Raising a glass to raising the bar

Raising a glass to raising the bar

According to reports on Seatrade Insider today, start up line Viking Ocean Cruises has ordered a second pair of cruise ships from Italy’s Fincantieri yard to complement the first pair, already on order.

These two ships, both of 47,800 tons, will arrive in mid 2016 and early 2017 respectively, and will follow on the same general style and theme as lead ship, Viking Star, due to debut in 2015.

This line is going to be an exciting prospect to watch, being very much a ‘back to the future’ style of cruise product. The emphasis is firmly on style rather than hype, with gimmickry and headline grabbing amenities quietly eschewed in favour of elegant, well served ships, constructed on a scale that still allows them to visit a number of smaller, more exclusive ports.

Indeed, a company offering this kind of style and uniformity of product has not been seen since the heyday of Royal Viking Line- on which the new company seems to be drawing both a stylistic and aesthetic bead- and it’s one time rival, the fabled Norwegian America Line. In effect, the new line is selling quiet, cool, highly styled understatement.

Realistically, I would think that this potentially very alluring quartet will have its sights set on acquiring the same passenger demographic that currently gravitate to the likes of Oceania Cruises and its competitor, Azamara Club Cruises.

Viking Ocean Cruises had, in the past, concentrated on creating and operating a fleet of highly regarded river cruise vessels. To some degree, the creation of an ocean going extension allows for some interesting cross passenger capabilities that its rivals do not possess.

Key to the ultimate success of Viking Ocean Cruises will be the establishment and retention of a top drawer management team ashore and, even more importantly, the creation of a seasoned, savvy command nucleus for each of the new ships as it comes on line. As yet, names are largely absent from company literature.

Initial renderings of the pioneer Viking Star reveal a ship with a long, sleek profile and a graceful clipper prow, with a superstructure topped by a single, aft placed funnel. And, while Fincantieri will be producing a quartet with no shortage of balcony accommodations, the lines of the ship are clean, sweeping and dramatic.

All of this is fascinating to watch; is Viking Ocean Cruises indeed about to tap into some deep, residual well of cruise passengers that are not enamoured of the options currently on the market? Time alone will tell on that front.

As ever, stay tuned.


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