Some of Viking Ra’s design features are inspired by local ships. // © 2017 Viking River Cruises
Feature image (above): Viking Ra will launch in March 2018 and sail a 12-day Egypt itinerary. // © 2017 Viking River Cruises
Hailed by travel agents as a long overdue measure to stabilize the marketplace, the new Advertising and Commissions Policy by Viking River Cruises clearly defines acceptable practices for advertising, marketing, booking and rebating its products.
Rick Kaplan, president of Premier River Cruises, said he would increase his efforts to market Viking in response to the announcement, although several agents pointed out that the policy is only as good as its enforcement.
Viking’s defined policy applies to all print or electronic media, solicitation or promotional materials concerning Viking products, including telephone, in‐person, newspaper, direct mail, magazine, catalogs, flyers, television, radio, e‐mail, internet, and/or internet booking engine. Agents can’t advertise, promote or offer any Viking product for a price less than the published rate; the price provided to agents for short-term promotions; or the price provided for bookings made through Viking’s group reservation department. The sole exception is when the agent is the reseller, which means he or she purchases a block of space and pays for any unsold staterooms in the block.
Agents can’t provide cash or non-cash incentives except in cases where the non‐cash marketing incentives are part of a sales and marketing plan promoting Viking products; in such cases, the incentives must be redeemed and used onboard the booked Viking cruise. These incentives cannot in the aggregate exceed $150 per guest for one- to seven-night cruises, or $500 in the case of cruises lasting more than 15 nights.
Cash marketing incentives may not be used as promotions or incentives to sell Viking products, whether before, on or after a cruise. These include cash; gift cards; gas cards; rebates; refunds; transfers; pre‐paid gratuities; third-party, cash-back offers; free or discounted vacation protection coverage; free or discounted hotel nights; reduced airfare; deductions of any amount from the published price; and returns/rebates of any portion of a client’s money.
There are very specific requirements for membership programs that allow members to redeem points/miles or the equivalent for travel, including Viking’s prior written approval.
At the same time, Viking announced the March 2018 launch of Viking Ra, a Nile Longship expected to be sold primarily in the North American market. The newly acquired vessel is being stripped down to its steel to be rebuilt as an all-suite Viking ship, using the same interior designers responsible for the Longships. Viking will continue with the same formula the company uses on the Douro, combining clean, Scandinavian design with local decor — in this case, traditional geometric Arabic patterns and terrazzo floors. Likewise, the name “Viking Ra” both honors the Egyptian sun god Ra and the great Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl and his papyrus-reed boats Ra and Ra II.
The three stateroom categories each measure 291 square feet, including 20 Veranda Suites with a full-size veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom. All staterooms include a sofa, a hotel-style bed, a private bathroom with a shower, air conditioning and a flat-screen television.
In addition to two Jacuzzis, the ship has a pool sheltered from the sun by sculptural “sail-shades” inspired by local dhow ships. The Ra spa will offer massages and a variety of other treatments, and all meals (three per day) will be served in The Restaurant.
With a capacity of just 48 guests, Viking Ra will operate a new cruise tour: the 12-day Pharaohs and Pyramids itinerary, visiting seven destinations in Egypt. It starts with a three-night stay at a first-class hotel in Cairo, from which guests can explore classic sites including the Great Pyramids of Giza, the new Grand Egyptian Museum and the Mosque of Muhammad Ali.
Guests will then fly to Luxor to visit the temples of Luxor and Karnak and sail roundtrip from Karnak on an eight-day itinerary to Aswan. Features include special access to the tomb of Nefertari in the Valley of the Queens and excursions to the Temple of Khnum in Esna, the Dendera Temple complex in Qena and a traditional elementary school in a Nubian village. Finally, guests will fly back to Cairo for a last overnight. Viking’s Culture Curriculum includes a Nubian evening event on board and a local experience riding a camel. Viking’s Egyptologist leads all excursions.