Sun shines over Albany
When Viking Sun docked in Albany on Tuesday it marked the start of a new relationship.
Albany is now a destination for one of the world’s fastest growing cruise companies, Viking Ocean Cruises.
The Albany Advertiser was invited aboard the no-expenses-spared vessel visited this week, a floating hotel which includes 100 chefs, four restaurants, a theatre, an indoor spa and an infinity pool.
If those features were not enough to impart a sense of the luxury and range of options on offer, the room full of snow might convince you.
The guests of Viking Sun are told to put their wallets away as all expenses are paid.
That means meals at the five-star restaurants, the coffee, alcohol, and the unlimited spa sessions are included in your fare.
More than half of the 930 guests paid $75,000 a ticket for a world cruise.
Captained by experienced skippers, Olav Soevdsnes, the cruise started in London and will call at 21 countries on its 128-day voyage.
Capt. Soevdsnes said including Albany on the list of destinations had been a plan of his for years.
“When we choose a port we always look at the excursions, because our thinking is that everyone should be able to go ashore, have tours included in their fare and have a good time,” he said.
“Our guests don’t want to go onshore and go to the pub, they want to see the place and see the history behind it.
“Our guests are very happy to know that everything is included. We are very happy to be in Albany.”
While in Albany, the guests were given the day to explore the local history or enjoy the Valley of the Giants treetop walk.
Artists on board had been teaching water colour flower painting in anticipation of Albany’s wildflowers.
The cruise continues to Fremantle and then across to Mauritius, Madagascar and Africa.
Viking Cruises has built six identical ships, including Viking Sun, in the past four years — and another 10 will be built in the near future.
Owned by Torstein Hagen, the extravagant decor and finishings have been given a personal touch.
A photo of Hagen and his mother has been printed onto a feature wall in the ship and the dinner plates are a replica of the design his family used in his youth.
All staff members are required to complete training in Switzerland. The ship that visited this week had a crew from 43 different nations.
Mayor Dennis Wellington was presented with a Viking plaque when the ship reached port.
Albany hosted 16 cruise calls during the 2017-18 season carrying more than 16,000 passengers.
According to the Australian Cruise Association, the visits were worth $5.7 million to the local economy.
“We’re continuing to work with industry to grow cruise tourism in Albany and ensure our community can leverage as much positive economic impact from these visits as possible,” Mr Wellington said.
“It was great to be able to go aboard and welcome the Viking Sun to Albany this week on its first ever stop in WA and we hope everyone enjoyed their stay.
“Albany has a lot to offer cruise experiences so we hope Viking Cruises will continue to return to Albany.”
Albany will become a regular destination with Viking Ocean Cruises with the next ship expected to dock in 2021 or 2022.
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