Viking River Cruises has announced its new ocean cruise line, Viking Oceans, along with the name and details of their first ship, due to launch in 2015.
With the river cruise line continuing to grow at a rapid rate, Viking Cruises is now targeting a new sector with the launch of the Viking Star, an ocean liner that will cater for 928 passengers with sailings around the European coast.
Torstein Hagen, the chairman of Viking, was at the launch event at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and said “There is a hole in the market somebody should fill. I feel we invented modern river cruising. Now I hope we can revive the destination part of ocean cruising.”
This focus on destination is not a new concept with ocean cruising but Viking is taking it one step further to really hammer the point home. Not only are all shore excursions included as part of your cruise fare, the line has announced the policy that every cruise will have an overnight port stay at both the embarkation and disembarkation ports.
On the majority of ocean cruises, the only time that guests will see the ports where their cruise ends and begins is the time spent travelling to and from the airport. This policy of overnight stays in these ports, and longer stays in other ports during the cruise as well, means that guests will have plenty of time to truly get to know the destinations they are visiting, similar to the Cruise & Stay approach pioneered by Six Star Cruises.
There are other new features that Viking revealed that will help the ships stand out. It’s not just shore excursions that are included but Wi-Fi internet at all times throughout the entire ship, speciality dining and beer, wine and soft drinks with meals are also complimentary as part of a guest’s fare.
The ship will be equipped with two cinemas, a pool with retractable roof, a Nordic-themed spa with ‘snow room’ and floor-to-ceiling windows in the main dining room that can be slid open to create an al fresco atmosphere. The ship will not include a casino, multiple bars or any facilities for children, with Hagen stressing the idea of a “thinking man’s cruise”.
All staterooms will have a balcony, with various suites available up to the incredibly spacious Owners Suite with nearly 1,500 square feet of space to enjoy in complete luxury. Standard features will include king-size rather than queen-size beds and showers measuring 12 square feet.
By Ian Lewis