*logoViking River Cruises' newest ship, the Viking Legend, will not only be the company's first Europe launch since the Viking Helvetia three years ago but one of the first river cruise ships to feature a greener diesel engine that propels an electrical generator.

"At any given moment the ship's energy needs are automatically calculated and the engines produce and supply only as much energy as needed," Viking's vice president of nautical operations, Thomas Bogler, said in a statement. "This allows the ship to use 20% less energy than a comparable ship."

According to Viking, the new ship will also be a quieter ride, with four smaller propellers instead of two large propellers.

"The diesel engine is smaller than a conventional engine, so it vibrates less, making it very quiet," Bogler said. "The system also allows us to continue cruising, even if one of the engines has to be taken offline for scheduled maintenance; remaining engines will simply produce more output to compensate."

VikingLegendConstructionThe 189-passenger Legend will be christened in Cologne, Germany on July 2.

It will sail an inaugural cruise from Cologne, arriving in Amsterdam on July 5. It will then operate the 15-day Viking River Cruises Grand European Tour itinerary along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers between Amsterdam and Budapest. The Legend has 10 scheduled departures on that itinerary in 2009, five in one direction and five in the opposite direction, between July 5 and Nov. 8.

The 443-foot ship will be the longest in the Viking fleet. It will feature 98 staterooms, of which two are 310-square-foot suites. Cabins will include 26 inch, flat-screen televisions, refrigerators, hairdryers and in room safes. The Legend will also include a restaurant, library, sun deck, onboard boutique and an observation lounge.

Viking worked with Norwegian design firm of Yran & Storbraaten to design the ship's interiors, which will be similar to that of the Helvetia, Viking Surkov and Viking Kirov, according to the company.

Yran & Storbraaten's "signature look is a warm neutral palette of colors, bright woods and Scandinavian-inspired design," Bogler said.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI