Passengers:930 Best for: Grown-ups looking for a food- and destination-focused cruise that doesn’t cost the earth. (Viking caters to travelers 55 and older, and no children are allowed on board.)
Sails: Bermuda, The Caribbean, The Mediterranean, Northern Europe, New England and Canada, South America
At a Glance: Launched in 2016, the second of Viking’s ocean ships is virtually identical to its sister ship the Viking Star. Think destination-focused itineraries, onboard lectures, elegant Scandinavian design, and some of the best food at sea.
While many cruise ships seem to have a more-is-more design aesthetic, Viking goes all in on Scandinavian simplicity with warm, blond woods of juniper and ash, low-slung furniture, and made-for-Instagram statement pieces by big-name designers like Frank Gehry and Mario Bellini.
Light-strewn and decked out in blue-and-white striped fabric headboards and navy leather-covered coffee tables, the 464 chic staterooms are roomy enough for you to hole up in with a book on sea days: Sizes range from a 270-square-foot veranda cabin to a 757-square-foot Explorer’s Suite, which has a wraparound balcony and a deep soaking tub. Bonus: Since every stateroom has a veranda, you can eat your room service omelets al fresco.
In keeping with Viking’s no-nickel-and-diming philosophy, everything from unlimited WiFi to alternate restaurant dining to yoga and Pilates classes is wrapped into your cruise fare. Beer and house wine at dinner are also complimentary, as is one shore excursion per port of call. The free options tend to be tours that take you through the highlights of a destination, while more involved outings—like an off-road 4x4 adventure in Seville, for example—generally cost extra.
Food and wine are a priority on this ship, so even if you spent your entire voyage ordering classics like poached salmon at the main dining room or grazing on the excellent sushi at the World Café’s buffet, you’d probably be satisfied. But the other options are too good to skip. Make a reservation at Manfredi’s for Italian fare like beef tartare topped with a quail egg or bistecca Fiorentina. The five-course tasting menu at the Chef’s Table rotates every three days, so you can make repeat visits: “Erling’s Scandinavian Bistro” menu has some truly unique dishes like reindeer-meat stuff ravioli floating in consommé, beetroot granita, and lamb wrapped in cabbage—all paired with wines. The Kitchen is the only restaurant that charges a fee, and that’s because the experience is part meal, part excursion. Passengers go shopping at a local market with the ship’s chefs—say, La Boqueria in Barcelona—then help them prepare the meal for dinner.
There’s no casino onboard, so guests spend their sea days at one of the two main pools. The one at the center of the ship has a retractable roof, but the real stunner is the infinity pool, which cantilevers off the back. For cloudy days, there’s thalassotherapy pool and hot tub in the thermal suite at the spa (access is complimentary), where you can also visit the snow grotto—perfect after a stint in the sauna.