Guided by Viking’s passenger-pleasing five basic design concepts, Viking Venus also leans into environmentally friendly operations with an optimised hull, innovative propulsion technology and ducktail stern
With a 30-year career spanning prestigious hotel projects for companies including Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons and Langham Hospitality Group, Richard Riveire did not envisage a time when he would be taking a keen interest in knitting patterns, let alone spearheading Viking chairman Torstein Hagen’s vision for the line’s interior design.
It marked an unexpected first for the founding principal at the Los Angeles office of international architecture and design firm Rottet Studio, who tells Passenger Ship Technology, “When I first met Tor, I said he should understand that I had never been on a cruise in my life, but he said that’s why he wanted to have me.”
Coming into cruise ship design with a completely different mindset and no preconceptions about what could or could not be achieved enabled Mr Riveire to shape Viking’s distinctive interiors. His collaboration began with the Longship river fleet and has continued since Viking entered the ocean cruise market as a start-up with the launch of Viking Star in 2015.
Now working on Viking Venus, the seventh cruise ship built for Viking by Fincantieri and set to debut in 2021, he says “It was a great privilege for an architect to have the opportunity to set a brand and be given a clean slate. In the same way the hotel world is all about creating a story and crafting an experience for guests, Tor had a wonderful story to tell with the Norwegian approach to life and Scandinavian authenticity in general, which makes Viking Venus and the rest of the ships very personal.”
Floated out in June 2020 at the shipyard in Ancona, the ship’s gross tonnage is 47,800 tonnes, with an overall length of 228.2 m, beam of 28.8 m and draught of 6.45 m. In common with its sister ships, it has 465 cabins with accommodation for 930 passengers.
Mr Riveire says that behind the “simplicity and straightforwardness” of the design, which has become the trademark of Viking’s vessels, Viking Venus has a host of intricate design details for guests to discover.
“We don’t do a lot of entertainment architecture, so you won’t find any flashing lights and glitz. It is very clear it is a Viking ship. When you work on a hotel it is all about the place and you pull a story out of the location, but these ships go everywhere. The destination is the reason for passengers being there and when you have spent all day looking at amazing scenery or ancient ruins, which are very visual experiences, we want passengers to come back on board and feel as if they are returning home to a warm, welcoming and comfortable environment.
“It is a deliberate approach that everything is simple, straightforward and beautifully executed with a familiar feel that guests will immediately recognise if they have travelled on Longships or other Viking ocean ships. Why change it if it is working? Many of our guests have travelled with us multiple times and they appreciate the fact they don’t have to spend time finding their way around a ship that is completely different from the others.”
He explains the five basic concepts behind the design which can be found throughout the ship: Scandinavian and Nordic heritage, residential modernism, authentic crafts, nature and exploration. It was this remit that found him studying the history of Norwegian knitting, which dates back to the beginning of the 1600s and is most famously seen in sweaters and mittens from the Selbu region, with around 300 patterns attributed to the area.
Mr Riveire continues “Knitting is huge in Norway and I drew a lot of inspiration from a craft and culture museum in Oslo. A lot of patterns around the ship are based on knitting patterns, such as the lichen garden in the atrium and the etching on the glass handrail leading to the Explorers’ Lounge.
“A lot of effort has gone into surprising and delighting guests with smaller things where people can learn about something. For example, when you arrive in a resort it is all about the big wow on the first day, such as the ocean and beach. But the day after that and the day after that it is still beautiful but you have got used to it. On the ship we want things to be discoverable on day four, seven and even longer, with passengers finding things they had not seen or noticed before.”
These idiosyncratic details include cheeky Norwegian trolls peeking out at the back of the elevator shaft and the Viking god Odin’s pair of black ravens - Huginn and Muninn - keeping a watchful eye over things in the airy Wintergarden. Elsewhere, Scandinavian tradition can be found in the snow grotto in the spa and private sauna in the expansive 134.5-m2 owner’s suite.
Additionally, Viking has bucked conventional ship design by doing away with a reception desk, instead having individual tables in the airy atrium.
Mr Riveire continues, “We want to create a personal relationship with our guests. One of the amazing things about Viking is the crew, who are always smiling and happy to interact with passengers. Our goal moving forward is to not have any architectural barriers between guests and crew, such as big desks.”
Built to be green
Like its sister ships, Viking Venus is powered by two energy-efficient MAN 9L32/44CR, and two MAN 12V32/44CR engines, with 9 and 12 cylinders respectively. These provide a combined output of 23,520 kW in a diesel-electric propulsion arrangement with a maximum speed of 20 knots. Safety systems include safe return to port, and the ship features optimised hydrodynamics to reduce fuel consumption, most notably a bulbous bow that reduces the power needed to generate propulsion by an estimated 5% to 7% and a ducktail stern. Where available in port, the ship can connect to shore power to achieve zero emissions while alongside.
Speaking on Viking’s ‘Built to be Green’ video, vice president of engineering Richard Goodwin explains, “The bulbous bow is designed to alter the way the ship makes waves as it moves through the water. Without the bulbous bow, you would have a very large bow wave which causes a lot of resistance. On the stern there is a ducktail which looks like a platform. It’s designed to smooth the wake out of the vessel and use less power.”
Another energy-efficient feature is the Promas propulsion and manoeuvring system, developed by the Rolls-Royce Hydrodynamic Research Centre in Sweden. Incorporating the propeller and rudder in a single unit to increase hydrodynamic efficiency, the propulsion unit includes six-blade 4.5-diameter fixed-pitch mono-block propellers.
Mr Goodwin continues, “We are the first cruise company to have adopted this system. The propeller and the rudder are almost touching each other and the water goes around the rudder in a much more efficient way than normal. The system saves us somewhere between 3% and 5% of fuel. We saw the big advantages and decided we would go for it.”
To minimise fuel consumption by optimising engine efficiency, Viking uses the differing number of cylinders in the engines to enable the ship’s automation to automatically switch engines in and out, so they are operating at maximum efficiency regardless of what speed the ship is sailing at. Viking Venus is also equipped with the Eniram system, which takes feeds from sensors and plots all details, including speed and engine efficiency, to help the line measure fuel consumption and identify where efficiency can be increased.
Additionally, smart meters are used to help the crew and engineering team at the operations headquarters to monitor energy use, including electricity and water, and to make adjustments to ensure the most efficient use of energy on all areas of the shop from the laundry to the galley. Viking Venus also exceeds the International Maritime Organisation’s benchmarking programme, the Energy Efficient Design Index.
Seawater is used as cooling water for the engines and also, via a heat exchanger, to heat the water in the cabins and galley, also reducing energy use.
Mr Goodwin adds, “The water that goes back over the side is almost the same temperature as it was when it came on board, there’s not any heat going out over the side.”
Viking Venus is the latest of 20 units to be built for Viking at Fincantieri; the largest number of units built by a shipbuilder for a single shipowner.
Torstein Hagen tells PST “We started Viking’s ocean project eight years ago, and together with Fincantieri we have built the world’s most beautiful ships. Today we are pleased to celebrate this important milestone in the construction of our newest ocean ship. As the world continues its path to recovery from Covid-19, we remain focused on the future, and with strong bookings for 2021 and the enthusiasm of our guests, we are optimistic about what is to come. I would like to thank our partners at Fincantieri and everyone working at the yard in Ancona for the hard work and dedication building Viking Venus, and we look forward to welcoming it to our fleet.”
Riviera will provide free technical and operational webinars in 2021. Sign up to attend on our events page