Viking Star: Meals on board are very, very good and often have a Scandinavian twist

The breads served throughout the ship are exceptional.
The breads served throughout the ship are exceptional.

ABOARD THE VIKING STAR – We are now well into this 14-day Baltic cruise on the new Viking Star and everyone is beginning to groan a bit.

They are coming to realize that we have all been eating too much. The food on board is extremely good and varied and it is just too easy to give into temptation.

So let me give you an overview of the dining options. But before that, let me remind you that beer and wine are included with all lunches and dinners and soft drinks, juices and fancy coffees are available anytime free of charge.

For those who enjoy the occasional bloody mary or pina colada by the pool, or a pre- or post-dinner drink at the atrium bar, Viking offers a “Silver Beverage Package” and it appears that the cost of this has come down in recent months. We opted for the all-inclusive package that includes champagne and spirits, cocktails and aperitifs as well as premium wines available in all bars and dining venues for $20 per person/day or $280/pp for this 14-night cruise. Gratuity is included, too!

Antipasto appetizer being prepared in Manfredi's
Antipasto appetizer being prepared in Manfredi’s

Another nice Viking touch: You do not have to sign chits at any bar; they just bill directly to your stateroom.

As for dining venues, there is the main dining room called (ta da!), The Restaurant. The two specialty restaurants are Manfredi’s (classic Italian) and The Chef’s Table featuring five-course “tasting” menus. The buffet is called the World Café. Casual fare can be found at the Nordic Deli called Mamsen’s and at the Pool Grill. There is no extra charge to dine in any of these.

Everyone is guaranteed a reservation in each of the specialty restaurants, if they so desire, and these may be made online before the cruise or embarkation day. After that, reservations are pretty much first-come. So far we have managed to dine in Manfredi’s three times and have a reservation for one more evening. Flexibility is the key. It does appear that Manfredi’s is the more popular restaurant of the two as it offers an extensive menu.

Fanciest wedge salad I've seen!
Fanciest wedge salad I’ve seen!

Most people try The Chef’s Table once but don’t necessarily return, even though the set menu changes every three days. The night we dined there they were featuring Scandinavian fare that included reindeer consommé, salmon-five-ways, Lappland granita, a lamb main course and cloudberry soup with sesame ice cream. That menu was followed by an Asian menu that included Peking Duck, then came “A Gastronomic Journey through Time” that was topped off by the 21st-century nut brownie. There are more menus to follow. With each of these meals, a wine pairing menu is offered for $25 – which is included in the Silver package. Another Viking bonus!

While I fully enjoyed the Chef’s Table experience, Chet was not so enthused. He simply wants more choices. Many other men we talked with feel the same way. Interesting.

Mamsen's features Norwegian cold sandwiches for lunch.
Mamsen’s features Norwegian cold sandwiches for lunch.

We have discovered that many couples on this ship are traveling by themselves – the hallmark of well-traveled people, so we find ourselves striking up conversations with people everywhere we go. Sometimes we share a table but often we dine alone. There is no pressure either way. The main dining room has more two-tops than I have ever seen on board a ship this size.

The casual fare on board is creative and uniformly good. Mamsen’s offers Nordic specialties like shrimp salad, steak tartare and Swedish pancakes. The Pool Grill serves up super-sized hot dogs, reuben sandwiches, yummy cheeseburgers (that they will actually cook to order), grilled mahi-mahi, chicken wings and a nice array of salads.

Each afternoon a full tea is served in the lovely Wintergarten…a lovely part of the ship that seems to be underutilized. Another plus: You choose your type of tea from a menu of nearly 20 varieties and it is brewed in your personal china pot from loose tea leaves. And, yes, there are scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam! Yum!

September 13, 3016

Photos by Cynthia Boal Janssens

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