Viking River Cruises, a veteran river cruise operator, has a new sister brand, Viking Ocean Cruises.
Rumors had been floating for some time, but STX France now says it's received an order from Viking Ocean Cruises, a new affiliate of Viking River Cruises, to build two 888-passenger oceangoing ships.
Several maritime sources including Seatrade Insider say that the vessels are slated for delivery in spring 2014 and spring 2015. Apparently, an option for a third ship is being discussed.
STX also provided other details. It told the maritime sources that the new blue-water vessels will be destination-focused, operate primarily in the Mediterranean, and will serve English speaking clients in North America, the United Kingdom and Australia.
Construction reportedly will begin on the first ship in fall 2012.
Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking River Cruises, was a key figure at Royal Viking Line in the early 1980s.
More recently, he has built Viking River Cruises into a river powerhouse with a fleet of 23 vessels. Eight new river vessels are under construction.
Seatrade Insider told its readers that it "understands a number of other veteran ocean cruise executives are involved in the new venture."