We became empty nesters when our twins left for college, and for the first time in 19 years, we were back to living as a couple (at least until fall break). We certainly missed our kids, and frankly, we were a little jealous of the new lives they were off to enjoy. Luckily, we joined Viking Ocean Cruises on a Romantic Mediterranean cruise just a few months after our kids left for school.
We expected to love our journey around the Mediterranean, but we were surprised to discover that our first trip with Viking Ocean Cruises was so perfect for empty nesters like us. Here are 10 reasons we think all empty nesters will love Viking Cruises style of travel.
1. Viking Cruises Are Great Value and Inclusive Pricing
Viking Ocean Cruises are an exceptionally good value because nearly everything you will need is included in your booking price. Unlike most cruises, Viking packs a lot of extras into the booking fee including:
- free wifi throughout the ship
- an included excursion at every port
- wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
- alternative dining experiences and 24/7 room service
- unlimited use of the Nordic spa
- a free self-service laundry, detergent included
The only extras you’ll need to cover are tips and cocktails; though optional excursions and spa treatments are available if you want them. With all those included services it’s easy to budget for your trip and you’ll never feel nickel-and-dimed. Viking Cruises offer many special promotions throughout the year, including free airfare and two-for-one pricing, so check the website for the latest deal.
2. Adult Ambience
We have loved traveling as a family for the last 19 years, but our schedule always revolved around the school calendar, and we were rather gleeful at the idea of traveling in the off season. It felt especially decadent to be on a ship with only adults on board (children 12 and over are allowed but there weren’t any on our trip).
We missed our kids, really, but they were off enjoying a life surrounded by other young adults, why shouldn’t we be surrounded by other boomers? Plus, we never had to experience family envy, like we might if surrounded by other folk’s adorable children and not our own.
3. Viking Cruises Elegant Staterooms
Our stateroom on the Viking Star was sleek and comfy, with a king size bed; a small couch, chair, and desk; a roomier than expected bathroom; and a private veranda. It was shaped a little like the dorm rooms we had just helped our teens move into, but of course, much more elegant than any dorm.
Everything about the stateroom made our journey comfortable, including the quality bath products, roomy shower, fluffy bathrobe, flat screen TV, and array of US and European charging outlets.
4. New Learning Every Day
As we worked our way through college tours, orientations, move-ins, and family weekends, we found ourselves feeling envious of all that new learning. Fortunately, our Romantic Mediterranean journey with Viking Ocean Cruises was the perfect envy antidote. We visited six ports in four countries and spent every day learning and seeing something new.
The complimentary port excursions gave us an excellent overview of each new destination, bolstered by on-board presentations, a lending library, and lots of time in port to explore on our own.
Since Viking Cruises do not have casinos on board they have no urgency to get out to sea (the only time ships can operate casinos) and instead they maximize time in port. We generally arrived by 8:00 am and departed after 8:00 pm, allowing the full day to explore on land or relax on board.
5. Delicious Dining on Viking Cruises, All Included
Most cruises offer a lot of food, but we were impressed with the variety and quality of the dining experiences available to us on the Viking Star. Best of all, there were no assigned seatings, so we could eat when we chose and sit where we wanted.
The World Cafe offered an array of buffet-style options at every meal, but they also prepared daily seafood, pastas, and other specials à la minute. Fine dining at The Chef’s Table and Manfredi’s, Norwegian specials at Mamsen’s, casual meals at the Pool Grill, lovely afternoon tea in the Wintergarden, and round-the-clock room service in our stateroom meant we were never bored with our choices.
In fact, we had to be careful not to overindulge and gain our own “freshman 15” during our trip.
6. Art and Entertainment on Viking Cruise Voyages
The heritage of the Viking Era inspires the art and design throughout the ship. In Wintergarden, open-work partitions depict the story of Odin’s ravens, traveling to destinations throughout the seven seas. Constellations in the Explorers Lounge evoke traditional ocean navigation relying on the stars.
Even the stairwell offers a lesson in art and history, with a reproduction of the Bayeux Tapestry extending eight full decks. Entertainment includes shows, movies, and lectures in The Theater; music and dancing in the Torhavn nightclub; music and talks in the Atrium, and even movie nights at the pool.
We enjoyed ending our busy days with a few games of backgammon in the Atrium or a nightcap in the Explorers Lounge.
7. No Packing, No Driving, No Worries
One of the best things about traveling by cruise ship is that the ship and crew do all the work of travel, while you enjoy all the fun. Unpack once on day one, and you have very few other responsibilities except to relax and enjoy yourself—no luggage and connections to manage, no cooking or cleaning up, and so many enticing spaces around you.
New empty nesters rejoice; you’ve done the hard work of getting your kids to college, now let someone else take charge for a bit.
8. More Time to Kick Back and New Places to Do It
While your responsibilities are few, your pleasures are many. The Nordic-style thermal spa on board the Viking Star included hot tub, steam room, warm pool, heated lounges, and even a snow room, and it was available all day long whether you booked a spa treatment or not.
On the top deck you could lounge in the sun, play on the putting green or shuffle board court, try the workout circuit, or just stare at the sea. There are beautiful, cozy spaces for relaxing all over the ship, and we loved trying them all.
9. A Gorgeous New View Everyday
All cabins on Viking Ocean Cruises ships are exterior, and they all have verandas with outdoor seating, so you can enjoy beautiful views throughout your journey. There is something magical about waking up, opening your curtain, and getting your first look at a new port, or a beautiful sunrise.
The beautiful views extend throughout the ship, including in the dining area where sliding windows can be opened in warm weather. Viking offers more al fresco dining than any other cruise ship, and the indoor pool even features a retractable roof.
10. A Chance to Make New Friends
When people are relaxed and well fed in a beautiful space, they tend to be friendly. We loved chatting with fellow travelers on our tours, at meals, or relaxing in the lounge. The Viking staff was very friendly too, and it was fun to hear stories of what brought them to the Viking Star. Again, we were living our own mini-college experience, meeting new people, sharing new stories, and making new friends.
Viking Cruises deliver an ideal combination of relaxation, celebration, exploration, value, and fun that make a perfect getaway for empty nesters, especially when your nest is newly vacated by college-bound kids.
For another cruise line experience focused on adult travelers, see 8 Reasons Carnival Journeys Are Ideal For Adult Travelers.
Article by Julie McCool, whose Northern Virginia travel site FuninFairfaxVA.com helps locals and visitors find fun places to explore, dine, drink, and play in the Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland area.