Last updated: 10:30 PM ET, Sat June 06 2015

Discover the Viking Star

Viking Cruises' first oceangoing ship offers a very comfortable, stylish sailing

Vacation Agent | Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | James Shillinglaw

Discover the Viking Star

PHOTO: Viking Star is a sleek, stylish ship accommodating 930 passengers. (All photos by James Shillinglaw)

Viking Cruises last month introduced its first oceangoing ship, part of a fleet of up to four vessels planned over the next few years. Like the river ships in Viking’s fleet, Viking Star offers a premium cruise experience on a very stylish, modern, mid-sized and comfortable vessel. It’s also squarely targeted at relatively affluent, English-speaking customers, especially couples, who are age 55 and older.

Viking Star is a nine-deck vessel carrying 930-passengers and displacing 47,800 gross registered tons. It’s one of the most eagerly anticipated new ships in years, especially since it is the brainchild of maverick river cruise impresario Torstein Hagen, who has now taken his Viking river concept to the high seas.

Here’s a look at what Viking Star offers based on a five-night pre-inaugural cruise from Lisbon to London.

Public Spaces: Viking Star is a ship divided into small living spaces. The main lounge on Deck 1 in the three-deck atrium is a great place for passengers who want to relax, read, drink coffee or eat pastry, or a drink at the bar. Guests can spend time in different “living rooms” or even sit on the grand staircase leading up to a giant backlit screen depicting outsize photos of Norwegian natural scenes.

Indeed, the Norwegian and Viking heritage of Viking Cruises Chairman Tor Hagen runs throughout the decor of the vessel. The living spaces and staterooms are decorated in a very modern and Scandinavian look. Artwork throughout the ship is from Norwegian artists, except for the reproductions of the Bayeux Tapestry in the stairwells.

And for those who don’t know the history, the tapestry depicts the Norman invasion of England. The Normans (or Norsemen), who inhabited the northeastern region of France, were actually descendants of the Vikings.

The small living spaces theme carries through to Deck 7, where there are two lounges to choose from. First there’s the Explorer’s Lounge, a two-level space overlooking the bow offering comfortable chairs, Norwegian artwork, lots of books, and even a small cafe featuring Norwegian specialties for breakfast, lunch and late-night snacks called Mamsen’s, after Tor Hagen’s mother.

PHOTO: The ship is divided into comfortable living room lounge spaces throughout.

Then there’s the Wintergarden, a greenhouse-like lounge located next to the pool, with lots of couches and chairs, as well as a bar. Here guests can take afternoon tea and also lounge around on sea days to read or play games.

Back on Deck 1, this ship has a very different flow compared to others in the category. There are two specialty restaurants in the stern, Manfredi’s and the Chef’s Table (more on those later). Moving forward, guests get to the main atrium lounge, before passing by the Viking Shop (selling jewelry, cosmetics, etc.), a hair salon and then the reservations desk for the LiV Nordic Spa.

Deck 2 features the other main public space on the ship, starting in the stern with The Restaurant, the ship’s main dining venue, a large space that circles the stern of the vessel. There’s even a small living room space for guests waiting to meet for dinner. The deck also has an outdoor promenade where guests can exercise by making a complete tour around the ship.

Also on Deck 2 is the Viking Museum, which features a brief history of the Vikings and their impact on the world, and the second level of the atrium, where once again there is living room space, including card and game tables. Moving to the bow, the deck leads into another shopping area and the main nighttime venue, Torshaven, a bar and lounge complete with dance floor, combo band and DJ, followed by the Star Theater.

Deck 8 is the sun deck, with plenty of deck chairs, while Deck 9, in the stern, is the sports deck, catering to the target client, with shuffleboard, mini-golf, bocce ball and some outdoor gym equipment.

Entertainment: Star Theater, the ship’s main entertainment venue, features semi-nightly performances showcasing either an individual musical performer or a show. Viking Star’s atrium also is used as a performance space for string trios. A pianist and a musical combo play nightly up in the Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 7, while a combo plays popular hits nightly in the Torshaven lounge on Deck 2. Notably, Viking Star has no casino onboard, something Hagen vowed he would not feature on his new oceangoing fleet.

Dining: Dining venues onboard include The Restaurant, Manfredi’s and the Chef’s Table. When planning the ship, Hagen said his main restaurant would be one people would like to eat in most of the time, instead of the specialty venues. To a large extent that seems to be true, according to the passengers on this cruise. The Restaurant also has glass doors that can be opened up to the promenade, creating an outdoor dining venue.

A guest favorite is Manfredi’s, an Italian eatery named after Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of Silversea Cruises, who is a close friend of Hagen’s. The restaurant features photos of Italian movie stars interspersed with a couple of Tor and Manfredi cooking up a storm.

Less successful, at least so far, is the Chef’s Table, a tasting menu restaurant featuring food and wine pairings. The menu changes weekly, but most passengers seemed more interested in dining in Manfredi’s or other venues.

In between the Chef’s Table and Manfredi’s is the Kitchen Table, located not surprisingly next to the main kitchen. This offers a dining experience (priced at $299 per person) where guests help the chef shop for food in the morning and then help him cook it in the afternoon, before dining in the evening.

Up on Deck 7, the World Cafe, the ship’s buffet-style restaurant, offers a series of food stations in a sleek, modern and comfortable space, opening up to an Aquavit Terrace in the stern, where guests can dine al fresco.

The Pool Grill offers hamburgers, hot dogs and salads, while in the Explorer’s Lounge, the aforementioned Mamsen’s Cafe features Norwegian specialties, and is quickly developing a following for those seeking a quick but delicious meal.

In all dining venues, wine and beer is free at lunch and dinner; only premium wines and alcohol carry a charge.

Accommodations: Viking Star is an all-balcony stateroom ship (no inside cabins) with five categories: Explorer Suite, Penthouse Junior Suite, Penthouse Veranda, Deluxe Veranda and Veranda.

A typical Penthouse Veranda cabin is spacious and comfortable with a large balcony. The room is decorated in Scandinavian style reminiscent of the accommodations aboard Viking’s river ships. It features a comfortable king-size bed, large closet, more than adequate drawer space, a surprisingly large desk (designed with writers in mind obviously), a large couch, easy chair and coffee table.

The spacious bathroom comes with a large shower, a designer sink, a large mirror and plenty of white towels. There’s a minibar with free soda, beer, wine, champagne and snacks. A 40-inch flat-screen, interactive TV with six “live” TV stations (Fox, CNBC, E Entertainment, MSNBC, BBC and a entertainment channel), a large selection of current and classic movies, as well as a selection of TV shows.

One of the few challenges on Viking Star is the Wi-Fi Internet. Then again, unlike other cruise ships, the Internet is free, which is certainly a plus.

Pools & Spa: The ship’s main pool on Deck 7 features a magradome that can slide over to enclose the entire area during inclement weather. There’s also a second smaller infinity pool and hot tub in the stern on Deck 7.

PHOTO: A small infinity pool and hot tub in the stern offer guests a scenic spot.

The LiV Nordic Spa, featuring eight treatment rooms, also has a unique “snow” room where guests can quickly freeze themselves before going back to the sauna, a hot tub or large plunge pool. Men’s and women’s locker rooms each have their own private plunge pools, sauna and showers.

Cruising Style: Passengers on Viking Star are well-educated, experienced travelers and many have sailed on Viking’s river cruises in Europe. They also seem to represent an older demographic than Viking’s stated focus on the 55-plus guest.

Itineraries & Pricing: Viking Star is currently sailing this spring and summer on a 15-day Viking Homelands cruise from Stockholm to Bergen (or the reverse). The sailing is priced from $6,199 per person, which includes roughly one complimentary shore excursion in every port; additional shore excursions are available for a fee.

For more information or reservations, call 866-984-5464 or 855-884-5464, or visit

For more information on Viking Cruises

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Vacation Agent Magazine

A version of this article appears in print in the June 2015 issue of Vacation Agent Magazine.


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