Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2022

7 3 Viking’s expedition ships feature The Hangar, an enclosed marina with a slipway for launching excursion craft ocean cruising sector has been quite exceptional,” says Atkin-Smith. Viking Mars will be delivered in May 2022 and Viking Neptune in November 2022, with the latter vessel set to embark on the 2023-2024 Viking World Cruise from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to London, UK, which spans 138 days, 28 countries and 57 ports, with overnight stays in 11 cities. Viking Sky will sail an identical itinerary in parallel, giving guests a choice of two departure dates for the 2023-2024 extended voyage to meet high demand. The expedition and river cruise strands of the business are set for a bumper year. Atkin-Smith explains: “As well as introducing Viking Expeditions and our two new ocean ships, we are also launching our first river cruise in North America on the Mississippi and new river ships on the Nile and the Mekong, plus eight new vessels on European rivers.” Viking’s new focus on the growing expedition market fulfils Hagen’s longheld dream of visiting Antarctica, which began when he was a small boy, explains Atkin-Smith. “We could see there was a gap in the market for expedition ships which harness all the latest technology and cutting-edge design, but which are also extremely comfortable,” she says. “Viking now offers destination-focused voyages on more than 20 rivers, five oceans and five Great Lakes, visiting 403 ports in 95 countries. Our first expedition ship, Viking Octantis, embarked on her inaugural voyage to Antarctica in January.” The new expedition ships include innovative features such as The Hangar, an in-ship marina which allows guests to embark and disembark from the expedition vessels in a safe and stable environment. In addition, every stateroom has a Nordic Balcony which comprises a sunroom that converts into an al fresco viewing platform. Connecting cultures is central to the Viking experience, says Atkin-Smith. “We have always enabled our guests to meet and interact with local people in the communities we visit. As part of many of our itineraries, we provide Privileged Access experiences which offer exclusive entry for Viking guests to cultural treasures all around the world. This exclusive access has set us apart from other operators.” Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the bar has been raised in the industry for what constitutes a safe onboard operating environment and Viking has risen to the challenge. “We have always had a customer-centric approach and, as a privately held company, we are able to focus on the well-being and best interests