Cruise Journey: Inside Viking’s New River Cruise Ship Custom-Built for Egypt’s Nile

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The theatrical release of Death on the Nilebased on Agatha Christie’s popular novel of the same name earlier this year may have sparked a resurgence in river cruising in the region.

Expanding its existing fleet on the Nile, Viking Cruises is preparing to launch a brand new ship which it touts as Egypt’s most premium commercial passenger vessel. Viking now has three ships in operation on the Nile with three more expected to set sail in the coming years.

Completed this year at the Massara shipyard in Cairo, the Osiris is a state-of-the-art vessel, designed in the same style as her sister ship, the Aten, and the brand’s clean and elegant traditional Scandinavian aesthetic. With a length of 236 feet, the Osiris only accommodates 82 guests and a crew of 65, making her an ideal option for travelers (experienced cruisers or not) who want to travel on the water but prefer to avoid an overly crowded ship.

“We tend to say that Viking is the thinking person’s travel agency,” Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen said during a press conference on the ship’s maiden sail. “And I think you can’t be more inspiring to thinking people than to come here and see all of this history delivered to you.”

Most 12-day Viking itineraries begin and end in Cairo, and guests will spend the first few days in Cairo visiting some of the world’s most iconic and historic sites, including the Giza Plateau, the Great Sphinx and the Great Pyramids of Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure. Guests then board a short flight to Luxor, also known as the ancient city of Thebes, where they will embark on the cruise, sailing down the Nile with stops in Qena, Esna, Aswan and Edfu. (Guests also have the option of extending their trip through Viking with four nights in Jordan to see the ancient city of Petra.)

Specifically built to navigate the Nile, Viking says its ships have been completely redesigned to international standards of comfort and elegance.

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

The Osiris has 41 outside cabins. The Explorer and Veranda suites have two full-size bedrooms with verandas, and guests in these cabins can enjoy complimentary laundry and shoe shine services. Explorer Suites also feature large bathrooms with separate tubs and glass-enclosed showers, as well as options for private arrival and departure destination transfers, as well as complimentary in-room breakfast service.

All staterooms and suites feature queen-size beds (with the option to book for two twin configurations instead), 40-inch HDTVs with access to major news stations (ie. CNN, BBC, CBC, etc.), several 110/220 power outlets and USB ports, individual air conditioning (for heating and cooling), bottled water filled daily or on demand, private bathrooms with toiletries Freyja and free Wi-Fi (note though that speeds always vary and can be spotty when browsing).

And Viking cabins, in general across its entire fleet, offer a considerable amount of personal storage space on board with a spacious wardrobe, dresser drawers and under-bed storage.

Inside one of the cabins of the Viking Osiris.

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

The Osiris features several social spaces, including a lounge and bar with floor-to-ceiling glass doors and plenty of comfy chairs to enjoy the scenery, a full-service fine-dining restaurant with white tablecloth, a library, and a gift shop.

With floor-to-ceiling windows and large, comfy chairs, the lounge is a gathering place where guests can take in the scenery, have a drink, attend lectures, and listen to local music.

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

The most notable places to be aware of are the sundeck at the very top of the ship, with a sundeck above, with 360 degree views and a shaded seating area; and the Aquavit Sundeck and Lounge, an indoor and outdoor viewing area for alfresco dining, which sits directly across from the outdoor pool deck at the rear of the vessel, dotted with padded sun loungers for Sun bathing.

The ship’s restaurant features floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views while dining.

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

2022, which is Viking’s 25th year in business, has been a monumental year for the Basel, Switzerland-based company. Earlier this year, Viking launched a quartet of new custom-built longships for France’s famous Seine. And the company resumed plans for its expedition trips, exploring destinations in Antarctica, the Arctic Circle and the Great Lakes in North America. These routes were announced before the pandemic in January 2020, but were quickly put on hold.

“We’ve been through a terrible time with COVID and how it’s impacted a business like ours with cruise demand, and of course Egypt which is very dependent on tourism,” Hagen said. “So it’s been hell for a lot of us, but at least I think we now see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Viking was the first major international cruise line to suspend operations during the pandemic. The company resumed excursions in the summer of 2021. In 2019, the last full year of pre-pandemic travel, Viking achieved $3 billion in revenue, and the company is on track to exceed these figures in 2022, with a forecast of annual revenue growth. 47% this year. With approximately 10,000 employees, Viking serves an average of 500,000 customers per year.

Since launching with four ships in 1997, Viking’s fleet has grown to 80 ships and has stations around the world.

By the end of the year, Viking plans to launch two new identical ocean-going vessels, more new longships in Europe, and new vessels specially designed for the Mekong and Mississippi rivers in addition to the Nile.

Viking has already sold out most of its Nile cruise bookings for the rest of the year (and through 2023 and even 2024), although there are still cabins available in September and October. Looking ahead, Viking says it expects to carry around 10,000 passengers in Egypt alone next year, and 9,000 seats have already been filled.

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