Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

81 planning their ‘golden gap year’ and have responded by launching longer itineraries for 2023 – we are also continuing to see increased demand for multi-generational trips,” says Atkin-Smith, who believes that combined ocean and river voyages are going to continue gaining popularity linked to the longer itinerary trend. Leaving no stone unturned, Viking is also conscious of its responsibility to the environments it sails through. All Viking Longships are powered by dieselelectric hybrid engines, use shore power when it is available along the rivers, and feature onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens. Viking’s expedition vessels have an energy-efficient design that exceeds the Energy Efficiency Design Index requirements by nearly 36 per cent – more than any other expedition ship. They have received one of the industry’s first SILENT-E notations – the highest-level certification for quiet ship propulsion and minimising underwater noise pollution. The newest ocean ship, Viking Neptune, is equipped with a small hydrogen fuel system, making it the industry’s first vessel to test the use of hydrogen power for onboard operations. “We are using this as a test to determine how hydrogen fuel could be used at a larger scale in future newbuilds,” says Atkin-Smith. Such sustainability investments – and various other factors – are helping a growing number of people to re-evaluate their perspective of cruising and consider it as an option. “Demand for cruising is growing; more and more travellers who wouldn’t have normally considered a cruise are now realising it is the best way to explore the world,” says Atkin-Smith. “There is definitely demand for smaller ships with fewer guests and a more intimate experience, and this is a trend which is here to stay.” This means that Viking is perfectly placed to continue to exceed customer expectations. However, Atkin-Smith feels that the line’s success is down to the way it caters to its core market, namely culturally curious travellers aged 55 and above. “All our products and experiences, both onboard and on shore, are tailored to this market and their interests,” she says. “As our chairman Torstein Hagen always says: ‘When you reach the top there is only one way to go – onwards’.” Viking Mississippi was purpose-built to sail in North America and is one of several new vessels to join the river cruise fleet Viking Octantis was the first ship to set sail for the Viking Expeditions fleet in January 2022, spending the austral summer in Antarctica