UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Along the way to the start of our Empires of the Mediterranean sailing aboard Viking Cruises new Viking Sea, we’re tagging all things Viking including news. This week announcing the third Viking ocean ship to make contact with water, 930-passenger Viking Sky was floated out at shipyard ceremony, just one day prior to taking deliver of new Viking Sea.
“It is a special day when a new ship meets water for the first time. This is our third ship to be floated out in three years, so it is indeed a proud moment for our entire Viking family,” said Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises. “Our first ship, Viking Star, has enjoyed great success in her maiden season. I look forward to her five sister ships experiencing the same respective success as they debut over the coming years.”
Indeed, Viking Star was the right tool for the job as we enjoyed sailing around the Mediterranean last year, seeing familiar places through the eyes of Viking with an included tour at every single port. We had been to all the ports on our itinerary before, via a variety of other cruise lines. Still, guided by Viking, the same places looked a little different and brought a lot of wonderful memories, not possible on a standard ocean cruise. Maybe it was Viking Star veteran hotel director Karl Eckl who insured a pleasant stay. Perhaps it was Milos the bartender, Roel the assistant waiter or Martha the guest services manager. It might have been the other culturally curious passengers on board, all there to see the world in comfort. Regardless of the fuel that lit that fire, Viking ocean cruises has established itself as a stand alone favorite for all who have sailed with them, in a very unique way. Simply put, there is really no other cruise line to compare and doing so is really inappropriate. It’s really not a matter of better or worse in comparison either. Different.
Like Disney Cruise Line, no casino. But no children’s program either.
Like a Celebrity Cruises spa and fancy pool but no fee and very Scandinavian.
Beer and wine included but that’s not really what this is about.
It comes as no surprise that Viking also announced an order with shipbuilder Fincantieri for three more ships, bringing the official total to six by 2020. Still, the day belonged to Viking Sky as madrina Marit Barstad, sister of Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen, welded commemorative coins under the ship’s mast that represented three family birth years: 1911 (mother Ragnhild “Mamsen” Hagen, 1943 (Ms. Barstad’s own birth year) and 1948 (brother and Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen’s birth year).
Ms. Barstad also cut a cord to allow water to begin flowing into the ship’s building dock. Following a two-day process that will set Viking Sky afloat, she will then be moved to a nearby outfitting dock for final construction and interior build-out. Here are some scenes from that occasion:
Images above: Viking Cruises
Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky
At 47,800 tons, with 465 cabins that accommodate 930 passengers, Viking Sky is the third of six ocean cruise ships on order and will be delivered in early 2017; the three remaining yet-to-be-named ships will be delivered in late 2017, 2018 and 2020, respectively. Highlights we have covered here like a blanket but deserve a special nod include:
- All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. Veranda Stateroom, all with private verandas and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, large showers, luxury toiletries, heated bathroom floors and large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand.
- Explorer Suites: The ship features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.
- Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.
- LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking’s Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 named it one of the “5 best cruise ship spas.”
- Explorers’ Lounge and Mamsen’s: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers’ Lounge and Mamsen’s gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow and designed in the Scandinavian spirit, for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.
- The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service.
- Dining Choices: Viking Star offers multiple restaurant locations and food choices—from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and the widest choice of culinary options, and the World Café, which serves international fare and regional specialties—to intimate dining experiences at The Chef’s Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu complete with wine parings, and Manfredi’s, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. Additionally, The Kitchen Table focuses on regional dishes from market to table; the Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers; afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden; and Mamsen’s serves Norwegian deli-style fare. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking Star offers the most al fresco dining at sea.
- Enriching Entertainment: Connecting guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking in creating “the thinking person’s cruise.” Instead of casinos and water slides, guests are offered Viking’s Culture Curriculum® including: world-class lectures on history and art; tasting of vintage wines from their destinations; restaurant menus inspired by local cuisine; informative port talks; enriching Destination Performances featuring folkloric shows and musicians playing regional and classical music; an onboard cooking school allowing guests to learn how to prepare local specialties.
- Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking Star features energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.
The Viking Difference
Designed for discerning travelers, Viking offers guests “the thinking person’s cruise” as an alternative to mainstream cruises. The Viking Difference is providing guests with extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring them closer to the cultures of the world.
- Ships are small to get guests closer to their destination, with more time in port, more overnights and fewer days at sea.
- Onboard, guests find serene Scandinavian spaces, where every room is beautiful and functional, quiet and filled with light.
- All-veranda ships mean that guests experience every day with a new, expansive vista.
- With the most al freso dining at sea, featuring regional cuisines and always-available American classics, Viking’s guests can truly dine in their destination.
- A focus on cultural enrichment brings immersive experiences onshore and onboard.
- The Viking Way brings guests itineraries that feature Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.
My Viking Journey- Inclusive Cruising
Perhaps a new term to most readers, Viking Inclusive Cruising provides a small ship experience at a big ship value. Cruise fare has some notable differences including
- A veranda stateroom (there are no Oceanview or inside staterooms),
- A shore excursion in each port of call,
- Beer and wine with lunch and dinner service;
- Complimentary premium dining reservations.
- Free Wi-Fi for all
- A very nice self-service laundry with supplies provided;
- Access for all to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa, often an upcharge on other lines
- Outstanding 24-hour room service