Viking Cruises this year will introduce land tours that guests can tack on to either end of a river cruise.
“We are in the midst of launching a series of new itineraries that take the base river cruises that we have in existence today and adds land tour components to them,” said Richard Marnell, senior vice president of marketing for Viking.
There will be at least seven Viking cruise-tour itineraries launching in the coming months in destinations throughout Europe.
While Viking currently offers its river passengers two- and three-day pre- and post-cruise packages, Marnell said that the new itineraries will be part of an expanded, guided tour program. Itineraries will be longer than just a few days.
“[Passengers] like spending more time in Europe than just the one-week river cruise,” he said.
Viking’s Castles and Legends cruise-tour, for example, includes two nights in Munich and two nights in Salzburg plus a river cruise from Passau, Germany, to Budapest.
The Grand European Tour and Belgium includes two nights in Ghent, Belgium, and two nights in Amsterdam in addition to a river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest.
Despite all the excitement surrounding the launch of the 938-passenger ocean-cruise ship Viking Star in April, which will mark Viking’s entrance into the blue-water business, Marnell said that Viking remains fully committed to growing and enhancing its river cruise product.
And the new tour product is an attempt to do just that; it grew out of river cruise customers asking for extended Viking-branded travel options while in Europe.
Arguably, so too is the ocean product.
“We do not view the addition of ocean cruises as a shift in focus,” Marnell said. “Rather, it is a natural extension of the Viking brand, as many of our guests take both river and ocean cruises.”
When Viking was developing its ocean product, the company surveyed its river passengers and learned that 50% of them also sailed on ocean cruises.
With the addition of 12 river cruise vessels in Europe this year, Viking will operate 52 river cruise ships in Europe (not counting three in Russia and Ukraine).