The choice of flag is a result of close cooperation between Director General Olav Akselsen and Chairman Torstein Hagen of Bergen-based shipping company Viking Cruises.

- I'm proud that the shipowner chooses the Norwegian flag, and I hope that this will have an exemplary effect on other companies. We have been working ambitiously for a long time to make Norway the preferred maritime administration, which has led to many changes in the Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA). For cruise ships, the biggest improvement may be that applications for maritime personal certificates now can be submitted electronically, Akselsen says.

He emphasizes that an increased number of NIS registrations strengthens Norway's international maritime influence, since fleet size has significance in forums such as the International Maritime Organization (IMO). In order to ease the process of registering ships in the NIS, designated points of contacts have been established for coordination of enquiries within the NMA.

The 930-passenger VIKING STAR is under construction at the Italian shipyard Fincantieri and will be delivered already by the end of March this year. The ship will then be directly registered in the NIS.

Another three sister ships will be constructed for Viking Cruises, and the plan is to also register these ships in the NIS upon delivery from the shipyard. So far in the process, Torstein Hagen and his people are well-satisfied with the Norwegian maritime administration and their efforts to assure registration in the NIS.

- We have been met with a positive and solution-oriented attitude and a will to cooperate, Hagen says. He emphasizes that these are all factors that weigh heavily when choosing a flag.

In addition to being a luxury ship, VIKING STAR is designed with the environment in mind, and features energy-efficient hybrid engines, optimized hulls and bows for maximum fuel efficiency, onboard solar panels and equipment that minimize exhaust pollution. Bergen will be the home port of VIKING STAR and also the port of departure for the cruise which is named «Viking Homelands». The 15-day cruise will take the passengers to eight countries. The christening ceremony will of course also take place in Bergen, on 17 May - Norway's Constitution Day. All of the city's residents are then invited to join the celebration.