The birth of a new cruise line is a big cause for celebration, especially in the Viking Star’s homeport of Bergen, as Vicki Arkoff discovers.
Marking the first new cruise ship line to launch in a decade, Viking Ocean Cruises has just christened its first ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star. The ceremony was held in the ship’s homeport of Bergen, Norway in as part of a citywide celebration for Norwegian Constitution Day. The gala event was heralded by parades, parties and a public concert in the harbor that was attended by a jubilant crowd of 20,000, including the mayor of Bergen, Trude Drevland, who served as ceremonial godmother for the christening.
The contemporary elegance found onboard Viking Ocean Cruises’ first ship is a game-changer, proving that the best gifts come in small packages. It’s a pleasing and striking contrast to the industry trend toward gargantuan floating cities that are more like amusement parks than sea vessels. Classified as a “small ship,” Viking Star reverts back to the days of grand yet intimate travel on classic ocean liners.
Engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports for easy embarkation and disembarkation, Viking Star has a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons and 465 staterooms, each with its own veranda. Onboard passengers will find a wrap-around promenade deck, windows and skylights blurring the lines between inside and out, and indoor-outdoor spaces that provide more choices for al fresco dining than any other vessel in its class. Even the glass-backed infinity pool off the stern offers unobstructed views.
The Scandinavian décor pays homage to the ship’s Nordic heritage. For instance, the décor of two-deck Explorers’ Lounge was inspired by ancient Viking navigators from images of star constellations to antique globes and seating with pelts. The holistic spa features Nordic ritual of the hydrotherapy pool and the first Snow Room at sea, to 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.
Curated itineraries include a complimentary excursion in each port and an onboard cultural enrichment program that includes academic lecturers, local speakers and demonstrations. Complimentary amenities include beer and wine with lunch and dinner service; wi-fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service. Viking Star is one of three ocean cruise ships on order; two additional ships, Viking Sea and Viking Sky, are currently under construction.