VIKING STAR Trek: Maiden Voyager, Part Two

Continued bliss from The North Sea aboard Viking Cruises spectacular new VIKING STAR as the ship nears her homeport of Bergen, Norway for the first time.

Viking Cruises

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015, ctd.

I was able to visit several different stateroom categories during an afternoon media tour of the ship.

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MV VIKING STAR Forward Explorer’s Suite living area.
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MV VIKING STAR Forward Explorer’s Suite balcony.

There are two smaller and four larger Explorer’s Suites at the forward end of Decks 3, 4 and 5 measuring between 757 and 1,163 square feet. In the larger suites (shown above), the bedroom and living room have forward-facing windows and there is a side/corner balcony with sheltered lounging and dining areas.

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MV VIKING STAR aft Explorer’s Suite living room, facing aft.
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MV VIKING STAR aft Explorer’s Suite bedroom, facing aft.
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MV VIKING STAR aft Explorer’s Suite balcony, facing starboard.

Located on Decks 3, 4, 5 and 6, eight aft Explorer’s Suites are of varying size and have wrap-around balconies overlooking the stern.

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Penthouse Suite, facing starboard.

Thirty two 405-square-foot Penthouse Junior Suites are located on Decks 6, 7 and 8.

More details and images of VIKING STAR’s staterooms will be featured in an upcoming Decked!

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Karine Hagen in the Owner’s Suite.

It was fitting that we were greeted in the 1,448-square-foot Owner’s Suite by Viking’s spokesperson Karine Hagen. Daughter of founder and CEO Torstein Hagen, she shares his vision and enthusiasm for the Viking product and is a guiding force in the line’s day-to-day operations.

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MV VIKING STAR Owner’s Suite dining nook, facing forward/port.

The Owner’s Suite is on the starboard side of Deck 7 and has a large dining space that was being used as a meeting room in addition to a handsome dining nook with a painting by one of Hagen’s favorite artists, the late Jakob Weidemann.

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Owner’s Suite living room, facing forward.

In the living room, there are books curated by and for Hagen, himself. Think astrophysics…

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MV VIKING STAR Owner’s Suite sauna.

In addition to a guest WC, there is a large bathroom with a private sauna overlooking the sea. And, of course, there is a private bedroom and balcony that will be posted in our Decked! feature.

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MV VIKING STAR Explorer’s Lounge, facing aft from starboard.
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Karine Hagen in Mamsen’s.

Ms. Hagen led us next to the adjacent Explorer’s Lounge (lower level) where the starboard recess features an eatery called Mamsen’s (Norwegian for “mama”), named for her grandmother, Ragnild Hagen, who is pictured in the backdrop on a ski slope “towing” toddler Karine in a basket. When her grandmother passed at age 99, a small piece of porcelain was found in her estate. On the underside was the brand name Viking Tor, which the Hagens purchased and have reproduced for use in Mamsen’s, in tribute to Ragnild Hagen and her son Tor.

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Waffles, Norwegian style (with Norwegian cheese) in Mamsen’s.

The ship’s chefs were trained in Norway to authentically prepare the various courses that are served in Mamsen’s.

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MV VIKING STAR Explorer’s Lounge windows.
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MV STELLA POLARIS in the Explorer’s Lounge.

In the upper portion of the Explorer’s Lounge, the terrace features models of classic Norwegian ships, including a lovely STELLA POLARIS, the yachtlike, globe-trotting cruise ship of 1927, whose elegant clipper bow inspired those of the Royal Viking trio and now, the VIKING STAR.  Fellow cruise ship enthusiasts may recall that on the ROYAL VIKING SUN, RCL’s final ship (now Holland America’s PRINSENDAM), the Observation Lounge was named for the STELLA POLARIS and featured a similar model.

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MV VIKING STAR Explorer’s Lounge upper level, facing port.

The Explorer’s Lounge is a splendid space with its panorama of windows, warm wood tones and tasteful, comfortable furnishings.

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Totally random Explorer’s Lounge carpet shot.
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MV VIKING STAR Explorer’s Lounge upper level, facing aft.

Although the ship has a dedicated Library down on Deck 1 adjacent to the Atrium, there is a selection of books (hand curated by Karine Hagen and Viking’s shore staff) for guests to enjoy in the Explorer’s Lounge.

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MV VIKING STAR forward observation deck, facing starboard.

An open observation deck can be accessed from the lower level of the Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 7.

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MV VIKING STAR Fitness Center, facing forward.

On both sea days we would enjoy time on the cardio machines in the Deck 1 Fitness Center.

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MV VIKING STAR Wintergarden, facing forward/port.
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Tea menu in the Wintergarden.

And another favorite pastime enjoyed on those two gloriously kind North Sea crossing days was tea at 4:00 PM in the Wintergarden.

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Crafted credenza.

Just forward of the pool, the Wintergarden is topped with a glass skylight with Art Nouveau-style wooden trellises and has a serving station in its center with a huge wooden pantry that houses no less than 19 varieties of leaves. Stepped down terraces on either side of the Wintergarden offer comfortable seating with glorious views of the sea.

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Tea time treats in the Wintergarden.
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Tea time trio in the Wintergarden.

Live music (a string trio or pianist) accompanies a selection of sweets and sandwiches, followed with freshly baked scones with clotted cream and fruit preserves.

A late afternoon press conference and dinner in Manfredi’s, the Italian specialty restaurant, would conclude our first day at sea.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

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En suite breakfast, Norwegian style.

We started the morning with room service, enjoying a small spread of smoked salmon with capers and a pot of coffee, which, unlike most shipboard brew, was excellent.

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MV VIKING STAR Under the Dome, facing forward.

Still calm by North Sea standards, it was nonetheless a bit too cool to have the Magrodome open throughout the day. Either because the top of the dome was so high or because the space is well ventilated, I was impressed that there was no humidity or the dreaded “terrarium effect”.

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MV VIKING STAR, the World Cafe, facing forward from starboard.

Located on aft Deck 7, the World Cafe is the ship’s buffet dining venue. While it doesn’t offer the widest range of choices and lacks a proper salad bar, the selections are generally quite good.

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MV VIKING Star port Deck 8 terrace, facing forward.

Just as the Restaurant on Deck 2 can be opened up for al fresco dining, there are terraces to either side and aft of the World Cafe for those who wish to enjoy their meal in the elements.

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MV VIKING STAR Manfredi’s, facing forward.

We had the pleasure of dining in Manfredi’s on two nights and found the food and service to be consistently excellent. Named for Silversea Cruises’ Chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, the reservations-required, no-charge Italian restaurant is located on the starboard side of Deck 1. Apparently Mr. Lefebvre and Mr. Hagen are close friends and the next Silversea ship will have a dining venue called Tor’s.

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MV VIKING STAR Manfredi’s drum.

Nothing better than a drum of genuine Reggiano Parmesan to greet guests at the entrance.

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MV VIKING STAR Manfredi’s Reggiano, balsamic and olive oil.

At each table, a holy trinity of Parmesan, pungent olive oil and aged balsamic…

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Manfredi’s bread.

…accompanies the fresh breads and bread sticks.

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Manfredi’s polenta pomodoro.

Gorgeous salads, soups and main courses make dining in Manfredi’s an event. There are plenty of vegetarian selections, as well, including a delicious polenta with pomodoro sauce.

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MV VIKING STAR Manfredi’s private dining room, facing port.

There is a private dining room in the forward section of Manfredis’s that can be reserved for special occasions.

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MV VKING STAR Chef’s Table, facing forward from port.

On the port side of Deck 1, directly across from Manfredi’s is The Chef’s Table, which serves up a fixed menu with wine pairings. It is also included in the fare but reservations are required.

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“HMS Pinafore” and more.

While the VIKING STAR doesn’t aspire to be a mainstream cruise ship in most respects, it does have a talented cast that delivered sterling performances in  “Songscape: An Operatic Fantasy”, an impressive production that offered up a range of tunes from Gilbert and Sullivan to The Who and Queen in the Theater. The digital backdrops were also quite extraordinary and if this one show is any indication, Viking’s guests are in for some great evenings at sea.

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Ovation for “Songscape: An Operatic Fantasy”.

A well deserved standing ovation capped off the show.

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Bouzouki and beyond.

At various times throughout the afternoon and evening, there are also musical and or dance performances in the Atrium. An excellent bouzouki player serenaded those gathered in the surrounds of the Viking Bar and Living Room.

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Twilight under the dome.
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Eve in the Garden.

The reluctant sun had just set by the time we took our late evening stroll under the starrily lit Magrodome and Wintergarden. In just a few hours, VIKING STAR would be concluding her maiden voyage in her home port of Bergen.

End of VIKING STAR Trek: Maiden Voyager, Part Two

Much More To Come…

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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