We've just returned from a trip on Viking Longship Mani.
How about a quick recap of some numbers I learned during my week onboard with Viking Cruises? (Read about how Viking River Cruises keep you moving.)
The fast-growing river line has 54 boats on waterways all over the world, with plans for 13 more vessels arriving next year -- 12 more river boats and Viking's first ocean ship.
That ship, 930-passenger Viking Star, the first in the fleet for Viking Ocean Cruises, will be joined by three others, Viking Sky, Viking Sea and an unnamed ship (probably Viking Sun, if the pattern continues; Viking CEO Torstein Hagen once served as CEO of Royal Viking Line. While there, ships were named -- in order of year built -- Royal Viking Star, Royal Viking Sky, Royal Viking Sea, Royal Viking Sun and Royal Viking Queen), by 2017.
Crew onboard Mani also spoke openly about the impending arrival of Viking's boats on the Mississippi River. No official timeframes have been announced by Viking, but get ready for the line to make a big splash with its first U.S. river vessel soon.
Wait there's more: The Amazon River is on the horizon for Viking, perhaps by 2016, according to considerable buzz aboard Viking Mani that I noticed as I chatted with several crewmembers.
We had a blast onboard and found the journey a great way to explore historic charming European city centers and towns alongside friendly fellow passengers who share a spirit for exploration. All in a much more intimate and relaxing surrounding that you find on the typical ocean cruise voyage.
Princess Cruises launched a new Seawitch craft brew to recognize the line's 50th anniversary. Cheers to that! The Seawitch West Coast IPA was developed by startup Strike Brewing Co. of San Jose, Calif.
The Seawitch West Coast IPA goes for $6.25 in bars and lounges on the line's brand new Regal Princess. The craft brew is expected to be available fleetwide by early 2015. Princess will roll out additional Seawitch craft beers in partnerships with regional breweries that specialize in local flavors and represent some of the cruise destinations Princess ships visit.
Holland America Line revealed the name of its new ship set to debut in February 2016. The first Pinnacle Class 2,650-passenger vessel will be called Koningsdam and will be the Dutch line's 16 ship in the fleet.
Un-Cruise Adventures is offering a new adventure cruise in Mexico's Sea of Cortes. Beginning in January 2015, the 84-passenger Safari Endeavour sails a weeklong "Baja's Bounty" itinerary roundtrip from San Jose del Cabo, Baja, Mexico. The voyage combines active adventures with seasonal sea life encounters. When gray whales arrive to calve in Bahia Magdalena, an overland tour to board panga boats to see whales and calves up close is included (usually January-March). At other times of the year, a snorkeling excursion in Bahia de La Paz may bring guests up close to the largest known fish in the sea -- gentle whale sharks.
Exploration cruising allows for a flexible itinerary with time to seek out wildlife. Desert hiking, a mule ride into the arroyo, whale watching, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle boarding, skiff excursions and snorkeling with sea lions are included on all cruises.
The inclusive Mexico cruise includes all activities; exquisite meals; fine wine, premium spirits and microbrews; hot tub, sauna, exercise equipment, yoga on deck and a massage for wellness; transfers; and all port charges, taxes and fees. Rates begin at $2,995 per person, double occupancy. For details, check out www.un-cruise.com/mexico-cruises-bajas-bounty