Do you think you are a Thinking Cruiser?

My first experience on a 4-day cruise was somewhat mixed. I enjoyed the romance of being in the open seas, spectacular sunsets, and unlimited champagne flutes. I could walk to the restaurant, bar, entertainment, and my room. It was nice to have everything under one roof. The trip made me question, am I a thinking Cruiser?

Zodiac for passengers at Eidfjord, Norway
Cruises are for older people.

Aside from the kids traveling with their families, I felt I was one of the youngest paying passengers (if not, the youngest), onboard. The average age on this particular ship was 70+, yet it was fun to see grandmas and grandpas rocking the dance floor in their best gowns and suits each night.

The 2019 ocean cruise ship, Viking Jupiter
The 2019 ocean cruise ship, Viking Jupiter
Not a fan of water slides and sun tans.

Though food and drink were plentiful, they were of mediocre quality. There was a big pool, but it was alway full of unruly kids. Crowded casinos, Broadway shows and poker games did not amuse me.

The good news is that not all cruises are like that. In fact, on my recent Viking cruise, I discovered an entire new way of cruising that involves exceptional food, quiet spaces to relax, and educational programs…for adults only!

Viking is a Norwegian family-owned cruise company, with a fairly new fleet of ships is designed in modern Nordic style. Think shiny wood floors, tasteful minimalist decor, locally sourced art, and tons of books written by international authors. You could wander around just looking at the artwork, or cozying up in a comfy couch reading a good book. Though my Viking Jupiter ship (released May 2019, 6th ocean vessel in the Viking family) had around 900 passengers, it never felt crowded!

 Explorers Lounge on the cruise ship
Explorers Lounge
Being on a ship is so boring.

Viking calls itself the “thinking person’s cruise” and that’s exactly how I felt on this 7-day (portion of Viking Homelands) cruise from Berlin, Germany to Bergen, Norway. This ship offered Ted Talks on history and life, a Planetarium with 3-D shows, Q&A roundtables with resident experts, classical music performances, and shore exertions that were insightful.

Home visit in Stavanger, Norway
Home visit in Stavanger, Norway
You never get to see the real destination.

This ship offers at least one free shore exertion at every port. The optional ones ranged from city tours and museum visits to kayaking in the Norwegian fjords and helicopter tours. On two of the tours, I went to private homes and had conversations with them (something very rare for cruise ships to offer). Most days, the ship docked for the entire day, allowing plenty of time to explore the destination.

LivNordic Spa
You can to pay for all the extras.

The best spot on Viking Jupiter for me was their LivNordic Spa, possibly the largest floating spa. Based on the Nordic bathing practice, the facilities include a dry sauna, steam room, icy plunge pool, snow room, ice bucket, and indoor heated pool with a fireplace. The spa is free to all guests (you don’t have to book a service to use the amenities), but it was never crowded either.

Breakfast at Mamsen's on the cruise ship
Breakfast at Mamsen’s
The food sucks.

I had the best “cruise ship food” on Viking as well (I have traveled on a few different cruise lines before). There were international menu offerings as well as local destination features. Mamsen, has amazing Norwegian waffles with brown cheese and berries, for breakfast every day (I even returned home and purchased a 5 hearts waffle maker). Not being a fan of buffets, I returned to The World Cafe (their buffet restaurant) several times. It featured an all-you-can-eat sushi bar that had fresh sushi rolls and gelato counter (also made from scratch). There was also a dedicated Italian restaurant, a chef’s table, afternoon high tea, and several other bars and restaurants.

Service on the ship is great, the friendly staff always greeting us and offering free house drinks (the house wines changed daily and were pretty good). When taking orders, the waiter would already know my dietary restrictions by pulling up my name or room number on his/ her app.

Sushi bar at The World Cafe on our Viking Cruise
Sushi bar at The World Cafe
Rooms look outdated.

As I was on a new ship, staterooms were not stuffy or damp. They were bright, fresh, and functional. USB charging ports, coffee makers, desk space, closets, and comfortable beds with in-room balconies made the stay enjoyable. The bathroom was also a decent size with underfloor heating.

I will get sick and spoil my vacation.

Lastly, I am prone to seasickness and always carry motion sickness patches with me. On this ship, I never once felt sick! The modern technology of the new ship makes it very stable.

Hopefully, this helped you dispel some of the myths about cruising, which Viking did for me, a seasoned traveler. I strongly believe you have to find the ship to match your personality.

So, next time you say, “I’m not a Cruiser,” think again!

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Sucheta Rawal

Sucheta is an award winning food and travel writer, who has traveled to over 90 countries across 7 continents. She is also the founder and editor of 'Go Eat Give' and author of 'Beato Goes To' series of children's books on travel.