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The Short Version: More than two decades ago, Viking® set out with four ships and a vision to create destination-focused cruises for “the thinking person” with an emphasis on the food, people, culture, and customs. Now with a fleet that numbers more than 60 ships, Viking provides both river and ocean cruises in four major regions of the world, including 25 countries. The all-inclusive itineraries to breathtaking locations, and adult-only atmosphere on board, make its trips ideal for couples who are eager to explore the world. As Viking expands in the coming years, the company expects to add many more ships and destinations to its offerings.
In 1997, Viking® embarked on a mission to create a more destination-focused experience as an alternative to the mainstream cruise model. Starting with a fleet of four ships, Viking quickly became known for its intimate, inclusive cruises designed for a smaller number of guests. This means travelers get to dive deep into their destinations by familiarizing themselves with the local food, culture, customs, and people.
Viking is almost as famous for the list of things they don’t have onboard: casinos, children, and umbrella drinks. The cruise line also doesn’t believe in nickel-and-diming its customers.
Each cruise takes guests along one of the world’s greatest waterways in serene Scandinavian-style spaces that are quiet and bursting with natural light. Ships are designed to give the small number of guests a chance to get to know each other better throughout their trip.
“Twenty years ago, river cruising was unknown to most North American travelers, and today we are proud that Viking is a household name. We have spent more than $1 billion marketing the concept of destination-focused cruising,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman and Founder.
Among the things guests won’t find on a Viking cruise: smoking, sales pressure, formal nights, inside staterooms, and charges for soft drinks, wine, or beer at lunch and dinner.
It’s the cozy atmosphere of a limited-capacity ship filled with like-minded adult travelers, and the absence of fees, all of which give Viking a great reputation for romantic, authentic experiences that bring guests closer to many of the world’s cultures — and to each other.
Viking cruises have a strong focus on cultural enrichment through immersive experiences — both on board and on land. Guests are treated to menus that feature the region’s cuisine prepared by highly-trained chefs. Classic American fare is available as well to ensure everyone has a broad range of food options. Couples can enjoy breakfast on the Sun Deck and Aquavit Terrace, eat lunch in the alfresco dining area on the ship’s bow, and enjoy dinner at an elegant restaurant. Attentive and hospitable staff ensure a great dining experience at every meal.
The exclusive onboard Culture Curriculum allows guests to take a deeper dive into the destination’s people, language, and culture. Guests learn about their ports of call through ship activities like art, history lectures, or onboard wine tastings. Onshore, guests may attend performances that feature local musicians and artists. Viking ships average more than 11 hours at Northern European ports, giving you and your partner plenty of time to check out breathtaking sights and experience the culture firsthand.
Spend free time in the onboard library, which features walls of books, comfortable reading spaces, and lots of light. Reading material is carefully curated to include a blend of inspirational and informative literature, including books that feature the destination.
As a result of its carefully planned cruises and attention to guests, Viking won a combined five Cruise Critic Editors’ Picks Awards in 2017, including for best enrichment and best shore excursions for its river cruises.
Viking is proud to include — at no extra cost to guests — amenities valued at an average $200 per day — charges many competitors apply to cruise fees. You can board knowing that you won’t find any surprise bills when your trip is over, nor will you have to remember to sign off on purchases and services throughout the day.
All staterooms are water-facing, so guests get a premium experience as the ship navigates the waterway. Rooms are spacious and outfitted with king-size beds, plush duvets, and down-filled pillows. Bathrooms have heated floors and premium Freyja® toiletries.
The cruise line’s no-children policy means that couples with young children can take a well-deserved respite from their parenting duties — and those who don’t have kids can vacation without being bothered by those of their fellow travelers.
The award-winning spa is free for all guests, as are the alternative dining options and one shore excursion at each port of call. Also included in the price of each ticket are complimentary room service, specialty teas and coffees, unlimited wifi usage, and prepaid port fees and taxes.
From the initial four ships that it launched in 1997, Viking is continually growing and adding ships to serve more travelers and create new itineraries. “We launched Viking with a vision that travel could be more destination-focused. Our vision has resonated with people,” Torstein said.
A new agreement with shipbuilding company Fincantieri is set to expand Viking’s fleet by six ocean ships by 2027. This is in addition to 10 others that have been ordered. Seven new river ships, including six award-winning Viking Longships, will debut in 2019. The seventh ship is specially designed for its route on the Douro River in Portugal.
“We lead the river cruise industry, and with our ocean cruises, we have transported the intimacy of a river cruise onto the open seas. With the arrival of our sixth ocean ship in 2019, we will be the largest small ship ocean cruise line, and we look forward to introducing even more guests to the Viking way of travel,” said Torstein.