Viking Sea, the second oceangoing ship from longtime river cruise stalwart Viking, is a stunning vessel that seamlessly integrates comfort and modern, Scandinavian style. The ship's small size means it rarely feels busy and is able to get into ports bigger ships can't reach.
Sailing on Viking Sea feels a bit like you've been invited into a friend's home. The decoration is personal and elegant without being stuffy, and you really feel like you could flop just about anywhere to relax and be comfortable. So many of the decorative touches are personal to Viking chairman Torstein Hagen that you feel like you get a glimpse of him and his taste: from photos of him as a child, tributes to his mother and generally the things he loves, such as books, music and simple, clean elements. Decor shipwide relies heavily on shades of blue, gray and white, along with light wood and materials such as leather and wool. The company made a 3-million-euro investment in art onboard Viking Sea, with feature artists including Edvard Munch and Jakob Weidemann. (You can take a nifty art tour using your mobile device and the ship's free Wi-Fi.)
A cruise on Viking Sea focuses heavily on destinations, and passengers are entitled to one included excursion in each port the ship visits. Upgraded "premium" excursions also are offered and are excellent, but many passengers are content with the included option. Viking provides local guides who speak English and know the regions well. Onboard programming complements the excursions; lectures focus on port history and culture.
Because itineraries and time in port are so important on Viking Sea, the ship doesn't have a casino or splashy water features. The ship is unabashedly geared toward adults 55 and older. Programming and entertainment options match the target crowd, though the production shows offered onboard in the theater are a rare weak spot that could use some revamping.
The ship rarely feels crowded, as multiple spaces for relaxing are available throughout the ship, and everyone seems to have his or her favorites. They have their favorite restaurants, as well, and with alternative options such as Italian Manfredi's and an evening at The Chef's Table included in the fare, you will have to make reservations to get a seat. It's worth it, though: Dining onboard is fantastic.
Viking Sea is an innovative, special ship because of the thoughtfulness that went into every space. It's the things you never knew you needed but are thankful to have: USB ports and outlets in the atrium seating area, in case you need to power up your Kindle or camera; blankets in the theater; heat lamps poolside; outlets bedside so you can sleep with your phone charging next to you; even bookmarks left in your books if you're otherwise lacking. The little touches and the extraordinary service make sailing Viking Sea a delightful experience.
Passengers on Viking Sea are well traveled and seek new experiences. A large number of people have cruised Viking's riverboats in Europe, prompting their curiosity about the ocean product. Most passengers fall into the 55-and-older category. The minimum age to sail is 18.
Passengers onboard Viking Sea wear "resort casual" clothing, which in the evening means somewhat dressy, with men wearing slacks and button-down or polo-style shirts and women wearing dresses, skirts and blouses, or slacks and blouses. Viking Sea has no formal night, but some men do wear jackets to dinner, though it's certainly not required. During the day -- and anytime in the ship's World Cafe buffet -- more casual clothing such as shorts, jeans, T-shirts and capris are acceptable. Passengers tend to wear swimwear in the pool or spa area only.
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