Amid record levels of consumer interest in river cruising, Viking Cruises announced it has increased its order for additional Viking Longships, bringing the total number of new ships launching in 2014 from 12 to 14 vessels. The increased order reflects the popularity of river cruising as the fastest growing-segment of the travel industry and the leadership position of Viking, the world’s leading river cruise line. By the end of 2014, Viking will have introduced a total of 30 new ships in a three-year period – the most rapid fleet expansion program the cruise industry has ever seen. The 14 new ships in 2014 will sail Viking’s most popular itineraries in Europe.
“We are working hard to match supply with demand, and with these new builds, we have the best designed, newest and most extensive offer of ships on the rivers – more than double all our competitors combined,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “More than ever, travelers want experiences that bring them closer to the destination, which is why we continue to design ships and itineraries with destinations and enrichment as the focus.”
Over the last few years, river cruising has grown at an average annual rate of approximately nine percent*. Within this segment, Viking has grown at a much faster clip than its competitors – an average of 22 percent per year, compared to the estimated four percent* annual growth of other river cruise lines.
In March of this year, Viking set a world record with the inauguration of 10 new Longships for the 2013 sailing season in a first-of-its-kind simultaneous christening ceremony in Amsterdam. This made way for its most successful sailing season, with more than 90 percent of all available staterooms sold during the spring and summer months and record sales for the holiday sailings. Customer satisfaction is also central to Viking Cruises’ growth, specifically in attracting repeat travelers. In fact, for the 2011 sailing season, 97 percent of Viking passengers rated their experience as “above expectations.”
*Source: Cruise Lines International Association, Inc.; http://www.cruisemarketwatch.