Viking’s Second Oceangoing Ship Is Christened In England
Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Today, along the banks of the River Thames, Viking Cruises officially christened its newest ship, Viking Sea. The 930-guest ship is the sister-ship to last year’s trendsetting Viking Star, and I joined Viking Sea in London for the big event and a short preview cruise to Bergen, Norway.
If you’ve sailed aboard Viking Star – or even the company’s hugely successful Viking Longship river cruise vessels in Europe – you’ll find much to love about the new Viking Sea. Stepping onboard in Greenwich, England, I found myself greeted by familiar fabrics and color patterns. Friendly smiles from the personable crew. And a pleasant air of informality, evident from the first moments onboard when guests are checked in at a series of unassuming computer stations tucked away in a corner of The Living Room, the ground floor of Viking Sea’s sweeping three-story atrium.
What’s fascinating to me about Viking is that the company pays attention to details – the little details – in a way that you rarely see from cruise lines these days. Most of the time, competitors talk about how they’ve managed to squeeze every last available dollar out of the ship. They talk about the calculations that go into itinerary planning that, frankly, would make even the most optimistic person wonder why they got into the business anyway. There are profit margins, onboard revenue expectations, return on investment.
Those things are important to Viking, too. It is, after all, a successful company that has been in existence since 1997, and certainly Viking chairman Torstein Hagen wants to see that continue.
The Viking difference, however, can be immediately felt onboard.
Take a stroll up to the Explorer’s Lounge, a spectacular forward-facing public area spanning the height of decks eight and nine, to see what I mean. The place is my fantasy library, mounted on a ship. The entire room pays homage to famed Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen – the Amundsen who beat Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole. The Amundsen that claimed the North Pole for Norway, and discovered the Northwest Passage for the first time. The guy was a one-man polar wrecking ball, yet we never hear about him in North America because he was the only one to not completely eviscerate himself on the ice.
Viking has dedicated this entire room to him. To that end, you’ll find books dating back hundreds of years. Artifacts. Memorabilia. And books on nearly every aspect of Polar exploration and navigation. Some are new. Others are quite old. All can be read in the comfort of the lounge, or by taking them back to your stateroom.
Now, maybe you don’t like Polar Exploration. That’s okay. Every other lounge aboard Viking Sea features books on nearly every subject, including books produced on the onboard art collection. Viking Sea introduces a new partnership with Oslo’s Munch Museum that not only features dozens of works by the famous artist onboard, but also introduces guests to these works through a series of “Munch Moments” held each day.
There are onboard games like Scrabble and Monopoly that adorn tables in the beautiful three-story atrium; they aren’t relegated to some sad-looking, windowless games room as on other lines. There’s no casino onboard, but you can play digital blackjack (no money involved) on one of the interactive multimedia tables.
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