The Star Theater, on Deck 2 forward, is home to production shows, enrichment lecturers and films. At times, local performers might come aboard when the ship is docked in port late (or overnight). There's a bar just outside the theater (open only when the theater is in use), and drink service is available inside. Fresh popcorn is offered during films.
Viking Star has a production troupe of singers and dancers onboard who perform in the Star Theater, as well as other venues around the ship, such as Torshavn and the pool deck. Typical cruise-style production shows, like an ABBA-themed revue, are held in the main theater. The singers on our cruise were stunningly talented, but the cabaret shows in alternative venues gelled better than the elaborate if nonsensical theater-based productions, some of which left us scratching our heads.
Destination immersion is the primary focus of daytime entertainment, with destination insights videos showing in the Deck 2 cinema (the rear section of the theater) daily. Viking also has a partnership with the dynamic Ted.com, which provides videos of enlightening speakers on a vast variety of topics. The cinema also broadcasts sporting events (possibly pre-recorded), on occasion.
A handful of organized activities, such as golf putting or shuffleboard, do take place throughout the day. Board games like Scrabble and Monopoly are plentifully available on tables on the second level of The Living Room.
The Viking Heritage Museum, tucked away in a nook just off of The Living Room on Deck 2, provides insights into Norwegian history and deserves a special shout-out. It features a timeline of Viking history along with realistic replicas of the clothing, jewelry and weaponry.
The enrichment programs, typically held in the early evening on port-intensive cruises, are closely tied to the ports of call visited. We found the speakers to be knowledgeable and engaging and the lectures well attended.
Movies are shown most nights, either on a screen in the main pool area or in two small cinematic-styled alcoves, with stadium seating, off to each side of the Star Theater. A guitarist, pianist and classical trio perform throughout the evening in the atrium or Explorers' Lounge, and a dance band takes up in Torshavn after the dinner hours. Trivia and events in the ship's shops are also held on certain evenings.
The ship offers a nice range of spots for cocktails or coffee, all with varying personalities, from the nightclub-style Torshavn to the serene and peaceful top-deck Explorers' Lounge. Cocktails and liquors are served at reasonable prices -- about $6 for a mixed drink. (Cocktails at Torshavn are more, sometimes double.) Beer is typically $4, and wine is around $5 to $6 a glass. A Silver Spirits package will cover unlimited premium wines, beer, cocktails and a welcome bottle of sparkling wine, in addition to espresso and soft drinks. The price for the package is $420 for two passengers sharing a cabin on a weeklong cruise.
Viking Bar (Deck 1): Located by the entrance to the gangway, the Viking Bar is open day and night, specializing in coffees and classic cocktails. It serves as the main bar for the sprawling Living Room (see below). During the day, snacks -- from pastries in the morning to sandwiches in the afternoon and after dinner -- are available there, too. With its arrangement of tables for two, it was a great place to catch up on email or write letters; of all the atrium bars we've frequented, this is perhaps the most comfortable.
Living Room (Deck 1): The ship's primary indoor spot for socializing, The Living Room is actually a three-level space in what, on other cruise lines' vessels, would be termed the atrium. Despite the similar locale and functions (gangway entrance and pursers and shore excursions desks), The Living Room is designed with a handful of cozy nooks that look exactly like your living room at home. The nooks are furnished with comfy couches and armchairs, beautiful art pieces and shelves stocked with amazing book selections. It's a great place to chat with fellow passengers, dive into a good book or enjoy live music at night. The levels on decks 2 and 3 overlook the main area, and they're particularly suited to playing games and cards, with board games and touchscreen tables showing Viking voyage videos.
Torshavn (Deck 2): The ship's primary late-night venue serves as its dance and nightclub. It's got a wonderfully cozy ambiance and entertainment that ranges from scaled-down music revues to bands that perform torch songs for slow dancing. The bar itself has a superb collection of Armagnacs, but they start from $62 for less than 1.5 oz. Even with a Silver Spirits drink package, this is the place to watch your tab -- many drinks exceed the $9 cocktail limit. Entertainment typically winds down around midnight, but the bar stays open depending on how long the crowd lingers. Torshavn opens nightly at 9 p.m. If you're a night owl, take note that, on port-intensive itineraries, things often wind down before midnight.
Theater Bar (Deck 2): Only open during lectures and performances, the Star Theater Bar serves passengers looking for a beverage to accompany a port talk or evening show.
Aquavit Bar (Deck 7): The ship's best alfresco bar is located all the way aft on Deck 7, behind The World Cafe. It's a general interest bar with a range of liquors, wines and beers, and it's as popular in the daytime, when passengers flock to the infinity pool or dine at the adjacent World Cafe, as it is at night. Its wake view is fantastic, and the tables themselves have the best scenery onboard, particularly in good weather and when docked in scenic ports.
Explorers' Lounge (Decks 7 and 8): One of the most beautiful bars we've ever seen at sea is the Explorers' Lounge, all the way forward on Deck 7. The two-deck observatory is a prime spot for scenery, and there's a small alfresco area. It's part cafe (Mamsen's is located there with tables set aside for early-morning to late-night noshing) and part library (don't miss the loft-like second story, which is decorated with maritime artifacts and a vast and intriguing book collection). You can while away the day with a book at a number of quiet, cozy hideaways there or join in a game of trivia on select nights. We even saw some passengers taking impromptu afternoon naps. Our favorite area of the lounge, just inside its entrance, has a fireplace. It's lighted water vapor, rather than flames, but it looks quite believable. At night, don't miss the constellations that light up along the walls.
Pool Bar (Deck 7): In the main pool area, this bar offers counter seating and also table and chaise lounge service. Most nights this bar is only open until 8 p.m., but occasionally evening entertainment will take place in this area, and the bar comes alive as passengers sip the drink of the day while they watch the show.
Wintergarden Conservatory (Deck 7): The Wintergarden also has a bar area, but that's the least of this lofty, glass-enclosed room's appeal. It's located adjacent to the main pool area, and floor-to-ceiling glass doors open wide on sunny days to turn it into an indoor/outdoor space. We love the deep armchairs and couches, and the eye-catching copper espresso machine. It's a terrific spot for those who don't want to be in the sun but still want to be outside. This area closes early -- around 6 p.m.
Tea is a must-try affair, served most days from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Select your brew from a two-page tea menu, and nibble on fresh scones passed around with jam and clotted cream, as well as a three-tier selection of finger sandwiches (chicken salad, tuna, vegetable) and small pastries (French macaron, opera cake, berry tart).
For a ship this intimate, pool space on Deck 7 is quite generous. The main pool area has a glass roof that can be closed during inclement weather, and it features a swimming pool attached to a large rectangular hot tub.
Out on Deck 7 aft, surrounded by the Aquavit Terrace and Bar, is the ship's small infinity pool, along with another whirlpool. It's beautiful and a good spot for a quick dip (though it might feel a bit crowded when the Aquavit Terrace is busy). All pools and hot tubs close at 10 p.m.
On the Sports Deck (Deck 9), you'll find bocce, shuffleboard, golf putting, a small space for yoga and stretching and a series of outdoor-friendly fitness stations. The fitness stations -- which range from leg press to oblique machines -- offer a simple workout with a view. Water also is conveniently offered at a self-service station along the walking track, which loops around the entire deck.
The ship's promenade on Deck 2 goes all the way around and is also a good place for strolling. Runners have use of a track on Deck 8.
Viking Star offers numerous spots to lounge, in both the sun and the shade. The most prominent is the main pool area. Lounge chairs are comfortable and plentiful (if a bit too low to the ground to get up and down easily), and each pair of loungers has a cocktail table in between. Don't miss the wonderfully cozy passages on both port and starboard sides of the pool deck, with groups of couches and chair configurations. These are terrific and shady. One of our favorite lounging spots was outside the Wintergarden, in quiet lanai-style deck spaces along the windows. The chairs, which offer plush blankets, are popular for afternoon tea and naps. On chilly days, we saw a number of passengers take blankets outside to snuggle up by the infinity pool.
The deck above (Deck 8), the only deck that allows smoking, is also equipped with sun loungers. The best and most reasonably undiscovered sun deck is up on the Sports Deck (Deck 9), where massive, sprawling, wicker-like arm chairs and couches are situated around AstroTurf, giving the area a garden-like feel.
The customer service, shore excursion and restaurant reservation desks occupy a part of the sprawling Living Room on Deck 1. Instead of queuing up at a counter, as they do on most other lines, passengers line up to sit, one-on-one, at tables to discuss requests or ask questions. The drawback to this setup is that wait times are often a bit long. At particularly busy times, a staff member is on hand to answer quick questions and direct passengers to the appropriate areas for shore excursions, dining, etc. Service was also spotty, with crew members being helpful, knowledgeable and pleasant on some visits but less so on others.
Unlimited Wi-Fi is complimentary for all passengers; connection speeds are impressive, if not quite as fast as you'll find on land. For those who don't travel with their own devices, a half-dozen Internet-connected terminals are tucked behind a wall in The Living Room.
The ship has several shops on decks 1 and 2, including a jewelry boutique and a lovely fashion-focused store (with some high-end sunglasses and sweaters). Sundries and snacks, along with liquor, are also available. The cosmetics/perfume store is wonderful. Don't miss the shop at the ship's spa on Deck 1; it's stocked with Norwegian-made soaps and lotions and also some delightful handmade items that range from knitwear to palm-sized notebooks. On our sailing, we had no sea days, which meant the shops could only be opened at night after we had pulled away from port. (When the stores did open, they closed at 11 p.m., so on nights when we were in port until 9 or 10 p.m., they didn't bother opening at all.) It also meant that, thanks to EU law, on our Mediterranean cruise, a hefty tax of more than 20 percent applied to all items purchased at the onboard stores.
Viking Star has one of cruising's most interesting book collections, but there's no real library. Instead, books on all topics, from Norwegian history to novels, populate shelves in venues all over the ship, from The Living Room to the main pool area and the Explorer's Lounge. It's great fun to browse in the various rooms. You can borrow them as you please, but do remember to return them when you're finished.
The second floor of The Living Room (on Deck 2) serves as the ad hoc game room, offering a terrific collection of games and cards, as well as plenty of tables for four.
On each residential deck, a self-serve laundry provides washers, dryers and ironing boards for complimentary use. Soap is provided, though you might want to bring your own dryer sheets.
The ship's vast spa and fitness facility is located on Deck 1, and it's gorgeous. Operated by Oslo's Reason D'etre, the LivNordic spa itself is inspired by Nordic traditions, which promote a balance of hot and cold therapies.
The pretty, serenely lit thermal suite is centered on a large warm-water pool with attached hot tub that's surrounded by plush loungers and four heated ceramic lounges. There are two therapy showers, including one that, hewing to rustic Norwegian practices, features a bucket filled with cold water; pull a cord and it's dumped on your head.
The spa's most exotic feature is the snow grotto, a small glassed-in room in which ice shavings fall from the ceiling each morning. (Be careful: The snow sometimes gets icy-slick, so make sure to wear slippers.) Opposite the snow room is a steam room; both spaces are unisex.
Inspired by Nordic bathing culture, the idea is to use all of these areas in one session, alternating hot and cold, so you might spend 10 minutes in the sauna, then dip into the plunge pool, followed by the steam room, before stepping into the snow grotto; repeat as many times as you like. It's claimed to help boost circulation, relax muscles and detox the body.
The best thing: The spa's thermal suite is available at no charge to any passenger, and you can access it without booking a treatment.
The separate changing areas for men and women are also carefully thought out. The lockers are stocked with robes and slippers, and each venue houses a cold-water plunge pool (like a whirlpool without the whirl) and a sauna, if you'd rather not use the unisex facilities in the thermal suite. Along the outer walls, each has a gorgeous relaxation area, with cozy, plump cushioned chairs and big windows for outside views. However, the lounges face mirrors instead of the windows.
Other convenient amenities include a swimwear dryer, a three-pronged water dispenser (dispensing cold, warm and sparkling water) and showers.
Speaking of treatments, the facility offers a salon for hair and nail services, while men have a separate barber shop. The spa team, most of which hails from Sweden, offers facials, massages, body scrubs and dry brushing. As specialists in Nordic treatments, they provide a guided bathing ritual and a traditional hair ritual with head massage, mask, wash and style.
Prices for treatments are resort-style -- definitely expensive -- but the quality is superb, and you won't get a product pitch as you might on other cruise lines.
The fitness center on Deck 1 is equipped with treadmills, elliptical equipment and stationary bicycles, as well as a circuit of TechnoGym resistance machines, weights, and TRX and kinesis cabled machines. Pilates and yoga are offered on most days; classes cost $8 on port days, $10 on sea days. Personal training is also available for an extra charge.
The gym is smaller than those found on most other ocean ships but larger than the facilities on Viking's river ships; it might be a step up for its ex-river passengers but surprisingly compact for others.
Viking Star does not have special facilities or programs for children, and the minimum age to sail is 18.
* May require additional fees