It’s two weeks into the world’s longest cruise on the Viking Sun and we find out from Australian couple, Roger Foenander and David Mutton, just what it’s like to be aboard.
The record breaking 245-day Ultimate World Cruise is Roger, 71, and David’s, 62, third world cruise. They were on Viking’s inaugural world cruise in 2018 and just earlier this year, completed a world cruise segment and they are excited to be back on the seas again.
If their names sound familiar, it’s because the ‘committed cruisers’ who spend between two and eight months at sea every year previously shared with Cruise Passenger how they managed to ‘retire at sea’.
Read what the couple thought about their first weeks on the Viking Sun, who they have met on board and what are they most looking forward to in the next eight months.
And find out how they keep in touch with their family and friends across different timezones without the help of Facebook.
“We do not update by posting on Facebook anymore, we stopped over 18 months ago and recently we have taken down our Facebook page completely. We feel that Facebook is very impersonal and is really a source of a lot of empty “noise” in most cases. We can personalise our emails to individuals. This of course takes a lot more time and effort but we think that it generates a more personal and genuine connection with people,” says the couple.
They also share their packing tips and how they plan to keep their weight down – a challenge as they are greeted with delicious food daily!
“We do not drink alcohol or soft drinks before dinner, and we try to have alcohol free days (easy for Roger, harder for David). It is very hard not to put on weight given the excellent food and given that there are so many food outlets and eating opportunities which are available at no extra cost,” says the couple.
1. What is the atmosphere onboard like as you set out on this amazing journey? Is it similar or different to other cruises you’ve been on?
There is a sense of excitement and anticipation. For many, it is not only a first Viking Cruise but their first ocean cruise ever. This world cruise (WC) is different in a number of ways. Firstly, the majority of the guests are sailing smaller segments of up to four months long. There are about 53 guests who are doing the full eight-month Ultimate World Cruise. The second, is that we have run into dozens of Viking return passengers that we have met on previous cruises. It meant that we got into the social swing as soon as we landed on board.
2. How did your send off go? Were there any special events?
We have been involved in a number of cocktail gatherings and formal dinners organised by the General Manager and the Captain. The Viking Sun is always providing opportunities to network with fellow passengers.
3. How did you to pack for this World Cruise? Did you adopt the same strategy as your first World Cruise? Did you get to bring any non-essentials?
For our last world cruise, and this voyage, we did not pack lightly or economically. Because we left our home in May 2017, we have been travelling with most of our clothes in tow since then. When we travel, we tend to leave a bag or two with friends to mind along the way, or place some in storage. But since being on board we now have all our clothes with us.
In the stateroom we rotate our outfits so the summer clothes, which we do not intend to wear over the next month, are placed in a suitcase under the bed in our cabin. This has been the same strategy for both world cruises (the first WC was a comparatively modest 141 days). We each brought an overcoat for cold climates which we have not used since leaving home over 2 years ago. The cruise itinerary seems to follow the better weather.
We have managed to get everything into two very large suitcases and two smaller bags. We keep an inventory of all our clothes and belongings. We even know what is in which bag. This is necessary when travelling for such a long time as you tend to forget what you actually have.
4. How do you keep in touch with friends and family? Do you set out a schedule for that, given the changing timezones?
We tend to send emails to our individual friends, or we send an email group at the same time. The correspondence usually gives our friends a travel update with photos or some jokes. If we have not heard back from people for a month or so, we call them on the spur of the moment.
Regarding FaceTime and Whatsapp we do schedule calls with some contacts but with others we are quite spontaneous. Time difference can be challenging especially when we are travelling in North America. One contact FaceTimed us one morning at 3.00am UK time which can be fairly alarming.
5. What are you most looking forward to, both on the ship and destination wise?
We are really looking forward to travelling around South America and particularly up the Amazon. We are also excited about travelling through the upper North Atlantic to Iceland and Greenland, then onward to Canada before sailing to New York. These are the major reasons we booked this World Cruise. It will be first times at these destinations for the both of us. We think that this world cruise is a good way of seeing a lot of South America in one go which we might not do otherwise by ourselves.
We also love all aspects of the onboard lifestyle, particularly having long discussions over meals with a lot of diverse and interesting fellow passengers.
6. Do you have the activities and shore excursions you want to do all planned out?
Most of our shore excursions are included in the overall price, which we selected online prior to the cruise starting. If we had previously visited certain ports then we selected optional shore excursions which we were able to purchase through the generous onboard credit provided to World Cruisers.
7. You previously mentioned that both of you were trying to keep fit and keep your weight down on such a long cruise. So far have you found a promising routine that keeps you active on board?
David walks with the General Manager at 6.00 am with other passengers most days. The group walk for about a mile. He then continues on his own with more exercise until about 8.00 am. We have a very light breakfast, usually consisting of oatmeal porridge and fruit. On the ship we try to walk the stairs rather than take the elevators where possible. We do not drink alcohol or soft drinks before dinner, and we try to have alcohol free days (easy for Roger, harder for David). It is very hard not to put on weight given the excellent food and given that there are so many food outlets and eating opportunities which are available at no extra cost.
8. How has meeting your fellow world cruisers been? Who are they? Anyone interesting?
At the moment we are spending less time with our fellow Ultimate World Cruise travellers and spending more time with our friends who are not completing the full eight month itinerary. We will be definitely hanging out more with our fellow WC later in the voyage. And Viking encourages us to get to know them by hosting cocktail and dinner events for other WCs. Most passengers on Viking are very interesting once you get to know them.