It’s not quite a new river cruise ship, but Viking Cruises brand-new Viking Star is likely to be of interest to anyone who has taken a river cruise with the popular river cruise line.
Viking’s first-ever foray into ocean cruising, Viking Star was designed to emulate the convenience and inclusivity of a river cruise, but with the size, speed and flexibility of an ocean cruise. The 930-guest ship just entered service last month, and will be christened in Bergen, Norway on May 17.
If you’ve been itching to travel to the Nordics (or longing to return), look no further than Viking Star. The new ocean cruiser is a tribute to ancient Viking heritage and to contemporary Nordic culture.
Shortly after embarking on Saturday, I toured the 930-guest vessel with Viking Ocean Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen. As we walked through the main areas of the ship, I felt as though I were back in Scandinavia. I brushed against (faux) birch bark, admired a colorful carpet of lichen, stepped into a Swedish-branded spa operated by Stockholm’s LivNordic, and dug my fork into Norwegian waffles topped with berries and sour cream — just as I have done many times back in the south of Sweden.
Indeed, Viking Star is a celebration of all things Nordic, including Hagen himself. In the Owner’s Suite, Hagen showed framed photos of himself as a baby boy and a painting of a cherub-cheeked lad who turned out to be Hagen himself. Though known for being outspoken, he did it all with an appropriate sense of Jante Law, a Nordic notion that essentially encourages Scandinavians to exercise restraint in celebrating individual achievements or talking too much about themselves (think Americans in reverse).
Later in the evening, I stepped into a nightclub named Torshavn. I sat for a drink at the Aquavit Terrace (familiar to those who have cruised on Viking’s Longships). I lounged in the Living Room, where furry pelts were draped across cozy chairs and sofas. All throughout the vessel, I was impressed by the many private nooks, even on the pool deck. The 930-guest vessel didn’t feel crowded, at least not yet. I’ll be looking to see if that changes during the week.
Click here to read Ralph’s full report from his first day onboard Viking Star!
So why should river cruisers care? Simply put, the launch of Viking Star is a huge game-changer for both the cruise industry as a whole: Viking has done what few other lines would dare to attempt by branching out from river cruising into ocean cruising. That in itself is historic. But more importantly, Viking is bringing the look and the feel of their popular Viking Longships to their ocean cruising product, which will see three brand-new cruise ships launched by the end of 2016.
Next week, we’ll be reporting from Viking Star’s christening ceremonies, scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway on May 17.
More information on Viking Cruises can be found by viewing our company profile here on River Cruise Advisor.