Viking Cruises, known for river trips, announces new cruise line for ocean-going ships

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Viking Cruises, a company known for offering river cruises, on Friday announced that it was launching a new cruise line for ocean-going trips.

Viking’s first ocean-going ship, Viking Star, will make its first voyages in 2015 to Scandinavia, the Baltic region and the Mediterranean.

Viking has expanded rapidly in recent years, christening 10 new river ships in March of this year with 12 more new river ships planned to launch in 2014.

The Viking Star will carry 928 passengers, making it much smaller than the massive vessels that cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival have launched in recent years carrying anywhere from 2,500 to more than 5,000 people.

While the big ships are popular and have introduced cruising to a new generation, some passengers have complained that the large ships — loaded with gee-whiz attractions like theme-park style rides and Broadway shows — lack the intimate ambience and genteel sophistication that was the hallmark of an earlier era of cruising.

Viking said its ocean itineraries would be created to offer maximum time in port, often with late evenings or overnights, so guests could sample nightlife or evening performances on shore. The company said prices for the trips would cover not just a stateroom with verandah and all onboard meals (including wine and beer at lunch and dinner), but also a number of items that are not typically covered on standard ocean cruises such as shore excursions, wireless Internet service, and self-service laundry.

The Viking Star will also have two pools, a spa, onboard entertainment and a variety of dining options, along with a cooking school and theatre. Introductory prices start at $2,999 a person for 10-day Mediterranean trips to $4,999 a person for a 15-day itinerary that includes Stockholm, Copenhagen and Russia’s St. Petersburg. Discounted airfares are also available, along with a two-for-one deal for bookings made before July 31.

A second Viking ocean ship is expected to sail in 2016.

The company is headquartered in the Los Angeles area.