Viking River Cruises
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Viking River Cruises
Viking Cruises
Industry Travel and tourism
Founded 1997 (1997)
Headquarters Basel, Switzerland
Key people
Torstein Hagen,
Co-founder, chairman
Products River cruises
Ocean cruises
Number of employees
5,000+ (2017)[1]
Subsidiaries Viking River Cruises
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking Longship Freya sails through the Rhine Valley.

Viking Cruises is a cruise line providing river and ocean cruises, with operations based in Basel, Switzerland.[2] It is the parent company of Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises. As of November 2017, it operates a fleet of 62 river vessels and 4 ocean ships, offering cruises along the rivers and oceans of North and South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Russia, Egypt, China and Southeast Asia.[3]


The company was established by Torstein Hagen in Leningrad as Viking River Cruises in 1997. Hagen had gotten involved in cruising as a McKinsey and Co. consultant who helped the Holland America Line survive the 1973 oil crisis, then was briefly CEO of Royal Viking Line in the early 1980s, made money in the Russian private equity markets, then bought a controlling stake in a Dutch shipping company that failed in the mid-1990s, leaving him almost bankrupt. Around that time he helped some Russian oligarchs buy a shipping company, and in exchange they sold him four river cruise ships cheaply, which were the founding fleet of Viking.[4]

In 2000, Viking purchased KD River Cruises of Europe, which brought Viking's fleet total to 26, making it the largest river cruising fleet in the world.[1] The company revamped the ships, making them simple and comfortable, aiming for its target demographic of older North Americans who wanted to see the world simply; the lack of frills like gyms and pools, and the standardization, also maximized the number of people the ships could accommodate and Viking's profit.[4][1] The company also partnered that year with sales agents in the UK, and the US, and opened its own sales office in California.[1] It hired its first marketing firm the next year, focusing on North America.[1] The company expanded into China in 2004 with Yangtze River cruises.[5] By 2007 it was operating 23 ships in Europe, Russia, and China and was receiving high praise from luxury travel guides.[1] In 2009, Viking started to use ships with hybrid diesel-electric engines that the company said use an estimated 20% less fuel than conventional engines.[6]

In 2011 the company planned a new phase of growth, starting to sponsor Public Broadcasting System's Masterpiece Theatre, and making plans to add 40 ships of a new "longship" design to its fleet over a five-year period.[1][7] The longship design maximized passenger capacity by squaring the bow and rearranging hallways.[8][9] The company was lucky in its sponsorship choice, with Downton Abbey becoming enormously popular with its target demographic just as the longships were coming on line.[1][7] It christened 10 ships in one day in 2013, and the 16 ships it christened over two days in 2014 were Guinness Book of World Records.[10][11] The company by then had become known for its marketing efforts, which had lifted the whole river cruising segment;[1] by 2013 the company had spent around $400 million in marketing through direct mailing, television, the web, and trade marketing.[4]

In May 2013, the company modified its name to Viking Cruises as it announced the launch of Viking Ocean Cruises, a division of small, oceangoing vessels.[12]

By 2017 the company's operations center was in Basel, Switzerland, and its marketing headquarters were in Los Angeles, California.[13]

River cruises

Viking River Cruises offers cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia and Egypt.[3] Viking's European ships have a typical capacity of 190 passengers;[11][7] its Russian ships' capacity averages just over 200[14] and its China ship carries up to 256.[15]

As of 2017 Viking River Cruises operated a fleet of 62 vessels.[3]

Ocean cruises

Viking Star launched in 2015 (artist's rendering).

In 2013, Viking announced plans to open its ocean cruise division, Viking Ocean Cruises,[8] the first new cruise line in nearly a decade.[16] Viking's ocean cruise division began sailing its first vessel, Viking Star, in 2015, sailing itineraries in Scandinavia, the British Isles, the Baltic and Mediterranean Sea.[17] It was joined by the fleet's second vessel, Viking Sea, in 2016;[2] and its third and fourth ships, Viking Sky and Viking Sun, in 2017.[18][19]

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.[20] 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.[21] The four ships 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.[21]

Viking's itineraries feature travel in Northern Europe, the Baltic, the Americas, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.[18] Their ships spend more time in port than is common at other ocean lines, emphasizing a focus on the culture of their destinations.[2][17] Viking Ocean Cruises' vessels carry up to 930 passengers and 550 crew.[2][17][22] The ships have a Scandinavian design with modernist décor.[2]

In December 2017, Viking launched its first round-the-world cruise, which departed from Miami, and sailed south to head through the Panama Canal, and planned to visit five continents, 35 countries and 64 ports before ending its 141-day journey in London.[23]


Since 2011, Viking has sponsored programming on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre, including Downton Abbey, Sherlock and Poldark,[2][1][24] and is a sponsor of National Geographic's Genius, a scripted series about the life of Albert Einstein.[25] Viking has also sponsored the Los Angeles Philharmonic at The Hollywood Bowl, Metropolitan Opera, BBC, Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, and Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Allan E. Jordan, "Viking Cruises goes from upstart to leader in 20 years," Cruise Business Review, February 2017, pp. 36-39.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Adam H. Graham, "The Rising Tide: How Viking Changed Cruising," Departures, November 21, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c Rosemary McClure, "Viking plans to add 10 new river and ocean-going cruise ships," Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Weissmann, Arnie (April 2, 2013). "Rolling on the rivers". Travel Weekly. 
  5. ^ "Viking River Cruises". Sealetter Cruise News. Retrieved 2017. 
  6. ^ "A Viking Ship to Launch with a Green Accent," The Avid Cruiser, May 29, 2009.
  7. ^ a b c Elaine Glusac, "Interest in European River Cruises Soars," New York Times, June 29, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Tom Stieghorst, "Viking Cruises' Torstein Hagen," Travel Weekly, October 25, 2016.
  9. ^ "Viking Longship Series, Viking River Cruises,", March 2011.
  10. ^ "Six new river ships in a day? Rapid Viking expansion continues," USA Today, March 1, 2016.
  11. ^ a b Gene Sloan, "Viking River Cruises to add seven new ships in 2019," USA Today, October 26, 2017.
  12. ^ "Viking Cruises Will Begin Ocean Cruises on Viking Star in 2015," Los Angeles Times, May 17, 2013.
  13. ^ Fran Golden, "Perfect Examples," Porthole Cruise Magazine, August 21, 2017.
  14. ^ Veronica Stoddart, "6 River Cruises to Take in 2017," Conde Nast Traveler, March 31, 2017.
  15. ^ "Viking River Cruises Viking Emerald Cruises," Travel Weekly. Accessed November 30, 2017.
  16. ^ "Viking Reveals Details of New Ocean Cruise Line," Cruise Critic, May 17, 2013.
  17. ^ a b c Christian L. Wright, "Cruise Vacations for the Anti-Cruise Crowd," Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Gene Sloan, "Fast-growing Viking Ocean Cruises orders two more ships," USA Today, April 18, 2017.
  19. ^ Gene Sloan, "Construction begins on a sixth ship for Viking Ocean Cruises," USA Today, October 20, 2017.
  20. ^ Gene Sloan, "First Look: Inside the Year's Hottest New Cruise Ship," USA Today, April 13, 2015.
  21. ^ a b "Viking Star Cruise Ship, Italy," Accessed December 19, 2017.
  22. ^ "Living Large: Inside New Viking Ship's Stylish Suites," USA Today, April 17, 2015.
  23. ^ Kennedy, Sherry (December 16, 2017). "Viking Sun Around the World 2018 Voyage Just Began from Miami". Cruise Maven. 
  24. ^ a b "More 'Downton Abbey' from Viking Cruises," Travel Pulse, November 21, 2017.
  25. ^ "Viking Cruises, National Geographic Launch 'Genius' Series," Travel Agent Central, April 21, 2017.

See also

List of river cruise ships

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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