Royal Viking Line

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Royal Viking Line
Cruise Line
IndustryTravel & Tourism
FateMerged into Seabourn Cruise Line
SuccessorSeabourn Cruise Line
Founded1972
Defunct1998
HeadquartersOne Embarcadero Center San Francisco, CA, USA
Key people
Warren Titus
ProductsCruises
ParentKloster (from 1986)

The Royal Viking Line was an upmarket cruise line that operated from 1972 until 1998. The company was the brain child of Warren Titus[1] and had its headquarters at One Embarcadero Center in San Francisco.

History[edit]

The First Ships[edit]

Each of the line's initial three vessels was owned by one of its initial investing partners. The first, the Royal Viking Star, was completed in July, 1972. Its owner was Bergenske Dampskibsselskab (Bergen Line). The second, the Royal Viking Sky, was owned by Nordenfjeldske Dampskibsselskab of Trondheim. She was completed in July 1973. The third ship, the Royal Viking Sea, was ready in December of the same year. Her owner was A. F. Klaveness & Co, Oslo.[2]

Warren S. Titus became the first president of Royal Viking Line, which established its US head office in San Francisco.

The ships were all built by Wärtsilä Helsinki New Shipyard, Finland, and were each approximately 21,500 gross register tons (GRT) and nearly identical in appearance, with a tall superstructure and a single, scooped funnel. However, the Star was two feet shorter (581 feet), and her interior arrangement differed slightly from her two fleet-mates. Each ship featured a double-height theatre occupying an interior space on the two lowest passenger decks; however, on the Star the space just forward of the theatre on the higher of these decks was occupied by a chapel, a feature not found on either of her fleet-mates, nor any of the Scandinavian-built cruise ships of that generation. Other differences included the placement of small lounges and facilities such as the library.

These vessels were intended for longer voyages to exotic destinations, and a significant percentage of the line's passengers were wealthy retirees. As such, they featured numerous single staterooms and suites, and thus their capacity was only about 550 compared to 750-850 on similarly-sized ships of other lines. Royal Viking Line prided itself on single-seating dining, and the restaurant was situated unusually high in the ship, with large windows. Another popular feature was a glass-enclosed lounge high atop the bridge, which afforded excellent views.

On May 1, 1976 the Royal Viking Sky and Royal Viking Star became the first sister ships to have transited the Panama Canal simultaneously in different directions, the Sky sailing westbound and the Star eastbound.

Stretching and Adding to the Fleet[edit]

Beginning in 1980, under the leadership of then CEO Torstein Hagen, each of the three ships was stretched to 28,000 GRT by adding a 93-foot prefabricated midships section at the A.G. Weser shipyard in Bremerhaven. This increased each ship's capacity by 200 passengers, and mainly included the addition of cabins. Aft of the observation lounge, a new lounge and nine penthouse suites with balconies, a cruise industry first, were added. The size of the main restaurant was also doubled and now occupied nearly half of one deck in order to maintain single-seating dining. Royal Viking Star was stretched in 1981, followed by Royal Viking Sky in 1982, and Royal Viking Sea in 1983.

The lengthening of the ships both improved the ships profiles and their economics. In 1984 Torstein Hagen arranged a USD 240 million management buyout of the company, with the assistance of venture capital firm J.H. Whitney & Co. After the buyout had been announced, but before it closed, the two companies owning Royal Viking decided to sell the company instead to Norwegian Caribbean Line, then part of the Kloster group. The offices were moved to Coral Gables, Florida, and Warren Titus departed in 1987. While under Kloster ownership, Royal Viking built a fourth ship, the Royal Viking Sun. Constructed by Wärtsilä in Turku, Finland, she was 39,000 GRT and carried 850 passengers. The final ship built for Royal Viking was the Royal Viking Queen completed in 1992. She was just 10,000 GRT, carrying only 212 passengers and sharing a general arrangement with the Seabourn Pride and Seabourn Spirit of Seabourn Cruise Line, the new home of Warren Titus.

Shrinking the Fleet and End of Royal Viking Line[edit]

In 1990 and 1991, Kloster moved the Royal Viking Star and the Royal Viking Sky to its Norwegian Cruise Line brand, where they became the Westward and the Sunward and the Royal Viking Sea to its Royal Cruise Line brand, where she took the name Royal Odyssey.

In 1993, the Westward ex Royal Viking Star became the Star Odyssey for Royal Cruise Line. The passenger capacity on each of the original three ships had been increased to 850, mainly with the addition of staterooms amidships on the Bridge Deck, in what used to be officers' quarters. A buffet was also added in the lounge on the top deck, since the ships did not have the casual indoor/outdoor dining area (often called a Lido) that was becoming de rigueur. That same year, the Sunward ex Royal Viking Sky was leased by Princess Cruises which operated her for one year as the "Golden Princess."

In 1994, when Kloster Cruise was in financial difficulties, the Royal Viking Line was dissolved. Royal Viking Queen was transferred to Royal Cruise Line as Queen Odyssey, while Royal Viking Sun and the Royal Viking brand were sold to Cunard Line Ltd. Cunard continued to operate the ship under the Royal Viking brand as a special segment of the Cunard fleet. Following acquisition by carnival and a merger with Seabourn Cruise Line, Cunard's Royal Viking and Sea Goddess fleets were consolidated with Seabourn Cruise Line, officially ending the use of the brand.

Former Fleet[edit]

Ship Built In service
for Royal Viking Line
Tonnage Status as of 2016 Image
Royal Viking Star 1971 1972-1991 21,847 GRT Since 1996 MS Black Watch for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. Royal Viking Star 1989.jpg
Royal Viking Sky 1973 1973-1991 21,891 GRT Since 2005 MV Boudicca for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. Boudicca departing Tallinn 7th September 2013.JPG
Royal Viking Sea 1973 1973-1991 20,018 GRT Since 2004 MS Albatros for Phoenix Reisen. MS Norwegian Star (4163364643) (cropped).jpg
Royal Viking Sun 1988 1997-1999 38,848 GT Since 2002 MS Prinsendam for Holland America Line. Le paquebot de croisière Royal Viking Sun (recropped).jpg
Royal Viking Queen 1992 1992-1995 9,961 GT Since 2015 MV Star Legend for Windstar Cruises. Tower Bridge with the Tower Hotel, London - geograph.org.uk - 691081 (recropped).jpg

References[edit]

  1. ^ Maxtone-Graham, John Crossing and Cruising New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1992.
  2. ^ Dawson, Philip Cruise Ships: An Evolution in Design London: Conway Maritime Press, 2000.

External links[edit]