Skift Take

Viking has carved a profitable and influential niche in the river cruising business, but the success of parlaying that model has yet to be seen. We're betting the same focus that built its river company will also fuel ocean growth.

Viking Cruises is preparing to launch its first ocean cruise itineraries in 2015, and it has a very specific kind of cruiser in mind.

Arguably, much of the river cruise company’s recent success has been due to its focus on a particular customer set that tends to be older and more culturally curious than those found onboard an average Carnival cruise ship.

In a press deck produced during last week’s inaugurations, Viking CEO Torstein Hagen described the “Viking guest” that it plans to see onboard its new ocean ships. Their four primary attributes are as follows:

  • 55+ years old and English-speaking
  • Well-educated
  • Affluent
  • Curious and active and interested in history, culture, and music

It’s not that passengers younger than 55 years old or those that can’t speak English are not allowed onboard, just that the experiences onboard and in destinations are not built nor often adjusted for travelers outside of that set.

Part of the benefit of focusing so completely on a specific customer set is optimizing the service and communication strategies for them.

Viking’s chief marketing officer Richard Marnell told Skift in a December interview, “What we’ve done is tailor the product experience for the 55+ culturally curious in mind. It enables a much cleaner, single product that is then very appealing to that demographic.”

It also is setting itself apart in terms of excursions, whether it’s a castle tour led by someone who lives in the castle or a hands-on cooking or craft events.

“Viking does things on shore, in terms of the experiential, that no one else is doing. Viking has really done a great job of giving you access to experience that you would never have access to on your own,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic.

Viking is narrowing the welcome mat for possible cruisers in another way too.

There will be no single cabins on the new cruise ship so would-be single cruisers will either need to find a friend or pay the price for a double cabin.


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Tags: demographics, marketing, viking

Photo credit: A rendering of a spa onboard the new Viking Star cruise ship. Viking Cruises

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