Viking Cruises recently welcomed its second ocean ship, the Viking Sea. I joined the ship for a journey from Barcelona to Lisbon – part of its Passage Through Western Europe itinerary – and re-joined the vessel for its christening ceremony in Greenwich. BY JILL SAYLES
It was a feeling of light, airy space that I first noted on entering the ship’s three-deck Atrium and ‘living-room’. That was a feeling that never really left me throughout the journey. Classed as a small ship somewhere between premium-plus and luxury, with 930 passengers, there was never the need to queue or feeling of being cramped on this smaller ocean vessel. In fact, on three consecutive days I enjoyed my morning swim in the Main Pool all to myself. This area situated mid-ship, by The Wintergarden – a place for having tea and relaxing – became one of my favourites. The pool area has a retractable roof and a cinema screen for film nights. There’s also a pool-side grill for al fresco lunches.
Accommodation is in a choice of five categories of stateroom, all with king-size beds, shower room, LCD TV, and private veranda. I had a 338 sq ft penthouse veranda with a spacious shower room and heated floor. In addition, I got to try the 270 sq ft Veranda stateroom on christening night, which had the same size shower room. Clients could also opt for luxury in the two-room Explorer Suite with its wrap-around veranda.
SPA & WELLNESS
The wellness centre and spa offer various treatments and a very grown-up playground with its snow grotto, steam room, sauna, ice bucket, and jacuzzi pool – plenty to have guests hopping from room to room, flush from heat into icy coldness and back again. I enjoyed a 50-minute Swedish Mindful massage ($139), a Hydrafacial ($169) and a Classic Pedicure ($69), all high quality experiences by Swedish therapists. For clients keen to keep fit on board – apart from the Main Pool and a second small Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern – there are a gym and a promenade deck for walking or jogging.
Alternatively, for those who want to kick back, read and have a cocktail or two while enjoying the view, there are plenty of nooks and spaces including the lovely two-storey Explorers’ Lounge with panoramic windows offering great views. It has beautiful Scandinavian design and furnishings; these design details are used throughout the ship, giving it a really cosy feel.
Entertainment is offered in the theatre, two cinemas, the 3-deck Atrium, and the Torshavn lounge, where I watched an entertaining Rat Pack tribute show.
Dining is offered in a variety of venues. There’s al fresco dining at the Aquavit Terrace and poolside grill. Elsewhere, the World Café offers the most casual dining serving excellent seafood,
sushi, American classics and delicious gelato. Manfredi’s offers Italian cuisine. Private dining rooms are The Chef’s Table and The Kitchen Table, and Mamsen’s, a casual deli serving Norwegian snacks. My favourite was The Restaurant with choices of regional dishes of the day. I enjoyed tapas and paella when in port at Barcelona.
A free shore excursion is included at each port – either a walking or a coach tour. I tried the Barcelona and Cadiz walking tours and a coach tour of Lisbon. I also went on a half-day tour to the Spanish village of Mijas from Malaga, which cost $49. The whole on board experience was enhanced by helpful and friendly staff who were on hand to deal with requests.
1 Ideal for the new to cruise client looking for something not too formal but stylish – and small enough not to be overwhelming
2 Aimed at client aged 55+
3 Excursions cater for clients of different abilities
4 No children’s facilities
Passage Through Western Europe
April 16, 2017 from £4,090 per person. Included: 15-day cruise visiting 5 countries & 10 ports with a private veranda stateroom, guided excursion in each port of call; all onboard meals; wine/beer/soft drinks with lunch & dinner on board; coffee & tea any time; 24-hour room service, free wifi; restaurant reservation fees; port charges and government taxes DAYS: 1, 2 Barcelona, Spain ; 4 Málaga (Granada), Spain; 5 Seville (Cádiz), Spain; 6 Lisbon, Portugal; 7 Porto (Leixões), Portugal; 8 A Coruña, Spain; 9 Cruise the Atlantic Ocean; 11 Paris (Le Havre), France; 12 London (Southampton), England; 13 day at sea ;14 Haugesund, Norway ;15 Bergen, Norway.