LOS ANGELES - Viking Ocean Cruises announced that the line will expand its destination-focused cruising to North America and the Caribbean with five new itineraries launching in September 2016. As a nod to the most famous Viking explorer, Leif Eriksson, who set foot on North American soil 500 years before Columbus, Viking Star will also cross the North Atlantic – with a new itinerary that sails from Bergen to Montreal, with stops in the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. From Montreal, the award-winning ship will cruise the St. Lawrence River and down the coast of New England to New York, during the peak period of fall foliage in October. Viking Star will then make her way down the Eastern seaboard to San Juan, Puerto Rico, which will serve as her homeport for winter Caribbean itineraries. The ship will return to Europe in February 2017, with a transatlantic sailing from San Juan to Barcelona.
"We have always had a vision to reinvent ocean cruising – to bring destinations back to the forefront of the itinerary and to build ships that are designed to help our guests better explore their destinations," said Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises. "We launched our ocean cruises in Europe earlier this year, and just as the Viking explorers before us, we are now looking across the Atlantic for new discoveries. Our new itineraries in North America and the Caribbean will offer travelers experiences that broaden their horizons both on and off the ship."
New North America & Caribbean Itineraries
Created in part to honor early Viking trade routes beyond Scandinavia, Viking's new North American itineraries will allow guests to sail the North Atlantic and visit original Norse settlement sites that date back more than 1,000 years. Viking's Caribbean itineraries will provide an alternative to the cruises typically offered in the region – with more time in port and experiences that go beyond the iconic and expected. Highlights from the new program include:
- NEW for 2016 – In the Wake of the Vikings (15 days; Bergen to Montreal) – Trace the route of Viking Leif Eriksson, setting off from his homeland, Norway, sailing from the old mercantile city of Bergen to the rustic Shetland Islands of Scotland the Faroe Islands, once home to the Viking Parliament. Witness the magnificent natural beauty of Iceland and Greenland; then, as Eriksson before you, land at Newfoundland, where L'Anse aux Meadows reveals evidence of Norse settlements. Sail on to Quebec, with explorations of Saguenay and Quebec City, before arriving in Montreal. Sailing Date: September 18, 2016.
- NEW for 2016 – Eastern Seaboard Explorer (13 days; Montreal to New York) – Witness the shores of Canada and New England come alive with fall's vibrant hues during this once-annual sailing. From cosmopolitan Montreal, cruise the St. Lawrence River to French-flavored Quebec City. Learn about Canada's colonial past in Saguenay and about its Scottish and Acadian heritage on Prince Edward Island and in Halifax. An overnight in Boston gives you ample time to visit its historic treasures. Then, enjoy a rare crossing of the Cape Cod Canal en route to New York City, where you'll experience the highlights of Manhattan. Sailing Date: October 2, 2016.
- NEW for 2016 – Eastern Seaboard to the West Indies (15 days; New York to San Juan) – Trace the Atlantic seaboard of the United States into the Caribbean, calling on an array of vibrant capitals and lush islands. An overnight in exhilarating New York City lets you take in its dazzling sights. Then explore Newport's grand mansions and Baltimore's historic riches. Immerse yourself in colonial Jamestown from our port in Norfolk, and enjoy an overnight stay amid the coastal beauty of Port Everglades. Then explore the lush and lively Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos, Antigua and St. Thomas.
- NEW for 2016/2017 – West Indies Explorer (11 days; San Juan to San Juan) – After time to explore the colonial treasures of San Juan, Puerto Rico, immerse yourself in the British, French and Dutch cultures of the Lesser Antilles. Take in the steep green hills of Tortola and Antigua. Explore settlement towns on St. Lucia and Barbados. Witness the rainforest beauty of Guadeloupe and the rich past of St. Kitts. And marvel at the French and Dutch sides of St. Martin and the splendid vistas of St. Thomas. Sailing Dates: October 28, November 7, December 17 and December 27, 2016; January 6, January 16, January 26, February 5 and February 15, 2017.
- NEW for 2017 – West Indies to Iberia (18 days; San Juan to Barcelona) – Embark in colonial San Juan, and call upon the Dutch side of St. Martin. Then, enjoy a leisurely six-day trans-Atlantic crossing, savoring the offerings onboard Viking Star. You'll make landfall on the garden-draped Portuguese island of Madeira and visit the French-inflected Moroccan city of Casablanca before exploring Spain in Cadiz, Valencia and finally, Barcelona.
Christened in May 2015 in Bergen, Norway, the 930-guest all-veranda Viking Star – as well as her two sister ships under construction, Viking Sea (2016) and Viking Sky (2017) – is classified by Cruise Critic as a "small ship," and is engineered at a scale that allows direct access into most ports, so guests have easy and efficient embarkation and disembarkation. The small size of Viking's ocean ships provides greater maneuverability, allowing them to dock where mega-liners that dominate the world's ports today cannot. From prime, central berths in the world's great cities, cuch as Venice and Monte Carlo and in smaller, seldom-visited ports like Kotor, Montenegro, and Scotland's Shetland Islands, enriching cultural discoveries are just a short walk away from the ship. Viking Star was named "Best New Ocean Ship" in the 2015 Cruise Critic Editors' Picks Awards and was rated number one in its category in the recently released Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016. Featuring understated elegance and modern Scandinavian design, highlights onboard Viking Star include:
- All Veranda Staterooms: Guests can choose from five stateroom categories, starting from a 270 sq. ft. Veranda Stateroom, all with private verandas and premium amenities that include king-size beds with luxury linens, large showers, luxury toiletries and large interactive flat-screen LCD TVs with movies-on-demand.
- Explorer Suites: The ship features 14 Explorer Suites, which are two-room suites ranging from 757 to 1,163 sq. ft. that offer sweeping views from wraparound private verandas as well as the most amenities and privileges of any category onboard.
- Two Pool Choices: In addition to the Main Pool with a retractable roof permitting any-season swimming, the ship features a first-of-its-kind glass-backed Infinity Pool cantilevered off the stern, allowing guests to swim surrounded by their destination.
- LivNordic Spa: In keeping with Viking's Nordic heritage, The Spa onboard is designed with the holistic wellness philosophy of Scandinavia in mind—from the centuries-old tradition of the sauna to a Snow Grotto where snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air. Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 named it one of the "5 best cruise ship spas."
- Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's: Share a cocktail with friends. Linger over a Norwegian breakfast and a nautical history book. The Explorers' Lounge and Mamsen's gourmet deli are thoughtful spaces located at the bow and designed in the Scandinavian spirit, for complete relaxation and for marveling at sweeping views through double-height windows.
- The Wintergarden: Guests looking for serenity will find it in the Wintergarden. In this elegant space under a canopy of Scandinavian trellised wood, guests can indulge in afternoon tea service.
- Dining Choices: Viking Star offers multiple restaurant locations and food choices -from fine dining in The Restaurant, which serves three full meals and the widest choice of culinary options, and the World Cafe, which serves international fare and regional specialties- to intimate dining experiences at The Chef's Table, which offers a multi-course tasting menu complete with wine parings, and Manfredi's, which features freshly prepared pastas and Italian favorites. Additionally, The Kitchen Table focuses on regional dishes from market to table; the Pool Grill specializes in gourmet burgers; afternoon tea and scones are available in the Wintergarden; and Mamsen's serves Norwegian deli-style fare. Furthermore, with multiple choices for outdoor seating during meals, Viking Star offers the most al fresco dining at sea.
- Enriching Entertainment: Connecting guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking in creating "the thinking person's cruise." Instead of casinos and water slides, guests are offered Viking's Culture Curriculum including: world-class lectures on history and art; tasting of vintage wines from their destinations; restaurant menus inspired by local cuisine; informative port talks; enriching Destination Performances featuring folkloric shows and musicians playing regional and classical music; an onboard cooking school allowing guests to learn how to prepare local specialties.
- Sustainable Features: Designed with the environment in mind, Viking Star features energy-efficient hybrid engines, hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull and bow for maximum fuel efficiency and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution and meets the strictest environmental regulations.