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Cruise Report: Viking Cruises introduced in Los Angeles

Viking Star model

Torstein Hagen, chairman of Viking River Cruises, the industry’s largest operator of river and inland-waterway cruise programs, introduced his company’s transition into Viking Cruises at a gala reception and dinner May 16 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. When the Viking Star goes into service in April 2015, the line will enter the upscale oceangoing cruise market with four attractive Mediterranean, Western Europe and Baltic Sea/Norway itineraries ranging from 10 to 15 days.

Apparently, the first vessel of a planned fleet, Viking Star, at 48,000 gross tons, will accommodate only 928 guests, all in spacious, 270-square-foot standard veranda staterooms or luxurious suites. Promising that it will be Viking’s continuing mission to concentrate on the destinations themselves, as well as deliver excellent value and service, Hagen eloquently presented the genesis and design of a new cruise product backed by extensive research with the line’s existing clientele.

Viking Star is being positioned as an extension of the experience and casual elegance that guests of the company’s extensive fleet of river vessels now enjoy, with the substantial increase in onboard facilities and dining options that will be possible aboard a spacious but relatively small — by 21st-century standards — oceangoing cruise ship. Amenities to be included at no additional charge will include shipboard overnights in embarkation and destination cities; shore excursions in each port of call; cultural enrichment programs; a variety of dining options; wine, beer and soft drinks with meals; Wi-Fi; self-service laundry; 24-hour room service; all port charges; and taxes. Shipboard gratuities, however, will not be included.

Holland America Updates

Holland America Line (HAL) has renewed its partnership with Microsoft to continue offering its onboard computer and digital-camera enrichment classes. HAL has also rebranded its Alaska CruiseTour program with the new name Land+Sea Journeys and launched the  Flight Ease air program, which allows guests to select from two competitive pricing options. The line is enticing travelers to book by October 15 for the 2014 season, with four offers under the Explore 4 early-booking promotion.

Banana Coast has signed Holland America as the first cruise line to schedule regular calls at the new mainland Honduras cruise port at Trujillo, with 11 Ryndam visits planned for 2014 and 2015.

Cruise Briefs
Scenic Cruises has announced the commission of a second new  Space-Ship, to be delivered in 2014 for its European river programs.

Louis Cruises is introducing nine new Greek Island destinations for 2014: Samos, Milos, Syros, Kos, Ios, Symi, Chios, Cesme and Bodrum.

Crystal Cruises is preparing for a $17 million redesign of Crystal Serenity this November.

Silversea Cruises has launched a complimentary service that provides streaming movies and live television news broadcasts to guests’ mobile devices aboard  Silver Cloud.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will expand its services and amenities on all European river sailings in 2014. They will include unlimited wine, beer, spirits, soft drinks and bottled water, and gratuities for all onboard and onshore services.

•  And for the second time in three years, Tauck has been named the “World’s Best River Cruise Line” by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine.