Viking River Cruise company has been known for the “Viking Long Ships”. Recently they foraged into the Ocean Cruise business by forming a sister company Viking Ocean Cruises. Know for affordable luxury, many thought Viking should stay where they were, operating River Vessels. Apparently the concept was well received as Viking Ocean Cruises filled this first ship, and is investing millions in a second ship soon to begin regular ocean voyages.
Asia is enjoying a boon in new builds. Sailing in China, Vietnam, and most other friendly Asian countries. Ships on these itineraries tend to be boutique, appealing to adventurers looking for the new, unknown, awe inspiring locations like Angkor Wat in Thailand.
Here in the USA, new owners have taken over the leading River Cruise company on the Mississippi, promising new décor, entertainment, and dining choices. Boutique River Cruise Ships are popping up every season on American Rivers in the Northwest. Just recently River Cruise Ships have appeared on the Alaska voyages. These ships tout an ability to get “ up and close” with Glaciers and Marine species. One such line advertises a comparison between a couple lounging in a chair, 300 feet above the water, complete with wool blankets, binoculars, and a butler serving hot chocolate. They juxtapose that against a shot of a younger couple, sitting in a Kodiak, wetsuits protecting them, camera in hand, just 30 feet from a family of sea lions, with a grizzly visible on shore 100 yards away. That, to me, is why they call it “Choice”.
Speaking of choices, Celebrity Ocean Cruises has hit the water running with the new “adventures” concept. Boutique size ocean vessels are taking folks through the real “Darwin” of the world in the Galapagos. If you like adventure and nature, get there soon. These new ships are amazing, but the government strictly regulates the number of visitors daily, so reservations are complicated and precious. Many predict tourism will overrun this area, and our next generations may never again see what we can experience now., Again I remind everyone that there are many places in Europe that are becoming overrun with tourism. World historic organizations such as World Heritage have already warned some areas they will be removed from listings as they become overrun with tourists, or they allow the sites to decline.