UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
Returning to Viking Ocean Cruises to sail new Viking Sea on the ship’s maiden voyage, I expected familiarly. Twin sister to Viking Star, that’s exactly what I found. Following the same comfortable cruising formula for success that propelled Viking River Cruises to greatness, the second vessel for Viking Ocean Cruises is indeed a carbon copy of the first. Again we see the focus shift from a ship-oriented experience to what’s ashore. Viking’s promise of taking us deep into destinations continues without pause. Harder to hit with expert marksman accuracy; crew that complement the hardware. Even with a jet-lagged, fuzzy eyed view upon boarding, it was comfortably easy to see: Viking has hit that mark with extreme accuracy, the likes of which I have never seen before.
Our flight to Istanbul on Turkish Air set the stage. Flying in business class on the Airbus 330 200/300was a pleasant experience in and of itself. Flight crew who just couldn’t do enough to make our stay pleasant began working the aisles when we boarded and continued non stop throughout our time on the aircraft. Reflecting genuine Turkish hospitality, that’s a story in and of itself to be covered in another post. For now, let’s just say the experience renewed a huge chunk of lost love for air travel.
On the ground, first contact with Viking continued as anticipated with Viking Greeters strategically positioned between air travelers and their luggage, an apt introduction to the comfortable cruising we would find on board. While handy Viking stickers are provided for incoming guests to tag themselves with, one would have to be nearly blind not to see their friendly faces upon arrival.
Testing Viking’s presence at destinations, I found that once again an airline had lost our checked luggage. In this case, it appeared that the one bag we had checked had decided to stay behind in New York. Passing the test with flying colors, that bag was delivered to our stateroom later on embarkation day, arranged by Viking’s agent on the ground in Istanbul. Comfortable cruising continued without missing a beat.
Briefly addressing that situation; lost luggage is something I seem to have become the poster child for. Happening a couple trips in a row, the inconvenience of arriving without all our belonging caused me to travel with carry on luggage as just the way I travel. Still, on this trip with Whitney, we did check one bag full of extra clothing and other items we could do without, should it be lost along the way. I’m sticking with that strategy, confirmed again by this most recent incident. That it happened again here also highlights our set in stone requirement for plenty of time between connecting flights. In addition to we travelers making it to the next plane, it also allows time for our luggage to make the connection too.
Driving through Istanbul on the way to the cruise port, the situation seemed about as familiar as I thought it would be. Heavy traffic along the way confirmed the place as the busy one I remembered so well. Still, this was the first time I had visited Istanbul in the Spring and tulips were in full bloom, reminiscent of a Viking River Cruise through the Netherlands at this time of year. Also reminiscent of the Viking river experience, friendly faces upon arrival including some familiar ones from Viking river cruises and others met on Viking Star.
Of particular interest, a brand new ship on her very first sailing with real passengers on board that seems as though it has been sailing for years. Not surprisingly, Viking has doubled its fleet while simultaneously duplicating the same comfy onboard ambience we experienced on Viking Star last year. Of the history-making event, Viking chairman Torstein Hagen commented, “Too often in recent years the most talked about ships have been the biggest ships. It is our view that some cruise lines have focused too much on building bigger ships and not enough on helping guests connect with the destination.”
Further proof of Hagen’s words are found all around us aboard Viking Sea. Familiar decor elements, ship layout and design have taken the notion of each ship having a personality of its own off the table, squarely placing the focus on destinations.
We’ll get more into that throughout our voyage but I have to tell you right up front; it would be quite possible to post the same images captured on Viking Star and there is no way you could tell the difference. The same pleasant spaces are here. Cloned: the same friendly crew members.
First Look At Viking Sea
See more of Viking Cruises elegant new ocean ship via our friends at USAToday as @CruiseLog posts his First Look gallery right here.
Follow Along With Us
Bookmark our In Progress page for a complete listing of all posts related to our Viking Sea sailing.
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Or check at the bottom of each post like this one for a complete list of what we experienced, in blog form
- Coming Up: Viking Sea Empires of the Mediterranean
- My Viking Journey: Two Weeks Out
- My Viking Journey: Itinerary Disrupted, And We’re OK With That
- My Viking Journey: New Fish In The Water
- My Viking Journey: One Week Out
- Viking Sisters Meet For The First Time: Papa Pleased
Posted Live From Viking Sea’s Inaugural Voyage
- Security Concerns Vs Travel Thwarting Fear
- Viking Sea Comfortable Cruising (this post)
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