Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Viking doubles long-ship fleet in Europe

  • Print
Aquavit terrace.

POSTMEDIA Enlarge Image

Aquavit terrace.

AVIGNON, France -- During the Viking Age, the early long ships built by Nordic countries were self-propelled (rowing) and used for troop transports in war, for commerce and for exploration.

Today, Viking Cruises long ships are modern, 190-passenger conveyances that are still exploring the rivers of Europe, featuring a sleek and contemporary Scandinavian design which, combined with such names of mythical Norse gods such as Idun, Odin and Freya, honours their rich Norse heritage.

Although Torstein Hagen's title is chairman and CEO of Viking River Cruises, entrepreneur also fits nicely. At one point, he decided Viking should own the rivers of Europe. With the addition of 14 new long ships this week, Viking now has 30 of them cruising the rivers of Europe. If you go by the number of ships, it's an indicator Hagen now has such custody.

He doesn't believe in change for change's sake, so except for a few tweaks to the decor here and there, the new long ships are much the same. His credo is: Keep it simple. And it's worked. Viking is 80 per cent sold out for 2014.

Hagen once told a writer "100 ships by 2020!" He may be on his way to achieving this.

This week dignitaries, media and travel agent leaders from Europe and North America gathered on the left bank of the Rhone River in Avignon, France, within sight of the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), as Hagen and 18 "godmothers" launched 14 new long ships as well as two that were launched late last year and two smaller ships that will sail the Douro River in Portugal, bringing the total to 18.

Red and white balloons festooned the long ships on view, and much French champagne preceded and followed the event. Geraldine Ree, a senior vice-president for Expedia CruiseShipCenter and godmother for Viking Eistla, represented Canada.

For the California-based cruise line, the last few years have been a rocket ride to success. Much of the public awareness of Viking and river cruising in general has to be through the company's sponsorship of Masterpiece Theatre, in particular Downton Abbey.

With all these ships being launched, it begs the question: Are there now too many? With the new ships already at the near sold-out point, the answer is obvious.

Here's the anatomy of a modern Viking long ship:

-- They are the largest river ships that can fit through the locks on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers.

-- All outside cabins and suites range in size from 135 square feet (small, but very few of them) to 445 square feet, many with either a balcony or French balcony. Most cabins are 250 square feet, including the balcony.

-- Cabins include room under beds for luggage, 40-inch flat-screen TVs with movie channels, free Wi-Fi, a fridge, and voltage for 220 and 110.

-- The main restaurant seats all 190 passengers, with occasional themed dinners.

-- The Aquavit Terrace at the bow is great for indoor/outdoor dining or just people-watching and river-watching.

-- Local entertainers and speakers occasionally gather in the lounge area.

-- Included with fare are all dining, beer, wine, soft drinks with meals, coffee any time and shore excursions.

-- Passengers are generally English speaking, from the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia in the 55-plus age category.

After the launch, I had the opportunity to experience a shortened version of Viking's newest itinerary -- Ch0teaux, Rivers and Wine -- along the rivers of Aquitaine in France. Ah, what wines should I select? More on that cruise and the Douro River cruises next week.

-- Postmedia Network Inc. 2014

Visit, sponsored by Expedia CruiseShipCenters, for daily updates on the latest cruise news, best deals and behind-the-scenes stories from the industry. You can also sign up for an email newsletter on the site for even more cruise information. Phil Reimer may be contacted directly at

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 29, 2014 E4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Total Body Tune-Up: Farmer's Carry

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI  WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / July 23 2009 - 090723 - Bart Kives story - Harry Lazarenko Annual River Bank Tour - receding water from summer rains and erosion  damage by flood  and ice  during spring flooding -  Red River , Lyndale Dr. damage to tree roots , river bank damage  , high water marks after 2009 Flood - POY

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google