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Exploring the Viking Homelands by Luxury Cruise Ship

My cruise was hosted by Viking Cruises. Opinions are my own.

Tallinn, Estonia, Viking Homelands Cruise on the Baltic Sea, Viking Star

I was invited by Viking Cruises to experience the first half of the Viking Homelands cruise on the Baltic Sea aboard the ship Viking Star. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this luxury cruise experience was for me…but I’ll do my best! I may have overdone it with photos, but I want to show you as much of the full experience as possible.

This was the first cruise I’d been on, and my view of cruise ships was that of an overcrowded, impersonal, all-inclusive with a guest ratio much higher than the crew. Viking Cruises changed my opinion. The Viking Star, a small ship built in 2015, holds a maximum of 930 guests. There is approximately one staff member per two guests, and there is so much space that we can always find quiet places to curl up or visit with new friends.

The Viking Star

I don’t know where to begin with describing this amazing cruise, so let’s start with the ship! Our stateroom had a lot of space, and one of my favourite things is the balcony off of our stateroom, of course, and a full sliding glass door. Depending on your choice, there is a seating area to curl up and read and a king-size bed or twin beds. Each stateroom also has a large bathroom with a heated floor, a large closet, and drawers for clothing or whatever you choose. There is also a coffee maker if you decide to make coffee in your room instead of going out or ordering room service. If you lift the top of the desk, there is a hidden compartment where you can find binoculars, a vanity, and a few other highly secret things—I’ll let you discover them on your own! There is also a minibar located inside the desk as well. When planning what to bring on this cruise, I checked out the map of this ship and discovered that there are laundry rooms on three decks. I was able to pack less and do laundry one day. The staterooms also have USB plugins, so we didn’t need to bring large chargers for our devices.

During a private media tour, we explored the bridge and talked to the crew about navigation and controls. We were especially curious about how easy it seemed to dock. Yes, that sounds silly, but it’s a big boat, and our docking seemed seamless.

Dining

Pictures say more than words when describing food, so you’re getting an eyeful! During the sail, the staff became quite familiar with our food and drink preferences. In the Pool Café, I’d ordered the super spicy Pancho Villa burger with habañero mayo and requested an even spicier version. The chef remembered and had tabasco sauce waiting for me each time after that—and we laughed!

We went on a kitchen tour and witnessed the prep for all meals including fresh-made pasta and desserts, plus the super organized methods for preparing for breakfast—the busiest room service time of the day. The deck below the kitchen contained many freezers for fresh meat and seafood. We did not tour this deck as it is kept sealed and has minimal access for food safety purposes.

Entertainment and Pampering

The ship has two cinemas and a stage, which were used for entertainment, movies, documentaries, and information sessions about our next port.

One evening, we saw Kristian Grey, a magician/entertainer with a fun sense of humour. He is not the traditional magician, as he incorporated tasteful humour into his show. I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard!

There is no end to the pampering onboard the Viking Star! I spend some time in The Spa for a manicure, pedicure, and relaxation massage. If you plan to take advantage of this, book early, as the time slots fill quickly, especially on “at sea” days.

Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm is the perfect city to start our adventure. Just one word of advice that I didn’t think of beforehand…arrive a day or two earlier so you have time to explore this beautiful city built over 14 islands with 50 bridges. The one quick tour we did was not enough, in my opinion. I will need to revisit this gorgeous city!

Helsinki, Finland

From our ship, we took a bus tour of Helsinki. I’m glad we could have a bit of a walk during our city tour. We explored the market and a few city streets for about 30 minutes. Of course, more time is needed in the future, but it was a good overview of the city.

St. Petersburg, Russia

We spent more time in the St. Petersburg port than any other stop, as the Baltic Sea was rough, so we had to spend one extra day in Russia. There was so much to see in St. Petersburg, and we started with a visit to Peterhof Palace just outside of the city. It’s also referred to as the “Russian Versailles.” The Palace is filled with elaborate gold decor, and the grounds are vast and well-manicured. Gold statues, fountains, and beautiful flowers can be seen throughout.

A visit to St. Petersburg is not complete without seeing the ballet Swan Lake. Even if you are not a ballet fan, you must experience this! Photos aren’t allowed during the performance, but others were taking pictures at the end during the bows, so I also snuck one in.

The Hermitage Museum, with its white, gold, and teal colours, draws a crowd, as do the beautiful cathedrals and historic architecture. The new Okhta Tower, built by the state-owned electric company, was directly across from our cruise ship. It is apparently the tallest building in Europe.

Tallinn, Estonia

By far, Tallinn was my favourite stop on this cruise. I would have loved to spend two or three days in this port to explore Old Town further, from the famous roof-top views (look closely in one of my photos; you can see the Viking Star in the distance) to wandering the cobblestone streets through colourful buildings.

I always look for unique doors when I travel, and Tallinn did not disappoint! There are so many gorgeous ones throughout Old Town, and some souvenir stores have “Doors of Tallinn” posters for sale. After all my shots, I could make my own!

Berlin, Germany

Berlin is one of my favourite cities, though I’ve visited for only a day or two at a time. I would love to visit again, but for longer. This was the final city of our Viking cruise, and we had a few hours Sunday afternoon and evening to explore a bit before staying overnight at the Sofitel Hotel. We hit the highlights such as Brandenburg Gate, the Berlin Cathedral/Berliner Dom, the Holocaust Memorial, and my favourite Christmas store—Käthe Wohlfahrt. It’s a “must stop” for me, so I can add to my Christmas decorations collection that I’ve purchased each visit.

Conclusion

There is so much more to a Viking ship and the cruise I experience, but I don’t want to spoil it for you. I highly recommend this experience and suggest you book a cruise to experience it yourself. Visit Viking Cruises’ website for all of the cruises they offer. Next on my bucket list is a river cruise!

For even more photos, please visit my Instagram at @GirlontheGoCA

My cruise was hosted by Viking Cruises. Opinions are my own.

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