Neck-deep in growth and expansion, the future of Viking is still not clear, but it's recent move into the ocean business suggests Viking has the ambition to expand its brand into other sectors of the travel industry.
Viking River Cruises is undergoing a massive expansion.
With 18 ships inaugurated late last month, another ten to twelve river longships to be introduced next year, and up to five ocean liners under construction over the next five years, the company is in the middle of its fastest growth ever.
In a press meeting during last month’s inauguration events, Viking founder and Chairman Torstein Hagen said each new ship cost approximately $35 million to build.
Despite investment coming in from at least three banks including UBS and KFW, neither an IPO or acquisition are what Hagen says wants for his 17-year-old company at this time.
“I don’t wish it upon my colleagues to be owned by a large cruise company,” Hagen said when asked about possible exits.
“We don’t foresee any capital need. I don’t see a purpose in being a public company.”
The only other recent acquisition in the river cruise sector, the fastest growing sector in travel at this time, is CroisiEurope’s acquisition of Asian river cruise company Compagnie Fluviale du Mékong.
Part of the lack of activity in the sector is the relative youth of the sector. Demand for river cruising, excluding Viking, is set to grow 11 percent between 2001 and 2015.
Hagen says demand for Viking alone has grown almost three times that, 31 percent, in the same 14-year period.
“I think sometimes it’s healthier to be a privately held company and a professionally managed company,” Torstein concludes.
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Photo credit: Viking Cruises founder Torstein Hagen at a steel-cutting event for the new Viking Star. Viking Cruises