Viking – Bringing the River to an Ocean near You
October 8, 2014
Viking Cruises have dominated their niche in the cruising industry and well and truly sailed (along the rivers of the world) with it.
Having become the fastest growing river cruise provider in the seventeen years since its inception the company has decided that this isn’t enough for their high-flying (or not, as the case may be) aspirations.
They now want to break the ocean cruise market too, providing small-ship ocean cruises for those who want to sail across the open seas as often as they love cruising along the rivers.
What can they provide though, that hasn’t already been done?
Ocean cruises have been offered for decades upon decades, so how will Viking Cruises triumph over companies which have already rocked the cruising boat?
www.CRUISE.co.uk takes a look at what Viking will be able to offer, to ensure that their step into the ocean cruising industry won’t be met with an almighty belly flop.
Like a newborn child who barely stays in his romper suit before he outgrows it, ocean liners today just keep on growing.
Megaships like RCI’s Allure of the Seas carry thousands upon thousands of people, with the Allure holding a maximum capacity of a whopping 5,400 passengers.
These humungous floating hotels/holiday resorts have swarmed the market and give thousands of people the chance to explore the world every year but as is the mantra of husbands everywhere, bigger isn’t always better.
What if you don’t want to trip over sunbeds?
What if you want to ignore the British tradition of queuing and would prefer not to join the line of people waiting for their chance to see what’s at the buffet cart?
What if you don’t want to risk treading on people’s toes on the over-filled dancefloor or you want to be able to enjoy a shore excursion without risking missing it because of it being oversubscribed?
Anyone looking for a more intimate adventure will appreciate Viking Cruises’ experience as a river cruise provider.
When asked to comment about Vikings plans for the ocean market Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises said:
“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 principle behind our award-winning river cruises to our itinerary and ship design; privileged-access excursions and on board experiences that ensure the destinations are the true focus.
The Viking Star, set for launch in 2015, will carry up to 928 passengers, in 465 staterooms and suites – this is nothing compared to the megaships that grace the oceans nowadays!
Their experience in providing an intimate voyage will be similar, in scale, to Crystal’s Serenity and Symphony, which carry 1070 and 940 passengers respectively and are already considered to be among the most intimate and luxurious liners of the seas.
Viking Cruises aren’t looking at catering for thousands of passengers at one time because that’s not what they’re good at.
They are playing to their advantages and continuing to provide intimate breaks, which ooze understated elegance and refinement.
Only this time on the ocean waves.
With plans to release a fleet of small-ships, starting in spring 2015 with the Viking Star, they hope to settle in a corner of the ocean cruise market that has been slightly overlooked of late.
Longer Days and Overnight Stays!
River cruises traditionally spend longer in each of the ports that they visit so that their guests can spend more hours exploring the land rather than being limited to a couple of hours in which to cram in what they can.
Whilst the long days at sea will be inevitable with an ocean cruise, it’s these longer port days that Viking Cruises are hoping to bring to their new ocean cruises, bringing excited passengers with them.
Late evenings and overnight stays are being planned to be incorporated into the itineraries so that guests can enjoy longer on shore to explore the area after dark as well as during the daytime, when the atmosphere and the landscape can shift quite substantially.
Itineraries will initially focus on Scandinavia, the Baltic region and the Mediterranean for the first voyages.
Overnight stays in Stockholm, St. Petersburg, Venice, Barcelona, Istanbul, Bergen, Paris and London are all part of the various itineraries planned for throughout 2015, meaning that you can easily get your fill of the culture, cosmopolitan magic (and cocktails!) that these cities offer both before and after sundown, without worrying about the liner leaving you stranded, mojito in hand.
When Size Actually Does Matter
Sometimes, good things really do come in small packages.
Small ships can dock closer to the centre of the cities because they can navigate the seas and ports better, meaning that there will be prime docking access for the Viking ocean cruises that their bigger competitors will only be able to eye up enviously from afar.
That being said, there are times when bigger is undeniably better – in particular, when it comes to the stateroom. No, not that (ahem)!
It’s true that cabins on a cruise ship can be a little cramped but Viking cruises don’t shirk on square footage.
In fact, they aim to equal or better their competitors when it comes to the size of their staterooms and you know what bigger staterooms mean?
King size beds!
And you know what king size beds mean?
A great night’s sleep.
Why? What were you thinking of?
Verandas for Everyone!
Not to be confused with verrucas, verandas are highly covetable when cruising.
Having your very own outdoor space overlooking the water is nothing short of magical (far more magical than having a verruca).
Unlike most other cruise lines, with Viking cruises, a veranda comes as standard – something that ensures they will be a step ahead of the competition when it comes to choosing who to sail with. Having a veranda is something that has previously been available at a cost but not with Viking.
It’s verandas for all on this generous feet – oops – we mean fleet!
The verandas also have outdoor seating, so that you can sit and watch the world go by, rather than worrying you’ll teeter over the side (particularly if you’ve had one too many vinos!)
Top Notch Service – Guaranteed!
From the Viking Concierge that will try and satisfy your every whim, to the Swiss-trained team that is handpicked for excellence, you can guarantee that the staff onboard a Viking ocean cruise will be as top class as their river cruise counterparts.
In fact, Viking Cruises back up their promise of excellent service with a money-back guarantee!
Yep – just like with that too small bikini you bought or that new magical cleaning product or QVC purchase, if you’re not happy with your Viking cruise you can disembark at the next port and they’ll give you your cash back.
All Inclusive Means Just That
Viking ocean cruises’ all-inclusive experience mirrors what is offered on their river cruises.
That means that, as well as the onboard meals and drinks that you would expect on a cruise, guests will also be able to enjoy shore excursions at no extra cost – at least one in every port will be included in the booking price.
More excursions and tours will also be available if you have the cash to splash on them too.
Land excursions being included in the price is something of a rarity on cruises, giving Viking one up on most of its competition for those who like their holidays to be ‘all in’.
You can keep in touch with family and friends back home and upload your green eyed monster-baiting pictures to Facebook via the free Wi-Fi and complimentary 24-hour room service will also be on offer – something that isn’t even currently offered on their river Longships!
There’s no need to open your purse every time you need a brew either, nor do you have to worry about sorting your flights because they provide return flights to many major UK airports as standard.
Viking are really offering the perfect cash-free cruise experience (once you’ve, you know, paid for it up front, obviously).
Incredible, Unique Features
Every newly launched liner tries to vie for top dog position when it comes to design, facilities and features and despite their stature, Viking ocean cruise ships aren’t prepared to rollover and have their belly tickled in this area.
Cruisers will have some unique surprises in store offshore, including an infinity glass-backed pool that makes you feel like you’re part of the ocean (a cruise industry first!), a spa with a snow grotto that releases snowflakes from the ceiling that will make you feel like an extra from Frozen (another cruise industry first) and a retractable sunroof so that you can swim in the pool, come rain or shine (not a cruise industry first but still pretty darn cool – just not as cool as the snow sprinklers).
Not only that but the Viking Star will also boast more alfresco seating than any other ship that’s at sea.
Which means that you can enjoy your slap up meal at the same time as breathing in the sea air and watching the world go by – you can’t get much better than that!
Location, Location, Location
Viking Cruises have used customer feedback to create what they believe to be the perfect ocean cruise.
The insider snippets that they’ve received via previous river cruise guests give Viking the upper hand when it comes to designing the best itineraries.
Their ocean cruises are predominantly destination focused, whilst also bringing the innovation of their award-winning river cruises to the open seas.
It’s all about the ports, with Viking cruises.
You don’t just explore the shore when you step foot onto it, you explore the culture, customs and cuisine onboard too.
The ever-changing enrichment programme focuses on the ports and the itinerary, so that guests can get a head start, helping them make the most of every single destination day.
Viking’s expertise in the river cruise industry puts them in good stead when it comes to making the transition to ocean cruises.
Naturally, river and ocean cruises are two very different things but if the growth of their river cruise division is anything to go by, Viking will grab the ocean cruise market with both hands and run for plenty of nautical miles with it.
With two ships currently being developed at the shipbuilding yard in Italy – one of which, the Viking Star, set for release in May 2015 – and four additional ships also being in the pipeline, Viking ocean cruises will be a very viable option for anyone looking for an intimate, cosy and modern adventure on the world’s epic oceans, rather than opting for one of the megaships that have so far dominated the market.
This new kid on the ocean waves could be one to watch.
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