Viking Launches Ten New River Boats:
With the race to be the most dominant river cruising company in Europe, Viking has just christened, not one or two, but ten of its new “Longships”. At the christening ceremony at the Amsterdam’s cruise terminal, Viking Aegir, Viking Embla, Viking Bragi, Viking Skadi, Viking Atla, Viking Forseti, Viking Jarl, Viking Rinda, Viking Tor and Viking Var were christened by their respective godmothers.
Whilst only four of the river boats - Viking Aegir, Viking Embla, Viking Bragi and Viking Skadi – were present at the Amsterdam cruise terminal during the ceremony, the live video feed from the Rostock shipyard projected images of the other six vessels in the German shipyard. The godmothers each recited a traditional maritime blessing as they were naming the ships, followed with the traditional christening by a bottle of champagne. These ten recently unveiled ships, each with a capacity for 190 passengers, will sail in 2013 on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.
When it comes to competition in the river cruise business, cruise operators are always trying to improve on the suites that the river boats offer. The Longships are Viking’s latest river boat design that is supposed to have the largest suites for a river boat in Europe. Viking also claims that the Longships are the only river cruise boats in Europe with a range of true suites – that is, cabins that have an en-suite sitting room in addition to a bedroom. Until now, what passes as suites on European river ships are actually single-room cabins that are larger than standard size cabins and with a lounge suite in them.
The new Viking Longship cabins have balconies, a catch-up to other cruise companies who have had balconies for years now. The Longships also have all-weather indoor/outdoor terraces at their fronts – a new concept for river ships in Europe. One of the latest innovative features of the Viking Longships is the retractable floor-to-ceiling glass door that the terraces have.
Viking is embarking on a huge expansion of its fleet and has ordered another twelve Longships for 2014. The rivers of Europe are already quite congested and one wonders if the overloading of the rivers by such a large increase in river boat numbers would lead to the deterioration of cruise experience that this otherwise very serene form of travel offers. As we are doing a cruise in a few months, we shall find out for ourselves.