Viking Sky arrives in Geirangerfjord, Norway

Sailing the Geirangerfjord aboard Viking Sky. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

When I returned to my stateroom last night aboard Viking Cruises’ Viking Sky, the most incredible sunset was illuminating our port side. It wasn’t noteworthy for its colours; rather, it was notable for its brilliant rays of amber light and its hugely contrasting nature.

I feel utter contentment when I am at sea, and sunsets at sea are no exception. I lingered on my balcony for 15 minutes. I put the camera down, and I just watched until the amber colour illuminating the port side of the ship went away.

The view from my balcony last night as Viking Sky thundered out of Bergen…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…to a gorgeous splash of Midnight Sun. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Since I’m writing about this cruise, evenings are when I kick into high gear. I spent a long time working in the Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 7. Spanning two decks in height, this superb space is my home-away-from-home on any Viking Cruises ship. I indulged in Pap’s Brandy Special and got to work. But the beautiful views kept pulling me away from the laptop.

“Civil Twilight”…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as seen in the Explorer’s Lounge, Decks 7 and 8 forward. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

At this time of the year, the sun never really sets here. Bergen and its environs have what’s known as “civil twilight”; a blue-ish dusk that lasts from 11:00pm until 4:09am. When we reach Tromsø on Thursday – and Viking Sky’s christening – the sun won’t set at all. One day post-Summer Solstice, twilight won’t reach Tromsø until at least August.

Geiranger – The Viking Way

Welcome to…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…the Geirangerfjord and Geiranger, Norway! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Geiranger just might be Norway’s most photographed location. Nestled at the end of the Geirangerfjord, this picturesque little town offers plenty to first-time and repeat visitors. I haven’t been here since the summer of 2009, when I stopped here aboard the much-larger Crown Princess. It was 30°C then, and I got sunburned sitting on my balcony.

No risk of sunburn today: it’s just 6°C and misty outside. Tomorrow, the weather forecast calls for possible snow and a high of just 3°C – highly unusual for Norway in June. But it’s been that kind of spring and summer throughout Europe (witness my snowy visit to Zurich in April with Viking River Cruises).

I awoke just in time to see the Seven Sister’s Waterfall recede into the distance, but I’d get a better look later when Viking Sky set sail this evening. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

I awoke at 6:30 this morning and opened my curtains in time to see the Seven Sisters Waterfall roaring just outside my balcony. I rushed to get my camera and snapped a few shots of the Geirangerfjord’s most-photographed waterfall as it receded into the distance.

Viking Sky was the first ship to arrive this morning, but we were later joined by Ponant’s Le Soleal; Costa Cruises’ Costa Favolosa; and finally, Hurtigruten’s Kong Harald. It’s your typical three-ship day here in the Geirangerfjord!

It’s a busy day today in the Geirangerfjord, with visits from Costa Favolosa (above); Ponant’s Le Soleal; and Hurtigruten’s Kong Harald. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Viking offers a total of 10 shore excursions in Geiranger, some of which have multiple departure time options. These range from the included 2.5-hour Geiranger Eagle’s Bend Overlook Panorama Tour to the $209 Fjords and Glaciers excursion. I was also pleasantly surprised to see a large number of active excursions in addition to the usual (and more sedate) bus tours. These so-called “demanding” excursions include the “Jet Boat Adventure” ($129 per person; 1.5 hours); the “Nordic Hike to Westeras and Hole” ($79 per person, 3 hours); and “Kayaking Geirangerfjord” ($119 per person, 3 hours).

The excursions looked enticing, and I did sign up for the included “Eagle’s Bend Panoramic Tour” but backed out at the last minute. It was pouring rain outside, and I was very content to stay onboard the spacious Viking Sky and relax. However, I did get off the ship and browse around the town’s more touristic shops, which I did for an enjoyable 90 minutes or so.

Some photos from Geiranger:

Tendering ashore…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…from Viking Sky. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The town of Geiranger is small, and very tourist-oriented. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Still, it’s worth a stroll around, particularly for its local shops…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and eateries. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

At 6:00pm, Viking Sky rumbled to life. Our starboard anchor was raised; a process that you can watch yourself, thanks to some very cool observation windows on Deck 2, all the way forward on the Promenade Deck.

Behind us, Le Soleal and Costa Favolosa were raising their tender boats back into their davits and dropping their lines. Viking Sky started out in the lead, but Costa Favolosa quickly overtook us, blaring its horn as it passed us. It seemed like a friendly horn blast (not the kind of horn you’d give to an aggressive driver passing you on the highway), and Viking Sky sounded her horn in return. Costa Favolosa pulled in front of us to give its guests a closer – albeit very quick – view of the magnificent Seven Sisters Waterfall on the way out.

Geiranger Infinity. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Inclement weather got you down? Don’t despair…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…Viking Sky has plenty of indoor spaces with great views, like the Aqavit Terrace at the stern on Deck 7. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

You can even watch…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…as Viking Sky’s anchor is raised. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Unlike Costa Favolosa, which thundered on ahead of us at 14 knots or so, we took our time when we passed the Seven Sisters, slowing to a crawl and gliding past. Most guests were up in the Explorer’s Lounge on Decks 7 and 8, but I found a cozy spot down on the Promenade Deck on Deck 2, underneath a warm exhaust blower.

If anything, the simple act of passing the Seven Sisters highlighted one of Viking’s key advantages: time. Viking’s itineraries are designed to give you more time in port, and our next port of call – Molde – is only just over 100 nautical miles away. We’ve got time to slow down and enjoy the magnificent views of the Geirangerfjord. Costa doesn’t.

Costa Favolosa speeds past us, headed for the Seven Sisters Waterfall. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

We, on the other hand, can take our time! Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Approaching the Seven Sister…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…one of Norway’s most spectacular sights. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Because I needed to warm up, I went for a quick dip in the amazing Thermal Suite in the LivNordic Spa on Deck 1. Consisting of a hydrotherapy pool, thermal loungers, steam and sauna rooms, and even a proper Nordic snow room, most cruise lines would charge you about $150 to use this space for an entire week. On Viking’s oceangoing ships, it’s free. You don’t pay a dime. And it’s so very relaxing and restorative, especially on a cold, damp day like this.

Afterwards, it was off to The Living Room on Deck 1 for a pre-dinner cocktail. As I’ve done on past Viking cruises, I have the Silver Spirits Beverage Package on this voyage. The Silver Spirits Beverage Package essentially makes almost all drinks complimentary in any bar or lounge throughout the voyage, except for certain beverages, like the vintage Armagnacs in Torshavn.

Pre-dinner cocktails…Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

…and live music in the Living Room, Deck 1. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

If you’re travelling as a couple, you both must sign up for the package – like other cruise lines, it’s an all-or-nothing deal. But unlike other cruise lines, Viking’s beverage package costs $19.95 per day – not $60 per day like most mainstream lines.

Another important note: Viking’s drink prices are reasonable on their own. Beers are $5-6.50, and cocktails run from about $6.50 to $9. It’s not going to break the bank by any means. And, those prices include the 15 percent gratuity. On most cruises, you’d pay $12-$14 for a martini – plus gratuity on top of that.

On tonight’s menu: an Italian feast in Manfredi’s. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Tonight, I enjoyed a filling dinner in Manfredi’s, Viking’s alternative Italian dining venue. Named for Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre D’Ovidio, this superb restaurant carries no cover charge, though reservations are required. A number of guaranteed reservations are available depending on your stateroom category, but you can always reserve a table provided space is available at any time during your voyage.

Manfredi’s, Deck 1 aft, starboard side. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

There’s no fee to dine here, but advance reservations are required. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Dinner here is a feast, so come hungry! I enjoyed the superb beef tartare to start with (the best I’ve had outside of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ six-star Europa 2), followed by shrimp scampi for my main course. For dessert, I decided to drink my calories with a glass of limoncello – once again, free of charge since I have the Silver Spirits beverage package.

All the while, the magnificent vistas of the Geirangerfjord were passing just outside the oversized windows. A great way to end the evening!

Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report from Viking Cruises’ Viking Sky Christening Voyage continues tomorrow when we call on Molde, Norway and go exploring in the Bergtatt Marble Caves. Follow along with our latest cruise adventures on Twitter: @deckchairblog.

Viking Sky - Christening Cruise

Saturday, June 17 - Sunday, June 18, ,2017Bergen, NorwayEmbark & overnight1700
Monday, June 19Geiranger, Norway08001700
Tuesday, June 20Molde, Norway08001730
Wednesday, June 21Summer Solstice at Sea
Thursday, June 22Tromso, Norway - Christening08001800

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