Cruising for a Bruising

When Leah and I embarked on our Norwegian adventure aboard the Viking Star,

Viking Daily

we were unaware that COVID-19 was invading the decks of Diamond Princess while she cruised from Hong Kong to Japan–inevitably turning her into a floating Petri dish of suffering for its 3711 passengers and crew.

There was no mention of Diamond Princess peril during our maritime emergency drill–but an advisory letter was delivered to our stateroom that evening.

Covid-19 letter

When the general alarm sounded, all 450 crew members reported to their assigned muster stations,

crew on drill

while 920 passengers assembled inside the Star Theater to learn how to prepare for an emergency evacuation.

crew on drill1 (2)

After instruction, the crew went about their business, and passengers scattered throughout the ship to enjoy themselves, unconcerned with what was brewing in Asia. Afterall, this was our home to share for the next two weeks.

The Viking Star never felt too crowded or too busy. The spacious Living Room had plenty of comfortable seating for small talk and table games.

puzzle

As a whole, people took their time getting from point A to point B. Many strolled with canes–others with walkers. It made Leah and I feel so much younger than the seventy-somethings attracted to Viking’s vision of casual luxury.

During the course of our cruise, we always gravitated to the 3-deck Atrium at mid-ship,

atrium staircase (2)

where people gathered for conversation and daily music performances. While more than 20 different nationalities were represented onboard, nearly half the ship was American, with large blocks of Brits, Aussies, and Brazilians filling out the count.

piano atrium

When it came to dining, we had a variety of options that came with a couple of rules. The dinner dress code required shoes for all and collared shirts for men. Additionally, use of sanitizer stations or hand sinks at all dining room entrances and exits was expected before seating.

We enjoyed sampling the fish and meats at The Restaurant, located aft on deck 2. It is the Viking Star’s largest menu-driven dining room,

Chef's Table

delivering breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Manfredi's

But for intimate dining, we found Manfredi’s–directly below on deck 1–to be as good a classic Italian eatery as any on sea or land, and without a surcharge to boot. Naturally, early dinner reservations were coveted and prioritized by cabin category, but late-evening seatings became an acceptable compromise for us.

The Restaurant (2)

Next door was Chef’s Table, a small dining room that focused on delivering five fixed courses prepared from locally-sourced ingredients, and paired with selected wines. The course selection changed every few days to showcase a different world cuisine, and was included without surcharge, but by reservation-only.

world cafe

The World Cafe, located aft on deck 7 was Viking Star’s buffet option, and most popular breakfast venue for a wide range of appetites.

buffet line

However, Leah and I have always been wary of buffet lines, which are commonly compromised by passengers who inevitably return for second and third helpings. They unwittingly grab the serving tongs without considering that they may have licked their fingers earlier. Eww!

Bringing our personal hand sanizer to the table always provided a thin veil of protection.

An inspection of The Spa on deck 1 seemed appropriate after so many good meals. We discovered the weight gym,

gym weights

and the machine room.

machine room

and an amazing thermal suite, with a salt water hydrotherapy pool, sauna and snow room.

spa pool

Of course, climate-controlled swimming was available–if we were so inclined–at the Main Pool on deck 7, under a retractable roof.

pool deck

For lounging and relaxation, we could contemplate the panoramic views of the 2-tiered Explorers’ Lounge, forward on decks 7 and 8;

Explorer Lounge

or the Torshavn Lounge,

Torshavn

a nightclub venue for dancing and light entertainment.

entertainment

However, to get away from it all, Leah and I felt very comfortable social distancing inside 5006–

suite 5006 (2)

our Scandinavian-styled veranda stateroom with a king-size bed, a smart TV, and a well-stocked bar refrigerator.

5006 interior

Our cabin was outfitted with a generous-sized bathroom…

bathroom1

that featured an amazing shower.

shower (2)

Thanks to Eric, our room attendant and all the other housekeepers, the ship always sparkled–

Leah and Eric

especially after two ship inspections during our voyage. It was reassuring to see crew members scrubbing and polishing so thoroughly.

On February 14th, our final evening, Leah and I enjoyed dinner at Chef’s Table to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and a return to live TV reception, now that we were floating south of the Arctic Circle.

While savoring our tenderloin stir-fry, we reminisced about our favorite ports:

TromsoViking Star in Tromso (3)

moonrise over Tromso (3)

Altadocked

museum fjord (2)

StravangerViking Star in Stavanger

through fjord storm

and later toasted our crew, who kept us safe and made our cruise so enjoyable.

crew

On the other hand, we learned from current reports that passengers and crew aboard the Diamond Princess had been less fortunate. They were riding out a quarantine south of Tokyo while confined to their cabins. We learned that 218 passengers and crew had shown positive results among a sample of 700 who were tested.

On February 14th, there were 15 cases of COVID-19 in America and over 64,000 cases worldwide with nearly 1400 deaths. Speaking to National Border Patrol Council members, Donald Trump theorized that April’s warmer weather would stifle the spread of the virus.

Today, the world is on fire. At this moment, over 1.1 million people around the world have tested positive for coronavirus, killing over 57,000. The US has reported more than 277,000 cases with over 7,500 deaths, and there is no end in sight. The warm-weather theory has been debunked.

As I write, Holland America’s Zaandam has finally docked at Ft. Lauderdale, carrying 4 dead and another 26 passengers and 50 crew members infected with COVID-19.

Sadly, for the near future, there can only be one way to appreciate a cruise liner.

Viking Star model (2)

9 thoughts on “Cruising for a Bruising

  1. Glad you made it back healthy and safe. What a time to be on a cruise. I will admit I’ve never been on one nor have I had the desire. Although an Alaskan cruise would be tempting. Now with this pandemic who knows what the cruise industry will look like in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. Trying time for sure. I’ve been on an Alaskan cruise up Glacier Bay, and can honestly say that the vista from water is incomparable. But I believe that cruise lines must rewrite the rulebook in light of potential risks and bad PR. Bigger can no longer be considered better.

      Like

  2. Wow – you were luckily on the right ship and time before being trapped in a floating petri-dish. Looks very nice and spacious for sure.

    On Sat, Apr 4, 2020 at 12:37 AM Streaming thru America wrote:

    > streamingthruamerica posted: “When Leah and I embarked on our Norwegian > adventure aboard the Viking Star, we were unaware that COVID-19 was > invading the decks of Diamond Princess while she cruised from Hong Kong to > Japan–inevitably turning her into a floating Petri dish of suffering ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was just thinking about you and your blog the other day, wondering where you guys were/are when all this went down. Hope you’re safe and healthy. Looking forward to more of your travel adventures when this is all over.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your concern. All is well in St. Augustine. Regrettably, all our travel plans have been sidelined for the immediate future, and we must now deconstruct all our summer reservations because of this horror show.

      For now, all we can do is dream about far away places, and imagine ourselves there– soaking in the culture and exploring our surroundings.

      I dream about returning to our prior lives and traveling effortlessly, but our ‘new normal’ suggests differently, especially if we are to survive in this new age of contagion.

      Stacy, I hope you and my beloved hometown are taking everything in stride and continue to stay healthy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad you landed in a beautiful part of the country to wait this out.
        We are probably going to have to postpone our May vacation to the Outer Banks, which then leaves me to wonder when we’ll be able to go anywhere else, particularly going to see our friends in Holland.
        Things are okay here in Pittsburgh. My husband, who works at Children’s Hospital, shared a press release the other day about researchers here who are making good progress with an innovative vaccine for this so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that they can start using it sooner rather than later.
        Hope you keep blogging – I’ve been living vicariously through travel blogs these last few weeks, as I’m sure many others are.
        Stay safe!

        Liked by 1 person

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