- What it’s like to take a Viking ocean cruise (Part Two)
- Our Mediterranean cruise features and highlights
- 13 days, 10 tours, 6 countries
- Welcome aboard!
- Destinations and excursions
- Onboard experiences
- Dining and imbibing
- Relaxation and entertainment
- Health and wellness at sea
- Art appreciation
- Cultural enrichment
- Related posts:
What it’s like to take a Viking ocean cruise (Part Two)
I’ve written before about what it’s like to sail on a Viking ocean ship when we took our cruise on the Viking Jupiter on the Baltic in 2019. We found the same things to love aboard the Jupiter’s sister ship, the Viking Sea. Although the ships are identical in most ways (including having only 930 guests), this time we took advantage of some different offerings and also experienced new views and destinations as we sailed the Mediterranean. The service, accommodations, and amenities were as we expected on a Viking ocean cruise — first class!
Our Mediterranean cruise features and highlights
13 days, 10 tours, 6 countries
When you take an ocean cruise with Viking, there are many options enabling you to customize how you can spend your time to make it the best for you. These are some suggestions from our experiences focusing on a mix of tours and onboard activities that we feel may help maximize your cruise enjoyment on the Mediterranean Odyssey cruise and other Viking cruises.
The crew will instantly make you feel welcome as you board the ship for the first time and every time you return from shore. If it is your first Viking ocean cruise, explore the ship a bit when you arrive to get your bearings for the ship’s expansive space and diverse venues.
Elements of Scandinavian influence are visible as soon as you board. Beneath the atrium staircase is a striking geometric garden of lichen representing Scandinavian landscape. The large screen on the landing is an on-going showcase of art and photography, often Nordic-inspired.
Destinations and excursions
For us, the biggest highlights of our Mediterranean Odyssey were in the destinations we visited. Each day, we took off on included and optional shore excursions in the ports where we docked. In our Mediterranean Moments post, we shared photo highlights to give you a glimpse of the ports visited and we’ve also written about our top three optional shore excursions. (There will be more to come on the blog about destinations.)
The local guides on the Viking shore excursions are consistently excellent; they are knowledgeable about the destinations and engaging, often having wonderful insider stories to tell. We’ve also found the guides very helpful in getting recommendations for restaurants and other things to do for independent exploration after the scheduled tour.
Excursion preparation tip: “Port Talks” provide insights, history, and highlights of the destination you’ll be exploring the next day. They are held in the Star Theater and are also shown on your stateroom TV. The talks can help you to make the most of your tour and time exploring on your own.
Dining and imbibing
There are great dining options on board and we recommend trying each of them.
The Restaurant has a full menu of excellent standard offerings as well as nightly specialties incorporating the flavors of the regions you are visiting. We found dining here to be especially memorable experiences on this cruise. The staff, the food, the ambiance was just right.
The Restaurant tip: Ask for a table by the windows to have great views of the sea, coastline, and beautiful sunsets.
Special alternative restaurants
Manfredi’s (show above) and Chef’s Table are two special alternative restaurants on the ship. Manfredi’s specializes in Italian fare, so it was especially nice that we had reservations there while at port near Venice. The Chef’s Table serves chef-inspired creative dishes for a set menu that changes throughout the cruise. For a small sample of the cuisine at the alternative restaurants, see the photo below. Italian dishes on the left at Manfredi’s — Pesto Pasta with Pancetta, Caprese Salad; Chef’s Table dishes — Ojai Mandarin Parfait (candied ginger) and Crab Cake (with avocado, orange, fennel, shallot, dill and blood orange).
Alternative restaurant tips: There is no additional charge for meals at Manfredi’s or Chef’s Table, but you do need to make reservations which can be done as soon as you have access to making reservations prior to the cruise or while on board. Don’t give up if there are not tables available prior to the cruise. Check in with the restaurants directly or Guest Services once you are onboard.
The World Cafe and Aquavit Terrace
World Cafe is a large restaurant on the Deck 7 that also has outdoor dining available on the Aquavit Terrace. Because we love al fresco dining, we ate breakfast outside here nearly every morning, and also enjoyed a few lunches and a special seafood night dinner at World Cafe. The setting inside is also very pleasant and the space is bright and open. The buffet-style offerings are extensive and include fresh and healthy choices, specialty entrees, and delectable desserts. Vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians, and meat-lovers will all be able to find plenty of delicious options.
The Explorer Lounge was our favorite spot to end the day with a nightcap. The bartenders and servers are so friendly, fun, and eager to make sure you get just the right wine or cocktail. The entertainment is also a highlight. On this cruise, we particularly enjoyed singer and acoustic guitarist Michael Whitehead. Come prepared with some musical requests to add to the fun and if the entertainer is Michael, ask for “Four Strong Winds”. Tell him we sent you.
Viking Bar (in the Living Room, Deck 1)
The Viking Bar in the atrium on Deck 1 provides a warm, welcoming feeling. It’s located next to the Living Room with comfortable areas for sitting alone to read or to hang out with friends and other guests talking about the day’s activities. At the atrium staircase, you can enjoy the entertainment of Viking’s classical pianist or string duo.
Adult beverages tip: As we’ve suggested in posts about our river cruises, consider purchasing the Silver Spirits beverage package to enjoy unlimited premium wines and spirits throughout the cruise. House wines and beers are complimentary at lunch and dinner to all passengers.
Relaxation and entertainment
Your comfortable accommodations
Take some time to just enjoy your stateroom. Have a glass of wine on the veranda as you watch the coastline or vastness of the sea. Order room service for breakfast one (or more) times. Take a pre-dinner snooze after a day of sightseeing or watch Viking TV from your very comfy bed.
The veranda in our stateroom also was great for watching us enter new ports or viewing the sights when docked. The location of the ship often provided exhilarating views of the city or landscape.
Infinity pool and hot tub
Take a dip in the Infinity pool or sunbathe next to it on the Aquavit Terrace with a cool drink in hand while enjoying stunning vistas of the destination or sights while sailing the sea. Another option is to hang out at the larger main pool where you can swim, relax, or have lunch from the Pool Grill. The retractable roof makes it a great choice any time of year.
There were many types of very good entertainment aboard the ship from afternoon until late at night. These included the ones shown below: the classical duo in the Atrium, a musical performance in the Star Theater, or being part of jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts. We also saw people having fun playing cards, Scrabble, and other games.
The Star Theater is traditional theater seating that serves as a central meeting place for passengers and venue for high quality and fun performances such as Abba Night shown top right above), a performance by a talented group of crew members accompanied in song the audience in the packed house.
Music and dance venue tip: Torshavn is a very popular and lively music and dance venue on board. We had a lot of fun there on the Baltic cruise, but opted for other venues this time.
Health and wellness at sea
Mr. TWS and I are vigilant about staying in shape and work out regularly when we’re at home. When we’re traveling, we find that the extensive walking we do as we explore cities and sites is great exercise, but Viking ships also provides great ways to stay active onboard.
During our day of sailing the Ionian Sea, I decided to try out the fitness center which I had not done on our first ocean cruise. It had everything I needed — cardio equipment, weights, and stretching area. I worked out a few more times during the cruise and there was no wait for equipment.
Breathe in the fresh sea air, gaze at the stars and moon, and even see some spectacular sights as you walk along the wraparound walking/jogging promenade on Deck 2. We loved doing this, especially after dinner. It was quite romantic as we watched awesome displays of mother nature such as lightning filling the distant skies over the Mediterranean with a full moon. A very memorable event on one of our after-dinner walks was catching the a few short bursts of lava eruptions of Stromboli, the active volcano on an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea north of Sicily on our way to Naples.
On the upper deck of the ship, there is a sports deck on the ninth level for recreation like bocce ball, golf putting, shuffleboard, and ping-pong. So what do you think of Mr. TWS’s form in the photo below on the putting green? Not bad for a guy who doesn’t golf, I’d say.
Relax at the spa tip from past trip:
I tend to save up my visits to a spa for special places and circumstances. Some spa pampering in the LivNordic Spa during our full day at sea on the Baltic was the perfect opportunity. I chose the 50 minute Nordic massage, followed by a 50 minute Nordic facial. 100 minutes never passed so quickly! There are many spa options on the menu and the facilities include sauna and refreshing ice grotto in a perfectly peaceful environment. — TWS in “Sailing the Baltic with Viking Cruises”
Art is clearly central to the interior ambiance of the Viking ocean ships with distinctive Scandinavian design and decor, paintings, photographs, sculptures, ceramics, and other pieces, creating very appealing spaces for guests. You’ll also notice sections of the famous Bayeux Tapestry (and it’s connection to Scandinavia and the Vikings) that are depicted on each of the staircase landings.
Download the Viking Voyager app to have a full directory of the art throughout the ship. It included the Viking Art Guide with a full directory of art specific to each ship. Some of my favorite pieces on the ship were the lithographs by Norwegian artist, Jakob Weidemann.
“Munch Moments”, is a lovely early evening feature that displays the art of Edvard Munch on the Atrium screen accompanied by Viking’s classical duo playing Norwegian music.
If you are interested in learning more about the history and culture of destinations you’ll be visiting, attend the lectures by experts in the Star Theater who will share their knowledge. These are also available on demand from the TV in the stateroom. You can even go deeper with small group in-depth discussions available with Viking’s resident historians.
There is an interesting display of realistic replicas of clothing, jewel coins, weapons, and other historical artifacts on Deck 2 that give you some insight into the lives of the Vikings.
Planning tip: Every evening, the Viking Daily newsletter will arrive in your stateroom. It will have up-to-date information about the on-board events and cultural enrichment activities, shore excursions, available cruise features, contacts, and helpful resources. Be sure to read it to plan your day. Information is also available on the TV in your stateroom. However you plan to spend your time on the cruise, the staff from housekeeping to wait staff to managers, customer service, tour directors, shore excursion directors will gladly give you whatever assistance you need.
Still wondering if you should take a Viking ocean cruise? Are you trying to decide between Viking ocean and river cruises? We’ve got more insights that might help in Part One of our Viking ocean cruises tips posts.
There’s more to explore tip: Yes, there are more features and amenities that you will want to consider — the salon, onboard shop, afternoon tea at the Wintergarden, and much more on the Viking Sea and other Viking small ocean ships.
Disclosure: Viking Cruises sponsored our Mediterranean Odyssey, but the views and perspectives expressed in this post are totally our own — as always.