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Fast-growing Viking unveils 4 new cruise vessels on France's Seine River

March 17, 2022
7 min read
Viking river ships docked in Paris
Fast-growing Viking unveils 4 new cruise vessels on France's Seine River
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Editor’s note: TPG’s Gene Sloan accepted a free trip from Viking to attend a preview event this week for the line's new Seine River ships. The opinions expressed below are entirely his and weren’t subject to review by the line.


Fast-growing Viking on Wednesday officially unveiled four new cruise vessels specifically designed for the Seine River in France — a major milestone in the company's comeback from the COVID-19-related cruising downturn of the past two years.

Christened late in the day during a short but upbeat ceremony in Paris, the 410-foot-long, 168-passenger ships — Viking Fjorgyn, Viking Kari, Viking Radgrid and Viking Skaga — each are 33 feet shorter than the typical Viking river vessel, allowing them to dock in the heart of the city just a short walk from the Eiffel Tower.

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Until recently, Viking operated longer vessels on the Seine River that had to dock about 10 miles from the center of Paris. Passengers faced long shuttle bus rides to reach top attractions.

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Due to their shorter size, the new vessels are capable of reaching a docking location less than 1,000 yards from the Eiffel Tower and not far from such top Parisian attractions as the Louvre and the Musée d'Orsay.

The docking location, known as the Port de Grenelle, is exclusive to Viking and was the site of Wednesday's christening event.

"We're bouncing back quite nicely," Viking chairman and founder Torstein Hagen said at a press event in advance of the christening, noting that the two-year downturn in cruising caused by the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be coming to end.

In addition to christening four new ships in Paris on Wednesday, Viking simultaneously christened four new vessels in Amsterdam that will sail this year on the Rhine, Main and Danube river complex. The christenings of the four vessels in Amsterdam were projected onto a screen at the christening event in Paris, which was attended by a small group of Viking executives, representatives of the German shipyard that built the vessels and travel industry leaders.

The event was one of the largest joint christenings of cruise vessels in history.

A procession of ship captains and godmothers kicked off Wednesday's multi-ship christening event. (Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)

The christening event was followed by a gala dinner at Hotel D'Evreux, a 300-year-old mansion next to the Ritz Paris that's owned by the Emir of Qatar.

The hours-long celebration was the first major in-person event that Viking has held with travel industry leaders and media since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It served to telegraph to cruisers and cruise sellers around the world that "Viking is back."

Not that things ever really slowed down at Viking, even during the period when its ships had stopped sailing.

Speaking with media before the event, Hagen noted the eight new Viking ships christened on Wednesday were among 16 new vessels that have recently or will soon join the Viking fleet. Unlike some cruise brands, Viking continued to expand its fleet rapidly during the COVID-19-related industry downturn.

With the addition of the eight ships, Viking currently has 80 river ships around the world as well as six traditional ocean ships and a recently unveiled expedition-style ocean ship.

Hagen founded Viking in 1997 with just four river vessels. As recently as 2012, the company operated just 29 ships. The privately owned brand, which now has 10,000 employees, has been one of the fastest growing cruise operators in history.

The four river ships christened on the Seine River on Wednesday originally were scheduled to debut in 2020. Their arrival was delayed due to the COVID-19-related worldwide halt to cruising that year. Three of the four ships operated a shortened season on the Seine in 2021, but this is the first full year that all four vessels will be in operation.

All four new Viking river ships on the Seine River were lined up on Wednesday for a series of traditional bottle breakings. (Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)

Each of the four ships has 84 cabins — 11 fewer than the typical Viking river ship. But they look essentially identical to the larger Viking "longships" that sail on most rivers in Europe.

Each of the ships has the wide range of cabin types (including multiroom suites) that is a Viking signature. Cruisers also will recognize the streamlined Scandinavian design on the four vessels that is a hallmark of the brand. Public spaces include an expansive sun deck, a restaurant, a lounge with a bar, a boutique and a library.

Wednesday's christening ceremony included a formal bottle-breaking for each of the eight vessels, each of which had its own godmother. Six of the eight godmothers were in attendance at the event in Paris, with two more attending by video link.

One of the godmothers at Wednesday's event released a dove for peace. (Photo by Gene Sloan/The Points Guy)

Instead of a bottle of Champagne, as is tradition, each of the ships was christened with a bottle of Norwegian aquavit -- a nod to Hagen's Norwegian heritage.

The godmothers included top executives at several of North America's largest travel agency networks as well as a medieval literature scholar, two child music prodigies and a former member of the Norwegian parliament.

More subdued than a typical Viking christening ceremony, in part in deference to the war in Ukraine, the event included the release of white doves as a symbol of peace.

"Some much needed peace, love and hope flying into the skies of Paris," the event's master of ceremonies, Alastair Miller, said as the birds were released.

Viking has been a leader in river cruises both in Russia and Ukraine, and the war has affected not just its operations in the countries but the lives of many of its crew members. Viking has canceled all Russia and Ukraine river sailings for the year as well as stops by ocean cruise ships in St. Petersburg, Russia.

As part of Wednesday's event, Viking announced a new three-night post-trip extension for its Paris cruises called "Paris: A Culinary Experience" that will focus on the cuisine of the French capital. Available beginning in 2023, the trip extension will include a day at a Parisian cooking school for a croissant-baking workshop with a local chef and an evening wine and cheese tasting with an expert sommelier, among other food-related activities.

Related: The ultimate guide to picking a cruise line

Viking on Wednesday also announced a new, seven-night Christmas on the Seine itinerary out of Paris that will be available over winter holiday seasons starting later this year.

The main Seine River itinerary that the four new Viking ships will operate includes day stops in La Roche Guyon (for an excursion to Claude Monet’s home in Giverny) and Les Andelys. They also bring an overnight stay in the cathedral city of Rouen, allowing for a day trip to the Normandy beaches. The trips begin and end with overnight stays in Paris.

Fares for Viking's Seine sailings start at $1,999 per person, not including taxes and fees.

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Featured image by Adam Hillier
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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