Five Things to Know About Viking Ocean Cruises' Viking Star Cruise Ship
World's Best 2016 Awards Rank: #1 Large Ocean Ship
Best for: Grown-ups—no children are allowed on board—looking for a cruise that emphasizes food and culture and doesn’t cost the earth
Sails: The British Isles, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Northern Europe
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing first in the Large Ocean Ship Category. Best known for its river cruises, Viking debuted its first ocean vessel, the Viking Star, in 2015. With its sleek Nordic design, destination-focused itineraries, and no-nickel-and-diming philosophy, it’s proved to be a game changer.
Related:Explore 100+ ships with the T+L Cruise Finder
The Design Feels Fresh
While many cruise ships seem to have a more-is-more design aesthetic, Viking goes all in on Scandinavian simplicity with warm, blond woods of juniper and ash, low-slung furniture, and made-for-Instagram statement pieces by big-name designers like Frank Gehry and Mario Bellini.
Every Cabin Has a Balcony
Light-strewn and decked out in blue-and-white striped fabric headboards and navy leather-covered coffee tables, the 464 chic staterooms are roomy enough for you to hole up in with a book on sea days: Sizes range from a 270-square-foot veranda cabin to a 757+-square-foot Explorer Suite, which has a wraparound balcony and a deep soaking tub with a window. Bonus: Since every stateroom has a veranda, you can eat your room service omelets al fresco.
Almost Everything Is Included
In keeping with Viking’s no-nickel-and-diming philosophy, everything from unlimited WiFi to alternate restaurant dining to yoga and Pilates classes is wrapped into your cruise fare. Beer and house wine at dinner are also complimentary, as is one shore excursion per port of call. The free options tend to be tours that take you through the highlights of a destination, while more involved outings—like an off-road 4x4 adventure in Seville, for example—generally cost extra.
The Cuisine Is Top-Notch
Food and wine are a priority on this ship, so even if you spent your entire voyage ordering classics like poached Norwegian salmon at the main dining room or grazing on the excellent sushi at the World Café’s buffet, you’d probably be satisfied. But the other options are too good to skip. Make a reservation at Manfredi’s for Italian fare like beef tartare topped with a quail egg or bistecca Fiorentina. At the Chef’s Table, the five-course, often regionally-themed tasting menu rotates every three days, so you can make repeat visits. The Kitchen is the only restaurant that charges a fee, and that’s because the experience is part meal, part excursion. Passengers go shopping at a local market with the ship’s chefs—say, La Boqueria in Barcelona—then help them prepare the meal for dinner.
The Pools Are Spectacular
There’s no casino onboard, so guests spend their sea days at one of the two main pools. The one at the center of the ship has a retractable roof, but the real stunner is the infinity pool, which cantilevers off the back. For cloudy days, there’s thalassotherapy pool and hot tub in the thermal suite at the spa (access is complimentary), where you can also visit the snow grotto—perfect after a stint in the sauna.