Inside Viking Sun's all-Scandinavian gift shop there's a coffee table book entitled Nordic Style: A Celebration of Scandinavian Life. Its theme encapsulates the Viking Sun itself, an adults-only, casino-free, 930-passenger Norwegian cruise ship. It is an all-sailing, all-stylish showcase of hygge (pronounced "hoo-ga" in Danish and "hyh-geh" in Norwegian), the now internationally fashionable Nordic concept of comfort, contentment and living well.
On this cruise, Viking Sun, which was commissioned only in 2017, is voyaging on a world itinerary. The reviewer was on board for the sector from Papeete, Tahiti to Auckland, New Zealand, with visits to Bora Bora, French Polynesia, and the Bay of Islands in the far north of New Zealand's North Island. There are multiple days at sea as the ship steams across the South Pacific between French Polynesia and the Bay of Islands. But if you're going to be confined aboard a ship then Viking Sun is the one to be on, especially if you're partial to the Scandinavian attitude to life as well as the renowned Nordic design philosophy.
This nine-deck ship's wholly contemporary, hotel-style interior design is a triumph of taste and understatement, terms once rarely uttered in relation to kitsch-laden ocean-liners. Indoors, the large main atrium features a giant screen on which Scandinavian art is projected and all of the ship's public areas are full of carefully-selected Nordic-style furnishings. Elsewhere, there's a stunning wintergarden with its forest of beams reflecting Nordic timbers. Naked flames aren't permitted on cruise liners but there are instead contemporary simulated fireplaces in key locations throughout the ship.
The reviewer's 21-square-metre "deluxe verandah stateroom" with its four-square-metre balcony is on the compact side but, like the rest of the ship, extremely well-designed and tastefully-decorated in calm, muted tones of blue, grey, white and cream, replete with Nordic-style textiles, including cashmere blankets. There's no space for a walk-in wardrobe but the well-designed wardrobe with sliding doors works well enough while the ship's award-winning stateroom bathrooms boast not entirely necessary but welcome under-floor heating and anti-fog mirrors with a natty curved door to the glass shower recess.
Although there's the usual array of fine-dining restaurants, including Manfredi's, an excellent Italian restaurant, the unexpected culinary highlight is the World Cafe, a casual, light-filled buffet-style dining outlet, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with an ever-changing array of dishes. Don't miss the delicious mid-morning Danish-style open sandwiches served at the bar near the Viking Living Room on deck one.
If your idea of the perfect cruise features nights out watching lavish on-board stage productions then you might be a bit dark on Viking Sun. The Scandinavian approach to cruising is low-key, and relaxation and comfort are paramount on-board pursuits. The ship's standout feature is arguably its elaborate LivNordic-branded spa facilities. Celebrating the Scandinavian passion for, nay obsession with wellness, the spa includes a see-it-to-believe-it pre-sauna, circulation-friendly snow grotto. Try it if you dare. There is an impressive collection of Scandinavian artwork and photography, including some original works from the acclaimed Norwegian artist Edvard The Scream Munch,, on display throughout the ship. Each night, by special arrangement with the Munch Museum in Oslo, a selection of the artist's works is displayed on the atrium screen, accompanied by a live musical recital of Scandinavian classics.
Viking Sun shines as a cruise ship for grown-ups. It's unapologetically all-Scandinavian and, just like the Scandinavians themselves, utterly un-ostentatious. It may be the answer to every cruise-sceptic and design devotee's sea-going dreams, your reviewer included.
Viking Cruises, with its fleet of six identical ocean-going ships, offers destination-focused cruises from eight days to Viking Sun's 245-day Ultimate World Cruise departing in August. For bookings phone 138 747 or visit vikingcruises.com.au
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
Lovers of Scandinavian design and the Scandi attitude to life will be in Nordic nirvana aboard this ship.
The cruise features multiple days at sea, but if you're going to be confined to any ship, Viking Sun is the one.