Cruising the Irminger Sea En-Route to Greenland

Out on the Irminger Sea aboard Viking Star, en-route to Greenland. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Out on the Irminger Sea aboard Viking Star, en-route to Greenland. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”

-Advertisement for Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition, 1907

Viking Cruises’ Viking Star cruised pleasantly along this morning, averaging a speed of 17 knots as she charted a course for the coast of Greenland. Swells continued to push us to and fro, rocking gently from port to starboard.

With an entire day at sea to look forward to, most guests simply chose to do as they’ve been doing up until this point. That’s the beauty of a Viking cruise: there’s no “hard-sell” for anything here onboard.

After nearly a week onboard, I realize how thoughtfully-designed Viking Star's staterooms are. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

After nearly a week onboard, I realize how thoughtfully-designed Viking Star’s staterooms are. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Artwork drawn by children of famous world attractions adorns staterooms. These drawings are made by kids in China that attend schools that Viking financially supports. The idea came from Viking's Chairman, Torstein Hagen. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Artwork drawn by children of famous world attractions adorns staterooms. These drawings are made by kids in China that attend schools that Viking financially supports. The idea came from Viking’s Chairman, Torstein Hagen. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Power, power, everywhere: my stateroom has 8 USB power ports; 4 North American outlets; and 4 European-style outlets. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Power, power, everywhere: my stateroom has 8 USB power ports; 4 North American outlets; and 4 European-style outlets. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

To that end, you won’t be harassed to have your photo taken at every second of the day. You won’t find “champagne” art auctions, though you will find an exquisite multi-million-dollar art collection onboard, complete with its own printed brochure to guide you through it. You won’t find the clattering, chain-smoking atmosphere of an onboard Casino; Viking Star simply doesn’t have one.

What you will find – and indeed, what I’ve found – is a style of cruising that shouldn’t exist in this revenue-oriented world we live in. It’s classic cruising, reimagined and updated for a modern audience. A trip aboard Viking Star is like flying in business class after only having known coach.

A "thinking man's cruise", Viking Star includes a reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry of the 11th Century on its forward and aft staircases. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

A “thinking man’s cruise”, Viking Star includes a reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry of the 11th Century on its forward and aft staircases. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Of course, this sort of innovation is the kind of thing that makes investors nervous. Or, at least, it must have. Investors like a return on said investment, and tacky crap like art auctions and onboard photographers are a sure-fire way to make that happen. Viking, however, chose to go down another path: a path where quality and attention to detail would drive profits in the long run. It’s a brave path. It’s a Viking path.

Best of all, it’s working.

Viking Star's sweeping atrium, flanked by a Steinway piano. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Star’s sweeping atrium, flanked by a Steinway piano. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The large high-resolution screen at the top of the staircase showcases photos of upcoming destinations on your itinerary. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The large high-resolution screen at the top of the staircase showcases photos of upcoming destinations on your itinerary. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Here’s an example of the hidden detail you’ll find onboard, culled from a most curious place: the public restrooms. What’s so special about a public bathroom on a ship? Well, for starters, the sounds of babbling brooks and chirping birds are pumped into the bathrooms via overhead speakers. Pictures of tree trunks adorn stalls. Soap and hand lotion are provided in porcelain dispensers, and guests can use real individual cotton towels to dry their hands.

That’s the level of detail Viking has built into every square inch of Viking Star.

This afternoon, Viking's past guest party was held in the Wintergarden on Deck 7. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This afternoon, Viking’s past guest party was held in the Wintergarden on Deck 7. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Cruise Director Aaron gave an enthusiastic and honest speech to the room of faithful Viking travellers. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Cruise Director Aaron gave an enthusiastic and honest speech to the room of faithful Viking travellers. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Today, the Explorer’s Society cocktail party was held aboard Viking Star. It’s Viking’s way of recognizing its past guests. Held in the Wintergarden, cocktails and canapes flowed as guests, crew and officers mingled together.

I remember my first Explorer’s Society cocktail party, aboard Viking Freya back in December of 2012. I think there were just a dozen repeat guests – maybe less. The vast majority of the ship were first-time Viking cruisers.

Now, that’s changed. Past-guest cocktail parties continue to grow and grow, to the point where Viking Star’s hotel manager Karl stated they might have to start using the Living Room on Deck 1 for future events. There were so many people in the Wintergarden, movement was nearly impossible.

The most wonderful part of a transatlantic crossing is the hugely changeable weather. To wit: Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The most wonderful part of a transatlantic crossing is the hugely changeable weather. To wit: Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Overast! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Overcast! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Rainbow-y! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Rainbow-y! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Clear and cool!

Clear and cool! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

That’s a good thing. You see, I’ve been to a lot of these things now, and I’ll tell you this: no matter what Viking ship I am on, or who is doing the presentation, the speech is never read from a script. Cruise Director Aaron (I like the name!) gave a heartfelt speech, stating how important it is to have so many loyal past guests, and remarking on what that means to the company, the crew, and to each of the staff on a personal level.

It’s the exact opposite of what most companies do nowadays: read out a prepared statement that says how much they value you, and blah, blah, blah. Like those smarmy, disingenuous safety videos on American Airlines: “Thanks for flying with us today! We’re glad you’re here!” Yeah. Right.

Today, I got my hair cut in the LivNordic Spa on Deck 1. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Today, I got my hair cut in the LivNordic Spa on Deck 1. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Taking time for an afternoon martini tasting...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Taking time for an afternoon martini tasting…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...in Torshavn, Deck 2. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…in Torshavn, Deck 2. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Open-faced shrimp sandwich from Mamsen;s, Deck 7. Delicious! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Open-faced shrimp sandwich from Mamsen;s, Deck 7. Delicious! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

With Viking, however, the company is glad you’re here. That’s why I’ve been getting questionnaires every other day in my stateroom: just short, little forms, asking how the previous day’s experience has been. Viking wants to know, because Viking genuinely cares. They want to improve. They want to do better. And they know – unlike an airline – that improvement starts with you, the customer.

So what did I do today? I went to the LivNordic Spa and got a wonderful hair cut from Hair Stylist Simi. I walked two miles on the Promenade Deck on Deck 2. I read in the Explorer’s Lounge and decided I want whomever outfitted Viking’s ships with books to design my own personal Library. I ate lunch at the Pool Grill, dinner in The Restaurant, and enjoyed the most delicious Split Pea soup on the high seas at Mamsen’s at 10:00 pm.

In short, I found my own oceangoing “happy place.” And you will, too. That’s the Viking difference.

The beauty of a Viking ocean cruise: the ability to discover your own personal happy place. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The beauty of a Viking ocean cruise: the ability to discover your own personal happy place. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Viking Cruises’ Viking Star continues tomorrow with our visits to Prince Christian Sound and Nanortalik, Greenland! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

Viking Star : In the Wake of the Vikings

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
September 18, 2016Bergen, NorwayEmbarkOvernight
September 19Bergen, NorwayOvernight6:30 PM
September 20Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland8:00 AM5:00 PM
September 21Torshavn, Faroe Islands / An Unexpected Day at Sea9:00 AM6:00 PM
September 22At Sea
September 23Reykjavik, Iceland8:00 AM5:30 PM
September 24At Sea
September 25Cruising Prince Christian Sound / Nanortalik, Greenland2:00 PM8:00 PM
September 26Qaqortoq, Greenland7:00 AM2:00 PM
September 27At Sea
September 28L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland7:00 AM2:00 PM
September 29At Sea
September 30Saguenay, Quebec8:00 AM9:00 PM
October 1Quebec City, Quebec8:00 AM6:00 PM
October 2Montreal, Quebec4:00 AMDisembark
 

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