Before Christopher Columbus became a household name, there were Vikings; Norwegian Vikings to be more geo-specific. These seafaring warriors dominated in trade due to their exceptional ships and excellent navigational skills. Today, Viking River Cruises dominates the river cruise market due to their thirst for exploration, combined with innovative engineering and sleek Scandinavian design of their longships. The Norwegian-based company has taken the hassle out of planning a European vacation.
I have had the opportunity to sail on several Viking Longships, so believe me when I say that Viking River Cruises are floating hotels. I sailed the Viking Gefjon while exploring German Christmas Markets this past December. Explorer Suites are the most deluxe accommodations available on the ship, while veranda staterooms offer plush hotel quality beds with scenic river views. All rooms include flat panel tv, small refrigerator, safe, heated bathroom floors (great in the wintertime) and upscale bath products, as well as complimentary internet access and two computers for guest’ use in the library.
To date, I have only sailed with Viking River Cruises in the winter, during the Christmas Market season, so I have only taken advantage of the Aquavit Terrace on sunny sailing days. I have a feeling I’ll become more intimately connected with the outdoor seating area in September during my Portugal cruise exploring the Douro River. Even in winter, the Atrium lobby is bright and flooded with natural light. The lobby is your starting place for checking in and out of your longship for daily shore excursions. There is also an elevator on board for moving from the mid to upper deck.
The restaurant offers panoramic, floor-to-ceiling windows for taking in the views while sailing. With its opening dining plan you may dine with your friends, or if you travel solo like me, you’ll be able to meet new friends at each seating. Whether you are a picky eater, vegan or gluten free, you’ll find something to your liking on all ship sailings. I love the fact that Viking offers regional cuisine, in addition to traditional surf and turf or pasta favorites. Breakfast offers a wide variety of buffet options, in addition to eggs prepared to order, menu items, hot cereal, yogurt and fresh fruit.
With a capacity of 179-190 passengers, guests will be well attended by an international crew of 50. Our captain, Marcel Stephan, Hotel Manager Inna Krukovskaja & Program Manager Carl West were all intimately familiar with Viking Gefjon and all aspects of Viking River Cruises, as well as the multi-lingual and personable concierge Bilijana Grkovic. I should point out that most every crew member spoke several languages and all were eager to please and be of assistance whether it be explaining the itinerary of the day, what regional treats we could expect on the evening menu or helping to secure a restaurant reservation in town. My room steward took great care of me and even made charming towel animals, complete with sunglasses, gloves and scarf, waiting for me on my bed at night.
One of the key benefits of sailing with Viking River Cruises is the ideal docking berths for the Viking Longships. The Viking name carries weight when it comes to securing prime real estate on the river – no pillaging or plundering necessary. Even in obscure river locations, the Viking clean and comfortable motor coaches will be waiting for passengers to whisk them away on daily excursions.
Will I need converters for my laptop or electronic chargers? All longships include both 110V and 220V electrical outlets, as well as hair dryers. Staterooms also include shampoo and conditioner. While all Viking Longships are non-smoking on the interior, in staterooms and verandas, for those of you who are cigarette smokers, each ship has an outdoor smoking area, typically on the sun deck.
If You Go:
Viking River Cruises http://www.vikingrivercruises.com (800) 706-1483
Viking River Cruises are available in Europe, Russia, Asia and Egypt with Mississippi River coming in the future.
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Disclosure: I sailed Viking’s Heart of Germany itinerary as a guest of Viking River Cruises, however, all opinions are my own.