Aquivit Terrace on the Viking Star
Credit: Courtesy of Viking Cruises

When Viking Ocean Cruises begins sailing the Baltic and Mediterranean this month, it will become the first major river-cruise company to launch a seagoing offshoot. It’s a smart move for Viking, which has already cultivated a fiercely dedicated fan base for its trips down the Danube and other European waterways.

Devotees will find much that’s familiar on the 930-passenger Viking Star: spacious Scandinavian- designed staterooms with private verandas, overnights in key ports, and niceties bundled into the fare (Wi-Fi, wine and beer, city tours). The change of scenery and larger vessel bring plenty of new additions, too: lectures by local experts, a craft beer bar, a Nordic-style spa with a snow grotto, and a culinary emphasis on regional specialties (Black River osetra caviar on Baltic sailings, pea-leek risotto with goat-milk cheese in the Med). The crowd favorite is sure to be the cantilevered, glass-backed saltwater pool, which gives guests the illusion that they can swim right off the stern.