Monday, 20 May 2013

Viking Ocean Cruises: No casino, no formal nights and no NCFs

Viking Ocean Cruises: No casino, no formal nights and no NCFs

By Tom Stieghorst
VikingStar-renderBEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — Viking Ocean Cruises will be defined as much by what it is not as by what it is, and one of the things it won’t have is a noncommissionable fare (NCF), Viking Cruises Chairman Torstein Hagen said.

Hagen unveiled the details of his project to expand Viking River Cruises into ocean cruising at a function for travel agents and past passengers here on Thursday.

In a Q&A session moderated by McCabe World Travel President Anne Morgan Scully, Hagen said he will continue the practice of his river cruise line of not charging NCFs when Viking Ocean Cruises debuts in 2015.

“We don’t nickel and dime customers, and we shouldn’t nickel and dime travel agents either,” Hagen said.

Hagen also said ocean cruise lines are trying too hard to be all things to all people. Viking Ocean will be squarely aimed at couples age 55 and older, he said. There will be no third- and fourth-berth accommodations for families.

There will be no casino. Hagen said the plan is to spend an average of 12.1 hours in port each day, so there will be no time for gambling. Each cruise will have just one sea day.

Appearing before an audience of about 300 at the posh Beverly Hills Hilton in a suit with an open shirt, Hagen also said there will be no formal nights and no need to wear a tie.

And, there will be no surcharges in the ship’s specialty restaurants. Reservations preference will be determined by cabin category.

Hagen said the ship’s best food will be reserved for the main dining venue, The Restaurant.

Travel agents interrupted Hagan several times with applause and appeared enthusiastic about the new line.
“You can sell it,” Vicky Garcia, Cruise Planners’ chief operating officer, said of Viking Cruises in general. “This is such an innovative company. They’re not stuck in the old ways of doing things. They’re nimble.”

In addition to building the 928-passenger Viking Star, Viking expects to take delivery of 10 more Longship river cruise vessels this year and 12 in 2014. It also has a firm order for a second ocean ship for delivery in 2016.