Viking Mars review: The latest in Viking's ocean fleet
By Jeannine Williamson | 16 Aug 2022
Forget flashy firsts and attention-grabbing extras – the latest addition to Viking’s ocean fleet, Viking Mars, is all class, finds Jeannine Williamson on her review of its Mediterranean voyage.
Virtually all new ocean ships launch with a fanfare about first-at-sea attractions and attention-grabbing facilities. The difference with every new Viking ship is that there is no difference between each vessel, and that holds true for Viking Mars, which was launched in May at a low-key ceremony in Malta.
It might sound like a contradiction in terms, but it’s this very distinction that makes Viking stand out from the crowd. Going aboard the 930-passenger ship, which is number seven in the line’s ocean fleet, creates an instant feeling of deja vu for passengers who have sailed on its predecessors.
There are also similarities with the river fleet, such as the Scandi-cool decor and areas such as the al fresco Aquavit Terrace. Even for first-time passengers, it’s easy to find your way around this ship.
From the open-plan Living Room – which features an unconventional and airy reception, where staff can talk to passengers face-to-face rather than from behind the barrier of a huge shared desk – through to the lounges, bars, entertainment areas and restaurants, the design is logical and well thought-out.
Viking chairman and founder Torstein Hagen has stuck to his guns about creating refined and relaxed adult-only ships aimed at curious and well-travelled over-55s, rather than vessels trying to please everyone.
So what you won’t find on Viking Mars (and, of course, all the others) is a casino, water park, formal nights, fees to dine in alternative restaurants, gaudy cocktails topped by paper umbrellas, photographers, art auctions or pushy spa staff trying to get you to buy products.
Conversely, wine with lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi, tips and an included excursion in every port are among the many things you can expect on board.
Crew members are incredibly attentive and intuitive. Borrow a book from one of the hundreds scattered around the ship, or put your own on the bedside table, and you’ll return to your cabin to find a bookmark has been put in it by the steward.
I asked about vegetarian options in the World Cafe buffet and, rather than just pointing them out, the chef surprised me by creating a special dish. Everything feels comfortable and effortless.
Ashore, optional excursions on my Mediterranean cruise included fun experiences such as making pizza at a family-owned restaurant in Naples.
Viking Mars is sailing in the Mediterranean, Scandinavia and northern Europe before relocating to Asia, Australia and New Zealand for winter 2022-23.
A 15-night Across the Bay of Bengal cruise on Viking Mars, departing on November 14, 2022, sailing from Mumbai to Bangkok, starts from £4,590 per person including flights. Find out more and book at vikingcruises.co.uk.