Launched in 2015, when its first ship Viking Star entered service, Viking Ocean Cruises is the newest cruise line sailing and has already won an award from Travel + Leisure for the World’s Best Ocean Cruise Line. Since launching its first river ship almost 20 years ago, Viking knows what their guests enjoy and has now created a fleet of stunning ocean-going ships. Viking’s second cruise ship, Viking Sea, was christened in London on the River Thames in May 2016.
A variety of boutique shops can be found on Decks 1 and 2, featuring everything from jewellery and accessories to souvenirs. Guest services is situated on Deck 1, along with the shore excursions desk. The future cruise office is located on Deck 2 next to a giant model of Viking Sea. Self-serve launderettes are available on each accommodation deck. A spacious promenade wraps around Deck 2. Four laps equals a mile and windows towards the front of the ship provide an insight into how the crew launch and stow away the ropes used to berth the ship. One of the more unusual, but nevertheless fascinating, facilities on Viking Sea is the Viking Heritage Museum located on Deck 2. This small room houses a variety of fascinating artefacts, replica clothing and weaponry, as well as information about the Viking period. Complimentary Wi-Fi is available to all guests and a small area hosting six computers is located on Deck 1, behind the atrium stairs.
There are no inside staterooms on Viking Sea. All accommodations feature a spacious veranda. I had a quick look at one of the suites onboard, before guests began to board. The spacious Penthouse Junior Suite was impressive to say the least. The Scandinavian decor, featuring plenty of light wood, and pastel blue tones, along with the occasional burst of orange colour, was very pleasing to the eye. From the USB sockets by the bed, to two bathroom sinks, and two giant televisions, it seems Viking has paid attention to every little detail, to ensure guests have a comfortable stay.
The Restaurant (Deck 2, aft)
Simply named, The Restaurant is the main dining venue on Viking Sea. Spanning the whole aft of the ship, the large floor-to-ceiling windows can be opened out onto the promenade deck to create an al fresco atmosphere, perfect for warm Mediterranean evenings. There’s no fixed dining times, or tables, just head down between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., request a table size, and enjoy meeting new dining companions each evening. If you’ve become friendly with other guests on an excursion, or in a lounge, perhaps you could arrange to meet at the Restaurant Bar for a pre-dinner drink, before dining together. During lunch and dinner, house wine, as well as beer and soft drinks are served complimentary.
The Chef’s Table (Deck 1, aft)
For a more intimate dining experience, Viking Sea has two alternative restaurants, both of which are complimentary, but must be booked in advance. A convenient staircase transports you from the main Restaurant Bar to the entrance of both alternative dining venues. Featuring a themed menu that changes every three days, The Chef’s Table offers a five course dinner with wine pairings. From a taste of Asia, to the rustic flavours of the Mediterranean and spices of India, the Chef’s Table aims to take diners on a culinary journey around the world.
Manfredi’s (Deck 1, aft)
The second alternative restaurant is the Italian themed Manfredi’s. This authentic Italian restaurant, featuring an open kitchen, where you can see the chefs creating your delicious dishes, such as antipasto, is popular among guests.
The Kitchen Table (Deck 1, aft)
For $199 per person, this exclusive experience, catering for just 12 people, is only available once or twice per cruise. A mix between a shore excursion and a cooking lesson, diners will start by visiting a local food market with a chef, buying items for the evenings meal, and learning about the different ingredients. In the afternoon, diners will be instructed on how to prepare the food, before sitting down and tucking into a delicious and fresh meal, along with suitable wine pairings.
World Café (Deck 7, aft)
The World Café is more than just a buffet, it’s more like a self-service version of the main restaurant. With gigantic joints of meat, carved to order, as well as lighter options, such as freshly grilled fish and pasta. The World Café is the place to go for those with a sweet tooth. Mouth-watering cakes, cookies and gelato are all available, in addition to sweet jars!
Pool Grill (Deck 7, mid)
Open from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., the Pool Grill is the perfect place to head for to satisfy your hunger, offering made-to-order burgers, pizza slices, and a salad bar.
Wintergarden (Deck 7, mid)
Available most late afternoons, the Wintergarden serves afternoon tea, with a selection of scones, sandwiches and cakes to choose from.
Mamsen’s (Deck 7, fwd)
Named after Viking’s president Torstein Hagen’s mother, Mamsen’s is a Norwegian deli offering sweet and savoury dishes, inspired by her family recipes. Located within the Explorer’s Lounge, Mamsen’s is a great place to stop for an early morning breakfast, or quick lunch. The crew highly recommend guests try the delicious waffles.
The Viking Living Room (Decks 1,2 and 3, mid)
The Viking Living Room is the social heart of the ship, where guests gather before heading off on shore excursions, or relax in comfort during the day. The impressive three-deck-high atrium, with its giant image wall which subtly changes destination-accurate images every few minutes, is the main focal point of The Viking Living Room. Hidden away underneath the ultra-wide staircase is one of my favourite things that I saw during my time onboard; the living carpet, comprising of stone and moss. With plenty of sofas, puzzles, board games, books and ornaments dotted around The Viking Living Room, it really feels like stepping into someones actual living room. I particularly loved the interactive tables, where you could play games, such as air hockey, view videos, or take a look at a map of the world.
The Viking Bar (Deck 1, mid)
The Viking Bar is one of seven bars located on Viking Sea. Situated next to the embarkation area and within The Viking Living Room, this is a great place to grab a quick coffee and a pastry or a muffin, before heading off on an excursion for the day. At night, it’s one of the main bars onboard, ideal for socialising while listening to the gentle melody of musicians playing in the atrium.
Theatre Bar (Deck 2, fwd)
Only open shortly before a show, lecture, or film is about to start in the theatre, the Theatre Bar is a convenient place to grab a drink to take into the theatre with you. The bar also serves popcorn shortly before movie screenings.
The Restaurant Bar (Deck 2, aft)
Situated near the entrance to The Restaurant, is the perfect bar to head for if you want a pre-dinner drink. With a small lounge area, and convenient access to the main restaurant as well as a staircase down to the two alternative restaurants and The Kitchen Table below, it’s a popular place among guests.
Explorer’s Lounge (Decks 7 and 8, fwd)
By far one of the best observation lounges afloat, the twin-level Explorer’s Lounge is a fantastic place to sit with a drink, soaking up the panoramic sea views overlooking the front of the ship. The maritime-themed second level, filled with comfortable couches, leads out onto an open-air deck space. At night, the stars shine bright – quite literally – thanks to LED lights on the window supports and walls that maps out constellations. There’s also a cosy fireplace (not real flames though) and warm fur-like blankets, perfect when sailing the cool climates of Norway.
Wintergarden (Deck 7, mid)
One of the most tranquil lounges on the ship, the Wintergarden is another example of Vikings attempt to bring the outdoors indoors. Situated just in front of the main pool, the Wintergarden is a bright, conservatory-like lounge, which can be converted into an outdoor space thanks to the sliding glass roof and floor-to-ceiling doors leading to the pool area. The wooden roof, resembling tree-tops, makes this the perfect place for those who want to be outside, but not directly in the sun. A bar serving drinks, specialises in afternoon tea and coffee.
Pool Bar (Deck 7, mid)
Located the other side of the Pool Grill, the Pool Bar is the perfect place to head for some poolside refreshment. The long high-top tables are a popular place to sit, either with a drink, or with a snack from the grill.
Aquavit Bar (Deck 7, aft)
Overlooking the Aquavit Terrace at the aft of the ship is the magnificent Aquavit Bar. One side of the bar is outside, and the other is inside the buffet area. The high ceiling, with glass walls, lets in plenty of daylight.
Torshavn (Deck 2, mid)
Tucked away inside a window-less room is one of the most popular late-night entertainment spots. It’s a vibrant and lively bar, yet intimate way to spend the rest of the night after dinner. A live band performs in the early hours of the evening, before it transitions into a disco later on. As most of Viking’s cruises are destination-focused, many guests choose to have an early night, so like most venues on the ship, the usual closing time is around midnight.
The Star Theatre (Deck 2, fwd)
The theatre on Viking Sea, is a good-sized space offering production shows, lectures, plus screenings of movies and Ted talks. Viking have opted for more of a show lounge set up, rather than rows of folding seats like what can be found on larger cruise ships.
Cinema 1 & 2 (Deck 2, fwd)
Viking Sea features two separate cinema rooms situated either side of the theatre entrance. With tiered seating, blankets, in addition to the popcorn available from the bar outside, it’s a pleasant venue to watch a film in. If the main theatre is extremely busy, both screens can be raised and the forward-facing wall folds away to offer more seating in the theatre, although don’t offer the best vantage point.
LivNordic Spa & Fitness (Deck 1, fwd)
The thermal suite, part of the LivNordic Spa, is a tranquil place to relax, unwind and rejuvenate. This complimentary area is based on the Nordic concept of alternating between hot and cold when bathing. The thermal suite features a warm pool, hot tub, steam room and sauna, but it’s the snow room that really sets this place apart from similar venues on other cruise ships. Flakes of snow gently drop from the ceiling and it’s an invigorating experience after stepping straight out of the sauna or hot tub. A well-equipped gym and beauty salon, in addition to a range of relaxing spa treatments, are also situated within the spa area.
Main Pool (Deck 7, mid)
Depending on the weather, the main pool can be either enclosed or open, thanks to the sliding magrodome above the pool. Surrounding the pool are plenty of sun loungers and chairs in both sunny spots and shady areas. Small tables are situated next to almost every sun lounger, so there’s no need to place your drink or book on the floor. A large hot tub is slightly raised next to the pool and the other side features a gentle waterfall. A large movie screen is positioned on the wall.
Infinity Pool (Deck 7, aft)
One of Viking Sea’s most iconic features, the infinity pool offers breathtaking views overlooking the aft of the ship – quite literally over the aft!
Sports Deck (Deck 9, fwd)
Accessible via the forward set of stairs and elevators, as well as from the second floor of the Explorers’ Lounge, the Sports Deck is home to an outdoor fitness area, mini-golf green, shuffleboard, as well as a relaxing seating area.
Viking Sea is an incredible vessel. Beautifully decorated, well-laid-out, and spacious, yet intimate – It’s really hard to find fault with Viking Sea and the Viking Ocean Cruises brand.