This Week in River Cruise: Viking River Cruises Takes to the Ocean

Viking River Cruises is readying itself to enter the world of ocean cruising. The river cruise line announced that the first of two 47,000-ton, 900-passenger ships will launch in spring 2015 to offer ocean itineraries. The vessels will be built at one of Fincantieri’s Italian shipyards. The cost for each ship is estimated between $350 million and $400 million, and Viking just finished crhistening 10 other longships in Amsterdam and a European shipyard in March 2013.

Also branching out into new territories is budding cruise operator Haimark, which is launching voyages along the Mekong river in winter 2013-2014. Haimark is also planning voyages on the Irrawaddy River in Myanmar and the Ganges River in India. Haimark is based in Breckenridge, Colo., and is a U.S. company with U.S.-based procurement and contracting. The Haimark operation now handles land arrangements for more than 4,000 people annually to Southeast Asia.

The American Queen Steamboat Company aquired the Empress of the North, formerly of Majestic America Line. The new ship, now named the American Empress, is scheduled to resume sailings on the rivers of the Pacific Northwest April 2014 calling her homeport Portland, Ore. A U.S.-flagged riverboat, the American Empress measures 360 feet with five decks and accommodates 223 guests in seven stateroom categories. The American Empress will sail the Columbia River and Snake River, offering seven-day voyages between Portland, Ore. and Clarkston, Wash. Ports of call include Astoria, Ore.; Stevenson, Wash.; The Dalles, Ore.; Umatilla, Ore.; and Richland, Wash.

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