Viking Debuting 7 New River Vessels.
By Anne Kalosh.
Powerhouse Viking River Cruises is introducing seven new Longships on Europe’s waterways this year, plus two new itineraries and a bevy of land extensions.
Seven new vessels is a whopping number—but not for Viking. In 2014, the line introduced a jaw-dropping 18 river vessels and set a Guinness World Record by inaugurating 16 of them in a 24-hour period. That bested its own record of 10 the year before.
But who’s counting?
For QuirkyCruisers, each new river vessel means more choices and, in 2019, a couple fresh itineraries. Moreover, a variety of land tours give the opportunity to delve into interesting topics like Churchill’s Britain and Burgundy’s vineyards.
Six of the new Viking Longships will sail the company’s most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, and one additional vessel, inspired by the Longships, is designed for Portugal’s Douro, where the locks are smaller.
New “Holland & Belgium” Itinerary
Debuting in March, the 10-day “Holland & Belgium” itinerary sails between Amsterdam and Antwerp. It explores the inland waterways of the Low Countries and visits new ports for Viking: Rotterdam, Maastricht and Nijmegen.
“Paris & D-Day 75th Anniversary”
Also, in commemoration of World War II and D-Day, the line will offer a new 11-day cruise-tour, “Paris & D-Day 75th Anniversary,” with two special departures that coincide with the June 6 anniversary. Passengers will travel from London to the maritime city of Portsmouth before embarking their vessel in Paris and sailing through Normandy, where they will visit and honor D-Day landing sites.
New Pre-/Post-cruise Extensions
“Churchill’s Britain” can be combined with various itineraries and builds on the success of the “Oxford & Highclere Castle” program, Viking’s highest-rated extension that visits “the real Downton Abbey.” Travelers will explore the life and times of Sir Winston Churchill, from his birthplace (Blenheim Palace) and his family home (at Chartwell) to his final resting place (St. Martin’s Church in Bladon).
During the five-night program, participants will benefit from Viking’s signature “Privileged Access” to the Churchill War Rooms, the prime minister’s secret underground headquarters and Bletchley Park. The latter is the Victorian estate in Buckinghamshire where Alan Turing and a team of mathematicians and scientists worked to break German codes during World War II.
Two nights in Brussels can be added to the “Holland & Belgium” itinerary. “Historic Bruges,” another option for that itinerary, adds a three-night stay in Bruges with visits to the surrounding area including Ghent and the World War I battlefields of Flanders.
During “From the Bulge to Remagen,” a four-night extension available with the “Paris & D-Day 75th Anniversary” itinerary, travelers will continue to follow in the footsteps of Allied troops who marched across France toward Germany during World Wars I and II. Stops include the Meuse-Argonne and Luxembourg American Cemeteries, the Bastogne War Museum in Belgium and the ancient city of Mainz.
Another extension for the same anniversary sailing, “World War Battlefields” is a four-night program exploring the battlefields of northern France and the Low Countries. Included are Dunkirk, the trenches of Flanders Fields and an opportunity to pay respects to British and Canadian servicemen at the Menin Gate.
Available after the “Lyon & Provence” cruise, “Burgundy’s Vineyards” is a three-night tour to experience the grandeur of Dijon and the world-renowned wine region of Burgundy, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
And “Timeless Istanbul” extends Viking’s Black Sea cruise program with three nights in the city on the Bosphorus.
Each of the sleek, 135-meter/443-foot Viking Longships carries 190 passengers in a selection of staterooms and suites, most with verandas. A Sun Deck with 360-degree views has a shaded area, putting green, walking track and an organic herb garden used by the chefs. An Aquavit Terrace at the bow of the vessel provides indoor/outdoor seating and is popular for alfresco breakfast and lunch. A separate restaurant, lounge and bar, library and small shop round out the amenities. The décor throughout is contemporary Scandinavian.
Viking is known for its cultural programming on board and for good value. Fares include a shore excursion at each port of call, all port charges and government taxes, beer and wine with lunch and dinner and shipboard Wi-Fi.
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