When Torstein Hagen, the founder and chairman of Viking Cruises announced the company, known for their river faring vessels, was venturing into ocean cruising, it was the start of a major trend.
Today, we are seeing river and ocean cruise companies venturing into different areas of the market. Australian company Scenic, is another prime example of having fingers in several pies (or waters). Known for their luxurious river ships, earlier this year, they launched the Scenic Eclipse, which is bound for the polar region.
Viking Cruises which started in the rivers, have 61 river vessels in its fleet, and are still growing. The line branched out to ocean cruising in 2015 and have put seven ocean ships on the high seas in four years and have plans to more than double that to 16 vessels by 2027. The company now offer guests pairings of river and ocean itineraries on their vessels.
Other cruise lines like Aqua Expeditions, Saga Cruises and American Queen Steamboat Company are also making a play for the oceans.
Aqua Expeditions currently operates river cruise ships on the Peruvian Amazon and the Mekong River. The luxury river line is now taking first steps into ocean cruising with their newest adventure yacht Aqua Blu.
The ship which begins her first sailings this month is a former British naval exploration vessel, HMS Beagle and she will be exploring the East Indonesian Archipelago, in the heart of the Coral Triangle on seven to 12-night itineraries.
In addition to its exotic itineraries, the line also offers menus created in partnership with Australian chef Benjamin Cross who has been based in Bali for many years. His menus feature flavours from Asia to the Middle East and uses local sourced Indonesian ingredients and spices.
British cruise line Saga Cruises also launched their new ocean flagship Spirit of Discovery July this year and another sister ship is coming in 2020. Discovery is built for the British market and carries just under a thousand guests from ports like the newly redeveloped Dover Western Docks and Southampton.
She sailed around the UK on a 13-night sailing for her inaugural voyage and later goes on to sail in the Baltic, Scandinavia and a Gourmet Spain trip of all around two weeks. The ship will then sail on a 35-night ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ at the end of the year.
The launch of sister ship Spirit of Adventure is lined up for mid-2020. Adventure inaugural 2020 season is now on sale, featuring classic cruises to the fjords and the Mediterranean, British and Continental shores, along with the Caribbean and the Canary Islands.
The line which offers all-inclusive luxury cruising says that they took cues from the world’s finest boutique hotels with neutral coloured cabins and modern furnishings in the public areas. Their new ships replace Saga Sapphire which leaves their service early next year.
The American Queen Steamboat Company which specialises in Mississippi river cruising has also acquired Victory Cruise Lines earlier this year, expanding their reach to sailing in the American Great Lakes, coastal cruising Canada and New England, Yucatan Peninsula, Costa Rica and Panama as well as Southeast USA.
Crystal Cruises, another line with ocean and river fleets since 2016 is also growing their fleet and itineraries with expedition yacht Crystal Endeavor launching in August 2020 and debuting a new class of ocean ship 800-passenger Crystal Diamond in 2022.