We are home from our two-week Baltic cruise on the new Viking Star and we remain impressed. Here are some of the reasons that we think the folks at Viking are getting it right:
They do not have a casino.
They do not have photographers nor do they sell photos.
They do not have art auctions.
They do not have any passengers under the age of 18.
The drinking age onboard is 21.
They do not charge for passengers to use all of the spa facilities, including the thermal pool and the snow grotto.
They do not charge for wine and beer at lunch and dinner.
They do not charge for specialty coffees, soft drinks and juices anytime.
They provide complimentary bottled water in all cabins and on all excursions.
They do not leave towel animals in your cabin, or a turndown chocolate for that matter.
They do not charge extra to dine in their two specialty restaurants.
They show movies on the pool deck almost every night and the movies are keyed to the itinerary.
They offer sufficient live entertainment, but it is not excessive.
They do not promote sales in the shops on board.
They offer “included” shore excursions in every port at no charge, as well as an array of optional excursions that include evening events like ballet performances, folkloric shows and jazz cruises.
The wi-fi internet is free to everyone. Not fast (you won’t be streaming movies), but adequate for browsing the internet and checking email. There are four computers for passenger use on each ship.
They offer port-intensive itineraries, with overnights in the most interesting places.
They have a crew that are incredibly good – cheerful, helpful, efficient and always welcoming.
The ships are comparatively small, carrying only 930 passengers. Many of their recent sailings have been sold out.
The Viking Star was introduced in April 2015 and the Viking Sea was introduced this spring. In 2017, the Viking Sky will come online in early 2017 and the fourth ship, the Viking Sun will begin a world cruise in December of next year. Three more sister ships are on order.