Demonstrating no slowdown in the European river cruise boom, Viking River Cruises® today confirmed official plans for the company’s expansion in 2015. Viking has ordered 12 new river vessels for next year – 10 additional award-winning Viking Longships® and two unique vessels for the Elbe River. Next year will also see the launch of two new itineraries highlighting the Rhine River. The announcement comes directly on the heels of Viking’s world record-setting christening last month of 18 vessels across four countries in five days and will bring the company’s total fleet size to 64 river vessels in 2015.
“When we started this company 17 years ago, we had two cell phones and no money, but we knew there was an opportunity to do things differently,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises. “By focusing on an audience of like-minded travelers, and designing ships and itineraries that help travelers better explore their destinations, we are proud that river cruising is now the fastest-growing segment of travel.”
New Longships for 2015
Of the 12 vessels on order for 2015, 10 are Viking Longships, which have amassed a long list of prestigious awards since debuting in 2012. They recently topped Conde Nast Traveler’s annual readers’ Cruise Poll for best river cruise ships – with Viking Odin specifically being named the #1 top-ranking river cruise ship – and the entire class of vessels was named “Best New River Ships of 2012” in Cruise Critic’s® Editors’ Picks Awards.
Viking Longships integrate a patented corridor design and cutting-edge technology with comfortable amenities that reflect guest preferences and current travel trends. These features include a revolutionary all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace® that reinvents the onboard lounge experience by bringing the panoramic outdoor river scenery indoors with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors and allows guests to enjoy the views and dine al fresco. Accommodating 190 passengers in 95 staterooms, Viking Longships have a patented layout that allows for two Explorer Suites – the largest river cruise suites in Europe – as well as seven two-room Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom; 39 Veranda Staterooms with full-size verandas; and 22 French Balcony Staterooms. Additionally, all Longships have green upgrades, such as onboard solar panels and organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines that also reduce vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride.
New Ships for the Elbe River in 2015
Viking’s two additional ships on order for 2015 will be designed specifically for the company’s Elegant Elbe itinerary. As a result of high customer demand, the two new ships will join the recently refurbished Viking Schumann and Viking Fontane, doubling the company’s capacity on the Elbe River in 2015. Hosting 98 guests in 49 staterooms, sister ships Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will be the newest and most modern ships sailing the Elbe River. Smaller than Viking Longships, with customized hulls and engines specially designed to navigate this unique river, these ships will tout many of the same popular features – including an Aquavit Terrace, a wide variety of stateroom choices, hotel-style beds, energy-efficient hybrid engines, onboard solar panels and an organic herb garden, as well as Viking’s signature Scandinavian design aesthetic.
A 10-day cruisetour with hotel stays in Berlin and Prague, Elegant Elbe is Viking’s only itinerary offering the unique opportunity to sail through eastern Germany. Featuring stops in Magdeburg, Wittenberg and Dresden, this itinerary offers the quintessential blend of urban culture, history and scenic cruising – including sailing past the cliffs of Germany’s “Saxon Switzerland.” It also includes visits to six UNESCO World Heritage sites.
New Itineraries for 2015
Viking will also introduce two new itineraries in 2015, both of which showcase scenic treasures along the Rhine River during the springtime. Details of the itineraries include:
- Legends of the Rhine – This 8-day journey between Amsterdam and Frankfurt provides a window into some of the historic eras and events that have shaped northern Europe. Cruise through the Middle Rhine Valley, lined with dozens of medieval castles, and take walking tours of castles and cobbled streets. Marvel at the soaring carved interiors and stained-glass windows of Cologne’s iconic Gothic cathedral, and sample the local beers. Stop in Remagen, the site of World War II’s Operation Market Garden, and Nijmegen for a guided visit to the Overloon War and Resistance Museum. Spend a full day enjoying the delightful Golden Age city of Amsterdam, including a canal boat tour. Prices start at $2,356 per person, with 2015 departure dates in April and May.
- Rhine Rhapsody – On this unique new cruisetour, spend 10 days amidst the timeless elegance of Paris and the breathtaking scenery along the Rhine, Main and Moselle Rivers. Take a guided tour of the French capital to see some of its historic locations; then spend some time exploring its neighborhoods, museums and cafes. Scenic cruising takes you to the heart of smaller European towns like Trier, Rudesheim and Cochem, where there is so much to discover, right through the Rhine Valley, famous for its many riverside castles. Stop in Strasbourg, the perfect marriage of French and German cultures (and cuisines), and explore the market squares of Basel’s charming Old Town area. Prices start at $2,906 per person, with 2015 departure dates in April and May.
The expansion of Viking’s business comes as a response to increased traveler demand for destination-focused cruises.