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10 more Viking ocean ships by 2030, a tad bigger and some for China

'After COVID we've been ordering ships, left, right and center,' Torstein Hagen said
Viking plans 10 more ocean newbuilds by 2030, some for China, company Chairman Torstein Hagen said.

Starting with 2024's Viking Vela, the newbuilds will be a tad bigger due to new IMO stability regulations but they'll still carry under 1,000 passengers each.

'After COVID we've been ordering ships, left, right and center,' Hagen said in a briefing aboard Viking Saturn, the company's newly introduced 10th ocean ship.

'Coming fast and furious'

'They're coming fast and furious. We believe there's going to be a scarcity of capacity worldwide. Some of these will go to China,' he said, 'but some of these will continue in the US operation.'

The new berths put Viking's compound annual growth rate for ocean ships at 10.6% from 2023 to 2028, compared to the industry's 3%.

Six firm plus four options

Six of the 10 newbuilds are firm orders and four are options.

They are Viking Vela (December 2024), ocean newbuild XII (July 2025), XIII (May 2026), XIV (May 2027), XV (May 2028), XVI (November 2028), XVII (May 2029), XVIII (November 2029), XIX (May 2030) and XX (November 2030).

Capacity going up to 998 passengers

Viking's 930-passenger ocean series began in 2015. Due to new SOLAS stability regulations, starting with the 2024 delivery the ships will be a little longer and wider than the first 10, with more capacity.

Viking Vela will stretch 784 feet with a beam of 101 feet and capacity for 998 passengers.

16 deliveries during COVID

Viking's combined river, ocean and expedition fleet currently numbers more than 100 ships.

The company took delivery of 16 vessels during COVID.

Among these were the ocean ships Viking Venus, Viking Mars and Viking Neptune, the 378-passenger expedition pair, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, and 10 river vessels, including the time-chartered Viking Mississippi.

The 386-passenger Viking Mississippi's had 'a few teething problems,' Hagen said, without elaborating. But he asserted it's the best vessel on the Mississippi. (It's owned by a US partner in Louisiana and chartered by Viking.)

14 river newbuilds planned

In its river fleet, 79 vessels are 190-passenger Longships.

Fourteen river newbuilds are on order, including three under construction for Egypt (bringing the total to six Nile vessels in 2025) and one time charter under construction for the Mekong plus 10 'conditional' contracts.

China believer

While current industry views on China are mixed, Hagen remains a believer in the market's potential.

During 2019, Viking dedicated five of its European river vessels to Chinese travelers with all Mandarin-speaking hotel crew. 'And the ratings were out of this world,' he said.

As China's outbound travel market recovers post-COVID, two European river vessels will be Chinese-dedicated this year.

In 2021, the company sold ocean ship Viking Sun into a joint venture with China Merchants; it's now named Zhao Shang Yi Dun and registered in China.

Hagen didn't specify whether some of the ocean newbuilds will be going into this venture, but it seems likely.

Pandemic recovery

Laying out Viking's pandemic recovery, Hagen said the company matched 2019's $3b in ticket revenue in 2022 with 470,000 passengers carried at an average rate of $6,290.

Adjusted EBITDA was $375m, compared to $769m in 2019.

2023 and 2024 bookings

So far in 2023, Viking's ocean bookings are up 53% on 2019 while river bookings are up 12%. Some 89% of ocean capacity and 95% of river capacity is booked.

For 2024, 49% of ocean capacity and 31% of river capacity is booked.

'We're on a very good track. It's not too shabby,' Hagen said.

Oh, and Viking has a whopping database of 52.5m names.