Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Viking orders two luxury ships for new ocean-cruise brand

Viking orders two luxury ships for new ocean-cruise brand

By Jerry Limone and Michelle Baran
 Shipbuilder STX France said Wednesday that the company has received an order to build two oceangoing cruise ships for a new Viking brand, Viking Ocean Cruises.

There is an option for a third ship, STX indicated.

The 888-passenger luxury ships, to be delivered in spring 2014 and spring 2015, will primarily sail the Mediterranean, STX said. The ships will have 444 cabins and 444 crew members, according to STX.

STX said Viking intends to market the ocean cruises to Viking's river-cruise customers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.

Based on the success of river cruising, Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen "felt it was right to offer more of a destination-oriented ocean experience," said Richard Marnell, Viking's senior vice president of marketing. “Mr. Hagen feels the ocean vessels built of late have become too large and that they’re losing out on the destination.”

Marnell noted that Viking’s entry into ocean cruising will not affect the planned expansion of its river-cruise business.

“We know that there’s a demand for such a destination-oriented product because our passengers are certainly seeking that out on a smaller-ship experience in river cruise,” said Marnell.

At this time, Marnell said the company is not releasing product and itinerary details, or the price Viking is paying for the ships.

Viking River Cruises operates a fleet of 23 river ships and has eight under construction.