The line that conquered Europe’s rivers by sheer weight of numbers, launching so many ship it made the Guinness Book of Records, has now announced a record six new ocean ships.

Viking Cruises ordered the extension to its successful luxury fleet from Italian shipyard Fincantieri in a deal that raises the company’s total ocean order and options to 16.

That’s the highest-ever for a shipyard from a single owner, and ensures Viking as the king of small ship.

Viking is expected to base a ship here at the year’s end.

The six new ships are expected to be delivered in 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027.

The announcement comes just prior to the naming of Viking’s fourth ocean ship, Viking Sun, in Shanghai today.

She visited Sydney last month and created a huge wave of interest.

Viking Sun is on a sold-out 141-day world cruise from Miami to London, and its stop in Shanghai will mark the first time one of Viking’s ocean ships has called in China.

Like the river fleet, it is Viking’s proud boast is that its ships are virtually the same – allowing guests to feel at home wherever they sail.

The all-veranda ocean ships have a gross tonnage of 47,800 tons, have 465 staterooms and host 930 guests. Viking’s ocean fleet also includes Viking Star, Viking Sea and Viking Sky. They will be joined by Viking Orion  – which will sail in Australia at year’s end – and Viking Jupiter in 2019.

Ten additional ships are now on order for delivery starting in 2021, which will bring Viking’s ocean fleet to 16 ships by 2027.

Viking’s counter-cyclical boast is that it has no kids, and no waterslides.

“When we launched our first ocean ship in 2015, we set out to reinvent ocean cruising,” Viking chairman Torstein Hagen said in a statement accompanying the announcement. “We focus on the destination, and we do not cram our ships with gimmicks and water slides.”

Meanwhile, in another move that demonstrates the growth in the small ship sector, French cruise company Ponant is adding two more luxury expedition cruise ships to the four it already has on order at Vard. And like the Viking fleet, they are almost identical.

All ships will be fitted with a “Blue Eye” multi-sensorial underwater lounge, a major innovation, that will allow passengers to discover and experience the underwater world via two portholes in the form of cetaceous eyes, looking out onto the sea bed.