This Thursday, Viking Cruises finally announced details of its first ship, to be named Viking Star, which is due to enter service in May 2015. She will be the first of a pair of 925-passenger ocean-going cruise ships for Viking Cruises, the new cruise operation that has sprung from Viking River Cruises. The line also has options for a further four such ships, all with Fincantieri, which could eventually produce a fleet of six. Interestingly, this design is a development of the original Renaissance “R” ships design, but with many significant changes.
Together with Azamara Club Cruises, with two ships, and Oceania Cruises, with five, there will eventually be thirteen ships serving this segment of the market, which is above premium but not ultra-luxury.
Viking is a line that emphasizes geography, culture, history, good food, comfort and value for the money. Viking guests are 55 plus, well-educated, affluent, curious and active, a s well as interested in history, culture and music.
When Vking polled its guests, they found that many thought that:
- Ocean ships have become too big
- Too little time is spent at the destination
- They are not as good value as you think when you purchase
- The small ships are far too expensive
So the announcement of these new ships can only be good news to those who have grown tired of ships growing bigger and more impersonal as they are built to carry 3,000. 4,000 or even 5,000 passengers.
Some of the features of the new Viking Star include:-
- all cabins with a private balcony
- a two-deck high observation lounge at the forward end
- an outdoor pool at the stern as well as a midships pool with Magrodome
- a full walk-around promenade beneath the lifeboats and tenders
- the main dining room will have “the best food”
- it will also have floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open
- the spa has been vanquished from deck 9 on top to deck 1 below
Moving the spa area is particularly important as instead of being located in a prime area with forward views on top of the ship it has been relocated to a lower deck area. Why so many cruise lines chose to locate the spa area in prime real estate is a mystery but Viking is showing respect to its clients by locating the spa elsewhere and giving the views back to them. Another area that would have been the card room, internet center and Horizons Lounge has been dedicated instead to suites.
Viking Cruises will provide excellent value for the money, with fares starting at $420 per person per day, including airfare, shore excursions in each port, concierge service, free WiFi, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner as well as specialty coffees, complimentary self-service laundry, free room service and all port taxes and transfers to and from the ship.
Interestingly, details of the new 47,800-ton 745-foot 925-passenger Viking Star (above left) were announced just six days after Hapag-Lloyd Cruises christened its new 42,839-ton 739-foot 516-passenger Europa 2 (above right) in Hamburg. But while cruise-only fares on Europa 2 start at €600 ($800) per person per night, fly/cruise fares on Viking Star will start at $420, with a passenger space ratio of 51 tons per passenger compared to 83 on Europa 2.
For further details on Viking Cruises and how to book new Viking Star or Europa 2, which is already in service, please contact Gay Scruton at The Cruise People Ltd in London on 020 7723 2450 or Freephone 0800 526 313 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos courtesy of Viking Cruises except Europa 2, courtesy of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises.