Whether it’s the cultural mélange of a civilization that dates back to the time of Pharaohs or exploring an epicurean bounty of Mediterranean fares such as shawarma or grape leaves, Egypt is exploding as a hot spot for travelers looking to abandon the ordinary. And, Viking River Cruises has taken note. “Egypt has inspired explorers for generations, and it remains a top destination for many of our guests,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking. Looking to meet the demands of the growing market, Viking recently announced an expansion of its Egypt program for the 2020 season, which will include the launch of a new ship and more Pre-Cruise Extensions.

Credit: Shutterstock

Viking Osiris

Inspired by the design of the award-winning Viking Longships and built specifically for the Nile River, Viking Osiris is currently under construction and set to debut in September 2020.  “We remain committed to Egypt, and we look forward to introducing the historical treasures of the region to even more Viking guests,” adds Hagen.

The new Viking Osiris will host 82 guests in 41 staterooms. The state-of-the-art ship bestows the clean, elegant Scandinavian design for which Viking is known – and will join the company’s other ship on the Nile, Viking Ra, which launched in 2018. Viking is the first and only Western company to build, own and operate vessels on the Nile.

New Pre-Cruise Extensions

In addition to the new ship, Viking is also launching two new Pre-Cruise Extensions next year. With guests continuing to express a keen interest in Egypt, these five-day extensions to Viking’s Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary will allow guests privileged access to archives and exhibits in London and Oxford that are generally not accessible to the public.

These Pre -Cruise Extensions grant guests the opportunity to retrace the steps of the world’s most famous Egyptologist, Howard Carter, and his benefactor, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Guests on the five day British Collections of Ancient Egypt extension will meet their Viking Tour Director in London to experience access to two museums and then a visit to the home of world-renowned architect, Sir John Soane. Here the tour will be illuminated by candlelight, a re-enactment of how Soane entertained guests and showcased his collection of Egyptian antiques, including a 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus. A few more highlights of the Extension include: a visit to London’s Petrie Museum, a behind the scenes look at Oxford University’s Griffith Institute. Guests will enjoy privileged access to Carter’s archives which detail the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb and a visit to Highclere Castle.

Highclere Castle Credit: Shutterstock

Guests traveling through April 2020 may also opt for the new five days King Tut & the UK’s Egyptian Collections extension, where they will have the opportunity to visit Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh, a special exhibition at London’s Saatchi Gallery that is presented by Viking.

Saatchi Gallery Credit: Shutterstock

Pharaohs & Pyramids

Temples of Luxor Credit: Shutterstock

During the 12-day, Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary, guests experience Egypt’s cultural treasures in seven destinations. The cruise tour begins with a three-night stay at a first-class hotel in Cairo, followed by a flight to Luxor, where they will visit the Temples of Luxor and Karnak before boarding a Viking river ship for an eight-day roundtrip cruise on the Nile River. Finally, the journey concludes with a flight back to Cairo for a final night in the ancient city.