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Here are some travel tips for secret things to do on Viking ocean cruises I have learned from my two itineraries and from insiders. If you experience none of the following things to do on Viking ocean cruises, you will still have a great time.
I just completed my second Viking ocean cruise, the Into the Midnight Sun itinerary on Viking Sea. My first Viking ocean cruise was the Romantic Mediterranean voyage on Viking Star.
Viking will soon have four ocean vessels and they are pretty much identical.
Secret Things to Do on Viking Ocean Cruises
Food: World Cafe
For World Cafe meals, bypass the buffet crowd at the start and go directly to the middle of the hot food section and check out the chef’s specials. For lunch and dinner, look for fresh prawns, steaks, pasta entrees, and more. Even better, you can request your own combos. One day lamb curry was on the buffet line and I asked for prawn curry. Another time I requested fresh prawns be added to spicy pasta arrabbiata being prepared out back (see below).
For breakfast, the World Cafe chefs prepare made to order omelets and turkey bacon. I order spinach for my omelet, which is not in their rotation, but the chef found some. Same with olives. I think he visits the main pantry (5 levels below) for these “unusual” ingredients.
Two times on our current cruise, cooks set up stations in the back of World Cafe. Located between the Aquavit bar (say hello to Eddie!) and the pool area, at these stations cooks prepared super fresh seafood (sea bass and mussels one night) and pasta dishes. As I mentioned above, I ordered grilled prawns from the main World Cafe and had it added to a spicy pasta dish here. I cause so much trouble!
However, World Cafe usually only has romaine and mixed salads. I noticed the nearby Pool Grill has bowls of arugula and better looking mixed salad. So, I grab a plate of salad from the Pool Grill and fill up with other World Cafe buffet goodies (like grilled prawns).
Food: Other Viking Ocean Places
Order 1/2 portions of pasta dishes at Manfredi’s. I ordered a 1/2 portion of seafood paella (an entree) for an appetizer one night in The Restaurant. By the way, the bistecca (Florentine style steak) at Manfredi’s is remarkable.
Check for special nights at The Restaurant. On our current itinerary there is a lobster night and a scallops night (separate nights!). Since Manfredi’s and Chef’s Table reservations are made in advance, you will have to shuffle if they conflict with lobster night.
When you decide to explore on your own—like we did in Molde Norway with a hike to Varden viewpoint (amazing)—request a lunch box from Viking guest services. They will pack a box for you with a sandwich, apple, and goodies.
We finally tried the Viking cruise room service. Just like a typical vacationing US resident in Europe, I ordered a hot dog and apple pie. It made for a yummy midnight snack.
Oh, definitely order a scrumptious Mamsen’s waffle. Mamsen’s is located at the starboard entrance to the Explorer’s Lounge. They also provide other Norwegian food items, including late night service. But the waffle is the star of the show.
Please also see my article Viking Star Dining Options.
Personal Entertainment / In Your Cabin
Ask your cabin attendant or Guest Services for foam pillows. Ahhhh.
Use your own ear buds for the QuietVox audio set. QuietVox sets are used on many excursions (tours) and for port departure/arrival lectures. Your own ear buds will be more comfortable and likely have better sound quality.
Watch Port Talks in your room. The port talks in the Star Theater are popular and informative, plus a chance to see the fabulous Heather Clancy live. We learned, though, that the talks are recorded and available to watch on the stateroom television system. So, you can watch the fabulous Heather Clancy and the other Viking shows 24×7.
Watch the Bridge Cam from the comfort of your bed. Every Viking stateroom comes with its own balcony, which you know from a prior McCool Travel article: 8 Great Reasons Viking Cruises Are a Fantastic Value. However, you can only see the view on one side of the ship from your balcony. Watching the Bridge Cam on your TV provides the scoop on what is coming up so you can leave when the scenery gets good.
Pack light for your Viking ocean cruise and leave these items at home: binoculars, robe, slippers, umbrella, toiletries. Viking even provides laundry soap for the washers. Wicked cool. Just remember to press the button to dispense the detergent, unlike yours truly (duh!).
The tissue box in the bathroom makes a nice amplifier for your smartphone music.
Included tours have more flexibility than optional tours. Request an earlier or later included tour if desired. Later tours generally have the most empty seats. The last bus in a time slot also is most likely to have extra seats.
You can arrange two tours in one day. Do an optional excursion in the morning and an included excursion in the afternoon. Or vice versa. Treat yo self!
Add yourself to waiting lists for popular excursions. Some optional excursions quickly fill up. However, when there is enough demand, multiple tours may open. That happened for us with the Husky Hike. The afternoon session was booked very early. We were waitlisted. Later a morning session was added.
Ship Areas: Leaving Port
In general, avoid crowds by doing things when other people are not. Do laundry last at night or during an excursion day. When leaving the port, go to the spa.
When leaving a port, you will find better views on the Sports Deck (level 9). Most people flock to the Explorer’s Lounge (levels 7 and 8) but the QuietVox set still works on the Sports Deck in case you want to hear the lecture.
When leaving port (and other scenic times), people arrive early for the front row chairs in the Explorer’s Lounge. Two problems. One, a big wooden rail blocks your view. Two, when cool stuff happens, people go to the outside deck and block your view. If you are committed to sitting, try the upstairs front row chairs in the Explorer’s Lounge where people cannot stand in front of you.
When ships leave ports, wifi works well in the rest of the ship. Why? Because most people are in the Explorer’s Lounge listening to the talks. Wifi also works better during big shows, when most people are on excursions, and in the middle of the night. But wifi is not the primary reason for a Viking ocean cruise. Right?
More Things to Do on Viking Ocean Cruises
Find blankets for cooler temps and towels for warmer times in the relatively quiet sitting area on level 8 aft.
Insert foam ear plugs while walking the decks. I do not have the natural insulation (that is, hair!) to protect my ear canal from cold winds. But I still like my walks and level 2 is a perfect 1/4 mile track. I walked 5K (or more) on sea days in the North Sea and the foam ear plugs worked well for me.
Request basic supplies from the spa or Medical Center. I cut my foot on the bathroom door (don’t try it!) and exhausted my emergency Neosporin and Band-Aid stash. One day the spa gave us a Band-Aid. I then made two trips to the Medical Center, where they gave me some one-time use antibacterial ointments and bandages (no charge).
After dinner on many nights, my wife and I played backgammon in the Atrium. On the second floor, we could watch and listen to the classical trio down on the first level. The rolling of the dice, though, I thought might bother them. It probably did not but it was cool to find some nearby video game tables. The video game tables in the Atrium include backgammon, blackjack, air hockey, checkers, and more.
Take a Galley Tour. Over 100 people work in the food operations on a Viking ocean cruise and their workspace is simply amazing. From the efficiency of the breakfast room service to the gelato machines, it is fun to see. I know of two secret ways to see a Viking ocean cruise galley but ask Guest Services how you can best tour it.
Please also see my article 8 Great Viking Cruises Secrets.
What other secret things to do on Viking ocean cruises would you add to this list?