I’m onboard the Viking Sun, which can carry up to 930 passengers and was built by Fincantieri shipyards in Ancona, Italy, in 2017. The interiors certainly embrace the on-trend Scandi design look – which makes sense, as the Scandinavian countries are Viking’s homeland (the founder and chairman, Torstein Hagen, was born in Norway). These northern lands boast lakes and forests, fjords and glaciers – not to mention the ethereal Northern Lights – and the colours and textures of this rare and exceptional landscape are well reflected in the ship’s design. The cool, sleek look provides a feeling of calm as we set sail from the port of Geelong, heading for Adelaide, and the ship never feels jam-packed with guests – thanks to a wide range of roomy public spaces and multiple dining options.
“Viking does not try to be all things to all people,” says Black. “We’re known as ‘the thinking person’s cruise’ because we offer an experience that is culturally enriching, carefully curated and focuses on the destination.”
Itineraries are developed with the curious, experienced traveller in mind – and once onboard, every detail of the Viking ships has been designed to enhance and enrich the travel experience. Wood and stone are bought to life on the Viking ocean ships, and the Scandinavian landscape is seen within sculpture and art – including birch tree sculptures and wall murals depicting lush forest scenes. The minimalistic design is echoed throughout the public spaces, which are furnished with natural wood, limestone, leather and granite to help create a truly Nordic feel.
“Each and every element of the design and style onboard Viking’s ships has been carefully chosen to reflect our Nordic heritage – including the vast original art collections on each ship,” Black says. “Throughout our ships, you’ll find clean lines, colourful woven textiles, and light woods that evoke the Viking connection to the natural world. Many are surprised at how little like a cruise ship the interiors seem.” (This may be because the person who designed the Viking ship interiors is a hotel designer.)
“Guests tell us they enjoy the fact that our style of cruising and interior decoration is unpretentious,” says Black – something I can personally vouch for.
Hygge – the Scandinavian art of finding warm, cosy contentment in appreciating the simple things in life and simply enjoying each other’s company – seems like an easy concept to incorporate into everyday living. And it is absolutely alive and well on board Viking Sun.
I ask Black where on the ship she would like to just sit and take the time to watch the world glide by. “That’s a difficult question to answer,” she says. “I have two favourite places: The Living Room, and the Explorers’ Lounge.” Upon exploring these spaces, I can see the appeal. The Viking Bar in The Living Room is beautiful, with its wooden panelling in the style of Viking clinker-built boats. But the Explorers’ Lounge is really special. It’s located directly above the bridge, for the best-uninterrupted ocean views in the house.
“It’s the perfect place for ‘sail away’ – where you can enjoy a quiet drink with fellow guests and a snack from the casual gourmet deli, Mamsen’s,” Black says. “I highly recommend the waffles – they even come in gluten-free.
“Then take the sweeping staircase up to Deck 8 and relax in the lounge area with a book from the selection that has been carefully curated by Heywood Hill [bookshop] of Mayfair. Each book reflects the Explorers’ Lounge theme, and there is a particular emphasis on the polar regions.”
Walls are adorned with images of explorers from the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration – such as the famed Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen. For those with an eye for detail, you’ll also find lots of references to interstellar navigation throughout the lounge.
And on Viking Jupiter and Viking Orion, guests can enjoy the Explorers’ Dome as well – a planetarium that offers an incredibly realistic window into space and space exploration, with complimentary shows for all guests. “It’s the highest definition 7k [resolution] planetarium in the world,” Black says proudly. With out-of-this-world travel a standard on Viking, this fact doesn’t surprise me at all.
If you have never been on a Viking Cruise before, try the ‘Viking Homelands’ itinerary. It’s a 15-day cruise that journeys through Scandinavia and the Baltic, tracing the routes of the seafaring Vikings across eight different countries – including Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Russia, Poland and Germany. Plus, the voyage also includes overnight calls in Stockholm, Bergen and St Petersburg.