Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Viking Ocean Cruises to expand to North America

Viking Ocean Cruises, which just christened its first ship in May, will expand its destination-focused cruising to North America and the Caribbean with five new itineraries starting in September 2016.

“We have always had a vision to reinvent ocean cruising – to bring destinations back to the forefront of the itinerary and to build ships that are designed to help our guests better explore their destinations,” Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises, said in a statement announcing the expansion of service.

The Viking Star
At present, Viking Ocean Cruises sails itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic as well as the Western and Eastern Mediterranean. With the expansion of service to North America next year, the cruise line will, in a way, be paying homage to its heritage.

“Just as the Viking explorers before us, we are now looking across the Atlantic for new discoveries,” Hagen continued. “Our new itineraries in North America and the Caribbean will offer travelers experiences that broaden their horizons both on and off the ship.”

Viking Star will cross the North Atlantic on an itinerary that pays tribute to Viking explorer Leif Eriksson who, the cruise line noted, set foot on North American soil 500 years before Christopher Columbus. The ship will set sail from Bergen, Norway bound for Montréal, Quebec and will make stops in the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland en route.

From Montréal, the ship will cruise the St. Lawrence River and down the coast of New England to New York during the peak period of fall foliage in October. Viking Star will then follow the Eastern seaboard to San Juan, Puerto Rico, which will serve as her home port for winter Caribbean itineraries. The ship will return to Europe in February 2017, with a transatlantic sailing from San Juan to Barcelona.

New North America & Caribbean Itineraries 

Created in part to honor early Viking trade routes beyond Scandinavia, Viking’s new North American itineraries will allow guests to sail the North Atlantic and visit original Norse settlement sites that date back more than 1,000 years. Viking’s Caribbean itineraries will provide an alternative to the cruises typically offered in the region, allowing more time in port and “[P]roviding experiences that go beyond the iconic and expected,” the cruise line said.

In addition to the 15-day sailing from Bergen to Montréal, the line will offer a 13-day cruise from Montréal to New York; a 15-day cruise from New York to San Juan, Puerto Rico; an 11-day cruise of Puerto Rico and the Lesser Antilles; and an 18-day trip from San Juan to Barcelona, Spain.

The cruises will take place in the fall of 2016 and early spring of 2017 and Viking Ocean Cruises is offering introductory two-for-one fares on each sailing.

Viking Star as well as her two sister ships under construction, Viking Sea (2016) and Viking Sky (2017), are classified as a “small ships,” carrying 930 passengers in 465 staterooms. The size of the ships allow them to dock where the larger ships that dominate the world’s ports today cannot.

"From prime, central berths in the world’s great cities including Venice and Monte Carlo and in smaller, seldom-visited ports like Kotor, Montenegro, and Scotland’s Shetland Islands, enriching cultural discoveries are just a short walk away from the ship," the cruise line’s statement said.

Viking Star was named “Best New Ocean Ship” in the 2015 Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards and was rated number one in its category in the recently released Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2016. Highlights on board Viking Star include all veranda staterooms, Explorer Suites that range from 757 to 1,1632 square feet, two swimming pools, an on-board spa, numerous lounges and gourmet dining venues and entertainment designed to" [C]onnect guests to their destinations through authentic experiences is central to Viking in creating 'the thinking person’s cruise'.”

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Photo courtesy Viking Ocean Cruises 
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