6 Things Viking Ocean Does Differently
When Viking, the longtime driving force in creating worldwide interest in river cruising, announced it was venturing into ocean cruising, there was a healthy amount of skepticism from all corners of the industry. Viking Cruises and its founder Torstein Hagen, who has been running cruise lines for more than four decades, felt confident the company had landed on a way to be successful right away in ocean cruising, by doing things a little differently. Viking Ocean Cruises' vessels are as unique for what they offer cruisers as they are for what they decided to do without. The spaces onboard are elegant and pleasant in their simplicity, with a large space-to-passenger ratio and a modern Scandinavian design that is clean, light colored and simple.
With the debut of Viking Orion in June 2018, the line now boasts an impressive five ocean ships in its first three years with plans for at least 11 more ocean ships in the near future. Here are six things Viking Ocean Cruises is doing differently with their rapidly growing fleet:
1. No Kids
Viking Ocean Cruises has an 18-and-older policy for its passengers. Every ship has a capacity of 930 passengers and is designed essentially the same as one another. The cruises are for adults only, and the ships are spacious and quiet, with no poolside games, umbrella drinks, DJs, waterslides, ropes courses or other whiz-bang attractions you might find on the newest mega-ships. You'll find the onboard spaces are meant to mostly be serene spots that offer comfort and peace while you enjoy your time cruising between ports.
2. No Casino
Viking Ocean Cruises' ship have no casinos. "We can bring you to many destinations that have casinos, though," Hagen quips. The cruise line said it didn’t want to dedicate a large chunk of space on the ship to something it feels its passengers really don't want as part of their cruise vacations. While it’s true that Disney doesn’t have casinos either, Viking Ocean is the first adult-focused ocean line to pass on the controversial cruise ship staple.
3. Included Amenities
Viking adds a lot of value to its cruises with many inclusions that passengers appreciate -- whether they are simple conveniences or a truly fantastic bonus. You cruise fare includes soft drinks, wines and beers and lunch and dinner. In addition, passengers can bring their own beer, wine, Champagne and liquor onboard with no limitations. You can also purchase booze in port during your cruise or buy it at the duty-free shop onboard and consume it during your voyage.
While we're discussing alcohol, It's worth noting that Viking Ocean Cruises offers a "Silver Spirits" premium drinking package that charges $19.95 per person per day, about one-third of the going rate among competitors.
The ships also feature a large LivNordic Spa with sauna, snow room, plunge pool, steam room, thalassotherapy pool and heated ceramic loungers. Access to the spa is included in your fare. You also can do your laundry for free in the ship's self-service laundry rooms (detergent is even provided for you).
The ships' specialty dining venues, Manfredi's (Italian) and The Chef's Table also are included in your cruise fare, and you just need to make a reservation to pick a time to dine in either of these places during your cruise. Viking also offers complimentary 24-hour room service menu. At least one included excursion is available to choose from in each port.
Viking Ocean Cruises says it provides a unique value to its passengers. "We don't think people should be nickeled and dimed," Hagen said. "We have a very competitively priced product."
4. Port-Intensive Itineraries
Viking Ocean Cruises' sailings are packed with port stops on most days. So, you will have few -- if any -- sea days on weeklong cruises, especially on Mediterranean voyages. Viking will keep its ships overnight in certain ports, like Venice or Barcelona, so travelers get a better chance to experience all that these popular destinations have to offer.
5. Innovative Enrichment Programs
A resident historian travels on all cruises, and Viking's newest ship (as of June 2018) Viking Orion also features a resident astronomer. Viking Orion features The Explorers' Dome, a 26-seat planetarium in the ship's Explorers' Lounge that shows feature films and is used for lectures by the resident astronomer who leads discussions and programming related to sky events such as eclipses or other natural phenomena that can be viewed in the live sky during your cruises.
The resident historians onboard Viking Ocean Cruise ships offer educational talks on history and culture related to the region in which you are sailing. They also lead seminars and roundtables for guests. The lectures also are available to replay on the Viking Voyager app and on the TV in your stateroom.
6. The Little Things
All of the staterooms on Viking Ocean Cruises' ships have balconies. Even seemingly minute details like the clutter of paperwork in your stateroom is solved by an attractive wooden tray that is used as an organizer by your cabin attendant to neatly place you daily program and other items on the bed at night and on the table during the day.
Viking Ocean Cruises handles all shore excursion bookings through its guest services desk, a small dropbox or via the Viking Voyager app, so there is no shore excursion desk onboard.
Announcements over the public-address system are rare, and you also won't find ship photographers onboard. This is in keeping with the philosophy of providing a peaceful environment.
The Living Room is the large public space just off the main atrium, and it features a Scandinavian-cool décor -- just like most other areas of the ship -- with a range of couches and chairs (there also are power outlets available to plug in your devices). Live music is played here at night, whether piano or guitar, and the space is filled with artwork; there's a nearby coffee shop and shelves filled with books. Other areas throughout the ship also have books for cruisers to enjoy during their trip (this replaces the traditional library seen on many ships).
"We are different," Hagen said. "We pride ourselves on attention to detail."