As The Viking Empire Expands, So Do Choices

Viking River Cruises recently added twelve more of their unique Viking Longships, bringing the total to over 60.  Two additional ships being introduced are custom-designed specifically for the company’s Elegant Elbe itinerary. As a result of high customer demand, those two joined recently refurbished Viking Schumann and Viking Fontane, doubling the company’s capacity on the Elbe River. Hosting just 98 guests in 49 staterooms, sisters Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will be the newest and most modern ships sailing the Elbe River.  Meanwhile, Viking River Cruises has more in store for ships sailing the Rhine river as well.  This is all in addition to launching a new ocean cruise line and the first of three ocean cruise ships.  It’s a busy time for Viking to be sure. Keeping up with the rapidly expanding Viking empire, we begin on the Elbe river, one of the major rivers of Central Europe.

The Elbe river sources its life from the Krkonoše Mountains in northern Czech Republic then flows through Germany to into the North Sea with a total length of 1,094 kilometres (680 mi).  A shallow river with a number of sharp turns, standard Viking Longships could not navigate the Elbe so a modified version is being launched in a ‘right tool for the job’ manner consistent with Viking’s modified longships operating on the Douro river in Portugal.

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.  Those ships will sail a unique 10 day journey that combines river and land for a cruisetour, Viking style.

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Elegant Elbe 10-Day Cruisetour Featuring Eastern Germany
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.” Of special interest, the Elegant Elbe itinerary also includes visits to six UNESCO World Heritage sites.

This new itinerary comes on the heels of 2014’s Rivers of Gold in Portugal and Chateax, Rivers and Wine itinerary in France, expanding the Viking empire with a diverse menu of choices that visit interesting places throughout Europe.  Still, core itineraries on the Rhine river remain a popular option for cruise travelers and some new offerings are now available.

New Itineraries Along The Rhine River
Viking has two interesting new itineraries this year, both of which showcase scenic treasures along the Rhine River during the springtime.

8-Days- Sailing Between Amsterdam And Frankfurt 
Legends of the Rhine
– This 8-day journey in April or May sails between Amsterdam and Frankfurt providing 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.



10 Day CruiseTour Between Paris and Basel
Rhine Rhapsody – On this unique new cruisetour, cruise travelers will spend 10 days in April or May 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.

Meanwhile, On The Ocean
All of the above is in addition to the launch of new Viking Oceans and the first of three ships under construction, Viking Star.

Viking Ocean Cruises new Viking Star begins sailing April 11 with an official christening on May 17, 2015, promising a new and unique ocean sailing experience.  With initial itineraries that will explore Scandinavia, the Baltic and the Mediterranean, Viking Ocean Cruises will feature an inclusive travel experience inspired by what they do on the popular longships of Viking River Cruises. The notion of a more inclusive ocean experience on brand new ships is resonating with cruise travelers too. Flagship Viking Star, under construction right now,  is sold out for the 2015 maiden season.  For any other cruise line, that would be a huge win.  For Vikings, it’s a call to action and an opportunity to set clear direction for their version of ocean cruising.  Stay tuned for more on this unique move for Viking Cruises.

For now, let’s take another look at that 10 day Elegant Elbe itinerary