“You’re cruising Europe alone?” That’s the response I kept hearing after telling family and friends about my Empires of the Mediterranean sailing with Viking Cruises. “Yes, no one else can join me, and I’m curious to see what solo cruising is like.” For those that don’t know, most of my travel is solo, but cruising has never been. This was going to be a new experience for me and I was admittedly nervous, but more excited at the adventures I would end up having.
The Initial Solo Feeling
Embarkation was strange. I walked towards the Viking Star in Istanbul, occasionally looking around for the person traveling with me. Oh, that’s right, it’s just me. The first day aboard, I walked the ship, exploring the public areas and decks, as I always do. Most of my fellow Vikings had already embarked, but many were still in their staterooms on account of the jet lag many were most likely battling. So, for the first night, I took in the experience of having the ship essentially to myself.
Excursions + Vikings = Shipmates
As our sailing sailed on, excursions began and suddenly I was finding my fellow Vikings. On Viking Cruises, organized ship excursions are the norm, each port offering a variety of complimentary and extra fee tours. Each excursion usually includes 20 or less guests, offering a prime opportunity to bond with fellow Vikings in the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul or sipping wine overlooking the harbor of Santorini. Being an obvious extrovert, I quickly began to socialize with the other Vikings and we all quickly became excursion buddies and later shipmates. So much so, many of us have rearranged our schedules and excursions to make sure we are all touring a city together. Back onboard the Viking Star, it’s a given that you’ll run into somebody you know on your way to dinner or the show. The unique size of the Viking Star brings the Vikings together as a cruise family. By the end of a sailing with Viking, you’ll feel like the entire ship is your family.
“Where Everybody Knows Your Name”
While this isn’t Cheers, it’s not uncommon for me to walk into a room and hear somebody yell, “Hey Mike!” The Viking Star sails with just around 900 guests, offering a more intimate and unique onboard atmosphere. Evenings do include the usual stage shows, but many nights are spent socializing with fellow Vikings in the Explorer’s Lounge or at Torshavn’s. The Viking Star makes you feel more like a family member rather than a number. It’s something truly special about the Viking Cruises experience. If you asked me now if I’m traveling solo, I’d still say yes, but it sure doesn’t feel that way.