Viking Sun Brings a Touch of Scandinavia to Belfast

When the Viking Sun stopped off in Belfast on May 12 for a cruise call, Paul Clements went on board for a guided tour of the facilities

Seen from the quayside of Belfast port the sleek white eye-catching cruise liner Viking Sun dominates the water.

The Viking company, which was established in 1997, are renowned for river cruises, but are relative newcomers to the ocean market. They now offer a wide variety of cruises on the high seas to many parts of the world.

First impressions are of cool and spacious light-filled relaxing areas with Scandinavian influences on every level. The Viking Sun prides itself on two key highlights: its dining and spa treatments, and its rich cultural offerings. Guests can accompany the head chef to local markets, shopping for ingredients under his guidance. When they return to ship they experience a hands-on cookery class in the show kitchen where a five-course tasting menu is prepared, accompanied by paired wines. At some other restaurants, such as the Chef’s Table and the World Café, passengers sample an Italian tasting menu, or a variety of Venetian, Nordic, French and Chinese dishes, as well as regional variations, depending on the location. A favourite eating spot is Mamsen’s named after the founder’s mother, which serves Norwegian specialities at breakfast and lunch, and delicious Nordic pastries and open sandwiches.

Apart from eating well, you can also live well on this cruise with many calming treatments. The Liv Nordic Spa is designed for intense relaxation and mental healing, or guests can opt for the Nordic Bathing Ritual in the spa’s thermal suite which detoxes and eases tired muscles. In the sauna, birch twigs are used to stroke your body creating an awakening dry brushing sensation. There’s also an infinity pool, main pool with retractable dome, jacuzzi and fitness centre, and spaces for yoga and Pilates. For those who enjoy games, you can have a go at table tennis, shuffleboard, scrabble, or bocce ball which is similar to bowls.

In these days of tourism appealing to the culturally curious, Viking’s destination-focused ocean cruises attract people who want to learn more about the history of each port. This includes on board talks, followed by guided shore excursions and a panoramic city tour. For those wishing to immerse themselves in Nordic history, the ship comes with an excellent exhibition area, scale models of Viking long ships in glass cabinets, and a well-stocked library with books about countries of the north, exploration, travel, history and art. The walls in the public areas, such as the elegant Living Room, are decorated with artwork. Here you can view prints by Edvard Munch, a Norwegian expressionist painter whose best-known work is ‘The Scream’, and who is regarded as one of the world’s most famous artists.

Well-appointed cabins come in five different categories from the stateroom up to the biggest which are called explorer suites. All rooms have their own private bathroom with shower, heated floors and steam-free mirrors, a veranda, mini-bar with soft drinks, television, hair dryer and charging points. Onboard entertainment includes a string quartet, cabaret, films, as well as Abba and Beatles nights.

The Viking company is regarded as the world’s leading small ship cruise line operator with a fleet of 65 vessels. The ships are all identical in design and layout, and because of their size of 48,000 tons, they can access ports that large ships miss and consequently remain longer. Viking Sun is the fifth ocean ship, while Viking Orion will set sail later in 2018, and Viking Jupiter in 2019. Up to 930 guests can be accommodated on a variety of itineraries that start in Scandinavia and the Baltic, through to the Western and Eastern Mediterranean and further afield.

For cruise lovers wishing to splash the cash, Viking Sun is handling the world’s longest continuous around-the-world trip. It is spread over 245 days with 930 passengers and will call at 113 ports in 59 countries, visiting every continent, except Antarctica. Prices for a basic room start from £66,990 per person, roughly equivalent to £500 per day. For a more modest outlay you can enjoy a week’s winter cruising on the same ship from £1,490 per person, or from £2,790 for a summer cruise in the Mediterranean.

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Viking Sun Brings a Touch of Scandinavia to Belfast