All in the family: Viking ocean ship resembles its river sisters
Like the river ships, Viking Star has a simple but impressively wide grand staircase that dominates a central atrium. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst
ABOARD THE VIKING STAR — Anyone who has traveled the rivers of Europe on Viking River Cruises would be curious about how company’s new ocean-going vessel stacks up.
It is easy to see the family resemblance between the two types of Viking ships.
Viking’s standard Longship vessels have white exteriors and spare, contemporary interiors designed with a Northern European sensibility that is comfortable, clean and unfussy.
Viking Star, which left Istanbul on Sunday on the first leg of a 50-night cruise to Stockholm, has much the same look and feel although displayed on a much larger canvas.
Where Viking’s river ships have two-and-a-half decks of passenger cabins, the ocean ship has six, giving it the capacity to carry 930 passengers, up from 190 on a river vessel.
The Star has 10 decks overall, giving it more and bigger public rooms than the river ships, and many extras such as a theater, two cinemas, a spa, a gym and a two pools, none of which are part of the Viking river brand.
But the look and feel of the two types of ships conform to the tastes of Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen, who has built the Viking brand into a powerhouse in river cruising.
Viking Star’s look bears the same Scandinavian modern influence seen in the river ships. The colors are muted and neutral, with blues and browns predominating. Tans, beiges, taupes and off-white shades are also in evidence.
Cabins and public spaces are trimmed in a blonde wood, with touches of leather such as the covering for the staircase handrails. Chandeliers and light fixtures are modern, but not aggressively so.
Art pieces on the ship are also contemporary, but in a way that doesn’t make them stand apart from the overall design. Some have Viking references, such as the staircase landing’s centerpieces based on tapestries depicting the Norman invasion of England in 1053.
Like the river ships, Viking Star has a simple but impressively wide grand staircase that dominates a central atrium. The one on Viking Star sets off a very large LED screen that offers changing images, such as one of the spiral decorative prow of an medieval Viking Longship.
There are decorative horizontal racks of light wood that surround the elevators on each deck.
The main public spaces on Deck 7 of the ship benefit from a lot of glass that give them an airy and spacious feel, similar to the feel of the Longship atrium that is partly roofed in glass.
Viking Star’s main restaurant has comfortable, upholstered chairs and the neutral colors that are also reminiscent of the dining area on the river ships. The ship’s buffet restaurant has an indoor/outdoor capacity with an Aquavit Terrace that accommodates al fresco dining.
As on the river ships, the tile floors in the bathrooms on Viking Star are heated. The patterns in the stone surfaces decorating the bathroom are barely discernable. The basins are rectangular and white, and the fixtures are squared-off and contemporary.
One of the few elaborate touches is a sort of corded webbing that covers the windows along the exterior of the atrium. There is also a filigree screen here and there, such as the one that forms the backing for the stage by the main pool on Deck 7.
All in all, the Viking Star is a more spacious and expanded version of the design formula that has worked well for Viking Cruises for the past 20 years on the inland waterways of Europe.
The Fincantieri shipyard in Italy said it has received an order from Viking Cruises for two more ocean-going ships similar to the Viking Star, which is scheduled to debut in 2015.
The 928-passenger ships, scheduled for delivery in mid-2016 and 2017, brings the number of Viking ocean ships on order to four.
“The interest in and popularity of our current ocean itineraries has been incredible, and they are selling at an unprecedented rate,” said Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen. “This new order allows us to offer consumers in our other markets the opportunity to explore the world in ways they have never experienced before through our destination-focused itineraries.”
Neither party disclosed the price for the ships.
In a statement, Fincantieri said the order deepens its relationship with Viking, which also is a leading river cruise operator. It said the two companies are discussing additional high profile joint projects in other cruise segments.
Viking Star, the first vessel in Viking’s ocean fleet, was ordered in May and will sail in the Baltic and Mediterranean seas in the summer of 2015. It is being marketed mainly to Americans over 55 as a destination-oriented line that will spend an average of 12 hours in port each day.