The Vikings are invading -- again. Viking Cruises set a Guinness World Record for christening 16 river cruise ships in a 24-hour period in the Netherlands, Germany and France on Monday and Tuesday. And the company plans to christen two more ships Friday in Portugal too.
Viking shattered its own record set last year when it christened 10 new "longships" in a day. Nine ships were christened Monday in Amsterdam, followed the next day by three in Avignon, France and four in Rostock, Germany. Two more are slated to debut Friday in Porto, Portugal. All new ships will operate on European itineraries.
Aside from the record-setting hoopla, the inaugurations underscore how committed the company is to expanding and cashing in on the booming river cruise demand. USA Today reports that Viking plans to add another dozen ships in 2015, Chief Executive Torstein Hagen said Tuesday at the ceremonies in France.
Longships, intimate and smaller compared with super-sized ocean cruise ships, were introduced in 2012. The newly minted ones have 53 to 95 cabins and hold fewer than 200 passengers. The new ships will sail on the Rhine, Main, Danube and Rhone rivers.
And travelers give the ships high marks too. Conde Nast Traveler readers picked Viking Longship Odin as the No. 1 river cruise ship of 2014, and 16 other longships received high marks. USA Today reports that with the boost from 35 to 52 river ships in operation, Viking becomes Europe's biggest operator catering to North Americans.