Viking Cruises is expanding well beyond its known European territories. The Viking River Cruises brand pioneered the inland waterways' boom, and now the Viking Ocean Cruises brand has left from Norway to come across to the Americas for the first time ever. Already the Viking Star (pictured above) is in New York City today, and we will be joining the ship in the Big Apple tomorrow morning to embark on the line's inaugural Caribbean voyage.
Viking in the Caribbean is significant because it heralds even farther expansion. First of all, the company has announced plans for a total of six ocean ships, only two of which have already launched, through 2020. Second, the river brand has announced plans to start up cruises along the Mississippi River. It stands to reason then that soon river and ocean sailings will embark with back-to-back options from New Orleans, Louisiana soon enough.
[READMORE]READ MORE: What the Viking Ocean Cruises Expansion Could Mean for the Future[/READMORE]
In the meantime, Viking has scheduled a world cruise for its fourth vessel, the Viking Sun, for 2017, as well as individual itineraries to South America on the new Viking Sea and third Viking Sun, Cuba on the Sun and the Amazon on the Sea come next year also. Plus, on our upcoming sailing, Torstein Hagen, chairman and CEO of Viking, will have more to say about upcoming deployments that we will cover live here.
With so many ships already planned, and the line's desire to have a total of 10 in the ocean fleet, future itinerary possibilities are endless. To start, we expect Viking to eventually head to Alaska and the Russian Far East.
[READMORE]READ MORE: Why You're Never Too Young For A Viking Ocean Cruise[/READMORE]
But until then, the Caribbean will be the next for Viking to conquer with its special brand of inclusive cruising, the most interesting of which in the region will be its complimentary shore excursions. Part of the line's claim to fame is offering a free tour in every port, and we will be joining a number of such ones - ranging from three-hour Amazing Antigua sightseeing to a five-hour Panoramic Tour of the Butterfly Island in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe - to report on.
Joining our journey will be our plush Viking friend Erik, who is also visiting the Caribbean for the first time, so be sure to follow my Instagram account.
And my wife, Heidi Leppert, will also be posting to her new Mrs. Popular Cruising Instagram account as well, so please follow her too.
Ahead of the voyage, Viking has done a marvelous job of whetting our whistle for the tropical region with suggested book reading and film viewing. Among the recommended literary titles are "The Sugar Barons" by Matthew Parker and "Under the Black Flag, The Romance and Reality of Life Among the Pirates" by David Cordingly, in addition to movies like "The Rum Diary" and "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."
Before the Viking Star returns to Europe it will embark on a series of roundtrips from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where we will first head to from New York. Eleven-day departures are scheduled for Oct. 28, Nov. 7, Dec. 17 and Dec. 27, 2016; Jan. 6, Jan. 16, Jan. 26, Feb. 5 and Feb. 15, 2017. Then on Feb. 25, 2017, the Star will leave San Juan for Barcelona on an 18-day crossing.
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