While people have different reasons for booking cruises—whether it be to set foot on a far-flung destination, gastronomy, or simply enjoy a more leisurely pace of life for a bit—I discovered another reason to add to the list: mindful shopping.
In a digital age where many of us (myself included) are guilty of mindless scroll-and-click sessions and purchasing things we don’t need or worse, aren’t meant to last, the Viking Homelands ocean cruise—a two-week summer excursion traversing the lands that once served as home turf for Vikings, including what we now know as Scandinavia— showed me how to shop more thoughtfully.
While I’ve long adored Scandinavian design, especially when it comes to furniture and home goods, Scandinavian fashion designers, from Acne to Holzweiler, have really taken off in the past decade or so—and it’s easy to see why. Marked by chic minimalism, effortless elegance, and most importantly, around-the-clock comfort, “Scandi style” can be adopted by just about everyone.
The issue? How pricey these labels are. But since the Viking Homelands Cruise docks at these fashion houses’ hometowns (think Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Oslo), ahead of each stop I was able to easily map out shops to visit, compile a list of items I wanted to try on, and, most importantly, budget it all out.
Plus: the summer timing couldn’t be any better. Sales are in full swing—cruise towards the end of the season to score even bigger discounts—you’ll have access to unique items not available stateside, and you’ll also get tax-free shopping. (Just claim your refunds before departing one country and heading to another.) Though there are too many brands to mention, some of my favorites include Copenhagen’s By Malene Birger—imagine Céline’s Phoebe Philo era at a more reasonable price point—Stockholm’s Rodebjer and Hope, and Oslo’s Esp.
But access to world-class shopping at unbeatable prices is just one of many reasons why Viking is voted the best luxury cruise line year after year. The fleet is comprised of immaculate, state-of-the-art ships that can navigate every inch of the world, from Antarctica to the Douro River, and are done up in true Scandinavian style with minimalist accommodations and public spaces channeling warmth and comfort.
And unlike other cruise companies that nickel-and-dime guests with hidden fees, Viking is renowned for its truly inclusive, value-driven pricing. It covers all meals including The Wintergarden’s afternoon tea and beer and wine with lunch and dinner, one shore excursion at every port, Wi-Fi, gratuities, and access to The Spa.
As someone who routinely travels with eating and drinking well squarely in mind, I can happily vouch for the quality of Viking’s culinary offerings. Even The World Cafe’s buffet— which is typically a bland, lukewarm mishmash on other cruises—is a real treat, with enticing displays of sushi, gelato, and customizable Caesar salads. I also loved dropping by Mamsen’s mid-day for its famous waffles topped with Brunost (Norwegian Brown Cheese) and jam when I was feeling peckish.
Another perk to booking with Viking is what you won’t encounter aboard: there are no children, casinos, upcharges for dining at other restaurants, art auctions, and formal nights. Meaning: you can fully relax and customize your cruise to meet your needs.
But the real beauty of Viking is how you can begin their cruises with certain goals in mind—whether it’s scouring a local market for fresh ingredients you and your ship’s chefs will cook up for dinner at The Kitchen Table, or taking in bird’s-eye views of the staggeringly beautiful Norwegian fjords from a seaplane—and wind up discovering more surprising reasons to love them along the way—like I did. Just keep an open mind.