Two years ago, I had the pleasure of taking my first ever river cruise. It was a Viking Christmas sailing on the Rhine River from Basel to Amsterdam. For 10 days, I enjoyed an intimate and relaxing cruise experience that stimulated and satisfied all my senses in a totally unique way.

As the ship glided on glass-like water, I sipped on complimentary wine, watching historical European cities floating by. It felt as though we could reach out and touch the towns and cities as we made our way along the majestic Rhine. By the end of my trip, I had completely fallen in love with river cruising, in general, and Viking Cruises, specifically.

Along the way, I was pampered by Viking’s attentive staff and enjoyed easy access to shore excursions that celebrated beautiful European cities. I also enjoyed quiet dinners and meaningful conversations with new friends.

 
 

At the same time, while I loved my first river cruise with Viking, I felt myself missing life on the open seas. I missed feeling like an adventurer and, even though I never thought I would say this, I missed the feeling of the waves and the unpredictability of the weather.

I wondered absently why no-one had ever succeeded in creating an ocean cruise that felt intimate and cosy like a Viking River Cruise… then, I discovered that Viking was trying to do exactly that!

A Completely Different Kind of Ocean Cruise Experience

Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join the Viking Star, one of Viking’s newest ocean cruise ships.

We travelled into the land of the midnight sun, cruising from London to Edinburgh and then due north to places where the sun never sets in the summer months. Onward across the North Sea, our historic Viking inspired itinerary took us to the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands and then to the North Cape in Norway.

As this picture demonstrates, it was more than a little windy and cold. After all, we were less than 1400 miles from the North Pole!

Turning south, we travelled through the magnificent fjords to Bergen. Breath-taking vistas like the Seven Sisters waterfall captivated us. I totally changed my mind about ocean cruising.

You can watch my video tour the ship to get an idea of the wonderful combination it offered – elegance and adventure. We felt like true explorers. During the day, we embraced the sheer beauty, power and challenge of Mother Nature. At night, we retired to our cosy, safe and luxurious home base.

 

Yes, the North Sea was a little bumpy. I was ready with seasickness pills and a positive attitude. Fortunately, I only needed the second of these!

Despite the choppy seas, the Viking Star was a solid ship and I honestly didn’t feel in the least bit nauseous. If anything, the powerful ocean made me feel more like an explorer.

A Surprising Combination of Elegance and Exploration

Like their river cruise counterparts, Viking Ocean Cruises put elegance above endless entertainment. You won’t find casinos and Bingo onboard. What you will find is a curated experience that makes you feel pampered and stimulated by learning opportunities that are second to none.

I loved the serene Winter Garden, where afternoon tea was served daily and where rows of seats and lounge chairs offered secret relaxation points. The décor was Scandinavian – simple and understated. There were 2 swimming pools and hot tubs and a fabulous infinity pool in the open air.

A Unique Spa and Nordic Wellness Experience – Don’t Miss the Snow Room!

On my first river cruise with Viking, I enjoyed the lovely spa and sitting areas with floor to ceiling windows. My ocean cruise had even more places to choose from, each with the same elegant Nordic theme.

I enjoyed a Norwegian stillness massage in “The Spa” and loved the Scandinavian style of wellness. This included participating in a cycle of hot tub, sauna, steam room and snow room. The snow room actually had real snow!

Viking Ocean Cruises _ Spa Viking Ocean Cruises _ Spa Snow Room

The Shore Excursions Were Learning Adventures

On both my river and ocean cruises, there was a focus on learning and exploration. Both ships offered free daily tours and optional adventures. The ocean cruise just had a wider range of choices.

On the ocean cruise, there were also daily port talks and lectures from the on-board cultural enrichment programmes. Topics covered included art, history and culture.

The speakers were engaging and knowledgeable and enhanced our experience at every port.

Viking Ocean Cruises _ Bergen

Viking Ocean Cruises _ Lofoten

A Culture of Values, Kindness and Engagement

One thing that ties Viking’s ocean and river cruises together is the kindness, professionalism and effectiveness of the staff!

On the river cruise, I noticed that the crew always took time to talk with the passengers. Frankly, I didn’t expect that Viking would be able to pull off something similar on a larger ocean sailing cruise ship. I was so wrong!

To understand how Viking had brought the feeling of a small river cruise ship to their latest ocean going vessels, I sat down with the Captain for a quick chat. Here’s what he had to say…

 

At the end of the day, Viking has succeeded in making an ocean cruise experience that feels intimate and special. The staff was amazing, the scenery was breathtaking, the ship was comfortable and the food… well, let’s just say that 10,000 steps a day will be a MINIMUM for me for the next few weeks!

If you are looking for a cruise experience that takes the best of river cruising and combines it adventure on the open sea, I hope that you will give Viking Ocean Cruises a shot. Thank you Viking for an amazing adventure!

Would you like to take a trip on the Viking Star? Do you prefer river cruises or ocean cruises? What is the memorable cruise you have ever taken? Would you sign up for a Sixty and Me river or ocean cruise?

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