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Viking River Cruises Unveils Details Of Four New Ships

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Artist's Depiction of Viking Freya

As I first mentioned in a previous post, Viking River Cruises is in the midst of a $250 million fleet development program, solidifying even more strongly its place as the leading river cruise company in the world.

In a recent announcement, Viking has released details of four new vessels, designated longships, which will be introduced into European waters at the beginning of the 2012 river cruising season.  No other river cruise company has matched this milestone.  For Viking, however, this is the second time since 2001 that they have accomplished this feat.  I would imagine they are quite proud of this, and justifiably so.

Named after four gods in the Norse pantheon, the ships – Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord and Viking Odin – will blend cutting edge technology with unrivaled amenities, including the largest real suites available on European rivers.

Each ship will have two Explorer Suites, measuring 445 square feet with wrap around veranda, and seven Veranda Suites of 270 square feet with a full veranda.  All of these suites will feature separate bedrooms and living rooms.  The ships will measure 443 feet in length and offer 95 staterooms.  In addition to the suites, 39 Veranda Staterooms will feature full verandas as well.

The four longships will sail some of Viking River Cruises’ most popular European river routes, including the 10-day Tulips & Windmills, 8-day Romantic Danube, 15-day Grand European Tour and 8-day Danube Waltz.

With the two new ships entering service this year, Viking Emerald and Viking Prestige, and the four ships just announced for next year, Viking is more than half way to their stated goal of ten new ships by 2013.  Add in several refurbishments of ships already in service, and the outlook for river cruising with Viking just keeps getting brighter.

Technorati Tags: 2012, Danube River, European river boat cruises, longships, newbuilds, river boat cruises, river boat cruises in Europe, river cruise, river cruises, riverboat cruises, Viking River Cruises

Crystal Cruises Goes “All Inclusive”

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Crystal Symphony

I received the following email from Crystal Cruises today:

“Beginning Spring 2012, Crystal Cruises will be All Inclusive, enhancing our already expansive host of complimentary luxury services and amenities with the addition of free fine wines and premium spirits, open bar service in all lounges, and complimentary gratuities for housekeeping, bar and dining staff.

Effective with the spring Trans-Atlantic crossings of Crystal Symphony (March 19, 2012), and Crystal Serenity (May 8, 2012), your clients can enjoy the added convenience of all-included luxury with the cruise line voted World’s Best more than any other in history.

As many lines throughout our industry have itemized their services for additional charges, we are choosing to maximize the guest experience by eliminating additional transactions – further enhancing the ease and luxury of a Crystal cruise.

In addition to our valued-priced 2-for-1 Fares in all categories, FREE Air, complimentary transfers and a host of generous savings promotions, we hope your clients’ decisions to sail with us will be decidedly simple.”

While this is not all-inclusive in the sense the term is usually employed, it does broaden the items which are included in the base cruise fare.  This brings Crystal in line with the pricing structure offered by other lines in the luxury category for these items – Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, and Seabourn.

Crystal has resisted the trend towards inclusiveness, arguing up to recently that their guests didn’t want to be charged beforehand for services they may not use.  The line did, however, offer an “As You Wish” on board credit of up to $1000 per guest to be used as the passenger decided.

With the roll out of the new pricing structure, this on board credit will disappear, although credits will still be offered to past guests and through occasional travel agent promotions.

In making the announcement, Greg Michel, Crystal’s president, offered this assessment:

“As many lines throughout our industry have itemized their services for additional charges, Crystal is maximizing the guest experience by eliminating additional transactions — further enhancing the ease and luxury of a Crystal cruise.  We believe this service will offer greater convenience, simplicity and comfort.”

The new pricing structure is not expected to lead to an increase in cruise fares.  Crystal, in fact, anticipates that prices, in many cases, will be lower in 2012 than the prices currently in effect in 2011.

Technorati Tags: 2012, all inclusive, Cruise line, cruise ship, Crystal Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises