History

Viking was founded in 1997 with the vision that travel could be more destination focused and culturally immersive. In 2000, the company purchased Europe’s KD River Cruises in order to grow its fleet, to leverage 40 years of river cruising experience and to acquire rights to prime docking locations in key European cities.

The company expanded into the American market in 2000, establishing a sales and marketing office in Los Angeles, California. Since then, Viking has grown to be the leading small ship travel company, offering river, ocean and expedition voyages on all seven continents.

With an operational office in Basel, Switzerland, Viking provides destination-focused itineraries for curious travelers. Each journey includes a shore excursion in every port and an onboard and onshore enrichment program that provides deep immersion in the destination through performances of music and art, cooking demonstrations, informative port talks and carefully selected guest lecturers.

With 250 awards to its name, the company currently operates a fleet of state-of-the-art ships that have received numerous accolades since their launch from industry experts and travelers alike. Viking was voted the #1 River Line and the #1 Ocean Line by Travel + Leisure in the 2022 World’s Best Awards. Viking is also rated #1 for both Rivers and Oceans by Condé Nast Traveler, becoming the first cruise line ever to simultaneously earn #1 in its categories from both publications.

Viking marks its 25th anniversary in 2022; by the end of the year, Viking will have welcomed two new identical expedition ships, as well as two new identical ocean ships, new Viking Longships® in Europe and new purpose-built vessels for the Nile, Mekong and Mississippi rivers.

Europe River Ships and Itineraries

Sailing Europe’s storied rivers, the award-winning fleet of identical Viking Longships offer a variety of stateroom categories and true two-room suites with full-size verandas. Onboard amenities include a restaurant, bar and lounge, library and expansive sun deck. The ships feature al fresco dining on the revolutionary indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace, elegant Scandinavian design and environmentally considerate features, such as solar panels, an onboard organic herb garden and energy-efficient hybrid engines for a remarkably smooth ride.

Europe river voyages range from 8 to 23 days, with itineraries featuring Europe’s Rhine, Main, Danube, Seine, Rhône, Douro, Moselle, Elbe, Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers.

Viking also offers voyages on Egypt’s Nile River and Southeast Asia’s Mekong River.

Mississippi River Ship and Itineraries

Viking is launching new destination-focused travel experiences on the Mississippi River in 2022, with sailings ranging from 8 to 15 days between New Orleans, Louisiana and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Viking’s arrival brings modern river voyages to the Mississippi and represents a major commitment to tourism and economic development in many communities along the river. Currently scheduled ports of call on Viking’s new Mississippi River itineraries comprise seven U.S. states: Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Darrow, New Orleans and St. Francisville); Mississippi (Natchez and Vicksburg); Tennessee (Memphis); Missouri (Hannibal, St. Louis); Iowa (Burlington, Dubuque and Quad Cities); Wisconsin (La Crosse); and Minnesota (Red Wing, St. Paul).

The new state-of-the-art Viking Mississippi is inspired by Viking’s award-winning river and ocean ships and features elegant Scandinavian design, as well as public spaces that are familiar to guests but that have been reimagined for Mississippi River voyages. Purpose-built for the Mississippi and currently under construction in Louisiana, the five-deck, 386-guest ship’s cutting-edge design features expansive windows and comfortable amenities, making it the largest and most modern ship in the region.

The Viking Mississippi has been designed as an environmentally considerate vessel and is equipped with a variety of measures to maximize energy efficiency and emissions—including a diesel-electric hybrid system of eight small load-sharing generators, a state-of-the-art propulsion system that reduces vibration for a remarkably smooth ride, electric-driven hydraulic units and pump jet thrusters and a highly advanced exhaust scrubbing system to significantly reduce sound and emissions.

Ocean Ships and Itineraries

In 2015, Viking introduced its first ocean ship with the naming of the 930-guest all-veranda Viking Star. One year later, Viking launched its second ocean ship, the Viking Sea, which was joined by sister ship the Viking Sky in 2017, the Viking Orion in 2018, the Viking Jupiter in 2019 and the Viking Venus in 2021. Identical sister ships the Viking Mars and the Viking Neptune join the fleet in 2022, followed by Viking Saturn in early 2023.

The company’s award-winning ships are engineered at a size that allows direct access into most ports, so guests can easily and efficiently embark and disembark—allowing for more time in port. Viking’s ocean fleet features modern Scandinavian design with elegant touches, intimate spaces and attention to detail. Each ship boasts a private veranda in every stateroom, a choice of restaurants offering a variety of fine dining options, the most al fresco dining at sea, an infinity pool, a Nordic-inspired spa, the two-deck Explorers’ Lounge with panoramic views, thoughtfully curated book collections throughout the ship and more.

Ocean itineraries are designed to maximize the amount of time travelers spend in their destination. These enriching itineraries include base and combination voyages around the world—with particular focus in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, Asia, Alaska, North and South America and Africa.

Viking’s ocean ships have been designed to be environmentally considerate, with energy-efficient hull, propeller and rudder arrangements and engines with heat recovery systems. This allows ships to reach the best Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI)* in its class, exceeding the International Maritime Organization (IMO) requirements by almost 20 percent. Additionally, Viking ships are the first newbuilds in the world with a closed-loop exhaust cleaning system designed so that pollutants can be removed and disposed of safely.

Expedition Ships and Itineraries

In January 2022, Viking launched new expedition voyages with the arrival of its first vessel, the 378-guest Polar Class Viking Octantis. A second, identical sister ship, the Viking Polaris, joins the fleet later in 2022. Both ships will sail expedition itineraries in Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.

Designed by the same experienced nautical architects and engineers that designed Viking’s Longships and ocean ships, the ships are optimally sized and built for expeditions, at an ideal size for safety, comfort and onboard amenities in remote destinations. An integrated bow creates a longer waterline for the ships; state-of-the-art fin stabilizers allow the ships to glide over the waves for the calmest possible journey; ice-strengthened Polar Class hulls provide the safest way to explore; and U-tank stabilizers significantly decrease rolling by up to 50 percent when the ships are stationary. The ships feature the company’s signature Scandinavian design, with public areas that are favorites on Viking’s ocean ships, as well as new spaces created specifically for expeditions.

Viking has also created the world’s leading scientific enrichment environment in an expedition setting. Exclusive partnerships with the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)—as well as other prestigious scientific institutions—match leading researchers and educators with each expedition.

Viking’s new expedition vessels have set a new standard for responsible travel, with an energy-efficient design that exceeds the EEDI* requirements by nearly 38 percent—more than any other expedition ship. In addition to an integrated bow, engines with heat recovery systems and Azipod® Electric Propulsion, the Viking Octantis and the Viking Polaris have received one of the industry’s first SILENT-E notations – the highest-level certification for quiet ship propulsion, minimizing underwater noise pollution.

*Since January 1, 2013, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) was made mandatory for new ships, requiring a minimum energy efficiency level per capacity mile. This was the first legally binding climate change treaty to be adopted since the Kyoto Protocol.