Dispatch, Viking Star: Uncomplicated cabin categories

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Cruise editor Tom Stieghorst is on the Viking Star, Viking Cruises' first oceangoing ship. Click to read his review of the ship and a dispatch about the ship's pool.

Like the decor on the ship, the room scheme on the Viking Star is simple and clean.

There are five categories of rooms, all with balconies. The line doesn't cater to kids so there are no family cabins. It doesn't have special spa or suite classes, and the 930-passenger ship is pretty straightforward in layout.

Cabins are arrayed on six decks. The 42 basic Veranda cabins, all on Deck 3, have 270 square feet of living space and 46-square-foot balconies. This category is almost entirely sold out.

A step up, the Deluxe Veranda has the same dimensions as the standard Veranda, but comes with a mini-bar stocked with non-alcoholic drinks and snacks. It also carries a dining guarantee that guests will be able to make one reservation in each of the ship's specialty restaurants. There are 272 Deluxe Veranda staterooms.

Wall art in both categories is a bit sparse for my taste. But the pictures have an interesting story. Viking, a charity sponsor of elementary schools in rural China, sent photos that it planned to hang in the cabins to Chinese students, who sent back drawings of the photos. The drawing and the photo are hung in pairs on the wall.

A step up in size, the Penthouse Veranda measures 338 square feet with 58-foot balconies. These are located forward and aft on decks 4, 5 and 6 and have a sitting area with a sofa and a chair (instead of two chairs), plus a fixed window and separate door access to the balcony. There are 104 rooms in this category.

The 32 Penthouse Junior suites are 405 square feet with 69-square-foot balconies. They're found on decks 6, 7 and 8. A sitting area can be partitioned with a movable curtain. There are separate flat-screen TVs for the sitting and bedroom areas. Amenities include complimentary laundry and dry cleaning services, three guaranteed reservations per cruise in each of the specialty restaurants and room availability as early as 11 a.m. on departure day.

Rooms in the Explorer Suite category overlook the bow and stern. Their size runs 757 square feet and up, and the balconies range from 167 to 490 square feet, depending on deck level. The 14 rooms are genuine suites with bedrooms separate from a living/dining area. There is a bathroom area with a separate tub/shower and a huge walk-in closet. The tub has a television built into a facing mirror.

There is also one owner's suite on Viking Star. It measures 1,475 square feet, including the veranda and a boardroom. The Deck 7 suite is tailored for Viking Cruises owner Torstein Hagen and includes a full bath, two half baths, two entrances, and a butler's pantry/kitchenette, as well as Hagen's personal library and photos and a very fancy tripod-mounted set of binoculars.

There is a glass-enclosed artificial fireplace with flames simulated by an illuminated mist. The glass can be adjusted to be either opaque or transparent to afford a two-way view into the adjacent Explorers Lounge.

Best of all, there is a sauna the size of a small walk-in closet with floor-to-ceiling windows to provide ocean views.

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