Embarking Viking Sky in Bergen, Norway
“When you really philosophize about it, there’s really only one thing you don’t have enough of – and that’s time. Time is the only scarce commodity.”
Those are the words of Viking Cruises Chairman and founder, Torstein Hagen, in Viking’s newest commercial. It makes for compelling voiceover, but there’s a lot of truth in what Hagen says. And nothing demonstrates the passage of time better than the company he founded, which is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year.
Yesterday, I arrived in Bergen, Norway – a favourite city of mine. I never get tired of walking its inner harbour, past the old Hanseatic houses of Bryggen, remembering that time eight years ago when I first came here, not long before I began this journey as a cruise writer.
I’m here for one reason: to board Viking Cruises’ brand-new Viking Sky, which will be christened in Tromsø on June 22, 2017. Sister-ship to Viking Star and Viking Sea, Viking Sky hasn’t tinkered much with Viking’s magic formula for success; so well-designed was Viking Star when she first set sail back in 2015 that the line has only had to make the smallest of adjustments here and there; minor changes that are likely to go unnoticed by even the most eagle-eyed guests.
I have to leave Viking Sky in Tromsø, just five days into her 14-day Into the Midnight Sun itinerary that ends in Greenwich (England) and includes port calls on Geiranger, Molde, Tromsø , Honningsvag, and Lofoten, Norway; in addition to three Scottish ports, namely Kirkwall, Lerwick and Rosyth, for Edinburgh. I can’t make the entire voyage because I have to fly to the other end of the world world to embark on a cruise to Alaska in Vancouver. It’s one of those things that I was able to sandwich into my schedule; much in the same way you’d make time for a good friend that you hadn’t seen in a while.
The full itinerary, at least as far as I’m taking the ship. Viking Sky will eventually conclude her journey in Greenwich, England.
Viking Sky – Christening Cruise
|Saturday, June 17 – Sunday, June 18, ,2017||Bergen, Norway||Embark & overnight||1700|
|Monday, June 19||Geiranger, Norway||0800||1700|
|Tuesday, June 20||Molde, Norway||0800||1730|
|Wednesday, June 21||Summer Solstice at Sea|
|Thursday, June 22||Tromso, Norway – Christening||0800||1800|
Viking was founded in August of 1997 – just twenty years ago. Even in his wildest dreams, I’m not sure Torstein Hagen ever envisioned that by the end of two decades, he’d be the proud owner of the largest river cruise fleet in the world, or three magnificent oceangoing cruise ships that have won numerous design awards and accolades from press and guests, right out of the gate.
More importantly, Viking brought the ocean back to ocean cruising. Public rooms have windows galore, and one is never far from sight of the sea. Books adorn every public room. Board games and scrabble line the atrium’s upper reaches. Guests are encouraged to learn, converse, and mingle; to treat the ship as if it was their home-away-from home. Little wonder, then, that the three-storey atrium area is known as, “The Living Room.”
The Viking onboard experience is fun, informal, educational, and enriching. Formal attire is never required here. Like its river cruises, beer, wine, and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. Coffees come at no additional charge. And the massive hydrotherapy room in the LivNordic Spa on Deck 1 – which includes an honest-to-God-snow-room – is complimentary. All day. Every day.
Launched this past February, the 930-guest Viking Sky follows the magic formula established with Viking Star and Viking Sea. You can expect an identical cruise experience aboard any of these three oceangoing wonders. Rather than making each ship unique with different décor, Tor Hagen felt it was important to standardize these ships so that guests can be offered the same experience, regardless of which ship they sail on.
The one thing that does vary, however, is the onboard art collection, which is so extensive that Viking publishes an entire brochure explaining it all that is specific to each ship. You can even download a guided Art Tour from the Apple App Store and follow along with narration from Karine Hagen.
There is one important difference aboard Viking Sky, and I think it’s worth sharing. It’s not a physical change, but a branding one: the bar in the Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 7 forward – the ship’s two-storey, glass-walled observation lounge that also acts as a lounge, a library, a dining venue and an entertainment space – is now known as Paps.