Going on a cruise is synonym with many wonderful experiences, including some incredible food. Come sunset nothing beats the view of the sun sinking into the sea while indulging on some fine cruise foods and drinks. The cruises on the Baltic Sea are no exception and their restaurants offer a fantastic range of dining options while travelling on the Baltic Sea. I have recently been on a day cruise from Stockholm on Viking Cinderella and was awed at the new Viking Line Buffet. Onboard their ships, Viking Line serves a fantastic buffet that features carefully selected delicacies from the nordic cuisine in its most exquisite form: the smörgåsbord.
Smörgåsbord is the essence of Scandinavian eating. It consists of various foods, hot and cold, served on a table in a buffet style. It is the most common way of serving a meal in Scandinavia. In Sweden the celebrations of Christmas and Midsommar call for a buffet meal. It is comon to find buffet-style food serving at weddings and even restaurants often offer this solution. The buffet option may sound cheap to an outsider, as foreign restaurants often choose this style to keep costs lower. In Sweden, though, buffet is not necessarily a synonym of cheaper eating as it can apply to finer dining, too. It was for example the case when I had my fondue dinner at a ski resort. And it is the case onboard the Viking Line ships that cruise across the Baltic Sea daily.
The Buffet aboard Viking Line
When we celebrated our first anniversary, my boyfriend and I treated ourselves to a couple of cruises on the Baltic. One to Turku, Finland and then one to Riga, Latvia. Our first night aboard we spontaneously decided to try the Viking Line buffet, and that officially became our first anniversary dinner. Viking Line recommends to pre-book the dinner at the time of booking the cruise ticket, as tables may sold out on busier days, but we just dropped in and were assigned a table. It was not busy and we were lucky to score a table by a window. Dining with a view on the Stockholm archipelago was definitely quite romantic and made some great memories. So much that the following year we boarded Viking Line again and went off to explore the Åland islands for our second anniversary.
I have been a guest on Viking Line ships a few more times since I moved to Sweden, but never treated myself to the onboard buffet since that epic anniversary dinner. Until recently, when I went on a day cruise to Åland on Viking Cinderella. This time I decided to make an exception and try the Viking Line buffet again. It’s been almost 5 years since that first romantic dinner and I was really curious to see if it was still as good as I remembered. The only difference being that this time I went to dinner with a friend, as my boyfriend was in Italy for a bike race. With the cruise costing us only 12 SEK (1,2 €) per person (we were a party of 4 and shared a cabin that cost 50 SEK total), two of us decided it was really worth splurging on food this time.
The Viking Line Buffet food
Previously known as Viking Buffet, the signature buffet served on Viking Line ships underwent some major menu renovations in 2017 and was renamed The Buffet. In 2017 Viking Line started a cooperation with the Swedish Culinary Team, a team of twelve chefs and pastry chefs lead by Fredrik Andersson who represent Sweden in international culinary competitions. The result of this cooperation was the creation of the most impressive floating smörgåsbord on the Baltic Sea. The Viking Line buffet menu features 26 cold dishes and 26 warm dishes, plus a wide selection of vegetables, cheese, breads and 20 items on the dessert table. (See the full menu here.) The Buffet also features unlimited drinks, that include water and soft drinks, one red wine, one white wine and one rosé wine as well as Finnish beer Lapin Kulta on tap, tea and coffee. The cost is 324 SEK (32 €) per person if booked in advance.
Both cold and warm dishes feature a wide range of foods that include meat, fish and vegetables. The cuisine is typical Nordic, and features such flavours as herring, shrimp, horseradish, chanterelle, dark bread and caviar. The Buffet is a great opportunity to try some key dishes of the Scandinavian tradition such as salmon (cold smoked, hot smoked and baked), various kinds of pickled herring and the unmissable Swedish meatballs. The focus is on local produce and the fish is king – remember you’re eating on the very Baltic Sea, supplier of the delicious fish served at the Buffet. Other local items include Scania mustard, rapeseed oil from Åland and a signature sauce that was conceived just for this menu, the Nordic pesto. It resembles the Italian pesto alla genovese, but instead of basil, Parmigiano and pine nuts it features parsley, Västerbotten cheese and pumpkin seeds.
Great fish and amazing dessert
From what I can tell comparing the Viking Line buffet of 5 years ago and the one I enjoyed recently, the selection has grown immensely. I had really enjoyed my dinner on Viking Line the first time, but this time around the Buffet went beyond my expectations. As a huge fish appreciator I must admit that fish was the best feature of the Buffet menu. If, like me, you are a lover of anything salmon and shrimp you could just fill your plate with that all the time and leave happy. The meat was also great, with such items as beef tartare that I do not remember being featured in the old version. Still to me the fish was best. If you eat and like fish you can appreciate the Viking Buffet to the fullest, in my opinion.
Another section that has notably grown was the dessert table. I was impressed with the selection of desserts, that included many cakes, sauces and even macarons! As I stated many times, especially when I blog about home-made macarons, I am not a huge fan of those but their appearance is undoubtedly spectacular.
Is the Viking Line Buffet vegetarian?
Does the Viking Line Buffet accommodate vegetarians? Yes, the Buffet has a wide selection of vegetables and vegetarian dishes. It even features some vegan options, such as the vegan “pickled herring” and vegan “caviar”. Even vegans and non-pescatarians can enjoy some of the key flavours of the typical archipelago dining. While I think that it is great that the new Viking Line Buffet can accommodate all kinds of guests, I believe that if you have a restricted diet this buffet might be a bit on the expensive side. Still, if you don’t mind the more limited selection of foods when you don’t take meat or fish, it’s great that even vegans can join their friends and dine at the Buffet. The fact that unlimited alcoholic drinks come included in the price already makes it up for guests with a restricted diet or a smaller appetite.
At reception one can check the allergy guide to make sure what allergens are contained in the Buffet food. Every dish is separately plated and guests are very respectful and help themselves with the designated tongs, thus ensuring minimal cross-contamination. Staff is very attentive and helpful and can point the right foods to guests with special dietary requirements. Even the dessert section included both gluten free and vegan (lactose and milk free) options.
As an omnivore with no food allergies I thoroughly enjoyed my experience dining on the Baltic Sea at Viking Cinderella’s restaurant. The hardest part was trying to sample everything. I filled my plate twice and I still didn’t get to try all the foods. For once, I needed to leave room for dessert, and I do not regret it one bit. Furthermore, I needed an excuse to come back.
The next time I really want to take my boyfriend again to the Buffet. He needs to see for himself how much better this dining experience has become since the first time we had it. Also, given the reason why he was not there with me this time (he did a 130-Km bike race), I say he totally deserves some calories now!
Pin for later reference: