First impressions of Viking Jupiter
I was lucky enough recently to be invited on board to have a look around the recently launched Viking Jupiter, Viking Ocean Cruises’ sixth ocean ship in just four years.
She was looking pretty splendid, docked close by Greenwich Pier with a backdrop of the Docklands’ skyline sparkling in summer sunshine. What a way for visitors to arrive in to London, with historic maritime Greenwich on their doorstep and central London just minutes away by water taxi.
Exactly like her five sister ships, Viking Jupiter has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tonnes and 465 staterooms hosting a maximum of 930 guests. In cruising terms these days, that is deemed a small ship. In my book, small is less than 200 passengers, but this is a great compromise between that and the mega ships carrying 4000+ passengers. She is small enough to be able to dock centrally in larger ports as well as to be able to access shallower ports (like Greenwich) making for quicker access ashore and more interesting itineraries. On the other hand she is large enough to offer an impressive range of facilities including a choice of 11 impressive food and drink outlets, two swimming pools and lots of outside deck space.
The most obvious thing to strike you when you board a Viking ocean ship is the stylish decor and Nordic influences. If like me, you are a fan of Scandinavian design, you will love it. It’s all about space, light, natural materials, neutral tones and Nordic comfort – think fur throws, woollen blankets and open fires (fake of course, this is a ship after all!). There’s amazing artwork everywhere and again, unlike most ships, this is the real deal – carefully curated collections of stunning black & white photographs, modern art pieces and even some genuine Edvard Munch originals. It’s so very, very different to any other ship I’ve ever seen and so very refreshing.
The staterooms on board are just as elegant – they run the length of the ship on both sides, so all have private balconies. That leaves the central area of the ship free for two remarkable areas: the double height Living Room and the spectacular Winter Garden which has a retractable roof.
The other thing I really liked though is the ‘small space’ feel – even within these larger spaces, there are cosy areas where you can relax quietly and not feel like you are part of a horde of people.
Similarly, in the restaurants, the design for each venue is reminiscent of classy city restaurants and whilst, if you wish, you can dine as a group, there are plenty of tables for two and four. There are no supplements to dine in any of the restaurants, although reservations are necessary. There’s even private dining at The Chef’s Table and I loved the idea of The Kitchen Table, an on-board cooking school experience reflecting the cuisine of the destination you are visiting. We were only on board for a few hours, so sadly I didn’t have the chance to test out all the different food outlets but everything I did see looked very inviting, and I’ve heard nothing but good things.
The Viking entertainment concept is also quite different to many other ships. For a start, the ships are adults only and specifically targeting those interested in ‘cultural enrichment’. There are no casinos, no lavish West End shows, no formal nights – instead, expect a series of lectures, intimate evenings with maybe classical piano, jazz music playing or solo performances. Film buffs will enjoy the indoor and outdoor cinemas options. The Nordik Spa looked especially inviting – if anyone knows how to do Spas, it’s the Scandinavians. They’ve even got a special snow room for heaven’s sake. And how many ships can boast a Planetarium I wonder?
Viking clearly have hit on a winning formula with these ships – they recently topped the Which? Magazine survey of best cruise line. And there are no plans to fix what ain’t broke – 10 more ships are now on order for delivery from 2021 bringing the fleet up to 16 ships by 2027.
My ship tour was all too short and the ship was pretty empty as it was a turnaround day between cruises, but the video below gives just a brief taste of what it’s like on board.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Viking Ocean Cruises.