Viking is best known for operating one of the world's largest river cruise fleets but in 2015 makes its first venture into luxury ocean cruising.
The company's spectacular, award-winning river boats have set new standards on Europe's waterways and the values these vessels embrace - minimalist, contemporary Scandinavian design, excellent food and included excursions - are being translated into sea-going ships. Viking's high number of repeat guests, when questioned, said they were looking for medium-sized ships at a reasonable price and most importantly, more time in port, which is what the new venture aims to deliver.
The result is Viking Star, a stunningly beautiful vessel with an elegant, pointed bow reminiscent of the sleek profile of the ocean liners of yesteryear. On board, fresh, light-filled Scandinavian design draws on themes introduced in the river fleet, with colour schemes in the staterooms of cream, beige, taupe and blue. Every stateroom has a private veranda, while guests have a choice every night of where to dine in an assortment of restaurants. Dress code is smart casual, so there's no need to pack the dinner jacket.
The ship's itineraries are immersive; there is more time in each port, overnights in port on every voyage; and complimentary shore excursions every day. Much emphasis is placed on enrichment on board, with in-depth lectures, two cinemas (one showing movies related to the area in which the ship is sailing) and experiences like cookery classes. Two more identical ships are coming in 2016; we think Viking is already onto a winner with this formula.