Viking Cruises' Viking Sun ship departed Port Skagen Denmark, on Saturday, January 23, and is heading to Valletta Malta. The ship's final destination is China where Viking set up a joint venture with China Merchants Shekou Holding.
MS Viking Sun was chosen as the first cruise ship in the joint venture to sail on exclusive itineraries focused on the Chinese market starting from 2021, and the vessel will be China-flagged. The flag-state switch from Norway to China will allow the ship to sail between Chinese ports regulated under China's cabotage rules (regarding shipping of goods or passengers).
Viking and China Merchants Shekou signed the joint venture agreement on Nov 25, 2020, to operate a fleet of China-flagged cruise ships offering coastal voyages.
The joint venture plans to launch a new domestic cruise line (China Coastal Cruise) with destination experience as the core, designed to provide in-depth cultural tours for travelers who have a strong interest in history, nature, and food culture. The company will transform the logos, catering, and entertainment aboard Viking Sun in order to integrate the Nordic style with Chinese culture as well as to provide a high-end experience.
Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking Cruises, said the China Coastal Cruise Project would bring a new cruise travel experience to the Chinese market. He added that the Viking cruise ships would aim to create "the most comfortable travel experience with full Chinese service provided by well-trained Chinese crew."
According to Hagen, the launch of the first 5-star red flag cruise ship of the joint venture would become "an important milestone in the development of China's cruise industry."
"The cruise industry in China has officially entered a period of in-depth market expansion, complete industrial structure, and continuous innovation to drive development opportunities.”