VIKING STAR Trek: Maiden Voyager, Part One

Peter Knego savors his first morning in the North Sea aboard Viking Cruises spectacular new VIKING STAR during a four night segment of her maiden voyage that ends with a bang in Bergen, Norway.

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2015 unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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Norway over the Thames.

When I awoke, VIKING STAR was en route from Greenwich to Bergen, gently churning her way eastward along the Thames.  On this beautiful but frigid morning, a piercing blue sky and popcorn clouds hovered over the rambling green lowlands.  Around noon, we would be entering the North Sea, where my less-than-hardy sea legs have betrayed me on several occasions.

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MV VIKING STAR starboard Deck 8, facing forward.

Not knowing what lay ahead, I ventured to the top of the ship to begin documenting in the still calm conditions. Working my way forward on the starboard side of Deck 8, I was enchanted with what I saw: wide open terraces with plenty of space for deck chairs, tables and strolling around.

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MV VIKING STAR open dome.

The Magrodome over the midships pool was open for sunning even if it was still a bit too chilly for a swim.

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MV VIKING STAR forward Deck 9, facing port.

Up on Deck 9, glass screens provided shelter from the breeze, although thoughtfully placed gaps above and between the panes are just wide enough for a camera lens to poke through (great for scenic arrivals and transits, such as the Panama Canal, entering Venice, etc.). In addition to a putting green, on the starboard side, there is a shuffleboard court and on the port side, bocce ball.

With many guests up on deck, it was a good time to begin exploring the VIKING STAR’s interiors. I will save the lion’s share for a full “Decked!” but the three deck Atrium is a “wow” space worthy of special mention.

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MV VIKING STAR The Living Room, facing aft.

The lofty venue spans upwards from the Living Room and Viking Bar area on Deck 1, where it is divided into intimate nooks.

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MV VIKING STAR Atrium solemn.
SS CONTE GRANDE Restaurant staircase by Gio Ponti. Photo courtesy of Maurizio Eliseo collection.
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MV VIKING STAR Atrium Viking.

It’s hard not to think of Gio Ponti’s timeless grand descent to the CONTE GRANDE’s Restaurant when pondering the VIKING STAR’s much larger atrial ascent, which is fronted by a huge LED screen with high definition, mood-enhancing imagery that changes throughout the day. Galleries on Decks 2 and 3 overlook what is easily one of the most attractive and well-conceived spaces afloat.

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Rock garden sous steps.
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Geo detailing.
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Sublime serving station.

And the detailing in this space and, quite frankly, the rest of the ship, is nothing short of splendid. Unlike many newbuilds where the more you look, the less appealing it becomes, the VIKING STAR brims with sublime, beautifully rendered furnishings, artworks, textures, textiles and colors.

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MV VIKING STAR, The Theater, facing port.

I peered in at The Theater, which begins the line-up of public rooms on Deck 2. Cushioned, terraced seating makes a comfortable and practical venue. Aft wings on either side can be closed off with sliding, soundproof doors to become cinemas or meeting rooms.

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Padded Garbos.

Gotta love the Theater cushions, their “A” sides sporting a Scandinavian movie star (Garbo, Heine, Bergman) and on the back, their autograph.

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MV VIKING STAR Theater Entrance, facing port.

In a stroke of functional genius, the Theater entrance has a bar that makes it an ideal pit stop in the morning or afternoon for a piping hot (included in the fare) cappuccino and pastry “to go” for a lecture in the Theater. And at night, a glass of wine or favorite cocktail to savor during the main stage show…

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MV VIKING STAR Torshaven, facing forward.

Aft of the forward foyer on Deck 2 is a clubby hideaway called Torshaven (named for Viking’s founder and CEO Torstein Hagen). This cabaret style venue has its own dedicated bar and dance floor and was the perfect setting for the Rat Pack tribute performance we would enjoy that evening.

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MV VIKING STAR The Restaurant, facing aft from port.
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MV VIKING STAR totally random Restaurant carpet shot.
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MV VIKING STAR The Restaurant aft dining nook.

At the far aft end of Deck 2 is the Restaurant, a very large space that is broken up into intimate sitting areas.  Soothing blues are offset by warm wood tones and subdued soft fittings.

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MV VIKING STAR Deck 2 promenade, facing aft from port.

Full length windows on either side and aft open up onto the fully encircling promenade (yes!), transforming the room into an al fresco dining venue, when weather and sea conditions permit.

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Breaking bread in the Restaurant.

We enjoyed our first full service meal in the Restaurant just as the VIKING STAR began her northeasterly crossing of a remarkably tranquil North Sea. I’m a huge fan of Viking’s food, which does not make any gourmet pretenses. The ingredients are pure, fresh and of a very high standard and the selections, while not the most exotic, are varied and well-presented.

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Onion tart.
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MV VIKING STAR Chicken Caesar Salad.
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Apple pie, glorious gelato and apple slivers.

Viking’s baked goods, from the breads (available with olive oil and balsamic vinegar as well as butter) to the deserts, are among the best afloat.

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From here to infinity.

There are just so many thoughtful touches and aesthetics that elevate the VIKING STAR from the ordinary. Unlike most of today’s newbuilds, she is tailor made for those who love traveling by sea.

More of her outstanding features coming soon…

End of VIKING STAR Trek: Maiden Voyager, Part One

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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