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Viking Star Cruise Review
5.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
1,878 Reviews

Wonderful Northern Lights and Norway Trip

Viking Star Cruise Review by JazzyTheTraveler

3 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2020
  • Destination: Norwegian Fjords

We picked this trip to see the Northern Lights and Norway in winter, to remind me of growing up in the snow! The crew - ALL OF THEM - are amazing, unfailing nice, and make this cruise a really wonderful time. They read and respond to your comments on a daily basis so if you need something they really do take it into account. Seriously, cannot day enough good things about all the crew. Even the happy water guy who gives you bottles of water when you leave the boat was a delight. They had cocoa upon your returns. When there were northern lights sightings announced, about 10 minutes later a crew member would show up with trays of warm cocoa. That level of service is remarkable.

Our room, 6010 Penthouse Veranda PV-1 category), was roomy and never felt too tight for a 13 day cruise. Given all the gear one needs for the trip, I’m very happy we didn’t book a smaller room. Shower was a good size, good water pressure, but the nozzle head was a little wonky - you have to swivel and turn to get it just right. Most suitcases will fit under the beds, so that was a great little treat.

The food is good, not great. Some things are terrific, but overall good. That’s not a complaint by any means, just don’t come expecting Jean Georges at sea. But, if you want good food, you’ll find it. Manfredis Italian was good. They had churros for dessert, which delighted me to no end: Chefs Table was less successful, but still interesting. Favorite meal there was surprisingly the British one. Best food was Viking Burger at the Pool Grill (it’s straight up an amazing burger) and The Restaurant. Pool Grille has onion rings and they are also excellent. The Restaurant has daily menu changes, mostly successful. Consistently good food. Neither of us liked the World Cafe, pretty much at all. For any meal.

The house wines were mostly awful merlots and sometimes ok whites - order the Silver Spirit Package if you wish to drink something with taste. My hubby doesn’t drink at all, so when I called to ask Viking if I can do just one Premium Spirit package, they said no. When onboard, I made a comment on the daily comment form and I’ll be darned if the head Somm came to track me down one day to tell me they would have been happy to provide me with the Spirits Package given this unique situation (because literally my husband only drinks sparkling water most of the time and Arnold palmers with meals). So, word to the wise who have a half sober couple like myself, ask on board because they would have allowed for it.

We were fortunate and got to see the Northern Lights, 2x with our naked eye and 1x only with the camera. If you come thinking it’s going to be like the vivid photos you see on the Internet, you’ll likely be disappointed. It’s mostly hard to see, sort of wispy when it comes out, maybe you’ll see it green and not grey like light clouds at night, but it’s still a treat.

We only did one included tour in Stavanger, it’s a bus ride around the town. That’s pretty much what all of them are, so if bud rides without stops is your thing, you’ll love their included tours. If you want to get out and do things, plan to drop another chunk of change. We loved all our excursions - did curling in Stavanger, private minibus northern lights tour in Tromso, Sami Reindeer camp in Tromso, snowmobiling and the ice hotel in Alta, skipped our second northern lights bus in Alta which I still think should be refunded - there was zero % chance to see the lights that night and they went anyway, husky sledding in Alta, and the Wolf Preserve at Polar Park in Narvik. Dog sledding was our favorite, but all the activities were great. Word to the wise on the wolf preserve is that it’s like a 3 mile hike so if you have mobility issues, this one isn’t for you. It was a steep hike, up hill, in the snow.

If you can’t book the private northern lights your, I’d suggest you book outside of Viking and go with a local guide since it will likely be a better experience. The normal northern lights tour through Viking is a waste of money, they put 50 people on a bus and drop you at a parking lot. Don’t think that’s $200 worth per person. But, the private mini bus we did was awesome, the guide showed us how to photograph the lights, she had an awesome camera and took amazing photos of us with the lights then sent us the photos, built a camp fire, fed us stew and we even roasted marshmallows. It was a magical night, in part because of the full moon and fact that we were at end of Grotfjord.

I grew up in a cold climate so I understood how to properly prepare for this cruise. We came intending to do very active outdoor activities and even though we were blessed w remarkable mild weather for early Feb., it’s still cold and you need to plan according. I’d suggest you find a glove that allows you to operate your iPhone, so you don’t always have to take them off. Some people aren’t interested in active adventures so should scale back accordingly. Some people brought poles to help walk on the icy parts which seems pretty sensible so a heads up to the rest of you. I had Oboz Bridger 9” boots and they were amazing. Husband had the 10” version for the males. Warm feet are pretty important, these fit the bill and then some!

Download the Night Cap app for your smart phone, takes pretty damn good pictures of northern lights. YOU MUST BRING A TRIPOD IF YOU WANT GOOD NORTHERN LIGHTS PHOTOS. I was never able to figure out my fancy camera settings for northern lights photos, so that was a bummer. But, I also had my outdoor sport camera as well and between my iPhone, that, and the private guide photos, we got many excellent shots of the beautiful lights. But, you can’t get a good shot if you don’t have a tripod because you take photos at a long shutter speed.

Boat was quite rocky the first day, and also today, so you may want to get scopolamine patch prescription. Lot of people got sick.

Fitness center is small, but fine. Good equipment. Spa is also nice, I did a cranberry scrub massage combo and loved it. Husband did a long massage and enjoyed it.

Lastly, there were many reports about the Order of Blue Nose ceremony and that it included a polar plunge - not any more for safety reasons we are told. It was disappointing, but not much you can do there. They still do the frosting and shot, just not the ice bath. Also, they have a call system you can opt into to get northern lights announcements. It works. Prior reports said you had to leave TV on and that’s just not case anymore. System worked good both times sightings were reported.

JazzyTheTraveler's Full Rating Summary
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Curling w a pro. He was terrific. We al had fun.

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Tromso Planetarium

Good video.

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Everything about this was wonderful.

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