In an interview which we conducted yesterday on the Travel Show (wor710.com) with the marketing vice-president of Viking River Cruises, we learned about plans they have to correct one of the most controversial policies of the longer-established ocean-cruising companies. A great many travel pros were surprised by last week's announcement of Viking River Cruises that it is building a much larger ship for ocean cruising, but they failed to note the reasons why Viking believes such a vessel will be successful.
According to Viking, the standard ocean cruise lines are so intent on maximizing the revenue they earn from on-board spending, that they consciously reduce the time that passengers can spend outside of those ships, when the ships are in port. On the average cruise itinerary, ships arrive in a port around 7 a.m. and passengers usually disembark to enjoy the sights ashore starting around 9 a.m. They then must be back on board between 3 and 4 p.m., because the ships usually haul in their gangplanks and go sailing to the next port city starting around 4 p.m. So passengers have only a short while ashore, a part of which time is spent having lunch in a restaurant. A cruise is therefore a poor instrument for enjoying the sights and attractions of the foreign countries at whose ports they stop.
Viking, on its own new ship, will follow a different course. It will deliberately schedule several overnight stops in the port cities that are visited. In cities that are not scheduled for an overnight stay, the Viking ship will also remain in the city for far more daytime hours than are usually scheduled. In this way, passengers will have a greater opportunity to experience the sights and attractions of those port cities and their vicinities, thus responding to a frequent passenger complaint about the hurried nature of cruiseship port stops.
So Viking's new ocean-going, 920-passenger cruiseship (which is yet to be named) will offer a different experience. And its initial itinerary will be in the North Sea and Baltic, starting in Bergen, Norway, visiting the Norwegian fjords, going to Copenhagen, Stockholm and St. Petersburg, and visiting still other places familiar to the management of Viking River Cruises, who are of Scandinavian origin. Cruises will begin in May of 2015, and the favorable reception given to Viking's popular river cruises will probably insure an eager audience for its ocean-going trips.