I’ve been on board Viking Star for five days now, and it took me that long to assess Viking Ocean Cruises’ newest vessel and figure her out. I’m not alone. She’s a small ship, but as Viking Ocean Cruises’ Chairman Torstein Hagen points out, space was well-utilized, and that means there is a lot to see and experience as well as new things to be discovered.
When I walked up to the Explorers Lounge this morning, for example, it was buzzing with activity. I had been up here on previous mornings, and it was quiet. Why the buzz this morning? I bumped into the cruise director who joked, “It takes people about five days to discover that Mamsen’s is open during breakfast.”
Indeed, I’d not noticed, even when I peeped in on previous visits. Had I known, I would have been here earlier in the week for the delicious Nordic waffles and fresh berries. Alas, I had my share of those anyway, and my belt is a tad bit tighter around my waist than it was when I boarded a few days ago.
Our port of call was Cadiz, and Viking Star had a prime parking spot, with my balcony facing the lovely palm-punctuated city. Chris Stanley, who produces video for Avid Cruiser, and I spent a few hours walking around the city, surprised at just how beautiful it was.
Chris and I had work to do, however, putting the finishing touches on a video for Avid Cruiser readers. I hope you enjoy it, and should you cruise on Viking Star, you’ll have a head start on your fellow passengers. Remember Mamsen’s = Nordic waffles in the morning. Our secret for now.
Produced by Ralph Grizzle | Cinematography by Chris Stanley, Amber Pacific Studios
Filmed aboard Viking Star Barcelona to Lisbon, May 2 through May 7, 2015
Welcome aboard the new Viking Star, Viking River Cruises first foray into ocean cruising. In launching Viking Star, the company drew upon what made its river cruises so successful: one included excursion in each port of call, free Wifi on board, complimentary beer and wine with lunch and dinner — and the explorer’s spirit of its Viking heritage. You’ll see all of that and more as we take you around this vessel of understated Scandinavian elegance.
Viking Star is a celebration of all things Nordic. The two-deck Explorers Lounge celebrates the explorations of the ancient Vikings with décor themed around ancient Viking trade routes. At Mamsen’s, situated in the Explorer’s Lounge, Scandinavian specialties, including delicious waffles, are served on dishes from Norway. There’s a Viking Heritage corner with artifacts from the Viking era, and tapestries in the stairwell landings depicting a bloody skirmish that symbolized the end of the Viking Age in 1066.
In the Aquavit Terrace, also found on Viking’s river cruisers, I enjoyed a glass of Aquavit, a flavored spirit that has been produced in Scandinavia since the 15th century.
The expansive spa is operated by Stockholm’s LivNordic. The fitness center is among the best I’ve experienced on a ship of this size, thanks to a good mix of cardiovascular and strength-building machines. The spa’s inside pool area has two distinctly Scandinavian features — a sauna representing fire, and snow room, representing ice. It was colder than I had imagined, and the snow felt real. There’s also a gorgeous pool set against a wall of flames.
Viking Star’s four restaurants come with no extra charge. There are two reservations-only restuarants, Manfredi’s with Italian-inspired cuisine, and The Chef’s Table, which offers a wine-pairing menu. Wine, as well as beer and soft drinks, are served during lunch and dinner at no extra charge, just like on Viking’s river cruisers. The World Café is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner for those who want to go casual, and the main Restaurant features open-seating dining, so that you can dine on your schedule. Both the World Cafe and the Main Restaurant feature al fresco dining thanks to doors that slide open.
The Living Room spans three decks with a wide staircase set against an LCD screen that displays images from Scandinavian landscapes. Underneath the staircase is a carpet of Nordic lichen. There are lots of cozy nooks in the Living Room, with furry pelts draped across cozy chairs and sofas. Those cozy nooks even extend to the pool deck, with comfortable sofas and areas that give a fair amount of privacy.
The ship’s magradome opens and closes so that the pool can be used in any weather. Also within the pool area is the Wintergarden, a beautiful area that feels a little like a Nordic beach resort. High tea is served here each afternoon.
Staterooms are well-appointed, Scandinavian in design with light woods and comfortable beds. A minibar is included. The bathroom features large showers but no tub, except in suites. WiFi, which worked excellent for me, comes at no extra cost.
With its first ocean-going ship, Viking Ocean Cruises is targetting the same demographic that its targetting for its river cruises. English-speakers who are 55-plus, well-educated, affluent, curious and interested in culture and history. So that guests can explorer the places that Viking Star visits, one excursion is included at no cost in each port of call.
I’ll say good-bye to you from one of the most remarked upon features on Viking Star, the Infinity Pool. I’m Ralph Grizzle. See you next time.