How River Cruising Suddenly Got Popular

Ever have one of those “I wish I thought of that” moments? River cruising is very popular. How did it get that way?

It’s been around for a long time. Traveling with friends in the French countryside in the early 1990’s we learned people could rent a boat, like you could rent a camper, then sail the canals on your own. Operating all those locks by yourself sounded like no fun. We learned you could book a luxury river barge for six nights. The crew did all the cooking and sailing. These barges held 6-10 people. Generally speaking, you assembled your own group. Six nights for six people cost upwards of $ 20,000. That’s not for us either.

Torstein Hagen had an idea. According to online sources, in 1997 he bought four river cruise ships. Viking River Cruises was born. In 2000 they purchased KD River Cruises. Now the fleet had 26 ships. Today they have 76 river cruise ships and 6 ocean going vessels.

Viking River Cruises put itself in the right place at the right time. They established a long standing sponsorship arrangement with the PBS series Masterpiece with the objective of cultivating the Baby Boomer generation in America. River cruising grew in popularity.

Cover photo: Viking Hild on the Danube River at Durnstein, Austria, courtesy Viking

Leave a Comment