Cruise Insights: Behind Viking's Big 2015
Tor Hagen is nothing if not bold.
The brash founder of Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises obviously subscribes to the “build it and they will come” theory.
When he founded Viking in 1997, river cruising was a fledgling industry barely known to Americans. That didn’t stop Hagen from forging ahead, quickly amassing a fleet and opening a U.S. headquarters in 2000.
As river cruising gained a foothold in the U.S., he moved even faster, introducing as many as 14 new river ships at a time in Europe for a fleet that now numbers 60. Seven more river ships are due out in 2016, and Hagen also has his eyes set on a Mississippi River operation sometime in the next few years.
He’s now applying a similar breakneck building pace to his ocean cruise operation, which operated its maiden voyage in May and was met with rave reviews. Three more 930-passenger ships are on order and scheduled for delivery in 2016, 2017 and an as-yet undetermined date.
And now comes word from Italy that Hagen has ordered two more newbuilds to join the fleet in mid-2018 and late 2020. The Fincantieri shipyard says the ships also will measure 47,800 gross registered tons and accommodate 930 guests.
The contracts for the fourth, fifth and sixth newbuilds are subject to technical and financial conditions, but it’s clear that Hagen is applying a similar philosophy to his ocean operation that has worked for his river business. It does take longer to build ocean ships, but this is still a rapid pace of expansion. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
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