Yesterday, Viking Cruises confirmed what they had previously announced back in March when they christened a massive 18 new river cruise vessels in five days across four countries: the line will take delivery of 12 new river cruise ships in 2015. But while 10 of those will represent additional Viking Longships, it is the last two vessels that are potentially the most significant to the river cruise industry.

Set to debut in 2015, Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will be the newest ships on the Elbe. Rendering courtesy of Viking Cruises.

Set to debut in 2015, Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will be the newest ships on the Elbe. Rendering courtesy of Viking Cruises.

Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla are being expressly designed to cruise the Elbe River – a waterway noted for its restrictive height and depth requirements. Because a traditional Viking Longship would be too large to successfully sail the river that borders both Germany and the Czech Republic, Viking has designed two brand-new, “Longship-esque” vessels that will be introduced next March.

Both vessels will be smaller than the typical Longship, with just two passenger decks and a total capacity of 98 guests and a crew of 28. But they will feature some decided Longship favorites, like the Aquavit Terrace and Viking’s patented corridor design that allows true suites to be placed alongside more traditional river cruise accommodations.

One of the suites aboard Viking Hemming - almost indistinguishable from its Longship counterpart. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

True suites – with separate living and sleeping areas – have been important to Viking’s newbuild strategy. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders

Veranda Suites will measure 250 square feet and will feature separate living and sleeping areas, along with dual French and full step-out balconies. Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will also offer French Balcony staterooms, as well as staterooms measuring 180 square feet that feature full step-out balconies.

Fourteen standard riverview staterooms with fixed windows (Category E) will be located on Main Deck, aft of the ship’s Restaurant.

One of the greatest innovations aboard Viking Odin and her Longship sisters is the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will feature the Aquavit Terrace present on their longer Viking Longship fleetmates. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla will join Viking Fontane and Viking Schumann in sailing Viking’s 10-night Elegant Elbe itinerary that operates from Berlin to Prague and reverse. The Elbe is one of Europe’s least-discovered itineraries, largely for the simple reason that as ships have expanded and grown, operators are more likely to offer Danube or Rhine-based river cruises.

While Viking has always offered itineraries along the Rhine, it has been the line’s two smallest, oldest vessels that have operated on the run. It’s not a negative, but rather a simple fact. With thousands of cruisers becoming familiar with the Viking Longships each year, Viking has wisely offered two brand-new vessels alongside two old favorites for the 2015 cruise season.

Ports of call on Viking’s Elegant Elbe itinerary include Potsdam, Magdeburg, Dessau, Wittenberg, Torgau, Meissen, Dresden, Bad Schandau, Litomerice, and Melnik in addition to Berlin and Prague.

This unique itinerary gave me the opportunity to spend two fully-guided days post-cruise in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The beautiful city of Prague, Czech Republic, is featured on Viking’s Elbe itinerary. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

From the Deck Chair will return tomorrow.


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