Lonely Planet Writer

First new oceanic cruise line in a decade sets sail

If you think oceanic cruises a dusty afterthought from the era of Downton Abbey, think again. Worldwide, sales of ocean cruises have been growing quickly, according to the industry association (Cruise Lines International Association), with about 20 million travelers boarding them last year.

The Viking Star in Istanbul.
The Viking Star in Istanbul. Image by Courtesy of Viking Star

In Asia alone, 1.4 million vacationers sailed on cruises last year, a 34% compound annual growth rate since 2012.

Viking Cruises will this month christen the Viking Star as part of its debut of the first ocean-worthy cruise line to appear worldwide in a decade. A pair of sister ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sea, will arrive next year.

Viking has 40 river cruise ships, but these are the company’s first ocean liners. The ships will sail around the coast of Europe, from Helsinki to Istanbul. They will offer plenty of photo opportunities, too, such as from each one’s wrap-around promenade deck and each one’s infinity pool.

A Nordic theme pervades each ship. The spa, for instance, has a snowflake-making machine. Guests are encouraged to enjoy to linger in the hydrotherapy area stark naked, Norwegian-style.

The Viking Star also references cultural touchstones, such as with a life-size copy of the famous Bayeux Tapestry from the Middle Ages depicting Norman soldiers (Viking descendants) invading England.

While many travel agencies and cruise lines themselves sell tickets, the largest specialty comparison-shopping website is CruiseCompete.com.