Saturday, 18 May 2013

Welcome, Viking Ocean Cruises

The world's luxury cruise lines will have a new competitor in 2015 after Viking River Cruises revealed full details of its new Ocean Cruises brand, with its first all-new vessel, Viking Star (above), set to debut in two years' time.

The first ship in the Viking Ocean Cruises fleet, carrying 928 passengers, will launch in May 2015 with itineraries to Scandinavia, the Baltic and Mediterranean. It is aimed to compete (in size and style) with the likes of Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas and Crystal.

Viking already has a firm order for a second ship (for 2016) and options for four more, all to be built by Fincantieri in Italy.

The onboard value will INCLUDE shore excursions, drinks (beer and wine) with lunch and dinner and free Wi-Fi, along with port charges and taxes. The line also plans to maximise guests' time in port, using late evening departures and overnight stays, making for a destination-intensive experience.

Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen explained: “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. 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.”

The all-balcony Viking Star will have five cabin categories, ranging from standard 270sq ft varieties to a sumptuous 1,448sq ft suite. There will be two pools, one with a retractable dome, the other a glass-backed infinity pool at the ship's stern. There will also be a completely novel feature called a "snow grotto" in the Spa, where Vikings says "snowflakes gently descend from the ceiling through chilled air."

For dining, there will be five main venues, the main dining room simply called The Restaurant, an Italian Grill, a Viking Deli (offering the line's Scandinavian specialities), a World Cafe and an intimate restaurant called The Kitchen Table, plus a cooking school and
a special Chef's Table.

However, the 2015 maiden season is initially being offered only in the US, but Viking will begin marketing in the UK, Australia and New Zealand later this year. 

Wendy Atkin-Smith, Managing Director of Viking River Cruises UK, added: "We are very excited about the introduction of Viking’s new ocean ship, allowing us to offer our customers the chance to experience even more destinations in style and comfort. We look forward to launching to the UK market later in the summer and, until then, we continue to focus on our ever popular river product and the overwhelming demand for the new Longships."