The Viking Ocean Cruises 2022 Grand Polynesia Voyage has come to a triumphant completion in Los Angeles. Our longtime Cruise Specialists Voyage Host, Tom Mullen, shares his thoughts from the last few days of the voyage, which took place January 5 to February 6, 2022.
I’ve often said that on a multi-month World Cruise, there is never enough time to do it all. Looking back on this Viking Ocean 32-day voyage, it truly went by so quickly.
Fellow passengers in our group agreed that one month of cruising, especially being our first cruise since the pandemic began, went extremely fast.
I was very impressed with Viking and am already looking forward to my next sailing with them. More on that in a bit!
Touring Cabins on the Ship
During our time on board I am glad we fit in time to tour various cabins on the ship. They are all very tasteful with the clean lines and Scandinavian design. Viking has six cabin categories and every single one features a veranda. The entry-level Veranda Stateroom is 270 square feet, including the Veranda. Move up to a Deluxe Veranda Stateroom, you receive the same square footage but a slightly earlier access to your cabin on embarkation day (great if you’re ready for a quick afternoon bite or eager to start unpacking), and earlier access to book spa treatments before your cruise. As one might expect, the higher up the ladder you go the more perks like this you’ll receive. Cruise Specialists Cruise Consultants can outline more of the benefits of each category for you. Personally, I stayed in a Deluxe Veranda Stateroom. I found the wardrobe still had plenty of room in it even with the clothes I packed for this month-long voyage. The stateroom is very well planned out, even down to the mini bar.
Going up in size, the Penthouse Veranda Stateroom provides 338 square feet including the private veranda:
…while the Penthouse Junior Suite takes your personal space to more than 400 square feet.
When you reach the Explorer Suite, your stateroom size ranges from 757 to 1,163 square feet including veranda. The amenities include a lovely bathtub and a long, anti-fog mirror which changes into a TV at the switch of a button. Perfect for your bubble bath!
We were not able to tour the Owner’s Suite, with its decadent 1,448 square feet of expansive luxury, because it was occupied by guests. However, you can take a 360-degree tour on Viking’s website. Highlights include multi-room accommodations with a separate bedroom, a separate dining area that seats six, and a private library, wine and music collections curated by Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen. A well-known fact about Viking is that all guests receive one complimentary shore tour in each port. Guests of the Owner’s Suite also receive a complimentary shore excursion with private car and driver for up to four guests in the port city of your choice. Excellent value!
Guests who toured the staterooms with me were impressed by the spacious drawers and closet in all of the staterooms and suites—very important for longer voyages. Also especially appreciated on longer voyages: the Penthouse Junior Suite, Explorer Suite and Owner’s Suite include complimentary laundry, dry cleaning, pressing and shoe shine services. Viking also offers a complimentary self-serve launderette on Decks 3, 4, 5 and 6 with washer, dryer and ironing boards.
Relishing Our Days at Sea
This 32-day voyage included about 3 weeks at sea, with our days in port being throughout about one-week’s time in French Polynesia. This gave us ample time to really get to know the ship and maximize our relaxation. When I first boarded, I thought the ship’s artwork was minimalistic. However, there is plenty of art here, more than you may think! So, I suggest that you do an art tour when you are on a Viking cruise.
There is also an entertaining art tour or scavenger hunt to do with your phone. Viking offers a list of artwork on board you need to find and take a selfie-style photo of yourself with the items. You have a certain amount of time to complete all of the tasks over the course of a few days.
Viking prepares a lovely tea time (every day) and this was a great chance for fellow guests and I to get to know each other and share travel stories.
With Viking being open only to guests 18 years of age or older, it provides a serene backdrop for so many activities, whether you like to crochet or knit, play a game of cards, check the news, read on your book or tablet, and so on. As a Voyage Host I try to learn the leisure habits of all of our clients and I “make the rounds” to check in on them and see how they are doing. I find that most people do tend to flock to a favorite place or two they like to make part of their routine. I also hosted a chat time each day at sea in the open library area for one hour.
During the last several days of the cruise, I had the chance to have dinner in The Chef’s Table Restaurant. This is an intimate setting with extra-knowledgeable staff presenting dinner with a themed menu that changes every three or four days. The two that I attended were named “Xiang” and “Sweet and Salty.” There are five courses with perfectly sized portions and a very nice preparation. A different glass of wine is paired with each course, however, if you like a particular wine, you can stay with it—you don’t have to change to the other ones. I just wished I had booked more dinners there during this cruise. There is no extra charge, so I do recommend reserving at least one dinner for yourself in The Chef’s Table—and book it early so you do not miss out.
Other dining experiences on a more regular basis included The Restaurant (main restaurant) and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant. Here is a photo of me along with three of our lovely guests as we enjoyed a bite and some conversation.
During the cocktail hours there was always plenty of classical music to listen to, along with the guitar player up in the two-level Explorer’s Lounge on Decks 7 and 8. Torshavn, the lively music venue on Deck 2, is ideal for drinks before dinner or afterward, and often featured a musical duo. Viking always includes house wines, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, as I like to say, “to lubricate your lungs.” This is a very popular feature for the passengers and takes some of the formality out of the cruise experience. For most, the included beverages meet the needs, and the prices are very reasonable for drinks served during other times of the day (many wines for $6/glass, for example). For those whose tastes run to premium brands, or who want drinks included throughout the day, Viking offers a “Silver Spirits” beverage package for a flat fee per guest.
In my previous two posts about this cruise, I mentioned some of the lectures that Viking offered. The amount of enrichment they offer is very impressive. Here is an additional listing of fascinating lectures people could enjoy on this voyage:
- France in World Affairs: A Pacific Power
- The Curse of Lazarus: Leprosy in Polynesia
- Sail the Seas with Herman Melville
- Forests of the World
- The History of Wine, Beer and Spirits
- Pacific Rim or Ring of Fire. Trade, Treaties and Tempest?
- The Vikings
- The Vikings on the Move
- Citizens of the Sea
- Q and A with the Officers of the Viking Orion
Hearing from the captain and officers is always so fascinating and I highly recommend that cruisers, no matter how experienced, join these talks as you can always ask questions and learn new things!
Time to Disembark
Disembarkation day was a beautiful sunny morning, and I breathed in the fresh air and watched as we sailed into San Pedro. We were docked shortly before 7 a.m.
Many of us waited patiently in the Viking Living Room lounge area in preparation for debarking. Before we left the ship, the cruise line gave all passengers our COVID-19 test results taken a day prior in preparation for our flights home. To have the cruise line do this on board is great help if you’re flying international or even on a domestic airline.
There were many lovely guests who traveled as part of our Cruise Specialists group and I truly enjoyed getting to know them on this voyage. From leisurely times enjoying tea, to dinners where we lingered and conversed, this is the beauty of cruising! One client remarked she was so happy to not have to cook for a whole month.
The sea has been a part of almost my entire adult life. Although I had never cruised with Viking Ocean before, I can easily say that even after one day on Viking Orion, I felt right at home. There is such a good team from the top and I felt a part of it.
Overall, it was a wonderful cruise, and I am so looking forward to my next cruise with Viking, which will be a Viking River Cruise. It will be on the Nile in September 2023 on board Viking Ra. I hope to see you there.