Sailing from Venice to Athens with Viking

I sailed on a 10-day cruise on Viking’s newest ocean ship, the Viking Saturn, on the Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary from Venice to Athens. After a hectic year, this was a much-needed getaway and a wonderful experience visiting new countries in style!

Viking Saturn
Viking Saturn

Disclaimer: Viking hosted me on this sailing. I was not paid for my review; all opinions are my own.

Viking Saturn, the Newest Viking Ocean Ship

For me, Viking’s ocean ships are the perfect size. Classified as a small ship, each ocean ship holds a maximum of only 930 guests. I could always find a quiet space to curl up, read, relax, and enjoy the view or a good book. I like that all of Viking’s ocean ships are built exactly the same because I know exactly what to expect and where to find what I need, such as the special Norwegian Waffles I’ve been craving since my last Viking ocean cruise in 2018! I also prefer these small ships because I can visit destinations in ports that I can’t if I sail on larger ships.

On this trip, I flew into Marco Polo Airport in Venice and was welcomed by a team of Viking staff who directed those of us who arrived at the same time to the motorcoach for our drive to the ship in the port of Chioggia, also known as “Little Venice.” The timing of my flights was fine but note to self: next time, I’ll book an extra day or two pre-cruise to adjust to the time zone and for less stress. I say this to myself every time I travel overseas!

I boarded the Viking Saturn in the port of Chioggia (Key-ohh-Jah), Italy. That evening, we set sail to Koper, Slovenia, then to Zadar and Dubrovnik, Croatia, Kotor, Montenegro, Corfu, Olympia, and Santorini, Greece, and the cruise finished in Athens, Greece. This sailing was filled with my travel bucket list destinations!

Table of Contents

Chioggia is a charming fishing community. As I mentioned above, I recommend arriving a day or two before your cruise so you can explore and get over jetlag. You could even stay in Venice and explore Venice Island or surrounding islands like Murano or Burano for a day or two. I had prior commitments at home and couldn’t do that on this trip, so I arrived a few hours before we sailed.

In addition to this post, I created a video overview of my experience on this cruise. I’d love it if you watched, liked, and subscribed so I know if this is relevant information and should create more. Shameless plug, as I’m just getting started on YouTube! Thank you!

Deluxe Veranda Stateroom on Viking Saturn

On Viking ocean ships, there are no inside staterooms; there are just different perks for each stateroom category. Some allow for earlier access, priority reservations for dining, a coffee maker in your room, a special Norwegian blanket, complimentary laundry, welcome champagne, and more. My room was the Deluxe Veranda Stateroom and included a veranda, king-size bed, included wifi, North American outlets and USB ports, a large bathroom with a spacious shower and heated floor, hair dryer, Freyja toiletries, robe, slippers, safe, binoculars, coffee machine and tea selections, and a minibar. There is a lot of storage in closets and drawers, and the bed is underneath for suitcase storage. There are also plenty of plug-ins with USB, North American, and European options.

  • Priorities for this stateroom category:
    • 11 AM Embarkation
    • 2 PM stateroom access
    • Priority shore excursion reservations 67 days before departure
    • One priority reservation at each alternative restaurant 60 days before departure
    • Priority spa treatment bookings 60 days before departure

Every evening, I looked forward to reading my Viking Daily, which was placed in my stateroom that day. Inside includes ship contacts, location, arrival time, back-on-board time, and what’s happening onboard each day. You’ll also find activities available all day, including hours at the spa and times of documentaries, TED Talks, afternoon tea, port talks, guest lecturers, entertainment, and restaurant times. They also include the local currency for the next port, a list of excursions and booking deadlines. Also included are the US Embassy contact and UK Embassy contact numbers. If you’re from Canada or another country, it is helpful to jot down your Embassy information before leaving home. I took a picture of the ship’s contact details with my phone before heading out for the day, “just in case” I got lost.

Dining Options on the Viking Saturn

There are several dining options onboard, including 24-hour room service and a mini-bar with soft drinks, water, and snacks in my stateroom, which are replenished daily. I also had sparkling and flat water in my stateroom that was replenished during the twice-daily housekeeping.

The dining options onboard are Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant, World Café, The Restaurant, The Pool Grill, The Chef’s Table, and Mamsen’s. The Bar offers snacks and light sandwiches. I’ve included my YouTube video below if you’d like to explore the menus and restaurants in depth.

Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant — If you know me at all, you know that I love Italian food, so it’s a no-brainer that Manfredi’s is my favourite restaurant on this ship! I could have dined here more often, but I also wanted to try the other restaurants! I ate in the private dining room twice with a group of new friends, and it was a great way to have conversations without the background noise of a busy restaurant. We had our own waiter who did a fabulous job managing all of us with a smile, and I have to say again that my dinners here at Manfredi’s were my favourite.

The Chef’s Table — At The Chef’s Table, Viking offers a 5-course meal paired with wines, and this menu rotates every two or three days. If you miss a menu you want to taste, chances are you can reserve the same menu later! I didn’t dine here because of my food allergies, and the day I checked the menu on this sailing, it was Asian-inspired and just wasn’t an option for me. Good thing that there are many other great restaurants to choose from! I spoke to others during the sailing, and they raved about the amazing food at The Chef’s Table.

The Restaurant—The Restaurant is the main dining venue on the ship and is as large as combining all three restaurants directly below (Manfredi’s, Chef’s Table, and Kitchen Table). The menu has an always-available section, and the rest changes daily. It offers many dishes to choose from, including regional cuisine and dishes that are always available and cooked with locally sourced ingredients.

Pool Grill — The Pool Grill is a great casual dining area with a limited menu of grilled options, such as burgers and hot dogs, made to order. there’s a small salad buffet for a lighter meal. My go-to was a Pancho Villa Burger with extra hot sauce on the side! Travelling solo is a great way to meet new people, and the Poolside Grill was a favourite place to do this, enjoy a casual lunch with new friends, and enjoy a drink in the sunshine with the roof open above the pool. This area is also used to show movies on some evenings!

Explorer’s Lounge is a great place with fabulous views to kick back and relax, enjoy a drink with friends, or make new friends while listening to great music. Here, you can find a bar called Paps, where you can taste delicious Scandinavian food at Mamsen’s, named after Torstein Hagen‘s mother. One of my favourite dishes I’ve been waiting for since my last Viking ocean cruise is the Norwegian Waffles with brown Norwegian cheese and berries. I’ve heard their Pea Soup is amazing and a great midnight snack! Mamsen’s also offers a selection of cold open sandwiches, daily soup, and pastries.

World Café The World Café is a buffet-style restaurant with cooks available for made-to-order dishes. I didn’t discover until my second to last night that the food was not the same on both sides! Don’t do what I did; explore both sides of the buffet to discover pizza and ice cream stations and other surprises.

There are so many choices for all meals and offer a range of international flavours. For example, at breakfast, you can find scrambled eggs, made-to-order omelettes, Eggs Benedict, fresh smoked salmon, pancakes, French toast, a wide variety of cheeses and cold meats, bread, oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit and more. There are buffet options, or you can order from a menu … or both! They also offered a continental breakfast at the Aquavit Terrace, but I chose items from the buffet and then sat outside on the Terrace. The chefs, or cooks, were fantastic and ready to answer any questions I had about ingredients. They also continually replenished the dishes, so they were always hot, and the servers always had smiles on their faces and were super friendly. It seems like they love their jobs. Apparently, Viking has a 90% return rate on staff. That says a lot about the company. 

My excursions usually ended just before lunch, so sometimes, I joined new friends each day at the World Café to continue our conversations from the tours. The World Café has open seating, and no matter where I sat, I found that the servers got to know each guest quickly and what our favourite drinks were. They had genuine conversations, and it made for a very pleasant experience.

Pro Tip: Order room service breakfast so you make sure you don’t sleep in and miss any of your morning excursions! The room service staff will wake you up if you don’t answer. On this sailing, I learned to be ready for room service about 30 minutes prior to when I specified on my sheet, as they often arrived 15-20 minutes early with my breakfast.

In this video, I discuss the food onboard in more detail, examine the menus, and show you what some of the meals look like.

Shore Excursions

Viking offers one included tour in each port and many other optional tours you can purchase. On this voyage, I visited some bucket list locations and discovered places I’d never thought to visit. I explored iconic Lake Bled on an all-day tour, took a pletna boat ride to Bled Island, and spent time admiring the views from Bled Castle. I visited the living movie set of Dubrovnik, Croatia, which was the primary filming location for Game of Thrones, which I have yet to watch. I walked on the narrow streets of the Old Towns while our local guides relayed the history of their cities while describing modern life in these historic places. In Zadar, one of my favourite moments was to listen to the sea organ played by the waves flowing through tubes at the base of the marble steps. In my video, you’ll see much more than I can show here.

This was a bucket list itinerary on a fabulous new ship, the Viking Saturn. Would I do it again? Yes! Each sailing would be different, depending on the excursions I choose. If you have any questions about this sailing or Viking in general, please ask!

Disclaimer: Viking hosted me on this sailing. I was not paid for my review; all opinions are my own.

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