Prior to 2015, the most advanced cruise ship we had been on was Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam which was launched in 2009. That ship was very nice, but it’s as different from the Viking Star as a new Lexus is from our old Honda ... Read More
Prior to 2015, the most advanced cruise ship we had been on was Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam which was launched in 2009. That ship was very nice, but it’s as different from the Viking Star as a new Lexus is from our old Honda Accord.
Viking Star’s maiden voyage was last spring. At that time, she was named “Best New Ocean Ship” in the 2015 Cruise Critic Editor’s Picks Awards, and also received a 5-star rating from that publication. Here are some of the features that make this state-of-the-art cruise ship special.
The Guy Stuff: Viking Star has a very sleek outer profile. That’s because she has a hydrodynamic optimized streamlined hull which allows her to use fuel very efficiently. Moreover, she has a platform (a “ducktail”) that sticks out the back at water level to smooth her wake and lower resistance to her passage.
Viking Star has been designed to have minimal vibration when in motion. Moreover, unless the sea is very stormy, there is little roll. Most of the time, you don’t realize the ship is moving unless you look out the window.
Viking Star is small compared to most other cruise ships. Built to hold just 928 passengers, she can cruise into ports that are unavailable to many of her competitors. In fact, she could sail up the Thames River to London.
What you don't see in a photo of Viking Star is that the Rolls Royce propeller almost touches the rudder, --- an industry first that saves on fuel. This same propeller is lubricated by sea water, an innovation that cuts down on pollution.
Viking Star derives her power from several hybrid engines and solar panels. There are large engines that can be used when speed is essential, and smaller ones that consume less power when employed in differing conditions. All of these engines are cooled by sea water that runs through them. The heat that is transferred to this sea water from the engines is used to warm the cabins and galley and is then returned to the ocean at the same temperature at which it entered the ship.
Staterooms: When you look at Viking Star from the side, you see hundreds of balconies. Every stateroom has one. Inside, the rooms are larger than the industry average. That’s especially noticeable in the bathroom where there is a glassed-in shower stall big enough to hold yourself and two friends. And when you step out of the shower, your feet are warmed by in-the-floor heating.
The stateroom walls are made of sound-proof materials. Rarely did we hear noise from the hallway or adjoining rooms. Even the toilets have been designed to reduce noise. They have a turbo-powered vacuum system flush. A two-second air blast finishes the job.
The large screen TV in our stateroom was really useful. Not only did it give us 9 live news channels and a host of movies and TV programs, it also showed our personal shore excursion schedule, our account information, TED talks, re-runs of all past ship lectures and port talks, the daily itinerary, and information about all other Viking cruises.
Around the ship: The main pool is sheltered by a retractable roof. When it’s closed, the area stays pleasantly cool and dry because of a high efficiency ventilation system. An infinity pool is located aft on the top deck and its glass end wall is cantilevered over the back of the ship so that pool water and ocean seem to blend together.
The back third of deck 2 houses the main, full-service restaurant. Its floor-to-ceiling windows are really sliding glass doors that are pushed back on warm days to create an open-air venue. The outside edge of deck 2 is a 440 yard jogging track. Its surface looks like wood but is a composite material that is slip-proof even when it’s covered with puddles.
The spa area has a Scandinavian theme and all the facilities can be used free of charge. You’ve probably heard how much Finnish people like to lounge in a steaming hot sauna, and then cool down under a bucket of water, in a pool, or with a roll in a snow bank. Viking Star duplicates all this with three saunas, a large whirlpool, a bucket shower, and a snow grotto.
Technology: As you can imagine, Viking Star is a high tech ship. WiFi is available, free throughout, and it provides reliable, high-speed internet even when you're far from land. Waiters in the restaurants record each guest’s dinner order on a hand-held computer (like a cell phone) which sends the information directly to the kitchen. The little computer even has photos of every item on the menu.
The theatre stage’s back wall is a giant LED screen and two pillars near the front of the stage are also screens. Graphics and videos on these three screens are the set. The neatest effect we saw was during a ballroom scene where eight dancers were on stage but a dozen other, previously filmed dancers in the same costumes, appeared on the screens doing the same routine. The result was 3D, --- and magical.
Another cute use of technology involves the coffee tables that are in many of the lounge areas. Their glass tops are actually touch-screen computer monitors. They show short videos about Viking destinations and give information about future cruises.
What’s included: Despite all the technology and material comforts aboard ship, what impressed us the most is Viking’s destination-focused philosophy and all the things that are included, free of charge.
Our Mediterranean cruise was 22 days, yet only 2 of those were spent at sea. Moreover, the time in port averaged 10 to 12 hours. (The average for other cruise companies is 6 to 8 hours.) At every port, there was an included bus, boat, or walking tour, hosted by local English-speaking guides, many of whom had degrees in fields such as Art History, Tourism, or Archeology.
Also included besides meals, entertainment and WiFi, was 24 hour room service, reservations in the specialty restaurants, wine, beer, and soft drinks during meal hours, coffee and tea all day, self-service laundry, shuttle buses from port to city centres, and use of computers and printer in the business centre. The only times you pay extra are for things such as exercise classes, dry cleaning, drinks served outside meal times, and massages and other spa services.
What are the negatives about Viking Star? Cruise Critic editors list only two:
1) There is no casino.
2) There are no facilities or programs for children.
However, for us retired people, these two “cons” are huge positives. Who needs gambling and children on board?
In summary, Cruise Critic says that a voyage aboard Viking Star offers “one of the industry’s best value-for-money options”. We agree and have already booked Viking’s two-week Scandinavian cruise next year. Read Less