In just twenty years, Viking River Cruises has evolved from a fledgling operation with four Russian river ships to a company that conveys 350,000 guests each year, sailing Europe’s rivers as well as those in Egypt, Asia and Russia.
In the last few years the growth of Viking River Cruises has known no bounds. In March 2012 the company staged the cruise industry’s first quadruple naming ceremony, and the following year, they entered the pantheon of Guinness World Record holders for having the ‘most ships inaugurated on one day by one company’. The company currently has 64 vessels including 48 Longships; fifteen more of which will be launched in 2019.
The high-tech 190-passenger Longships (named after Norse gods and heroes) are sleek and modern, with a Scandi-chic décor as well as light-filled atriums and alfresco Aquavit indoor/outdoor terrace at their bow. They boast the industry’s highest ratio of cabins with balconies, a feature made possible by a new cabin layout that includes offset main corridors.
As the Longships are virtually interchangeable, passengers can now pick a route rather than trying to get on a particular ship. Accommodation comprises two Explorer Suites; seven Veranda Staterooms; 30 Veranda Staterooms; 22 French Balcony Staterooms and 25 Standard Staterooms.
The obliging crew (mostly from Eastern Europe) are all trained by Viking’s Swiss management hotel team and deliver exceptional standards of service. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style, while five-course dinners reflect the culinary prowess of the chefs who combine locally-sourced ingredients with flair. Specially-selected wines, beer and soft drinks are complimentary at lunch and dinner.
As a holiday option, European river cruises offer very different experiences to ocean cruising. They are much more relaxed, passengers get to see more of the destination, and it takes place on a much smaller scale full of personal touches. By the very nature of their cruise concept, Viking River Cruises does attract a more mature age group, many from the United States. Later evening departures and overnight stays afford the time to see leisurely days transform into fun evenings, often in some of the world’s most iconic venues.
From short breaks to festive Christmas market cruises; longer explorations from the North Sea coast to the Danube Delta; there is a an array of river cruises to suit all tastes and budgets.
The renaissance in river cruising has somehow tapped into the psyche of today’s cash-rich, time poor generation as well as those seeking a self-contained haven of conviviality and exploration.