New Deal Helps Bring More Hours of MASTERPIECE to PBS Stations Nationwide 2015

Los Angeles (November 3, 2014) – Viking River Cruises ( announced today that it has extended its partnership with the celebrated series MASTERPIECE, providing more hours of programming on PBS stations in 2015. Starting in January, viewers can continue to tune in to the series during its longstanding Sunday at 9pm time slot, and also enjoy at least 20 additional hours of new programming – some shows at 8pm, others at 10pm – throughout the year. Viking River Cruises is the exclusive corporate funder of these additional hours of programming.

“Our partnership with MASTERPIECE is successful in large part because of the similarities between our audiences. Many of our guests are MASTERPIECE viewers, and we often hear that they discovered the Viking way of travel from watching MASTERPIECE,” said Richard Marnell, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Viking River Cruises. “Our guests and MASTERPIECE viewers enrich their lives through history, culture and exploration, so we are proud to offer them additional opportunities to do so through an expanded partnership with MASTERPIECE.”

“The generosity and vision of all our funders creates the potential for a fantastic 50-percent increase in the number of new hours in 2015,” said executive producer Rebecca Eaton. “This is truly a golden age of British television and we’re very proud of this affirmation of the MASTERPIECE brand.”

The enlarged MASTERPIECE footprint kicks off with Grantchester, a six-part mystery premiering Sunday, January 18, at 10pm, following new episodes of Downton Abbey. Already a hit in the UK, Grantchester stars James Norton (Happy Valley) as a charismatic young clergyman and Robson Green (Wire in the Blood) as a down-to-earth cop who team up to fight crime in the beautiful hamlet of Grantchester in 1953. Based on the acclaimed mystery novels by James Runcie, the young vicar is styled after Runcie’s late father, who was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1980s.

On April 5, three-time Tony Award-winning actor Mark Rylance (Twelfth Night) and Emmy Award-winner Damian Lewis (Homeland) star as Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII in Wolf Hall, a highly anticipated adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. The six-part series charts the shrewd and brilliant rise of Cromwell in the Tudor court – from a blacksmith's son to Henry VIII's closest advisor.

Other MASTERPIECE programming scheduled for 2015 includes: The Manners of Downton Abbey, a behind-the-scenes look at the world of Edwardian manners with Alastair Bruce, historical advisor to Downton Abbey; a third series of the popular Mr. Selfridge starring Jeremy Piven; a stunning new adaptation of the 1970s blockbuster Poldark, starring Aidan Turner (The Hobbit, Being Human); and the sumptuous drama Indian Summers, set in the waning years of British colonial rule in 1930s India. Funding for these programs is provided by Ralph Lauren Corporation and Viking River Cruises.

In addition to its MASTERPIECE sponsorship – and as a response to the incredible popularity of Downton Abbey – Viking also offers its guests an optional excursion to Highclere Castle, the setting of the hit series. The Oxford & Highclere Castle pre- or post- trip experience is available for guests on the Cities of Light or Paris & the Heart of Normandy itineraries. Co-created with the owners of Highclere Castle, the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, Viking guests spend three days in the rolling hills of England’s countryside, with a champagne welcome and special tour of the famous home.

With river cruising as the fastest-growing segment of travel, Viking is expanding rapidly to meet customer demand. In March, Viking broke its own world record and christened 18 vessels across four countries in five days. Viking also recently announced it plans to launch 12 new river vessels in 2015, bringing the company’s total river fleet size to 64 vessels next year. Additionally, the company’s first ocean ship, the 930-passenger Viking Star®, is currently under construction and will set sail in early 2015.

For more information, visit or contact For booking details, contact a travel agent or call Viking River Cruises toll-free at 1-877-66VIKING (1-877-668-4546).

About Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises offers destination-centric river and ocean cruising designed for experienced travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history. Featuring onboard cultural enrichment and included shore excursions, Viking’s journeys are competitively priced for genuine value. Debuting its maiden season of ocean cruising in 2015, the sophisticated state-of-the-art Viking Star will host 930 guests on itineraries in Scandinavia and the Baltic; and the Western and Eastern Mediterranean. As the world’s leading river cruise line, since its 1997 inception the company has grown to a fleet of 53 river vessels (in 2014) offering scenic cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, Ukraine, China, and Southeast Asia. Viking has been honored multiple times in Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards and Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” as well as recognized by the editors of Cruise Critic as “Best River Cruise Line,” with the entire Viking Longships fleet being named “Best New River Ships of 2012” in the website’s Editors’ Picks Awards. The travel trade has ranked Viking as the “Best River Cruise Line” by Travel Weekly, Recommend and Travel Agent magazines, “Best Cruise Line for Luxury River Cruises” at the Luxury Travel Advisor Awards of Excellence and as “Best Overall Cruise Line for River Cruising” and “Best River Cruise Line for Travel Agent Support” in TravelAge West’s WAVE Awards. For additional information, contact Viking Cruises at 1 855 8-VIKING (1-855-884-5464) or visit To join the Viking Cruises community online, visit, and