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August 2011

Viking River Cruises goes nuts with "Viking Longships"

Viking River Cruises Longship on the Rhine

ABOVE: A rendering of a "Viking Longship" on the Rhine.

You've got to give them credit: The corner-office honchos and shipbuilders at Viking River Cruises don't do things by halves. They've just announced another two "Viking Longships" for delivery in 2012, bringing next year's newbuild total to an even half-dozen.

The new ships--the Viking Embla and Viking Agir--will enter service in July and August of 2012, joining four new sister ships--Viking Freya, Viking Idun, Viking Njord, and Viking Odin--that are due to be christened in March. By 2014, a whopping 10 Viking Longships will be plying the rivers of Western and Central Europe as part of a US $250 million fleet-expansion and refurbishment scheme.

Viking reports that the new Longships will be 443 feet long, with 95 staterooms per ship. Every ship will have 39 "Veranda Staterooms," seven "Veranda Suites" with separate living rooms and bedrooms, and two "Explorer Suites" (each with a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and private wraparound veranda with 270-degree views).

The new Viking Longships will sail Viking's most popular European itineraries, including the 15-day Grand European Tour and the 8- to 10-day Romantic Danube, Danube Waltz, Tulips & Windmills, and Rhine Getaway cruises.

You can book now for cruises on the new ships in 2012. For fares and other information, see the company's Web site at

Photo rendering: Viking River Cruises

Beetles invade Chateau-d'Oex, Switzerland

BELOW: A Beetle bathtub toy at the Four Seasons Hotel in VW's Autostadt, and the millionth Beetle on display in the Volkswagen Zeithaus Museum.

VW New Beetle bathtub toy In Chateau-d'Oex, Switzerland, the Lemania Coccinelle Club is gearing up for the 2011 edition of its biennal European rally from August 26-28. The club is expecting more than 1,500 Volkswagen Beetles from 15 different countries, with an emphasis on vintage cars (including rare models from the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg, Germany).

Millionth VW Beetle The rally is limited to air-cooled Beetles (except for the VW T3 bus, which was built until 1992).

For a complete program of events, with photos from past rallies, see the Meeting Presentation page at

Vacation renter trashes apartment

The Hole at Alcatraz - Photo by Stephan Hoerold

ABOVE: A more appropriate San Francisco vacation apartment for "DJ Pattrson."

We learned about this incident via a Facebook Travel Bloggers Group post by Michela Simonici:

In Around the World and Back Again, a blogger who goes by the initials "EJ" describes renting her San Francisco apartment to a stranger through airbnb and coming home to find it robbed and trashed:

Violated: A traveler's lost faith; a difficult lesson learned 

Fortunately, such horror stories aren't common. If they were, the vacation-rental business wouldn't be as huge as it is. But if you're ever asked for references when renting a holiday apartment, or if the proprietor demands a hefty security deposit or a credit-card number, EJ's experience may help to explain why the landlord or landlady is being careful.

Photo: Stephan Hoerold.