Viking has announced that its seventh ocean ship, Viking Venus, will join its award-winning fleet in early 2021, further solidifying the company’s standing as the largest small-ship ocean cruise line. The newest 930-guest sister ship will spend her maiden season sailing popular itineraries in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, including British Isles Explorer, In Search of the Northern Lights, Viking Homelands and Into the Midnight Sun.
Viking will also expand its offerings in the Mediterranean with five new itineraries that include stops in Istanbul, marking the company’s return to the iconic city. The new 8-day Ancient Mediterranean Treasures will sail between Athens and Istanbul, with overnight stays in both cities. Guests looking for an extended experience in the region can choose a longer versions of the itinerary, including the 15-day Ancient Adriatic Treasures, which sails between Venice and Istanbul; the 15-day Ancient Mediterranean Antiquities, which sails between Rome and Istanbul; the 22-day Iconic Mediterranean Treasures, which sails between Barcelona and Istanbul; or the 29-day Mediterranean’s Iconic Shores, which also sails between Barcelona and Istanbul and includes stops in Montenegro and Croatia.
Beginning in April 2021 and sailing on Viking’s award-winning 930-guest all-veranda Viking Sky, guests embarking on the new Ancient Mediterranean Treasures itinerary or its longer combination cruise options will witness the origin of civilisation while cruising the fabled Aegean Sea. Highlights of the new itinerary include:
- Istanbul, Turkey: Guests begin their journey with an overnight stay in Istanbul, allowing more time to explore the iconic city. Guests can visit a wealth of religious sites including the “Blue Mosque” one of the city’s most recognisable sites, watch the mesmerising whirling dervishes perform at a local venue, or participate in a centuries-old tradition at a hammam, a Turkish bath. Plus, Viking’s Privileged Access offers guests the chance to tour the legendary Hagia Sofia free of crowds.
- Troy (Çanakkale), Turkey: Guests can explore the nearby well-preserved ruins of Troy, most remembered as the setting of the Trojan War, described by Homer in the Iliad, or visit the nearby Battlefields of Gallipoli, the tranquil memorial site of one of World War I’s longest and deadliest battles.
- Ephesus (Kuşadasi), Turkey: One of the best-preserved cities of antiquity in the world, Ephesus is rich in history and ancient relics. While in port, guests can visit the Temple of Artemis, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, walk through the Byzantine Basilica of St. John, or visit the modest home where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary lived out her final days.
- Rhodes, Greece: While on the island of Rhodes, guests can explore within the city walls of Old Town, Europe’s largest active medieval town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, learn about island culture through a visit to a traditional village home, or head to one of the island’s scenic mountaintops for sweeping views of the island and the Turkish coast.
- Heraklion, Greece: Located on the island of Crete, Heraklion boasts millennia-old history and was once the strongest fortified city in the Eastern Mediterranean. Guests can take in archaeological splendours whose history is interwoven with the legends of Greek mythology, including the Palace of Knossos and the village of Arolithos, or explore the ruins of the Minoans, Europe’s oldest recorded civilisation.
- Athens, Greece: The journey concludes with an overnight stay in Athens, known as “the birthplace of democracy,” where guests can witness iconic sites such as the Hellenic Parliament, the Panathenaic Stadium, the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the mighty Parthenon atop the Acropolis. Viking also offers guests Privileged Access to the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation’s exhibit on British naval icon Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson and the chance to tour a reconstructed ancient Athenian warship, the Olympias, once the dominant warship on the Mediterranean Sea from the 7th to 4th centuries BC.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of several recent accolades for Viking. Just this month Viking was named Best River Cruise Line at the Food and Travel Reader Awards and Best Overall Cruise Line and Best River Cruise Line at the British Cruise Awards, as well as being highly commended for its culinary offering. Earlier in 2019, Viking went straight to the top of the table in a Which? ocean cruise consumer satisfaction survey – the only brand to score five stars for its on-board facilities. Viking is a Which? Recommended Provider for both its river and ocean cruises. In 2018 Viking was awarded Best Boutique Cruise Line and Best River Cruise Operator at The Times and Sunday Times Travel Awards and, for the 10th consecutive year, rated Best River Cruise Line at the 2018 British Travel Awards, one of the largest and most influential polls of consumer opinion in the UK.