River Cruising for 2011

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In addition to new ships, Viking River Cruises is completing two complete refurbishments to its existing fleet. Ready for 2011, the Viking Pakhomov will have completed a full bow-to-stern renovation like those of its Russian sister ships, Viking Surkov and Viking Kirov, relaunched in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The Pakhomov will feature all deluxe staterooms with hotel-style beds, flat-panel TVs and the latest amenities, and public areas, too, have been completely remodeled. Another vessel, the Viking Schumann, purpose-built for Elbe River cruising, will also receive a total refurbishment for the 2011 season.

Coming from Viking in 2011 are a handful of new cruise-tour itineraries—from an 11-day Passage to Eastern Europe from Bucharest to Budapest, from $5,399 aboard Viking Primadonna, to a 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids starting at $7,795 aboard the Royal Lily on the Nile and Prince Abbas on Lake Nasser. However, the big news is the introduction of a brand-new Southeast Asia itinerary next year, a 15-day program featuring cruising aboard the 66-passenger rv Tonle on the scenic Mekong River and land tours in Vietnam and Cambodia. Travelers spend two nights in Hanoi; three nights in Siem Reap, gateway to the Angkor Wat temples, and two nights in Ho Chi Minh City; the 8-day Mekong River Cruise stops in Phnom Penh and a variety of small riverside villages. All-inclusive costs start at $3,399 pp.

Recently, Viking introduced what Hagen calls, “an unprecedented and very simple commission policy. When agents sell a Viking itinerary, they earn a commission on all of it.” Spelled out, this covers commission on cruise and air, as well as port charges, taxes, fees and travel protection plans.