Caretaker TEATT Minister Stuart Johnson (left) presenting a plaque to Captain Lars Kjeldsen (right) during the plaque exchange ceremony onboard the “Viking Sun.”
PHILIPSBURG–Viking Ocean Cruises cruise ship Viking Sun, currently on a 244-day world cruise, made its inaugural port call to St. Maarten on Sunday, October 20. This is also St. Maarten’s first inaugural call for the 2019-2020 cruise season.
Captain Lars Kjeldsen was welcomed by caretaker Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Minister Stuart Johnson, a Port St. Maarten delegation and other invited guests during an official plaque exchange ceremony on board the vessel. Johnson welcomed Viking Sun on St. Maarten’s behalf and wished the vessel’s guests and crew “a wonderful day on ‘The Friendly Island.’”
Viking Sun began sailing in November 2017 and has a length of approximately 749 feet and a beam of 94.5 feet. She weighs about 47,800 gross tonnes and carries 930 passengers and 550 crew members at full capacity.
The vessel was in port with 780 passengers and 460 crew. She was in St. Kitts prior to arrival in St. Maarten. Her next port of call is Tortola, and her final port of call for the 2019 leg of its world cruise will be Los Angeles, California. The 244-day world cruise originated in London, United Kingdom (UK).
According to Viking Cruises’ website, the cruise line “offers destination-focused itineraries designed for experienced travellers who have an interest in geography, culture and history.” Its global headquarters is in Basel, Switzerland.
In its first year of operation, Viking Ocean Cruises was rated the best ocean cruise line in Travel and Leisure’s 2016 “World’s Best” awards. Viking operated a fleet of 62 vessels in 2017. Currently, the company operates six 930-passenger ocean cruise ships.
Viking introduced its first ocean ship in 2015 with the christening of Viking Star. One year later the cruise line launched Viking Sea, which was joined by sister ships Viking Sky and Viking Sun in 2017. In 2018, the fleet welcomed Viking Orion and an additional sister ship, Viking Jupiter, in 2019.
Viking has ordered 10 additional ships, which are planned for delivery starting in 2021. This could bring Viking’s ocean fleet to 16 ships by 2027.
Viking was founded in 1997 with the purchase of four ships in Russia. In 2000, the company purchased European-based KD River Cruises to grow its fleet and to leverage the former company’s 40 years of river cruising experience and acquire rights to prime docking locations in key European cities.
The company expanded into the American market that same year, establishing a United States headquarters in Los Angeles, California. Through rapid expansion, the company has grown to be the world’s leading river cruise line, with double-digit growth in recent years. With the launch of its ocean fleet in 2015, the company is set to become the leader in small-ship ocean cruising.