Are 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.)
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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).
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.
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?)
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.
♥ 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.
♥ 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.
♥ 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.
Amazing spas and restaurants on board
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.
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.”
*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.