At a gala launch event on Thursday in California, Torstein Hagen, CEO of Viking River Cruises, announced that the company would launch its ocean cruise line with the first ship, Viking Star, making her debut in May 2015.
Viking Star will weigh in at 47,800 GT and have room on board for 928 passengers and will offer cruises in Scandinavia, the Baltic and Mediterranean. Her features will include the Explorers’ Lounge; restaurants; two swimming pools; the Winter Garden which will serve up Afternoon Teas and a theatre for live performances.
Viking Cruises has huge expansion plans in both the ocean and river cruise categories. A second ocean ship is on order with delivery expected in 2016 and conditional orders for four more ocean vessels are in place. This order follows the company’s continued rapid fleet expansion in the river cruise market. 10 new river ships were christened in March of this year and 12 more new river ships are planned to launch in 2014.
“It is our view that in the race to build bigger ships, many cruise lines have lost sight of the destinations to which they sail,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “With our new ocean cruises, we are applying the same principles behind our award-winning river cruises to our itinerary and ship design; privileged-access excursions; and on board experiences to make destinations the true focus.”
Taking note of extensive feedback from Viking River Cruises passengers, Viking Ocean Cruises was developed with the experienced traveller in mind. Itineraries are designed for maximum time in port, often with late evening departures or an overnight stay.
All-inclusive pricing provides superb value with every cruise fare including a veranda stateroom, shore excursions in each port of call, all on board meals, and all port charges and government taxes. Passengers will also enjoy many complimentary amenities, including: beer or wine with lunch and dinner; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry and 24-hour room service.
Fares for the first Viking Star sailings in 2015, will start at $2,999 per person for a 10-night trip in the Mediterranean. The line also is offering discounted airfare from the USA to Europe starting at $695 per person.
Essentially Viking Cruises have taken the best from their river ships and will incorporate them into their ocean vessels. They will also merge as one to be known for both ocean and river as ‘Viking Cruises’.