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Viking Cruises is an inspirational story. It is one of endeavor, belief and single minded determination

Viking river cruises

The Viking Cruises story is probably the main reason how I found myself working as a Program Director at this company. 

When I first started looking at changing career from ocean Cruise Director to something different, I knew nothing about river cruising….

When I joined Viking Cruises in 2014, I had heard they had plans for the ocean but I had just come from another cruise line company and was looking for something different.

My mission was to find a unique relation to the industry I had been in but I really was not sure what that was. I was curious about this ‘river thing’ and started to dig a little deeper..

I had some very strict personal criteria that I wanted to be met to substantiate making the move from ocean.

It was a very demanding checklist. However, this was my personal filter and had to be 100% met with any career path I chose. I remember friends and colleagues shaking their head at me at the time. It didn’t seem particularly realistic. I started my search. I read about the hospitality industry in Europe. 

Most positions on offer were land based and pretty much fixed location – not what I wanted. Then I started reading about rivers and river cruising. This then meant I began to do some research and look at the river companies that operated along the Danube, Rhine and Elba.

I started to learn about river cruising. Most of my preconceptions were blown away in a matter of minutes. My boxes started to get checked. The itineraries would take me to places I had never been. The art and history was everywhere. As I started to drill down deeper, I was getting to the finer strokes of my quest.

The company I would most like to work for. The company that could offer me the most growth. My freedom to travel…


viking cruises sailing grounds - the Danube Viking River Cruises sailing grounds – Regensberg, Danube

Viking Cruises checked all the boxes. But, honestly, I still had reservations about leaving ocean and going on a river cruise operation. The decider for me came when I found materials from different sources that told me the story of the company. Once I read those….I knew where I wanted to work. The Viking Cruises story is so inspiring.


The Viking Cruises Story

I cannot pretend to know all the details, trials and tribulations of creating a company such as Viking Cruises. I am sure more than one person would have orchestrated the success along with the founder.

 However, I do know that it is really an unusual story based on it’s quantum speed of development and entrenchment into the industry in such a short space of time. The beginnings of Viking Cruises did not start in an obvious place where Viking river boats are today a common sight.

Viking cruises began in RussiaViking Cruises was founded back in 1997 in Russia. Four river ships were purchased at start up. But the story is less about the company and more about the man.

Torstein Hagen may be a name you are familiar with these days. A self made billionaire and the owner of Viking Cruises.

Mr Hagen’s story is one of apparent fortitude..a story of perseverance and never quitting. Faced with a couple of catastrophic events that would see many an entrepreneur just surrender, Thorstein Hagen did not.

Torstein Hagen

Life had dealt Mr Hagen a couple of hefty blows and put him flat on the canvas. But as I have discovered in life, there is a reason for everything and the reason is always good. You find out why when you get back up and go for the next round.

A chance cruise on the Volga had Mr Hagen wondering if river cruising was a sustainable tourism business. In 1997, he was back in the ring and swinging. With 4 Russian cruisers, Viking Cruises was born.

Viking Cruises brings Torstein Hagen full circle back to his business roots

It is a wonderful story with so much more of the unspoken to read between the lines with. It is a story that inspires me and reminds me of our rewards when we refuse to give up.

It is also a story that has not ended but one that seems to produce a new page of success every month.

The great thing about Karma is that Karma rewards.

Mr Hagen returned back to this place he loved on the Norwegian coast, a place that he had left feeling defeated 30 years before and return with his own magnificent ship that critics had scoffed at as a concept and he had the christening ceremony  just feet away from where his seemingly biggest disappointment had happened all those years ago.

In 2000, the Volga operation expanded into mainland Europe with the acquisition of KD river cruises. It was a really smart move. This meant that Viking Cruises could now enjoy the expertise of 40 years river cruising experience along with key docking areas along the main waterways of Europe.

The growth and success of Viking Cruises

Rapid expansion followed, along with operational headquarters in Basel, Switzerland and headquarters in Los Angeles. Brilliant marketing, great product delivery and word of mouth has seen Viking Cruises become the market leader in river cruises.

viking cruises storyWith a fleet currently of 62 river cruising vessels, said to be close to 100 by the end of the decade, and 6 small luxury ships with the target of 10 by 2020, the Viking Cruises story is nowhere near ending.

Viking Cruises has now taken the lead in the luxury small to mid ship range and the awards for both river cruising vessels and the Viking Ocean ships are a resounding testament to this story of exceptional success!

My inspiration and decision was complete. I wanted to be a part of something that evolved so magnificently.

I chose Viking Cruises. Happily, Viking Cruises chose me back.

Viking River Cruises

Viking river awards
Cruise critic award
USA today award
Travel and Leisure award


Learn more about this new and amazing Viking product on Ocean…

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