Viking Star’s Arrival In North America Is A Game Changer

Viking Star sails into New York City on October 13, 2016. Photo courtesy of Viking Cruises

Viking Star sails into New York City on October 13, 2016. Photo courtesy of Viking Cruises

Today, Viking Cruises’ Viking Star sets sail from New York City on her journey south, to the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, where she will spend her first winter sailing to the Caribbean roundtrip from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Come February, Viking Star sets out across the Atlantic once again, bound for the Mediterranean.

It’s all part of a journey that began last month in Bergen, Norway as Viking Star made her first-ever transatlantic crossing, arriving in Montreal, Canada on October 2, 2016.

The second I heard that Viking Star would be doing this crossing, I made arrangements to get onboard. No other cruise line is doing anything like this, and no other cruise line plans to. To cross from Norway to Montreal, via Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Newfoundland and Quebec, follows in the very footsteps of the Vikings, and proves that when it comes to itinerary planning, Viking isn’t content to follow the leader. It is the leader.

Our full Voyage Report:

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

Now that my own voyage is in the rearview mirror, here’s why I think Viking Star’s first season in the Caribbean is going to be such a huge success.

No Kids

...and dancing in The Living Room, Deck 1. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

From the impromptu dance and song routines in the ship’s Living Room atrium to the quiet, relaxed ambiance of her public rooms, Viking Star is fully intended to be an adult experience first and foremost. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

This is a big one. With the exception of a handful of cruise lines, the vast majority of ships sailing to the Caribbean are packed with families with kids. And why not? The Caribbean is the quintessential cruise destination, and for many, it will be their first experience in the Caribbean.

But for experienced cruisers, the Caribbean can be a bit of a toss-up. The kids, the hairy chest contests by the pool, the Miss Insert Ship Name Here contests, the buckets-of-beer in the hot tub…sometimes you just want to go to the Caribbean and do adult things without all that.

This is where I think Viking Star is really going to shine. Viking hasn’t bowed to pressure to conform its product to make it more kid-friendly one bit, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. The product on offer in the Caribbean at the moment is pretty homogenous, and Viking Star aims to inject a much-needed shot of diversity right into the thick of it.

An Intellectually-Stimulating Caribbean Cruise

The Explorer's Lounge features plenty of books on polar exploration and explorers of all nationalities. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

The Explorer’s Lounge features plenty of books on polar exploration and explorers of all nationalities. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

When was the last time you found books onboard a Caribbean cruise ship? Don’t worry – I’ll wait while you ponder over it. While it’s true that many mainstream cruise ships have a small (and I mean small) library onboard, Viking Star is a floating university of knowledge. Books litter every public room, with subjects ranging from polar exploration to pirates and the early settlements in the Caribbean.

To top it all off, shore excursions run the gamut of experiences, with a focus on history and authentic cultural events on-shore. If you’re into the beach-and-beer thing, this isn’t the cruise for you. But if you really want to get to know these Caribbean ports of call in a way that most other ships never allow their guests to, this is the cruise for you.

Inclusivity is King

Tonight, I dined at Manfredi's...Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

You won’t pay extra to dine at specialty restaurants like Manfredi’s aboard Viking Star. It’s part of Viking’s believe that cruising should be largely inclusive. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

It’s true that Viking Star’s itineraries in the Caribbean come at a higher price point than, say, Princess or Holland America. But you’re getting a lot more for your money, including complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks with lunch and dinner; complimentary mini-bars replenished daily; free self-service laundry on every deck; free Wi-Fi; no-fee specialty dining venues; and a selection of included shore excursions in each port of call.

Thoughtful, Ambitious Itineraries

Viking doesn't pick any port on its itineraries by accident. Viking Star is shown here in deeply mysterious Nanortalik, Greenland. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Viking doesn’t pick any port on its itineraries by accident. Viking Star is shown here in deeply mysterious Nanortalik, Greenland. Photo © 2016 Aaron Saunders

Finally, Viking Star’s itineraries in the Caribbean are the perfect antidote for those who are sick of sailing from Miami to the same old ports of call. By homeporting in San Juan for the winter, Viking is able to call on big-name ports like St. Thomas and St. Maarten, while still being able to swing down to the likes of Bridgetown, Barbados; Castries, St. Lucia; and Basseterre, St. Kitts.

That uniqueness is one of the reasons I was so keen to sail on Viking Star’s maiden transatlantic crossing. And I couldn’t be happier that I made the journey.

Our Live Voyage Report aboard Viking Cruises’ Viking Star has sadly come to a close, but we have more Live Voyage Reports coming this month! Be sure to follow along with our future adventures on twitter by following @deckchairblog.

 

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