Viking Becomes the First River Cruise Line to Sail Year-Round in Europe
Viking has announced a new river cruise itinerary, debuting in December, 2023, making it the first river cruise line to operate year-round on Europe's rivers - which comes with some benefits for travelers opting into river cruising at that time of the year.
Viking's new 'Treasures of the Rhine' cruises will allow guests the opportunity to experience Europe’s rich culture during winter, even after the region's famous Christmas markets have closed.
In 2022, Viking already dedicated more ships to late November and December Christmas market sailings, with an itinerary focusing on the seasonal markets and local holiday tastes and activities.
This year, once the Christmas markets have closed up for the season, rather than closing up itself for 3 months until the traditional early spring start of river cruising, Viking will keep sailing with its new itinerary kicking in.
The formerly 'off' season lets guests who can only get away at that time of the year access to the pleasures of river cruising. They also benefit from typically fewer other tourists in the region at that time of the year, meaning town squares, museums and other attractions - even restaurants for those who want to enjoy local fare in places like Amsterdam, Basel, and Cologne - will be less crowded, and for many, more appealing. Your out-of-pocket expenses are likely to be less, too, as prices are typically lower in 'off' season.
“The Middle Rhine is one of our most popular destinations—with constantly changing views of hilltop castles, historic towns and terraced vineyards along the steep valley sides, it is a region that will always be best explored by the river,” Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking, said when announcing the new itinerary.
“Many of our guests have sailed the Rhine during other seasons, so we are pleased to offer a new option for those who may be interested experiencing Europe during a quieter time of year.”
Viking’s New, Treasures of the Rhine Itinerary
The 10-day Treasures of the Rhine itinerary sails guests along the popular the Middle Rhine, a UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting turreted fortresses, grand cathedrals, medieval towns and stunning scenery. Guests can admire the terraced vineyards dating back to the Romans and taste the region’s renowned red and white wines while enjoying the comforts of a 190-guest Viking 'Longship' with cozy, Scandinavian design and verandas so you never miss a view.
The Rhine at Any Time
As my photo, top, taken last December on a Viking river cruise on the Rhine can attest, any time of the year, sailing past hilltop castles along the Middle Rhine, tasting the German wines of the Rhine and French wines of Alsace, enjoying the charms of medieval villages in the Black Forest and fascinating cities like Amsterdam, Cologne, Strasbourg and Basel is a thrill.
The new itinerary is also going to mean that even though river cruises are often nearly selling out a full year in advance, the new tranche of sailings beginning in December means that you might not have to wait to get on the Rhine in the months ahead.
Start Your European River Cruise!
By: Lynn Elmhirst, cruise/ travel journalist
Top Image: copyright Lynn Elmhirst
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