Viking Star, the first ocean-going ship to sail under the Viking Cruises flag, will not be officially christened until next weekend, but already the company’s president, Tor Hagen, is looking forward to operating a fleet of 10 identical vessels.
That’s despite a setback that means he will be launching only one new ship next year instead of the two originally planned.
“We will have to accept that because Koningsdam has been hugely delayed, there will be only one new Viking Oceans ship next year, but there will be two in 2017 and I want to see 10 by 2020,” he said, adding: “I’m an old man in a hurry.”
Viking operates 60 Longships on the rivers of Europe and claims to control 49 per cent of the market. Customers mainly travel from north America, but about 15 per cent come from the UK with the remainder from Australia and New Zealand.
Hagen, 73, has plans to build river ships to cruise on the Mississippi and other north American rivers, aims to have a total of 100 Longships, and also hinted he could be about to develop an adventure cruising brand to take passengers to Antarctica and other remote regions.
Viking Star pays a brief visit to the River Thames on Tuesday, anchoring overnight at Greenwich. The 930-passenger ship will be formally christened by the Mayor of Bergen on May 17, Norway’s Constitution Day. Its maiden season is already a sell-out success with only a few cabins still available in November and December.
The arrival of Viking Oceans Cruises has been widely welcomed by the cruise industry’s pundits. Adam Coulter, UK editor of Cruise Critic, said: “It’s the first new ocean line in almost a decade, and the launch is an exciting development in cruising … its Mediterranean cruises [have] a strong focus on destinations, with fewer sea days, longer days in port and more overnight port calls, meaning that it’s well suited to someone who wants a more immersive destination experience.
“We’re seeing this increased focus on destinations from other cruise lines also, resulting in a wider choice of shore excursions and new itineraries that visit less-touristed ports of call. We’re looking forward to seeing what the future holds in terms of new offerings from this line.”
World of Cruising Editor John Honeywell spent five days cruising on Viking Star. For his verdict on the ship, and the Viking Oceans experience, subscribe to receive a copy of the next issue of the magazine.