Celebrating the release of the highly anticipated Downton Abbey movie, Viking Cruises has launched the pre- and post-cruise extension of dreams, a trip focused around Highclere Castle and other British country estates.

The cruise extension, named ‘Great Homes, Gardens & Gin’, has been designed to give UK visitors the chance to explore some of the country’s most beautiful stately homes, with many having been the setting for films and television shows.

Starting in 2021, the five-day extension will be available on Viking’s Rhine Getaway river cruise itinerary and British Isles Explorer ocean cruise itinerary.

Viking Cruises Downton Abbey premiere
The extension celebrates the release of the Downton Abbey movie

 

Whetting the appetite of history buffs and architecture lovers, the programme includes a Viking privileged access tour of Highclere Castle, personally curated by Viking’s Karine Hagen and the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

Located in the rolling countryside of Berkshire, Jacobethan Highclere is the setting of Downton Abbey and has also been used as a filming location for Jeeves and Wooster.

The extension also includes a visit to Oxfordshire’s medieval manor, Broughton Castle. Like Highclere, Broughton has also appeared not he Silver Screen, home of the Fiennes family (think Ralph and Ranulph) and starring in Shakespeare in Love, Three Men and a Little Lady and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Viking Cruises downton abbey cruise Chavenage House
Chavenage House has starred in the hit TV show, Poldark

 

Also on the agenda is Chavenage House in the Cotswolds, known for its appearance in Poldark, and the gardens of High-grove house, the private home of HRH The Prince of Wales.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a truly British experience without a drop of gin, and the extension will also include a visit to the nearby Laverstock Mill, Bombay Sapphire’s distillery.

This is Viking’s second cruise extension to Highclere, with the cruise line already offering an Oxford & Highclere Castle extension, giving guests a champagne welcome and a tour of the castle and estate.

Viking Cruises river cruise Rhine
The Viking Longship Mani passing through the Middle Rhine Valley

 

“Many of our guests were introduced to both Viking and Highclere Castle while watching the Downton Abbey series. For this reason, we are linked in the minds of many Downton Abbey fans,” said Karine Hagen, Executive Vice President of Viking.

“This venture is a natural extension of our close relationship with Highclere Castle and our close personal friendship with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon – with whom we proudly created Viking’s highest-rated cruise extension.”

“Not only are Viking and Highclere linked through Downton Abbey, but Karine and I are linked through life and our dogs, and we warmly welcome our extended Viking family to explore our home,” said Lady Carnarvon.

Rhine Getaway cruises start at £1,595 for eight days and can be booked through vikingrivercruises.co.uk.