Viking Sun May Be Viking Ocean’s Most Mindful Ship Yet
Hygge. It’s an old Norwegian word that, essentially, has no literal translation. Instead, hygge is a feeling – a feeling of coziness, or friendliness. It’s warm winter evenings sipping wine with friends, or looking on by candlelight through a pane glass window at an approaching storm. It is safety, security, and warmth.
Viking Cruises’ Viking Sun perfectly embodies the spirit of hygge. The fourth ship in Viking’s oceangoing fleet after Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, a week onboard during the ship’s fourth voyage to Cuba showed me that this might be Viking’s most mindful ship yet.
On the surface, she is largely identical to her fleetmates – and why not? Viking struck gold when it launched Viking Star back in 2015, blending equal parts Scandinavian charm with well-thought-out functionality to create a ship that is as beautiful as she is smartly designed.
It took an unusual Caribbean storm and the cancellation of a scheduled port call in Key West, Florida, though, to make me fully appreciate how much Viking has used the art of hygge in the design and outfitting of Viking Sun.
A cancelled port of call is no fun, even when the evidence to support it is in plain sight. En-route to Cuba, heavy rains and winds pounded the Viking Sun in ways that I’ve just never seen in the Caribbean. Swell and wind increased throughout the day. By the evening of Saturday, December 9, it felt like we were crossing the North Atlantic and not the Gulf of Mexico. Swells pushed five metres (16 feet) and winds out of the northwest buffeted our ship at 30 knots (34 miles per hour / 55.56 kilometres per hour).
Inside Viking Sun, the lights burned brightly and the roar of the wind was decreased to a whisper.
Rain lashed the windows as guests picked up books from the ship’s spectacular onboard collection and settled down to cappuccinos in the Explorer’s Lounge. Afternoon tea was served in the Wintergarden, accompanied by Resident Pianist Grego. Lectures were given in the Star Theatre, and newfound friends battled each other over games of Scrabble and cards off Viking Sun’s atrium, decorated festively the night before with Christmas décor.
What makes Viking Sun -and the rest of Viking’s oceangoing fleet – so cozy? It’s all about the Scandinavian art of hygge, and how Viking has employed it at every turn.
Lighting plays a huge part of hygge for Scandinavians. In The Little Book of Hygge, author Meik Wiking says that nearly 28 percent of Danes light candles every day, while a further 23 percent light them between four and six times per week – just for the feeling they create.
Candles and oceangoing travel don’t really mix anymore, but Viking has gone to great lengths to recreate the “candlelit” experience aboard Viking Sun.
In the evenings, you won’t find a single table aboard Viking Sun that isn’t lit with an electric LED “candle.” Better and more advanced than those little flickering ones you may have seen, these electronic cubes of light add a warmth and coziness to every single table in the ship’s restaurants.
The art of candlelit hygge can also be found in staterooms and suites aboard Viking Sun. Bedside lamps that once switched on or off on past vessels are now entirely dimmable; just push and hold the button, and let go at your desired intensity. The lamp will remember.
In the evening, most public rooms – like the Living Room on Deck 1 and Torshavn on Deck 2 – are dimly lit, with soft lighting accented by wall sconces or, in the case of Torshavn, a lamp designed to look like a series of brass horns. Hygge is cozy, and these rooms are plenty cozy – especially on a day like today where the seas and skies look dark and angry outside. The worse the weather gets, the better it feels inside the safe confines of the ship’s interior – which, incidentally, makes nary a sound in protest as it is tossed around in the Gulf.