River Cruise Two more Longships join Viking's river fleet By Michelle Baran / March 08, 2017 Share 1 -- Viking Cruises christened two river ships, the Hild and the Herja, in Koblenz, Germany on Tuesday. Including those vessels, Viking has launched 55 Longships in six years. The introduction of the Hild and Herja coincides with Viking's 20th anniversary in the river cruise industry. Viking was founded by chairman Torstein Hagen in 1997, when he purchased four river cruise ships in Russia. Over the last six years, Viking has executed a huge expansion, building the company's Longship class of ships at a whirlwind pace. The two new ships come on top of six launched last year, 12 in 2015 and a record-breaking 18 in 2014."Two decades ago when we started this company, modern river cruising was still unknown to most travelers. Now 20 years later, we are pleased that most travelers know river cruising," Hagen said in a statement.Princess Stephanie Lowenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg, CEO of Weingut Furst Lowenstein, a family-owned winery in Kleinheubach, Germany, served as godmother of the Viking Hild. Debbie Wiseman, a British composer and conductor, served as godmother of the Viking Herja.The Viking Hild will sail the Rhine this spring on Viking's new "Paris to the Swiss Alps" itinerary. Later this year, both new ships will sail the "Danube Waltz" and "Rhine Getaway" itineraries. Viking introduced its Longship class in 2011, when it unveiled the concept of a river cruise ship with an off-center corridor that allows for a greater variety of cabin configurations. It was the start of Viking building balcony cabins on its river vessels. As with all Longships, the 190-passenger Hild and Herja feature contemporary Scandinavian-influenced design elements, as well as an Aquavit Terrace with retractable floor-to-ceiling glass doors for dining inside or al fresco, depending on the weather. On each vessel there are two 445-square-foot explorer suites; seven 275-square-foot veranda suites; 39 veranda staterooms (at 205 square feet); and 22 French balcony staterooms (at 135 square feet). All Viking Longships have solar panels and organic herb gardens onboard, as well as energy-efficient hybrid engines intended to reduce vibrations.