New Viking Star to offer high-end experience
The 928-passenger capacity vessel will feature state-of-the-art accommodations, generous amenities
Three large ships and the most anticipated newbie of the year are in the final building process for 2015. While there are new river ships, adventure ships and new large German ships launching in 2015, I’m featuring four that will be popular on this side of the Atlantic (one of them parttime): Viking Star, Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, Norwegian’s Escape and P&O’s Britannia. Last year’s most anticipated ship became the most talked about — Quantum of the Seas, with gee-whiz technology never found at sea and its abundance of innovation and fun was heralded not only by cruise writers but by tech and entertainment blogs. With maximum capacity just short of 5,000 passengers, Quantum is a giant compared to its most anticipated successor in 2015, the Viking Star, due to hit the water in May in Bergen, Norway.
The Star’s capacity is 928 passengers — and not one inside cabin.
Viking Ocean Cruises, by some measure, is a new line, a spinoff of Europe’s leader on the rivers, Viking River Cruises. Torstein Hagen, the outspoken head of both, wants to prove that his river concept works on ocean. The line is not stopping at one — the Star will be succeeded by identical ships (the Sea and the Sky) in 2016 and a fourth in 2017.
Before the Star hits the water, advance publicity has virtually sold out the ship, which will cruise the gamut, from the Eastern and Western Mediterranean, to Scandinavia and the Baltics. All this early success encouraged Viking to stay in Europe for the winter.
Early on Hagen’s public promise was “no nickel-and-dime-ing.” That means complimentary beer and wine with dinner and lunch, Wi-Fi; shore excursions in every port and 24-hour room service are all included. Extra roominess is always welcome and the larger-thannormal staterooms start at 270 square feet and feature king-size-beds.
They must have anticipated winter cruising as one of the two pools has a sliding glass room while the other is an infinity pool at the stern with uninterrupted views. Scandinavians and would-be Scandinavians can experience a cold-hot typical Nordic experience with a snow room and sauna reminiscent of a romp in the snow and rush to the sauna.
Unlike the rivers, where Hagen built large numbers of ships quickly and annually — more than all his competitors combined — he’s going to find successful rivals lying in wait. Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania are solidly entrenched in his market, so this man, who loves competition, is going to find it.
Others include a new larger Breakaway Class from Norwegian, named Escape. Escape — at 4,200 passengers — has one more deck and a lot of fun stuff for families … rope course, more water slides plus a multitude of areas for sports and kids’ facilities.
The Waterfront, a winner
on Breakaway ships, with an indoor/ outdoor eat-and-drink space, will be expanded on Escape to include the famed Miami bar, Tobacco Road.
The Escape will sail seven-night Eastern Caribbean round-trip itineraries, year-round from Miami.
Anthem of the Seas is the first sibling of Quantum, arriving in the spring, then summering in Europe and wintering in New York.
P& O’s new flagship, Britannia, launches in March and its appeal to North Americans is part-time. After sailing the summer in Europe, it will reposition in November to sail 15- and 16-night cruises from Barbados next winter.
2015 was a relatively slow year at the shipyards but in 2016 everyone gets busier with seven new ships of interest on this side of the Atlantic being built.
Visit portsandbows.com — sponsored by Expedia, CruiseShipCenters, Point Grey 1-855738-8847 and completevacations.ca — for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil Reimer may be contacted directly at email@example.com.