River-cruise firm launches Viking Ocean Cruises
The fast-growing US-based river-cruise company Viking Cruises has announced the launch of its ocean product line, Viking Ocean Cruises. It will be the introduction of the travel industry’s first new cruise line in nearly a decade.
Viking Ocean Cruises will begin sailing in May 2015 with its first vessel, Viking Star, embarking on maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic as well as the Western and Eastern Mediterranean.
Viking Cruises says it has aggressive expansion plans in both the ocean and river-cruise categories, with a second ocean ship on order for delivery in 2016 and conditional orders and options for four more additional ocean vessels. The ocean-ship order follows the company’s continued rapid fleet expansion in the river-cruise sector, with 10 new river ships christened in March and a further 12 new river ships 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,” Torstein Hagen, Viking Cruises’ chairman, said. He explained that with the new ocean cruises the company is applying the same principles behind the river cruises, to itineraries, ship design, “privileged-access excursions” and onboard experiences, “to make destinations the true focus”.
[image courtesy Viking Cruises]