Recommendations & Resources for choosing river cruises
Viking River Cruises
Nordic Beauty. Great Value. Affordable Luxury.
My Take On Viking
Viking’s Longships are some of the most beautiful ships afloat. You’d be hard-pressed, in fact, to find river cruise vessels more appealing to the senses than those in Viking’s expansive fleet.
The beauty is by and large a product of Viking’s Scandinavian heritage and the design aesthetic of the Nordics. But Viking is not all about beauty.
Typically, you will get a great value on Viking. The company nearly always has special offers, including 2-for-1 fares, included or reduced airfare, or often, a combination of both.
The value proposition also extends to what the company refers to as “affordable luxury.” To give you just one example of what Viking means by “affordable luxury,” the bathroom floors in your stateroom are heated. I’ve not seen this on any other ship, ocean or river. There are little touches like the heated bathroom floors all throughout Viking’s Longships. My video shows you some of the fine touches that make for “affordable luxury” on Viking’s Longships.
Named for Norse gods and goddesses, Viking River Cruises’ Longships are among the most beautiful ships on the European rivers. Thanks to Viking’s Norwegian heritage, the company’s Longships evoke the natural beauty of the Nordics.
In the airy lobby, you’ll see plenty of natural woods and stones, with a gorgeous staircase complemented by handrailings bound in leather and flanked by forest flowers and moss-covered rocks.
The Longships embody the beauty of Scandinavia throughout, nowhere less so than in the main restaurant where windows frame the gorgeous landscapes of the rivers and where linen covered tables serve as blank canvasses for Viking’s chefs to present their beautiful culinary creations.
Because Viking’s design focus was on public spaces and accommodations, the Longships boast features that few, if any, other river cruisers can claim, notably, two-room suites and my favorite front-of-ship-space, the Aquavit Terrace.
In addition to 2-for-1 offers, and included or reduced airfare, Viking provides great value on its Longships.
Some examples: At €300 per cabin, double occupancy, the cost of Viking’s all-inclusive beverage package may seem steep at first glance, but it can be quite a value when you consider the beverages offered.
Are you a Scotch drinker? Then you may know of Highland Park Ragnvald, which goes for more than $500 a bottle on internet sites I looked at. Yet on Viking, you can enjoy as many glasses as you like of the single malt Scotch whiskey as part of your Silver Spirit Beverage Package. Without the package, a 4 cl shot of Ragnvald goes for €22.
Viking strives for quality throughout. In the main lounge, for example, service is gracious and inviting while one deck up, bartenders have the luxury of a sundeck garden to harvest herbs for their creative concoctions. A clip of mint, a sprig of basil and a little magic with a rigorous shake conspires to conjure up the perfect cocktail. The optional Silver Spirits Beverage Package, mentioned above, includes cocktails as well as spirits, wine and beer.
Another example: Viking River Cruises’ Norwegian-born chairman, Torstein Hagen, demands that his ships serve salmon from his homeland. I certainly enjoyed the Norwegian salmon served at the Aquavit Terrace one evening – as well as in the dining room during breakfast. Other items that I appreciated on the breakfast buffet: fresh berries – raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. If you’ve shopped around, you know that berries don’t come cheap. Not all river cruisers offer berries on their breakfast buffets.
Viking takes the position of offering “affordable luxury.” What does that mean? Well, first let’s take a look at what “luxury” river cruisers are all about. The few companies operating at the very top tier offer included booze 24/7, generous crew-to-guest ratios, and literally everything that you can think of included. Experienced cruisers, however, might argue that they are paying for goods and services not important to them on ships at the “luxury” end of the spectrum. If you’re not a big drinker, for example, rest assured you’re paying for the guy who is big on imbibing.
Moreover, two people can cruise on Viking for up to $400 less per day than on those all-inclusive players, and that is factoring in optional excursions, gratuities and the Silver Spirit Beverage Package on Viking, which makes Viking’s an all-inclusive package. The difference is that you pay for 24/7 booze only if you want to on Viking.
Other luxury contenders: Viking is among the only river cruise companies to offer two-room suites, featuring a bedroom with a balcony that opens up on to the rivers and a living room with its own balcony. Bathrooms in all staterooms feature heated floors, representative of the style of affordable luxury river cruising that Viking provides.
Viking offers an engaging river cruise experience on ships that rival, and perhaps surpass, those of many top-tier operators – and Viking does that at prices that appeal to the discerning traveler.
Viking® announced voyages on its newest Nile River ship, the Viking Hathor, are now available for booking. Set to debut in 2024, the Viking Hathor will join the company’s growing fleet of purpose-built ships on the Nile River, which sail the popular 12-day Pharaohs & Pyramids itinerary.
Viking® has announced a new river voyage that will allow guests to experience Europe during winter. The new Treasures of the Rhine itinerary debuts in December 2023 and establishes Viking as the first line to operate year-round on Europe’s storied rivers.
Is a Christmas cruise the right choice for you? I think so. Read about my experience on a Christmas Market cruise a decade ago on the Rhine, where I learned that the magic of Christmas is felt just as easily across the Atlantic.
Viking announced that its newest river ship, the Viking Saigon, has begun its inaugural season in Southeast Asia. Purpose-built for the Mekong River, the 80-guest ship sails between Kampong Cham, Cambodia and Mỹ Tho, Vietnam as part of Viking’s popular 15-day Magnificent Mekong itinerary.
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