Viking’s Second Oceangoing Ship Is Christened In England

Fireworks blanketed the skies over Greenwich and the River Thames as Viking officially christened its second oceangoing ship. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Fireworks blanketed the skies over Greenwich and the River Thames as Viking officially christened its second oceangoing ship. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Today, along the banks of the River Thames, Viking Cruises officially christened its newest ship, Viking Sea. The 930-guest ship is the sister-ship to last year’s trendsetting Viking Star, and I joined Viking Sea in London for the big event and a short preview cruise to Bergen, Norway.

Viking Sea at anchor off Greenwich, England on May 5, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking Sea at anchor off Greenwich, England on May 5, 2016. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

If you’ve sailed aboard Viking Star – or even the company’s hugely successful Viking Longship river cruise vessels in Europe – you’ll find much to love about the new Viking Sea. Stepping onboard in Greenwich, England, I found myself greeted by familiar fabrics and color patterns. Friendly smiles from the personable crew. And a pleasant air of informality, evident from the first moments onboard when guests are checked in at a series of unassuming computer stations tucked away in a corner of The Living Room, the ground floor of Viking Sea’s sweeping three-story atrium.

Welcome Aboard! This gorgeous space serves as the gateway to everything that Viking Sea - and Viking Cruises - has to offer. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Welcome Aboard! This gorgeous space serves as the gateway to everything that Viking Sea – and Viking Cruises – has to offer. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

What’s fascinating to me about Viking is that the company pays attention to details – the little details – in a way that you rarely see from cruise lines these days. Most of the time, competitors talk about how they’ve managed to squeeze every last available dollar out of the ship. They talk about the calculations that go into itinerary planning that, frankly, would make even the most optimistic person wonder why they got into the business anyway. There are profit margins, onboard revenue expectations, return on investment.

Those things are important to Viking, too. It is, after all, a successful company that has been in existence since 1997, and certainly Viking chairman Torstein Hagen wants to see that continue.

The Viking difference, however, can be immediately felt onboard.

Feel The Difference. Like Viking Star, Viking Sea is an odyssey of colors and textures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Feel The Difference. Like Viking Star, Viking Sea is an odyssey of colors and textures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Stateroom Textures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Stateroom Textures. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Take a stroll up to the Explorer’s Lounge, a spectacular forward-facing public area spanning the height of decks eight and nine, to see what I mean. The place is my fantasy library, mounted on a ship. The entire room pays homage to famed Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen – the Amundsen who beat Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole. The Amundsen that claimed the North Pole for Norway, and discovered the Northwest Passage for the first time. The guy was a one-man polar wrecking ball, yet we never hear about him in North America because he was the only one to not completely eviscerate himself on the ice.

My Undisputed Favorite Place Onboard: the two-story Explorer's Lounge that pays homage to famed Norwegian Polar Explorer, Roald Amundsen. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

My Undisputed Favorite Place Onboard: the two-story Explorer’s Lounge that pays homage to famed Norwegian Polar Explorer, Roald Amundsen. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking has dedicated this entire room to him. To that end, you’ll find books dating back hundreds of years. Artifacts. Memorabilia. And books on nearly every aspect of Polar exploration and navigation. Some are new. Others are quite old. All can be read in the comfort of the lounge, or by taking them back to your stateroom.

The book collection in the Explorer's Lounge aboard Viking Sea is so tightly packed...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The book collection in the Explorer’s Lounge aboard Viking Sea is so tightly packed…Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

...and extensive that it nearly brought me to tears (hey - it's cool to love books!). Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

…and extensive that it nearly brought me to tears (hey – it’s cool to love books!). Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Grab a book and settle down on Deck 8 of the Explorer's Lounge. Then try to move. Go on - I dare you! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Grab a book and settle down on Deck 8 of the Explorer’s Lounge. Then try to move. Go on – I dare you! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Now, maybe you don’t like Polar Exploration. That’s okay. Every other lounge aboard Viking Sea features books on nearly every subject, including books produced on the onboard art collection. Viking Sea introduces a new partnership with Oslo’s Munch Museum that not only features dozens of works by the famous artist onboard, but also introduces guests to these works through a series of “Munch Moments” held each day.

The Living Room, spanning the Atrium on Decks 1 to 3, is equally inviting. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Living Room, spanning the Atrium on Decks 1 to 3, is equally inviting. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

There are onboard games like Scrabble and Monopoly that adorn tables in the beautiful three-story atrium; they aren’t relegated to some sad-looking, windowless games room as on other lines. There’s no casino onboard, but you can play digital blackjack (no money involved) on one of the interactive multimedia tables.

Everything in The Living Room reflects Viking's intellectual and Scandinavian heritage. And nothing - I mean nothing - is here by accident. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Everything in The Living Room reflects Viking’s intellectual and Scandinavian heritage. And nothing – I mean nothing – is here by accident. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This space – known as The Living Room – encourages guests to sit and admire the live music in the stunning atrium, or simply sit and watch the ocean go by through the spectacular oversized windows.

Everything in this room is chosen carefully, from the chairs to the tables to the bookcases. The attention to detail is astonishing. At a press conference onboard, Torstein Hagen stated that guest satisfaction rates for the company’s ocean product (along with the river cruise product) are through the roof. In fact, Viking outperforms several luxury cruise lines in terms of overall guest satisfaction.

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Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Viking Cruises’ Viking Sea continues tomorrow with a tour of this exciting ship! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.

 

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