River cruising seems to be on everyone’s bucket list and definitely on mine. Imagine a week-long river cruise with a land-based vacation at the beginning and end, making the total trip 12 days. Twelve days of having someone cook, clean, and pamper you while exploring exotic ports of call around the world. That is the bucket list dream my husband, Eddie, and I checked off with Viking River Cruises. Here are some things to know for your cruise that may help you plan and anticipate your journey.
1. Handling the Luggage
Once you arrive at the airport, a Viking River Cruise representative will be there to get you. With luggage in tow, meet the person in baggage claim (or other designated area) and head to the private shuttle vehicle that will take you (and possibly other guests) to the ship or hotel.
The Viking staff will bring your luggage to your hotel or stateroom, where you can unpack and store your suitcases until the trip is over. Regardless of where you are staying, you will place the luggage outside your door at a particular time on the departure morning, and Viking’s staff will collect it for transport along with you.
As always, Viking’s staff is willing to go the extra mile to make your trip the most enjoyable it can be.
2. How are the Tours Conducted?
We have guided tours in each city on the Viking River cruise by local guides who speak English (and most speak several languages) and carry “lollipops” (signs with a designated group number) to follow. During those tours, we wear the devoted QuietVox audio receiver with an earpiece to hear what the guide is saying as we follow along.
Be careful on the cobblestones, which make up a vast portion of this cruise. Wear appropriate footwear, and if you have any walking difficulty, you may need to bring a stick. Viking does have a “gentle” walking group that doesn’t have nearly the level of walking that the regular tour requires. You can pick and choose which tour you are up for, the aggressive or gentle, and can change them as often as you’d like.
3. What are Viking Staterooms Like?
You will love the Viking River Cruise staterooms, as we certainly did. Our 205 square foot Veranda Stateroom allowed us to sit outside on a small balcony overlooking the lush river scenery via floor to ceiling sliding glass doors. The longship offered accommodation choices, including standard and French balcony staterooms, Veranda staterooms and suites, and two Explorer suites.
Our stateroom had a writing desk area with a large mirror, and two twin beds pushed together with high-end linens. Other features were:
- Double nightstands
- Reading lamps
- A safe
- A mini-fridge
- Huge closet (with shelving and space for hanging clothes)
Forty inch flat-screen TVs offering Movies on Demand and a few regular stations are in each room for entertainment.
The bathroom had enough space to store our toiletries and hair appliances (hairdryer available), plus a decent-sized glass-enclosed shower with Freyja® premium toiletries.
A thumbs up to Viking’s staff for replenishing the bottled water daily. If you were worried, individual staterooms have their own thermometer to adjust the temperature according to your preference.
4. Unforgettable Meals
Viking sets the bar high for culinary standards. Each dinner was truly magnificent. A few sample menu items were Smoked Trout, French Onion Soup, Tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella for starters, and Norwegian Salmon and Lump Crab Gratin Chateaubriand for main courses.
The Chateaubriand was utterly delicious, the best I’ve ever had.
German buffet night was also one of our favorites, with giant sausages, a warm potato dish, sauerkraut, and pickled vegetables. We had beautifully dressed tables with fat pretzels, sausages, and mustards for dipping on this night. The beer pairing was sensational, while on other nights, the wine perfectly complemented the meal. During mealtimes, sodas, wine, and beer are included. Within a day or two, the dining room staff will know your every desire and almost greet you at the table with your favorite beverage.
Besides the main dining room, guests can also dine al fresco at Aquavit Terrace & Lounge, with indoor and outdoor seating at the ship’s bow. Get there early for seats with the best views.
5. What’s Included with Your River Cruise?
Viking has free Wi-Fi and after-dinner programs, including enrichment lectures, local musicians, a magic show, music trivia, and culinary demonstrations. Each night before dinner, the cruise director will tell you what awaits you for the next day. The Viking Daily newspaper is delivered to your stateroom each night to help you plan accordingly. A talented pianist provided music daily. Ours was Petar, a fun-loving guy with magical piano playing skills.
A river cruise often requires going through several lock systems. For me, this is common in a river, but it is fascinating to watch the procedure for many. I think we went through 16 or more on this particular cruise. I captured one of my favorite photos when the doors swung open during one of the transits.
My favorite “included” item on the Viking River Cruise is that I can enjoy watching all of the Downton Abbey seasons from the comfort of my stateroom. There are plenty of other choices of movies and TV shows to watch, too.
6. What Goes on Around the Boat?
The Viking Kvasir offers a library filled with a huge selection of books you can check out, two computers for catching up on your emails and such, and a 24-hour coffee/tea/hot chocolate service with cookies and pastries.
The top level of the Viking Kvasirship is the dedicated Sun Deck, offering 360-degree views. This is where we watched the scenic cruising from, played shuffleboard and enjoyed the putting greens, and admired Viking’s beautiful organic herb garden. With lounge chairs and plenty of seating groups to choose from, this is the perfect place to visit with friends, enjoy a cocktail, read a book, or take a nap. A walking track allows for some onboard exercise. For inclement weather, a retractable covering goes over part of the deck, rendering it still functional.
Lots of activity takes place in the Viking Lounge & Bar. Not only will this be your place to get your alcoholic beverages outside of mealtimes, but also where lectures are held, games, entertainment, and scenic cruising from indoors. The floor to ceiling glass doors and windows make it a perfect way to enjoy the scenery without braving the elements should the weather be unfavorable.
A small onboard shop is located directly across from the main desk. I think a devoted room selling port of call souvenirs (t-shirts, postcards, trinkets) would be a fantastic idea since there wasn’t enough time to pick these up in many of the ports.
7. Making New Friends
Meeting new friends is one of the bonuses of taking a Viking River Cruise. With fewer than 200 guests on board, and even smaller amounts on excursions and on the buses, you have a chance to meet everyone on the boat. We traded contacts throughout the cruise and are still in touch today. I am still in contact with a few travelers from my previous Viking River cruises, too.
You can read more about our Paris to Swiss Alps cruise at this link. As always, cruising with Viking River Cruises is a blast and adds richness to your travels as well as unforgettable memories.
Thanks to Viking River Cruises for hosting my travel arrangements and stays. As always, opinions and reviews are 100% mine and unbiased.
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