Viking Star's inauguration in Bergen, Norway // © 2015 Viking Ocean Cruises
Feature image (above): The elegant Wintergarden room onboard Viking Star. // © 2015 Viking Ocean Cruises
On May 17, in Bergen, Norway, Viking Ocean Cruises christened its first seagoing ship, Viking Star. The day was also Constitution Day, a national Norwegian holiday, and spirits were running high. Women in colorful regional dresses, men in knee breeches and frock coats and children carrying helium balloons all paraded down the streets in celebration. There was a sprinkling of kilts in Viking Star’s North Sea port and a seemingly endless procession of tall, flaxen-haired Norwegians laughing, cheering, eating and drinking.
Viking Ocean Cruises chairman Torstein Hagen, who has said that his years spent in Bergen were the best of his life, brought his first ship under the brand home, to launch under the Norwegian flag. Trude Drevland, the charismatic mayor of Bergen, is serving as the ship’s godmother.
The 930-passenger Viking Star has a strong relationship with Norway, especially in its aesthetics. Clean lines and a variety of textures, strong characteristics of Scandinavian design, are found throughout the ship. And in addition to Scandinavian artwork, the vessel features graphics created by Queen Sonja of Norway, images of birch groves native to Norway and reproductions of the historical Bayeux Tapestry (and its Viking Age longships). Passengers can head to ship’s living room to see a fun, animated version of the tapestry, which shows horses galloping across the screen.
Fireplaces cast a soft glow on cream-and-white surfaces, with splashes of color from the coffee-table books of Viking Star’s remarkable library. In the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge, there are many reminders of the ancient Vikings’ seafaring journeys, from star maps and astrolabes to antique globes. The Nordic-themed spa even has a “Snow Grotto,” a room kept chilled to improve blood circulation (in case you really want to step into the shoes of a Viking).
For dining options, Viking Star offers Norwegian coffee, hearty breads and soups, waffles, trays of fresh seafood and plenty of delicious goat cheese. In the popular Mamsen’s Norwegian deli, the Scandinavian recipes used were passed down from Hagen’s mother, and the tableware is the same as that she once utilized at home.
According to Hagen, who describes Viking Star as a unique ambassador for his favorite city, Nordic influences will also be found in Viking’s upcoming cruise ships. They, too, will be registered in Bergen and will showcase the culture of a country that looks to the sea.