Viking River Cruises were established in 1997, they boast the largest fleet of river ships in the world, with an emphasis on comfort and top quality service. They’re independently owned, meaning that they have the freedom to create interesting journeys that are like no other cruise! The focus is on the destination, so this cruise line enables you to see more of the heart of the cities! But what can you expect on one of their ships? Who should you expect to travel with? Read on to find out!
Did you know? Viking River Cruises have been voted best river cruise line by British Travel Awards, Cruise International Awards and Times Travel Awards! So you can rest assured you’ll have a top of the range cruise!
Meet the Fleet
Viking have more than 60 river ships (we weren’t lying when we said they have the most!). There are three classes, divided by the region in which they sail. All ships feature the iconic Nordic inspired design, with wide open spaces and light furnishings- it’ll feel like a breath of fresh air!
Europe Longships: Due to having a large focus on travel within Europe, there are more than 50 of these ships. Hosting around 190 guests and featuring ecologically friendly hybrid engines, you’ll be guaranteed that you’ll be smooth sailing!
Russia Ships: Viking River Cruises all began in Russia more than 15 years ago! There are four ships in this class and they offer around 204 passengers all the comforts of a fine hotel, including a boutique and two bars!
Asia Ships: Their Asia ships travel to breath-taking locations including: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma! There are only three ships in this range. The Mekong ship accommodates around 50 passengers, so it’s much smaller than its European and Russian siblings! But smaller doesn’t mean less, you’ll still have all the modern amenities available on the bigger ships!
Is There a Typical Viking Passenger?
So who can you expect to travel with? Viking are especially popular among couples and small groups of friends, as there are rooms of 2 and a few suites available! They’re ideal for those who are more interested in the destination and culture. Due to this you can expect to see well-travelled cruise enthusiasts who are after style, class and not a busy cruise! Your fellow passengers will mainly be English-speaking from places such as America, Canada or England.
Did you know? Viking has its very own book club! You can get to know fellow cruisers, or one of the team through your mutual love of books!
Decor & Atmosphere
You’ll find that the decor of the ships is very Scandinavian in design, hence the name Viking! The destination is the main focus and you’ll see this reflected in the ships clean, open design.
You’ll be able to enjoy the gorgeous landscapes in all their glory with the panoramic floor to ceiling windows. Not only that – every stateroom has a view of the river meaning that wherever you go, the beautiful views will follow!
You’ll find quiet alcoves and large public areas that aren’t wasteful of space but elegant, refined and not overpowering. The fleet are considered as ‘small ship’ ocean liners and are a manageable size with clean lines, muted colours and an understated elegance that defines the ships.
Our specialist cruise consultant Gina told us: “The ship itself definitely deserves its 5* rating. The public areas are spacious, light, and airy, and beautifully decorated in I would say a contemporary modern style, with floor to ceiling windows to ensure passengers get maximum enjoyment of the passing scenery.” You can heare more from our specialist cruise consultant Gina here.
One of the most unique things about a Viking River Cruise is the entertainment you’ll find both on board and at port. Everything is focused on your chosen destination; there are talks from world renowned professors and cooking demonstrations where you can learn how to cook the local cuisine. There are even local dancers, musicians, artists and performers on board! So you can discover all about the culture from locals and professionals before you arrive at port!
You can immerse yourself in the history and culture of the destinations you visit even more through on board informative lectures on topics like Three Gorges Dam, China’s dynasties and the Terracotta warriors. Wherever you’re sailing, you’ll be able to choose to enhance your travel experience with some expert knowledge!
Once you port you’ll be offered tours of the city, including visits to the top museums and landmarks. However, if you want to see more unique locations, the guides will go above and beyond and offer travellers more exciting excursions! In the past there has been explorations of native life, truffle hunting in Boudreaux and bread making in Portugal! Viking promises no long days on board, so you really get to experience more of the destination and culture than ocean cruises.
O’Connor from Leigh-On-Sea said: “Every day there was an excursion to go on that was included in the price. Each one of these was to a place of interest and beauty. Many were into areas designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. For each place a local guide took over, so that we could make use of their expertise and knowledge. All spoke in perfectly understandable English.”
With a focus on relaxation you’ll find no Broadway shows or rowdy performances. River cruises have a much more relaxed customer in mind, so after your long days of exploring you can head back to the ship to relax, watch the sun set over the river on the sun deck or unwind with a glass of wine in the spacious lounge!
One of the best things about Viking River Cruises is that all on board meals are included in the price! Aboard the ship you’ll find one main restaurant, but that doesn’t mean you’re limited for choice! Dinner is served at a set time and offers huge four/five course meals, complete with complimentary free flowing wine. The meals produced reflect the regions you’re travelling through, with locally sourced produce you’ll be able to sample local cheeses, German sausages, etc.!
If that doesn’t sound good, then they also offer classic dishes! There is open seating available, so unlike the big ocean cruises you can sit wherever you like meaning you can dine with someone new each night if you choose! We know you probably won’t feel like eating a massive five course meal every night, but don’t worry! There are lighter options available in the lounge.
Unique to the new European longships is the Aquavit terrace, offering alfresco dining when the weather’s nice! Outdoor dining is rare on river cruises and is a huge selling point to the line! Imagine eating beneath the stars with a gorgeous view of the river! The floor to ceiling windows will give you spectacular scenery as you dine on regional specialities and contemporary cuisine.
You can choose to eat on the sun deck for a more casual affair with light options and, weather permitting, a chance to enjoy the outside and feel closer to the sea. You’ll feel a casual yet elegant atmosphere with high quality table linens, china, cutlery and glassware at every meal. The open seating you’ll find in the restaurants on-board allow you to dine with the same guests or meet someone new each day!
O’Neill from Bristol says “The meals from the galley were all excellent, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner. With only 182 guests and open seating you could meet many like-minded guests but also see people again and again in a way you never do on the large ships.”
Viking really does pile on the luxuries, so you’ll be guaranteed that you’re getting the most for your money! You can feel like royalty and have breakfast in bed, and there’s unlimited tea and coffee available at all hours. Can’t bear to part with your iPhone? The Wi-Fi’s free too!
The expert guided excursions offering unique cultural experiences are also included in your fare!
Each stateroom includes a flat screen TV, king size bed and ensuites with a large walk in showers with fluffy towels, top of the line shampoos and scented body lotions! Giving you the hotel style experience you were promised!
All rooms have a balcony with a gorgeous sea view! If that’s not enough, in the Longships you can stay in one of the larger Explorer Suites! Offering both sleeping and sitting quarters with a wraparound veranda featuring 270 degree views and a French balcony! You’ll find yourself not wanting to leave the ship!
As soon as you get on-board head to the Concierge desk and you can have all sorts of exclusive help from your concierge to customise your trip exactly as you want it: getting museum or concert tickets, directing you to a certain cafe or area of the ship or making a spa reservation whilst on-board.
So you’re probably wondering – what’s the difference between river and ocean cruising? Well, the biggest difference is the size of the ships. The ocean ships are 48,000 tonne and board around 928 passengers! Whereas, the river ships are a lot smaller and sleeker in design to sail around those narrow rivers. There’s also loads more amenities and facilities available on ocean ships, including a spa, more dining venues, bars and activities! Due to the large amount of things to do, they’re a lot busier! So if you’re after peace and quiet and are not interested in all the frills, then river cruising might be more for you!
Staff, Gratuities and Dress Code
There’s always a friendly English speaking member of staff on board to help with anything you need! Due to the small number of passengers, the crew offer a much more personal experience. Love the little touches when your waiter remembers your name, or your favourite drink? Viking’s staff offers an award winning service! Don’t believe us?
Martin Sanderstead from South Croydon said: “The whole of the staff on board deserve a special mention as they were all helpful and cheerful throughout, preparing welcome drinks and refreshment each time we came on board. Nothing was too much trouble.”
The recommended gratuities vary depending on your travel region. In Europe it is suggested: 12 euros per person for crew; 2 euros per person for program director; 2 euro per person for local city guides; and 1 euro per person for coach drivers.
In Russia and Asia: the suggestion is $15 per person for the crew; $10 per person for the tour escort; $2 per person for local city guides; and $1 per person for coach drivers. As usual, tipping is at your discretion. Don’t carry change? You can charge to your credit card. However, be aware if you’re travelling in: Southeast Asia, Portugal or Egypt as credit cards can’t be used.
You won’t need to wear your fancy dinner jacket if you don’t want to aboard a Viking River Cruise. The dress is smart casual, so you can feel at home wearing your favourite pair of jeans to dinner if you like!
That’s a wrap! Viking River Cruises go beyond the port of call and cater to those who are more about the destination and less about the song and dance of an ocean cruise. You can be guaranteed an experience you won’t forget!
We’d love to hear what you think! Would you be interested in going on one of Vikings culture cruises? Let us know in the comments below!