Vancouver Sun

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 portsandbo­ — sponsored by Expedia, CruiseShip­Centers, Point Grey 1-855738-8847 and completeva­ — 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 portsandbo­

 ??  ?? Enjoy al fresco dining on the Viking Star’s Aquavit Terrace.
Enjoy al fresco dining on the Viking Star’s Aquavit Terrace.
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