Applause to travel companies who have gone the extra mile during the pandemic by developing creatively free virtual entertainment. One of the best and brightest deployments for building community and sharing positive experiences comes from Viking Cruises, which in April 2020 launched a new digital platform called Viking.TV, available online. As its first anniversary approaches, Viking.TV has amassed an impressive collection of original and engaging cultural content and live video adventures. “Right now we are all staying at home instead of traveling together,” says Karine Hagen, Executive Vice President of Viking (photo below). “My father, Torstein Hagen [CEO, who founded the multi-award-winning cruise line], and I felt that if we can’t bring our guests into the world right now, let’s bring the world to our guests. Viking.TV is a way for us to continue to explore the world from the comfort of – from the comfort of our homes. And as soon as the journey becomes less complicated again, we are ready to welcome you on board. ”
Daily at 11 a.m. (PT), Conversations with Karine and her friends – short videos on the Viking.TV homepage – feature instant chats, interesting fun facts and virtual tours, during which viewers can engage Karine by typing questions in real time. These videos are then archived, which can be viewed later, a kindness for those who cannot tune into the live screens.
On Sunday, the schedule for each upcoming week is put online, organized by theme. Museum Monday walks through the main art galleries, for example in St. Petersburg, the Russian Hermitage Museum and the British Museum in London. Tuesdays of the resident historian delves into the stories of colorful changemakers and key events from the past. Wednesdays with music orchestra of notable composers, conductors and performers. Thursdays for guest speakers books appearances by such luminaries as Norwegian explorer Liv Arnesen (the first woman to ski alone and unassisted at the South Pole) and the principal ballet dancer of the Mariinsky Theater, Xander Parish. Fridays at Highclere Castle (favorite haven of Downton abbey fans) reveals an extraordinary domain. And Wellness weekends offers meditation, yoga and spa advice.
Among the exciting experts highlighted are accomplished actors, artists, astronauts, authors, conductors, dancers, explorers, filmmakers, gardeners, medical professionals, journalists, musicians, scientists, singers and even royalty. Together with her husband Geordie (the 8th Earl of Carnarvon), the Countess of Carnarvon welcomes spectators inside her Highclere Castle (photo above). Her close friendship with Karine Hagen makes such access possible. “I am delighted to open the doors and the life of our castle to the extended Viking family to give a little virtual glimpse … I hope you will join me on Fridays as we go behind the scenes with stories on royal tours, entertainment and heritage, ”says Lady Carnarvon.
The cordial vibe and awareness of the videos can sometimes feel like food, like freshly baked bread that is relished during a time of food shortage. In other words, although we cannot travel now, delicious distant horizons can be invited into the privacy of our homes, feeding our urge to travel via Viking. It is inspiring to be able to sample such virtual portals, happily and at no cost.
Viking is considered the “thinking person’s cruise,” says Torstein Hagen. Ships are adults-only – without casinos, major theatrical productions, rock climbing walls, racing tracks, or the poolside hoopla popular with many other major cruise lines. Viking itineraries are designed for travelers who particularly appreciate cultural enrichment. So its plethora of engaging educational programming on Viking.TV matches its mission.
Soak up virtual recommendations on favorite movies, books and recipes, encouraged by travel. Enjoy learning from dozens of dream destination highlights. Take quick language lessons; meander of the gardens of the impressionist painter Claude Monet in Giverny, France; be initiated into the art of calligraphy; marvel at the restoration of Michelangelo’s statue of David in Florence; here is the iconic Viennese waltz; watch the ecstatic footsteps of flamenco dancers; observe the fantastic architecture of Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona; admire the exhilarating acrobats of Shanghai; listen to the voices of the Vienna Boys Choir; visit the unusual bookshop in Venice and meet the members of the Viking team. All the videos are well done; some are magical and capture the transcendent power of travel. Charismatic, quirky, passionate, introspective, seductive, captivating, heartwarming, pleasant, sympathetic, lively, reassuring, brilliant, funny – the personalities presented in the video remind us that we travel to see new places, but what remains most in our fondest vacation memories are often the people we meet along the way.
Want to quench your thirst for travel, to get closer to other travelers? Raise your glass to toast, for now, these neatly positioned virtual anchors win the day.