Viking River Cruises
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Viking River Cruises
Viking Cruises
Industry Travel and Tourism
Founded 1997 (1997)
Headquarters Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California
Key people
Torstein Hagen, Founder and Chairman
Products River cruises and Ocean cruises
Subsidiaries Viking River Cruises
Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Cruises is a privately owned company offering river and ocean cruises, aimed at more experienced travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history. It is the parent company of Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises.

In 2015, the company began offering ocean cruises in Scandinavia, the British Isles, the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. Viking has a primary sales office in the United States, with secondary sales offices in the United Kingdom and Australia, and operational offices in Switzerland.

Viking Cruises was initially founded as Viking River Cruises in 1997, and expanded into the American market in 2000, establishing its US headquarters in Los Angeles, California.[1] Over time, the company has acquired and refurbished additional ships and built new ones. As of 2017, it operates a fleet of more than 60 ships. The company employs more than 4,000 staff worldwide and markets its cruises primarily to English-speaking customers in North America, the UK and Australia.[2]

Company history

In the mid-1990s, the company's founder and chairman, Torstein Hagen,[3] took a river cruise through Russia. The experience inspired him to create a river cruise company in 1997. Educated at Norwegian Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School, Hagen was formerly CEO of Royal Viking Line, and also served on the boards of Holland America Line and Kloster Cruise Ltd.[4]

The company started with the purchase of four Russian vessels in 1997. The following year, it acquired additional ships and continued to cater to European passengers. In 2000, Viking purchased Europe's KD River Cruises, which was founded in 1827,[5] though KD retained its Rhine Line passenger ferries, scheduled services and day-excursion operations. The acquisition added more ships to Viking's fleet, bringing its total to 26, the largest fleet in the world,[6] and gave the company rights to prime docking locations in key European cities. Since 2000, the company has built nearly all of its own river ships, uniquely designed Longships, adding 6 to the fleet in 2012, 10 of the same in 2013, 18 in 2014, 12 in 2015, 6 in 2016[7] and 2 in 2017.[8] The number of ships built in 2013 and 2014 represented a world record and was noted in the Guinness Book of World Records.[9]

The company expanded into China in 2004 with Yangtze River "cruisetours," itineraries that combine a river cruise with hotel stays in various cities like Beijing and Shanghai.[10] Since then, the company has adopted this model to other regions, including Europe and Southeast Asia.

In May 2013, the company announced the launch of an ocean cruise division [11] of small, oceangoing vessels and modified its name to Viking Cruises. In 2015, its first ship, Viking Star, began sailing itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic, and on the Mediterranean Sea. With a float out in June 2015,[12] the company launched its second ship, Viking Sea, in 2016. Viking Sky and Viking Sun join the fleet in 2017, with Viking Spirit scheduled to debut in 2018 along with three more by 2022.[13]

A planned expansion into the US along the Mississippi River was announced in February 2015. Viking's home port will be New Orleans, Louisiana, with vessels cruising north to Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri; or St. Paul, Minnesota. Service is expected to begin in late 2017 using two ships, with the fleet expanding to six by 2019. Each vessel will have a capacity of about 300.[14]

River cruising

Viking Longship Odin, sailing on the Danube River, arrives in Budapest, Hungary.

Viking River Cruises offers cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Egypt. Since its 1997 inception, the company has grown to a fleet of more than 60 river vessels. Viking's European ships have a typical capacity of 190 passengers; its Russian ships' capacity averages just over 200 and its China ship carries up to 246.

Viking itineraries range from eight to 23 days along Europe's Rhine, Main, Danube, Seine, Rhône, Elbe and Douro Rivers; Russia's Volga and Svir; Ukraine's Dnieper; China's Yangtze; Egypt's Nile and Lake Nasser; and Cambodia and Vietnam's Mekong.[15] Some voyages, including those in China, Southeast Asia and Egypt and a few in Europe, are "cruisetours," which include both hotel stays and river cruising.

River cruise ship design innovations

In 2009, Viking launched Viking Legend, the first of its ships to have hybrid diesel-electric engines. According to the company, these engines use an estimated 20% less fuel than conventional engines. Noise-insulated engine rooms reduce noise and vibration and the ship has its own membrane water treatment plant to further reduce environmental impact.[16] Viking's next new vessel, Viking Prestige, launched in 2011 with the same "green" features as Viking Legend.

In 2012, Viking introduced its Viking Longships class designed by Scandinavian naval architects Yran and Storbraaten. Each of these ships has the same environmentally friendly engine system, plus a patented interior design configuration (Corridor configuration designs U.S. Patent No. 1832106-0001 to 1832106-0011) that creates large two-room suites, full-size rooms with full-size verandas and French balcony staterooms. Additional features include an indoor-outdoor Aquavit Terrace for outdoor dining at the prow of the ship, large Explorer Suites at the stern; solar panels and an organic herb garden. The first six Viking Longships that launched in 2012 collectively won Cruise Critic's award for "Best New River Ship."[17] The company launched 10 more in 2013;[18] an additional 16 in 2014, plus 2 smaller vessels purpose-built for Portugal's Douro River;[19] 12 in 2015; 6 in 2016 and 2 in 2017. Each Viking Longship is named for a figure in Norse mythology or history.[20]

The same nautical architects and engineers who helped develop the Viking Longships are designing Viking Ra, the newest addition to the company's Egypt fleet.[21] The refurbished ship will offer a blend of the Scandinavian design the company is recognized for and local inspirations, such as traditional geometric Arabic patterns. The 48-passenger Viking Ra is scheduled to begin sailing in 2018.


Viking Longship Freya sails through the Rhine Valley.

Viking River Cruises operates a fleet of more than 60 vessels as of 2017. All of its ships have been custom built or fully renovated since 1999; 100% of the cabins are "outside" staterooms with windows or balconies. The ships also have onboard restaurants, bars, lounges, libraries and sun decks. The company christened 16 ships in a single day in 2014, breaking its own record that it held the previous year (10) and earning it a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.[22] As of 2014, more than two-thirds of the company's European fleet are classed as "Viking Longships." [23]

Ocean cruising

Viking Ocean Cruises, the ocean cruise division of Viking Cruises, launched in 2013 to offer the same small ship experience as the company's river division. Specifically designed to provide more time in port than competitors, including late evening stays and overnights, itineraries sail Scandinavia, the Baltic, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

In 2013, Viking Cruises announced the first new cruise line in nearly a decade.[24] Its ocean cruise product line is intended to leverage the company's managerial experience in ocean cruising as well as its success in the river cruise sector.[25] Viking's ocean cruise division began sailing its first vessel, Viking Star, in 2015. It was joined by the fleet's second vessel, Viking Sea, in 2016; and its third and fourth ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sun, in 2017.[26]Viking Spirit is scheduled for 2018 sailings and three more will join them by 2022. Initial ocean cruising destinations included Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Mediterranean, calling on ports such as Bergen, Norway; St. Petersburg, Russia; Gda?sk, Poland; and Barcelona, Spain.[27] With its expansion, Viking is offering itineraries in the Americas, the Caribbean,[28] Asia, Australia and New Zealand,[29] as well as its first World Cruise.[30]

Sister ship design

Viking Star launches in 2015 (artist's rendering)

Viking Star is a 930-passenger all-veranda cruise ship, classified by the Cruise Critic trade publication as a "small ship." [31] The ship, along with its sister ships, was designed by experienced naval architects and designers with features including dual-fuel engines, a hydro-dynamically optimized streamlined hull for maximum fuel efficiency, onboard solar panels and equipment that minimizes exhaust pollution.[32]

They were built by Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona, Italy, and the interior design, rich in Scandinavian influence, was developed by London-based SMC Design and Los Angeles-based Rottet Studio.[33]


Viking Cruises is the first cruise line to launch a new purpose-built ship since Disney Cruise Line introduced Disney Magic in 1998.[34]Viking Star and its identical sister ships have 465 staterooms in five categories, all with private verandas and a square-footage (270) that exceeds that found on most cruise ships. The ships' largest suite, the Owner's Suite, is nearly 1,500 square feet.[35] Multiple lounge and dining venues with several options for dining outdoors on deck. Other onboard areas include a three-story atrium, theater, library, sun deck including two pools, Nordic-inspired spa, gym and yoga area, and onboard boutiques. Their infinity pool is one of the first of its kind at sea,[36] and the floor-to-ceiling windows that bring sunlight into the ship's interior spaces are unique among ships of this class.[37]

Complimentary amenities on all ocean ships in the Viking fleet include Wi-Fi Internet access; beer and wine with lunch and dinner; at least one shore excursion in every port; a Scandinavia-inspired spa, which includes a thermal pool, hot tub, sauna and a chilled Snow Grotto in which snow gently falls from the ceiling; fitness center; library with curated books to reflect the cruise line's destinations; 24-hour room service; meals at all the ship's restaurants; cappuccinos, lattes and other espresso drinks available throughout the ship; self-service laundry; movies on in-room televisions and entertainment, movies and lectures in onboard theaters; and transfers between the arrival airport and the ship. Paid amenities on all ships include several spa and salon services; specialty beer, wine and spirits; and additional shore excursions.[38]

Technical specifications

Each sister ship is one-third the size of many cruise ships being built by major cruise lines. This allows it to enter into smaller ports.[39] Its overall length is 745.4 ft. (227.2 m); its beam is 94.5 ft. (28.8 m); the draft is 20.7 ft. (6.3 m); and the gross tonnage (GRT) is 47,800 t.[40]

Future ships

Viking will be adding four additional ships to its current ocean fleet. Viking Spirit is scheduled to launch in 2018, and three more are scheduled to launch by 2022. They are also being built at Fincantieri's Ancona shipyard.


Viking River Cruises

Viking's river cruise division has received many awards and much recognition from publications and organizations within the travel and cruise industries, as well as from the travel press. A summary of the company's awards follows:[41]

  • Travel + Leisure magazine's readers have recognized Viking River Cruises as one of the Best River Cruise Lines in the annual World's Best Awards 7 times since 2011. Viking River Cruises was also voted the #1 River Cruise Line on Travel + Leisure's 2012 and 2015 World's Best Lists.
  • TravelAge West, a travel industry publication, named Viking River Cruises the best overall cruise line for river cruising 11 times, from 2006 to 2016.
  • Cruise Critic, a cruise review website, has selected Viking River Cruises in its Editors' Picks Awards for 6 consecutive years for awards including "Best River Cruise Line," "Best New River Ship" and "Best River Cruise Itineraries."
  • Travel Weekly, a trade publication, named Viking River Cruises the "Best River Cruise Line" for 11 consecutive years, from 2006 to 2016, in its Readers Choice Awards.
  • Recommend magazine, a publication for travel agents, awarded Viking "Best River Cruise Line" in their Readers' Choice Awards for 11 consecutive years.
  • Porthole Cruise Magazine readers voted Viking River Cruises the "Best River Cruise Line" 4 times in the Readers' Choice Awards.
  • commended Viking River Cruises in its Editors' Choice Awards as "Best River Cruise Line" 3 times, the "Best Way to See Russia" in 2012 and "Best River Cruise Accommodations" in 2016.
  • has awarded Viking River Cruises the "Best Luxury River Cruise Company" 4 times.
  • Seatrade Insider awarded Viking River Cruises their first-ever River Cruise Innovation Award in 2011 for the company's Viking Longships.
  • Fodor's Travel awarded Viking River Cruises' Legends of the Rhine river cruise the "World's Best Cruise for 2015."

Viking Ocean Cruises

Since the 2015 maiden voyage of Viking Star, the company has received many accolades from cruise industry experts and critics.

  • Cruise Critic named Viking Star the "Best New Ocean Ship" of 2015 in its 8th annual Editors' Picks Awards.[42] The online cruise resource has also cited the ship for having the "Best Bathrooms" at sea in the staterooms.
  • Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016 rated Viking Star the highest in her category during her debut season.[43] And in the guidebook's 2017 edition, Viking Sea was rated the first in her category, with Viking Star following in second place.[44]
  • Cruise Critic's editors awarded Viking Sky with 5 stars, their highest rating, in 2017.[45] And in their 2017 Cruisers' Choice Awards, Viking Star and Viking Sea received first place in 10 categories, including "Best Overall" and "Best Shore Excursions."[46]
  • Travel + Leisure readers named Viking a #1 Ocean Cruise Line in the World's Best Awards for two consecutive years in 2016 and 2017.[47]


Viking River Cruises sponsors programming on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), including support for Masterpiece's Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Poldark, among several others.[48] Viking is also a sponsor of National Geographic's Genius.[49]


  1. ^ "Viking River Cruises Celebrates Two Years in the U.S. Significant Milestones Highlight Cruise Line's Growth and Development," CyberCruises,
  2. ^ Insight Guide to Great River Cruises, 2006, 2007, ISBN 978-981-258-397-0, p. 37
  3. ^ Company Overview, Viking Cruises,
  4. ^ Speaker Biography, Milken Institute 2006 Global Conference,
  5. ^ Lizz Dinnigan, Travel Agent magazine cover story, September 10, 2001
  6. ^ Insight Guide to Great River Cruises, 2006, 2007, ISBN 978-981-258-397-0, p. 22
  7. ^ "Six new river ships in a day? Rapid Viking expansion continues," USA Today, March 1, 2016,
  8. ^ "Two more new Viking river ships debut in Germany," USA Today, March 7, 2017,
  9. ^ "Viking Sets Another Guinness World Record in Christening New Longships," Travel Agent Central, March 19, 2014,
  10. ^ "Travel + Leisure Survey Ranks Viking Number One," SeaLetter Cruise magazine,
  11. ^ "Viking Cruises Will Begin Ocean Cruises on Viking Star in 2015," Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2013,
  12. ^ "Viking Ocean Cruises Celebrates Float Out of Second Ship," Viking Cruises,
  13. ^ Gene Sloan, "Fast-growing Viking Ocean Cruises orders two more ships," USA Today, April 18, 2017,
  14. ^ "Viking boats to cruise Mississippi River." Fortune. Reuters. 2015-02-25. Retrieved 2015-02-25.
  15. ^ Company Overview, Viking Cruises,
  16. ^ "A Viking Ship to Launch with a Green Accent," The Avid Cruiser, May 29, 2009,
  17. ^ "River Cruising Sees Historic Achievement in Amsterdam," Cruise Critic, March 20, 2013,
  18. ^ "See the Top 10 Cruise Ship Innovations of 2013," USA Today, December 16, 2013,
  19. ^ "Viking Cruises Sails Past Its Own Guinness World Record with Launch of 18 New Ships," PR Newswire, March 18, 2014,
  20. ^ Viking River Cruises website,
  21. ^ Gene Sloan, "Viking River Cruises unveils plans for new Nile ship," USA Today, May 9, 2017,
  22. ^ "Viking Sets Another Guinness World Record in Christening New Longships," Travel Agent Central, March 19, 2014,
  23. ^ Viking River Cruises website,
  24. ^ "Viking Reveals Details of New Ocean Cruise Line," Cruise Critic, May 17, 2013,
  25. ^ Company Overview, Viking Cruises,
  26. ^ "Fast-growing Viking to have six ocean ships by 2020," USA Today, March 2, 2016,
  27. ^ "Viking's New Ocean Cruise Line Reinvents Destination Ocean Voyages," PR Newswire, October 9, 2013,
  28. ^ "Viking Star to Sail North America and the Caribbean," Porthole Cruise Magazine, December 2, 2015,
  29. ^ Kerry Spencer, "Viking Ocean Cruises Announces Brand-New Itineraries Set to Roll Out in 2017, 2018 and 2019," Cruise Critic, January 17, 2017,
  30. ^ Meredith Carey, "Viking Plans a 141-Day World Cruise for 2017," Condé Nast Traveler, May 3, 2016,
  31. ^ "Viking Star Review," Cruise Critic,
  32. ^ "Viking's New Ocean Cruise Line Reinvents Destination Ocean Voyages," PR Newswire, October 9, 2013,
  33. ^ "Viking Star Cruise Ship, Italy,",
  34. ^ "Where in the World is Cruise Critic?" Cruise Critic, April 13, 2015,
  35. ^ "Living Large: Inside New Viking Ship's Stylish Suites," USA Today, April 17, 2015,
  36. ^ "Viking to Launch Ocean Cruise Line in 2015," Fodor's Travel, May 17, 2013,
  37. ^ "Viking's New Ocean Cruise Line Reinvents Destination Ocean Voyages," PR Newswire, October 9, 2013,
  38. ^ "Hate Nickel-and-Diming? This New Cruise Ship Is for You," USA Today, April 15, 2015,
  39. ^ "First Look: Inside the Year's Hottest New Cruise Ship," USA Today, April 13, 2015,
  40. ^ "Viking Star Cruise Ship, Italy,",
  41. ^ Viking River Cruises website,
  42. ^ "2015 Editors' Picks Awards: Ocean Cruise Lines," Cruise Critic,
  43. ^ Douglas Ward, Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016, 2015, ISBN 978-178-004-8314
  44. ^ Douglas Ward, Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017, 2016, ISBN 978-178-004-9090
  45. ^ "Viking Sky Review," Cruise Critic,
  46. ^ "2017 Cruisers' Choice Awards," Cruise Critic,
  47. ^ "The Top 10 Large-ship Ocean Cruise Lines," Travel + Leisure, July 11, 2017,
  48. ^ "Viking River Cruises and PBS' Masterpiece Extend Partnership for Additional Year," Viking River Cruises Press Release, August 4, 2015,
  49. ^ Chris Owen, "Creative Viking Connection Targets Culturally Curious Travelers,"

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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