Oh what a difference a millennium makes. The last time there was a Viking invasion of North America, it was probably quite unexpected and went largely unnoticed. Sidenote: Erik the Red was apparently a marketing genius, choosing to call his discovery Greenland to attract other Vikings. He understood all too well: people would be more eager to go there “because the land has a good name.”
Fast forward about a thousand years, and another Viking invasion is coming to the shores of North America. Only this time, it comes with a press release. (So the Vikings are still marketers at heart.)
As you may have guessed, this invasion is at the hands of Viking Cruise Lines. It seems like just a year ago (because it was) that the river-cruising giant took to the open seas, launching the Viking Star to sail the Baltic, Norther Europe and the Mediterranean. And they did so to rave reviews, but Vikings are, well, Vikings. Founder and Chairman Torstein Hagen says, “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.” Sound familiar, Erik?
You may think we’re being over dramatic, but consider this: Their press release goes on to say, and we quote their quotes here, “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.” It’s an invasion, folks…and we can’t wait to buy tickets!
Viking Ocean Cruises has announced a series of sailings for 2016 which will take the ship from its summer home in Norway to a winter base in the Caribbean. Carrying the theme of following in their ancestral footsteps, the first in the series, In the Wake of the Vikings, is a 15-day cruise from Bergen to Montreal, embarking September 18th. Crossing the Atlantic for the first time in company history, the ship will call on the Shetland and Faroe Islands, Greenland, Newfoundland, and Quebec, as did the original Vikings.
The second leg of the voyage leaves Montreal October 2nd, and sails 13 days along the shores of Canada and New England to New York. The itinerary is timed to take advantage of fall’s arrival, and includes an overnight in Boston and a transit of the Cape Cod Canal.
On October 14, 2016, the Viking Star sets sail for the West Indies, tracing the Atlantic Seaboard from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cruise begins with an overnight in New York City, and includes stops in Newport, Baltimore, Norfolk and Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale). Before anchoring in San Juan, she also calls on the Caribbean islands of Turks and Caicos, Antigua, and St. Thomas.
The Viking Star then begins its 2016/17 Caribbean itinerary, the West Indies Explorer, sailing 11 day roundtrips from San Juan. Passengers will explore the Lesser Antilles and Leeward Islands and experience the British, French, Dutch and island cultures from the Virgin Islands to Barbados. The Viking Caribbean season will last from October 28 through February 15.
Finally, the wayward ship will return to Europe, sailing from San Juan on February 25th, bound for Barcelona. The 18 day crossing will include stops at St. Martin, the Portuguese island of Madeira, the Moroccan city of Casablanca, and the Spanish coastal cities of Cádiz and Valencia.
It’s an ambitious and, dare we say, awesome itinerary, fitting of the luxurious small ship. The Viking Star accommodates just 930 passengers and offers only veranda staterooms. This means your cruise will come with fantastic views no matter what cabin you book. Cruise fares include a shore excursion in every port and, like the Viking river cruises, free Wi-Fi on board. And we have to mention our favorite features: Unlimited specialty coffees and the cruise industry’s first infinity pool at sea. (Several million cool points awarded!)
Speaking of booking, if you want to take part in this Viking invasion, reservations are now open. In fact, returning to that Viking marketing genius, the company offers U.S. residents an Early Booking Discount through December 31, 2015. That includes up to $1,000 off 2-for-1 pricing on cruise departures, plus up to free all-inclusive airfare. Contact a travel agent or call Viking toll free at 1-855-8-VIKING. (Oh boy, they even got us sounding like their marketing department now! We promise – there has been no solicitation or compensation. We’re just geeky that way.)
Have you cruised – river or ocean – with Viking? Tell us about it, or about what North American cruise you’d like to take, in the comments!