Viking Passengers Rate Kirkwall Top Destination in Northern Europe

Viking Star in Orkney

Viking Ocean Cruises passengers have rated Kirkwall as their top Northern Europe and Scandinavian cruise destination.

The rating was based on guest feedback following analysis of 2018 itineraries, according to a statement the Orkney Islands Council.

Kirkwall has been rated top destination from a total portfolio of 46 Northern Europe and Scandinavian destinations from Viking.

“Viking Ocean Cruises are one of our most regular cruise lines calling into Kirkwall and their outstanding vessels are a corner stone of our local cruise industry,” said Michael Morrison, the Council’s Business Development Manager for Marine Services. “For their guests to rate us so highly is indeed an accolade that all of us who deliver the marine tourism product in Orkney can be truly proud of. To receive a higher level of customer satisfaction that destinations such as Copenhagen and St. Petersburg  is indeed a tremendous achievement  Kirkwall is the UK’s cruise destination capital and this endorsement from Viking Cruises will motivate Team Orkney to continue to deliver the high quality of destination experience that Orkney is so very good at.”

The 2019 Orkney season has 170 port calls planned compared to 140 booked for 2018. Bookings for 2020 are encouraging as well, with over 100 calls already scheduled.

This year will see growth in smaller vessels calling, with 71 calls scheduled from ships with under 500 guests.

What Viking’s growth means for river cruising

Image result for viking river cruises
The news that Viking River Cruises will add 24 Longships to its fleet signals two things: That following a brief lull in shipbuilding momentum, Viking is experiencing strong enough demand to merit a hefty commitment to more ships, and that the river cruise industry at large is entering a new growth phase.
So, let’s start with Viking. With the addition of 24 vessels in addition to the existing 65 ships already in the company’s river fleet (though we don’t know if and how many ships the company may retire in the coming years), one has to ask, what is in Viking’s secret sauce that lets it sustain such growth?
While only Viking is privy to the nuances of its success, the line has certain unique features that have likely helped fueled its expansion and popularity.
For one, Viking has become a household name in river cruising thanks in large part to its ads that blanketed popular TV programs like Downton Abbey on PBS and that air on National Public Radio. That kind of brand recognition definitely gives it an advantage.
In addition to product awareness, Viking has found the sweet spot in offering well-designed hardware at affordable prices. The line’s newest vessels, the Viking Longships, launched in 2012, feature open and airy public areas and contemporary Scandinavian design that makes them feel like unstuffy, sleek floating hotels. They also offer a wide range of stateroom options, from a modest 150-square-foot lower deck cabin with small windows to 275-square-foot veranda suites with step-out balconies and 445-square-foot explorer suites with a separate living room and bedroom.
It doesn’t hurt that Viking is also known for its attractive deals. For travellers who find river cruising to be too expensive, Viking’s promotions make its cruises more attainable.
Viking also pays agent commission on all components of its river cruises, including port charges and airline fees, which few other lines do.
Image result for amaways river cruises

While Viking’s fleet expansion always makes good headline fodder, Viking isn’t the only river cruise line that is growing. AmaWaterways recently announced that it will launch three vessels in 2019, including the double-wide 196-passenger AmaMagna, and this spring the last two of Crystal Cruises’ four new-build river ships set sail (the first two launched last fall).

The steady stream of ship orders suggests that demand for river cruising hasn’t let up. So, can Europe’s rivers sustain all the inventory? Well, there are certain issues the industry needs to consider as it continues on its shipbuilding path, including staggering itineraries so that that numerous ships aren’t all docked in the same ports at the same times. And docking space itself needs to be re-evaluated and solutions explored to ensure that ports don’t get overcrowded.

Physical growth logistics aside, however, river cruise lines often point out that the demand for the new ships is there. The number of river cruise passengers is still a small fraction of the number of ocean cruise passengers, meaning that many cruisers have yet to discover river cruising. For the river cruise lines, that fact alone signals that this segment is poised to continue on its current expansion path for years, if not decades, to come.

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.