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The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

The Viking Sky and Sea meet in Santorini, Greece. Photo from Viking Cruises.

Viking Cruises — which already operates the world’s largest and most popular river cruise line with almost 60 ships in Europe, Russia, Egypt, and Asia– is now moving into ocean cruising in a big way.

Viking launched its first ocean-going ship, the Viking Star, in 2015, and in April 2016 launched its second, the Viking Sea. (I’m looking forward to a voyage on the Viking Sea this fall in the eastern Mediterranean).

And it’s launching more ocean-going vessels, the Viking Sky, Sun, and Spirit, in 2017 or 2018. A sixth unnamed ship is on order for 2020, and if Viking’s explosive growth in river cruising is any indication, other ocean-going cruise lines may want to watch their backs.

Viking’s ocean-going vessels hold a maximum of 930 passengers and, in this age of megaships, can be classified as “small ships” or “midsized,” depending on who’s doing the classifying. All cabins have verandas and pricing is inclusive of shore excursions and beer or wine at lunch and dinner — both offering huge savings over many other cruise lines.

The Deluxe Veranda staterooms on Viking Ocean ships are spacious and light-filled.. Photo from Viking Cruises.

The Deluxe Veranda staterooms on Viking Ocean ships are spacious and light-filled.. Photo from Viking Cruises.

I got a good sense of what makes Viking successful when I took a Viking river cruise in Europe this past fall. Not only are the ships Scandinavian-style state-of-the-art, but the service is top notch and everything runs like clockwork. They know what they’re doing.

Viking prides itself on being destination oriented — with more time in port, more overnights and fewer days at sea — appealing to experienced travelers who are interested in the art, geography, history, and cultures of the world. In my experience, that describes a good many baby boomer passengers, and boomers are in fact Viking’s prime customers.

New Itineraries Added

Viking Ocean Cruises has just announced 10 new itineraries for its sailings in 2017 and 2018, which will add more than 30 ports of call to their offerings throughout Europe, the Americas, and the Caribbean, including Havana, Cuba.

With sailings from Bergen, London, New York, Puerto Rico, Venice and more, Viking will offer itineraries ranging from eight-day to 22-day multi-country sailings. Here are seven of my upcoming favorites:

  • Trade Routes of the Middle Ages – (From Bergen to Barcelona; sailing on Viking Star, September 2017 and May 2018) – During this 15-day itinerary, you can follow the trade routes of the Middle Ages from Norway to Spain. with stops in seven different countries and 10 ports with storied naval histories including Amsterdam, Paris, and two ports each in England, Portugal and Spain. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $3,999 per person.            
  • Venice, the Adriatic and Greece – (From Venice to Athens; sailing on Viking Sun and Viking Spirit, October 2017; July – August 2018) – This cruise explores the cobbled streets of four countries and seven cities along the Adriatic coast. The eight-day itinerary starts with two days in Venice before calling on Croatia, Montenegro, and historic and scenic sites in Greece. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $2,499 per person.
    The Aquavit Terrace offers al fresco dining on each Viking Ocean ship. Photo from Viking Cruises.

    The Aquavit Terrace offers al fresco dining on each Viking Ocean ship. Photo from Viking Cruises.

  • South America and the Caribbean – (From San Juan to San Juan; Sailing on Viking Sea and Viking Sky, October – December 2017; January – March 2018) This 11-day itinerary will take in six countries and seven ports in the Caribbean: historic San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, as well as Aruba and Curacao in the far southern Caribbean and ports in South America including Cartagena and Santa Maria in Colombia and Venezuela’s capital, Caracas. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $3,199 per person.      
  • Iconic Cities of the Western Mediterranean – (From Barcelona to Rome; Sailing on Viking Sun and Viking Spirit, November – December 2017; January – February, April, July and September 2018) – The French Riviera and Italy’s renaissance treasures are among the highlights of this eight-day Mediterranean itinerary. Ports include Barcelona, the resort town of St. Tropez, tiny Monaco, and cities throughout Tuscany before reaching Rome. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $1,999 per person.

  • Central American Shores and Cuba – (From Miami to Miami; Sailing on Viking Sun, December 2017) – The Western Caribbean stars in this eight-day itinerary through four countries and five ports, including two days in Havana, Cuba. Belize City, Belize, is also on the itinerary for crystal-clear snorkeling opportunities or mysterious Mayan ruins. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $2,499 per person.    
  • From the Caribbean to the Amazon – (From San Juan to San Juan; Sailing on Viking Sea, December 2017) – Passengers on this 22-day cruise experience a rich variety of ports throughout the Caribbean and South America, including sailing into the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $5,999 per person.    
  • Southern Mediterranean Discovery – (From Rome to Barcelona; Sailing on Viking Star, December 2017; January – March 2018) – An eight-day cultural sojourn throughout the southern Mediterranean, this cruise takes in Sicily, Sardinia, Tunisia and the Casbah of Algiers, Algeria, before ending in Valencia and Barcelona, Spain. Inclusive pricing for veranda staterooms start at $1,999 per person.
  • The Viking Star in Venice. Photo from Viking Cruises.

    The Viking Star in Venice. Photo from Viking Cruises.

Added note: The Viking Sun will set sail on its maiden voyage in December 2017 for the company’s first-ever world cruise, spanning 141-days and visiting five continents, 35 countries and 66 ports. The voyage will sail from Miami and end in London.

Full details on the new 2017 – 2018 offerings can be found on Viking’s website here.

Early Booking Discounts

From now through June 30, 2016, Viking is offering U.S. residents an Early Booking Discount on 2017 and 2018 departures: 2-for-1 cruise fares, plus take up to $1,000 off air per person. Contact a travel agent or call Viking toll free at 1-855-884-5464.

 

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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