Viking Star, the first ship from Viking Ocean Cruises, set sail on its maiden voyage April 15 from Istanbul to Venice.
From Venice, the ship will make its way through the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic on its way to be officially christened in Bergen, Norway, during a citywide celebration on May 17 – Norwegian Constitution Day. Viking Ocean Cruises also has two additional sister ships on order – Viking Sky and Viking Sea – all of which will sail itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.
A small ship, Viking Star accommodates 930 passengers in 465 staterooms – each with its own veranda. 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.
Equipped with modern Scandinavian décor, Viking Star was designed by the same interior design team responsible for Viking's Longships. Design elements are meant to pay homage to Nordic heritage. Additionally, a glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern offers unobstructed views, indoor-outdoor spaces offer options for al fresco dining, windows and skylights let in natural light, and a wrap-around promenade deck is included as a nod to classic ocean liners.
The ship also has a collection of Scandinavian artwork. In the two-deck Explorers' Lounge at the bow of the ship, the décor was inspired by ancient Viking trade routes and navigation methods – imagery of star constellations and astronomical maps are complemented by antique globes, astrolabes and sofas with cozy pelts. The Spa offers the Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and a Snow Room at sea, as well as materials inspired by Scandinavian nature: Swedish limestone and black slate; juniper and teak wood details; recycled and etched opaque glass; and cast iron. In the Wintergarden, 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. And in the Viking Living Room, a geometric garden was inspired by the wild lichen of Norway's Finse Mountain Plateau.
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 talks from local experts and selected lecturers in The Theater. Dining options onboard Viking Star include the World Café, which serves global cuisine with live cooking and open kitchens; Mamsen's has Norwegian deli-style fare; and Manfredi's Italian Restaurant offers Tuscan and Roman cuisine. The Kitchen Table offers cooking classes on 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 chefs.
Every cruise fare includes a guided excursion in each port. Additionally, there is an optional excursion program designed to provide guests with privileged-access experiences. Highlights include:
Private Visit to Hagia Sophia by Night, Istanbul, Turkey - On this excursion, guests visit the Hagia Sophia for a private tour. After departing the ship with a guide, guests enjoy a drive over the Galata Bridge into the heart of Old Istanbul to walk the halls of Hagia Sophia. After the visit, guests enjoy refreshments in the courtyard of the nearby Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamami, a 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 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 swim in the warm waters of the Mediterranean.
A Normandy Countryside Cheese & Brandy Tasting – In the village of Pont L'Évêque, guests can savor a Norman lunch amidst the Calvados barrels of Les Tonneaux du Père Magloire restaurant. After their meal, they 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 Norway's fjords.
At Home in Haugesund, Haugesund, Norway – On this excursion, guests visit a traditional home for tea. Their hosts, a local garden designer and architect, welcome them into their wooden house that dates to 1884. Guests visit and enjoy tea steeped from herbs in their garden.
Early Booking Discount
From now through April 30, 2015, Viking is offering U.S. residents 2015 Special Savings and 2016 Early Booking Discounts with 2-for-1 pricing on cruise departures and savings of up to $750 per person on international air. Viking Inclusive Pricing includes a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all onboard meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Passengers also enjoy many complimentary amenities as part of their fare, including: beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service.