When the Viking Sun completes her 245-day sailing from London and back, she will be a Guinness World Record holder. Sailing on her for the entire trip is a couple with equally record-worthy endurance
On the "Ultimate World Cruise" David Mutton and Roger Foenander might be the ultimate cruise couple.
"We've just got a print out from Viking and they said we've done 566 days on the Viking ships. That's over the last five years," beams Roger.
Sat in the lounge of the Viking Sun, the pair from Sydney look very at home. Not just because in Auckland they are practically in home waters, but because Roger, 62, and David, 71, have already spent over four months on this ship.
Having started their voyage in London 140 days ago, they are part of a select group of passengers who have signed up for the whole round-the-world cruise. Encompassing 111 ports, 51 countries and 6 continents, when she returns to London at the end of the year she will have sailed into the Guinness Book of Records for the "longest continuous passenger cruise".
With 100 days still to go and port calls in Australia, the Middle East and the Mediterranean, it's an ambitious itinerary that Viking Cruise Lines has called the "Ultimate World Cruise".
There are 56 passengers who are sailing on the entire London-to-London cruise, and they have got to know each other very well. They've even started a dinner club.
"We have a supper club that we've organised, which is made up predominantly of the other world cruisers," says David. "Though we don't try to be separatist at all."
If you are going to be at sea for this amount of time you need to be able to entertain yourself and other passengers.
"Because of the length of time we're all retirees. Although we were surprised that there are quite a few younger people who are doing the Ultimate World Cruise, " says Roger. At 62, he might be at the younger end of the spectrum on any other ship, but here he is relatively senior to the ten or so "young ones" as he refers to them:
"They've obviously got money, they've got time, they've sold their businesses and signed up for the 240-day cruise."
An entry-level round the world fare started at $121,800 for a Veranda Stateroom. The Ultimate Cruise is a serious investment, not just in time.
The Viking Sun is by no means a large ship. At 228-metres long and under 1000 passengers, guests get to know the ship intimately.
The reality of multiple days at sea is something that passengers need to be comfortable with. Though, Roger and David say the cabin fever has not started to set in yet:
"It's this size cruise that attracts us. We wouldn't go on a large ship," says Roger.
Since taking their first river cruise together five years ago, they have become a lot more discerning in the type of ship they will sail in. The Viking Sun had to be just right if they were going to make the full 245 days at sea.
"River cruises by their nature are a lot more compact," explains David. "On an ocean cruise the ship is just as important as the destination. There are a lot of sea-days on a world cruise, so you have to feel comfortable on the cruise and keeping occupied."
The balance of a comfortable size and just 930 passengers means that neither he nor Roger have had to compete for space or resources. "It's an easy pace. And there's lots of help so you don't feel like you have to scream to be noticed."
Speaking of scream, the Sun is a treasure trove of artwork. This includes several originals by Edvard Munch – the man behind Norway's most famous Painting: The Scream.
The ship is awash with imagery and decals from Norse and Scandinavian culture. From the Bayeux tapestry on the walls to large replicas of the Lewis Chessmen, the Norwegian theme is proudly worn – if about as subtle as a horned Viking helmet.
Yet this was one of the appeals for David: "The aesthetic is very Scandinavian. Which is in contrast to other ships, that try to be a bit more flamboyant with chandeliers. This is a more serene, cool setting."
Summing up what they were looking for on the Viking Sun, Roger says it's the absence of certain things that appealed the most. "No casinos, no umbrella cocktails and no children."
The theme of all things Scandi extends from the decoration through to the health regimen. The spa includes not only a sauna, but also an icy plunge pool and an ice room with artificial snow.
"People need to know that they can trust their health," explains David who sees "physical fitness" and stamina as key to such a long cruise.
"When it's over eight months you tend to pace yourself more," he says.
And what will David and Roger do when they have returned to London?
Hop on another cruise, or four.
"We are seven months in Europe which includes four Viking river cruises – the Christmas cruises."
They have always wanted to see a white Christmas.
Ultimate cruise survival guide
You might want to make yourself at home but there are some things you have to leave behind.
"Pack minimally. You can pack too much," is Roger's advice.
See something new: David says they try to do a tour to get an overview of ports they haven't visited, but there's always a chance to see something new: "If we've been before, it's nice to do something more specialised."
The Chef's Table shore excursion is arranged for parties to visit local markets to find specialty ingredients to prepare and enjoy onboard the Viking Sun.
Look after your health
240+ nights is a long time to be at sea. You need to know you have the physical endurance to make the most of a round-the-world trip.
"Endurance is a strong word but you need to be able to see the long picture," says David.