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Viking River Cruises Announces $250 Million Fleet Development Program

This week Viking River Cruises released details of its fleet development program, which includes eight new builds and two comprehensive refurbishments representing a $250 million commitment over the next three years. Adding eight new vessels will bring the total number of ships operated by the company to 26, an increase in capacity of more than 40 percent. The first new ship, Viking Prestige, will debut in Europe in 2011. Also making its inaugural in 2011, Viking Emerald will sail in China as a replacement for Viking Century Sun. Additional European vessels will follow in 2012 and 2013. Over the past decade, I've sailed on three of Viking's ships in Europe -- the Viking Spirit, Viking Neptune, and Viking Europe -- and had a great experience every time. More Information on New Viking River Ships Making its debut in 2011 is Europe's Viking Prestige, a 189-bed sister ship to the company's flagship Viking Legend, the industry's first "green" river cruise vessel. With the same hybrid propulsion system, Viking Prestige will use less fuel and provide a smoother, quieter ride than other ships. Viking Prestige will travel the 8-day Romantic Danube itinerary, sailing from Budapest to Nuremberg. The ship will also feature French balconies on the top two decks and large suites. In 2004, Viking was the first to have western-operated ships sailing China's Yangtze River. I sailed on Viking's inaugural Yangtze voyage on the Viking Century Star, and was very impressed with the cruise tour and Viking's China operation. In 2011, Viking will also introduce Viking Emerald, a 264-guest vessel with the largest suites in river cruising--the 840-square-foot Presidential Suites will have separate sitting and sleeping areas, two flat-screen televisions, panoramic windows and a private wrap-around balcony--as well as deluxe 269-square-foot staterooms with hotel-style beds and private balconies. Like Viking Century Sun, Viking Emerald will feature a state-of-the-art kitchen where Asian and European cuisine will be prepared by a catering staff trained and managed by Viking's Swiss management team. Viking plans for each of the new European ships to feature sophisticated, understated, and elegant decor. The design concepts have been realized by renowned Norwegian maritime architects Yran & Storbraaten, who also designed ships for Silversea and Seabourn. Viking Prestige, with all-outside staterooms and unobstructed panoramic views throughout, will be built by the Neptun Shipyard in Rostock, Germany, part of the Meyer Neptun Group. Complete Refurbishments Increase the Overall Quality of the Viking Fleet In addition to new ships, Viking River Cruises has announced plans for two complete refurbishments to its existing fleet. Scheduled for completion in 2011, Viking Pakhomov will undergo a full bow-to-stern renovation like those of its Russian sister ships, Viking Surkov and Viking Kirov, relaunched in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The ship will be stripped down to its hull, and rebuilt to feature all deluxe staterooms with hotel-style beds, flat-panel televisions and the latest amenities. Public areas, such as the restaurant, lounges, library and bar, will also be completely remodeled with Viking's Scandinavian d├ęcor. Viking Surkov, Viking Kirov and Viking Pakhomov sail Russia's Volga, Neva, and Svir Rivers between Moscow and St. Petersburg. In Europe, Viking Schumann, a ship purpose-built for the Elbe River with a shallow draft and pump-jet engines, will receive bow-to-stern refurbishments to match those of sister ship Viking Fontane for 2010. While all public areas of Viking Schumann, including the restaurant, bar and lounge, will be refurbished, the most substantial changes are planned for stateroom accommodations. On the upper deck, eight 180-square-foot deluxe staterooms are to be created, while all standard staterooms will be upgraded with standard-size beds. Viking's almost all-inclusive pricing features accommodations, all meals, daily guided shore excursions, port charges, and more.

URL:http://cruises.about.com/b/2010/05/28/viking-fleet-development-program.htm