Viking Star: The spa makes a big first impression

The snow grotto in the spa on the Viking Star
The snow grotto in the spa on the Viking Star

ABOARD THE VIKING STAR –– We have not yet been on the Viking Star for 24 hours but she is such a nice size that we have pretty much explored all her nooks and crannies.

And so far, she rates an A+.

I came to find out why Viking Ocean Cruises received so many rave reviews in it first year of operation and it is quickly becoming apparent why that is. I’ll be discussing the “whys” in detail over the coming days.

There are many features that make the Viking Star distinctive but the one that really caught my attention on my first swing around the decks was the LiV Nordic spa. The spa area luxurious, well-designed and open to everyone. The ladies and men’s locker rooms are separate, each with its own dry sauna and a cold plunge pool. In each locker you will find a robe, slippers, spa underwear (use is optional), a towel and a box for valuables. You lock this unit with your room key card.

In between the locker rooms is a common area with a good-sized thermal pool (96 degrees), with another smaller hot tub adjoining (100 degrees). It has aeration jets for those who want to do some resistance swimming. There is also a large steam room and the “snow grotto”…a chamber where snow actually falls from the ceiling and accumulates in drifts on the floor. If the snow is too much of a shock to your system after your heat soak, there is a shower where  you can just dump a bucket of cold water over your head…literally.

Decor on the Viking Star is spare, the main stairway features a screen with rotating
Decor on the Viking Star is spare, the main stairway features a screen with rotating

I first experienced this Scandinavian tradition of alternating heat and cold in Finland some years ago but I bet a lot of Americans will give it a first try here. According to the spa literature, “alternating hot and cold baths detoxes the body, relaxes tired muscles and boosts circulation.” Simply, the Nordic bathing ritual involves:

Relax in the sauna

Dip in the cold plunge

Heat up in the sauna (or steam room) again

Step into the snow grotto

Repeat as many times as you like

Trust me, it certainly wakes you up!

In addition, there is a full fitness center, small workout/yoga room and a hair and nail salon. The key for me here is that you do not have to be having a treatment to use these facilities. They are available to everyone at no additional charge. I intend to spend some serious time here.

The décor all over the ship is distinctively Scandinavian. Spare, minimal, light colors. You will not find lush green plants around the pool, but rather stark arrangements of tree limbs. Table decorations are of moss, lichen and ferns rather than florals. The “atrium” spans three levels in the middle of the ship, giving it an airy feel.

The spa is quite large for a ship this size.
The spa is quite large for a ship this size.

I understand that the ship, which carries 930 passengers, is nearly full this week but it doesn’t seem crowded even when the small theater is full for lectures.

We spent yesterday in Stockholm and today we just docked in Helsinki, Finland. We will talk about the shore excursions tomorrow.

Photos by Chet Janssens

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