Following the recent announcement that Viking River Cruises will expand into the ocean cruising market in 2015, we decided to take a closer look at what passengers can expect from this brand new experience. It is clear that this expansion has been in the planning stages for some time and what strikes us as most interesting is Viking’s ship design choices. It’s no secret that throughout recent years a huge focus within the cruising world has been the development of super ships, catering to a vast occupancy and providing some of the most incredible facilities never before seen at sea. These designs have taken the market by storm and placed a greater emphasis on creating something different and unique each time a new ship is unveiled. Viking River Cruises however, seem to have ignored the market trend when it comes to their new ship developments and have targeted what they believe to be the most appropriate and logical niche within this travel sector.
Viking have decided to go down the route of a more customised, intimate approach, one that we believe will be highly successful, especially after our first sneak peek into what the ships will look like. The success of this cruise line has been built on intimate vessels for river cruising that set excellent standards in elegance. That has led the cruise line to this point and the moment of unveiling a new ocean cruise line of smaller, intimate ships that will debut in spring 2015. It is a new venture for the cruise line but one that they will build on the traditions and foundations that have made them so successful in the river cruising world. This philosophy will simply be transferred into the ocean cruising market and it remains to be seen whether they will make a splash (excuse the pun,) in terms of rivalling competitors such as Azamara Club Cruises, Oceania Cruises and many more superb luxury brands.
This has certainly been a big year for Viking considering the recent celebration of the largest ship christening ceremony ever held. The cruise line launched ten brand new longboat designs to its river cruising fleet this year and has solid plans to christen a further twelve heading into 2014. Viking’s outstanding success has been derived from a combination of impressive expansion along with an ever increasing range of spectacular itineraries including river cruising opportunities throughout Europe, China, Russia, Egypt and even Southeast Asia. The river cruising experience allows passengers to spend greater time in port and this has certainly been a huge factor in the attraction of so many repeat passengers. As such this attraction, it is believed, will be the headline feature of the new ocean cruise line with Viking attempting to place greater focus on destinations and exciting itineraries than ever before, hence the need to move away from the cruising trend and develop smaller ships that have the ability to head off the beaten track.
The cruise line to be known as Viking Ocean Cruises we believe will provide an all-inclusive experience, reminiscent of other luxury cruise line competitors. Shore excursions will be included in the price of the overall cruise along with on board cuisine, a wide range of beverages, internet access and more.
It was confirmed by Torstein Hagen, Chairman and CEO of Viking River Cruises that two brand new intimate ship designs are currently in development at the Fincantieri shipyard, Italy. The first to be unveiled we have heard will be the new Viking Star, making her ocean debut in May 2015. She will boast 465 staterooms and suites all with their own private verandas. The maximum occupancy of this ship will be 928 passengers. It seems the main aim of the Viking Star is to embody the sleek, innovative designs of the brand new Viking River Cruises longboat but on a larger scale. We have had the pleasure of a glimpse at the latest artist renderings of what the new ship may look like and it certainly does provide a beautiful wow factor. The Atrium looks fantastic with its three storey design set to be the centre feature for the brand new ship. The Viking Star will also offer passengers over a dozen different dining options, something the cruise line have taken great pleasure in announcing. The new dining venues will also include more al fresco seating than any other cruise ship to date. Sound good so far? We think so to but we haven’t even got to the most incredible feature of all yet. Without a doubt, the show stopper for the new Viking Star will certainly be the industry first, glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered over the stern of the ship. This remarkable design will be accompanied by a beautiful sun deck leading to the mid-ship area where the main pool will be with its own retractable sunroof to enable year round enjoyment. A fully equipped library is sure to please whilst the Star Theatre is set to be a tremendous feature on board. The on board spa will also be a wonderful venue for guests to experience as Viking have announced the addition of a “snow grotto”. This unbelievable attraction will gently descend snowflakes from the ceiling through the chilled air designed to relax and refresh.
Let’s take a look at the itineraries you can expect for Viking Star’s maiden season:
Viking Homelands: Stockholm to Bergen (15 days)
Ports of call: Stockholm, Sweden (overnight); Helsinki, Finland; St. Petersburg, Russia (overnight); Tallinn, Estonia; Gdansk, Poland; Warnemunde (Berlin), Germany; Copenhagen and Aalborg, Denmark; as well as Stavanger, Flam, and Bergen in Norway.
Mediterranean Odyssey: Barcelona to Venice (13 days)
Ports of call: Venice, Italy (overnight); Split and Dubrovnik, Croatia; Corfu, Greece; Naples, Rome, and Livorno, Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Toulon, France; and Barcelona, Spain (overnight).
Empires of the Mediterranean: Venice to Istanbul (10 days)
Ports of call: Venice, Italy; Pula and Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Santorini and Athens, Greece; Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Istanbul, Turkey (overnight).
Passage through Western Europe: Bergen to Barcelona (15 days)
Ports of call: Bergen, Norway (overnight); London, UK (overnight); Paris, France (overnight); Lisbon, Portugal; Cadiz, Spain; Gibraltar, UK; Cartagena and Barcelona, Spain (overnight).
It has been confirmed that a second Viking Ocean Cruises ship will arrive in 2016 following on from Viking Star and it is believed the cruise line also has options on a further four vessel should the project be a success.
To give you an even better insight into this brand new cruise line, here’s a sneak peak video preview of what to expect aboard Viking Ocean Cruises.