Little Things That Make Viking Star A Big Hit

Viking Cruises new Viking Star brings a friendly cruise travel experience that really is quite unique. Over the last couple of weeks, we have taken a look at the Viking version of an ocean cruise from a number of angles.  Comparing the promise to the reality, Viking Star fared well.  Enabling travelers to customize their cruise in new ways, the unexpected result has the ship becoming part of the destination. In an interesting way, the crew takes a larger role in the overall experience.  But all that is my take on what Viking is doing, like it or not.  What about other people on the ship?  The other passengers.  The crew members.  Let’s take a look at common themes uncovered along the way, shared and enjoyed by more than a few.


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Plenty of Open Deck Space
Perhaps a double-edged sword here, fans of top deck attractions like water slides and playgrounds will come up short.  On the other hand, more al fresco dining and venues that can become one with the sea or destinations visited are transformed into an entirely different feel with huge floor to ceiling glass panels open.  Weather permitting, a sliding roof over the pool on Viking Star is also appreciated.


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Plenty Of People To Help
On a very basic level, that the cruise fare includes regional wine and beer with meals is a nice thought made better by abundant service people around to keep those glasses full.  A simple enough issue to handle, Viking passengers are not seen looking around for someone to help them.  Those territorial service members take care of business quickly and efficiently.


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Plenty Of Smiles
This is a happy bunch of people, the crew members who work with Viking Cruises.  Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that gratuities paid by passengers are just one part of the compensation program.  We look around a lot and consistently see pleasant people engaging passengers in a number of ways.  That they even have the time to chat seems to be an exception to the norm that we see on other lines.


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A Nicely Sized Vessel
930-passenger Viking Star shares the ability other smaller ships have that large ships just don’t; they can stop at more places.  Bonus: When they come to town, the ports are not overwhelmed with a barrage of cruise passengers.   In Ephesus, Turkey we enjoyed simply walking off the ship for coffee and breakfast at a water-front eatery.  With most other passengers off on the included tour of the day, we had the place pretty much to ourselves.


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Safe In An Unsafe World
Like other ocean-going ships, Viking Star too has elevated security measures in place that include the standard cruise card scan to get on or off the ship while in port.   Sailing in Turkish waters, we were not all that far from Syria, the place where recent travel security issues began.   A daily port guide left in each stateroom the night before brings current, relevant information about each place we visited along with a map of the area along with suggested places to shop and dine.


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A Local Focus And A Global Overview
Onboard enrichment lecturers are interesting, adding a personal element to the places Viking Star visits. Better yet, all these lectures can be watched on televisions in the comfort of staterooms Viking passengers really do want to spend time in.  That they all have verandah’s makes that notion all the more important.   Still, pleasant open spaces throughout the ship make for happy times with new friends met on board…something that is really hard to avoid…and you don’t want to avoid that element of it all.


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Little Unexpected Features Highlight Viking’s Keen Focus On The Passenger Experience
One day we returned to the ship to find many of the crew lined up, champagne flowing and music playing to welcome us back.  Technically not a ‘luxury’ cruise line, Viking Ocean Cruises has indeed raised the bar on what we think of being the big ship cruise experience.   Some tiny examples that add up to a big wonderful travel experience:

  • The Ship Smells Wonderful- I don’t know how they do it but they do.   All public areas smell like springtime, all the time.  I’m pretty sure they pump something into the ventilation system but continual cleaning 24 hours a day probably has something to do with that too.
  • There Are Few Announcments, Fewer Advertisements– The ship’s daily newsletter is just that, a simple schedule of when things are happening that also includes the next day’s menus.  No inch of gold promotion, promos for spa treatments, art auctions or other events that generate a lot of paper handbills.
  • Hydration Happens- Unlike any other we know of, Viking keeps their passengers hydrated with unlimited bottles of water for tours.  They hit each table in every dining venue within a minute to serve water.  Open 24/7: coffee/espresso/juice stations.
  • No Crowding-  While less than one thousand passengers is obviously far fewer than multiple thousands on a ship, Viking Star still hosts more passengers than one might at a cocktail party back home…but a cocktail party-sized ambiance is commonplace around the ship.  Tour groups leaving the ship do so on a schedule that avoids lines.

We’ll have more of these little things that set Viking Cruises new Viking Star apart once we’re back home with some time to reflect on the experience.  Stay tuned for that.


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