My First-Ever Ocean Cruise On The Luxurious “Viking Star”

life after 50, boomer travel, over 50Are you ready? It’s time to embark, as I share highlights from my journey aboard my first-ever ocean cruise on the luxurious Viking Star. It was a “star-studded” 15-days traveling courtesy of Viking Cruises.* My lucky, lucky boyfriend L was my companion for the trip.

Our voyage on the Cities of Antiquity & The Holy Land took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and Italy. During the two weeks, we spent time exploring the cities of Athens, Mykonos, Rhodes, Limassol, Naples, Rome and visiting the holy land in Jerusalem. (Note: We missed visiting Crete due to weather conditions.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Greece; Israel; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

Our Viking Ocean Cruise took us to Greece, Cyprus, Israel and Italy.

An Elegant Vessel For Ocean Cruising
Having been on two previous Viking River Cruises — on the Douro in Portugal and on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland — I was familiar with Viking Longships. With its Ocean Cruises, as they say, Viking has taken “that same small ship, destination-focus experience to the seas with an elegant fleet of vessels setting sail in Scandinavia and Baltic, the Mediterranean, North America and the Caribbean.” The ocean itineraries have been carefully designed to access the best destinations up close, with more time in the port than other cruise lines.

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travell

Viking Star is an elegant ocean liner designed for small ship destination cruising.

Accolades Galore For Viking Star
With Viking, I knew our ship, the Viking Star, was going to be special. Viking was named a #1 Ocean Cruise Line by Travel + Leisure readers in the World’s Best Awards 2017 and 2016. Plus, Cruise Critic editors honored Viking Ocean Cruises with two awards in 2016: “Best Luxury Cruise Line for Value” and “Best Luxury Cruise Line Spa,” (Ooh, ooh, ooh, wait until I tell you about my treatments at the spa. I had to try a massage and facial. It was part of my duties as a blogger. Did I say I love my life? I do. I do.)

Viking Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

The spa has a relaxing warm water pool with jets.

Cruise Critic editors also selected Viking Star as the “Best New Ocean Ship” of 2015, noting “the ship is so beautifully designed—with terrific al fresco restaurants, a beautiful pool area, a superb spa and the two-level Explorers’ observation lounge—that you’ll be hard-pressed to go ashore.”  (We spent three days at sea and it was so relaxing to walk around the deck and sit on lounges looking out over the Aegean Sea.)

 Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

We enjoyed walking around the deck on days at sea.

Likewise, Viking Star was named Fodor’s Travel “World’s Best Cruises for 2016.” and Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Ships Guide, “considered to be the bible of cruise ship guidebooks,” rated Viking Star, highest in her category in 2016.

 Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

Sitting on lounges overlooking the Aegean Sea was meditative on days at sea.

Can you see why I was so excited to travel on my first-ever ocean cruise on Viking Star? Did it win me over? Did it win over my boyfriend L? Absolutely. so much so that I have to say it again in the native tougue from each of the countries we visited: απολύτως (Greek), בהחלט (Hebrew), assolutamente (Italian).

A Trip of A Lifetime
Unlike other large ocean liners that have thousands of passengers, the Viking Star is classified as a small ocean liner at 745 feet in length. It houses 930 guests and 500 staff.  That’s about one staff member for every two guests — delivering outstanding service from cabin rooms to the concierge.

 Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travell; Viking customer service

Viking Cruises has a higher staff to guest ratio than its competitors.

Another perk is that every stateroom has a private veranda. The rooms are spacious, with king-size beds, large showers, LCD TVs, bathrobes and slippers, and a desk with a makeup mirror that pops up. (Note: any room that has bathrobes gets an A+ rating in my book. Ooh, ooh, ooh, and there is a self-service launderette with washers – with soap suds built in – and dryers. How convenient is that?)

 Ocean Cruise; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travell

Viking Star staterooms are spacious with king-size beds, large bathrooms and private verandas. They also have nice sitting areas around the ship.

Wow-o-wow!  With this level of service and comfort, I felt certain our Viking Ocean Cruise would be a trip of a lifetime.

What do you think? Do you want to join me? Are you ready to book a Viking Ocean Cruise yet? Get your piggy banks out now because this is an ocean cruise worth saving your pennies and dollars for. Guaranteed you’ll want to book your trip when I’m done with my blog posts. (Note: There are 2-for-1 cruise deals with up to $1000 off airfare if you book a Viking Ocean Cruise before December 31, 2017.)

So Much To Show and Tell
There’s more to come:

I’ll be kicking off my next post with details about our panoramic tour of Athens and its National Archeological Museum.

Athens; Athens National Archaeological Museum; god of Zeus; boomer travel; post 50 travell

A bronze statue of the god Zeus stands in great stride at Athens’ National Archaeological Museum.

Next, you’ll hear about the fresh bounty of the Greek Isle of Mykonos and our drive on the glorious coast of Limassol to see Petra tou Romiou, Aphrodite’s Rock, where it is said that the Greek Goddess of Beauty and Love first stepped on land.

Aphrodite's Beach; Cyprus; Viking Ocean Cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; luxury travel over 50

Aphrodite’s Rock on the coast of Cyprus is a romantic spot.

From there we’ll go to Israel, where I’ll share my first-ever visit to Jerusalem and praying at the Western Wall. There’s more to tell about Israel from Haifa, including a kibbutz visit, Acres Bah Gardens, and the stunning beauty of the rock formations at Rosh Hanikra National Park, the only point in Israel where the sea meets the cliff.

Jerusalem; Israel; Western Wall; Viking Ocean Cruises; boomer travel

Praying with other women at the Western Wall in Jerusalem was a memorable experience.

Finally we’ll sail to Italy with stops in Naples and a full day of sight-seeing in my beloved of all Italian cities, Rome.

Rome; Piazza Navona; Viking Ocean Cruises; boomer travel; luxury travel over 50

It’s picture perfect at the Piazza Navona in Rome.

Oh yes, there’s the ship too. I’m going to take you inside the galley to meet the executive chef, give you a peek at the restaurants – from Mamsen’s Norwegian snacks and light fare to The World Cafe’s bountiful buffets and The Restaurant, Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant and The Chef’s Table, all fine dining establishments.  With food service fit for a queen and her king, spa treatments to soothe my dry skin and sore muscles, and veranda views of sunrises and sunsets over the blue waters, I brought home memories galore to savor and share.

Viking Ocean Cruise food; ocean cruises; Viking Star; boomer travel; post 50 travel

Daily dining includes home-baked pastries, homemade gelato, fresh fish and bountiful buffets.

The best part, L and I didn’t have any sea sickness. So you know what that means? We can go on more ocean cruises during our life after 50. Hear that L? When’s our next cruise?

Meantime, see you soon for a panoramic tour of Athens. I leave you with a Hávamál Viking Proverb:

“He is truly wise who has traveled far and knows the ways of the world.”

Judi

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Viking Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip on the Cities of Antiquity and Holy Lands Ocean Cruise. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

 

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20 thoughts on “My First-Ever Ocean Cruise On The Luxurious “Viking Star”

  1. What a fabulous trip! I’m glad you thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ll be retiring in June and we hope to enjoy some carefree travel,too.

    • Susan, congrats on your upcoming retirement. I highly recommend traveling during your second act when you have good health and can enjoy it. Plus, you can get good deals when you are more flexible.

  2. I’ve read about the Viking river cruises and they sound great, but I think I’d prefer an ocean cruise like yours. Now if I could only convince hubby to go with me… Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

    • Rachel, I think both the ocean and river cruises are amazing experiences. I’m not sure I could say which ones I like better. I think the Viking philosophy and spirit and their itineraries are what make the cruises special.

    • Cathy, definitely like the Viking Ocean Cruises for their small size. I don’t think I would like going on a ship with 3000 people.

    • Irene, it was a glorious ship and they keep it in such tip top shape. Plus the Viking staff are amazing, such a caring and customer-focused team.

    • Donna, yes, all the reasons you mentioned are the reasons why we loved the Viking Ocean Cruise. The size of the ship and small number of guests makes it so much more accommodating.

  3. I’m so glad you’re doing a multi-part series on the Viking ocean cruise. We loved our river cruise with them and I can only imagine that if they took the same approach to service and style these will be a winner too. Looks so luxurious!

    • Sue, yes, the benefits of a Viking cruise is that you have similar excursion amenities at every port with an included excursion. You can also pay extra and go on more extensive day trips.

  4. WOW! Sounds like you had an awesome time on this cruise. I hope to be able to do something very similar soon.Great post.Cheers Sharon…

  5. We are booked for this trip in March 2019. What time of year did you go? What kind of room did you have? We are doing some traveling in Italy first (our cruise starts in Rome, ends in Athens) and packing light. Was it easy / not too expensive to get laundry done?

    • Cathi, so excited for your cruise. You are going to love Viking cruises. I went in November and we had mostly warm weather, except for Rome, where it was cooler. We had a veranda room, with a balcony. It’s nice to have a view out your sliding glass doors. However, there are so many other places to sit on the ship. You don’t have to worry about laundry as there are free washers and dryers on every floor, and they provide the soap! You can pack light. Just bring some layers so if you need to you can layer up and take layers off as it gets warmer. Hope you have a fantastic time.

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