Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking River Cruises
In 1997, Viking River Cruises was founded in St. Petersburg by Torstein Hagen, the former CEO of the Royal Viking Line and boardmember of Holland America as well as Kloster Cruise (Norwegian Cruise Line). Hagen had been the CEO of Bergen Line (one of the founding companies of the RVL) and became RVL's CEO in the early 1980's. In the early 1990's, hagen bought a 27% stake in the Dutch company Royal Nedlloyd, becoming the biggest shareholder. But the company was in financial very bad weather and Hagen had to sell his shares with a considerable loss several years later, getting to the edge of bankrupcy. During that time, he helped some Russian oligarchs founding a new shippingline with his expertise and as a 'thank you' from them he recieved four river cruiseships very cheap so he was also able to start up a new line to help him out financially. This was the start-up of Viking River Cruises.
So Hagen wasn't a newbie to cruising when the new company was started up. At first, the company concentrated on river cruises in Russia and Europe, and starting in the USA from the year 2000 onwards followed by China in 2004. Also in the year 2000, through the aquisition of KD River Cruises in Europe, Viking River Cruises became the largest company in the world offering rivercruises. They entered the Guiness Book of World Records in 2014 by adding 18 ships to their riverfleet, the largest numer of ships added by one company in one year. With this, they had beaten their own record from one year earlier, when they added ten ships to the fleet. In 2018, the riverfleet numbers 60 owned ships, making the company with ease leader in many of the markets they are present in. Nowadays, the company is based in Basel, Switzerland as well as Los Angeles.
Viking Ocean Cruises
In 2013, the company had founded another arm of Viking River Cruises, when Viking Ocean Cruises was created. Together, the both sides were managed under the umbrella of Viking Cruises. It was the aim to create a company that was comparable to their riveroperations, also the ships had to have the same style and feel. As Hagen had been a key figure in several of the worlds most renowned cruise-brands, he definitely knew what passengers expected in terms of style. And, as a rememberance to his earlier luxurious company Royal Viking Line, the first ships were recieving names linked to the ships of this former company; Viking Star, Viking Sea, Viking Sky and Viking Sun. In looks, the ships also do have similatities to the former ships of the Royal Viking Line, with for example longer foredecks then other newer ships in the industry and a comparable sharp tip on the bows.
The first ship, Viking Star, was beginning her services in april of 2015. While the first trio of ships entered service, three additional ships to the same design were also ordered for delivery untill 2020. All shared the same design and basic lay-out, something Viking Cruises was used to with the many sisterships within the river cruises fleet.
Looking back: Royal Viking Line
As said, the company is connected to the former Royal Viking Line, a company that was started up in 1969 at the beginning of the cruiseboom in the Caribbean. The company was in structure a little like the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, as it was a conglomerate between three seperate shipowners from Scandinavia. Det Bergenske Dampshipsselskab brought in Royal Viking Star in 1972, Nordelfjeldske Dampskipsselskab followed with Royal Viking Sea in 1973 and AF Klaveness & Co. finished the three with Royal Viking Sky in 1974. In contradiction to Royal Caribbean, they worked together nicely and used one namingsystem for good brand recognition. The company sailed more diverse, lenghty cruises in the high-end of the market and had many repeaters who liked the small atmosphere on the ships. But because of the success, the company decided on lenghtening the ships, adding more capacity in the 1980's and this was not something the passengers were embracing. From the middel of the 1980's onwards, several sceme's were brought up, including a merger with Norwegian America Cruises under the Royal Viking Line name. For this, NAC's ships Sagafjord and Vistafjord were to be renamed Royal Viking Saga and Royal Viking Vista, but this never came to pass. Instead, the company was bought by Kloster Cruise (Norwegian Caribbean Lines) and under this management, a new ship was built under the name Royal Viking Sun in 1988.
Royal Viking Star was the first ship of a sisterhood of three that started up Royal Viking Line in 1971. Here, she is shown leaving Rotterdam in the summer of 2006 as Fred. Olsen's Black Watch.
In the early 1990's, the first trio of ships was phased out of the fleet, scattered into other parts of Kloster, Norwegian Caribbean Lines and Royal Cruise Line. In 1992, Royal Viking Line recieved another new ship to again become a two-ship operation. The new company Seabourn Cruise Line had ordered a class of three mega luxurious yaughts but found out that with three ships, they created overcapacity. So the thirth ship was sold to Kloster and entered service for Royal Viking Line as Royal Viking Queen. But this was only for a few years, as in 1994 Kloster was declared bankrupt and to keep NCL, the main fleet, afloat, Royal Cruise Line and Royal Viking Line were sold. Royal Viking Line ended up in the hands of Cunard Line, who took over the name and the Royal Viking Sun, as Royal Viking Queen had already been transferred to firstly Royal Cruise Line and later Seabourn Cruise Line (that later ended up connected to Cunard Line also). In the first years, Cunard Line kept Royal Viking Sun a little seperate from the rest of the fleet, she also kept the Royal Viking Line logo at her funnel. After the Carnival take-over of Cunard Line in 1998, Royal Viking Sun was transferred to Seabourn Cruise Line also and renamed as Seabourn Sun. With that, the Royal Viking Line name was laid to rest and she now sails for Holland America Line as their second Prinsendam since 2002.
Prinsendam, the former Royal Viking Sun, sailing into the sunrise at IJmuiden in the very early morning of the 9th of july in 2010.
All ships that have sailed for Royal Viking Line are placed at the site
Royal Viking Star (1972-1991) as Black Watch (III) under Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
Royal Viking Sky (1973-1991) as Boudicca under Fred Olsen Cruise Line
Royal Viking Sea (1974-1991) as Albatros (II) under Phoenix Reisen
Royal Viking Sun (1988-1994) as Prinsendam (II) under Holland America Line
Royal Viking Queen (1992-1994) as Star Legend under Windstar Cruises