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Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Viking Voyage Takes You From L.A. to London

Viking welcomed its newest ocean ship, Viking Sun, to the Port of Los Angeles earlier this month on its first round-the-world voyage. The Woodland Hills cruise company has launched a new route that stretches from Miami, through the Panama Canal to Los Angeles, then to Australia, the South Pacific, Asia and eventually Europe. The 141-day cruise will end in London on May 5 after visiting 66 ports in 35 countries. Viking is already selling tickets for its 2019 World Cruise, which leaves Miami on Jan. 3 and costs $49,995 a person. Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said Viking Sun is the fourth out of 10 ocean cruise ships currently planned for the fleet. Viking will take possession of two more ships in the next two years, Viking Orion in summer 2018 and Viking Jupiter in 2019. Additional ships are scheduled for delivery starting in 2021, and by 2023 the company will have the fleet of 10, making it the largest small-ship ocean cruise line. “We have always been a travel company that focuses on exploration and cultural immersion,” Hagen said. “In the last two decades we have led the industry in river cruises, and as we become the leading small-ship ocean cruise line we have an opportunity to introduce many new travelers to the Viking way of exploration.” Multi-channel marketing Along with the new ship, Hagen also announced the company’s launch of a multi-channel brand advertising campaign called “Did You Know?” It highlights differences between Viking’s industry and cruise competitors, such as inclusive value with shore excursions. It also emphasizes what Viking is not – no formal nights, no kids and no casinos. “Our new ‘Did You Know?’ campaign is aimed at inspiring people who may not yet know what makes us so different in the industry, why we are the most award-winning cruise line and how we can provide more included value than any other cruise company,” Hagen said. The new campaign will feature ads on television, print and digital. The small-ship experience is crucial to Viking’s brand identity. Viking Sun, the tour-the-world ship, has 465 staterooms to house 930 guests. By comparison, Princess Cruises in Santa Clarita recently navigated its ship Caribbean Princess through the Panama Canal with more than 3,200 passengers. Princess’ Cunard Line subsidiary offers world cruises on the Queen Mary 2 for as low as $22,069 with a capacity of 2,695 passengers. Most cruises offer casinos and water slides, but Viking wants to distinguish its from the stereotypical cruise and make sure guest can have a unique experience. Once aboard, guests on a Viking ship can enjoy world-class lectures on history and art, wine tasting, restaurant menus inspired by local cuisines and enriched destination performances featuring folkloric shows. Guest can expect many complimentary beer and wine with their lunch and dinner services, access to a spa, 24-hour room service, Wi-Fi and premium dining reservations. However, the line has a no smoking policy on board. Viking’s World Cruise is hardly typical, either in price or duration. The company’s cruises start at eight days for $1,999. During the World Cruise, Viking Sun will launch new menus designed by guest chefs. They include “Mexico-Cruise from the Inside Out” by celebrity chef Pia Quintana, “Australia-Down Under Food Story” by chef Julien Pouteau and “California Cuisine” by chef Rachel Vaughn. “Our World Cruises are the most extensive and culturally immersive journeys available in the industry,” Hagen said. “We have continued to expand our destination-focused itineraries to new regions of the world, so as our fleet grows it is a natural progression for us to offer grand voyages of this scope.” Hagen said Viking’s customers are experienced travelers who want to explore the world in comfort. “Our offerings allow them to be immersed in the cultures of the world when they are onshore and when they are onboard,” he added. Rising tide Since the Great Recession, cruises have emerged as one of the most popular types of travel. In 2009, about 17.6 million people vacationed on cruise ships; last year the figure reached an estimated 25.8 million, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Between 2005 and 2015, demand for cruise tickets increased 62 percent, the organization estimates. Deborah Deming, a travel agent at Luxury Cruise Experts by Frosch-Classic Cruise and Travel in Woodland Hills, said cruising is basically a stay in a floating hotel and the arrangement has plenty of benefits. “The ships takes you from place to place; it is easy and thoughtless travel,” she said. “All your meals are included, and depending where you are at, you get to explore those exotic destinations.” From a price perspective, cruises offer an all-in-one deal, Deming noted, and the costs vary from economical to luxury. “Good bang for your buck, sometimes you can get them for $200 to $300 a day,” she said. “That will include your lodging, your food, beverages and tourism, so it’s a very good value.” The maiden voyage of Viking’s World Cruise has left Los Angeles and is now island hopping in the South Seas. The ship will reach China for her official christening in Shanghai on March 8. “As we celebrate two decades of helping guests travel the world in comfort, this year also marks one of significant growth,” said Hagen. “With the continued expansion of our offerings, we look forward to bringing guests to more destinations around the world.”

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