The Viking Star cruise ship of Viking Cruises is probably the most-anticipated cruise ship of 2015. It's the first ocean-going ship of a new cruise line. Most cruise travelers are familiar with Viking River Cruises, which started with 4 ships on Russian waterways about 20 years ago but has grown to 60 river ships operated in Europe, Asia, and Egypt today. The 930-guest Viking Star is the first ship for Viking's new ocean cruise company, aptly named Viking Cruises. Her almost twin sister ship, the Viking Sea, is very similar inside and outside.
Viking's river ships are designed for destination cruising, and the company has continued this theme on the Viking Star. However, the ship is spacious, comfortable, gorgeous, and adult-oriented, so I'm sure most guests will love a day at sea on the ship. The destination focus includes excellent guest lecturers, regional cuisine, and plenty of time for learning and socializing with other guests. The ship does not have a casino or a water park, but does offer almost all-inclusive cruising with one excursion included at each port, free WiFi throughout the ship, complimentary use of the thermal suite in the spa, complimentary self-service laundry, no surcharges in the specialty restaurants, and wine and/or beer included at lunch and dinner.
The Viking Star cruise ship also has other features that might appear small, but are important to travelers. For example, although the timing of availability of cabins and suites is staggered, everyone can board at 11 am and enjoy a leisurely lunch onboard this beautiful ship rather than sit in the cruise terminal. Other small but important examples are the bath toiletries with large print on the bottles (perfect for older eyes), 24-hour room service, afternoon tea each day in the Wintergarden, and a heated tile floor in each cabin's bathroom.
The following will provide an overview of the Viking Star.
Viking Star Cabins and Suites
All of the cabins and suites on the Viking Star cruise ship have a private veranda, and the smallest accommodations are 270 square feet.
Although the ship's primary focus are its destinations, guests will appreciate the comfortable, home-like features of the five categories of staterooms. Like the rest of the ship, the cabins and suites have streamlined, clean furnishings, neutral colors, and abundant use of wood.
Viking Star Dining and Cuisine
Dining on the Viking Star is relaxing and fun, with diverse venues sure to please travelers. The five main dining venues are diverse and often feature regional specialties, interesting and delicious new tastes, and familiar comfort food. The Viking Star even has a Norwegian venue--Mamsen's--with marvelous Nordic dishes like sweet, soft waffles and brown cheese.
I enjoyed all of the venues on the ship, but especially loved Manfredi's Italian Restaurant.
Viking Star Interior Common Areas
The interior common areas of the Viking Star reflect her Nordic traditions. The beautiful mid-sized cruise ship is filled with comfortable neutral colors and lots of wood. The design is sleek, clean, and Scandinavian. The ship's designers wanted the public spaces to feel like home, and they've succeeded. The atrium/hub of the ship is called the Living Room, which reflects its atmosphere.
My favorite interior venue is the Explorers' Lounge seen in the photo above, which is the forward observation lounge. What makes it different are the inspiring exhibits and books related to explorers and famous explorations.
Many guests on my cruise cited the Wintergarden as their favorite indoor space. It has plenty of natural light and opens to the out of doors when the retractable roof over the nearby swimming pool is opened.
The Viking Star has a Nordic spa, complete with all the standard treatments. What differentiates this spa is the complimentary Nordic bathing area in the thermal suite, complete with sauna and snow room. The ship also has a well-equipped fitness center.
In addition to the many lounges, the Viking Star also has a large theater, which is used for lectures, presentations, movies, and entertainment. In keeping with the educational environment, the Viking Heritage display provides information and artifacts related to Norway and the Vikings.
Viking Star Outdoor Decks
Like the indoor common areas, the outdoor deck areas on the Viking Star are adult-oriented and simple. You won't find a water park or even a slide on the swimming pool. I'm sure adults will love it! There are plenty of lounge chairs and outdoor seating. The Aquavit Terrace is an outdoor bar aft of the Aquavit Bar and the World Cafe. The Infinity Pool seen in the photo above offers amazing views of the sea.
I love to walk the decks of a cruise ship, and the Viking Star has an outdoor quarter-mile teak promenade on deck 2 that encircles the ship. The ship also has outdoor fitness equipment, a miniature golf course, and shuffleboard courts.
Viking Star Itineraries and Ports of Call
The 930-guest Viking Star is large enough to have multiple dining venues, lounges, and public spaces. In addition, each of the mid-sized ship's accommodations has its own private balcony. Although all of these features make the ship attractive to travelers, Viking Cruises planned for the ship to primarily be destination-oriented.
The Viking Star sails Northern Europe and the Baltic from April to September and the eastern and western Mediterranean from October to March. At the end of each season, the Viking Star has an extended-length repositioning cruise between the two European regions. The itineraries range in length from 7 to 49 days, but many can be combined into a longer voyage if desired. The Viking Star often overnights at some traveler-favorite ports like Istanbul, St. Petersburg, Venice, Barcelona, Stockholm, and Bergen.
Many of the ports of call are familiar to European cruise travelers, but others are only accessible to small or mid-sized ships like the Viking Star. For example, as seen in the photo above, the Viking Star can sail up the Seine River to Rouen, France, which gives guests less time riding on a bus if they wish to visit Paris for a day. The Viking Star can also sail up the Thames River all the way to Greenwich near London, whereas larger ships have to dock at ports on the sea. This docking position allows guests more time in London. The size of the ship allows it to dock at most ports rather than use a tender, which makes embarking and disembarking much easier.
Guests on the Viking Star have one shore excursion in most ports included in their basic fare. This excursion is usually a bus or walking tour of the port, which provides a nice overview, especially for those who have not visited the port before. The ship also offers many other enticing shore excursions for an extra fee, and the enrichment lecturers onboard the Viking Star provide both general information and history as well as fascinating tidbits about each destination.
Viking Star Statistics
For those who like fun facts and statistics, here are some interesting ones on the Viking Star provided by Viking Cruises:
- Gross Registered Tonnage -- 47,800
- Number of Guests -- 930
- Number of Cabins and Suites -- 465
- Megawatts of Electrical Power -- 23.1
- Gallons of Paint Used on Hull -- 24,000
- Maximum Speed -- 20 knots
- Number of Tenders -- 4
- Plates Washed Each Day -- 10,000
- Eggs Used Each Day -- about 5,000
- Pounds of Potatoes Prepared per Day -- 440
- Loaves of Bread Baked each Day -- 800
- Uniforms Pressed each Day -- 900
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.