Travel Story Viking conquest at sea and on river

Photo of Niall McIlroy

Recent years have seen the popularity of ocean cruising ripple on to the rivers of Europe. But for one of the world’s biggest river cruise companies, the current has flowed the other way.

Viking River Cruises launched a record number of river “longships” a few years back, christening 18 vessels across four countries in five days and then promptly set about taking to the oceans. 

I was on the inaugural cruise of its first ocean ship, Viking Star, in May 2015. With the first infinity pool at sea, beautiful Scandinavian furnishings and fine cuisine, some of which was inspired by the home-cooked Norwegian recipes of chairman Torstein Hagen’s mother Ragnhild, Viking showed it was taking to ocean cruising like a duck to water. 

A momentous christening and live concert against the backdrop of Bryggen merchant houses in the ship’s home port of Bergen, was the icing on a celebratory cake. 

Just two years later it strikes me as amazing the line’s fourth ship Viking Sun, floated out last December, will be cruising by year’s end. It will join Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky. 

That’s not the end of this remarkable rise; Viking Spirit will launch next year and a yet- to-be-named ship will follow in 2020.

But if you board one and then another, you may struggle to spot the difference. Each of the ships carries 930 passengers, all in balcony cabins, and features the same wide range of dining and entertainment choices, infinity pool, bars and lounges.

This successful recipe is garnished by the inclusion of all meals, drinks with lunch and dinner, enrichment lectures, wi-fi and a tour in each port included in the fare. 

With a six-strong Viking fleet on the horizon, that’s a lot of ports to explore.

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