Viking Cruises has unveiled a new sponsorship deal with UKTV as part of a global $200 million marketing plan to promote its new ocean ships.

Speaking on board the line’s first ocean vessel Viking Star, chairman Torstein Hagen (pictured) revealed Viking had spent $600 million promoting its river cruise product over the past 10 years, and planned to spend a further $200 million on worldwide marketing over the coming year.

UK managing director Wendy Atkin-Smith said: “We have a sponsorship deal at the moment starting on May 1 with UKTV. We have initially signed up for a six-month contract with UKTV across five channels, but especially the Drama Channel.

“It’s the first major push [of ocean and river product]. It will be dual branding, and I think anything we do going forward that would involve TV will be split between river and ocean. We would like to give them equal exposure because it’s one brand.”

This sponsorship deal builds on Viking’s high-profile partnerships with ITV3 and with ITV1’s Mystery Drama, although Atkin-Smith said the line had no current commitments with ITV.

She said: “It’s a matter of the right opportunity at the right time. We do straightforward advertising on daytime TV and some peak evening. Murder Mystery drama was exactly the right thing for us at the right time, but it’s not something we would enter into lightly.

“The river cruise brand is so well-established so we would like to make people aware that we also have ocean.”

The cruise line has also increased its visibility at the Chelsea Flower Show with an ocean-themed pitch, the Viking Ocean Cruises Show Garden, and will appear at events such as the CLA Game Fair, Cheltenham Literature Festival and the BBC Good Food Festival to promote its new ocean product over the coming year.

But Atkin-Smith was firm on the line’s commitment to working closely with the trade. She said: “We have never discounted and we have not undercut agents. We have a totally transparent pricing policy so it’s the same [price] wherever they buy it.”

Neil Barclay, head of trade sales, added: “There are agents out there who have a massive ocean market but have never touched river, but I think if we can get them on board to see this new product, we will actually find that we will be getting river sales from them as well, so that’s a key focus for us.

“It’s the same ethos, same inclusions, same demographic, so there should be no issue with river agents converting to ocean and vice versa. We’re delivering a river experience on the ocean.”