Have you ever been on Mars? I have! No, not the planet, silly. The ship! Mars is a newer ship in the Viking Cruise fleet. It began sailing in May of 2022 and I was lucky enough to sail on it in August of 2022 around Norway and Iceland. Take a tour of the ship with me and learn all about what makes it, and Viking in general, so special!
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First off, Viking is for adults only! Yes, you read that correctly. You have to be 18 or older to cruise with them. They offer River, Ocean, and Expedition cruises. The River ones are what they’ve been more known for, and their Expeditions are new and definitely sets them apart! The same expedition ship that can take you to Antarctica can also take you through the Great Lakes! But we’re here to talk about Ocean cruises. Our journey started in Bergen, Norway, visited a few Norwegian fjords, the Faroe Islands, and then around Iceland.
The Viking Mars is 14 decks and only holds 930 passengers and 465 crew members. Unlike many other cruise lines, there are no casinos or art galleries. They focus a little more on the learning element and comfort. There are pools, but you won’t see giant pool parties. And there is a theater, but you’re not going to see the extensive broadway style shows. Instead, you’re going to get an Explorer’s Lounge, beautiful lounge areas, and plenty of educational opportunities. Let’s talk about the ship first, and then I’ll take you through the cabin.
Working our Way Through the Viking Mars Ship
We’ll start at the bottom, on Deck 1. Actually, let’s go lower. Below that, you’ll find where you’ll exit when the ship is tendering and the medical area. That’s it. So Deck 1 is going to be the main entrance area typically. When you first enter you’ll see a little bar area. Here you can find some treats like pastries or open-face sandwiches all day long, or you can enjoy a glass of wine after returning from an excursion. Across the atrium is where you’ll find the Explorer’s Desks. If you have any questions about any of your excursions, or really anything at all, here is where you’ll want to head! We had a great guy on our ship, Daniel! He was extremely helpful!
The lounging area on this deck is called the Viking Living Room. Actually, that’s the overall name for the 3 story atrium area. It’s cozy seating, plenty of books to read, and a relaxing environment. Down the hall, you’ll pass one of the shops, the salon, and the fitness center as you head to the spa. The spa is awesome!
During your cruise, you’ll be able to schedule many different services like a relaxing massage for an additional cost, but you can use the main spa services at no additional cost. There is a pool area and a smaller hot tub next to it, a steam room, a snow grotto, a cold bucket drop, and even heated loungers. There’s a pattern you’re supposed to follow here: sauna, pool, steam room, snow room, repeat. That’s the Nordic way! The dressing room areas have lockers with a bathrobe and slippers, a sauna room, a cold plunge pool, and showers.
At the other end of Deck 1 on the Viking Mars, there are some dining options. These would be the “specialty dining” options: The Chef’s Table and Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant. A nice point about Viking is that specialty dining is included. So, while you’ll make a reservation for these dining options, you won’t be paying anything additional to dine there. There is one exception, The Kitchen Table is a more private dining experience with cooking classes.
Moving up to Deck 2 we’ve got the upstairs of the atrium area. Again, more comfortable areas to read and relax, along with some digital tables with games in them. Here there is also the Torshavn lounge. This is probably what I could call the most secluded area of the boat. It’s in the middle of the boat and there are no windows. The seating is nice beautiful and comfortable and a great place to listen to some live music. It’s actually pretty easy to completely miss this area, even though you may pass by it many times during your cruise. Next down the hallway are a couple more shops where you can get some beautiful jewelry or traditional Nordic sweaters.
Where the Learning Takes Place
At the front of Deck 2 are the Theater and 2 Cinemas. Here is where the majority of the presentations are throughout the cruise. There were talks about Merchant Marines during WWII, how the glaciers affected the landscape, and even about the actual planet of Mars. And these weren’t given by just some random crew member. There are historians, scientists, and even geologists on board giving these talks! There were also some shows in the theater in the evenings. While it may not have been large Broadway-style shows, there is still something entertaining put on by the team.
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In the back of Deck 2 is The Restaurant. This is the large main dining hall where you are served (vs the buffet upstairs we’ll get to). I will mention that while it may be put together a bit differently, the menu basics are similar to what is in the World Café, you just get served your meals.
Decks 3-6 are where the majority of the cabins are on the Viking Mars. There are also laundry rooms on each of these floors. The machines are free to use, although they might be a bit confusing. The soap is all dispensed to the right of the machines on the wall. If you have questions, just ask one of the room attendants, they’re happy to help.
Common Areas on Viking Mars
Moving up to Deck 7 we’re getting back to more common areas. The front is the Explorers’ Lounge area. This is a beautiful 2-story area with windows overlooking the horizon. There’s a bar here so you can get a cocktail while you’re enjoying the views, reading a book, or playing a game of chess. Mamsen’s is also here which is somewhere you can get some breakfast or lunch options as well. I recommend getting a waffle and some of the cheese.
Down the hallway is Wintergarden which is where you’ll come for tea time. That’s right, every day during the cruise there’s tea! They’ll have some light live music going and you can choose from a variety of different teas. I liked the hibiscus one. You’ll also get a three-tier plate selection with some tiny desserts and sandwiches. My favorite part was the jam and scones that they would also bring around!
Next is the main pool area with a hot tub at one end. There are some lounge chairs all around the pool area, but along the sides, by the windows, there are some even more comfortable loungers that face outside. The wall or windows can even open a bit to get some fresh air in. We spent a lot of time here reading, talking, or even just napping! There is a screen in the pool area so they can have movie nights here. And on one side is the pool bar (which had self-serve hot cocoa!) and the other had the pool grill where you could get some burgers and hot dogs. I found they had some good guacamole here too!
World Cafe Buffet Dining
On the back of Deck 7, we have the World Café. This is the main dining buffet area. There are buffets on both sides with mostly similar items, but some items do vary from one side to the other. For instance, one side had sushi every night and the other had salads. One side had ice cream/gelato and the other had other dessert items. The servers are around to help with anything special you need and for your drinks. Soft drinks, select wines, and beers were free with meals, but you could always get something different if you would like. This is the most casual of the dining options (other than the pool bar of course) where it doesn’t matter if you’re wearing jeans. In the other restaurants they do encourage no jeans.
Of the back of the World Café is the Aquavit Terrace. Along the back of the café is first a bar. If the weather is nice then the doors/windows would be open to the rest of the back. Here there are lounge chairs and tables along with a hot tub and an infinity pool going right off the back of the Viking Mars.
Deck 8 is mostly going to be outdoors, with the exception of some cabins and the upper level of the Explorers’ Lounge. There is a retractable roof over the pool area that is on this level, so you can see down to the pool and Wintergarden area (even if the roof is closed). Then the small bit of Deck 9 is the sports deck. These decks have some nice lounge chairs along with a little putt-putt, bocci ball, shuffleboard, and other fun games.
Deluxe Veranda on the Viking Mars
Now, on to our cabin in the Viking Mars. We were in a Deluxe Veranda. One of the awesome things about Viking is everyone has a balcony (the expedition ships are a little different). The Deluxe part of the cabin basically affected when we were able to reserve dining and excursions when we could board, and meant that our fridge was refilled once a day during the cruise for free. Personally, I loved our room. They were able to split our beds for us and we each had our own nightstand that had a little storage space, outlet, and USB outlets. There were also lights on the wall on either side of the bed area, and a smaller, reading light for each of us as well.
The flat-screen tv is mounted on the wall in front of the beds. Next to it is a desk, that lifts up to have some storage in it, and your fridge. The fridge had a couple of different types of soda, water, and snacks in it. It was a nice size though as we fit some cake and eventually 2 bottles of champagne in it! There were two living room area chairs and a coffee table. Outside there are 2 chairs and a table.
The closet is a decent size. One side has some drawers in it with a space for hanging shirts. The other side is a full-size area for hanging items. There is a little cubby area that has your coffee maker and items, a safe, and a few other drawers and shelves.
I Love the Bathrooms in the Cabins!
The bathroom is probably my favorite part of our cabin on the Viking Mars! They have heated floors and fog-free mirrors! The shower is a nice size with a little bench in it and a handheld shower head you could use! There was countertop space on both sides of the sink, along with a drawer and below shelf on either side. There are even two little shelves on the walls and the ends of the counter to store a few more items. Here’s where you’ll find their products, but you can scoot them over for your own things. I mentioned the floors were heated, right?! On the back of the bathroom door, there were also 2 hooks for bathrobes (which were provided in the room) or for your hanging toiletry bags.
A Few Other Things about Viking Cruises
So we talked about the ship layout and cabin, and a few things included with the cruise. Such as the drinks with your meals. You can upgrade to a Silver Spirits drink package if you’d like, or just pay for extra drinks as you order them. Additionally, with the shore excursions, there is typically one at each stop that is included (no additional fee). Each day you’ll get a document in your room listing all the upcoming talks, music, etc. around the ship. There is an app you can use as well, but we found that surprisingly the printed copy was often times more accurate than the app.
As I mentioned earlier, these cruises are adults only. The average age is a higher number than most other lines, around 65. That being said, many things around the ship and the excursions do keep physical limits in mind. That doesn’t mean you can’t do some thrilling excursions while on your cruise, but it means if you have limits, you’ll more than likely still be able to find something for yourself!
While I may not be the average age, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only were the stops and excursions great, but I personally enjoyed the slower, more relaxed vibe. The common areas were very nice, the staff was extremely friendly, and everything ran very smoothly. Personally, I highly recommend Viking in general, and hopefully now that you’ve gotten more familiar with one of their ships you’ll consider taking a trip with them as well!
Have you ever cruised with Viking Cruise Line?
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