WHY IT RATES: Viking has unveiled plans for a seventh ocean-going ship and announced five new Mediterranean itineraries for 2021, which will take guests to see areas that influenced the origins of Western civilization. — Laurie Baratti, TravelPulse Associate Writer
Viking today announced its seventh ocean ship, Viking Venus, will join its award-winning fleet in early 2021, further solidifying the company’s standing as the largest and world’s best 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.
“The spirit of exploration is at the heart of everything we do. We have always drawn inspiration from the original Viking explorers, who were the first to use the stars and constellations for long-distance navigation. Many elements onboard our ships honor those Viking explorers, and we are proud to host our guests on itineraries that sail some of those historic trading routes,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. “I am pleased to announce that Viking Venus will join our fleet in 2021, allowing us the ability to introduce even more travelers to the Viking way of exploration.”
Viking will also expand its offerings in the Mediterranean and today announced 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 civilization 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 recognizable sites, watch the mesmerizing 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 (Canakkale), 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 (Kusadasi), 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 archeological splendors 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 civilization.
— 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 B.C.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of several recent accolades for Viking. For the fourth consecutive year, Travel + Leisure readers voted Viking to the top of its categories in the 2019 World’s Best Awards, which were announced in by the publication. Earlier this year, the company’s first five 930-guest sister ships, Viking Star, Viking Sea, Viking Sky, Viking Sun and Viking Orion dominated the Cruise Critic 9th Annual Cruisers’ Choice Awards, receiving 11 First Place honors.
All six of Viking’s ships have been awarded a top rating of five stars by Cruise Critic—and Viking also received five awards in the luxury ocean and river categories of Cruise Critic’s 2018 Editors’ Picks Awards. Viking was again named the #1 River Cruise Line by Condé Nast Traveler in the publication’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards—and has also been honored as “Best Cruise Line for Luxury Ocean Cruises” and “Best Luxury River Cruise Company” in Luxury Travel Advisor magazine’s 2018 “Awards of Excellence” for a second consecutive year.
For more information, visit VikingCruises.com.
SOURCE: Viking press release.
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New Crystal Program Offers Lower Deposits Good Through 2022
Crystal’s just-launched Crystal Assured Savings program lets travelers make a $500 deposit by June 30, 2020, for an additional 2.5 percent savings on any seven-night or longer voyage through 2022. Travelers have until March 31, 2021, to select their preferred voyage.
The extra savings range from $50 for over $6,000, depending on sailing and category. The offer is good on any ocean, river, expedition or yacht cruise.
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Travel advisors will earn commission on the deposit as well as locking in new bookings for the future with full commission, less applicable savings.
“Our travel partners are part of the Crystal family, and we remain dedicated to supporting their business and working with them through these unprecedented times,” said Carmen Roig, Crystal’s senior vice president of marketing and sales. “The Crystal Assured Savings program equips them with an honest, simple tool – and meaningful savings for their clients – to continue to grow their luxury business and share the Crystal Experience with travelers who are looking to explore the world at a later date.”
The additional savings of 2.5 percent are on top of other Crystal special savings that may apply including two-for-one fares, Book Now Savings, Crystal Society Savings, Early Final Payment Savings, Back-to-Back Savings, Combination Voyage Savings and available future cruise credits.
“The Crystal Assured Savings is a win for our clients, given the array of opportunities to lock in savings on Crystal’s incredible luxury experiences now, as they look ahead to traveling again in the future,” said Eric Maryanov, president of All-Travel in Los Angeles. “Likewise, the program presents a wonderful chance for travel advisors to stimulate business during today’s uncertain environment, while also building a strong foundation for tomorrow that will keep their businesses growing. With Crystal Assured Savings, Crystal is making it possible for the travel community to stay connected and inspired beyond the challenges we are currently facing, and helping advisors weather the storm.”
Another advisor agrees. “There is no better time to start planning a Crystal vacation, with so many savings opportunities available to both new and returning guests. … Crystal’s new program helps ensure that we all sail through this time together,” said Leah Bergner, senior travel advisor for Coastline Travel Advisors in Orange County, Calif.
Terms and conditions for Crystal Assured Savings can be found here.
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