The Best and Worst Bars and Restaurants on Viking Ocean Cruises (Ranked)

Before trying Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants, cruise ship food was, in my head, the same as food at an extremely mediocre all-inclusive resort: bland, unmemorable, and not worth it.

Maybe I’m still holding onto the one night I spent at the Fiesta Americana Condesa Cancún (a place I never wish to return to). Still, something about the idea of dining on a boat doesn’t exactly inspire thoughts of gastronomic heights.

Waffles at Mamsen's, one of the Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants.

My opinion changed when I stepped onto the Viking Sea, one of the cruise line’s 12 930-passenger, all-veranda small cruise ships.

While I can’t say that dining on Viking Cruises will satisfy epicureans with adventurous palates, the food and beverage program is impressive by seafaring standards, leveraging high-quality ingredients, a fine-dining approach, and carefully curated wines. It’s far better than most restaurants in the suburbs where I grew up.

Making its culinary offering sweeter, Viking Ocean Cruises includes all specialty restaurants, and wine, beer, and soft drinks at meals in its base cruise fare—a rarity in the cruise world.

I tried every bar and restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises and am ranking them from best to worst to help you make dining decisions at sea.

Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants from best to worst.

Viking Ocean Cruises Restaurants and Bars (Ranked from Best to Worst)

The Explorers' Bar on Viking Ocean Cruises ship, the Viking Sea.

1. The Explorer’s Lounge

The Explorer’s Lounge is absolutely my favorite place on Viking Ocean Cruises ships. The lounge on Deck 7 boasts panoramic windows at the ship’s helm and an outdoor observation deck that is absolute bliss at sunset and during sail away.

At night, the lounge clears out, giving guests willing to forgo the excitement of Torshavn or whatever’s happening at the theater to have it all to themselves.

Viking Cruises founder Torstein Hagen designed the lounge with the comfort of a cozy living room in mind. The lounge’s cushy couches were far more relaxing than seating at any on-land bar I’ve been to, and I loved that there were several seating options facing the front of the ship.

The Explorer’s Lounge cocktail menu matches most of the rest of the bars on the ship, highlighting playful, tropical classics like the Piña Colada, Daiquiri, Mai Tai, and Singapore Sling.

Do not sleep on the bar peanuts—we’re still trying to find a place to buy them in bulk.

The Explorer’s Lounge’s food is fleeting. In the late afternoon, the lounge offers smørbørd (open-faced Scandinavian sandwiches). After 10 p.m., small charcuterie plates are served.

As we got to know the staff in the lounge—who were some of the best on the boat—we ventured into off-menu drinks like Suta’s dangerous Tokyo Tea and rich chocolate martinis (my choice of poison).

The Explorer’s Lounge frequently hosted the ship’s solo guitarist and trivia nights a few days a week. Occasionally, the ship’s pianist or assistant cruise director would also perform.

Afternoon tea at the Wintergarden, one of the best Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants.

2. Wintergarden

The Wintergarden on Deck 7 is an elegant oasis after a day of sightseeing in the sun. The sun-soaked space is hardly used except for afternoon tea service for a few hours daily.

Afternoon tea is such a highlight while sailing with Viking. Standard tea service of finger sandwiches and petite treats is accompanied by live music from the ship’s classical string duo or pianist.

Impressively, the staff remembered I was vegetarian after only visiting once before and was extra concerned to ensure that the chef made a meat-free stand for me and that I had enough to eat—so thoughtful.

Though sightseeing often left us out late enough that we missed afternoon tea, I’d try to fit a visit in whenever possible. Just ensure you get there quickly—seats can be tough to come by, even on a partially full ship.

Spaghetti at Manfredi's, the Italian restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises.

3. Manfredi’s

For dinner, Manfredi’s is absolutely the best of all Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants. Reservations are required at the Italian restaurant on Deck 1. However, we found that we were often able to get one if we booked one or two days in advance.

The restaurant gets its name from one of Hagen’s friends in the industry, Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio. Not letting his gesture go unrecognized, d’Ovidio returned the favor by naming Silversea’s Tors Observation Library after Hagen.

Like Viking’s main restaurant (aptly titled The Restaurant), Manfredi’s vegetarian options are limited but far better than those offered on the ship. The mozzarella in the caprese starter was always shockingly fresh for being in the middle of the ocean. Pasta and bread service were much higher quality than that offered in the restaurant.

Meat eaters will love the Italian restaurant’s steak tartare and daily fish. Entrée sizes are generous, so bring your appetite. Thick-cut ribeye and short ribs are brought out in bulk here.

Vegetarian food for dinner at the restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises.

4. The Restaurant

The main restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises ships isn’t a giant buffet, but rather a sit-down establishment with white tablecloths serving three-course dinners to diners on Deck 2.

Diners have two menus: a standard menu with traditional steakhouse favorites, and a destination menu that changes daily based on the port of call the boat was docked at.

We strongly preferred the destination menu overall, as menu items were typically more interesting.

Quality is shockingly good—my favorite menu item was the side order of mashed potatoes, which were creamy and garlicky, along with the rotating dessert menu. There were several nights when my boyfriend and I ordered every dessert on the destination menu to be sent to our stateroom after our meal because the pastry chef on the ship was nearly always on point.

As mentioned in my Viking Cruises review, The Restaurant severely lacks vegetarian options that perform at the level of other menu items—don’t even think about vegan. A brief vegetarian menu was offered daily, however often relied heavily on heavy cream, mild cheese, and pasta or risotto (so. much. risotto.).

This was a little disappointing compared to the bountiful seafood and forays into local cuisine my boyfriend was able to try. However, I still appreciate that The Restaurant always had at least a few things I could eat, even if they were a little bland and generic.

Service at The Restaurant, like most everywhere on Viking cruise ships, is impeccable. By the end of the voyage, we had a favorite waitress who knew us inside and out and got to know the wine steward who always nailed our palates.

Dinner at The Chef's Table, the fine dining restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises.

5. The Chef’s Table

The Chef’s Table is Viking Cruises’ attempt to bring trendy, high-end tasting menus to the seven seas. The curated restaurant on Deck 1 is one of the most in-demand of all the Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants, highlighting a five-course menu by guest chefs that rotates every three days.

Make reservations on day one, four, seven, etc., to try every Chef’s Table menu available during your cruise.

Tasting menus during our sailing ranged in theme from contemporary Chinese to coastal Californian. A premium wine pairing is included for those with the Silver Spirits beverage package or can be added for an additional $25 per person. Standard wine pairings are included.

We tried the Californian menu and enjoyed it, but it didn’t totally compete with tasting menus on land. That said, the sweet potato chip amuse-bouche was delightful, and my boyfriend loved the crab cakes.

Whether you enjoy The Chef’s Table is totally dependent on which tasting menu you select. Friends we made on the boat were extremely disappointed by the Chinese menu and opted to eat at the buffet afterward.

The Chef’s Table is worth visiting at least once during your cruise, but I wouldn’t feel pressured to go more than that—Manfredi’s is honestly better overall.

Breakfast at Mamsen's restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises.

6. Mamsen’s

Of all the Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants, Mamsen’s is often the most overlooked. but it shouldn’t be. Named after Hagen’s mother and featuring some of her recipes, the breakfast spot is operated out of a window in The Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 7 in the morning, greeting late risers with sweet smells.

Though Mamsen’s brief menu mostly consists of mouthwatering pastries, the main attraction is the traditional Norwegian waffles. Order one of these heart-shaped waffles with all of the fixings—brown cheese, clotted cream, and berries. I still wish I had gotten them more than I did because I crave them now.

Mamsen’s is not for diners looking for a full-service breakfast. Service lacks heavily compared to The Restaurant and The World Cafe as Mamsen’s is designed to be more of a self-service experience.

7. Torshavn

Many Viking passengers refer to Torshavn as “the club.” Located on Deck 2, Viking Ocean Cruises’ only nightlife spot is more like a live music lounge.

The Viking Band plays covers of classic hits all night long in the dark space while bartenders serve a menu of cocktails unique to Torshavn. These drinks tend to be more sophisticated than those on the rest of the boat, with a higher price tag and finer spirits.

We had fun dancing the night away as Torshavn and even managed to make a few friends there, but it wasn’t our go-to spot on the ship.

Music at Torshavn can be a little too loud for conversation, depending on where you’re sitting. The vibe really changed each night based on how many people were there. Some nights, we’d stay a few hours and really enjoy ourselves, while others, it was 15 minutes, and we’d leave.

Unfortunately, we didn’t love the specialty cocktail menu there, but we so appreciated that bartenders were willing to make any drink or serve any wine on the ship, like at the other bars.

Lunch at The World Cafe, the buffet restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises.

8. The World Cafe

When the nightly dress code required on Viking Cruises is a no-go, The World Cafe awaits on Deck 7.

The World Cafe is Viking Ocean Cruises’ buffet restaurant. The light-filled space allows casual attire at all times, unlike the ship’s other restaurants.

We didn’t feel like sitting at The Restaurant was worthwhile for breakfast, so The World Cafe was our go-to for breakfast, especially on super rushed mornings before excursions when we didn’t have time to wait for waffles at Mamsen’s.

The Restaurant and The World Cafe serve the same breakfast menu (The World Cafe might actually have more options), so the only motivation for dining at The Restaurant in the morning is really just to have a full-service, sit-down meal.

For lunch, The World Cafe served all kinds of things—each day, the buffet changed, always consisting of several main and side options ranging from Western to Eastern flavors, a daily sandwich, salad bar, pasta salads, pizza, and a wide spread of desserts.

The pizza was surprisingly one of our favorite things to eat. We weren’t expecting much from it, but it was good enough that we would’ve never guessed it was made on a cruise ship.

In the afternoon, after buffet service closes, the gelato bar stays open for a delicious afternoon pick-me-up.

Dinner is best skipped at The World Cafe. The World Cafe hosts special events on the ship, such as poolside barbecues and lobster cookouts, which is how we tried the restaurant’s dinner offering.

Both nights we did, we ended up at The Restaurant immediately after, where the food was far better. That, however, did not stop my boyfriend from eating a couple of plates piled high with grilled lobster tails, crab legs, shrimp, and scallops on the lobster night because even if the lobster at The Restaurant was better, all-you-can-eat seafood is all-you-can-eat seafood.

The Living Room bar and lounge on Viking Cruises ships.

9. The Living Room

The Living Room, the bar in the Atrium on Deck 1, is a popular spot in the early evenings for passengers to mingle and listen to the sounds of the ship’s classical string duo or pianist.

The interior great room of the ship is comfortable and refined, but it lacks excitement compared to other Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants and bars. This made it the perfect spot when I needed to get some work done, but it didn’t encourage us to hang out there at night.

You can always grab a small snack, like a cookie at the bar, or come around in the afternoon for a smørbørd.

The infinity pool on the Viking Sea, a Viking ocean cruises ship.

10. Aquavit Terrace

Aquavit Terrace is the bar and al fresco dining option at the stern of Viking Ocean ships on Deck 7, outside of The World Cafe. The outdoor dining area is an extension of The World Cafe, servicing guests lounging around the infinity pool on Viking Ocean cruise ships.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with Aquavit—it’s simple and serves its purpose, but service could be improved. When hanging out at the infinity pool, tracking down waitstaff for water and other drinks was tough.

Waitstaff did delight when they brought out special dipped ice cream cones on a particularly hot afternoon—such a fun poolside touch!

The Pool Grill on Viking Ocean Cruises.

11. The Pool Grill

Viking Ocean Cruises has two outdoor pools on every ship: the infinity pool at the stern and a slightly larger pool at the center. The Pool Grill services the main pool on Deck 7.

Expect a counter-order grill menu with burgers and the like (the extra-long hot dogs are a favorite of frequent Viking cruisers), along with a small smattering of buffet options served until 5:30 pm daily.

The Pool Grill is a good stop if you’re on Deck 7 and need a quick bite after The World Cafe has closed, but it isn’t anything to write home about. Buffet options are typically whatever salad bar options are leftover from lunch at The World Cafe, and they aren’t exactly thrilling.

On some afternoons, The Pool Grill serves fun specialty frozen drinks—it’s worth making a lap for those.

Breakfast on Viking Ocean Cruises.

Viking Cruises Room Service

Viking Cruises offers 24-hour room service for all cabins like any good cruise ship. Unfortunately, it’s one of the very few areas where the luxury cruise line really falls short compared to its competitors.

Room service for breakfast must be ordered the night before via a form that your cabin steward will leave at turn-down. The options don’t change, typically consisting of eggs a few ways, toast, standard breakfast sides, and pastries, and a selection of fresh juice, tea, or coffee.

Though I wish breakfast from room service had a little more variety, Ordering room service for breakfast and enjoying it from our cabin’s balcony while taking in views of our new port was such a beautiful way to start the day. Food was always still hot and fresh when it was delivered.

Our only gripe with room service in the mornings is that it was consistently delivered 15 to 20 minutes earlier than the selected time and was often the wake-up call we didn’t ask for.

Viking Cruises’ room service menu for all-day dining leaves something to be desired. The menu is extremely small, and the food quality was not amazing overall. It was still good, just not quite as exceptional as the quality at restaurants on the ship. Of course, that didn’t stop me from ordering a midnight Caesar salad on a few occasions.

The all-day menu on Viking Ocean Cruises features classic American and European dishes, such as a New York strip steak and burger, as well as desserts such as the Apple Brown Betty and brownie.

Dinner at one of the Viking Ocean Cruises restaurants.

Viking Ocean Cruises Restaurants: FAQ

Do specialty restaurants on Viking Cruises cost extra?

Specialty restaurants on all Viking Cruises are included with your cruise fare. They do not cost anything extra.

What is the best restaurant on Viking Cruises?

The best restaurant on Viking Ocean Cruises is Manfredi’s, the Italian restaurant.

Are there vegan options on Viking Cruises?

Vegan options are extremely limited—if not nonexistent—on Viking Cruises. Plant-based diners should contact the cruise company in advance to ensure their diet can be accommodated or select a different cruise line.

Does Viking Cruises have vegetarian options?

Viking Cruises has limited vegetarian options. Vegetarians can eat as long as they’re not picky. Those with selective palates or who are also lactose-intolerant should consider a different cruise line.

How many restaurants are on Viking cruise ships?

Viking Ocean Cruises has 9 restaurants on its cruise ships, including one cooking school called The Kitchen Table. Viking River Cruises typically have two restaurants onboard, plus a cooking experience.

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