SHENZHEN, China, Oct. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Viking® announced today the maiden voyage of Chinese-flagged ship "CM-Yidun" under a joint-venture with China Merchants Shekou. The ship sets sail from Shenzhen Shekou Port and will cruise to Sanya in Hainan before returning to Shenzhen on an 8-day itinerary, marking the first of a planned series of China Coastal Cultural Cruises.
"It is very exciting that we are able to launch a brand-new product and the first of its kind in China. We have always been about exploring the world in comfort, and now we offer our Chinese guests an opportunity to rediscover their own backyard in a new way – culturally enriching, in elegant comfort and with a unique touch of Nordic hospitality," said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking.
He added "We believe cruising is a boom industry in China, and that Chinese consumers' demand for cruise travel will continue to grow and become more sophisticated. Our joint-venture partnership with the China Merchants Group will enable us to take advantage of this trend."
In the last five years since Viking entered the China market, it has gained a reputation for offering premium quality cruises with a cultural focus, and for providing thoughtful service that makes guests feel at home. Viking's European river cruises tailored for Chinese guests have won wide industry acclaim and guest loyalty. Under effective pandemic control measures, China has seen a strong rebound in domestic travel, making it the opportune time to launch a "small-ship" domestic cruise for a market that has to date only been exposed to mega-liners cruising to neighboring countries.
While the ship is Chinese-flagged, it features Viking's Nordic-style interiors, and the China Coastal Cultural Cruise experience retains many of the brand's signatures – including a well-curated library of books, enriching lectures, a spa featuring traditional Scandinavian bath rituals, shore excursions featuring several Privileged Access experiences, and original Viking dining concepts like the Mamsen's Norwegian deli, Manfredi's Italian Restaurant, and destination-focused cuisines.
"The experience that we set out to create is one built on what has made Viking a success around the world and popular with our Chinese guests. We then added locally relevant elements to complement it," said Wee-Hoon Tan, Vice President of Product Development & Marketing, the architect of this new product.
For example, since duty-free shopping is not possible on a domestic cruise, the ship's original cosmetic shop has been redesigned into "The Oriental Shop" – a place for guests to discover traditional Chinese crafts with innovative, modern twists. "We have however kept the Nordic Shop, which aims to let Chinese guests get acquainted with both established and niche quality brands reflecting Nordic heritage and culture. Over in our jewelry shop, we are proud to be hosting world-renowned Gübelin from Switzerland and presenting its first-ever retail outlet in China. We are also pleased to have Chow Tai Fook – a household brand in China, which is showcasing on our ship many of its jewelry collections not readily available onshore," said Tan.
Tan added that the ship's entertainment and enrichment content, as well as food and beverage experiences have also been localized. "To complement the Chinese tea experience on our ship, we have added guqin – a very elegant classical Chinese instrument, into our live music mix. Our main restaurant originally serving Western cuisine has been revamped into a modern-style Chinese restaurant, street-style Chinese grilled skewers have been added to our Pool Grill originally serving just burgers, Asian flavors have been blended into our afternoon tea at Wintergarden and feature in The Chef Table menus. Our Torshavn Armagnac bar has also been revamped into Bar 1872, which specializes in Chinese wines and spirits and serves a selection of signature cocktails inspired by the history of the China Merchants Group, which began in year 1872."
CM-Yidun also features one of the most comprehensive COVID-19 protocols in the industry, offering a Health Protection Plan designed to keep every guest and crew member safe throughout the journey. Guests will find many of the same innovative pandemic prevention features on other Viking ships on CM-Yidun, including the ultra-violet light disinfecting robots, face-recognition temperature scanners and more.
Updating the ship to prepare it for these new cruises took about 12 months. "We hope every guest onboard CM-Yidun will appreciate the details that went into the design of this product and continue to feel the same vibe that Viking has come to be known for in China – warm feeling of 'home,' a 'thinking person's cruise'," Tan concluded.
For additional information about CM-Yidun and the new China Coastal Cultural Cruises, visit www.cmviking.com.
Viking was founded in 1997 and provides destination-focused journeys on rivers, oceans and lakes around the world. Designed for experienced travelers with interests in science, history, culture and cuisine, Chairman Torstein Hagen often says Viking offers guests The Thinking Person's Cruise® in contrast to mainstream cruises. In its first five years of operation, Viking has been rated the #1 ocean cruise line in Travel + Leisure's 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 "World's Best" Awards. In addition to the Travel + Leisure honors, Viking has also been honored multiple times on Condé Nast Traveler's "Gold List" as well as recognized by Cruise Critic as "Best Overall" Small-Mid size ship in the 2018 Cruisers' Choice Awards, "Best River Cruise Line" and "Best River Itineraries," with the entire Viking Longships® fleet being named "Best New River Ships" in the website's Editors' Picks Awards. For additional information, contact Viking at 1-800-2-VIKING (1-800-284-5464) or visit www.viking.com. For Viking's award-winning enrichment channel, visit www.viking.tv.