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SHIP REVIEW: VIKING ORION
Wine and beer are served free with meals, though you
can buy a premium drinks package for $28 a night. We
opted for one during our Chef’s Table meal, and were
served an Italian Pinot Grigio, an American Riesling and
a Loire Valley dessert wine, accompanied by a running
commentary from our sommelier. As an aside, we loved
the way the staff at every restaurant made it a point to
fill your glass just before nine, when free pourings stop.
There is an included shore tour at every port, and we
found most of them informative and entertaining.
The spa’s snow grotto – a Viking exclusive – steam
room, pool and sauna are free, and spa staff members
are under instruction not to upsell. In fact, we never felt
pressured to buy anything – a very pleasant change
from some lines that need onboard revenue to survive.
We stayed in a Deluxe Veranda (270 square feet) with
Nespresso coffee maker, soft drinks in the mini bar and
snacks that were also free of charge.
While maintaining Viking is not a luxury line – there
are no butlers, for example – there are many more
inclusions than most, making Viking Ocean hard to
place in the customary cruise ship categories.
We would call it upper premium at a great price
point. For Australians, it’s a value proposition that’s
hard to resist. According to the ship’s General Manager
Marcel Gademan, Australians are already Orion’s
second biggest market for cruises in the region.
Many on board Orion for this trip are Viking newbies,
attracted by the size and style. Noreen from Brisbane is
on her fourth Viking ocean trip – an astonishing record
considering it’s a brand new line.
“We’ve found the one we like,” she told us. “The food,
the décor – we really like it all.”
Like Torstein’s river fleet, the ocean vessels are
identical in almost every aspect, so passengers feel at
home right away – even executive chef Edward Phillips
HIGHS: Great food, service, design and amazing
inclusions at great value.
LOWS: One or two free shore excursions on our
inaugural Asian cruise were arduous and hard to
follow, with guides who need more training in
what Viking’s guests are really after.
BEST SUITED TO: The 55-plus, well-travelled cruiser
looking for a fresh experience aboard a ship that has
really nailed this important market.
Seabourn,” he told us. “We allow our guests to do what
they want to do. The ship is their home. Viking is a very
We talked to dozens of guests aboard Viking Orion
– mostly well-heeled boomers looking for value – and
their verdict was similar to Noreen’s: “This is the one”.
Pricewise, Viking sits at around $466 a day per person
significant difference from Silversea’s $620 a day
and Seabourn’s $892 for Asian journeys.
In a highly contested upper-premium to luxury
segment, Viking’s value proposition will be hard to beat
and is likely to prove very popular. We think Einstein
would have been a fan.
claims consistency in flavor across the fleet is a passion,
and the menus, apart from local dishes, are exactly the
same. If that sounds boring, it isn’t.
Food is a high point. Manfredi’s – impishly named
after one of rival ultra-luxe line Silversea’s owners –
is one of the best Italian restaurants we’ve sampled.
The steak is a sensation and the zabaglione stunning,
considering we are thousands of miles from its heritage.
The Chef’s Table serves up a series of exclusive
dishes every night and there is a Chef’s Kitchen, where
you can go to local markets with Phillips, then cook
what you bought for lunch.
It’s hard not to compare Viking with luxury lines
but Gademan is very clear about where Viking sits.
“Viking is more of a deluxe ship and not luxury. We
want to be Viking, and not be compared to Regent or
From top: the main
the infinity pool off
“We treasure the tranquillity of sea
days, when reading, games and
good food are the order of the day.”
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