Wendy Atkin-Smith, Viking UK’s managing director. Credit: Viking

'The future is bright': Interview with Viking UK's managing director

Author: Sarah Riches

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Wendy Atkin-Smith, Viking UK’s managing director, shares the brand’s plans for 2024

Which new ships are on the horizon?

We have welcomed 18 new ships since 2020 – including two Polar Class expedition vessels – so travellers can now explore all seven continents with us.

Viking Hathor will launch in August to join our fleet of purpose-built ships on the Nile River. In late 2024 we will welcome Viking Vela, which will spend its inaugural season sailing in the Mediterranean and northern Europe.

Looking ahead to 2025, we will launch a second ship on the Mekong River, the Viking Tonle, as well as five additional Viking longships.

Viking has a new 15-day river cruise. Credit: Shutterstock

Can you share some new itineraries?

We have seen an increase in interest in longer voyages on European rivers so in March we have a new 15-day river cruise tour – Lyon, Provence & the Rhineland – which blends history, winegrowing and art with spectacular scenery along the Rhine River and the south of France.

I’m also looking forward to the launch of our Iconic Iceland, Greenland & Canada itinerary – I loved sailing around Iceland but I haven’t visited Greenland yet. Guests will be able to enjoy volcanic landscapes while delving into Viking history and exploring Greenland’s remote islands.

We’re also pleased to return to Malta in 2024 and introduce new Moroccan destinations to Viking. Our Malta, Morocco & the Mediterranean itinerary will make its inaugural voyage from Barcelona in late 2024 and span seven countries in 16 days, featuring visits to Unesco sites, North African cities and Granada’s Alhambra palace.

Longitudinal World Cruise IV also launches in 2024, from the heart of the Great Lakes. It will cross the Americas, then continue to the Antarctic Peninsula.

Viking Forsetti's library carries approximately 80 books. Credit: Viking

Which partnerships are in the pipeline for Viking in 2024?

As well as our long-standing partnerships with the British Museum and the Royal Academy of Arts, for the first time we’re working with Stanfords, the map and travel book retailer that was established in 1853. We are the presenting sponsor of the 2024 Edward Stanford Travel Writing Awards.

A new category has been introduced for 2024 – the Viking Award for Fiction with a Sense of Place – and I am one of the judges. The winners will be announced in March.

All guests automatically become UK Viking Explorer Society members when they sail with us, and in 2024 they can attend Classic FM Live at the Royal Albert Hall in London in April and The Barber of Seville at Opera Holland Park in London in June.

See some amazing wildlife in Svalbard with Hurtigruten. Credit: Shutterstock

Where is on your travel wishlist in 2024?

I’d love to explore the South Pacific, so Viking’s Grand Hawaii & Polynesia ocean itinerary is top of my list. I also love the rugged beauty of Scandinavia’s remote islands, so I hope to visit Svalbard. Halfway between Norway and the North Pole, it has more polar bears than people. It would be a dream come true to see one in the wild.

I never tire of visiting Paris, and this year the city is hosting the Olympics. It is the 80th anniversary of D-Day, too, so we are offering special journeys of remembrance to mark the occasion.

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About Sarah Riches

After a five-year stint living in Asia, Sarah was inspired to become a travel journalist. Sarah has freelanced for Condé Nast Traveller and National Geographic Traveller and is the author of London Almanac (2010) and Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to British Customs & Culture (2024). She was also the deputy editor of Time Out Abu Dhabi, Where London and London Planner, digital editor of Wanderlust – the UK’s oldest travel magazine.