Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Viking Ocean Cruises second ship sets sail

Viking Ocean Cruises’ second ship, Viking Sea, embarked on her maiden voyage from Istanbul, Turkey April 3, arriving in Venice April 4 and officially doubling the size of the cruise line’s fleet.

From Venice, Viking Sea will sail through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened on May 5 on London’s Thames River in Greenwich. Following the christening, Viking Sea will spend her maiden season sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, as well as the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.

“Too often in recent years the most talked about ships have been the biggest ships,” Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking Cruises, said in a statement. “It is our view that some cruise lines have focused too much on building bigger ships and not enough on helping guests connect with the destination.”

Viking Sea in Venice
To that end, itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnight stays so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances. Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and “collector ports,” appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine.

Throughout the ship, details were incorporated to pay homage to Nordic heritage and to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings.

On board, clean lines, woven textiles and light wood evoke the Viking spirit of discovery and connection to the natural world. A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces.

In the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ship, the dĂ©cor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts.

Other features include a glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views; indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class; huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out; and a wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners.

The newest entrant into the ocean cruise space, Viking Ocean Cruises deliberately chose to focus on small ships that can bring guests closer to their ports of call than larger ships and which permit access to smaller ports that larger ships cannot access at all.

Viking Sea, Viking Star and Viking Sky, which is under construction, are all considered “small ships” that can accommodate 930 passengers in 465 cabins. The size of the ships allows them access to smaller ports and enables them to bring their guests closer to their destination, something the larger ships that dominate the cruise industry today cannot.

In addition to the size of its ships, Viking Ocean Cruises differs from many other cruise lines in the value it provides. While many cruise lines levy additional charges for beverage packages, specialty dining, shore excursions and Internet access, Viking offer what it calls Viking Inclusive Cruising.

Under that pricing plan, every cruise fare includes a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all on-board meals, all port charges and government taxes in addition to many other complimentary amenities including beer and wine with lunch and dinner service, premium dining reservations, Wi-Fi, self-service laundry, access to the Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa and 24-hour room service. The cruise line estimates those items represent a value of more than $2,400 per couple for an average cruise.

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Photo courtesy Viking Ocean Cruises 
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