikingjourney.com to plan and customize your travel experience.
All excursions are graded Easy, Moderate or Demanding; some are walking tours and others take place via motor coach or a combination of walking and coach. Drives are almost always less than two hours; nearly all have frequent sightseeing stops.
Walking tours are often over uneven ground or cobblestones and may include stairs and inclines. Excursions can, at times, also be physically demanding; certain sites and monuments may only be accessible on foot and getting off and on the ship frequently includes stairs or inclines.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
During the day, there’s plenty to do when not in port -- activities include talks, lectures, cooking demos, sail away parties, captain’s Q&As, and bridge and galley tours.
Everything is detailed in the Viking Daily newsletter, which is delivered to your cabin each evening.
Before dinner, guests get together in the Sky Bar for drinks and live music and there are cocktail parties for Viking Explorer Society members. After dinner, the Sky Bar is also the place to be if you like quizzes, games, live music and dancing. The quizzes are especially popular and include general knowledge and music trivia, although we noticed that some of the questions were rather American-centric.
The ‘A Taste of Russia’ lunch on the Sun Deck featured a wonderful spread of Russian specialties accompanied by live music. This was thoroughly enjoyable -- some people even commented that it was their favorite lunch of the cruise.
One evening we also participated in a generous wine tasting of regional Russian wines presented by Maitre d’ Pawel; this was complimentary for guests who had purchased a Silver Spirits package, while a supplement was payable for guests without the drinks package.
The sail-away party out of Kizhi was surprisingly lively with live music and singing, Russian snacks, flowing drinks and staff liberally handing out vodka shots.
Russian afternoon tea and pastries were also served one day in the Panorama Bar, while "Meet your Neighbors" encouraged passengers to join their neighbors in front of their cabins for an informal introduction and Champagne toast.
The enrichment program is very varied and you don’t need to pre-book or register to participate in anything you fancy. Some of the talks and presentations are split into two sessions -- one for even room numbers and one for odd room numbers.
Talks are given by the knowledgeable tour escorts Alexey, Sasha and Vadim and we found them to be well attended, interesting and engaging; the program for our sailing included talks on Russia today, Putin & Medvedev, Mikhail Gorbachev and the Romanovs.
Program director Margo also hosts Russian language lessons, port and excursions talks, and presentations on Viking’s itineraries all over the world, Russian souvenirs and Russian food culture.
Passengers were given the opportunity to go behind the scenes with chef Leonida on the galley tour, and learn how to make Pelmeni (traditional Russian dumplings) at a live demonstration.
The captain’s Q&A, wheelhouse tour and captain’s bridge visit went down especially well with those interested in all things nautical.
There are two bars and lounges on Viking Akun, The Panorama Bar and the Sky Lounge -- both are multi-functional spaces that are also used for other purposes.
Panorama Bar (Upper Deck): Located on the Upper Deck at the bow of the ship, the Panorama Bar has different identities throughout the day; at breakfast it offers a quick and convenient buffet selection; mid-mornings and throughout the afternoon it’s a popular place to socialize with a drink, while in the evening it’s the place to go if you want to enjoy great views out of the panoramic windows as well as expertly crafted cocktails, wine and nibbles. There is seating at the bar and lots of tables.
Sky Bar (Sun Deck): Located adjacent to the Sun Deck mid-ship, the Sky Bar serves as a venue for talks and presentations by day, while by night the lights dim and the ambience is a little livelier, as passengers head here for drinks, live music, quizzes, games and even a little dancing if the mood takes them. There’s a piano in this bar and easy access onto the Sun Deck if you wish to watch the sun go down with your aperitif. As in the Panorama Bar, you can choose to sit at the bar or one of the tables.
Viking Akun features a sun deck at the ship’s aft -- this includes a shaded sitting area and lots of chairs, tables and loungers, as well as throws for when it’s a little chilly. The Sun Deck is also the designated smoking area.
Viking Akun services include 24 hour reception/guest services, a library with curated book selection (on the history, geography and current affairs of the countries through which you will cruise), a gift shop, elevator, laundry service (chargeable), doctor onboard and internet station with two computers. Wi-fi is complimentary for all guests.
There are no spa or fitness facilities on board Viking Akun.
Following a change in policy last year, the official minimum age to sail on Viking Akun is now 18; however, the ship is still accepting passengers under 18 if cruises were booked prior to August 1 2018.