Leading river cruise line Viking River Cruises – known for its riverboat itineraries in Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia, and Egypt – has announced two more new-builds for 2012, adding to the four newbies already scheduled to debut in its fast-expanding fleet. The six new vessels total – part of the line’s Viking Longship class – illustrate an ambitious response to overwhelming customer demand, marking an unprecedented number of ships launched in a single season for the company (last time they came close was in 2001 when they brought four new additions into the fleet). The two new ships – the Viking Embla and Viking Aegir – will roll out in July and August 2012, respectively, and join their sister ships (Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord, and Viking Odin), slated for debut in March 2012 (the funny-sounding ship names are borrowed from individuals in Norse mythology).
Each of the 95-unit Viking Longships are notable for their high-tech, spacious design, and hail from the same firm of maritime architects responsible for the sleek Yachts of Seabourn and much buzzed-about Disney Dream. Expect larger staterooms (including what are being touted as the largest riverboat suites in Europe), three quarters of which boast a veranda and/or French balcony, as well as onboard options like alfresco dining on the upper deck and a lounge with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Meanwhile, special attention has been paid to sustainability with features like solar panels, an onboard organic herb garden, and energy-efficient hybrid engines in place.
Expect popular itineraries on European’s major waterways, with options like the 14-night Grand European Tour, 7-night Rhine Getaway, 7-night Danube Waltz, 9-night Tulips & Windmills, and 7-night Romantic Danube.
Viking's rapid-fire growth is a sure testament to the ever-growing popularity of river cruising, viewed by travelers as a happy compromise between mega-ship sailing and traditional land-based tours. Rates on the new ships start at $1,156, and are inclusive of daily shore excursions, select beverages (including wine and beer, a new comped offering for the line come 2012), free WiFi, and port charges. Book by August 31 for a special two-for-one pricing promotion, and snag considerable savings. www.vikingrivercruises.com
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