Published on October 18th, 2016 | by Glynn Chesnut
SHIP REVIEW: Viking Cruises Debuts Viking Star for Cruises in the Americas
I’ve gone on Viking River Cruises of the Rhine and the Seine, and one of the things that impressed me the most was the company’s top-notch customer service. From the time they meet you at the airport until it’s time for you to fly home, they have every detail covered – and that’s a big part of what has made me a repeat customer. I’ll be taking a British Isles cruise on one of their new ocean ships during its maiden season in 2018, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the Viking Star when it was docked in New York City recently. This new ship will be used on Latin America itineraries.
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After two decades specializing in river cruises, Viking has now expanded, offering ocean cruises on vessels that hold 930 guests. The relatively small size of the ships allows them access to places like the Amazon River, that couldn’t be reached by larger mega-liners. But even though they’re much bigger than Viking’s fleet of 200-passenger river boats, the ocean-going ships retain the same comfortable ambiance, with a tasteful neutral color scheme and an abundance of inviting seating areas. The décor features art, sculpture and photographs, and the Viking Heritage exhibit displays replicas of artifacts from the Viking culture. Whether you want to take in the ocean view or curl up with a book, you’ll have your choice of cozy places to kick off your shoes and relax between sightseeing excursions.
THE STATEROOMS: Comfort is one of Viking’s top priorities, which (along with the customer service) is one of the many reasons for the company’s success. Every room on the ocean ships includes a private veranda, a king-size bed, ample closet space, heated bathroom floors, and toiletries designed exclusively for Viking by the Freyja Collection. A variety of stateroom options are available; price varies with size.
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SHIP FEATURES: When you step on board, you’ll feel as if you’ve just walked into a luxury resort. Amenities include a spa, two swimming pools, a salon, movie theatre, cabaret lounge, fitness center, and several shops offering gifts, cosmetics, clothing and jewelry.
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There are no casinos onboard, and the focus is on the culture of the destination. Viking cruises offer lectures, performances and classes specific to the destination– while on a cruise of the Seine, I took a wonderful watercolor class from a local French artist.
The outstanding Viking cuisine and wine selections vary to reflect the destination, and are available at several different restaurants on board, both indoors and al fresco, at no additional cost. Wine and beer are included with lunch and dinner, and are available for purchase (along with cocktails) between meals.
All Viking cruises include excursions at every port – most are included with the price of the cruise.
BEST FOR: Mature vacationers who are interested in exploring the history and culture of their destination, and who want to travel in comfort and style.
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Viking Caribbean & the Americas Cruises include:
• West Indies Explorer (San Juan to San Juan – 11 days, 9 countries – ports include Tortola and Antigua) – from $2,949 per person
• New York to the West Indies (New York City to San Juan – 15 days, 9 countries – ports include St Kitts and St Martin) – call Viking for prices
• Central American Shores & Cuba (Miami to Miami – 8 days, 4 countries – ports include Havana, Cozumel and Belize) – from $2,649 per person
• Cuba, Panama & the Pacific (Miami to Los Angeles – 22 days, 9 countries – ports include Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala) – from $6,299 per person
• From the Caribbean to the Amazon (San Juan to San Juan – cruises the Amazon to Manaus, Brazil) – from $5,949 per person
• South America & the Caribbean (San Juan to San Juan – 11 days, 6 countries – ports include Colombia and Venezuela) – from $3,149 per person
INFO AND RESERVATIONS: www.vikingcruises.com