River Cruises Get Another Boost: Viking Speeds Up Longships Expansion

August 17, 2011
(3:20 p.m. EDT) -- In a surprise announcement, Viking River Cruises says it will speed up introduction of its revolutionary new Longships series of vessels and launch six in 2012. The news was shared with passengers today on its Viking Prestige, which is cruising the Danube.

Four of the vessels had been scheduled to launch next year as part of the company's $250 million expansion, already considered ambitious. These ships -- Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord and Viking Odin -- are slated for christening in March 2012. The additional two (Viking Embla and Viking Aegir) will debut in July and August, respectively.

The Longships, a radical new design in the European river cruise industry, features a major shift: Relocating the corridor that connects staterooms by one meter permits the construction of a series of seven veranda suites, consisting of two-room living and sleeping areas, and a balcony. In a first-ever for Viking, a pair of Explorer's Suites will be located at the ship's aft and feature wrap-around balconies.

Another significant innovation is the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace, which updates the traditional riverboat lounge by incorporating retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors. And Viking, already among the most forward-thinking cruise lines when it comes to environmental enhancements, will include hybrid engines, solar panels and organic herb gardens on the Longships.

The original plan, which called for the introduction of 10 Longship-class ships by 2014, will otherwise remain. The additional four vessels will be christened in 2013. The Longships are being designed by Yran & Storbraaten, the maritime architects behind Disney Dream and Seabourn's Odyssey trio of ships.

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief