Viking intends to differentiate itself from different cruise strains, eradicating the phrase “Cruises” from its identify and summering the Viking Octantis, its new purpose-built expedition ship meant for Antarctica and the Arctic, within the Nice Lakes, with a second ship to comply with within the area. Torstein Hagen, the founder and chairman of Viking, spoke with cruise editor Andrea Zelinski onboard the Octantis in regards to the choice so as to add the Nice Lakes and the way the model differentiates itself. The interview has been edited for readability and brevity.
Q: How is Viking totally different from different cruise strains?
A: We’re taking the phrase “Cruise” out of our identify as a result of “cruise” has numerous dangerous connotations: the big ships, [in] the locations they go to they’re unpopular; the [noisy environment] onboard, which is basically not what our friends need to go for. After which there’s the best way [other lines] have approached the entire idea of cruising, which may be very usually to get the friends onboard at any value and to make use of that chance when [they] have a captive viewers to promote themselves; that is completely in opposition to our philosophy. I believe many people know our friends are individuals who work onerous, who assume lots, they usually can move their very own judgment.
Q: Viking says what it’s not. No casinos, no umbrella drinks, and so forth. How do you outline what Viking is?
A: It is a mindset. It’s totally a lot a household feeling onboard the ship. Time is an actual crucial useful resource for many of us, and the older you get, the extra scarce it turns into, so do not waste your time. I believe individuals who come right here come to get extra out of the time we now have left on Earth. We would wish to fill that point with significant experiences.
Q: Why did you resolve to place ships on the Nice Lakes?
A: I are likely to say I do my market analysis within the mirror each morning. It is unusual. Lots of our colleagues wouldn’t have thought that was a good suggestion to be on the Nice Lakes; many had been shocked. [People] come to see locations which they solely examine earlier than, and their pursuits are opposite to the massive ships which have arrived and that are unwelcome all over the place. We come right here and we’re welcome all over the place. It is fairly good. It is refreshing.
Q: You talked about curiosity in Viking’s Nice Lakes itineraries extending to Chicago.
A: Sure. We have to discover docking. We’re engaged on the matter. In Navy Pier, there’s some query about some dredging and so forth. …
Chicago is each an fascinating and exquisite metropolis, and I believe we’ll see related issues round [the Great Lakes]. We’re effectively offered out. It is labored out phenomenally effectively, I need to say. There have been cruise ships on the Nice Lakes earlier than, however I do not assume any of them have been wherever close to what we now have when it comes to [ship] requirements.
Q: Why do you assume bookings are going so effectively?
A: It is a new product for Viking, so we are able to promote it to our current friends. It is nearer to house; individuals are reluctant to journey lengthy distances. It is a pure product, I’d say. I believe it has been fairly good. However we see excellent developments in all our enterprise. Our river enterprise for subsequent yr is up 14% relative to 2019 on the similar time. Our ocean enterprise is up 54%.
Q: What’s your message to journey brokers proper now, given the pandemic and present occasions?
A: Have religion. This isn’t a comet turning round. We’re advertising and marketing like there is no tomorrow, and we might like all of the help we are able to get from journey brokers.