All photos copyright Viking Cruises, unless otherwise noted.
Bucking the “bigger is better” and “amusement park gone to sea” trend of the major players, Viking Cruises offers an upscale but reasonably priced cruise experience for those who prefer non-gimmicky, small-to-mid-sized vessels with sophisticated enrichment and culinary options. With the handing over of the VIKING SEA, the float-out of the VIKING SKY and the first keel block being laid for the VIKING SUN, this is yet another banner year for Viking’s ocean-going division.
On March 23, the 930-guest VIKING SKY was floated out of her graving berth at Fincantieri’s Ancona shipyard. At 4:30 PM, in a two-day process, the locks were opened, allowing the waters of the Adriatic to kiss the keel of the VIKING SKY for the first time.
Serving as madrina was Marit Barstad, sister of Viking’s Chairman, Torstein Hagen (former CEO of Royal Viking Line). Three commemorative coins were placed in the base of the ship’s mast, each representing a Hagen family birth year: 1911 (for Ragnhild “Mamsen” Hagen — Hagen’s mother); 1943 (Ms Barstad’s birth year) and 1948 (Torstein Hagen’s birth year).
On that same day, the line revealed that it had upped its order to a total of six ocean ships, the last three to be delivered in late 2017, 2018 and 2020. Meanwhile, VIKING SKY will continue fitting out and will be entering service in early 2017.
On April 1, the VIKING SEA, having successfully completed her sea trials and en route to embark her first guests, met up with older sister VIKING STAR in Santorini’s spectacular Caldera.
VIKING SEA’s maiden cruise began on April 4 on a sailing from Istanbul to Venice. The ship will gradually make her way across the Mediterranean and into the Atlantic, then up the European coast to the UK, where she will be christened at Greenwich on May 5.
Hagen stated, “Too often in recent years the most talked about ships have been the biggest ships. It is our view that some cruise lines have focused too much on building bigger ships and not enough on helping guests connect with the destination. We have created ocean cruises that put the destination at the center of the experience, with smaller ships that are smarter in design. As our second ship sets sail with her first guests we look forward to introducing more travelers to the unique way that Viking does ocean cruising – a style of cruising that was inspired by our experience and success on the rivers.”
At 47,800 tons, Viking’s ocean ships accommodate just 930 passengers. Paying tribute to Norwegian heritage, the Viking ocean ships incorporate light-infused Scandinavian design by Los Angeles-based Rottet Studios.
Among the highlights of the ocean ships are a glass-backed infinity pool cantilevered off the stern; indoor-outdoor spaces offering more options for al fresco dining than similarly sized vessels; a wrap-around promenade deck; the complimentary access LivNordic Spa with its hydrotherapy pool and a real Snow Room, a Wintergarden with a lattice canopy, and so much more.
And just today, April 6, 2016, the keel block for the fourth ship in the ocean-going series, the VIKING SUN, was laid at Fincantieri’s Ancona yard.
We look forward to filing a series of Sea Treks reports from the VIKING SEA on one of her Mediterranean cruises later this year but in the meantime, congratulations and “Skaal” on a job thus far very well done to the people and ships of Viking Cruises.
Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea. With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications. Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India. He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."