Our cruise on the Viking Sea from London, England to Bergen, Norway was one of, if not the, best trips of our lives. My husband and I have traveled a lot, but neither of us had ever been on a cruise before this trip. I can’t tell you how amazing it was not only to wake up refreshed and ready to explore a new port every day, but also thoroughly enjoy the ship itself and all the amenities it had to offer during our time at sea!
The Viking Sea is an amazing ship that offers more amenities than you can possibly take advantage of, even over the course of a two-week cruise. At full capacity it can accomodate 930 guests. There is a wide variety of staterooms to choose from, all of which feature a balcony so that you can enjoy spectacular ocean views without even leaving the comfort of your suite.
On the upper decks of the ship the Wintergarden and Explorer’s Lounge provide ample space to relax and have a drink, whether it be afternoon tea or something a bit stronger. The Main Pool spans the entire width of the ship, and on both the port and starboard sides there are large cushioned lounge chairs that look out through floor to ceiling windows — a perfect place to lie back and watch the beautiful scenery float by on your days at sea or as you arrive to a new port. On the lower decks, you can enjoy a game of chess or Scrabble while you listen to live classical music. There is also a full spa, and a fitness center for those who want to maintain there exercise routine while roaming the seas.
Every evening the Viking crew offers excellent entertainment in the Star Theater. From musicians to magicians there is something for everyone. And if it’s late and you’re still in the mood for some fun, Torshavn bar offers live music and dancing until midnight!
Every single crew member that we interacted with during our two weeks on board the Viking Sea, from the security team to the waitstaff to the hotel managers and entertainment team, was incredibly friendly and willing to go out of their way to make us feel welcome and comfortable. You can’t ask for better service!
Dining onboard the Viking Sea is a treat! All meals are complimentary, and the food is exceptional! There are several dining options. Some of them are more casual and don't require a reservation, such as the World Cafe (buffet), Pool Grille, Mamsen's, and The Restaurant. There are also two specialty dining options: Manfredi’s, which serves Italian cuisine, and The Chef's Table, which offers a different themed menu every night. On top of that, there's also 24-hour room service. You will never go hungry on this ship!
Our cruise ship departed from London, so the very first day of our trip we spent exploring the capital of Great Britain, a city I am always happy to return to. What turned out to be a hot and sunny day began by taking the train from Greenwich Pier where the ship was anchored all the way to the Chelsea and Kensington area. I love walking around there! There are so many cute colorful streets, beautifully decorated storefronts, and tons of amazing restaurants and cafes.
For lunch, we went to Chicama, a seafood restaurant in Chelsea with a Peruvian inspired cuisine. This place had been on my list for a long time! My expectations were high, and I was not disappointed. The food is made from fresh ingredients, comes on small plates, and the portions are perfect for sharing with friends. We tried almost every single item from the lunch menu and liked all of them, including padron peppers, tapioca marshmallows, popped corn monkfish cheeks, green bean salad, and sea bream ceviche. Needless to say, the place itself is very photogenic! I'm definitely coming back here next time I'm in London.
After lunch, we only had a few more hours to spare, and I thought it would be lovely to take a stroll through Notting Hill because it's one of the most charming areas of London — so quiet and quaint, with lots of interesting shops and cafes, pastel townhouses, bright doors, and vintage cars. We returned to the ship by dinner time and were ready to start our journey up north!
I had traveled to Edinburgh for the first time just a few months prior to this trip. Little did I know I would be back here so soon! Edinburgh looks much different in the summer — blue skies, bright colors, and large crowds of tourists around. My goal was to do the things I didn't have time for in March and also revisit some of my favorite spots. We started the day by walking down the Royal Mile and Victoria Street, stopped by Diagon House — a shop for Harry Potter fans where you can pick up a magic wand, a house scarf, and other treasures from the Harry Potter world. After that we visited the National Museum of Scotland and made our way to Edinburgh Castle. I had tried to go there twice on my last trip, and both times it was not during open hours. On this second visit to Edinburgh I finally I managed to get inside the castle and enjoy some of the best views of the city from there!
After walking around the touristy areas of Edinburgh, it was nice to explore the quieter neighbourhoods. One of them is Dean Village, a place that looks like it's straight out of a fairytale. We ended the day walking through Circus Lane, one of the prettiest streets in Edinburgh.
KIRKWALL (ORKNEY ISLANDS)
As we drove down Orkney’s narrow roads through miles of rolling farmland, we saw cows (in Scotland pronounced “coos”) and sheep roaming everywhere. Our friendly and knowledgeable guide, Lorna, told us about all about Orkney’s amazing history, taking us first to visit the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. These ancient stone monuments were likely built in the Neolithic, between 4,500 and 5,000 years ago.
Afterwards we traveled to the western coast and hiked just under a mile to see the beautiful wave-battered cliffs of Yesnaby. Here the coastal scenery, shaped over millennia into sea stacks and caves by the Atlantic’s relentless weather, is stunning. For our final stop, Lorna brought us to Skara Brae, which is northern Europe’s best-preserved Neolithic village. It was amazing to walk through and travel in time to see how people lived so many years ago.
After a full morning of sightseeing, we ate lunch at one of our guide’s favorite local cafes, Judith Glue. Before returning to the ship, we spent the afternoon walking the streets of Kirkwall.
If you ever get the chance to visit Orkney, book a private tour from See Orkney. Our guide Lorna was the absolute best!
LERWICK (SHETLAND ISLANDS)
In Shetland, as in Orkney, the wind was extreme. If you go to either place, be prepared for wild and crazy hair! Our morning tour, Ancient Civilizations of the Shetlands, took us south to Jarlshof, an amazing archaeological site on the island’s southernmost point that contains the remains of both Bronze and Iron Age structures. Once again, it was amazing to travel back in time to see an ancient way of life at once so different and so similar to our own. On our way back to Lerwick, the main port of the Shetland Islands where our ship was anchored, we stopped briefly in Hoswick, a beautiful little community on the eastern coast.
In the afternoon, purely by chance we ended up with a large bus and tour guide all to ourselves! This time we traveled north from Lerwick through the Tingwall Valley past beautiful freshwater lochs to visit local horse breeder and enthusiast, Carol Fuller. Without a doubt, the highlight of our time in Shetland was when Carol introduced us to Oli, a six week old Shetland pony, and his entire family! This little guy stole our hearts from the moment we set eyes on him, and the rest of his family were extremely affectionate and playful as well.