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Viking River Cruise is reinventing river cruising, not just from a marketing perspective, but from a up-to-date customer experience that the brand's older and better-traveled customer base appreciates -- voyages are full for months.

Viking Cruises set a new world record this week with the christening of 16 new ships in 24 hours. The Viking Longships, which debuted in 2012, accommodate 195 passengers in 95 staterooms.

In addition to unique architecture that allows space for 8 more cabins than a traditional river cruise vessel, the ships are outfitted with technology that improves passengers’ experience and the staff’s efficiency.

One of the most talked about tech features today is Wi-Fi. All of Viking’s new Longships are outfitted with free connectivity, but the service is not as fast or seamless as passengers experience at home.

“The Internet has been a hard one,” concedes Viking CEO Torstein Hagen during a press meeting.

“As a principle, we’ve said we don’t want to charge for Internet…to have a perfect Internet connection is bloody impossible.”

Although slow to upload large images or photos, the free and consistent service is a large improvement over ocean cruises that struggle to cater to constantly connected guests.

“I think we will get there…but we aren’t there yet.”

Several more of the features available in guest rooms are as follows:

  • One of the most useful is the presence of outlets for both American and EU plugs.┬áThere are four of each outlet located throughout the bedroom, bathroom, and directly next to each bed side.
  • Similar to many European hotels, the room card is needed to turns on the lights. The feature has the added benefit of reducing energy costs for ship operators.
  • One of the most luxurious innovations onboard is the ability to turn a small dial and warm bathroom floors.
  • The in-room TV also serves as an onboard entertainment and information portal. There is information on passengers’ specific cruise itinerary, the weather for each stop on the itinerary, and movies selected for their relevance to the locations and themes discussed on the trip.
  • Instead of the traditional safety demonstration, passengers can view a safety video on their TV, which locks after 24 hours if it is not watched in completion. Passengers can listen to the video, or any onboard entertainment, through three ceiling speakers.

Viking doesn’t currently have apps that inform or assist passengers on board or prior to their trip, but it’s something employees say will be developed in the future.

Increased Efficiency

Dining staff is also using new technology onboard the new ship. A new app, created by MarineXchange, send passengers’ orders directly to the kitchen.

“Our goal is to have better, faster service to the guest,” explains Mika Silverman, director innovation specialist of MarineXchange.

“It allows the chef to be more responsive. And as part of the whole supply chain, it allows provisioning, ordering, and consumption to be very accurately maintained. That’s the real advantage.”

In addition to the technological innovations, all Longships feature onboard solar panels, organic herb gardens, and energy-efficient hybrid engines.

The ships will sail through Europe starting next week, including France for the first time.


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Tags: france, river cruises, technology

Photo credit: The television as information portal on Viking Cruises' new ships. Samantha Shankman / Skift

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