AD: This trip was sponsored by Viking Cruises UK. All opinions are my own.
Part of a growing fleet of cruise ships by the award-winning Viking Cruises, Viking Sea spent its 2018 spring season exploring the West Indies on an eleven day round trip from San Juan in Puerto Rico. My first adventure with Viking began midway in beautiful Barbados.
WHAT’S CRUISING WITH VIKING LIKE?
Viking Cruises have taken what has worked well for them on the rivers and developed it, rather than imitating established ocean cruise liners.
The atmosphere onboard the Viking Sea was very relaxed with no formal evenings or strict timings for dinner, everything was to your own pace and the price you pay covers all restaurants, beer/wine/soft drinks with lunch and dinner, an excursion in each port, the spa and even wifi.
It’s a very different offering to many other cruise lines I’ve experienced, there’s a calm pace in the self service restaurant, the World Café, and no glittering Las Vegas style casino or gaming arcade in sight. In fact it was so relaxed I rarely heard the cruise director, and even though activities and events were happening nothing was pushed or sold to you during the cruise.
Further reading: What to expect on an Eastern Mediterranean Cruise
That’s not to say a Viking cruise is void of entertainment, there’s the Star Theatre for live shows, a 3D cinema and themed parties at Torshavn bar to enjoy – but the general onboard vibe makes you want to indulge in a lot of ‘me-time’. The ship’s size also means it’s able to navigate smaller ports, and Viking gives guests a generous amount of time in port to make the most of beautiful West Indies destinations like St. Marteen, Antigua, Guadeloupe and St. Thomas.
DESIGNED FOR COMPLETE COMFORT | Viking Cruise Guide
The chic Scandinavian furnishings balance spaciousness with comfort and even though this is the smallest cruise ship I’ve been on (50,000 tonnes with 930 guests), I was so surprised how roomy and quiet the ship felt at times, particularly the dining rooms and pool areas.
“We provide a thoughtful, authentic and well-designed small ship experience that brings you closer to the world’s cultures.” – Viking Cruises
The Viking Cruises Penthouse Veranda had all the amenities you could ask for including access to a free laundrette, vanity unit, mini binoculars, hair dryer, iron, robes and toiletries in the equally stylish (and underfloor heated) restroom.
Another advantage of Viking cruise ships is that all rooms have their own veranda giving every guest a private outdoor space to enjoy round the clock room service.
I think this is key to why the ship feels so relaxed, there’s never a rush to leave your room for sail away or meal time.
THE ‘LIVNORDIC’ SPA
The award winning Nordic spa is equipped with a sauna, plunge pool, hot beds and even a snow grotto! There’s a Nordic ritual you can follow to make the most of this facility that involves moving between the hot and cold spaces, it really does help recharge and refocus those with a busy life or mind.
ALL INCLUSIVE QUALITY DINING | Viking Cruises Guide
The quality of food and drink onboard Viking Sea was sublime, a galley tour revealed that everything I ate onboard was freshly made each day, even down to the pastries and gelato. The room service dishes were beautifully presented and the World Cafe options came with extras like specially prepared waffles, eggs benedict and omelettes at breakfast.
Dinner in ‘The Restaurant’ (Main Dining Room)
The two alternative dining rooms are ‘Manfredi’s‘, an elegant Italian restaurant with an irresistible menu and ‘The Chef’s Table‘, a fine dining experience of five courses sourcing inspiration from across the globe.
Selection of dishes at Manfredi’s Italian
Further reading: Cruise bloggers share their must-try dining experiences at sea
Selection of dishes at The Chef’s Table paired with four wines
I had a couple of my lunches at The Pool Bar, a spot for made-to-order burgers, hot dogs and chicken alongside a fresh fruit and salad bar. I highly recommend The Viking Burger, it was consistently top notch.
Viking Cruises Afternoon Tea is served daily at 4pm in the Winter Garden, an airy indoor sun lounge where floaty music plays over the relaxing trickle of the fountains.
An optional excursion for food enthusiasts is The Kitchen Table, a private space to rustle up some scrumptious dishes with the expertise of an onboard chef. You begin by exploring local markets to source ingredients and inspiration before returning to the ship to learn, create and eat!
Prices for the West Indies Explorer cruise start from £3190 per person for 2021, for more information visit the Viking Cruises website or call 0800 298 97 00.
Updated October 2020, please refer to the Viking Cruises website for the latest promotions and information on what’s included in your fare.