Viking Ocean Cruises has their first ship in the water, launched recently and now on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice. The first voyage for any ship is always a special experience, made more significant in this instance by a whole lot of Viking-specific elements. Viking Star is the first of as many as ten new ships. Viking Star was inspired by the wildly popular Viking Longships of river cruise fame. Viking Star is designed with Destination Cruising in mind. Viking Star represents the birth of a new cruise line. Viking Star, Viking Star, Viking Star…is dominating cruise news, and rightfully so. We predict right now that Viking Star will be the Ship Of The Year on a number of future rating, reader and editor’s pick lists. And we say that without sailing yet.
Returning The Focus Of Cruising To Destinations
After Viking Star’s maiden voyage ends in Venice, the new 47,800-ton ship will make her way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on her way to be officially christened in Bergen, Norway during a citywide celebration on May 17 – Norwegian Constitution Day. We will be there for that.
“We have always believed that cruising should be about connecting you to your destination – not just taking you to places on a map. It is our view that in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail,” – Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises.
Designed to emulate Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen’s vision of returning the focus of cruising to destinations, preliminary reports indicate Viking Star has what it takes. All staterooms have balconies to allow each of the 930 passengers a grand view of those destinations, coming and going. Built to allow easy access to ports, those Viking guests will get on and off the ship quickly, spending more time in port.
Timeless Design Elements
Like their river cruise cousins, Viking Star Class ships are designed as a blank canvas with timeless, light-filled Scandinavian décor. Among other interesting design features we are looking forward to bringing readers image and detail on in a new, unique way while on our Christening Cruise:
- A glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views
- Indoor-outdoor spaces offer more options for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class
- Huge windows and skylights blur the lines between inside and out
- A wrap-around promenade deck nods to a bygone era of classic ocean liners
- A carefully curated collection of Scandinavian artwork adorns the walls of the restaurants and public spaces
- The two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ship, inspired by ancient Viking trade routes
- The Wintergarden where blonde wood “trees” stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling
- The Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway’s Finse Mountain Plateau
- The Theater where guests will enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers
“With our new ocean cruises, we have created a new kind of vessel that is smaller in size and smarter in design, offering an alternative to today’s mega liners. Along with our privileged-access excursions and onboard enrichment, we have made the destination the true focus of our new ocean cruises.”- Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises.
A Sneak Peek At Culinary Efforts
Culinary venues on board, an element of the cruise experience of particular interest to readers, will be examined as well:
- The World Café- Dining options onboard Viking Star promise to elevate food as a cultural experience – the World Café features global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens
- Mamsen’s features Norwegian deli-style fare, according to the recipes of Hagen’s mother, Ragnhild
- Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine.
- The Kitchen Table is a high-tech space that offers cooking classes featuring a wide range of regionally inspired dishes and culinary techniques; at night it transforms into an interactive dinner experience with fellow guests and Viking’s esteemed chefs.
A Ship Built For A Destination Focus
A hallmark of the Viking experience on rivers, the Viking Ocean product also includes a guided excursion in each port. Still, Viking promises that their optional excursion program “brings the opportunity to provide enriching privileged-access experiences that go beyond the iconic and expected.” In other words: not a sideline or reaction to traveler-driven interest in destinations, this could be the right tool for the job.
Take a look at this Viking-provided list and their description of each. Remember, this is the same company that we have validated time and time again how very closely the actual experience matches the expectation they set.
- Private Visit to Hagia Sophia by Night, Istanbul, Turkey – On this special excursion, guests visit the magnificent Hagia Sophia for a private tour free of crowds. After departing the ship with a guide, guests enjoy a drive over the Galata Bridge into the heart of Old Istanbul to walk the hallowed halls of Hagia Sophia and view its priceless treasures. After the visit, guests enjoy refreshments in the courtyard of the nearby Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami, a charming Turkish bathhouse.
- Cooking with a Countess, Venice, Italy – Countessa Lelia Passi welcomes Viking guests to her home, which has been in her family for hundreds of years. In the magnificent surroundings of this lavish palace, the countess and her teaching staff share with guests the secrets of Italian cooking.
- Sail & Swim the French Riviera, Toulon, France – Guests have the opportunity to try their hand at sailing a luxury sailboat on the Bay of Toulon. Weather permitting, the yacht will anchor in one of many small coves, where guests can relax with a drink or snack, or perhaps a swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
- A Normandy Countryside Cheese & Brandy Tasting – In the village of Pont L’Évêque, savor a special Norman lunch amidst the Calvados barrels of Les Tonneaux du Père Magloire restaurant. After your meal, you will visit the cellars to learn how apples are transformed into the “eau de vie,” the water of life—Normandy’s favorite brandy.
- Kayak a Fjord – Guests have an opportunity to paddle among the tranquility Norway’s mighty fjords, on an active and exciting excursion.
- At Home in Haugesund, Haugesund, Norway – Visit a traditional home for tea. Your hosts, a local garden designer and architect, welcome you into their wooden house that dates to 1884. You visit and enjoy tea steeped from herbs in their garden.
Get a good idea of the grace and elegance we believe will go down as being an enduring memory from sailing Viking Star in this recent video
From now through April 30, 2015, Viking is offering U.S. residents 2015 Special Savings and 2016 Early Booking Discounts with 2-for-1 pricing on cruise departures and savings of up to $750 per person on international air. Viking Inclusive Pricing provides unparalleled value—with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Passengers also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; wi-fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service—a value of more than $2,400 per couple for an average cruise. Contact a travel agent or call Viking toll free at 1-855-8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464).