We slept well in our nice little cabin on the Viking Star. And of course we ate well the next morning (food is definitely not a “complaint” item for most passengers on this new ship–meals are typically quite, quite good). Good thing I tackled the extra couple of pieces of bacon, too: I’m certain I needed the extra fat to fight the very brisk and chilling breeze which followed us all around Stockholm on our Stockholm City Tour (included at no charge). The temperature was 52, but the wind and damp definitely made it feel colder.
While we learned the official “edge” of the Baltic Sea here in Stockholm is at the bridge our room at the Hilton straddled the night before (the other side of the bridge is a “lake”), the cold breeze off this northern body of water definitely put a chill in the air–and made touring this city on foot a lot less than desireable.
In Stockholm, the included Viking tour is a “panoramic” one. Translation: Get in the bus and look out the windows. Yes, we did have a couple of very brief stops, but it was definitely not a walking tour. And that’s okay…frankly, with rain seasoning the brisk breeze, it wasn’t weather we wanted to indulge in–especially at the beginning of our trip. For those interested, the walk back to the Star from Gamla Stan was about 15 minutes (the Viking Daily claims five minutes; don’t believe it). A ship-provided shuttle was also available, leaving from the Opera House (in Gamla Stan) every 30 minutes.
Returned by our bus driver back to the Star after the tour, we had lunch (more of that good food; did you know they have mashed potatoes available every day??? Now that is heaven) then prepped for our 2 pm sail out. As an absolute ocean cruise newbie, I had no idea what to expect. Mom shared that she had visions of people outside, laughing and partying as the ship moved away from its berth (that’s how it is in the old movies, isn’t it?). No such thing.
We simply began sliding sideways and then forward and we were off. We’d been told (in the Viking Daily) that this area was a particularly nice one to sail out of due to the 37-mile stretch we’d be navigating through the Stockholm archipelago. They were right–and passengers were on outward-facing chairs, lounges and little sofas on every deck as we passed by granite islands, large and small, on our way to the more open Baltic Sea. Note that the view was great from either side so, if you choose to remain inside, starboard or port doesn’t matter. Even better panoramic views from outside on the top deck (but did I mention that it was cold?). Opt for the Explorer’s Lounge instead (Deck 7).
Trees–and even little summer houses, only reachable by boat–perched on the bigger islands. Granite outcroppings pockmarked the smooth water as we traveled out to sea.
Oh, wait–did I say smooth? Well it didn’t stay that way for much longer. As we passed the last light signal on a granite stack, the pilot boat’s captain offloaded on to his own little boat, spun it around 180 degrees and the Star was officially on its way.
The rocking and rolling started at dinner. Plenty of jokes by the restaurant’s staff that we needed more wine and we wouldn’t stagger so much walking out. I certainly wasn’t trying that solution.
I’d chewed a couple of meclazine mid-afternoon to give them some time to do their anti-nausea duty. I still felt, well, just odd. As someone who’s had a few less-than-stellar times on the waves (the worst was a whale watching trip in seventh grade–no one wants to go green in front of their teenage peers, least of all the guy you have a crush on; I did anyway), I was prepared ahead of time.
I still felt odd. Walking down the corridor to our room, I saw the man ahead of me reach out to the side walls to steady himself. Milos, our room steward, was further down the hall; he greeted us. “Is this sea a bad one,” I asked, hoping for consolation that it simply wouldn’t get worse than this in the next 14 days. Milos laughed; “This isn’t bad at all. I’ve seen a lot worse.”
Uh oh; I hoped Milos was wrong.
Bed sounded good.