The Norwegian flag can be seen in Auckland Harbour, proudly unfurled over the Viking Sun's inaugural world cruise.

But don't be deceived.

Viking boats are about as Norwegian as you or I. Possibly less.

They are built in Italy, based in Switzerland and made famous by their sister company, which tours German rivers.

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However, like their Scandi-inspired designs, it is an identity thoroughly researched and obsessed with cultural and historical detail.

As communications manager Jane Moggridge told me aboard the Viking Sun, this is the "thinking person's cruise."

You won't find any Broadway-style extravaganzas here; the onboard entertainment is pared down to a modest theatre of 400 seats,

Instead the cruise opts for reserved, Scandinavian intellectualism. It hosts TED talks by onboard historians and culinary masterclasses, the head chef leading passenger excursions on land in search of local dishes.

The Sun goes forth seeking local inspiration from each port of call.

With only 900 passengers, the smaller ship can berth in some of the less visited destinations, as it makes its first circumnavigation of the globe.

Though Auckland is the first stop in New Zealand for the gleaming, three-month old boat, the Sun will be back in December, a world's worth wiser and more curious.