Lifestyle & Travel

Apr 1, 2016

River retreats

Besides being relaxing, cruising through the calm waters of a river is one of the most comfortable ways to travel and go on vacations with a strong cultural element. The river cruises division of Viking Cruises, one of the world's largest, offers a wide variety of river accessible destinations whether in Europe, Russia, Asia or Egypt.

Viking Cruises is comprised of two business units, both in constant growth: river cruises and oceanic cruises. The company was created in 1997, with the acquisition of four river ships destined to cruise in Russia. Viking's founders, a joint-venture of Scandinavian and Dutch entrepreneurs, wanted to introduce European travellers to Russian river destinations, providing high quality of service and comfort.

Almost 20 years later, Viking keeps on growing. The company already has 35 ships, spread throughout four regions of the globe, transporting about 110.000 passengers every year. Viking's clients are mainly interested in history, culture and arts themes, that are related to the countries and most memorable places they visit.

There are many and comprehensive itineraries. In Europe, Viking's modern cruise vessels sail rivers such as the Rhine, the Main, the Danube, the Sein, the Sahône, the Rhône, the Douro, the Moselle, the Elba, the Dordogne, the Garonne and the Gironde. In Russia, Viking has placed its ships taking passengers along the Volga, the Neva and the Svir Rivers. In Asia, the great rivers Yangtsé (China), Mekong (Indochina peninsula) and the Irrawaddy (Myanmar, formerly Burma). In Egypt, Viking sails the Nile.

Recently, the company has introduced a new cruise ship concept named "Longships", which changed the traditional paradigms for the construction of these types of vessels, and introduced a new public areas organization, as well as the new Aquavit terrace, an industry first, which turns the ship's bow into an observation deck with inside and outside areas. This organization allows for the bow to be freed and the command bridge is placed on the top deck of the ship.

Longships also present two-room-suites with veranda, two "Explorer" suites at the back with panoramic view, hybrid engines that reduce structural vibration and allow for a much smoother ride, as well as other innovations which place this ship class ahead of the competition, especially in Europe.

For Viking Cruises, "a well-designed ship is as much an architectural feat as a piece of art", making Longships almost perfect vessels in every way.

In early March 2016, Viking introduced, six new Longships on the same day. The christening ceremony was held in Amsterdam and the ships' godmothers were chosen from among the company's partners.

This christening event marks another year of expansion for Viking. Of the six new Longships, four will be deployed on Viking's most popular itineraries on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers; the remaining two will sail the Seine River on Viking's itinerary "Paris and the Heart of Normandy ". During March the company has also introduced a new ship in the Douro river, in Portugal. This Longship was built purposely for that waterway, increasing to three the number of Viking's ships operating in the country.

On-board the Longships there is a myriad of activities to choose from: product demonstrations, culinary workshops, traditional dances and taste events, are experiences included in the traveling experience, making it an important part of the discovery every passenger experiences while cruising. All activities are specifically planned for each itinerary.

If, sometimes, the traveller wants to dig a little deeper, the company offers a series of on-board informative lectures to shed light on the history and culture of the places visited. Topics may include the Dutch Masters or French Impressionists, castles along the Rhine Valley, the formation of the European Union, the life and works of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the wine and cuisine of southern France, and key words and phrases in the local language wherever you are traveling.

These presentations provide a context for your own observations, enhancing your travel experience.

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