As avid travelers emerge from the darkness of COVID-19, the longings for sunshine and outdoor adventures are stronger than ever. My last cruise before the pandemic was in July of 2019 aboard the Viking Ocean Cruises ship named Viking Sea. There is no better way to emerge from this nightmare than to be on the deck of this state-of-the-art ship experiencing 24/7 sunlight cruising Into the Midnight Sun with Viking.
Viking has an ambitious and thoughtful itinerary for its Into the Midnight Sun summer cruise. It embarks out of Bergen, Norway, and sails a scenic route weaving in and out of pristine fjords along the coast before crossing the Arctic Circle. The Sea then heads west in the North Sea to the Shetland and Orkney Islands and makes its way south to Edinburgh, Scotland. The final destination is London, England docking near Greenwich.
Each port call offers cruisers a robust selection of outdoor excursions like exciting fjord fishing, panoramic Nordic hikes, invigorating treks with sled dogs, breathtaking ice field climbs, exuberant bike tours, peaceful kayaking in unspoiled waters, engaging coffee talks around an open fire regaled by local Sami people, invigorating bird watching safaris in nature reserves, and historical walking tours of ancient cities to name a few.
Take Advantage of the Indoor/Outdoor Dining
The best parts of the Viking Ocean Cruise ships are the indoor/outdoor public spaces that, pre-pandemic, we took for granted. Offering passengers multiple spaces to dine outside, sheltered from the winds that can be quite strong on ocean voyages, is critical. Viking’s forward-thinking ship design includes multiple venues for meals in the fresh air. Of note, deck seven’s main pool and lounge area serve a dual purpose – recreation, no matter the weather, with a retractable roof offering fun in the sun and dining en Plein air. Another special place to dine al fresco for lunch or dinner is the Aquavit Terrace on the stern of the ship.
Sophisticated and Modern Accommodations
Viking’s interior design goal of “understated elegance” in the staterooms is achieved through the use of soft hue wood floors and accents combined with furniture in a neutral palette with pops of color via Nordic-themed fabrics. Bathrooms are sophisticated and modern with luxury touches like generously sized showers, heated floors, and upscale Frejya toiletries.
Unlike other cruise lines, every accommodation boasts a decent size veranda with seating for at least two. All have king beds and sitting areas, mini-bars, and 24-hour room service included. For the ultimate luxury, book the 1,448 square foot Owner’s Suite with its exclusive amenities and epic ocean views. This multi-room suite has an expansive bedroom area with a walk-in closet and a deluxe bathroom with an ocean-view dry sauna, tub, and separate shower. The combination dining/living room has a table that seats six and a butler’s pantry for service. In the comfortable living space, there is a private library and curated music collection by Viking Chairman Torsten Hagen. In addition, there is a boardroom with the first-ever oceangoing vapor-light fireplace, adding a warm ambiance for an elegant dinner party for twelve. Lastly, the private terrace spans the length of the suite and has access points from every room.
Safety at Sea
As part of their Health and Safety Program, Viking has fitted each of their ships with new air purification systems with independent air handling units for all guest staterooms. As always, hand sanitation stations are located throughout the public spaces, and crew members quietly ensure compliance with reminders going into and leaving dining areas.
As is a best practice in the cruise industry, all guests and crew must be fully COVID-19 vaccinated prior to embarkation. Passengers must provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test within 72 hours of sailing as well as submit answers to a quick and painless digital health survey online.
Viking goes above and beyond standard protocols. They conduct additional, non-invasive, health checks throughout the cruise with frequent saliva PCR tests for all guests and crew. Tests are processed in their own laboratory. An added convenience, they offer departing passengers PCR tests for return flights to their home countries. All these measures help to ensure safety at sea for all.
Vikings are known for their thoughtful itineraries for curious travelers. Today they are also distinguishing themselves with practical aspects – the plethora of terrace dining options for enjoying local cuisines, the top-of-the-line staterooms where every passenger feels like a V.I.P., and solid safety measures. The attention to detail to all these aspects ensures the overall success of cruising with Viking.