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In 2009, extensive renovations will be completed on Viking River Cruises’ two vessels deployed in Russia, just as the company builds its own landmark hybrid ship for Europe.
This year, Viking River Cruises completely renovated its Viking Surkov to feature more river views and offer expanded bathroom facilities and hotel-style beds in all staterooms, along with Sony 26-inch flat-panel televisions, refrigerators and safes. All public areas onboard were upgraded as well, with the lobby area expanded to more closely resemble Viking’s European flagships. The ship’s Neva Restaurant was enlarged to accommodate single seating, and the Surkov now has a library, souvenir shop, laundry service, an Internet cafe and an onboard physician. The Viking Kirov is undergoing similar renovations for the 2009 season.
“We are in the process of upgrading our entire fleet in Russia and Ukraine,” said Torstein Hagen, founding chairman of Viking River Cruises. “Viking Surkov is the first, and will be followed by Viking Kirov next year. We started our company in Russia, and these ship upgrades will help us continue to be the best river cruising company in Russia.”
Hagen stressed the exceptional value of Viking’s Russian river cruises, especially considering the high prices found in major Russian cities. Once purchased, the price of a Viking River cruise or cruise-tour is locked in, and currency fluctuations and fuel costs have no effect.
“Everything is included — all onboard meals, at least one shore excursion each day, plus activities and workshops — plus free ship-wide wireless Internet access in Europe in 2009,” Hagen said. “A river cruise is also an ideal way to experience Russia without being exposed to its exorbitant hotel rates.”
Next year, the pride of the company’s fleet will undoubtedly be its new Viking Legend, debuting in 2009 on a 15-day Grand European Tour itinerary that travels along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers between Amsterdam and Budapest. Powered by an innovative propulsion system that will allow it to achieve an estimated 20 percent boost in fuel efficiency over other river cruisers, Viking Legend will also provide a smoother, quieter ride for passengers.
“The ship has three engines instead of the usual five,” explained Joost Ouendag, Viking’s vice president of product marketing. “These engines are governed by a computer that works out how much energy is needed for propulsion and how much is needed for all other functions onboard, and automatically finds the most economical way to do so by shutting off engines when they are not needed. In that way, it has some similarities with some automotive hybrid engines.”
Instead of two large propellers, the new propulsion system uses four smaller ones, allowing for more space between the hull and each propeller and less water activity hitting the hull. The Legend also has two engine rooms — fore and aft — and both are completely noise-insulated to provide very quiet, smooth sailing.
Features such as large suites and cooking stations in the restaurant for made-to-order breakfast dishes are designed to appeal to clients. Most staterooms onboard the Viking Legend will have French balconies, while all will have Sony 26-inch flat-panel televisions, telephones, refrigerators, hair dryers and in-room safes. Public areas such as restaurants and lounges are essentially glass-walled for panoramic views of passing scenery. And, like all the company’s Europe-deployed ships in 2009, Viking Legend will have free wireless Internet access shipwide.
Viking River Cruiseswww.vikingrivercruises.com