Aaron & Ralph head to France to witness river cruising history – again.
It’s March, and for most of us, that means spring is here. But for those in the river cruise industry, March is special for another reason: it’s historically when lines put their newest vessels into service for the very first time.
This year is no exception; in fact, more new river cruise ships are scheduled to enter service this year than at any other point in history. An astonishing 14 ships are entering service with Viking River Cruises alone – and we’ll be bringing you all the latest updates as we travel to France to witness the third consecutive year of Longship christenings.
Beginning Monday, March 17, we’ll be reporting live from Avignon as we embark Viking Heimdal for an overnight stay prior to the actual christening ceremonies on Tuesday, March 18. A total of 16 ships will be christened in the city, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and famous for its imposing Palais des Papes.
Of the 16 ships, two are Viking Longships that entered service last summer but were never christened in last year’s ceremonies in Amsterdam, while the remaining 14 are all brand-new. Obviously, the logistics of placing all 14 vessels in Avignon are prohibitive. Most likely, Viking will use a combination of ships physically present on-the-day, complemented by video uplinks from other parts of Europe, as the line has done in the past.
Viking Heimdal, Viking Buri, and Viking Hermod will all be operating Viking’s Portraits of Southern France itinerary in 2014, sailing between Avignon and Chalon-sur-Saone.
From Avignon, we’ll travel next to Bordeaux for a mini-cruise aboard Viking Forseti, which was christened last March, for a firsthand-preview of one of Viking’s newest itineraries.
Introduced just this year, Viking’s Chateaux, Rivers & Wine sailings are a week in duration and operate roundtrip from Bordeaux. Along the way, guests will have the opportunity to sail the Gironde and Garonne Rivers to Pauilac, Blaye, Libourne, and Cadillac. No, not the monstrous North American car manufacturer – Cadillac, France, is a historic commune with roots that can be traced back to 1280. Today, sweet dessert wines are produced here.
Viking’s newest itinerary in France starts in earnest on March 22 and runs through December 20.
In addition to visiting these amazing French locales for the first time, we’re also interested to see what subtle changes Viking has incorporated into the next evolution of Longships. As I wrote late last year, each successive “pair” of Viking Longships has been a little different from the last, with continuous tweaks being made to the furnishings and features of staterooms and public areas.
Viking has always put on a great show in the past, and this week will likely to be no exception.