Viking River's fleet is the largest in the river industry -- it operates some 60 ships and is undergoing a seemingly endless expansion. All of the vessels are geared to the English-speaking market.
The line has been introducing new ships almost every year for more than a decade, the bulk of which have been in Europe. Building on the launch of the eco-friendly Viking Legend in 2009 and the 188-passenger Viking Prestige, which debuted in 2011, the line kicked off a period of rapid expansion in 2012 with the introduction of six new-builds. The original ship design for these sextuplets, called the "Longship class," has been cloned -- or only slightly altered -- over 40 times since then. In 2016, six new Longships are being launched, bringing Viking's total to 65 river ships, 40 of which are members of the 190-guest Longship class.
The ships were designed by maritime architects Yran & Storbraaten, known for creating interiors for Disney Dream and Seabourn's Odyssey-class ships. All ships from 2011 onwards have energy-efficient hybrid engines, using less fuel and offering a smoother and quieter ride.
Europe itineraries, by and large, are focused on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers, along with France's Rhone and Seine. It also offers cruises on Portugal's Duoro.
In Russia, the company has also invested considerable money into regularly refurbishing its older ships.
Beyond mainstream Europe, Viking Emerald, which launched in 2011, cruises China's Yangtze River. The 256-passenger ship has a pair of 840-square-foot presidential suites with separate sitting and sleeping areas, two flat-screen TVs, panoramic windows and a private wrap-around balcony. Standard accommodations aren't any slouch either -- they provide 269 square feet of living space (on river ships most passenger cabins are significantly smaller than on ocean-going vessels) and all have private balconies.
Viking has plans to launch cruises along the Mississippi River from New Orleans to Memphis and on to St Louis or St Paul in Minnesota. The two new vessels will sail night trips on the Mississippi River and will operate from docks near the New Orleans French Quarter. Dates for these sailings have not been released.
Viking also charters a number of ships for itineraries in Egypt and Southeast Asia. These include Royal Lily and Royal Lotus (the Nile), Prince Abbas (Egypt's Lake Nasser), RV Tonle (Mekong River) and Viking Mandalay (Irrawaddy River, Burma).
Established in 1997, Viking Cruises is the world's largest river cruise line, with some 60 river ships sailing the waterways of Europe, Russia and the Ukraine, Egypt, China, Vietnam and Cambodia. Viking has also unveiled plans for a new ocean-going cruise arm. Called Viking Oceans, it debuted in May 2015 when it unveiled the 48,000-ton, 928-passenger Viking Star, the first of three newbuilds so far agreed with Italy's Fincantieri shipyard.
From the river perspective, Viking is on the most aggressive new-build kick in the industry. Its ambitious Longships design has resulted in the addition of more than 40 near-clones the the fleet since 2012.
Viking is led by cruise entrepreneur Torstein Hagen, who worked for Royal Viking Line before starting up his own venture. Previously, Hagan was CEO at Royal Viking Line and has served as a member of the board of directors for Holland America Line and Kloster Cruise, Ltd. He also served as a partner in management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Viking changed its name from Viking River Cruises to the simpler Viking Cruises in 2013 to reflect the creation of its new ocean-going line.