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Viking’s newest ship, the Viking Aton, “floated out” this week, headed for her debut in Egypt in August, with pre- and post-trips to Jerusalem and Jordan.
As the third Viking ship custom-built to sail the Nile, Aton marks the halfway point to the six-ship fleet the company envisions on the longest river in the world, which flows north out of Africa into the Mediterranean Sea.
Like her identical sister ship Viking Osiris, Viking Aton holds 82 guests and 65 crew and will sail a 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary.
“We are proud to be the only western company to build, own and operate ships on the Nile, and with the float out of the Viking Aton, we look forward to welcoming more guests to experience this fantastic region,” said Viking chairman Torstein Hagen.
Viking reports “very strong demand in Egypt,” with the 2023 season and many 2024 dates already sold out. In all, the line plans to have six ships sailing the Nile by 2025, including Viking Ra, which launched in 2018, and two more shifts under construction now, Viking Hathor and Viking Sobek.
In addition to the 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary, guests can sign up for a five-day British Collections of Ancient Egypt extension beginning in London, which includes private visits to the Egyptian Collection at the British Museum; the home of Sir John Soane, whose collection of Egyptian antiquities includes a 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus; and Highclere Castle, to view the Earl’s private collection of Egyptian artifacts. There’s also a Pre Extension in Jerusalem and a Post Extension in Jordan that includes Jerash, Kerak, and the lost city of Petra.
Separately, Egypt’s ministry of tourism and antiquities this week announced the discovery of the ancient underground tomb complex of Panehsy, steward of the temple of Amun under Ramses II, around 1250 BC.
“Egypt is one of the most difficult areas in the world to book. There are many local companies who offer Nile cruises, but it’s very difficult to know who the trustworthy ones are,” said travel advisor Lainey Melnick. “Having the big name cruise lines stepping into that market makes it so much more accessible to Americans who are willing to pay that premium price for something they trust and understand. It makes all the difference in that region.”