Evolutionary rather than revolutionary, Viking Cruises' Viking Mars will join sister Viking Neptune in a 2022 debut.
The sixth of Viking's nearly-identical oceangoing vessels, Viking Mars will offer more of what Viking's loyal passengers have come to appreciate about the line. This includes its warm and cozy interior spaces designed for lingering, like the Living Room atrium lobby; the forward-facing Explorers' Lounge, and the iconic Aquavit Terrace and the warm, inviting Wintergarden, home to afternoon tea and poolside cocktails.
As with its sisters, passengers on Viking Mars will also find the sumptuous LivNordic Spa, offering up its spacious thermal suite, complete with hydrotherapy pool, heated tile loungers, and even a Nordic snow room, free of charge. This is a feature other cruise lines charge hundreds of dollars for, per passenger.
Viking Mars, like its fleetmates, will also be noteworthy for what isn't onboard. Viking has made it a point of pride to not offer art galleries, onboard photographers, casinos and the like onboard. There are no children's clubs (Viking's ships are a strictly 18-plus affair), nor will you find the same sort of 'nickel-and-diming' found aboard other vessels. Even the Wi-Fi internet is free. Unlike some other Viking Ocean ships, Viking Mars will not have a planetarium.
Viking Mars isn't a party ship. It is, however, a ship of great beauty that recalls the simple pleasures of cruising. Books line the ship's public spaces from stem to stern in one of the most curated collections at sea. Puzzles adorn the ship's Living Room atrium, and live music is featured each evening in the Living Room, the Explorers' Lounge, and Torshavn, the clubby Blues and Jazz lounge tucked away amidships that comes to life at night.
Viking makes a point of offering multiple dining venues aboard each of its vessels, and Viking Mars is no exception. The key here is that most venues do not require any sort of extra-fee, though specialty restaurants will require reservations that are linked to your cabin grade.
The ship's main dining venue, The Restaurant, offers up breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual yet elegant setting. Every table offers good sightlines to the floor-to-ceiling windows, all of which can open to let in fresh air when conditions allow.
One deck below, on Deck 1, are a trio of specialty restaurants.
At The Chef's Table, rotating menus revolving around different culinary themes are offered, which can be paired with complimentary wines or premium pairings for a modest additional charge.
On the starboard side of the ship is Manfredi's, an Italian eatery reminiscent of Silversea's classic Italian dining venue, La Terrazza. The similarities are more than skin deep: Manfredi's is named for Silversea chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, a close personal friend of Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen.
In between the two dining venues, The Kitchen Table is the ship's most exclusive option: an interactive cooking class and demonstration inset into its own galley. Meals here are often paired with journeys ashore to collect ingredients from local markets.
Also noteworthy is the Pool Grill, which serves up excellent lunchtime salads and some of the tastiest burgers at sea. Cruisers also shouldn't miss Mamsen's. The Viking fleet's best-kept secret, this venue located at the entrance to the Deck 7 Explorers' Lounge serves heart-shaped waffles by morning and open-faced sandwiches at lunch. Recipes are culled from the Hagen family cookbook, and delicious split pea soup is served to lounge patrons each evening after 10pm.
Complimentary, round-the-clock room service is also available in all cabin categories.
Viking Mars offers all-balcony accommodations that are uniformly well-appointed.
Rooms for most cabin categories vary little between the grades, though moving up in category does entitle cruisers to more personal space and little niceties. Viking bases its onboard amenities on cabin grade, so paying a bit more for a higher grade can allow passengers to board earlier, reserve shore excursions and dining options sooner, and add little niceties like complimentary mini-bars with either soft drinks or alcohol and soft drinks that are replenished either daily or per voyage, depending on cabin category.
Several wraparound suites grace the extreme forward and aft ends of most passenger decks and offers some of the most extravagant amenities onboard.
A single Owner's Suite is situated on the starboard side of Deck 7, just aft of Mamsen's. It comes equipped with separate living and sleeping areas, and a private sauna, and is adjacent to a large interconnected conference room that borders the Explorer's Lounge. Designed for owner Torstein Hagen, the suite can be occupied by paying passengers as well, and contains mementos and books from Hagen's own personal collection.
Viking Mars offers plenty of open deck space up top, along with a midship pool covered by a retractable glass magrodome cover. An aft-facing infinity pool is also located at the stern of the ship, just aft of Viking's iconic Aquavit Terrace indoor/outdoor cocktail and bar space.
Chairman Torstein Hagen often refers to his ships as, "The Thinking Person's Cruise", and Viking Mars doesn't disappoint.
Expect to find a bevy of cerebral pleasures, including more books, games, and puzzles spread liberally throughout the ship.
Viking is also good about offering informative lectures and presentations on itinerary or destination-specific topics, along with evening entertainment and production shows most nights in The Theatre.
The Theatre also shows movies onboard, and is pleasantly equipped with a cinema-quality sound system; another rarity among cruise ships. Movies under the stars are also offered up on the Pool Deck, where passengers make use of wireless Bose headsets to keep noise bleed to a minimum.
Evening pre-and-post-dinner musical acts and roving performances in the ship's Living Room Atrium, Explorers' Lounge and the Torshavn jazzclub keep things elegant and entertaining at night.
Viking Mars will primarily concentrate on Viking's Northern European itineraries when it debuts in 2022, sailing the company's popular "Viking Homelands" itinerary from Stockholm to Bergen, as well as voyages to Iceland, the British Isles, the Baltic, and Western Europe.
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