CruiseClout score: 20.0
Viking Jupiter: Sublime cruises in Europe & South America
The sixth ocean ship from Viking Ocean Cruises, Viking Jupiter debuted in February 2019. Similar to its sister ships, Viking Jupiter offers the same inclusive premium cruise experience with itineraries focusing on the ports of call. But Viking Jupiter is a marvel itself. The nine-deck vessel with a maximum of 930 guests is the perfect size for those put off by mega-ship madness while offering many of the kinds of amenities found on smaller but more expensive luxury ships.
Frequent cruisers will find several offerings found on a typical cruise ship, including several lounges and an outdoor sports deck with shuffleboard, a putting green and lawn bowling. But Jupiter also features a choice of several casual dining spots as well as three upscale restaurants for dinner offer plenty at no extra charge. The ship is home to two pools, an infinity pool on the aft of deck 7 and a main pool deck encased by a retractable roof, making it the perfect place to relax rain or shine. The interior areas are simple yet elegantly appointed, with blonde tones and an inviting, understated Scandinavian décor.
If you've sailed on any of Viking's other ships, you'll find the layout familiar, because the specs are nearly identical to sister ships Viking Star, Viking Sky, Viking Sea, Viking Sun and Viking Orion.
What's included in your fare
Cruisers have their choice of included shore excursions in each port, with optional premium tours available for a fee. Other inclusions on Viking Jupiter include Wi-Fi (it costs extra on most other cruise lines), nearly all the restaurants on board, and wine and beer at lunch and dinner. Use of the ship's expansive Nordic spa is also included. Nice!
Who will like sailing on Viking Jupiter
All Viking Ocean cruises are for adults 18 and older, with a prepondence of passengers approaching retirement age. With a ship capacity of only 900 or so passengers and extended cruise itineraries, it's easy to mingle and meet new friends. Most guests we met were from the United States or Canada, and many had traveled on Viking Cruises’ river ships. We were surprised that not many of our fellow passengers had been on an ocean cruise. Many chose Viking Ocean for the unique itineraries and their previous river cruise experiences, not necessarily the ship itself. Viking Jupiter is ideal for those who enjoy cruising and are interested in visiting new destinations. Still, those who have never cruised will likely have an enriching experience as the ship serves as a backdrop to the destinations.
Where Viking Jupiter sails
Viking Jupiter sails throughout Europe (during summer) and South America (during winter).
- Western Mediterranean itineraries leave from the home ports of Civitavecchia (Rome) and Barcelona.
- Eastern Mediterranean itineraries leave from home ports Piraeus (Athens) and Venice.
- Northern Europe itineraries visit ports in Scandinavia and Russia.
- South American itineraries include Buenos Aires, the Chilean fjords, Uruguay, the Falkland Islands and Cape Horn.
Viking Ocean Cruises focuses on quality over quantity. So while there are more limited options than on larger cruise ships, we found the offerings to be a step above. The World Café is the ship’s buffet, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It offers pretty typical fare with some major upgrades, including several excellent seafood options and a sushi bar.
You can grab snacks during the day at the Pool Grill, with options including made-to-order hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken wings. For something lighter, Mamsen’s deli in the Explorers Lounge offers open-face sandwiches. We suggest checking out this venue for breakfast to try the best waffles I have ever had!
For dinner, the Restaurant is the main dining room and offers a traditional multi-course menu. Along with standards that remain the same for the entire trip, the Restaurant offers a rotating menu with regional influences. We found the food and service here to be on par with contemporary cruise lines.
Aquavit Terrace is the al fresco option for dining around the infinity pool.
Viking Jupiter also has two specialty restaurants that are free of charge. Manfredi’s serves Italian classics such as lasagna, osso buco and chicken parmesan. The fresh bread and homemade pastas are especially yummy. The Chef’s Table offers a five-course tasting menu and wine pairing. The menu change every few days. On our Viking Homelands cruise, there were five different theme dinners, including a Scandinavian, Indian, Mexican and two Asian-inspired menus.
Where we went & what we loved
As guests of Viking Ocean Cruises, we sailed on the first nine days of the 14-night Viking Homelands cruise. The trip departed from Stockholm and visited five historic cities until we disembarked the ship in Berlin. Another benefit of cruising with Viking is an included shore excursion at every port of call. These excursions are usually bus tours or walking tours of the port’s main attractions.
On the first day, we checked into our cabin and spent the afternoon exploring on our own, spending time at the outdoor museum of Skansen. On day two, we completed the included morning tour from Viking entitled Panoramic Stockholm. This approximately two-hour bus tour took us to some of the city’s landmarks. We then spent a few more hours on our own walking around the old town of Gamla Stan.
On day three, we stopped in Helsinki, Finland. Again, we did the included Viking bus tour, taking us to the Sibelius Monument, the Olympic Stadium, and down the main city drag of Mannerheim Road to Senate Square. We again took off on our own for several hours to see some of the sites up close, such as the Helsinki and Uspenski cathedrals, Market Square, the train station, the Esplanade and the Rock Church.
Days four and five were the highlight of the trip for us. These two days were spent in St. Petersburg, Russia. Here we decided to splurge on the upgraded shore excursion “Ultimate St. Petersburg.” Over the two days, we had our personal tour guide who took us to several of the most famous and culturally relevant locations in and around the city. Along with exploring the city by bus, we were able to tour the Savior on Spilled Blood Church and St. Issac’s Cathedral. We spent an afternoon in the Winter Palace, part of the Hermitage Museum, marveling at historic Russian artifacts and works by renowned artists like Rembrandt. We also had guided tours of Catherine’s Palace and Peterhof Palace. To top it off, we even spent an evening at the Russian Ballet.
Day six was our stop in Tallinn, Estonia. We lucked out with beautiful, sunny weather. This walkable medieval city feels like it is straight out of a fairytale. We completed the included walking tour, which stopped at all of the major landmarks in both Upper and Lower town. Afterward we spent a few more hours exploring on our own and even climbing a remaining part of the 14th century walls to garner a different perspective of this historic city.
On day eight, we were scheduled to dock in Gdansk, Poland. Due to weather conditions, we docked in Gdynia, which is about 30 minutes away. This meant that our complimentary walking tour now included an extended bus ride to and from the ship. Upon arrival, our tour guide provided us with a narrated walking tour visiting popular attractions including the Green Gate, Gold Gate, St. Mary’s Basilica, and the Neptune Fountain.
We departed the ship on day nine with a transfer to Berlin provided by Viking. Not to miss out on an opportunity to see a new city, we booked a tour with Original Berlin Walks. We visited some of the city’s most historic landmarks, including parts of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, Museum Island, and many more. This 4.5-hour afternoon walking tour was the ideal introduction to a city that we will certainly return to again. That night, we headed to a local Oktoberfest event occurring in Alexanderplatz. Enjoying some authentic German food and beer was the ideal way to end this memorable trip.
Activities on board
While the onboard activities are fewer than other contemporary cruise lines, they are the perfect complement to the historic places you'll visit on the cruise.
The cruise line offers enrichment opportunities such as port talks, which provide an overview of places you will visit, as well as lectures by onboard experts. For our cruise, we had a British historian, a rocket scientist from NASA and a cultural expert. Each lecturer offered several interesting talks throughout the cruise.
The spa's Thermal Suite is open to all cruisers and is perfect for some rest and relaxation onboard the ship. Indoor public spaces, such as the Living Room, invite socialization and also offer some table games, as well as exhibits featuring Viking artifacts.
The Explorers Lounge is the ideal location to unwind with a drink and your tablet or a book from the cultivated onboard library. This location is also home to the Explorers Dome. This planetarium offers three distinct shows, all complimentary, with two of them in 3D. We highly recommend all three presentations, but you do need to make reservations for them once aboard the ship.
The cruise director Heather and her assist Ian provided nightly entertainment that was pretty standard. On our cruise, there was a piano soloist, a cello and violin duo, a house band and an acoustic guitarist. These musicians played in public areas including the Atrium, the Wintergarden (in the afternoon during tea time), and the Explorers Lounge. For the most part, the music was the backdrop to great conversation and cocktails. Our favorite performer was Matthew, the acoustic guitarist.
In the main theater on deck 2, there was one headliner act, a comedian magician. He had a British sense of humor and was entertaining.
The ship also featured a quartet of Viking singers performing pretty typical cruise shows, including a Tribute to ABBA, the Beatles, '60s music and a variety show. During the overnight in Russia, there was a destination opera performance for those guests who were on the ship. Other entertainment featured an Elvis tribute by the assistant cruise director Ian and the cruise director Heather in a night of opera.
Viking Jupiter features 465 cabins: 386 Balcony staterooms, 47 Suites and 32 Penthouse rooms.
All-Veranda Staterooms: All staterooms have private balconies, king-size beds, large showers and LCD TVs. Balcony cabins are 270 square feet. We stayed in a Deluxe Veranda stateroom. This cabin had a standard cruise ship stateroom layout. The comfortable accommodations included a king bed, desk and sitting area with two chairs and a table. The décor was stylish yet simple, and the storage space was just enough.
There were several electrical outlets and USB ports on the desk, as well as on each side of the night stand, which was a nice upgrade. Other upgrades included the oversize shower and heated floors in the bathroom. Viking also provides premium shower products in large containers that are regularly replaced by your stateroom attendant. The balcony was a good size with two chairs and a table that was perfect for watching sunrise or sunset.
Explorer Suites: Viking Jupiter features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 square feet that offer sweeping views from wrap-around private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category on board.
The main dining room and specialty restaurants are business casual, and for the most part, cruisers abided by these suggestions. For the daytime, pack clothes that are comfortable and appropriate for the climate of your destinations. Pack walking shoes, layers and perhaps rain gear since you'll spend most of your days ashore and should be prepared for anything.
There are no formal nights, but we did see plenty of women sporting dresses and men wearing sport coats. However, these are not necessary. Also, don’t forget the swim apparel.
While the cruise line does provide one included shore excursion at each port, the quality of these tours vary. If you have your heart set on doing something at a particular port of call, allocate additional funds to book that shore excursion, whether it be through Viking or a private shore excursion company.
Viking Ocean Cruises is a premium line. Yes, you'll be paying a rather high cruise fare, but once aboard, almost everything is included. However, there are still some things that will cost you extra. These include daily gratuities, cocktails and beer and wine after meals. If you want to enjoy some cocktails, Viking does offer the Silver Spirits beverage package for an additional fee.
Viking Cruises prides itself on being destination focused. So be prepared for early mornings, long days ashore and comprehensive visits to your ports of call if you want to get the most out of your trip. Of course, it's your vacation so you can always do as much or as little as you want.
What's not included
Gratuities are not included; the line suggests $14 per passenger per day, and it's automatically added to the bill. There's no casino on board and no children's facilities, given that the minimum age to sail on Viking Ocean Cruises is 18.
Don and Heidi Bucolo sailed on Viking Jupiter on a press/blogger pass as guests of Viking Ocean Cruises. See Cruiseable's Ethics & Disclosure policy.
Interested in a cruise on this ship?
Interested in a cruise on this ship? Contact a Cruiseable travel professional at 1-877-322-3773.
Top highlights on this ship
- An all-inclusive cruising experience
- The specialty dining restaurants on the ship are complimentary.
- The free spa includes a sauna, a Nordic plunge pool, a thermal pool, a snow grotto and a steam bath.
- Enjoy finger sandwiches, petite desserts, a dozen different teas and light music in the Wintergarden.