Viking Opens European River Cruises Early Due to Strong Demand

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Citing strong demand for 2024 and 2025 journeys, Viking Cruises has announced an early opening for river cruise bookings for its 2026 season.

Viking also said it will add 10 new longships to its fleet in the next two years. They’ll join the 80 ships already in service for Viking Cruises.

Viking Cruises Opens 2024 European River Season

With many of the 2024 dates already sold out and 2025 filling up quickly, Viking Cruises has opened bookings for 2026. This also comes after the cruise line had its largest booking month to date in January 2023, a month that saw 18 of Viking Cruises’ all-time top 20 booking days as well as the most bookings received in a single day.

“Our guests are curious travelers who are interested in history, art, and culture, which is why Europe remains our most popular destination,said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “The idea of a modern river voyage is still new to many, even to some of the most well-traveled individuals. But make no mistake; there is no better way of exploring the heart of Europe than sailing its historic waterways on an elegant Viking Longship.”

Among the 2026 itineraries being offered is the 8-day, four-country “Danube Waltz” tour from Budapest, Hungary, to Passau, Germany. That trip, which includes six guided tours, includes stops in Bratislava (Slovakia), Vienna (Austria), Krems (Austria), and Linz (Austria). 

Also offered is the “Rhine Getaway,” an 8-day trip from Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland, that explores the Rhine River’s historic fortresses, cathedrals, and medieval towns, along with visits to local vineyards and wine tastings.

Viking River Cruise Ships
Viking River Cruise Ships (Photo Credit: Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock)

For Francophiles, an 8-day trip through Paris and Normancy includes four days in the French capital along with visits to La Roche-Guyon, Les Andelys, and the beaches of Normandy, the site of the historic D-Day landings of World War II. 

Other itineraries include journeys through Lyon and Provence in France and the Douro River Valley in Portugal. During the winter season, Viking Cruises offers trips that explore the popular Christmas markets of Germany and France along the Rhine River.

Through Dec. 31, 2023, Viking Cruises is offering North American travelers special fares and free international airfare for 2026 bookings along with other incentives. Regular fares include free onboard WiFi, 24-hour specialty coffees and teas, and free beer, wine, and soft drinks onboard during lunch and dinner.

Free, guided tours are available in each city the ship stops in, and guests can also book more elaborate excursions for hosted dinners and tours of local landmarks.

10 New Ships Coming Soon to Viking Cruises

As Viking Cruises begins booking its 2026 season, it also awaits 10 new longships currently under construction. Eight of the new ships will sail itineraries on the Rhine, Main, and Danube rivers. Two more vessels will offer trips along the Seine River. 

A keel laying ceremony for all 10 vessels was held in early December at the Neptun Werft shipyard in the port city of Rostock in eastern Germany. This shipyard has built each of Viking Cruises’ distinctive longships since 2012.

Viking River Ships
Viking River Ships (Photo Credit: Tito Slack)

Unlike ocean cruise ships, these longships typically are just a few decks high and accommodate about 200 passengers while still offering full-size staterooms and cabins with verandahs. The vessels are designed lower to the water so that they may travel under the lower bridges of European rivers.

Read Also: Who Owns Viking Cruises?

“Ever since we started Viking 26 years ago, our mission has been to help our guests explore the world in comfort. We focus on the destination, and we build elegant, innovative ships,” Hagen said. “We look forward to welcoming these new longships to our European fleet and introducing The Viking Way of exploration to even more guests in the coming years.”

In addition to river journeys in Europe, Viking Cruises offers river cruises in Asia and Egypt. Viking Cruises also operates a fleet of 10 ocean liners with itineraries that explore Europe, the Caribbean, the British Isles, Scandinavia, Central and South America, and the Mediterranean.

Viking Expeditions operates mid-size ships on specially curated trips to the Great Lakes in the United States, along with trips to the Antarctic peninsula.

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