Viking Ocean Cruises vs Seabourn Comparison: Luxury Cruise Comparison

When considering a luxury cruise, Viking Ocean Cruises vs Seabourn are two prominent names that often come up. Both offer exceptional experiences but cater to slightly different preferences and priorities. Based on our opinion, here’s a detailed comparison of the two after several weeks of cruising on both cruise lines.  We have cruised onboard Seabourn three times for two weeks on each cruise.  The last was a cruise to Alaska this past summer.   We recently spent 57 days aboard Viking Neptune on the 23/24 Viking World Cruise, having to leave early due to a personal challenge, which was a huge disappointment.

Fleet and Ships

Viking Ocean Cruises:

  • Viking Ocean Cruises operates a relatively young fleet, with all their ships launched after 2015.
  • Their ships are mid-sized, typically accommodating around 930 guests.
  • Viking Ocean Three Story Atrium - lots of places to relaxThe beautiful design focuses on Scandinavian minimalism and offers a modern and elegant aesthetic. Viking ships are all identical and offer eye-catching museum artifacts throughout. Many areas showcase Scandinavian Museum pieces, including large tapestries and ancient Viking artifacts.
  • Service on Viking is excellent. Their staff is friendly, exceptionally trained, and treated relatively well among cruise ship companies. A happy crew equals happy passengers, and we were treated amazingly well. The staff truly goes out of their way to make each passenger’s experience exceptional.

Seabourn:

  • Seabourn’s fleet has been modernized, with the newest ships launched in the past decade and older ships stretched and renovated.
  • Their ships are smaller, usually accommodating between 450 to 600 guests.
  • The design emphasizes spacious suites and lavish public areas.
  • Staterooms are well appointed with walk-in closets, comfortable Tempur-Pedic mattresses, and larger sitting areas in every stateroom.
  • Seabourn is renowned for its excellent service. With fewer passengers and a 1:1 passenger-to-crew ratio, it consistently strives to exceed all expectations. Its crew is very professional but also extremely friendly. Service on both cruise lines is excellent. Seabourn gets the extra nod for its passenger-to-crew ratio, which allows for a little extra pampering.
  • Negative—The Seabourn gym and Spa areas are smaller and less well-equipped than those on the Viking ship. I loved the steam room, snow grotto, and plunge pools on the Viking ship.

Itineraries and Destinations

Viking Ocean Cruises:

  • Known for immersive itineraries that focus on cultural enrichment.
  • They offer many destinations, including Europe, Asia, Australia, the Americas, and Africa.  Viking is known for long World and Longitudinal cruises.
  • A local Excursion in each port is included, emphasizing nearby local experiences and historical insights.  These are usually 3-4 hours and cover the nearby town or city and possibly a museum or other prominent site.  Additional excursions are offered at typical prices for luxury cruises ranging from $125 – $400 depending on how long and far away the excursion will be or if there is a cost of featured tourist attractions.  We took advantage of several of the included excursions. We found them interesting and informative and often left time to experience a destination in the afternoon.  This is an excellent value for passengers and helps keep the overall cost of a cruise down.
  • Viking also has a new class of beautifully equipped Expedition Ships that cover both poles.  Most Viking ships are larger and newer, providing a more stable ride in moderate to heavy seas.

Seabourn:

  • Seabourn offers itineraries that include famous and less-visited ports of various countries. They also provide longer cruises and can get into smaller ports than Viking.  Many passengers often do back-to-back cruises on Seabourn to extend their vacations.
  • Their destinations span all seven continents, including unique experiences in Antarctica and the Arctic aboard their new Expedition ships.
  • Seabourn currently has two Expedition ships covering polar regions and other hard-to-reach areas of the world.
  • Excursions are more flexible, with many options at an additional cost.
  • Seabourn’s guest services will also help you make any additional private excursions or plans you want to make and usually offer half and full-private drivers for those who want to follow their interests in ports.
  • On our Seabourn Alaska Cruise, a ten-person Adventure Team provided great natural excursion experiences and excellent educational lectures regarding local nature.

Onboard Experience

Viking Ocean Cruises:

  • Provides a serene and sophisticated atmosphere; no children under 18 are allowed.
  • Focuses on enrichment programs, including lectures, classes, and cultural performances.
  • Viking ships are more significant than Seabourn’s, offering larger public spaces, including much larger spa and gym facilities, observation decks, and a fabulous library throughout the ship.  Viking’s Gym facilities, Sauna, Snow Grotto, and cold plunge pools are fantastic, and I spent many hours indulging in their facilities during sea days.
  • Negative: Viking staterooms are much smaller and less comfortable than Seabourn’s, but all cabins have an ocean view and veranda.
  • Dining is diverse, and all venues are included in the fare. Beyond the main dining restaurant, which is very lovely, Viking offers two specialty restaurants, one Italian, Manfredi’s, and the Chef’s Table, which provides a classic food and wine-tasting menu that changes every night. Additionally, there is a poolside grill and Mamsen’s in the Explorers lounge. Both are available daily for lighter meals or snacks during breakfast or lunch. Overall, Viking’s food was consistently good but not excellent.
  • Wine and Beer are included on all Viking ships during lunch and dinner.  Specialty cocktails or drinks outside meal hours are not typically included.  However, all drinks were always included on our World Cruise and are sometimes included with various booking promotions.
  • The spa facilities are extensive and included in the price, promoting a holistic wellness experience. There is no upsell pressure when using the spa, although, like all cruise ships, spa services such as massages and salon services are extra.
  • Lastly, you’ll find two nice size pools on Viking ships.  The main pool is mid-ship with a retractable roof, plus you’ll find a beautiful infinity pool on deck 7 on the ship’s stern, complete with a bar.  This was our favorite place to relax on sea day afternoons.

Seabourn:

  • Offers an intimate and highly personalized service with nearly a 1:1 guest-to-staff ratio.
  • Enrichment includes lectures, culinary demonstrations, and wellness programs by Dr. Andrew Weil. These programs are expensive.  The spa staff will work to upsell you additional spa treatments and products.
  • All dining venues are complimentary, and renowned chefs provide gourmet cuisine. Overall, we have found the food on Seabourn to be consistently exceptional and a definite step up from Viking.
  • All drinks are always included, and your room steward will make sure your favorite alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are stocked in your in-suite refrigerator.
  • Spa services are excellent, but treatments come at extra costs. Although Seabourn’s spa and gym areas are more significant than they used to be, they are still much smaller than Viking’s facilities.

Accommodations:

Viking Ocean Cruises:

  • All staterooms have balconies. With a focus on comfort and functionality, most suites are much smaller than Seabourn’s staterooms, with limited closet and storage space. Most Seabourn staterooms are larger and more spacious than Vikings.
  • The sleek design has a neutral color palette and modern amenities.
  • More expensive Suite categories offer more space and perks like priority reservations and concierge services.
  • We found the mattresses on Viking ships uncomfortable, leading to poor sleep. However, late into our cruise, we discovered we could have asked for a mattress topper, making it much more comfortable.
  • Viking rooms have metal sliders that open onto your private Veranda.  These sliding doors’ frames squeaked a lot in moderate to heavy seas.

Seabourn:

  • Sitting Area in Seabourn Odyssey Suite - Viking Ocean Cruises vs SeabournThe suites are spacious, elegantly appointed, and include a personal suite steward. The room can be split into sleeping and sitting areas separated by a curtain, which I appreciate when your partner wants to stay up longer than you.
  • All accommodations are suites, with many offering private verandas and, as stated above, being bigger with better storage options. Seabourn rooms include walk-in closets, a six-drawer dresser, and additional drawers.
  • The rooms were tranquil, even on heavy seas.  The door to the veranda is a single door that opens onto the Veranda. We slept very well on all our Seabourn cruises.
  • Many of Seabourn’s ships offer full bathtubs, but their showers are smaller than Vikings.
  • Higher suite categories provide additional luxuries, such as complimentary caviar service and upgraded bath amenities.

Pricing and Value

Viking Ocean Cruises:

  • Fares include one complimentary shore excursion, Wi-Fi, specialty dining, and spa access in each port.Viking Large Jacuzzi and whirlpool - Viking Ocean Cruises vs Seabourn
  • The pricing is competitive within the luxury segment, offering good value for the inclusions.
  • Alcoholic beverages are included during meals, with an additional Silver Seas drink package available.
  • The more expensive a stateroom, the higher the priority in booking excursions, as well as in restaurants and other personal services. Our cabin was middle-tiered, and many exciting excursions were sold out before our class could book them.

Seabourn:

  • Seabourn’s all-inclusive pricing covers many amenities, including premium spirits, gratuities, and some excursions.
  • While the upfront cost is higher, the comprehensive inclusions can offer good value for those who partake in the included amenities.
  • Seabourn favors loyalty over price,  giving extra services, such as limited laundry, to those who book frequently on Seabourn.  We typically never have trouble getting on any offered excursions.  They try to expand accommodations based on demand.
  • They often have promotions and special offers that can increase the value of the cruise.

Conclusion

Choosing between Viking Ocean Cruises and Seabourn depends mainly on personal preferences and travel style:

  • Viking Ocean Cruises is ideal for travelers who enjoy cultural enrichment, value a modern aesthetic, and appreciate an adult-only environment. It’s well-suited for those who prefer a balance of included amenities and excursions without the ultra-luxury price tag. Viking offers exceptional value and an excellent cruising experience that is a step above large cruise lines. Viking features included drinks, fabulous spa, and gym amenities, included excursions with better service and fewer crowds.
  • Seabourn appeals to those seeking an ultra-luxurious experience with highly personalized service, spacious accommodations, and a more intimate setting. It’s perfect for travelers who enjoy consistent gourmet dining and unique itineraries and are willing to pay a premium for comprehensive inclusions and exclusive experiences.

Both cruise lines offer exceptional experiences, but the choice ultimately comes down to what’s more important to you and possibly how long your cruise will be. Viking offers outstanding value, and I would rate their ship amenities over Seabourn’s mainly because of their spacious guest areas, gym, and spa amenities. However, I recommend stepping up to a larger class cabin and asking for a mattress topper on the first day.

Due to its smaller size, Seabourn offers ultra-luxury, better overall food and dining options, intimate service, more comfortable accommodations, and a broader range of intimate destinations. If we plan a more extended cruise, we may opt for Seabourn over Viking for its more relaxed, larger accommodations and consistently better food offerings.

We have booked our next cruise onboard Seabourn, which may say it all, but we would not hesitate to book on Viking again if the itinerary better met our needs.