- Photo Tours
- Live Voyage Reports
- AmaLyra- Christmas Markets
- Honolulu, Hawaii Trip Report
- Hurtigruten Midnatsol – North Cape
- Miami for Families
- Norwegian Breakaway – Christening
- Norwegian Epic – Eastern Caribbean
- Queen Mary 2 – Transatlantic
- Schooner Zodiac – Wine Cruise
- Silver Explorer – British Isles
- Silver Spirit – Athens to Barcelona
- Silver Spirit- Eastbound Transatlantic
- Silver Wind – South Africa
- Tauck Swiss Jewel – Blue Danube
- Viking Freya – Danube Christmas
- Viking Longships Christening 2012
- Viking Longships Christening 2013
- Wind Spirit – Stockholm to Oslo
- Zuiderdam – Alaska Inside Passage
- Airport Guides
- About FTDC
- The Avid Cruiser
Move over, premium lines – Viking Star is here
Anyone in Hollywood will tell you a sequel to a successful movie is a tough gig. Rarely do films manage to duplicate the magic and chemistry that inherently made the initial movie popular in the first place. Sometimes, though, studios get it right, and the sequel is even better than the original.
Here in Beverly Hills, California tonight, Viking River Cruises announced a star-studded sequel of their own when they took the wraps off their Viking Oceans product, and the forthcoming Viking Star that will debut in 2015. And like any great sequel, this one has the potential to even eclipse the line’s astonishing achievements with their Viking Longship river cruise vessels.
For maritime buffs, the name alone has some historic lineage: Royal Viking Star was the first newbuild ship created for the renowned Royal Viking Line, which Viking River Cruises president and CEO Torstein Hagen helmed in the early 1980’s. Indeed, her exterior design speaks heavily to some of that now-defunct cruise line’s most popular vessels. Witness the funnel design that looks remarkably like that found aboard Holland America’s Prinsendam, formerly known as Royal Viking Sun.
But the similarities end there. This new Viking Star represents an enormous shift in the premium cruise landscape, and rather than merely trying to match their future competitors, Viking has some astonishing features lined up for their very first oceangoing cruise ship.
Viking Star will carry just 928 guests, all of which will travel in all-balcony staterooms measuring no smaller than 270 square feet. Each room will feature a true king-sized bed that can be separated into two large twins. There will be no inside staterooms, no Oceanview staterooms. All staterooms will be double-occupancy; no third or fourth berths will be included on this ship.
There’s also an entire list of perks to sailing with the line. Guests will be able to choose one complimentary excursion in each port of call. They will be treated to complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks during lunch and dinner; complimentary 24-hour room service; and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.
The line’s credo, which Hagen repeated numerous times, was that there would be “no nickel-and-diming.” To that end, Viking Star will lack a casino. She’ll also lack some of the other mainstay revenue generators found aboard competitor’s ships, like specialty restaurant surcharges.
At first, that may sound like unconventional thinking – and it is. But this is the magic formula that has allowed Viking to be so successful along the waterways of Europe: do one thing, and do it well.
“You can’t meet everyone’s demand, and I don’t think we should meet everyone’s demands,” said Torstein Hagen, Viking River Cruises’ chairman and chief executive officer. “All staterooms are designed for two passengers only. We [won’t] cater to multi-generational families.”
Instead, Viking is actively pursuing active, well-educated couples eager to see the world from the comfort of a cruise. Viking Star will spend, on average, 12 hours in port, with overnights at both the start and end of each voyage.
The line polled its past guests about their cruising habits and found that an astonishing 84 percent of them would sail with Viking if the line were to offer ocean cruises. They also discovered that their guests tended to chiefly spend their cruising dollars among a handful of lines: Holland America, Celebrity, Princess, and Oceania.
The new Viking Star is aimed squarely at those guests.
But the ship is also poised to be a striking innovator in its own right. Rather than being hidden deep in the bowels of the ship, the Viking Star’s main Restaurant will be located all the way aft on Promenade Deck 2 – with floor-to-ceiling windows that can be slid open to let in the fresh sea air.
Viking Star’s Spa will be extensive, but located much lower down on the ship than aboard other cruise vessels. But she’ll feature special heated sauna rooms alongside a snow grotto for a true Norwegian spa experience.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Viking Star’s aft pool deck. In addition to a seagoing version of the popular Aquavit Lounge, Viking Star will feature the industry’s first oceangoing infinity pool with a glass aft wall that cantilevers out over the stern of the ship.
Viking Star is also set to have a gorgeous Winter Garden that recalls the classic spaces aboard Cunard’s famous ocean liners, as well as a two-story glass-walled observation lounge situated high atop the navigation bridge. Known as the Explorer’s Lounge, this beautiful space located on Decks 7 and 8 may have been inspired by similar areas aboard Norwegian-based Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol and Trollfjord cruise-ferry vessels.
During her maiden 2015 season, Viking Star will sail three distinct itineraries:
- Viking Homelands: 15 days Stockholm to Bergen
- Mediterranean Odyssey: 13 days Barcelona to Venice
- Empires of the Mediterranean: 10 days Venice to Istanbul
While all the itineraries are spectacular, it is the 15-day Viking Homelands itinerary that made me drool. Viking will become the only line to embark cruises in the beautiful city of Bergen, Norway outside of Hurtigruten, and they will visit some amazing ports of call along the way, including Flam, Stavanger, Aalborg, Copenhagen, Warnemunde, Gdansk, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm.
The call in St. Petersburg is particularly noteworthy, as Viking Star will sail past the other cruise ships docked at the main passenger terminal and continue up-river, docking within walking distance of the famous Hermitage.
Personally, I could barely contain my excitement tonight. It reminded me of the first time I ever saw a rendering of the first Viking Longships years ago and thought, “wow – this will change everything.”
The more I learned tonight about Viking Star, the more I realized how well thought-out this endeavour is. In fact, this project has been three years in the making now, involving two different shipyards and two totally different designs.
All we saw today were some renderings and a gorgeous builder’s model of the ship. Yet there was this electricity in the air. You could feel it. Everyone in the audience expected, I think, to be impressed here tonight; but the audible gasps of delight that emanated from the crowd when the Infinity Pool was revealed, followed by thunderous applause for the open-air dining concept erased any doubts in the project.
We’ve got an amazing amount of information to share with you about Viking Oceans and the new Viking Star, which is why we’re going to continue our coverage on Monday with a full overview of this exciting ship.
In the meantime, I want to leave you all with this: you should be excited about Viking Star. Really, really excited. For the first time, small ship cruising will be affordable to an entire segment of the population that has, until now, been largely regulated to mainstream cruising. Price points for this new product are very encouraging, running as low as $2,999 per person for the line’s 10-night Mediterranean voyages.
Viking’s new oceangoing product also takes a refreshing step back from surcharges and add-on fees that are becoming so commonplace in nearly every facet of the travel industry. They’re taking the very features that have made river cruising – not to mention their Viking Longships – so popular and applying them to ocean cruising.
Best of all, bookings for the new Viking Star opened today!
I came here expecting Viking to announce they were building an Azamara-lite. Instead, what they are poised to deliver in just two years could very well go down as Torstein Hagen’s greatest achievement in his long, storied, and always-eventful life.
Stay tuned – more information on the upcoming Viking Star will be coming on Monday here on From the Deck Chair as we recap this exciting day!
The invitation was deceptively simple: “Join us for an evening of cocktails and dinner celebrating the new era of Viking Cruises.”
Notice that the word “river” was conspicuously missing from the invitation, and it becomes easy to see that this will be anything but your average dinner, as Viking River Cruises takes the wraps off their new ocean cruises tomorrow night at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California.
The popular river cruise line is coming off of a record-breaking event that occurred less than two months ago, when they christened 10 brand-new river cruise ships in a single go in the Dutch city of Amsterdam. Not only did Viking earn a Guinness World Record, but it brought the total number of their new Viking Longships to 16 – in just over a year.
Today, all we know about Viking’s new oceangoing product (which was formerly called Viking Ocean, but which may now just be known as Viking Cruises) is that the line has placed an order for two 47,000 GRT ships to be constructed at Italy’s Fincantieri shipyards. Both vessels are slated for delivery in January 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Viking also has options for two additional vessels with Fincantieri that could be ready to enter service in 2017 and 2018.
As of yet, none of the ships have been named, nor have any details about their physical appearance, general arrangement plans, or itineraries been released.
Until tomorrow night.
So join us here on From the Deck Chair tomorrow as we bring you the first details about Viking River Cruises and their new exciting foray into the world of ocean cruising!
Stay tuned – our Live Report from the Viking Ocean announcement in Los Angeles will begin tomorrow!
If you haven’t heard yet, ultra-luxury line Silversea is expanding their Silversea Expeditions offerings this year by offering their first-ever voyages to the Galapagos aboard the newly-acquired Silver Galapagos which will enter service in September.
Now, the line is giving guests the opportunity to take advantage of special three and four day voyages that can be combined with pre-and-post cruise land adventures in South America to create packages of eight, 10, or 11 days in length.
“These new cruise and land packages are convenient options for the luxury traveler who wants to experience a Galápagos cruise adventure and also explore some of the most intriguing regions of South America — but who may not have time for a lengthy vacation,” said Ellen Bettridge, Silversea’s president of the Americas.
If you follow Silversea regularly, you’ll already know that the line has started offering shorter voyage segments on many of their Europe and North American voyages for the 2013 cruise season. By offering shorter voyages on their Galapagos Expeditions, they’re giving guests greater control over the sea and land aspects of their vacation and allowing them to better tailor a combination cruise and land package to suit their tastes and needs.
The new four-day Baltra to San Cristobal voyages that sail to the islands of Santa Cruz, Genovesa and Seymour Norte are offered on the following departures for this year:
8301A: September 28 – October 2
8307A: November 9 – 13
8309A: November 23 – 27
8311A: December 7 – 11
Likewise, the new three-day San Cristobal to Baltra voyages are offered on a variety of departure dates and will weave their way through the islands of Espanola, Santa Cruz and Plazas Sur:
8303B: October 16 – 19
8307B: November 13 – 16
8309B: November 27 – 30
8311B: December 11 – 14
All of these voyages will take place aboard the line’s newly-acquired and refitted Silver Galapagos. Capable of carrying just 100 guests, Silver Galapagos is intended to complement the Silver Explorer, the line’s first globetrotting expedition vessel that places emphasis on providing the same onboard luxuries and amenities the line’s past guests have come to expect, coupled with adventurous land programs that seek to enrich and stimulate the senses.
It’s more than just lip service: Silversea has acquired a dedicated team of expedition team leaders and guest lecturers who accompany guests both onboard and ashore. Like Silver Explorer, Silver Galapagos will be equipped with a fleet of motorized Zodiac rafts to access some of the most remote places in the Galapagos.
All of these excursions are offered complimentary on the line’s Expedition sailings, and in the Galapagos, the experienced expedition team will be certified by the Galapagos National Park Service. Because of this, they’ll have the knowledge to showcase the region’s diverse wildlife, from blue iguanas to Darwin’s famous finches.
Here’s a quick peek at the three new packages Silversea has created in the Galapagos:
8-Day Machu Picchu & Galápagos Package
Guests will enjoy 2 days surrounded by the history and culture of Ecuador’s vibrant capital on the “Quito Discovery” land extension before embarking on their 3-day Galápagos expedition cruise. After witnessing the natural treasures of the Galápagos Islands from their base of luxury aboard Silver Galapagos, guests will then journey to Peru to spend 3 days exploring the glorious Lost City of the Incas on an exciting “Machu Picchu Explorer” land adventure, highlighted by a scenic journey in Peru’s Vistadome train. This 8-day package is priced from $6,713.
10-Day Puno, Lake Titicaca & Galápagos Package
The magnificent Andes and Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, are the setting for an exciting 4-day “Puno & Lake Titicaca” pre-cruise adventure. Highlights include a visit to the Sillustani tombs, a cruise to the floating reed islands of the Uros people with their centuries-old way of life, and a visit to Taquile Island to admire ancient weaving traditions. Guests then embark Silver Galapagos for an unforgettable 4-day expedition voyage through the Galápagos Islands, followed by 2 days absorbing the fascinating sights and attractions of Ecuador’s capital on the “Quito Discovery” post-cruise land extension.
11-Day Amazon Explorer & Galápagos Package
Guests enjoy 2 days taking in the artistic, cultural and historic attractions of Ecuador’s capital on the “Quito Discovery” land extension before embarking on their 3-day expedition voyage aboard the elegant Silver Galapagos. Following the Galápagos program is a unique 6-day journey to Peru’s Amazon basin where it’s possible to witness pygmy marmosets, howler monkeys, colorful toucans and other exotic wildlife that inhabit the region’s lowland forests. Participants will cruise the Amazon in all-suite luxury aboard m/v Aqua, dining on perhaps the finest Amazonian-Peruvian gourmet cuisine on the river. Expert naturalists will be on hand to share insights about this amazing and fragile ecosystem
Curious about the Galapagos? So are we – which is why we’ll be sailing aboard Silver Galapagos this November with day-by-day coverage on a very special Live Voyage Report! Full details and itinerary will be coming soon here on From the Deck Chair!
More information on Silversea’s new Galapagos expedition itineraries can be found by visiting their website.
Sign up for the Avid Cruiser newsletter
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009