Torstein Hagen Lays Out His Plans for Viking

Torstein Hagen

Viking has already sold 49 percent of its 2024 ocean cruise capacity and 31 percent of its global river capacity, according to Torstein Hagen, chairman, who spoke at the christening of the Viking Saturn in New York this week.

As for the company’s 2023 capacity, 89 percent of its ocean cruise capacity was sold and 96 percent of its river capacity.

For 2022, Viking posted revenues of $3 billion and carried 470,000 guests, Hagen said.

Operating a fleet of nine ocean-going cruise ships, two expedition ships and 79 river vessels today, he said that growth plans call for 14 more river vessels to be built and enter service by 2026 and 10 more ocean-going cruise ships by 2030.

Outlining what Hagen called Viking’s reasons for success, he listed one brand, a clearly defined customer group, a focused product, a customer-centric operation, the best staff in the industry and being contrarian.

With one brand, Hagen pointed out that all the ocean ships are identical and offer the same experience. The customer group is 55-plus, speaks English, is well educated, affluent, curious and interested.

On the contrarian side, he mentioned that no children under 18 are allowed onboard, that the ships do not have casinos or art auctions and that guests are not being nickeled and dimed.

Also, there are no inside staterooms, no charges for alternative restaurants or Wi-Fi, no formal nights, no butlers and no umbrella drinks among other no’s.

“We stand apart for what we do and also for what we do not do,” he added.

It all goes back to 1997 when Viking launched service on Russian rivers with four vessels. The first ocean-going ship entered service in 2015.

Helping to drive the growth, in 2016 TPG Capital and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board came aboard as significant shareholders.

Looking forward, Hagen also said that Viking has dedicated European river ships to the Chinese market and operates one ocean-going ship, the CM-Yidun, formerly the Viking Sun, in a joint venture with China Merchants Group since 2021, and claimed a strong brand position in the Chinese market.

To meet global decarbonization targets, Hagen said empathically that LNG was not the path forward, while he is instead focused hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.



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