The largest fleet in river cruising will undergo a substantial expansion in 2013-2014. That's when Viking River Cruises will introduce an unprecedented 18 new vessels to the rivers of Europe. Ten new Longships will join the fleet in 2013, with an additional eight ships set to debut in 2014.
In an industry first, Viking will christen eight of the new ships in one simultaneous ceremony in Amsterdam in March of 2013. The remaining two vessels will come on line in August and September of 2013.
The 18 new vessels will join six Longships that made their debut in 2012, bringing the line's total newbuild count to 24 ships in three years.
That's an impressive statistic distinguishing Viking River Cruises in the increasingly competitive river cruise industry. Here's some key facts to know about the Viking Longships.
- Each of the ships is named for a Viking god, in honor of the line's Norwegian heritage. Founder Torstein Hagen launched the line in 1997.
- The Longships will sail popular itineraries, such as the Grand European Tour; Romantic Danube; Tulips & Windmills; Danube Waltz; Rhine Getaway; Grand Rivers of Europe; Passage to Eastern Europe and European Sojourn.
- Each of the vessels accommodates 190 passengers. The ships include a number of sustainability features, including solar panels, energy-efficient engines and organic onboard herb gardens.
- Longship features include an array of different stateroom categories. Those categories include two 445 sq.-ft. Explorer Suites, seven 275-ft. Veranda Suites, 39 Veranda Staterooms, 22 French Balcony and 25 Standard staterooms.
- Staterooms on the Longships feature private baths with showers, heated floors and additional amenities that include premium toiletries. Staterooms also include refrigerators, safes and hair dryers.
- The retractable glass panels of the Aquavit Terrace create an indoor-outdoor dining and lounge area.
- Various design elements on board the ships was inspired by the line's Norwegian heritage, as well. Examples include embroidery on the backs of chairs in the main foyer, which emulates the traditional Norwegian "rosemaling" styloe of decorative painting.
- Images of a carved Viking ship's prow appear on emblems on the glass doors of the ships. And the hulls of historic Viking ships served as the inspiration for the design of the bars aboard the Longships.