Royal Viking Line
The structure of the Royal Viking Line, founded in 1972, was practicly the same as the structure of the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in their early years. The Royal Viking Line was a Norwegian company, although their offices were located in San Fransisco, California. Three Norwegian shipowners all brought in one ship of almost the same design. The first of the ships that entered service was the Royal Viking Star, 1972 for Det Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (Bergen Line), followed by the Royal Viking Sky in 1973, owned by Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab of Trondheim. The last of the trio was Royal Viking Sea, owned by AF Klaveness & Co., based at Oslo. The company was headed by Warren Titus, who we will meet again later on this page.
The company targeted more wealthy passengers and they sailed longer cruises then their competitiors at the Caribbean. Royal Viking Line was really one of the first true upmarket cruiselines, where others were trying to loose the thought that cruising had to be for the rich only. Royal Viking Line attracted a very loyal following of repeat passengers, that loved the intimacy and high service of these ships. When the company decided to lenghten their ships to add passengercapacity in the 1980's instead of building a fourth ship, a lot of these passengers the company thrived on, turned their backs towards them. The company fell into hard times,and the slump of the 1980's did not help either. In 1984, a purchase deal between Royal Viking Line and a US investor group lead by J.H. Whitney & Co. was about to take place, but at the last moment the deal fell through. Another sceme, where the Royal Viking Line was going to merge with Norwegian America Line under the name of Royal Viking Line was also abandonned. In 1986, Royal Viking Line was purchased by Kloster Cruise (Norwegian Caribbean Lines), a fastgrowing Norwegian company that was really one of the trendsetters in the Caribbean after they introduced the largest cruiseship in the world, Norway, in 1980. It was also under the ownership of Klosters that finally a fourth ship was added to the line, when the Royal Viking Sun was introduced in 1988. She was the largest ship of the line, close to 40.000 tons and this raised the thought that Kloster was trying to keep the Royal Viking brand also up to date.
After this enlargement of the fleet, in 1990, almost twenty years after their introduction, the first trio of ships was not in the high end of the cruise industry anymore. Klosters decided to replace the older ships into other brands of their company. The Royal Viking Sea was transferred to the Royal Cruise Line brand, also owned by Kloster. The Royal Viking Star was relocated to the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, also of Klosters. In 1991, the last of the original trio was also placed within the fleet of Norwegian Cruise Line and so the Royal Viking Line became a one-ship operation untill in 1992 the Royal Viking Queen was added to the fleet. This ship was a close sister to the ships of the Seabourn Cruise Line, the brainchild of Warren Titus, former manager of the Royal Viking Line.
Kloster Cruise was declared bankrupt in 1994 and as a result, both Royal Viking Line and Royal Cruise Line were discontinued. Norwegian Cruise Line survived becaue of this move, but was sold to the Malaysian based Star Cruises. For a brief period, Royal Viking Queen had been placed in the fleet of the Royal Cruise Line, because Royal Viking Line was dissolved earlier, but later on she was placed in the Seabourn fleet next to her close sisters as Seabourn Legend. The Royal Viking Line name and remaining ship Royal Viking Sun were sold to Cunard Line, who operated that ship under the Cunard Royal Viking Line name untill 1998. In this year, Cunard Line was bought by Carnival Corporation and the name Royal Viking Line dissappeared from the cruise industry. The only remembrance to the company was the name of the Royal Viking Sun, that was maintained untill the ship was transferred from Cunard Line to Seabourn Cruise Line in 2000 as their Seabourn Sun.
You'd think the story of Royal Viking Line would be done now, but that is not exactly the case. In 1997, a company was formed by under Dutch and Scandinavian owners for European river cruising. The company was named Viking River Cruises and as such, it became the most profitable rivercruise company in Europe. They also opened branches in North America and are now sailing Europe, Russia, China, Egypt, and Eastern Asia with the largest fleet of any rivercruise company, around 45 ships. In 2014, in a gala christening, they added 11 ships in one week to their fleet! In 2013, the company had announced that they were going to enter the big ponds and founded Viking Ocean Cruises. The first ship of the line was Viking Star and she will be followed soon by Viking Sea and Viking Sky. The ships are medium sized and based on the R-class of ships from Renaissance Cruises, now scattered around the cruise industry. They offer an equal product of the defunct Royal Viking Line, but with modern ships. The Royal Viking Line connections come from the owner of the company, Thorstein Hagen, that used to be CEO of Royal Viking Line, before he became a member of the board of directors of Holland America Line and Kloster Cruises. Of course the naming of the new ships is also in line with the Royal Viking Line.
All Royal Viking Line ships are part of this website, though under other companies.
Royal Viking Star (1972-1991) as Black Watch (III) she is placed under Fred. Olsen Lines
Royal Viking Sky (1973-1991) as Boudicca she is placed under Fred. Olsen Lines
Royal Viking Sea (1974-1991) as Albatros (II) she is placed under Phoenix Reisen
Royal Viking Sun (1988-1994) as Prinsendam (II) she is placed under Holland America Line
Royal Viking Queen (1992-1994) as Star Legend is placed under Windstar Cruises