ABOARD THE VIKING SKY — Last year, just about the same time of year, we sailed for two weeks in the Baltic Sea aboard the Viking Star. So it was lovely that when we boarded the Viking Sky for this cruise that we saw so many familiar faces.
There were our two favorite bartenders, Natasha and Igor. The restaurant manager Jon. The cruise director Aaron. Several of the entertainers. And others, whose names we did not recall but faces were familiar. But the ship is small enough, just over 900 passengers, that it is easy to remember outstanding service. Of course, it is no surprise that many of the key staff are working on the Viking Sky, the company’s newest ship – at least until earlier this week, when the Viking Sun went into service.
As I have said before, happy crew means a happy ship and that is so true for Viking. So many crew members have told us how much they enjoy working for this company. It certainly shows.
Last night we had our first opportunity to dine in a specialty restaurant, The Chef’s Table, which serves a five-course set menu that changes every three days. We enjoyed a new menu called “Anthony’s French Bistro” which featured a lovely consommé, a goat cheese in puff pastry appetizer, a red current liqueur granita, sole as the entrée and a raspberry confection for dessert.
Accompanying this feast were five premium wine pairings. This usually costs an additional $25 but was included in the Silver Spirits beverage package which we had each purchased for this cruise. Several of these wines were unfamiliar and it was nice to have the opportunity to sample them.
Tonight we will have our first opportunity dine in Manfredi’s, the Italian specialty restaurant. This was our favorite on our previous Viking ocean cruise and we hope it will be again. We have been exceptionally pleased with the food on board this ship. It has been excellent in all venues thus far.
About ten days ago, we received an email from Viking informing us of a change in itinerary for yesterday. Because of new speed restrictions in the St. Lawrence river we would not be able to make Prince Edward Island in time for our tours so it was decided to substitute Gaspé in Quebec instead.
I had visited this area about 30 years ago and had vivid memories of a two-day stay. However, I must say that the included Viking tour to Forillon National Park was a disappointment on many levels…possibly because the tours were put together at the last minute. We rode on school busses, the stops were not well explained and we were mixed with about 200 rambunctious middle school children at our main stop. Our guide admitted it was his first day and we were his second tour. He tried, but it was painfully obvious.
Little matter. No trip is ever perfect and we enjoyed the fact that the sun came out and there was a considerable amount of fall color. Also, I was able to pick up some of those delicious maple cream cookies (which seem to be a Quebec delicacy) and some cheddar cheese curds for snacking at the local grocery.
Today is a quiet day at sea. Again, the skies of grey and overcast so not much time is being spent on deck. Temps are around 50 degrees F. The slow pace gave us the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely lunch in the main restaurant and then we attended a port talk about Halifax which we will visit tomorrow.
Although wi-fi is included for all on this cruise, it is painfully slow today – probably because we are out to sea and so many on board are trying to access the internet at one time. But as my brother-in-law Carl commented, “Well, since we aren’t paying for it I guess we really can’t complain.”
I had just finished writing this article when the doorbell rang on our cabin. It was our daily 4 p.m. delivery of ice and my husband answered the door. The cabin steward making the delivery said, “Weren’t you on the Viking Star last year?” We said yes, and recognized him as our previous cabin steward, I Komang from Indonesia. He then said, “Yes! You were in cabin 3031.” I trust that he doesn’t remember us for doing something dreadful, but what was I saying about a really special crew?? I even still had his photo on my computer.