The Travel Factory Blog
Different Approach To Ocean Cruising
Three years ago, the owner of Viking River Cruises made the decision to return to ocean cruising, but with a different model currently employed by the major cruise lines. He took a hint from the popular features of the river cruising business and morphed them into a new concept of ocean cruising.
Torstein Hagen cut his cruising teeth with Royal Viking Cruises back in the 70's and 80's, then laid low for a while, and came back about 18 years ago with a new cruising concept, river cruising.....and built river ships and using different marketing techniques to become the leading river cruise company in the world. They are now cruising the world's rivers in around 64 river ships.
He took that same successful river cruise model and got back into the ocean cruise business with Viking Ocean Cruises. Some of the features of the currently five ships in their fleet that are in contrast to most of the ocean-going ships of other lines are: no casinos, no children under 18, no formal nights, no inside rooms, heated bathroom floors, no butlers, wine and beer included with lunch and dinner, excursion in every port, no large theater productions, no spa fee, free laundry facilities, free WiFi (but as others, probably slow) and according to their intent, no “nickel and dime” promotions. Hagen has said that “what cruising should be all about is to take people to destinations and enrich their lives”.
One of the features I've been impressed with on their river cruises is the attention to detail in the bathrooms. I understand from our clients who have been on their ocean cruises that the same attention has carried over to the ocean cruises. The lights over the bathroom mirror are quite a pleasant change from other ships; so much brighter. The showers are the largest at sea and have excellent pressure. The shower amenities (shampoo, conditioner, body wash and body lotion) are clearly labeled in large, easy-to-read letters and easy to open and close....big difference from the other ocean-going cruise lines.
Being of Norwegian background and culture, Hagen's ships design are very functional and simple, all built alike, so that if you've been on one you won't get lost getting on another one. Plus, the employees are easily trained and changed if needed. Also being Norwegian, his signature itinerary is the “Viking Homelands”. It is a 15-day trip that not only includes the Scandinavian countries, but also 2-nights in Russia, Estonia, Poland, and Berlin.
When I first started in the travel business I made several trips with mission groups to Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, but I haven't been back. So this itinerary has been on my “bucket list” for a long time. So.....next May 9-23, 2019, we have scheduled a group on their Viking Homelands cruise on the Viking Sea. Currently we have a pretty good group of 26 persons that have deposited, but we would always welcome several more. Please give us a call at The Travel Factory, 698-1421, or toll-free at 800-760-4040 and we can give you all the details for the trip. Better still, if you can come by our office at 4150 Southwest Drive we can share with you their beautiful brochure.
On this itinerary it is very important to make plans early, primarily for air transportation consideration. We return from Bergen, Norway. It is a small airport with limited departures, so early booking is very important. So far as cruising goes, it looks like Torstein Hagen is one smart dude!!!