Viking Cruises Kicks Off 20th Anniversary Celebration

Viking Cruises Kicks Off 20th Anniversary Celebration

PHOTO: Viking Cruises founder and chairman Torstein Hagen in front of a Viking Longship under construction. (photo courtesy of Viking Cruises)

Viking Cruises is celebrating its 20th anniversary of operation this year, and a new video showcases its founder and chairman Torstein Hagen reminiscing about the company’s humble beginnings and great success since.

“Twenty years ago, river cruising was unknown to most North American travelers, and today we are proud that Viking is a household name. We have spent more than $1 billion marketing the concept of destination-focused cruising,” said Hagen, in a press release.

“We lead the river cruise industry, and with our ocean cruises, we have transported the intimacy of a river cruise onto the open seas. With the arrival of our sixth ocean ship in 2019, we will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line, and we look forward to introducing even more guests to the Viking way of travel.”

Altogether, Viking Cruises now consists of two brands: Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises. The journey began with the former and just four riverboats in Russia but that has now accumulated into a fleet of acclaimed Viking Longships, another two of which were just launched this March.

The company’s first three ocean ships have been equally applauded since coming online in 2015. Now, another five 930-guest sister-ships are scheduled, with options for an additional two.

By 2019, Viking will become the largest small ship ocean cruise line.

Among the many recent awards won by Viking, Town & Country called Viking Ocean Cruises “Best for Design” and “Best Overall, Contemporary Luxury,” as well as Viking River Cruises “Best for Suites” and “Best for Design” in its Cruise Awards. Plus, Viking has received top honors in Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” and “Readers’ Choice Awards” and in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Awards.”

Above Video. Celebrating 20 Years of Exploration ~ 20th Anniversary ~ Viking Cruises

Viking differentiators include more intimate vessels on the world’s rivers and oceans, along with more overall time spent and overnight calls in destinations. Cultural enrichment also focuses on Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access experiences.

Viking’s unique river and ocean value proposition features a free shore excursion in every port, onboard meals and all port charges and government taxes. Also included in the cruise fare are beer and wine at lunch and dinner; always available coffee, tea and bottled water; and unlimited Wi-Fi internet access.

Ocean ship guests additionally get complimentary alternative restaurant dining, self-service laundry, LivNordic Spa thermal suite access and 24-hour room service.

Viking, one of the most interesting stories in cruising, just got more interesting

Image result for viking cruise

Viking Cruises quietly turned an important corner last week – one that signals the company may be on the cusp of significant growth.

The transition came through a vehicle called MISA Investments Ltd., which received a $500 million equity infusion from TPG Capital and the Canadian Pension Plan Investment Board.

Few in the cruise world recognize MISA Investments as the parent company of Viking Cruises. I know I didn’t. But after the deal, 17% of MISA will be owned by Canada’s retirement plan and TPG.

The significance of that is that until now, Viking has been a privately held company, financed primarily by European banks.  The new financing represents Viking’s first institutional equity.

There’s only so far private money can take a cruise line. With the notable exception of MSC Cruises, big cruise companies turn big when they gain access to other people’s money.

The latest example of that was Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. It became publicly-held in 2013, but before it went public it benefitted from private equity interest as well.

And TPG Capital was one of two funds (along with Apollo Group) to put money into Norwegian. Their dollars paid off debt and financed new ships at Norwegian, which led to higher cash flows, taking the company to its long-anticipated public offering.

Now TPG could be setting the stage for something similar at Viking.

“Having been a long-time investor in the cruise industry, we see Viking as a market innovator that has reimagined how people explore the world, with an iconic brand and strong product offering that has significant growth potential,” said Paul Hackwell, principal at TPG, in announcing the investment.

Hackwell said he looked forward to working with Viking CEO Torstein Hagen to expand, “both in products offered and regions served.”

TPG once held north of 10% of NCLH, but it has harvested its gains and now holds about 5 million shares, or 2.3% according to a 2016 proxy statement

For his part, Hagen said the new equity “will give us great opportunities to grow further, particularly in destination-focused ocean cruising as well as cruising in Europe for Chinese consumers.”

In short, one of the most interesting stories in cruising just got more interesting.

Viking Star draws thousands to christening

Viking Star’s Christening.

Viking Cruises christened its first new ship in Bergen, Norway, in a ceremony that attracted thousands on the nation’s Constitution Day.

The May 17 christening marks the formal debut of the 930-passenger Viking Star, which has been sailing with passengers since early April.

“We believe the arrival of Viking Star signals a new era in destination-focused cruising, and I could not be more proud that she will call my favorite city in the world home,” said Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen, who got his start in the cruise business four decades ago in Bergen.

The city’s mayor, Trude Drevland, served as ceremonial godmother and offered a blessing of good fortune and safe sailing for the 47,800-gross-ton  ship.