If you live in fear of Vikings conquering the world, this may not be a good story for you. On the other hand, if you just want to see the world from a Longship, the time has never been better!
River cruising is the fastest growing segment of the cruise industry, and Viking River Cruises is leading the charge. Their industry-record introduction of six new ships in 2012 will fall next year as the company is set to launch 10 Viking LongshipsTM in 2013, and eight more in 2014. That totals 24 new ships in just 3 years, growing the fleet to 41 vessels. Why the huge expansion? Demand is up! River cruise bookings have risen about 200% over the past decade, and Viking owns about 30% of the market. Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking River Cruises, also cites guests’ satisfaction with the new vessels: “Because of the overwhelmingly positive response we have seen from our passengers in the first season of our revolutionary new Viking Longships, we are pleased to continue our expansion to meet that demand.”
The new Longships were named the Best New River Ships of 2012 in Cruise Critic’s® Editors’ Picks Awards, thanks to a wide range of improvements including patent-pending design elements, guest amenities, and sustainability upgrades such as solar panels and energy-efficient hybrid engines that reduce vibrations for smoother sailing. Other upgrades guests will appreciate include full-size verandas and French balconies on select rooms and suites, and Explorer Suites, the largest river cruise suites in Europe. Perhaps the best updates are the premium in-cabin amenities which include heated bathroom floors and mirrors. The all-weather indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace has also proven popular with passengers, allowing for alfresco dining with panoramic views. The award-winning vessels are the work of celebrated maritime architects Yran & Storbraaten, the team behind the Disney Dream and the Yachts of Seabourn.
In addition to being the largest river cruise operator, Viking is also much lauded, having been named the #1 River Cruise Line in the 2012 Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, and appears in the Condé Nast Traveler Gold List as one of the Best River Cruise Lines with 15 Viking ships recognized among the Best River Cruise Ships. Viking plans to inaugurate the first eight Viking Longships of 2013 in a simultaneous christening ceremony in late March in Amsterdam. (Download Viking Cruise Line’s 2013 Cruise Atlas and other brochures.)