Amsterdam Marks Year of Maiden Visits

The MSC Magnifica is joined by Holland America’s Prisendam on a double call in Amsterdam.

The Port of Amsterdam has a long list of inaugural cruise ship visitors in 2018 including the Viking Sea, Mein Schiff 1, Star Breeze, Aegean Odyssey, Viking Sun, Berlin, Le Laperouse and Le Champlain.

“And of course, we are excited that some of our existing clients increased the number of calls in Amsterdam. As well, we are happy that Disney Cruise Line is calling in Amsterdam this year,” said Dick de Graaff, commercial director.

The year should total 186 cruise calls for 400,000 passengers as the industry grows and Amsterdam becomes an increasingly popular cruise call. If the current growth rate continues, the city could see around 250 calls annually by 2023.

The port accommodates as many vessels as it can at its passenger terminal, and is transparent about other berth solutions for conflicts, advised de Graaf.

“We want to keep an open dialogue with our clients; we want to be transparent in our policies and find suitable solutions for all parties,” he said. “That means discussing challenges such as over tourism and sustainability; working together is key to profitable business for both ports and cruise companies.”

A potential bridge project in Amsterdam could make things complicated for the turning basin that big ships use. If the bridge were to be built (at the northern part of the city), the port authority is investigating options for building a new terminal for big ships and using its existing terminal and quay for smaller vessels. A decision is expected by the end of the year.

Among other challenges is a potential head tax on both transit passengers, with the port working closely with legal advisors and the Cruise Lines International Association, a non-profit group headquartered in Washington D.C., to combat the issue.

“And there is a challenge about the increasing pressure on over tourism,” continued de Graff. “Cruise ships are very visible, but they only count for less than 1 per cent of the total number of visitors in Amsterdam.”

Viking Takes Delivery of Fifth Ocean Ship

Viking Cruises
PHOTO: Infinity pool on Viking Cruises ship (photo courtesy Viking Cruises)

Viking Comes Home, Names New Ship

Viking Cruises' Viking Sun makes its inaugural call on Los Angeles, California

PHOTO: Viking Cruises’ Viking Sun makes its inaugural call on Los Angeles, California. (photo by Jason Leppert)On its first-ever world voyage, Viking Cruises just made its inaugural call on Los Angeles. For a company that started as a river line based in the California city, the event marks a full circle for what has become a very successful ocean line as well.

During a day tour of the line’s newest Viking Sun, Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, also announced the next name for its ocean ships.

In 2019, Viking Jupiter will embark on a pair of fresh South America itineraries. The 22-day Southern Atlantic Crossing will head from Barcelona to Buenos Aires twice a year stopping in Morocco, Senegal, Brazil and Uruguay along the way. The 18-day South America & the Chilean Fjords one will visit Uruguay, the Falkland Islands and Chile around Cape Horn from Buenos Aires to Santiago six times a year. The new routes are on sale now.

The ship will be the sixth sister-ship following the Viking Star, Viking Sea, Viking Sky, Viking Sun and upcoming Viking Orion launching in June 2018. By the time Jupiter is introduced in February 2019, Viking will be the largest small ship cruise line.

Remarkably, four more yet-to-be-named sisters are set to follow in January 2021, February 2022, September 2022 and April 2023—making for a total fleet of ten—and apparently, the company does not intend to stop there.

It’s no secret Viking was pursuing hydrogen as a possible fuel source for future ships. While we originally suspected that might be a new form of propulsion for one of the currently scheduled ships, Hagen has now indicated that any alternative form of propulsion will potentially be implemented for ship number 11 and beyond.

While zero-emission hydrogen is clearly preferred, he said methanol and LNG are being considered as well. A final decision on which direction future vessels take is expected in the next year or so.

Either way, several additional ships are likely on their way. A photo of Hagen with Giuseppe Bono, CEO of Fincantieri, shows the two holding up their hands—each with every finger extended, in celebration of the first 10 options ordered. Between the two of them, twenty fingers can be counted in total, which may foreshadow many more.

The message is clear no matter how it all plays out: Viking Cruises is now a major ocean operator.

“We have always been a travel company that focuses on exploration and cultural immersion,” added Hagen, in a press release.

“In the last two decades we have led the industry in river cruising, and as we become the leading small ship ocean cruise line we have an opportunity to introduce many new travellers to the Viking way of exploration. Our new ‘Did You Know?’ campaign is aimed at inspiring people who may not yet know what makes us so different in the industry, why we are the most award-winning cruise line and how we can provide more included value than any other cruise company.”

While all the ocean ships are advertised as identical—and they nearly are—there are a few small differences. The Sky was modified a bit from the Star and Sea mostly with a larger fitness center and smaller salon, plus a few retail and sports deck reconfigurations, and the Sun carries those over. Upon very close inspection, the newest ship has also newly added table tennis to the latter and retooled the Cruise Consultant desk a tad.

Specifically for the world cruise, there’s one of six aging casks of “Linje” Aquavit on display in The Viking Living Room atrium as well as special merchandise available to buy in the gift shop. A cool new “Nordic Style” coffee table book further showcases the ships’ signature Scandinavian decor.