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A Star is born. The Viking Star.
Viking Oceans, nee Viking River Cruises, announced on June 18 that they have officially begun construction on their first ocean vessel, the Viking Star on June. The steel-cutting ceremony took place at the Fincantieri shipyard in Marghera, Italy, near Venice. The new 47,800 ton Viking Star is expected to be completed in May, 2015 with a second ship scheduled to debut in 2016.
“This is a big step towards realizing our ocean cruising plans,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “With our new ocean cruises, we are applying the same principles behind our award-winning river cruises—small, intimate ships with destination-focused itineraries that allow guests to experience privileged access excursions and onboard cultural experiences.”
From the Viking Oceans event that I recently attended, it soon became apparent that Viking Oceans has their own game plan in mind with this new fleet of ocean-going ships. Smaller, luxury-styled ships will be geared towards the experienced cruise passenger who looks for more of an enriching experience rather than onboard Vegas-esque entertainment, wow-factor sports activities and buckets of beer.
With a focus on destinations and onboard cultural experiences, Viking Cruises will design itineraries that allow more time in port with in-depth and unique shore excursions options. As a smaller ship, the Viking Star will be able to reach ports of call that many of the larger, mainstream ships in Europe cannot access.
I also learned that there will not be a casino on the Viking Star and all 464 cabins will have a balcony. No inside staterooms.
Itineraries will begin in April 2015 to Scandinavia and the Baltic then down to the Mediterranean for eastern and western Med voyages.
As with their river ships, Viking Cruises has big plans ahead for Viking Oceans with conditional orders for four additional ocean ships for a total of six to be built at Fincantieri.
Following the launch of ten new Viking River Longships in 2013, there are twelve new Viking Longships scheduled to be christened in June 2014.
Photo credits: Shipbuilding Tribune and Viking Cruises