“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Our Ship, the Viking Sea

Before I continue with a description of the various ports we visited, let me tell you about the ship. It is one of Viking’s new ocean-cruising ships, built in 2016 and designed to allow direct access to smaller ports, such as Montreal and Bergen, Norway. It carries 930 passengers on ten decks with 550 crew members, which is an excellent ratio. I found the small size has advantages and disadvantages, which I’ll discuss in a bit.

Amenities include a great spa and small fitness center and a sports deck with outdoor workout stations, an open-air yoga practice area, a putting green, a wraparound jogging track, and bocce and shuffleboard courts. There is an infinity pool aft and a larger pool amidships with a retractable roof and flanked by two lanais with lovely chaise lounges for looking out over the sea (which we could rarely get because people ‘save’ them). In addition to the main dining room and the World Café smorgasbord, there are three “alternative dining” restaurants—Manfredi’s {my favorite), The Chef’s Table, and The Kitchen Table; there are also two private dining rooms. Two cinemas and a theater for live entertainment plus a movie screen at the pool provide lots of opportunity for amusement. My favorites among several bar/lounges were the Explorers’ Lounge and the Wintergarden Lounge. There were two shops on board for very expensive jewelry and very expensive Viking-themed merchandise. Avid shoppers though we are, we did not buy anything.

Not much to say about the cabin, which was pretty typical for a cruise ship. It was nicely appointed with comfortable beds and a sitting area, as well as a good-sized veranda, which is probably what makes it a “deluxe veranda cabin.” Even though the weather was rather brisk and frequently rainy, I enjoyed sitting outside sometimes. Added deluxe perks were the heated tile floor in the bathroom (which we used as a shoe dryer after Saguenay) and the free snacks and drinks in the minibar, which is just about unheard of anywhere. The meals in the dining room were simply excellent, as was the service, but Manfredi’s was the real standout for me with some truly delicious Italian fare.

Let me talk about the size of the ship. It’s too large to be intimate like a Viking river cruise where you pretty much get to know everyone aboard, passengers and crew. In that regard it lacked warmth. On the other hand, it was too small to offer the wide variety of venues and activities that are available on the big cruise ships to keep their guests occupied during days at sea. However, it does allow access to ports that would be impossible for a larger craft to maneuver.

Which brings me to the weather. Once we left the St. Lawrence, we ventured out into the North Atlantic, rather rough at this time of year. The size of a big ship with its stabilizers greatly minimizes the rocking, but on a ship this small you really feel it. The night after we left Nova Scotia, the seas were high enough to wake us up—felt like we might roll out of our berths! Dramamine was thought about.

All in all, I will continue to use Viking for their generally excellent food and crew and amenities, but I’ll stick to their river cruises.