As Dorothy said to Toto, we weren't in Kansas anymore -- meaning we had done three river cruises with Viking but had never embarked on an ocean cruise anywhere. What a way to weigh anchor! The Star is a beauty, an Emerald City afloat. The staff in our floating Oz is superlative. The fine food and beverages keep coming.
The cruise organization -- pre-boarding communication and arrangements, airport transfers, pre-stay in Venice, embarkation and return -- all work handsomely with precision. The ship's ambience is relaxed elegance with large spaces as needed to accommodate passenger crowds comfortably but with plenty of nooks for couples to find getaways for viewing, contemplating, admiring the seascapes.
Entertainment opportunities abound, organized in a daily listing for picking and choosing. We most like on-board talks by experts, and the scholarly presentations are a delight to anticipate.
We like shore excursions that expand the reach of the boat, and The Star's guided offerings excel. A staff bobble kept us from seeing Delphi, but the alternative time spent in Athens' new Parthenon Museum compensated more than adequately. Folk music, folk food and folk places swell the experience even now in memory especially with dream opportunities to photograph. A visit to the hill country of Croatia really shines. The native guides there and in Athens and in Mostar got us off the yellow brick road and into a deeper understanding of our destinations. Our expansion of lands and UNESCO World Heritage sites seen is a treasure no one can take away.
Do I gush? Well, Viking is a wizard on river and now on ocean.
The clean, smartly organized and roomy cabin with veranda delighted us from start to finish of the cruise. But the two stewards assigned to us added the welcoming touch with friendliness, interest in our wants and needs and just plain pleasantness. Viking keeps promises. So fridge gets filled, linens get freshened and bathrooms get really nice towels and shower goods.