VIKING RIVER CRUISES has become familiar to millions of TV viewers, chiefly through its sponsorship of the hit PBS series Downton Abbey. Those beguiling ads paint a picture of a premium cruise line delivering unforgettable experiences on the legendary riverways of northern Europe — the Danube, the Rhine, the Seine — and the picture is accurate. Passengers can expect a grand river tour filled with spectacles and special experiences, rendered in sophisticated style. Founded in 1997 by Torstein Hagen, who often appears in the Viking ads, the line grew especially rapidly, adding 40 of its signature 190-passenger Longships between 2012 and 2016 to become the largest river cruise line in the world.
Viking River Cruises has long catered to the North American market, its all-inclusive sailings replete with free unlimited WiFi; complimentary beer, wine and soft drinks with onboard lunch and dinner; one shore excursion in every port at no charge; and cultural enrichment programs galore. The hallmark of a Viking cruise is luxury without pretense on a sleek, modern, Scandinavian-style vessel, delivering what chairman Torstein Hagen dubs “the thinking person’s cruise.” Hagen explains, “Our guests are experienced travelers who appreciate immersive cultural experiences, while also exploring the world in comfort.”
While several river cruise lines are even more upscale than Viking, no line comes close to Viking’s vast choice of European riverways, ports, itineraries and cruising dates. Moreover, Viking is set to introduce seven new river ships in 2019. And while North Americans remain the main focus for Viking, the Chinese gain market share. This year, Viking River Cruises added 100 sailings on the Rhine and Danube for Chinese travelers, with Mandarin the onboard language.
Viking River Cruises is also bolstering its presence on riverways worldwide. It already sails in the Dnieper River in Ukraine, the Volga River in Russia, the Yangtze in China, the Irrawaddy in Myanmar and the Mekong in Cambodia and Vietnam. With a rebuilt and redesigned 48-passenger ship, the Viking Ra, Viking now offers 12-day cruises of the Nile in Egypt. It even has its eye on the Mississippi, where Viking hopes to discover America by launching a fleet of 300-passenger expanded Longships as early as the 2019 season.
Meanwhile, Viking’s latest innovation is to combine the two main types of cruising into one, seamlessly linking a river cruise with an ocean cruise, entirely on Viking vessels. In 2019 it offers two such itineraries, one joining a Longship on the Rhine with a journey to the fjords of Norway (15 nights) and another combining a Danube and Rhine sailing with an ocean cruise ending in Bergen, Norway (22 nights). As chairman Hagen says, a Viking combo cruise “marries the river and sea into a single, unified journey.”
The UNESCO World Heritage neighborhood of Balat rivals İstanbul’s Old City for its historic significance, with an added splash of color. Its cobbled hilly streets boast a full rainbow of houses, cafés, restaurants and churches painted in pinks, reds, oranges, yellows, greens and blues — parts even surpassing my native San Francisco’s steep, colorful corridors. The most vibrant stretch of homes, dating anywhere from 50 to 200 years old, runs along Kiremit Caddesi.
IHG® Hotels & Resorts certainly has a lot to celebrate, starting with an incredible growth story. Over the past five years, IHG has acquired or launched six new brands: Six Senses® Hotels Resorts Spas, Regent® Hotels & Resorts, Vignette™ Collection, voco™ hotels, avid® hotels and Atwell Suites™. Most recently, IHG reached an important milestone with its 6,000th open hotel. The company looks to further expand its portfolio by 30 percent with 1,800 hotels in the development pipeline, with significant focus on growth in the luxury segment where IHG is positioned as one of the top two hotel chains.
Icelandair recently announced its newest North American gateway: Detroit, Michigan. The seasonal flights begin May 18, 2023, taking off from Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport to Reykjavik (KEF), Iceland. The four weekly, non-stop flights will run through Oct. 30, 2023. Flight 872 departs Detroit for Iceland Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, at 8:30 p.m., on a 160-seat Boeing 737MAX. The return, from Reykjavik to Detroit, departs 5 p.m. on the same days of the week, arriving at 6:25 p.m.
If your personal travel nirvana involves fabulous scenery and a snappy, reviving hike in bracing winter air, Bannikin Travel & Tourism hopes to make your dreams come true with a selection of new winter walking itineraries in Scotland (other trip options are available in England and Ireland). Here’s what you can look forward to in 2023:
From 24-Hour Butler Service to a Sky Pool: Boutique Luxury Awaits at Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences in Los Cabos
Set on a seaside bluff overlooking Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, Vista Encantada Spa Resort & Residences is a Baja paradise specializing in serene vistas and impeccable hospitality, offering a Pacific coast lifestyle with authentic Mexican touches. Guests can now earn a fourth night free at the stunning resort, plus a $100 resort credit, when booking through March 20, for travel through June 15.
As of November 2022, Rohrkopfhutte (mountain hut) on Germany’s Tegelberg mountain reopened, and the dream view from the terrace, of the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau and the stunning Schwangauer Alpsee, can be seen in the valley below.
Travelers constantly look for their next bucket-list vacation, but with Europe getting colder, why not travel to a destination that is sunny year-round? Tel Aviv is the perfect getaway to escape the cold winter months. Whether traveling solo, with friends or family members, here are some must-do activities in Tel Aviv.
Experience the beauty of Alaska and save 60 percent off cruise fares on your second and fourth guests. Plus, drinks, WiFi and tips are all included.
Palm Springs became a destination of legend when Hollywood’s biggest and brightest during cinema’s “Golden Age” turned the desert community into their glamourous backyard. While restaurants and hotels epitomizing definitive Palm Springs luxury open, adapt and change with the times, it says something that one of its hottest restaurants sets up an outpost back in Los Angeles. And that’s exactly what chef Michael Beckman and restaurateur Joe Mourani did on the southern tip of the always-evolving Fairfax District.