Viking River Cruises has once again been recognized by readers of the leading travel magazine, Travel + Leisure, as one of the “Top 10 Small-Ship Cruise Lines” in the periodical’s 13th annual “World’s Best” awards. “This is the fourth time Viking River Cruises has appeared on this list, and we are delighted to be the highest-ranked dedicated river cruising company in the Small-Ship category,” said Torstein Hagen, founder and chairman of Viking River Cruises.

The annual “World’s Best” survey allows readers to recognize their favorite travel providers in categories like hotels, airlines, etc., including cruise lines; the “small ships” category is for vessels which carry fewer than 400 passengers. The poll is limited to readers that are not travel industry professionals, and ratings are based on subscribers’ actual recent experiences with the travel vendors being considered. “We believe the readers of Travel + Leisure are sophisticated travelers who know what they want,” continued Hagen, “and they know who can best provide it.”

The world’s largest river cruise line, Viking River Cruises, provides its passengers with in-depth, culturally-rich travel experiences along the world’s great rivers. The company has a 99.8% satisfaction rating for having met, exceeded or far exceeded the expectations of its guests in 2007. “Our passengers have high expectations of us,” said Hagen, “and we work very hard every year to meet and surpass those expectations. Our appearance on the Travel + Leisure ‘World’s Best’ list means we are doing just that, which inspires us to work even harder to satisfy and delight our guests.”

Viking has announced its 2009 lineup of cruises and cruisetours, which includes 19 itineraries, ranging from eight to 23 days in length, in Europe, China, Russia and the Ukraine. Viking’s ships sail along the Rhine, Moselle, Rhone, Saone, Seine, Main, Danube and Elbe Rivers in Europe, the Neva, Svir and Volga in Russia and the Dnieper in Ukraine and the Yangtze in China. Operating the world’s largest fleet of 21 river cruising vessels, Viking offers elegant, spacious accommodations, gourmet cuisine, excellent service by English-speaking staff and local guides, and superior value for passengers’ travel dollars.

For 2009, the company has announced the launch of its new ship, Viking Legend, which will join the rest of the fleet on the company’s popular Grand European Tour itinerary. In Russia, the company launched its fully-renovated Viking Surkov in May of this year; next year, Viking Kirov will also be fully renovated, making these ships the very best river cruise ships in Russia. Viking also offers a number of exciting new land extension programs for 2009, including a tour of four Baltic capitals, a sojourn on the idyllic Channel Islands, a pilgrimage to Nice and other legendary destinations along the French Riviera, and 3 fascinating nights in Istanbul. There are also new guest amenities, like free wireless internet service on all Europe ships and expanded in-depth itinerary-specific cultural enrichment experiences.

Viking River Cruises, the world’s largest river cruise company, offers quality service, gourmet cuisine and comfortable scenic cruising along the majestic rivers of Europe, Russia and China. The company has been honored multiple times as the top river cruise line on Conde Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” and Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best” Awards. Travel agents have also recognized Viking River Cruises in 2006 and 2007 as “Best Riverboat Cruise Line” by Travel Weekly, “Best River Cruise Line” by Recommend and Travel Agent magazines, and in 2006, 2007 and 2008 as “Best Overall Cruise Line for River Cruising” by TravelAge West. Since its 1997 inception, the company has grown to a fleet of 21 vessels, and provides unique, deluxe vacations to experienced travelers with an interest in geography, culture and history.