Viking Star Maiden Voyage Underway
New Viking Star, the first ship from new Viking Ocean Cruises is sailing on her maiden voyage from Istanbul to Venice right now. After a segmented sailing that ends in the Norwegian port of Bergen, the new ship will be christened on May 17 and we will be on board for that major event in maritime history. Already, we are seeing good reports and intense coverage of the new ship, hailed as a ‘game changer’ and ‘the most anticipated ship of 2015’. As big fans of the Viking river experience, glowing reports of new ocean product are not surprising, especially considering the people of the Viking organization.
“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,” said a well-quoted Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises.
We agree and have looked Hagen in the eye on several occasions, compared his words to his actions and found no disparity between the two. Clearly a visionary leader, Hagan has the foresight to set up an operational team capable launching a dozen new Viking Longships for the river product while simultaneously launching a new ocean cruise line and it’s first ship, all within a few months of each other. Impressive.
So let’s take a look at new Viking Star in advance of seeing the new ship first-hand and the talking points Viking is promoting as the Viking Star maiden voyage is underway. We’ll compare what is being promoted to reality later, much as we have done with the Viking river video library and advance information provided their river cruise passengers, finding that effort to be good, accurate information.
Gross tonnage: 47,800 tons (we’ll take their word for this, we don’t have a scale this big)
Staterooms: 465, all balconies
Now, highlights of the ship being currently promoted, in Viking’s own words for the most part:
Designed To Be Destination Focused
“Engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, guests have an easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation, allowing them more time to spend enjoying each destination”
- Light-filled with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Star was designed the same interior design team as the Viking Longships. Design details pay homage to Nordic heritage in an effort to help guests immerse themselves in local surroundings.
- 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.
- In the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods ]
In the Spa, the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia includes the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and the first Snow Room at sea, to materials inspired by Scandinavian nature
Blonde wood “trees” stretch their branches up to the glass ceiling, forming a lattice canopy over a serene space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea service.
The Viking Living Room
The Viking Living Room is a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway’s Finse Mountain Plateau.
- Leveraging extensive feedback and input from Viking River Cruises passengers, Viking Ocean Cruises was developed with experienced travelers in mind.
- Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests can experience local culture at night or evening performances.
- Ports include both cosmopolitan cities and “collector ports,” appealing to those with an interest in history, art, music, and cuisine.
- While onboard, guests will enjoy informative talks from local experts and carefully selected lecturers in The Theater.
- Dining options onboard Viking Star 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, otherwise known as “Mamsen;” and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant embraces authentic Tuscan and Roman cuisine.
- In the Kitchen Table, the high-tech space 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.
Included and Optional Excursions
While every cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port, Viking’s optional excursion program was designed to provide guests with enriching privileged-access experiences that go beyond the iconic and expected.
Highlighted examples include:
- 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.
More On Viking Star
The best resource we have found so far on the launch of Viking Star and the Viking Star Maiden Voyage is USA Today’s Cruise Log where Gene Sloan has done a great job of providing many more images and details on the new ship with his First Look: Inside The Year’s Hottest New Ship.
All Images – Viking Ocean Cruises except where noted