The Viking Sun arrived in Sydney this week at just over the halfway mark of its record breaking 245-day Ultimate World journey.
Cruise Passenger caught up with Australian couple on board to find out about what they thought about their world cruise so far.
The Sydneysiders got to return home for just two days on Day 164 of their voyage as the Viking Sun arrived here on Tuesday.
Roger Foenander, 71, and David Mutton, 62, reveal the best shore excursions, favourite spots on the ship, and how to keep ‘cabin fever’ at bay and more.
They started their voyage in London more than five months ago, and in that time the couple has grown close with the crew onboard. Mr Foenander, who loves to organise events and bring people together, has even earned the title of ‘assistant cruise director’ among the crew.
From themed dinners and supper clubs to church service and birthday parties, Mr Foenander has done it all, but it would not have been possible without the help of the crew and they have definitely also impressed the couple with their impeccable service.
“The word ‘no’ doesn’t seem to exist on these ships. We think of it and then it happens,” says the couple. Mr Foenander also finds himself reminding other Viking guests, “these things don’t just happen by themselves”.
The couple who are three-time world cruisers might have an edge in keeping ‘cabin fever’ at bay – they might be made for life on the water. After more than five months at sea, they are already planning ahead to spend more time sailing this year.
This time in Europe, on not one but four back to back Viking river cruises so they can fully experience a European Christmas.
Here’s what they told us:
1. The ship must feel like a second home by now, have you discovered any new favourite spots this sailing?
The beauty of Viking ships is that they’re identical, so we already knew the layout of the ship quite well from previous cruises. David enjoys reading on the upper level of the Explorers Lounge on deck 8. It is a place less frequented and those who are there respect the space and maintain quietness like a library.
2. Have you had to tweak your routines as you sailed the different legs of the world voyage? Has anyone picked up any new hobbies or interests along your travels?
David likes using the gym facilities in the early morning, and has found that since the new year, when other passengers made exercise a part of their new year’s resolution. There has been more competition for machines, so he’s had to alter his routine somewhat. However, this seems to have died down in the last few weeks.
3. In our last interview, you mentioned that you were looking forward to destinations you were visiting for the first time. How were those destinations! Were they what you expected?
The Chilean fiords were a highlight and the Viking Sun spent a couple of days sailing through the Beagle Channel and getting quite close to some very large glaciers. We were able to watch these pass by while sitting on our balcony. We were expecting rough weather passing around Cape Horn, but the sea was smooth and tranquil. We enjoyed visiting the various Canadian cities including Quebec City and Montreal. Even though it was early autumn, the weather was quite wintery by Sydney standards!
4. Any memorable shore excursions that you’ve really enjoyed? I heard that you guys have tried to do more specialised excursions at ports that you’ve been before – do you have any stories to share?
We particularly enjoyed a panoramic tour around the Faroe Islands. Such spectacular rolling scenery. To see it at all is a bonus given the unpredictable weather. Secondly, on the Falkland Islands, to be able to come close to the nesting penguins was also a thrill.
5. I’ve heard that Roger has earned the title of ‘assistant cruise director’ among the crew. How did that all come about?
Roger loves to organise events and bring people together. During the last 5 months Roger has coordinated the weekly church service, has organised a 3 weekly supper club for some of the Ultimate World Cruisers, has organised a bi weekly LGBT dinner, has organised about three church fellowship dinners, four Indian curry nights for up to 60 people and two birthday parties – one for each of us. This does not include all the other small dinners that we participate in with our friends on board.
6. Another thing that has caught my attention is that you mentioned: “The word ‘no’ doesn’t seem to exist on these ships. We think of it and then it happens.” Tell me more about this, what amazing things has the crew made happen?
All the functions that we have organised are created by Viking Sun staff for us, often with special menus that are not served elsewhere on the ship. They do this so willingly and with a smile and at no extra cost. We coordinate well with the Restaurant manager, the food and beverage manager, and the general manager to make these events happen. As Roger says to other Viking guests, “these things don’t just happen by themselves”.
7. You guys also said that ‘cabin fever’ has not set in yet. How do you guys manage to keep that at bay? Is it a conscious effort? Any tips for living in close quarters with your partner for such a long voyage?
We are still able to function relatively well in a small cabin area. You learn to be neat, organised and to structure your time which is not hard with Roger! We have decided not to be shoppers on this cruise, so we are keeping the clutter under control. We have also discovered magnetic hooks that you can attach to the metal walls in the cabin and this is a great bonus to be able to hang clothes and other items. Although it requires a conscious approach it becomes second nature after a while. We also spend time outside the cabin in common areas around the ship which is also important to “change the on-board scenery” especially on sea days.
8. I also saw that you guys have four Viking river cruises planned in Europe coming up. Why river cruise and why in Europe?
We wanted to experience a northern hemisphere/European winter (most Americans think we are crazy), and we had heard that the European Christmas markets are a highlight. Therefore, we have signed up for four river cruises. In November: 10-nights Porto River Cruise; followed immediately by a 7-night Budapest to Nuremberg river cruise; followed a couple of days later by 11-day river cruise from Paris to the Swiss Alps. Finally, a few days later in December we embark on a 7-night river cruise from Basel to Amsterdam. We then spend Christmas with Dutch friends in Amsterdam.