Viking Sea just like her sister, with a few tweaks

The Viking Sea's Wintergarden, and indoor/outdoor lounge space.
The Viking Sea's Wintergarden, and indoor/outdoor lounge space. Photo Credit: Nadine Godwin.

ABOARD THE VIKING SEA — Viking Cruises’ newest ocean vessel, the 930-passenger Viking Sea, is the second in what will be a series of six moderate-sized sister vessels. The first, the Viking Star, debuted a year ago.

I have not seen the Star, but other journalists on the Viking Sea inaugural who had sailed on the Star were lifting carpets and flipping the chairs trying to uncover differences between the two ships.

OK, that isn’t literally true, but they were looking. Erling Frydenberg, Viking's owner's representative, said there are operational differences for greater efficiencies but they are not obvious.

A few details have been tweaked, with reading lamps added to certain suites and more electrical outlets (European, American and USB) installed in cabins. These changes are being made aboard the Star, as well. Due to lack of demand, the barbershop was removed from the Star and, belatedly, from the Viking Sea plans, replaced in both cases with a skin care salon.

The Viking Sea embarked on its maiden voyage on April 3.
The Viking Sea embarked on its maiden voyage on April 3. Photo Credit: Nadine Godwin

Travel Weekly previously reported that a single reception area on the Star was split into separate shore excursion and guest services desks; that is the setup on the Sea, too.

The first ship launched Chef’s Table dining, which includes wine pairings, built around five destination-themed menus that rotate every nine days. The Sea changed that. Using seven such menus, it rotates them every three days, providing foodies on a shorter cruise with more variety. Additional menus and more frequent rotations will be introduced on the Star, too.

The Italian restaurant still serves Italian wines, but for dining in the open-seating eateries, both ships now serve local wines matched to destinations visited, rather than matching wines to menus. Also new on both ships, the beverage program includes a unique cocktail for each destination.

Further emphasizing the destination component of a Viking ocean cruise, Frydenberg said the company, after hiring a historian, will tighten up the lecture program for better destination treatment and eliminate some unrelated topics, like the session on Frank Sinatra seen on the Sea’s inaugural.

Although the ship accommodates 930, there were only 650 on the inaugural, intentional for the first sailing, according to Ralph de Klijn, Viking Ocean Cruises' director of hotel operations, to make it easier to deal with unexpected problems. However, he said, after the first few days, the start-up has been very smooth. “We have been very lucky.”

Overall, the ship, with clean and muted decor, presents a pleasant and comfortable space for relaxing, partying and gearing up for the next excursion.

A reproduced segment of the Bayeux Tapestry decorating the stairwells aboard the Viking Sea.
A reproduced segment of the Bayeux Tapestry decorating the stairwells aboard the Viking Sea. Photo Credit: Nadine Godwin

The stairwells on the Star and Sea are decorated with reproductions of Bayeux Tapestry segments. The embroidered tapestry illustrates the 1066 Battle of Hastings, in which William the Conqueror, duke of Normandy, defeated King Harold for the English throne. The duke’s ancestors were Norsemen (i.e., Vikings), hence the use of the tapestry images on Viking ships.

However, I spend extra time admiring the images because King Harold’s full name was Harold Godwin. Sadly, the tapestry eventually shows King Harold dead with an arrow in his eye. The Godwin clan’s hold on the English throne lasted less than a year.

The Viking Sea floated out of Istanbul's harbor on its maiden voyage April 3. It will be christened May 5 in Greenwich, England.

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