Viking Ocean Cruises has laid the keel for its eighth cruise ship, Viking Mars, at the Fincantieri shipyard in Ancona, Italy.
The keel for Viking Mars was laid on Thursday, while the UAE’s Hope Probe was preparing to enter orbit around Mars, making the UAE the first Arab nation to reach the Red Planet.
At 47,800-gross tons, Viking Mars will be identical to her seven sister ships in the Viking ocean-going fleet (the cruise line also operates one of the largest river cruise fleets in the world).
She will be able to carry 930 passengers in 465 staterooms and is due for delivery in 2022.
Fincantieri has built all of Viking’s ocean-going cruise ships, starting with Viking Star, which debuted in 2015. She was followed by Viking Sea, Sky, Sun, Orion and Jupiter, with on average one ship delivered each year.
Viking Venus and Viking Mars are the two ships nearest delivery in the construction timeline, with Venus due to join the fleet later this year.
Viking has a further nine cruise ships on order with Fincantieri, with the orderbook stretching into 2027.
While many cruise ship newbuild projects were delayed or put on hold during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it’s unclear whether Viking’s newbuild plans were impacted.
Major cruise companies, such as Carnival Corporation, have announced that they’ll be deferring deliveries and pushing back construction projects by several years due to an anticipated slow re-start to cruising amid stringent new CDC guidelines.
Viking thus far has not indicated any such plans, but did announce earlier this week that it would be further cancelling cruises until May 31, 2021 due to the “particularly complicated” travel restrictions around the world.
“In March, 2020, when we suspended operations at the start of the pandemic, we did not expect that now, nearly a year later, our operations would still be suspended,” Viking said in a letter to customers.
“But, there is hope on the horizon. Given that COVID-19 vaccines are now being distributed around the world, we are optimistic.”
The cruise line is offering affected customers a refund or a 125 per cent, fully-transferrable Future Cruise Voucher to use on any future Viking voyage.