Five Reasons You Should Book a Viking Cruise
With so many cruise operators afloat on the world’s rivers, it can be hard to choose your cruise. Here are a few good reasons to consider Viking.
Norwegian-owned but based in the USA and Switzerland, Viking has transformed in under 20 years from newcomer to world’s largest river-cruise company. That speaks volumes about how well organised the company is, and this carries over to the passenger experience. Viking’s knack is providing Swiss competence without losing American-style friendliness. Cruises run with remarkable efficiency, shore excursions depart on time, reception staff and concierges are knowledgeable, restaurant staff efficient yet pleasantly informal. Quality, consistency and a relaxed atmosphere are hallmarks of Viking Cruises.
Not all Viking cruises feature its Longship vessels, but many in Europe do. Longships debuted in 2012 and have been steadily launched since, so most are very new. Carrying 190 passengers, they feel surprisingly spacious thanks to sleek, Scandinavian minimalism and huge floor-to-ceiling windows. Longships also feature an open-air deck across the entire top floor, providing walking space and a perch from which to enjoy 360-degree views. The outdoor Aquavit Terrace at the prow of the ship has alternative, informal dining and more good outlooks. These are stylish ships, attractively presented.
Room with a view
Not all Viking’s cabins are the same, and some have portholes rather than full-length windows, however, you’ll find the same amenities and light, fresh style throughout. Particular treats on Longships include heated bathroom floors, de-mist mirrors, excellent water pressure in gushing, hot showers, and L’Occitane bath products. Beds are comfortable, and specially designed Longship engines, low on noise and vibrations, allow for good sleep. Everything is immaculately maintained with a twice-daily service by seemingly tireless and cheerful stewards making it a pleasure to return to your cabin at the end of a long day.
Live and learn
Viking cruises have an educational ethos that provides an entertaining understanding of local culture and history. Well-travelled passengers have enquiring minds and are keen to learn about passing destinations and the on-board lectures provide an entertaining and informative romp through politics, history and society. On the Volga, for example, you might learn about the tsars, the Soviet era and life in contemporary Russia, plus enjoy Russian folk music and dancing. In France’s Bordeaux region, an optional shore excursion takes you to Cognac, where you don’t just learn about cognac, but have a go at blending your own.
Food, glorious food
The food on Viking ships is mainstream and not necessarily adventurous – however, there’s no faulting its freshness and quality. There are buffet-style breakfasts and lunches, but you can order à la carte mains. Lunchtime salads, breads and cheeses are great, and the desserts drive you to overindulgence. Save yourself for the more formal three-course dinners if you can. There are forays into regional meals and local wines, and the chef demonstrates how to make apple strudel in Austria and lemon tart in Normandy, among other regional dishes.