May 9, 2022.
Many of our favourite people, passengers and crew alike, are ending their world cruise today, with just 148 passengers staying on either until Bergen (like us), or continuing on the Viking Homelands itinerary to Stockholm.
I found myself very emotional thinking about the Viking staff and crew we’ve met on this journey. We’ve made arrangements to stay in contact with friends we’ve made among the passengers, but know that in many cases we won’t be able to do the same with crew. That makes me sad.
The people below are “just” the most remarkable of the Viking staff who touched our hearts in the past four months, in random order as they pop into my thoughts today. There are so many more with whom we crossed paths, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM WAS WONDERFUL. (Where I know their home countries, I’ve included them. There were 142 countries represented among our ship’s crew!)
I know that every passenger will have their own special crew memories. These are “my” people:
Assistant Cruise Director Damian Sollesse, who shared both his talent and organization skills with us and created our unforgettable vow renewals. This young man is destined for great things.
Viking Vocalists Poppy, Beth, Daniel, and Jack, and Assistant Cruise Director Sarah-Leanne, whose voices and dance antics gave us shivers, made us laugh, and sometimes brought us to tears (in a good way).
Cruise Director Kate, who joined us late in our world cruise adventure but immediately took us into her sparkle-clad embrace.
Our cabin steward for the first 3 months, Albert, from the Philippines, who allowed us into his life by sharing stories about and pictures of his little girls at home in the Philippines.
Andrei, our Beverage Manager (for obvious reasons), and Katarina, the restaurant maître d who always managed to make us feel like we were the people she most wanted to see.
Financial Officer Chris Wragg, from South Africa, who proved that numbers people definitely CAN be fun.
Restaurant Manager Casper Gerber, another South African, who always had time in his busy schedule to greet each guest, and the organizational skills to make special events even more special.
Restaurant Supervisor Simon Fernandez, from India, who exemplified in every interaction true gentlemanliness. I enjoyed the occasions when he was able to spend a while just chatting with me, sharing family stories. His family are very lucky to have him as their example, and I know they will be thrilled to have him home in a few days.
Restaurant Supervisor Uma (below) who always forgave me – whether for calling him Simon, or getting him involved in Greek dancing that involved wearing the traditional pleated Greek men’s skirt.
The Spectrum Viking Band members Jeffrey, Annalyn, Heintje, and Enrico, (all from the Philippines) who managed to get Ted onto the dance floor, and who conquered every one of his song challenges. Annalyn’s rendition of Janis Joplin’s Piece of My Heart will remain one of Ted’s best memories of our cruise. Jeffrey’s performance of Ed Sheeren’s Perfect (in Italian!!) will remain one of mine. If the fates are kind, we’ll reconnect with these wonderful people on the Viking Orion in November.
Café Attendant/Restaurant Waiter Ephraim (for keeping track of Ted’s whereabouts on the ship), Evidence (for sharing his life’s story and his ambitions for making a difference in his home of Capetown), Meriel (our Manfredi’s go-to person), Lorraine (for her smile and contagious happiness), Tendai (for her wine expertise), Joy (for keeping Ted in coffee), Yoyo (for keeping me in drinks), Maria (for her decorating passion), Madessa and Maxi (for never judging me on my latté and pain au chocolate breakfasts), and Monalisa (for her infectious joy). Each of these very special people shared a part of their lives with us, and allowed us to “adopt” them while we travelled far from our own family.
Our favourite barista Aliaksandr Radchanka, from Belarus,who created not only hands-down the best lattés on board, but also shared his exemplary bartending skills in the Explorer’s Lounge every evening, and our favourite bar waitress Lena, from the Ukraine. When we didn’t know what we wanted, she always did!
Captain Olav, whose dry sense of humour and infectious enthusiasm for travel rubbed off on all of us. We were glad to have him steering us around Cape Horn, and honoured to have him re-seal our wedding vows.
General Managers Johann and Wendy, both from South Africa. Johann’s door was always open, and his sense of humour infused every interaction. When Wendy took over – on the day of our vow renewals – she stepped right in and became an integral part of our lives. If we ever get to South Africa, I look forward to renewing our acquaintance and developing a friendship.
Shore Excursion Manager Rob, from England, who embraced our tale of Bus 10 in the desert and ran with it.
I’m not sure how to adequately express my love for Guest Services Manager Mara, from Romania. She is empathetic, gracious, professional, and beautiful inside and out. I wish her a life full of the love and happiness that she so richly deserves.
Guitarists King and John, both from the Philippines, who provided the soundtrack to our cruise.
Chef de Cuisine I Wayan, who gave us so many outstanding culinary experiences in The Chef’s Table, and I Made and Farrel who made us feel so welcome there each time we arrived.
And Damian again. When we look back at this world cruise experience, we will always think of him.
It may be the destinations for which we choose a cruise, but it is the quality of the crew and the ethical and caring way in which Viking values them that makes us loyal to the brand.