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.
Viking’s Longships are truly beauty on water.
While you may know Aquavit as the flavored Scandinavian spirit, on Viking’s Longships, the Aquavit Terrace is the perfect place to relax. No other river cruiser can boast such a space. The Aquavit Terrace also serves as a second restaurant for light meals as well as for special treats during the day. © 2017 Ralph Grizzle
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.
Krista, one our wonderful bartenders on Viking Hlin, poured us a glass of single malt Scotch whiskey – on more than one night. Without the Silver Spirit Beverage Package, we would have paid €22 a glass. © 2017 Ralph Grizzle
Norwegian Salmon, from the Viking homelands, a staple on the Longships. © 2017 Ralph Grizzle
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.
Staircase, with leather handrailings, on Vking Hlin. © 2017 Ralph Grizzle
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Have You Heard About Viking’s Ocean Ships?
I am a big fan of the Viking Oceans product. The ships carry just under 1,000 guests and have lots of included extras: WiFi, one included excursion in each port of call, beer and wine with lunch and dinner, a good selection of restaurants. Check out the video above and the articles below. Did you know that you can even combine Viking’s ocean cruises and river cruises?
Scandinavia Cruises: No One Does It Better Than Viking
Viking Sea spotted near the bridge in Tromsø. © 2016 Ralph Grizzle
With its Norwegian roots and Norwegian-flagged ships, Viking says no other company does Scandinavia cruises better. True? You be the judge.
During a recent sailing along Norway’s rugged and beautiful coast, Viking’s ever-quotable Torstein Hagen quipped, “Space is Virgin Galactic’s territory. Scandinavia is Viking’s territory.”
Viking’s Norwegian-born chairman wants to convince you that his company owns cruising in Scandinavia. While it may be arguable that no other cruise line does Scandinavia better than Viking, there can be little argument that Viking’s two vessels seem ideally suited for showing you Norway and the broader region of Scandinavia in true Nordic style.
7 Reasons Why Viking Sea May Just Be The Best Ship Sailing
With inviting furniture, pillows and throws, The Living Room on Viking Sea. © 2016 Ralph Grizzle
In Manfredi’s, one of four restaurants open for dinner on the new Viking Sea, I take a bite of the Bistecca Fiorentina. I’ve had the steak before, on Viking Star last year, and my reaction tonight is the same as it was back then. Pure bliss. The tender beef melts in my mouth. Unequivocally, the Florentine Steak is the best I have had on land or at sea, and that includes at a particularly good restaurant in Florence.
Viking’s new ocean ship does things right, from the delicious steak in Manfredi’s to the thoughtfully designed pull-out mini-bars in staterooms, “so that you don’t have to bend over to look in the refrigerator,” says Erling Frydenberg, whose business card reads “Owner’s Representative, Cruise Operations Development.”
From the Rivers to the Oceans: Viking’s New Combination Itineraries
Viking River Cruises is offering new combination river and ocean journeys that pair a Rhine river cruise with one of Viking’s ocean itineraries. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders
Ever so quietly, Viking River Cruises introduced what many river cruisers have not-so-secretly been hoping for since the line announced back in 2013 that it would construct a fleet of oceangoing cruise ships: combination river and ocean voyages.This year, Viking is testing the first two river and ocean cruise combination itineraries out, and although they are still months away from departing, it looks like the experiment has worked.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way right now: these two itineraries sold out months ago. You might be able to waitlist for them if you contact the line, but don’t hold your breath. Despite the fact that they were buried on the line’s website and rarely mentioned in print materials, Viking’s loyal guests found them – and snapped them right up.
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