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What To Expect On A Viking Ocean Cruise

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Lots and lots of details about our recent experience sailing on a Viking Ocean Cruise!

What to expect on a Viking ocean cruise

Alright guys, cozy up. (Long post alert!)  Today I’m finally sharing all about our recent sail through the Baltic Sea with Viking Ocean Cruises!

As I mentioned in my post about spending three days beforehand in Stockholm, this trip was both Barclay’s and my first time visiting each of the countries on this cruise — Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia and Poland. So we were excited and curious to experience this part of Europe. (Spoiler alert: we were surprised how much we loved it!)  And also, super curious to experience our first Viking ocean cruise.

As some of you might remember, we actually had the chance to sail through France on a Viking river cruise a few years ago, which we both really enjoyed. But we were curious how the Viking vibe would translate to a much larger ocean cruise ship, and how the experience overall would differ. Turns out, it was pretty different. But also, incredibly fun. We had a blast, and were hopelessly spoiled on board, and didn’t want our week to end. So to answer the question a hundred or so of you asked — yes, we would totally recommend it!

That said, the Viking ocean cruise experience was definitely apples-and-oranges different from our Viking river cruise experience. So for any of you considering an upcoming cruise for yourself, I wanted to follow up my river cruise post with an ocean cruise post, and tell you all about it, and also offer a few thoughts about how to choose which kind of cruise might be best for you.

So here’s the scoop on everything about our Viking ocean cruise, including details on:

  • The Ship (staterooms, restaurants, spa, entertainment, gathering spaces, and more)
  • The Cruise (our itinerary, tours, things to do, destination travel recs)
  • The Food (this one gets its own category, naturally)
  • Our Best Tips (a few things we’ve learned)
  • Ocean Cruise vs. River Cruise (some closing thoughts)

Our cruise ship: The Viking Star

The Ship

Alright, let’s chat first about our home at sea during the week — the Viking Star.

As you can see, this is not one of the small river boats that you saw advertised on Downton Abbey commercials years ago. This is a legit cruise ship. 9 floors, 465 staterooms, 4 full restaurants, 3 pools, a gorgeous spa, endless comfy deck chairs and beautiful lounges to hang out in, and about a million things to do.

Basically, we learned that on a Viking ocean cruise that the ship is totally a destination in and of itself.

There are so many things that you can choose to take part in each day, so many restaurants and bars and food you can sample, so many places to relax and hang out, and so many amazing staff members working hard to make everything run smoothly. You have the option of trying to squeeze as many things as you can in a day on the ship. Or hey — if you want to just kick it for a few hours and soak up some introverted-time-with-a-view from your room’s private balcony — room service is also completely included all day long. Basically, the ship is the epitome of “you’ve got options.” ;)

Barclay and I especially loved our specific ship because it was:

  • Beautiful. Think bright, clean, modern, Scandinavian design everywhere you turn. And windows everywhere. Basically, a Vitamin D lover’s dream come true. :)
  • Not crowded.  One of the things we love about Viking cruise ships is that they only bring on board about half the number of passengers as most other cruise ships their size. Which means that you get all of the amenities or a large ship, but it’s not crowded at all. Truly, we couldn’t believe how easy it was to find a deck chair, walk up to a buffet, find an open hot tub, and attend any activity we wanted all week long. In our experience, lines were almost non-existent.
  • Efficient. Speaking of lines, as someone who nerds out on efficiency, I was also blown away by Viking’s ability to move 1000+ passengers around so quickly and smoothly. Our onboarding check-in when we arrived literally took less than 5 minutes (no lines!), the initial safety presentation was quick and organized, and all of our excursions were prompt and easy to navigate.
  • Tranquil. Similar to our experience on the Viking river cruise, we were also impressed with how quiet and tranquil the ship was in general. Especially after busy days in port, it was always nice to come back to such a relaxing environment.
  • Nerdy. By contrast to some of the casinos and clubs on other cruise ships, we both loved that this ship was proudly nerdy. From PhD guest lecturers on board each day, to an extensive ship library, to TEDTalks being streamed daily, to the most organized jigsaw puzzle station we’ve ever seen — the ship is designed for people who really love to learn. We dug it. :)
  • All-inclusive. This was a big one. By contrast to some other “all-inclusive” ships and hotels, Viking prides itself on not nickel-and-diming you every step along the way. Case in point? Daily shore excursions, 24-hour room service, unlimited wifi, daily spa access (with the most amazing hot tubs!), beer/wine/soft drinks at every meal, specialty teas and coffees, port taxes and fees, laundry machines, and ground transfers with air purchase are all included. Amazing.

Let’s take a quick tour!

The Atrium on Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

The Atrium

Wintergarden | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise


Explorer’s Lounge (upper level)

Explorer's Lounge | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Explorer’s Lounge (lower level)

Sun Deck | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Sun deck

Gathering Spaces/Lounges/Bars

As I said, beautiful spaces abound on the ship to sit and hang out, relax, enjoy a snack or a drink, read a book, take a dip, do a puzzle, and soak up all of those scenic ocean views. (The photos above only capture a fraction of the ship!)  We spent most of our time in the various spaces on the upper decks, soaking up as much sunshine and fresh air as possible. Some of the main gathering spaces included:

  • Viking Living Room: A central place to relax, read a book, talk or listen to music each evening. There was a classical trio on board during our cruise, whose music we really enjoyed after dinners.
  • Explorer’s Lounge: Decorated with memorabilia from far-flung travels, this lounge is a good place to relax and hang out while enjoying top-notch views from the front of the ship.
  • Sun Deck Lounge: For those who need that extra dose of sunshine, this open air lounge will take you as high up on the ship as you can go.
  • Wintergarden: A beautiful, sunlit, serene spot where they serve afternoon tea with live music.
  • Acquavit Terrace: One of our favorite places to dine al fresco over lunch, or take a dip in the pool (or hot tub) under the Nordic skies.
  • The Atrium: A good place to sit amidst the backdrops of a curated art collection inspired by the destinations along the cruise route.
  • Torshavn: Where guests go for dancing and drinks, with a live band every night.
  • Library: Loved this!! They had plenty of titles available if you were in need of a good read.
Manfredi's Italian Restaurant | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant

Mamsen's Restaurant | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise


The restaurant

Chef's Table | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

The Chef’s Table

World Cafe | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

World Cafe


One of the biggest changes going from a river to an ocean cruise was that this ship had multiple restaurants to choose from!! Guests are all invited to make a special reservation one night on board at the Chef’s Table (fine dining) and also at Manfredi’s (Italian). But otherwise, you can be impromptu and decide each day where you would like to eat eat meal. And — even better — you can order whatever you’d like! As I mentioned above, wine, beer and soft drinks are also included. And room service is as well, in case you would prefer to have a meal brought to your room, though the menu for room service is limited.

There are also a variety of bars and pop-up buffets that are sprinkled throughout the ship, but the main restaurants available include:

  • The Restaurant: Full table service is available for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an extensive changing daily menu (that is different from Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant and Chef’s Table).
  • Chef’s Table: A pre-set tasting menu for those who like innovative, creative fine dining.
  • Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant: Exactly what we had hoped — dreamy, decadent, delicious Italian food every night.
  • World Café: A casual dining experience, with a dozen or so different buffets available for all three meals of the day, inspired by flavors loved around the world. (We took advantage of the sushi and gelato buffets daily!)
  • Pool Grill: Casual fare for a relaxed lunch or afternoon snack, including different daily salad bars. (I was obsessed with their Caesar Salad bar.)
  • Mamsen’s: A cozy bar and cafe located at the bow of the ship overlooking the ocean with the most amazing waffles.
Pool and Hot Tub | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Main pool and hot tub

Thermal Suite Spa | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Thermal suite hot tub (oh hey, Barc!)

Snow Grotto | Viking Star Spa | Viking Ocean Cruise

Snow grotto (image via)

Spa | Viking Star | Ali Martin | Viking Ocean Cruise

Spa date with my Kindle

Viking Star Locker Rooms | Viking Ocean Cruise

Spa locker rooms

Gym | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Morning workout

Spa and Wellness Center

We were super impressed with all of the wellness options available on board. Some of our faves included the:

  • LivNordic Spa: Impressively, spa access is completely included for all guests on board! You do have to pay extra for salon or spa treatments (hair, massage, facials, nails, grooming, etc). But the gorgeous thermal suite is available to all guests on board all day long. The suite is inspired by Nordic bathing traditions, and features an enormous thermal hot tub (my fave), an additional hot tub, cold water pool, cold ice water splash bucket, sauna, heated stone chairs, and — get this — a “snow grotto”. Yes, a room in the suite where it literally snows all day long. Crazy. We spent at least an hour hanging out and warming up in the thermal suite each day and absolutely loved it.
  • Fitness Center: We were also daily visitors of the gym on board, which featured a great selection of workout machines and a spacious room where we could do yoga. It was also sparklingly clean, with fresh towels and water bottles available everywhere.
  • Main pool: We also spent some time at the main pool and adjacent hot tub, which have a retractable roof above them for temperature control. (It stayed closed during our cruise, since it was pretty chilly out.)
  • Sports Deck: We didn’t spend much time up on this deck, but putting greens, gym equipment, and shuffleboard courts are available.
Star Theater | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Star Theater

Library | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise


Puzzles | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Very. Serious. Puzzling.

Wintergarden High Tea | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Wintergarden high tea time


Every night, our lovely stateroom attendant would drop off our “Viking Daily” — an informational brochure with absolutely everything we needed to know for the following day. From forecasts, to excursion details, to upcoming menus, to the dozens of activities that would be taking place on board, there were always so many options to choose from. Some of those included:

  • Lectures: Our ship had a resident historian on board, as well as other professors and experts on the places and themes we were experiencing on the trip. They gave daily presentations on the culture and history of the Nordic region, and also kept office hours if you wanted to ask more questions.
  • Movies and documentaries: Viking curated a diverse collection of movies and documentaries for guests, which were available in each stateroom, and also some were shown as special presentations in the comfortable Star Theater space.
  • Live Music: Our ship had a classical trio (flute, cello and violin), a guitarist playing instrumental music, a pianist playing live on the ship at various times each day, and a live band to get people on the dance floor every evening.
  • Cultural Presentations and Shows: Each day, Viking prepared special events ranging from an Irish magician to a cultural performance by the Russian group, the Mariinsky Theater Singers.
  • The Kitchen Table: Viking now offers cooking classes on board! We didn’t end up getting the chance to go, but love this idea.
  • Afternoon Tea: From 4-5pm every day, high tea would be hosted in the Wintergarden, while accompanied by live music. Pinkies out! 
  • Cocktail Hour: Every night, there were drinks and music available in various spaces throughout the ship.

Other Amenities

  • Shops: A few stores were available if you wanted to pick up some travel goods, souvenirs, or jewelry during the cruise.
  • Wifi: Despite sailing the open sea, wifi was available on the boat some of the time. Granted, the signal was pretty slow, and cut out for hours (or days) at a time multiple times depending on our location. But when it worked, it was nice to have.
  • Computers: If you didn’t bring your own device, there were computers with internet access available on board for passengers to use.
  • Reception: We loved the reception area because it was rarely crowded, so we could get help with whatever we needed right away.
Deluxe Stateroom | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Our stateroom

Deluxe Stateroom | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Deluxe Stateroom Bathroom | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

Deluxe Stateroom Veranda | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

The Staterooms

Alright, onto the question that so many of you asked — “How were the rooms?!”

Short answer: SPACIOUS.

And, by contrast to many other cruise ships, every stateroom on Viking ocean cruise ships comes with its own balcony — which was where you could find me pretty much anytime we were (awake and) out at sea. Man, that little balcony was good for my soul. Loved all of our little “dates” out there, served up with a nice dose of sunshine, ocean breezes, a good book, and maybe a round of margaritas.

Some other favorite things about our stateroom (Deluxe Veranda) included:

  • A very comfy bed: Queen-sized, or you could have the option of two twins.
  • Ample closet space: Not sure how they squeezed in so much closet space into this stateroom, but we unpacked everything we brought and still also had room to store our suitcases.
  • Bathrobe and slippers: Always a plus.
  • Big bathroom: With a nice glass-paneled shower, heated floors, and all sorts of toiletry goodies.
  • Binoculars: Fun for days out at sea.
  • Full-size umbrella: Which we totally needed! Very thankful that Viking thought to include this in our closet.
  • Large tv: Stocked with movies galore, TEDTalks, recordings of lectures given on board, and more.
  • Plenty of outlets: Both 220v and 110v, as well as USB ports.
  • Stocked mini-bar: Which is re-stocked (once for free) every day.

We also had the sweetest stateroom attendant, Cindy, who took such thoughtful care of us. We loved chatting with her each day and were sad to say good-bye!

Sailing with Viking Ocean Cruises

View from our balcony

Tour Headset | Viking Ocean Cruise Excursions

Figuring our our handy dandy headsets for excursions. (When the receiver’s in your pocket, it’s easy to not stand out quite so much as a tourist.) :)

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki Cathedral

Uspenskin Cathedral, Helsinki

Bouillabaise in Helsinki

The most amazing bouillabaise in Helsinki

St. Petersburg

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg

The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

St Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg

Canal Cruise in St Petersburg

Canal cruise in St. Petersburg

St Petersburg Canal Cruise | Barclay and Ali Martin

Canal cruise date :)

Tallin, Estonia

Tallin, Estonia

Tallin, Estonia Cathedral

Tallin, Estonia

Pub crawl in Estonia | Barclay and Ali Martin

IPA crawl in Tallin

Tallin, Estonia Views

Tallin, Estonia

Viking Ocean Cruise Sunset

Sunset at sea

The Cruising

The Itinerary

We were invited to join a group of press and bloggers for half of the Viking Homelands cruise. So we actually only sailed the first week of the full 2-week cruise, but it felt like the perfect length of a cruise for me. Our itinerary (and corresponding port excursions) included:

  • Day 1: Stockholm, Sweden
    • No excursions; we were boarded around dinnertime.
  • Day 2: Stockholm, Sweden
    • We actually skipped our excursion here and spent the morning with some local friends. Then came back on board by the time that our ship took off mid-afternoon.
  • Day 3: Helsinki, Finland
    • We took the included Glimpse of Helsinki bus tour, passing by parliament, Senate Square in the Old City, Helsinki Cathedral.
  • Day 4: St. Petersburg, Russia
    • We took the included Panoramic St. Petersburg bus tour which passed by Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Isaac’s, Peter and Paul fortress.
  • Day 5: St. Petersburg, Russia
    • Morning: We took the (paid) Hermitage Winter Palace and Gold Room tour, which was a must-see for art lovers. (I saw one of my favorite paintings — ‘The Return of the Prodigal Son’ by Rembrant.)  However, we were racing through the Hermitage to try and see things in just four hours. If you really love art, I recommend booking the longer excursion.
    • Evening: We took the (paid) St. Petersburg’s Canals, St. Isaac’s and Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood tour. It lasted 4 hours, but the canal cruise part of excursion lasted only about an hour. The rest was covered by tour bus and on foot.
  • Day 6: St. Petersburg, Russia
    • We stayed in port an extra due to high winds on the Baltic, missing our port of call in Gdansk, Poland. Here, Viking made arrangements for additional excursions (available for purchase at a discounted cost) for our unanticipated extra day in Russia. Barclay did a walking tour of the town and really enjoyed it. I spent the morning in the spa. ;)
  • Day 7: Tallinn, Estonia
    • We took the included Tallinn Old Town Walking Tour, which was a lovely introduction to the historical and modern sides of this city that’s said to be emerging as the “Silicone Valley of Northern Europe.” Loved Tallinn.
  • Day 8: Full day at sea.
  • Day 9: Berlin, Germany
    • We disembarked in the morning and took a bus from the port into Berlin, and the cruise continued on toward Denmark.

The Excursions

As I mentioned above, one of the things unique about Viking is that one complementary excursions in included in each port of call. They are usually pretty short — just 3 or 4 hours — which give you a nice introduction to a place, but not a deep dive. They always use small earbud headsets, so that you don’t have to be clumped around a shouting tour guide. And the tour guides are fantastic.

You have the option when booking your cruise to choose your complementary excursions online. (Or you can add/change your excursions once you’re on board.)  And, if you’d like, you can also book additional paid excursions. We mostly stuck with the complementary excursions, and then added in two paid ones in Russia — mostly because our visas didn’t allow us to be out and about on our own there, so the only way to spend more time in St. Petersburg was through additional excursions. We also skipped the excursion in Stockholm because we had already been there a few days ahead of time and had seen most of the sights included on the tour.

World Cafe | Viking Star | Viking Ocean Cruise

One of the dozen or so buffets in the World Cafe

World Cafe | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

Daily gelato stop

Caesar salad bar | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

One of my faves: the Caesar salad bar (tossed to order and DELICIOUS)

Healthy food | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

I loved the healthier options that they offered.

Fresh pasta bar | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

Fresh pasta bar.

Tropical fruit buffet | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

Tropical fruit taste-testing during our brunch buffet

Brunch cocktails | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

Brunch cocktail bar

Sushi buffet | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

Daily sushi fix

Bread buffet | Viking Star Ocean Cruise

Bring on the carbs!

Margaritas | Silver Spirits Package | Viking Ocean Cruise | Barclay and Ali Martin

Margarita dates

Chef's Table Dinner | Viking Ocean Cruise

Salad at The Chef’s Table

Viking Star Ocean Cruise Dinner

Beautiful presentations

The Food

My favorite subject! ♡  Ha, the night that we booked the cruise, I literally made Barclay sit and listen as I read aloud descriptions about every single one of the restaurants on the Viking Star. So to say that we arrived on board hungry and ready to eat is a bit of an understatement. Thankfully, we were not disappointed. We ate sooooo well during our week on board.

As I mentioned above, Viking Ocean cruises provide “Destination-Focused Dining”, which meant that we had all sorts of options of restaurants and cuisines to choose from each day. Some of our food highlights included:

  • The sushi bar: We made friends with Johan, the sushi chef, during our very first day on board, and joked that we would probably be back each day to see him at the World Cafe. And to his surprise — ha, we totally followed through. Barclay and I are both obsessed with sushi, and his freshly-made rolls each day (plus the king crab legs and shrimp) were absolutely delicious. So we got in the tradition of having a little sushi happy hour for dinner each night, and enjoyed every bite.
  • The special brunch buffet: During our day at sea, the kitchen staff hosted a crazy-impressive brunch buffet for the entire ship on the main deck, with chefs making made-to-order fresh pasta dishes, salads, frittatas, sushi, and mimosas. Plus an elaborate selection of pastries, artisan breads, cheese boards, seafood buffets, and so much more. It was beyond impressive. And as such, we assumed it was a well-oiled tradition on board, but the chef told me it was actually only their second time giving it a try! I hope that the brunch becomes a regular thing on all Viking ships — it was a total highlight of our trip.
  • The Silver Spirits Package: We also splurged on this extra package, which includes unlimited premium cocktails, wines and beers throughout the trip. We mostly used it for margaritas by the pool, and nicer wines for dinner, and thought it was a great deal.
  • Manfredi’s: Of all the various restaurants on board, Manfredi’s was probably our favorite. We both adore good Italian food, and Manfredi’s extensive menu did not disappoint.
  • Lunches and happy hours al fresco: Any time we were on board during lunch, and always during happy hour, we loved taking our food and drinks outside. And wow, especially when the ship was sailing — talk about a view that can’t be beat!
  • High tea: We decided to try out the high tea in the Wintergarden during our day at sea, and it was even lovelier than we expected. Their fresh scones are perfection.
  • Complementary room service and mini bar: We didn’t really expect to use either of these. But once we found out that we could have coffee (and breakfast!) delivered first thing in the morning, we were hooked. We also regularly raided the mini bar for snacks (nuts and dried fruit) to bring with us into port each day.

Also, I want to give Viking major props for their attentiveness to dietary restrictions. Guests are asked in advance if they have any specific needs, including vegetarian, heart-healthy, low sugar and gluten-free options. And they did not miss a beat making sure that Barclay always had vegetarian options. He received a special print-out each evening of the next day’s vegetarian menu options. And they were always delicious.

Good grief, this is making me hungry. Wish we were back there right now.

Our Best Tips!

Get to know the staff. For so many reasons. First off, the staff members on board are wonderful, inspiring people from all over the world and have all sorts of great things to teach us. Second, they were some of our favorite people to chat with about our days in port, in part because they travel the route so often and know it well! Most importantly, though, they are simply such rays of light on the ship, and work so hard to take care of everyone, and deserve as many “thank you’s” as you can give them. (And if you happen to be traveling on the Viking Star, please give Cindy a hug for us. Best stateroom attendant ever!)

Book excursions in advance. We (whoops) dropped the ball on using our My Viking Journey online portal to book our excursions early on, and booked them at the last minute the week of the trip. And consequently, a few of the time slots we would have preferred were already full. Book early! :)

Book morning excursions. That said, I would also recommend booking morning excursions whenever they are available. We found them to be a great introduction and jumping-off point in a new city, and then we could explore new spots or go back to earlier locations for a deeper dive later in the day.

Stay in port as long as possible! (And do your research.)  This is probably my biggest tip — stay in port as long as you can. I know that it’s tempting on an all-inclusive trip to head back to the ship for lunch or coffee or gelato. But I would highly recommend staying in port and exploring your destination as long as possible. We researched a good lunch and coffee spot in each destination we visited, and then took tips from the locals about where else to explore once we were in port, and it ended up being a great rhythm for us. Again, your Viking staff (especially guest services) know a ton about each port too, so feel free to ask for their recommendations too.

Don’t miss the spa! I say this because so many guests we spoke with on board didn’t realize that the thermal suite in the spa was free until the last few days of the trip! It was easily my favorite place to relax and unwind on board.

Make use of the gym. I’d also recommend getting in a rhythm right from the start of using the gym. There are about 5 million delicious calories that you will want to eat in a day, and the gym is really nice and a great place to burn off a few.

If you like cocktails and/or good wine, get the Silver Spirits Package. If you plan to drink at least one cocktail a day, this package is already a good deal. We also really enjoyed the wider selection of wines available through this package at dinnertime.

Bring anti-nausea pills if you get seasick. We literally never felt the boat move on our river cruise. But the waves were formidable at times on the ocean cruise. If you tend to get sea sick, I definitely recommend bringing along the anti-nausea patch or medications.

Book a few extra days on the front end of the trip, if possible. If you have the time, we would also highly recommend booking at least a day or two in advance on the front end of your trip. Especially if you’re coming from the United States, those extra few days can really help with jet lag. Plus, our extra few days diving deep into Stockholm felt like a nice balance to the on-the-go-ness of a cruise.

Is A Cruise Right For You?

Alright, let’s talk about FAQ. The question that I was asked most often during this trip was simply whether or not we would recommend cruising in general — especially in Europe, especially with Viking, and especially as a 30-something. ;)  To be sure, everyone has different traveling styles and budgets to work with. But in general, I would say that a Viking cruise is right for you if:

  • You don’t want to mess with transportation logistics.  As someone who has had the privilege of traveling quite a bit around Europe, I’ve come to believe that navigating foreign transportation systems, hauling luggage through cobblestone streets, messing with check-in times at hotels and AirBnBs are usually some of the most stressful parts of traveling. With a cruise, though, you can unpack your bags once and then magically wake up in new countries each day without having to lift a finger. It really is incredible. Plus, if you purchase airfare through Viking, they will also handle your transportation to and from the airports.
  • You want to scope out some new destinations. Cruises often get a bad rap for just being in a port of call for a day or two. But I actually like them for that reason! They’re not meant to be a deep dive into a destination. Rather, I like to think of them as a destination “sampler”, where you can check out some new potential spots on your list and see where you might like to return some day. For us, for example, our surprise highlight of the trip was Tallin. We were only there for a day, but we had an amazing introduction to the city and both agreed that we would like to return again soon for a longer stay.
  • You like all-inclusive vacations.  Again, as I mentioned above, there are plenty of cruises and hotels around the world that claim to be all-inclusive, but then stick you with a million upcharges and add-ons along the way. Not Viking. If you would like a trip that actually costs what you anticipate ahead of time, at least in our experience, this is the way to go. We impressively had zero unexpected costs come up.
  • You want a relaxing, calm vibe on board. If you’re looking for a place to party and go dancing and clubbing and stay up until 2am each morning, this is probably not the cruise line for you. The vibe on board both Viking river and ocean cruises is really peaceful and respectful.
  • You are not bringing children. It wasn’t until our third day on board that Barclay and I looked around and said, “Wait, where are the children?” Turns out that Viking recently made the move to limit its cruises to age 18 and older, for anyone who has booked a cruise since August 1, 2018. So if you’re looking to cruise with kiddos, you will need to find a different cruise line.
  • You really love to learn about new places. Viking really does set the tone for curiosity and adventure on their cruises. And as such, it attracts people who love to learn! We loved getting to meet our fellow guests and swap travel stories and recommendations and explore new places together. It’s an inspiring crowd, for sure.

Viking River Cruise vs. Ocean Cruise

While the Viking values are consistent throughout all of their cruises, Barclay and I did feel that there were some very notable differences between our river and ocean cruise experiences. So if you’re trying to decide which is right for you, here’s what we would offer:

Consider a river cruise if you:

  • Enjoy sightseeing while at sea. Some of our favorite memories on our river cruise were sailing through the narrow rivers and charming towns throughout France, which were literally a stone’s throw away from the ship and easy to see up close. Granted, we enjoyed seeing the various ports on our ocean cruise from a distance. But our day at sea on the ocean cruise was literally sailing through the open ocean, versus winding through cute towns and countrysides via a river cruise.
  • Really like getting to know your fellow guests more intimately.  There are simply far fewer passengers on a river cruise. (I think ours had about 200.)  So over the course of a week or two, you can get to know them pretty well, especially during dinners.
  • Are looking for an extra-tranquil vibe. As peaceful as our ocean cruise felt, our river cruise was even more quiet and calm, which some people may love more or less. We found it to be really peaceful.
  • Tend to get seasick.  At least in our experience, the river cruise was a far smoother sail than the ocean cruise.

Consider an ocean cruise if you:

  • Enjoy a wide variety of food options. We loved the food on both of our Viking cruises. But wow wow wow, the selection on the ocean cruise was next level. So many different options for various types of cuisines, and various places to dine and drink.
  • Want lots of options for things to do on board. With a bigger ship, there are inevitably far more options for things to do, spaces to hang out, and various amenities on board. As I said earlier, this cruise ship felt like another whole destination in and of itself!
  • Want the option of more anonymity/alone time. With nearly 1000 passengers on board, it’s much easier to keep to yourselves, or pick and choose when you want to be social.
  • Want more options for excursions. The list of possible things to do with the ocean cruise was impressive.
  • Love spas. And dreamy hot tubs and rooms that snow. :)

Of course, probably the biggest deciding factor with Viking would simply be your choice of destination, as most ports are available via either river or ocean. But whichever kind of cruise you choose, I feel like you will be in incredibly good hands with Viking.  We loved both of our trips for different reasons, but loved them both wholeheartedly. I’ve highly recommended them to so many of our friends and family, and now, to you guys too. ♡

Ali Martin

Final Thoughts

All that to say — we had an amazing time on our Viking Ocean Cruise. And if you’re thinking about giving it a try, I would highly, highly recommend pulling the trigger! It’s a low-stress, convenient, relaxing way to visit a handful of new places. And Viking Cruises, in particular, will make sure you feel incredibly well cared for every step of the way.

If you have any more questions about our trip, feel free to ask below and I will do my best to answer.

But otherwise, thank you so much for following along with our adventure! And major thanks to Viking Ocean Cruises for inviting us to come on this unforgettable experience. We loved every minute of it!

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48 comments on “What To Expect On A Viking Ocean Cruise”

  1. It’s a pity that you could not to see Gdansk. The fresh cod in Prosecco sauce…
    Also you must try traditional Kashubian food :)

    • The only way to cruise. Have taken 2 ocean and 2 river. Loved them all. Have 2 ocean booked for 2020. Love love Viking.

  2. This was the cruise we did summer 2017. The best!!!

  3. I have never wanted to do an ocean cruise, but you have made me think it might actually be fun, especially if my ship was like this one, rather than the giant Las Vegas shopping mall ships I usually see photos of. I’ve looked at Viking River Cruises and Alaskan small ship cruises, but this is truly enticing. Thank you for such a thorough recap of your experience.

  4. This looks absolutely AMAZING.

    • Hoping to sail on the Iconic Mediterranean cruise in late Sept. Appreciate your advice, information on what to expect & enjoy on a Viking ocean cruise.

  5. This post couldn’t have come at a better time. You’ve completely convinced us to book a cruise with Viking! We were on the fence about whether or not the atmosphere on board was really for us (we sailed with Royal Caribbean years ago, which was definitely not our thing). This sounds beautiful and, like you said, a great primer on a new part of the world. Thank you for this comprehensive post.

  6. Another great thing about Viking ocean cruises is that they’re not constantly trying to sell you merchandise, pictures, art work, or other services at every opportunity – unlike other cruise lines. Their shops are upscale and unobtrusive. There are no “art auctions.” They’re not constantly taking your picture and trying to sell them to you. There are no extra fees for their restaurants, provided you can get reservations. Constant merchandising wears at your soul when you’re trying to have a relaxed and pleasant vacation. LOVE Viking!

  7. Makes me want to leave now! Thanks for posting.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing all the wonderful pictures, as well as your story. This was fantastic! I really enjoyed all the food pictures! YUM!

  9. Would never be able to afford it, but it was nice to read about your experience!

  10. I loved reading about your Viking adventure. Last Fall we went on the Viking Ocean Cruise…Mediterranean Odyssey and it was spectacular!!! I have told so many people that on a scale from 1-10 it was a 20. We loved everything about it and cannot say enough good things about Viking. BEST CRUISE LINES EVER!! It is not cheap but after one day we both agreed that it was worth every penny. Food – AMAZING!! Next Fall my sister and I are going on the Viking River Cruise Rhine Getaway. I can’t wait to experience the river cruise. Thank you for your most interesting travel blog entry’s.

  11. Thank you for your thorough description of your Viking ocean cruise. We usually travel on Holland America Line, which caters to older folks like us. They also have longer cruises, which is what we prefer. It probably helps that we are retired… I haven’t been on a short cruise in the last 10 years except for a one week cruise on Carnival (hated it). A week is way too short, IMO. I like your advice to get to know the staff. We always do that and it is incredibly rewarding. On the longer cruises, it gives us a chance to really get to know people from other cultures, a great way to enlarge one’s world view. On the long cruises we are able to see a lot of parts of the world without having to take long flights, a real plus for us.
    We will have to look into the possibility of doing a Viking cruise.

  12. omg if we ever did a cruise (and left kiddos at home) this would be the line for us!!!

  13. I have been there! The luxury of interiors is the main shock during the first hours on the cruise. All these Swarovski pianos, Swarovski steps, elevators, the diversity of bar interiors … I advise you to take the liner card at the reception or in the cabin and spend time targeting over rough Swarovski terrain. Nutrition. Well, everything is simple. Want to lose weight – restaurants-on-menu is your choice. At dinner, all go according to those places that are registered in the map. The dinner menu is very interesting. For the entire week of sailing, we had the persistent feeling that the length of the name is inversely proportional to the number on the plate. The name of one dish can occupy three lines, and when it is brought, then regular guy needs five times as much to eat. But nobody bothers if you order the same again. The menu is varied, you can fantasize and experiment. All food is really free. Except for some paid desserts on the menu. It was really amazing.

  14. Thank you! The trip and information was great. I really want to take the trip now…..Be blessed again Thank you all.

  15. Your descriptions are perfect. I just came back from the Viking ocean cruise to Cuba. Also have been on a river cruise down the Danube. I enjoyed both trips . The food and the ambience and especially the service were exceptional.

  16. Great reading for our upcoming first cruise and Viking appears to have been an excellent choice. Appreciate your insight and recommendations. Great article.

  17. This post totally sold us! We just booked our first Viking ocean cruise in the Caribbean for this summer and can’t wait!

  18. Wow!! I would live to do this….all by myself! I love the huge buffets, the spa, the excursions to the destination areas, omg! I didn’t see anything about pricing though. You guys look like you are ? in love! Glad y’all had a great time!

  19. I liked your review. We are doing Viking Sun in June. It’s similar to your cruise but longer. We are doing the same destinations as you and a couple more. It’s a part of the world we’ve never visited. We’ve also done 2 Viking River Cruises, which we loved a lot. We will be celebrating our 45th anniversary onboard so it sounds like we have been married longer than you are alive. We are old but hip. Haha. Thanks again

  20. This post is so helpful and gets me even more excited about my upcoming trip! I’m going on this same cruise in about 3 weeks and it was wonderful to read about your experience. I have a couple of questions but I understand if you don’t email people back. I was wondering what people wear to the pool and the spa. Do they just walk around in robes to and from their rooms? And for the pool, you said the roof wasn’t open because it was too cold, but you also mentioned that you ordered margaritas by the pool so it was obviously warm enough to hang out there but were people swimming and hanging out in bathing suits or just lounging in the chairs in their clothes? I’m planning what to pack and I started wondering about what to bring. Thanks!!

  21. How many outfits should you bring on a 90 days viking ocean cruise? I am not much for more than the occasional night life.

  22. Thanks for the review. We’re doing a similar cruise in August. I had some questions I was hoping you could answer.
    1. Did you take the gratuity package for the staff or did you tip staff individually?
    2. Did you need to line up for any of the restaurants or was finding a table fairly easy?
    3. Were you able to share one Silver Spirits package between the two of you?
    4. How soon before your cruise did you let them know about your dietary requirements?
    Many thanks in advance.

    • Answer to Question 4. If one person in the room wants the Silver Spirits package, both in the room must purchase the package. Click on the link to the Silver Spirits package is discussed and locate that topic to get Viking’s policy on this.

  23. Hey, just discovered your post as we are planning our 5th Viking experience! The Danube was our favorite, Russia #2! Planning on Iceland/Norway in 6/2020. Loved your musings and agree wholeheartedly. We’ve been on over 30 cruises, many lines, and countries, and Viking has been our favorite! Happy cruising!

  24. Loved your article. We are sailing on the Viking Orion to Australia and New Zealand. We are nit upgrading mainly because we will be out and about on the ship we are on deck three. What do you think?

  25. Hi!
    I’ve done two Viking river cruises. We loved them! Thinking about an ocean one now.
    Does the ocean cruise ship dock right in town like the river boats do? I guess what I’m asking is, can we walk on and off freely when we’re docked?
    Thank you! Tracy

  26. This is a great review, very good detail.

    Thank you so much

    • Great review! I’m going on The Viking Sky end of April Bergen to Stockholm and was wondering what most women wore to dinner on your cruise. Thank you.

  27. What time of year was your trip?

  28. Hi!
    I have been on two Viking river cruises. I am considering an ocean one.
    I have two questions.
    1) Does the ship dock close to town like the river boats? We liked the idea of walking in and off.
    2) Do the ocean ships have the coffee stations like the river boats?
    Loved looking at your pictures!
    Thank you! Tracy

    • Hi Tracy! I’m not sure how it is with all ocean cruises. But for ours, the ship had to dock at the larger ship ports along with all of the rest of the cruise ships. So not quite as close to the city centers, but still not too far. And they had excellent coffee! :)

  29. Thank you so much for this article, it was extremely informative. We will be sailing on the Viking Star for the Homelands cruise in May 2020. Our first cruise with Viking was the Rhine River and we were so impressed with the whole experience we decided to book an ocean cruise.

  30. Great review! Thanks

  31. This is an excellent documentation of Viking Cruises Ocean/River. We have done two ocean cruises and two river cruises and agree with you on all counts. Anyone needing an in depth review will do well to read your article. Thank you for putting this together. Our family were on the river cruises with us, but I would love to have them join us for one of the ocean cruises. We are looking at the Amazon one when time allows.

  32. This review nailed it. We have done three Viking river cruises and one Viking ocean cruise. Loved them all and have our second ocean cruise booked.

  33. I recently found your blog and it was most helpful. My question is did you wish that you had gotten a Russian visa before going to leave the boat on your own? We are going in May and doing the 11 day Baltic/Russia trip.
    Thank you

  34. Going on our first Viking ocean cruise in March.We did do a river cruise in the past.
    I recently got diagnosed with celiac so I was concerned about the food options on the boat.You really put my mind at ease.
    ALOT of great information!
    I’m assuming the outlets in the room don’t require a converter for my “American ” hot rollers? Also assuming I don’t have to bring my hairdryer either?

  35. Loved reading your Blog! My wife and I are doing the same trip , starting in Stockholm and ending the voyage in Reykjavik ( actually doing two cruises back to back , Homelands and the Majestic Iceland’s) . I loved reading about your time in Stockholm, very helpful.

  36. It is usual to expect taking a cruise trip is a vacation without having to pack and unpack, you have a proper amount of free time to rest. As of late I am looking to be in more exotic places like the Amazon, Antarctica or the Machu Picchu. A Cruise to the Galapagos is different from usual cruising experiences, you do have to be willing to be involved and explore each visitor site

  37. Thank you for the informative write-up. Viking’s website has a pretty nice overview, but it’s always good to get it from a customer’s perspective. We just booked an ocean cruise on the Viking Jupiter (Norway, Faoro Islands, and Iceland) and are really looking forward to it (though it’s not until the middle of 2023, hah). My parents wanted to do a cruise with me and my wife, and they love Viking already. Looking forward to a kid-free cruise as well (our daughter will only be twelve then, so no coming with us, sweetie!). Oh, and we’re definitely doing the expanded drink package as well. Thanks again for such a detailed post.

  38. We have booked the Iceland/Norway cruise for August 2022, and the only available cabin was the Deluxe Veranda like the one you had. The website says ample drawer space, but I’ve looked at the 360 degree tour of the cabin and didn’t see any drawer space at all. Of course, the closet door is closed in the video, so I couldn’t see inside. Is there drawer/shelf storage in the closet?

  39. Hi,thank you for your really informative blog. It has got us really excited for the trip we are planning for our 30th. I was wondering about which excursions are included, and which we will have to pay extra for. Also ,how much was the spirit package yo uh mentioned? We are undecided which trip to take, but are thinking of probably going for Mediterranean .
    Thanks again for your help.
    Bryan and Marji

  40. Just an FYI. Max passenger capacity on the ocean cruises is 930, not 1,000+. We have done two VRCs and are booked on our first VOC and can’t wait. Thank you for the comprehensive and extensive journey into the world of Viking ocean cruises! We’ll be doing the 15-day British Isles Explorer soon.

  41. Hello! Is there a specific time you have to be back on the ship when it is docked at a destination overnight? Thank you.

  42. Thank you for your post it was very interesting as we are planning our first Viking Ocean cruise. I had a question on currency. We will be going to Italy Croatia Montenegro and Greece. I’m not sure if they all use euros or if you can buy the local currency on the ship or did you buy before going?