Viking Star Floated Out At Marghera – A Return To Seagoing Tradition But Every Cabin With A Balcony

Viking StarLast week, Viking Cruises floated out its first ocean-going cruise ship, the 47,800-ton 930-berth Viking Star. This event marks the introduction of one of the most important cruise ships in some years. In one way, she marks a return to the roots of traditional cruising, where destinations and the sense of being at sea, rather than at some fun fair, are an important part of the cruise product. At the same time, she is a step forward as every passenger cabin on board comes with a balcony.

The ceremony took place on Monday, June 23, at Fincantieri’s Marghera shipyard near Venice. With four sister ships now under construction, Viking Star will be the first to debut, in May 2015 with maiden voyages in Scandinavia and the Baltic. The next to be introduced will be the Viking Sea and Viking Sky, while the fourth ship has yet to be named.

“Today is a proud day for our entire Viking family, as we are one step closer to launching a new era of ocean cruising,” said Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen last week. “Viking Star’s maiden season was sold out before she even touched water, which just demonstrates how enthusiastic our guests are for destination-focused ocean cruises.”

Following a two-day process that floated the Viking Star, she was moved to the nearbyfitting dock for final completion. At 745 by 95 feet, these new ships will be slightly larger than one of the world’s most famous cruise ships, the Green Goddess, otherwise known as Cunard Line’s 34,183-ton Caronia of 1949, which measured 715 x 91 feet and also carried 930 passengers.
The new Viking ships will feature many premium amenities and services, including

- all cabins have a private balcony
- a two-deck high observation lounge at the forward end
- a complete walk-around promenade deck beneath the lifeboats and tenders
- the main dining room has floor-to-ceiling windows that slide open
- al fresco dining is available
- the first true infinity pool at sea
- the spa has been banished from deck 9 on top to deck 1 below.

Fort further details on booking a cruise on Viking Cruises new ocean ships please call The Cruise People Ltd in Europe on +44 (0)20 7723 2450 or e-mail or in North America 1-800-961-5536 or e-mail

Viking Star Floated Out At Marghera – Saga Takes Space With MSC Cruises – And What Happened In 1914

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 30th June 2014..



Hamburg America Line’s giant Imperator became Cunard Line’s Berengeria after the First World War

Last week saw the float out at Marghera of the latest thing in ocean cruising. Viking Cruises’ Viking Star is a ship that is very traditional and yet is right up to date, with every stateroom having a balcony and all modern luxuries. We also look at Saga’s move back into outsourcing cruises from Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and MSC Cruises, something it has not done in a major way since the 1990s. And we look back at passenger shipping a century ago, how the war delayed the building of fifteen liners, and how it would denude the Hamburg America Line of its six finest ships, from the Imperator to the Tirpitz.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                                          (See previous columns)

No More North Pole Departures After 2015 – Royal Caribbean Signs With Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie’s Italian” – The Introduction of Hagenisms

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 31st March 2014..

50 Years of Victory at the North Pole - Poseidon ExpeditionsAfter 2015, there will be no more nuclear icebreaker trips to the North Pole so passengers wanting to visit the North Pole are urged to book now or miss the boat entirely. Northern polar trips in future will concentrate on the Northwest Passage across the top of Canada and the Northern Sea Route above Russia. Between Quark Expeditions and Poseidon Expeditions there will be a record total of six departures for the North Pole in 2015. Elsewhere, Royal Caribbean International scored a coup last week by engaging British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver to install the first “Jamie’s Italian” restaurants at sea on board the first two “Quantum” class ships, debuting this year and next. Finally, in view of last week’s Guinness Book of World Records christening of eighteen Viking Cruises river cruisers in a single week, we remember the introduction into the English language of the “Hagenism,” named for Viking CEO Torstein Hagen, by the US edition of Travel Weekly a year ago.

Photo: Poseidon Expeditions’ 2013 Voyage marking the 100th trip to the North Pole by nuclear icebreaker

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                        (See previous columns)

Mid-Size Newbuildings Take On New Importance – Small Ship Fleets Continue To Evolve – Carnival To Charge For Live Concerts

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 27th January 2014..


Seabourn Quest AerialRecent deliveries and orders for several new midsize ships in the 40,000- to 60,000-ton range signify a change in cruise ship development. The recent arrivals of Marina, Riviera, Europa 2 and orders for Viking Star, Seven Seas Explorer and a new 40,350-tonner for Seabourn, modelled on the smaller 32,000-ton Seabourn Quest (left), are beginning to hark back to the traditional days of cruising, making the big new ships look like circuses by comparison. The new midsize ships will become the First Class of 21st Century cruising while the megaships are quickly becoming the Tourist Class. At the same time, the small ship market continues to evolve, with the smallest Seabourn ships soon to go to Windstar Cruises. Meanwhile, Carnival Cruise Lines continues the trend of adding extra charges to mainline cruises, with the addition of live concerts at a charge on board eight of its ships in the Caribbean and Mexico.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                  (See previous columns)

Traditional Cruising To Return – Oceania’s Riviera at – Veteran Cruise Ship Retired – Heritage Sailing Goes Ahead

THE CRUISE EXAMINER at by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 13th January 2014..

Viking Star stern view

Viking Cruises has begun its advertising for the 2015-16 maiden season of its 930-guest 47,800-ton Viking Star, a ship that promises to move in a new direction in the contemporary world of cruising. Viking promises to steer away from mega ships and the superficial glitz that has become too common, and back traditional cruising. At the same time, another of the new wave of more traditional cruise ships, Oceania Cruises’ 1,258-berth 66,048-ton Riviera, has been attracting attention at and at USA Today, which wrote up the review. Meanwhile, last week saw one of the last of the traditional ships, the Saga Ruby, complete her last cruise after a career of forty-one years. Finally, the Akademik Shokalskiy, now freed from the ice of the Ross Sea, will be able to take up this Friday’s expedition voyage from Bluff after all.

FOR THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                         (See previous columns)

Viking Cruises Announces Details Of Its 925-Berth Viking Star – P&O Cruises Lays Keel For Its New 3,600-Berth Flagship – And 210-Berth Canadian-Built Pearl Mist Is Finally Delivered


by Kevin Griffin

The Cruise Examiner for 20th May 2013

Viking Star new

Today sees news of three different ships with tonnages in the four-digit, five-digit and six digit ranges. Thursday saw the announcement by Viking Cruises of details of its new 47,800-ton 925-passenger ocean-going cruise ship Viking Star, which will be offically named in Bergen in May 2015. The new ship will be built by Fincantieri in Italy. The day before this, P&O Cruises laid the keel for its new 141,000-ton 3,600-passenger flagship (above), also at Fincantieri. No name has yet been announced but she is based on the design of Princess Cruises’  Royal Princess, due to be named by the Duchess of Cambridge in Southampton next month, and the Regal Princess. The new P&O flagship is due to enter service in March 2015. Meanwhile, in North America, Pearl Seas Cruises, a sister company of American Cruise Lines, finally took delivery of its 4,985-ton 210-berth Pearl Seas, a ship that was completed in 2009. The Canadian-built ship is intended to cruise the Great Lakes and East Coast of North America.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                                  (See previous columns)

First Viking Ocean Cruises Ship To Be Named In Bergen In May 2015

Cruise Ship StairsViking Ocean Cruises yesterday announced that it would unveil more details of its planned fleet of 48,000-ton ocean-going cruise ships on May 16 in Los Angeles. Chairman Tor Hagen, who is also chairman of Viking River Cruises, made the announcement in Amsterdam, saying his ocean-going arm would build two ships, has contracts for two more and options for another pair at Fincantieri in Italy, for an eventual ocean-going fleet of six ships.

This will be in addition to 24 newly-built river cruise vessels, of which ten are being named in a joint ceremony at dockside today in Amsterdam and at the Neptun Werft shipyard in Rostock.

¤Viking Ocean expects to take delivery of its first ocean-going ship in May 2015 and she will be named in Bergen. She will carry 928 passengers in a style of understated elegance that will offer a very destination-focused experience. Hagen, who once headed Royal Viking Line, brought that line’s annual cruise atlas to mind when he said, “ocean-going cruising has lost its focus. My mission is to reintroduce destination into ocean-going cruising.”

The ships will have design features unlike other cruise ships. For example, the spa and gym, which often waste valuable forward-facing topside space on contemporary cruise ships, will be located on lower decks. This will also allow more suites to be located on the upper decks.

Hagen said Viking Ocean will have the same philosophy as sister company Viking River Cruises in that it will feature a “very efficient use of space.” It will also offer “an outstanding product at a lower price,” said Hagen.

Viking Ocean Cruises is also jointly investigating with builders Fincantieri the possible use of liquified natural gas (LNG) as a fuel. A number of LNG-fuelled passenger ships are already in operation with owners in Scandinavia. LNG produces 30% lower CO2 emissions, 85% less nitrogen oxide, 15% less carbon dioxide and virtually eliminates sulphur oxides.

For further details once they are announced please e-mail The Cruise People Ltd in London at or in North America at

How Costa Loss Led to a Global CLIA – Ponant to Transit Northwest Passage – Norwegian Breakaway’s Waterfront – Viking Ocean Cruises – Mega-Ships In Australia – And Other Stories From 2012


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 31st December 2012

Voyager of the Seas at Circular Quay

Royal Caribbean International’s 3,114-berth Voyager of the Seas at Sydney’s Circular Quay.

The usual year-end cruise summary lists the newest ships and their latest features. But we bring you a slightly quirkier recap for the year 2012. Two of the most interesting results this year stem from the loss of the Costa Concordia in January. That tragedy has been well covered elsewhere, but the two results are: a German chief executive now heads up Costa Crociere, and CLIA has gone global. Other news for 2012 sees a new contender for the Northwest Passage, new concepts from Norwegian Cruise Line with the Waterfront on its latest ships and the end of Classic International Cruises. Holland America Line has abandoned Bermuda in favour of Canada, Seabourn goes to Antarctica and the mega-ships have arrived in Australia, while the Chinese cruise market conrinues to grow. We have also seen the beginning of a move back towards human scale cruise ships with Viking Ocean Cruises’ plans for up to six 48,000-ton cruise ships that will accommodate fewer than 1,000 passengers. Finally, in a surprise annoucement, STX France has nabbed the order for a third Oasis class ship for Royal Caribbean, with an option for a fourth. Happy New Year to All!

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

The New All-Inclusive Crystal (Crystal Serenity Part 2) – Viking Plans Six-Ship Ocean Fleet – Viking River Orders Ten More Longships


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 10th December 2012

Crystal SerenityThis week, The Cruise Examiner, having just disembarked from the Crystal Serenity in Barcelona yesterday, brings us Part 2 of his report on the new all-inclusive Crystal Cruises. Elsewhere, Viking attracted all the attention last week with an agreement from Viking Ocean Cruises to build two more 944-berth ocean cruise ships at Fincantieri, with an option for a further two. This could bring its new fleet of ocean cruisers to six ships by 2020. Sister line Viking River Cruises meanwhile surprised all with an order for a further ten new Viking Longship class river cruisers. These will be built by river cruise shipbuilder Neptun Werft, a 162-year-old Rostock shipyard that has built over 1,500 ships in its time, including a few U-Boats.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                                       (See previous columns)

Compagnie du Ponant Is Sold To UK-Based Investors – Other Cruise News: Andrea To Reappear As Serenissima in 2013 – Comments On A Review Of Oceania’s Marina – Revised Details For Viking Ocean Ships


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 16th July 2012

With its new Ice Class ships, Compagnie du Ponant has recently also acquired a reputation as a polar operator

Earlier this month, CMA CGM and its parent company Merit Corporation announced the disposal of its former cruise arm, Compagnie du Ponant, to London-based private equity firm Bridgepoint Capital, well-known in the UK for its investment in the Prêt a Manger quality sandwich shops. With three new 10,944-ton 264-berth ships and its original 1,489-ton 60-berth Le Ponant, the sale by the indebted CMA CGM will hopefully free up Compagnie du Ponant to expand its operation further. Meanwhile, still on the small-ship side of things, Finnish-based newcomer Premier Cruises will re-introduce the 2,549-ton Andrea into service next April as the 96-berth Serenissima. We also have a look at a very interesting and enlightening cruise ship review of Oceania’s Marina by Frenchman Jacques Letard in the latest issue of Sea Lines, quarterly journal of the Ocean Liner Society. Finally, Viking Ocean have announced slight changes to their latest order for two new medium size upmarket cruise ships..
                                                      (See previous columns)

Richard Fain Named to UK Travel Hall of Fame – Other Cruise News: Viking Ocean Cruises Order Goes To Fincantieri – Does Princess Cruises Listen To Its Passengers?


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 23rd April 2012

Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and ceo Richard Fain was inducted into the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame last week. As an executive, he spent thirteen years in London with the Norwegian shipping company Gotaas-Larsen, an early one-third shareholder in Royal Caribbean and owner of Eastern Cruise Lines. In Miami since 1988, Fain has been involved with Royal Caribbean for thirty-three years and at its head for almost twenty-five. His biggest regret must be having lost to Carnival a decade ago in his attempt to take over P&O and Princess Cruises. But his success in expanding Royal Caribbean worldwide into half a dozen brands and building the world’s largest cruise ships must far outweigh that set-back. Elsewhere, Viking Ocean Cruises have moved from France to Italy to build their two, option three, new oceangoing cruise ships, which will be slightly larger, at 998 berths and delivered slightly later. Finally, two Panamanian fishermen died in the Pacific last month because the master of the Star Princess was not informed that their small fishing boat was in trouble after some of his passengers reported their plight to a crew member. One has to ask, does Princess Cruises listen to its passengers?

                                          (See previous columns)

The Cruise Examiner for 26th December 2011: Viking Ocean Cruises Orders Two Ocean-Going Cruise Ships – Other Cruise News: Passat Revives the Delphin – Saga’s Plans for Quest for Adventure


          by Kevin Griffin

     The Cruise Examiner for 26th December 2011

There is some really good news to end 2011. A new company called Viking Ocean Cruises has just ordered two 41,000-ton 888-passenger cruise ships from STX France in St Nazaire, who are also now building Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2. This is the same shipyard that produced the Queen Mary 2, Crystal Serenity, Seven Seas Mariner, the eight “R” clas ships that now work for Azamara, Oceania, P&O, Princess and, as of next spring, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises as well, and Celebrity Cruises’ Millenium class. As well as having built many mass market ships for its biggest customer, MSC, the famous St Nazaire shipyard that built the Normandie and the France, has managed to get a corner on the bespoke cruise ship market as well. Although the new Viking Ocean ships will be built to a more human scale than man y of today’s behemoths, questions remain as to whether they will have proper forward-facing observation lounges, walkaround promenade decks and tiered decks aft, all marks of a comfortable ship. Meanwhile, an Indian entrepreneur will place the Delphin back into service in the German market after a year of lay up in Venice and Britain’s Saga has some interesting plans for the Saga Pearl II, which will become sister brand Spirit of Adventure’s Quest for Adventure next spring with the delivery of the Saga Sapphire, now trading as Bleu de France.

Note dated April 4, 2012: It now appears that the pending order from Viking Ocean Cruises with STX France has collapsed and the work may go instead to Fincantieri in Italy.

Note dated April 19, 2012: It has now been confirmed that a memorandum of understanding has been signed with Fincantieri to build two, option three, ships and they will now carry 998 passengers as opposed to the originally planned 888, and they will be about 10% larger at 45,000 tons.

THIS WEEK’S STORY                                          (See previous columns)


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