Viking Makes Its Historic Crossing From Norway to Canada

Also on-tap this year: Viking Star's first transatlantic crossing will take us from Europe to North America. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Viking Star’s first transatlantic crossing will take us from Europe to North America. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

“Adventure is just bad planning.” That’s how Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen – the man who singlehandedly conquered the Northwest Passage, found the magnetic North Pole, and beat Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole in Antarctica – saw it.

I think Amundsen would have gotten along nicely with Viking Cruises founder Torstein Hagen. Hagen – who is also Norwegian – embodies many of the same qualities that made Amundsen such a powerful and persuasive polar explorer. Both men are intelligent. Both men carefully assess the situation and make decisions based on fact as much as instinct. And both men have dared to do what others said couldn’t be done.

Next Saturday, I’m flying to Bergen, Norway for a once-in-a-lifetime experience: the chance to be one of the 930 fortunate guests aboard Viking Star as she makes her first transatlantic crossing to North America.

Our journey begins in the historic city of Bergen, Norway, on September 18, 2016. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Our journey begins in the historic city of Bergen, Norway, on September 18, 2016. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Sailing from Bergen, Viking Star is going to cross the Atlantic on a northerly route that will take her through ports of call in Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, and two Provinces in Canada: Newfoundland and Quebec. Our journey will conclude on October 2, 2016 in the port of Montreal – Canada’s historic port of disembarkation for many immigrant families that arrived during the first half of the last century.

Plenty of ships make transatlantic crossings at the end of their European cruise season. Viking Star, however, is different. Just two years ago, Viking had no oceangoing ships – though you may be familiar with their impressive Viking Longship river cruise vessels.

The amazing - and complimentary - thermal suite at the LivNordic Spa aboard Viking Star. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The amazing – and complimentary – thermal suite at the LivNordic Spa aboard Viking Star. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Today, Viking has two oceangoing ships, with two slated to enter service in 2017. Viking Star’s first transatlantic crossing will bring her to North America for the very first time this year, where she will operate a series of cruises to the Caribbean that run roundtrip from San Juan, Puerto Rico. That, in turn, is great news for folks who’ve always wanted to try Viking, but who don’t want to make the long-haul flights to Europe.

Our Viking Journey:

Viking Star : In the Wake of the Vikings

DAYPORTARRIVEDEPART
September 18, 2016Bergen, NorwayEmbarkOvernight
September 19Bergen, NorwayOvernight6:30 PM
September 20Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland8:00 AM5:00 PM
September 21Torshavn, Faroe Islands / An Unexpected Day at Sea9:00 AM6:00 PM
September 22At Sea
September 23Reykjavik, Iceland8:00 AM5:30 PM
September 24At Sea
September 25Cruising Prince Christian Sound / Nanortalik, Greenland2:00 PM8:00 PM
September 26Qaqortoq, Greenland7:00 AM2:00 PM
September 27At Sea
September 28L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland7:00 AM2:00 PM
September 29Cruising the St. Lawrence Seaway
September 30Saguenay, Quebec8:00 AM9:00 PM
October 1Quebec City, Quebec8:00 AM6:00 PM
October 2Montreal, Quebec4:00 AMDisembark

Viking calls this run, In the Wake of the Vikings. I think that’s appropriate. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence that Viking’s made it all the way to our first Canadian port of call, L’Anse Aux Meadows, in Newfoundland. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evidence of an ancient Viking settlement was discovered here in 1960, and dates back to the time of Leif Erikson (970-1020). Located at the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, L’Anse aux Meadows it is the only confirmed Viking settlement in North America, and derived its current name in 1862 from a French navigational chart.

Dining outdoors? It's always a possibility aboard Viking Star! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Dining outdoors? It’s always a possibility aboard Viking Star! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This is a very adventurous and unique transatlantic crossing. In fact, no other cruise line offers a similar itinerary; this is the only voyage in the world to sail from Bergen to Montreal. Most transatlantic sailings tend to leave from ports around London (Southampton, Dover) and make their way to New York or Boston. Few go up to Greenland in late September, preferring to cross four weeks earlier when temperatures are warmer and the weather is good. Not Viking. In the true spirit of an explorer, Viking is sending Viking Star on her journey at a time when we might see rain. We’ll probably see ice, too, clustered off the shores of Greenland. It may be misty when we arrive off the coast of Newfoundland. It’s a true Viking journey, come to life.

Of course, this 15-day journey also gives guests a great chance to explore and enjoy Viking Star herself. A true “thinking man’s cruise”, as Tor Hagen likes to say, everything onboard Viking Star is intended to enrich. Personally, I know I’ll spend an absurd amount of time in the two-story Explorer’s Lounge on Decks 7 and 8, with its amazing collection of books on legendary Norwegian explorers and the early days of seafaring – not to mention the great views and the excellent split pea soup that’s trotted out at Mamsen’s at 10:00 pm each evening.

Kick back and grab a book in the well-stocked Explorer's Lounge. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Kick back and grab a book in the well-stocked Explorer’s Lounge. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Then, there’s Torshavn, named after the town in the Faroe Islands that we’re visiting on this trip. It offers up jazz music nightly, along with the largest collection of vintage Armagnacs at sea.

Or, I can indulge in a movie under the starts, complete with wireless, noise-cancelling Bose headsets. See, that’s the cool thing about Viking: they were mindful of the fact that some guests would want to watch an evening movie up on the pool deck – but that other guests might be up there to have a drink and relax, or take a late-evening dip without hearing the soundtrack to whatever movie was playing. So, Viking found a way (wireless headsets) to make it work for everyone.

Movies on deck, Viking-style. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Movies on deck, Viking-style. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Thinking Man’s cruise also includes Scrabble sets at nearly every table surrounding the atrium on Deck 2, while Deck 1’s lower atrium level – the Living Room – offers up a cozy coffee bar and plenty of books to read (including a beautifully produced brochure – free for the taking – on the ship’s onboard art collection).

Then, there’s the LivNordic Spa forward on Deck 1, with its complimentary (yes, complimentary!) hydrotherapy pool, heated ceramic thermal loungers, aromatic steam rooms, saunas, rainforest showers, and an honest-to-gosh Snow Room with real snow.

So join me for 15 days of Live Voyage Report adventure beginning on September 18 as I sail across the ocean, back to Canada, on this historic voyage aboard Viking Star!

Our Voyage Report begins on September 18, 2016 from onboard Viking Star! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report begins on September 18, 2016 from onboard Viking Star! Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Viking Cruises’ Viking Star will begin on September 18, 2016 from Bergen, Norway! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

 

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