My wife Heidi Leppert and I are newlywed millennials and not exactly the target demographic for Viking Ocean Cruises, but that didn't stop us from falling in love with the Viking Star in the Caribbean. Here we give a bit of a "he said, she said" banter on our opinion of the new cruise line and ship.
He said: Having sailed from New York City to San Juan, Puerto Rico before a Caribbean roundtrip we had the opportunity to enjoy an entry-level Deluxe Veranda stateroom for the first few sea days before upgrading to a top-of-the-line Explorer Suite, and they were both fantastic in their own ways.
Even in the smallest cabins, which are larger than average, my favorite feature is an ample shower. Too many other ships skimp with a truncated bathing area farther reduced with a shower curtain blowing in on you, but not on Viking. The large square footprint glass enclosure is palatial in comparison to competitors.
She said: Preach. When I can comfortably shave my legs in a cruise ship shower, I'm a happy camper. Viking, thanks to a helpful shaving ledge, made me a happy camper!
He said: Our generation, in particular, also loves the plentiful USB charging ports in most staterooms onboard: two at each nightstand and five in the base of the desk lamp. Inexplicably, the Explorer Suite, however, did not have any, but that was quickly overlooked when we had a spacious living room with its own dining table, perfect for room service meals, separate from a master bedroom, walk-in closet and one of the most luxurious bathrooms ever.
How can you not fall head over heels for a massive shower and tub combo with a built-in television and window-view to a massive wraparound balcony and beyond?
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Nooks and Crannies
He said: One of the greatest things about the Viking Star is its many comfortable venues to pop a squat and relax, from The Viking Living Room atrium to the Explorers' Lounge observation space. I can never get enough of a great venue for taking in the passing scenery from the front of the ship, and Viking's tops them all with two decks' worth of panoramic views and an attached Norwegian deli for the tastiest of waffles.
She said: As for outdoor nooks and crannies, I rarely dip even a toe into a pool on a cruise ship (except for maybe the pool in the spa, or the adults-only pool) because they are always so darn crowded! Call me crazy, but being splashed by a bunch of kids and having no room to swim around isn't my idea of fun. On this trip, I enjoyed every pool on the ship! I suppose you could call all of them adults-only pools since you have to be 18 to sail on Viking Ocean. But the real treat was how empty they could be!
There is a pool on deck 7 under a retractable magrodome, an amazing infinity pool on the back of the ship, and a pool in the spa. And at one time or another, I was the only person in each of these pools. It was marvelous. And by the way, if you have never done an adults-only cruise, you've got to try it. Such a great, relaxed vibe all around the ship.
He said: In fact, the common spa facilities, extending to a hot tub, snow room, steam room, dry sauna, chilled plunge pool and heated tile beds are all free to use. How great is that?
He said: Besides waffles, the food across the board is excellent, from The Restaurant to the complimentary Manfredi's Italian restaurant and The Chef's Table. We sure enjoyed the ability to get 24-hour gourmet room service, including main dining room dinners delivered to our suite on occasion.
She said: I generally hate "group food," which is what I call any food prepared buffet or banquet style. Viking's buffet, the World Cafe, has risen high above the classification of group food. These are just a few of the dishes that can be hand-prepared while you wait: Caesar salad just how you like it (hold the anchovies for me!), the nightly stir fry dish, or delicious bagel sandwiches. I didn't try this, but you can also have a New York steak grilled for you at the buffet.
Everything tastes fresh, and we never said, "I guess we can just go to the buffet tonight." It was always, "I'm really craving the buffet tonight!" I'll let Jason tell you about the seafood at dinner, because I prefer my food having never crawled on the bottom of the ocean. To each his own!
He said: Yes, the all-you-can-eat shellfish available every night at the buffet definitely made me happy. Unless you're like my (she said: adorable) wife, you can't beat fresh shrimp and crab with a fantastic champagne or cocktail sauce on the side. And also up on deck, I am a fan of the Pancho Villa burger topped with chipotle aioli, guacamole, arugula and blue cheese. Mmm, mmm good!
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He said: Truly, the greatest thing Viking has going for it is its value proposition. Its all-inclusive freebies encompass one complimentary shore excursion in every port; port taxes and fees; Wi-Fi internet access; aforementioned spa facilities; house beers, wines and soft drinks at lunch and dinner; specialty coffees, teas and bottled water all the time; aforementioned alternative restaurants and 24-hour room service; and self-service laundry. We, of course, loved that full-service laundry service is included for suites.
She said: Besides the inclusions, the Silver Spirits beverage package is a worthy add-on. We enjoyed the Silver Spirits package during our cruise, which at the time of publication was $19.95 per day. This includes unlimited alcohol up to $15 per drink. But you'd be hard-pressed to find a drink for $15.
For example, my Grey Goose and tonic would normally run you $9.50. Long Island Iced Tea more your thing? $7.50. Bacardi and Coke? $6.50. Could I drink happily for under $19.95 per day? Sure, especially since house wine and beer are included with lunch and dinner. But I love the freedom of having the Silver Spirits package. It lets me try new drinks without worrying that I won't like them. (Had my first ever Bloody Mary. Thanks but no thanks.) It lets me upgrade to Grey Goose when I would normally have the house vodka.
So, even if you aren't a big drinker, trust me, there are plenty of ways to make the package worthwhile. Enjoy a mimosa with breakfast, a refreshing Malibu rum and pineapple juice after returning from a tour, a couple of Grey Goose and tonics before dinner, a Limoncello after dinner, and a late night White Russian, and you've more than paid for your package.
He said: Well, there you have it folks: two millennials here who are entirely sold on the Viking Ocean Cruises experience. No matter how old you are, as long as you're 18 or above, the Viking Star is a wonderful ship.
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