Responding to a surge in interest, Viking River Cruises will add 12 new vessels for sailings in 2015.
Just how popular is the river cruise? When Viking launched in 1997, it had four ships cruising in Russia. By 2015, it will have 64 river vessels cruising in Europe, Russia, Asia and Egypt. Forty of those vessels are Viking long ships, which cruise exclusively in Europe and offer a variety of stateroom configurations.
River cruising is the fastest growing segment of the cruise industry, registering a 12% increase in 2012, according to a November article on CruiseCritic.
Among Viking's 12 new vessels, the Astrild and the Beyla will be custom built for the Elbe River trip between Berlin and Prague, Czech Republic.
They will offer dining al fresco and menus that use herbs from an onboard organic garden on the sunroof. Two Viking long ships already run this itinerary and will continue to do so. But the new ships will accommodate 98 guests in 49 staterooms, whereas the long ships can carry 190 passengers in 95 rooms.
This Elegant Elbe itinerary is priced from $2,706 per person, based on double occupancy on the older ships, and starts at $2,899 per person on the new ships.
Viking will offer new itineraries as well. The Rhine Getaway between Basel, Switzerland, and Amsterdam is Viking's most popular. In 2015, that trip will be joined by Legends of the Rhine, an eight-day voyage between Amsterdam and Frankfurt, Germany, priced from $2,356 per person, and the Rhine Rhapsody, priced from $2,906 per person, a 10-day trip between Basel and Paris through Germany, with a two-night stay in Paris. All prices are based on double occupancy.