Hot on the heels of christening an astonishing 18 new vessels last month in Europe, Viking River Cruiseshas firmed up their plans for 2015 that include the launch of another 12 river cruise shipscomprised of 10 Viking Longships and two brand-new “Longship-esque” vessels on the Elbe River. The expansion will bring Viking’s total fleet to 64 vessels by the end of 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.”
With 10 new Viking Longships coming online next year, river cruisers will have more of Viking’s latest-and-greatest vessels to choose from. It’s hard to believe, but in 2015 even the oldest Viking Longship will just barely be cracking the three-year mark. The real head-turner next year, however, could be the new Longship-esque vessels along the Elbe.
Dubbed Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla, these two vessels will carry just 98 guests in 49 staterooms and suites spread across two passenger decks. Vessels sailing the Elbe are severely restricted in terms of size, but these new ships will bring some of the best features of the Viking Longships to the Elbe for the first time.
Both ships will sport Viking’s signature Aquavit Terrace located on the extreme bow of the ship, which offers up the perfect place for guests to enjoy a casual meal or a drink in any weather condition. An Observation Lounge will flank the Terrace, which gives way to a scaled-down Reception Area.
Interestingly, both ships will sport Viking’s patented offset corridor design, and just like the Viking Longships, it is this unique arrangement that allows Viking to place full-sized suites side-by-side with more traditional stateroom offerings.
Aboard Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla, both French and Full balcony staterooms will be available, the latter of which will measure 180 square feet. At the top of the scale, the 250-square foot Veranda Suites will feature both French and full step-out balconies in addition to separate living and sleeping quarters, as well as two flat-panel 42” Sony televisions hooked up to an infotainment-on-demand system.
Viking will also introduce two brand-new itineraries along the Rhine next year:
- 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.
- 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 cafés. Scenic cruising takes you to the heart of smaller European towns like Trier, Rüdesheim 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.
Of course, 2015 is also when Viking’s very first oceangoing vessel, Viking Star, will set sail in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Currently under construction, Viking Star will be capable of transporting 930 guests in the same style and comfort that Viking has cultivated for their river cruises. She will be joined in 2016 by an as-yet-unnamed sister ship.