Food! I’m a big foodie and always have high expectations for food when I get on board a ship. Many lines are renowned for having very good cuisine, so it’s always interesting to compare.
All food on board Viking is included within the cruise fare. That is the main restaurant, smaller eateries, the World Café buffet, all alternative dining and 24-hour room service. That is an epic offering.
A lot of drink is also included. Viking serves complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner. You can also purchase a ‘silver spirits’ beverage package (for $19.95 per day) that includes all drinks and cocktails on board. When compared to other lines this is great value.
To make a long story short, I was blown away by the food and options on board Viking Sea. It’s definitely up there in competing with and in some ways excelling what I’ve had with other lines and even some of the best restaurants I’ve eaten at in London and elsewhere. Here’s a look at the various offerings on board, my mouth is watering just thinking about it all.
The main restaurant is open typically for breakfast and dinner. There are a mixture of small and large tables depending on your group size and how social you want to be. The restaurant also features a bar in the middle, though on our sailing it wasn’t really used.
During breakfast you can expect table-service with all the usual choices from cereals, hot and cold selections and things such as pancakes. For dinner, there is a wide variety of options available, with daily specials, regional menu options and everyday options. This provides Something for everyone each night. I was a particular fan of the regional options, drawing upon local influences and cuisine. What’s great is that you can pick and choose from all three elements of the menu to customise your experience.
This is one of the two alternative restaurants found on board, producing a variety of Italian fare. It is by far the best Italian I’ve had at sea, but beware, come prepared with an appetite.
A wide variety of options are available, from a range of freshly made pastas, to Osso Bucco, a variety of seafood, or the signature 12-oz Bistecca Fiorentina steak (which was incredible!). Whatever you choose you won’t be disappointed, it’s all delicious. Just remember to save room for desert, including the Nutella panna cotta or my personal favourite, Tiramisu.
I am a big fan of tasting menus, particularly with wine pairing. The Chef’s table is exactly this, with rotating themed menus throughout the cruise. I only had the opportunity to go once, but I would return in a heart beat.
There are a number of menus which rotate during the course of the cruise. These include Asian Panorama, Venice Carnival, amongst others. This is not something to be rushed, with five courses, an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser. You should also be prepared to expect the unexpected and have faith in the menu, as well as the wine selections. Our sommelier made a point about trusting him to the pairings, which on paper could be questionable, but in reality were a total delight.
We experienced La Route des Indes, an exploration of flavour and spices. This included an amuse bouche of a carrot & cardamom cream, a first course of spicy tuna tataki, a main of beef tenderloin with four warm spices and an apple Délice façon tarte tatin. Delicious! Each course was genuinely exceptional. Some people struggle with tasting menus due to preferences and allergies but the chefs were keen to ensure your experience was the best it could be, amending the menu as required to meet your needs.
Some may struggle because they consider this sort of experience stuffy, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This was a refreshing and enjoyable experience, mirrored by the light décor of the restaurant.
By far this was my favourite food experience on board and some of the best cuisine I’ve eaten both on and off land.
The World Café and Pool Grill
The World Café buffet on board Viking Sea offers a variety of fare throughout the day. The food available is made fresh for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The quality of the food really does not do the word ‘buffet’ justice, as it really was exceptional.
Located at the top of the ship you are able to sit inside a comfortable restaurant space or choose to eat al fresco on the aquavit terrace. Expect a wide variety of offerings across the day to suit all tastes. Of particular note were the daily waffles with orange butter and maple syrup, some lovely looking curry during the day and in the evening the selection of sushi on offer. The open kitchen, which forms part of the setup, was more than happy to accommodate any needs and produce bespoke items.
Next to the café was the Pool Grill. This is very much an upmarket burger bar, offering a variety of burgers and hot dogs. My personal favourite were the tasty (and rather messy) buffalo chicken wings.
Located within the Explorers Lounge this is a little gem in the crown of Viking Sea. This is a Norwegian Deli which features recipes from the lines’ Presidents mothers’ cook book. You can expect a variety of open sandwiches, pastries and soups. Of all this you must try the amazing waffles. Freshly cooked, they are topped with Norwegian cheese, chocolate sauce and fruit.
Afternoon tea is one of my favourite things, and it is a daily event on Viking Cruises. Head up to the Wintergarden, take a seat as the space comes alive with live music. A large selection of tea is available, accompanied by warm, freshly made scones, as well as cakes and sandwiches. I couldn’t do the atmosphere justice, but Jamie from Explore with Ed perfectly captured it below (you should visit his amazing site here)
There are a number of bars across the ship. My favourite has to be the Aquavit Bar found adjacent to the Aquavit Terrace. Order a cocktail, sit down and watch the sun set over the stern of the ship as you sail on to your next destination – bliss!
Other bars include Pops, found within the Explorers Lounge, the Living Room bar found in the atrium and Torshavn (but more about that on another post), to name but a few. No bars ever felt overly busy and you never had to wait to get served.
A line’s ability to provide for its passengers varies massively. In speaking with the chefs and staff on board, they are very willing to try to accommodate needs as much as possible. All meals have some form of vegetarian options, but the line recommends contacting them of any dietary requirements in advance of the cruise (90 days before in fact) so that they can be aware and plan ahead to make your cruise enjoyable. Day-to-day this will mean that they will provide slips to passengers a day before their meal with choices available, where the the galley will then make a specific dish for you on the day. Even at the chef’s table, where the menu is quite complicated, they were more than happy to create a version of the menu that suited individual needs in order that everyone could partake in the experience together.