See the first part of this article here: The Best of Viking River Cruises – Part I
The design and layout of the Viking Longships, the latest ships of Viking River Cruises, is simply awesome. Engineered and designed for maximum comfort, socializing, unobstructed viewing, and ease of traffic flow, the Viking Longship is a joy to be aboard.
The clean simple elegance of its floor-to-ceiling glass walls enables its passengers to enjoy the view no matter where they sit.
The social areas facilitate maximum social interaction but also provide quiet retreats.
The Aquavit Terrace bistro on the bow of the main deck offers glass doors which move aside for open-air seating in warm sunny weather but permit superb viewing in inclement weather as well.
The ventilation onboard ship is impeccable with the common areas remaining a constant agreeable temperature throughout, although of course passengers can regulate the temperature in their own cabins as they wish. Similarly, the soundproofing of the cabins functions superbly — who would believe when the doors of the cabin were closed when the ship was docked right next to a sidewalk that the people passing by were actually talking, or that people outside in the hall passing by the cabin ever talked. With doors and windows closed and the curtains drawn, our cabin was totally soundproof, and silence facilitated an excellent night of sleep or a quick cat nap.
The art of viewing seems to be integral to the Viking Longship design, so much so, that almost the entire upper deck is devoted to offering you the best 360 degree viewing on the river waterways. Aside from its outdoor running track and, of course the Captain’s bridge, this upper deck is all about the view, whether you prefer to be out in the sun or protected under a canopy, there appear to be enough comfortable deck chairs for each and every passenger to be seated comfortably with a superb view while the ship is docked at port or cruising the waterway. All that’s missing is an open-air bar, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that feature miraculously appears during the dog days of summer for the devotees of scenery-watching on the upper deck.
A review of the Viking Longship would not be complete without a thorough analysis of the cabins. But that has already been done in a separate blog by my BonVoyageur partner and husband. I invite you to enjoy his review: Viking River Cruises – Best Designed Cabins Afloat!
My favorite meal was breakfast where the servers often offered special local delicacies with stories about how they had grown up eating these dishes. I really appreciated the freshness of the ingredients and the healthy choices always available at all meals, as well as the chance to sample local wines and dishes on board ship. Dinners were always balanced with offerings of fresh fish, meat or vegetarian entrees, and the house wine was enjoyable. When we wanted more in depth “local cuisine”, we took lunch off ship at our port of call at a restaurant frequented by “locals”, not just by tourists. On those days, we often chose to have our evening meal in the casual all glass/open-air restaurant, the Aquavit Terrace, at the bow of the ship. This friendly “bistro” style restaurant always serves drinks from the bar and offers for dinner a small buffet of appetizers and salads which was sometimes enough for us after a large midday meal. However, if we wanted a complete meal, we would order from the Aquavit Terrace bistro menu and our waiter would go to the kitchen for custom preparation of our main course. He would also always bring us the amuse-bouche being served in the main dining room to start the meal as well as a dessert if we wished with coffee or tea.
CONVENIENCE for visiting the ports of call:
You can very easily visit the town or city on your own and then return to your ship when you wish. In many cases you can actually walk off the ship and right into town, or if you are at a major city like Vienna, it’s very easy to grab a taxi into the city. I loved the “floating hotel” concept — there was no need to pack and check-in and unpack as our ship, Viking Tor, moved from Nuremberg to Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Vienna, and finally to Budapest. After your cruise is over, you can always stay longer and re-visit a few of your favorite ports, or go off to cities and towns that are not on the Danube which you wish to see … or, you can simply add these places to your “bucket list”. We actually did the Viking River pre-cruise visit in Prague, which I highly recommend, and were bused from our hotel in Prague to the ship. We also did the post-cruise visit in Budapest and were bused to our hotel there. After visiting Budapest, we went independently by car to Bratislava, Vienna and Krakow for another week of touring. I found all of these places truly fascinating, historically as well as culturally, and immensely enjoyed sampling the local cuisine.
TOURING followed by On-Your-Own Time:
The Viking River Cruises tours are highly professional. The guides are very well informed, articulate well, are able to answer a myriad of questions, and generally give excellent tours. However, since a standard Viking River tour is usually a morning tour, you will want to make plans for how best to fill your afternoon.
You may choose to meander around on your own, take a Viking River Cruise optional tour as an “extra” if one exists for that port of call, or you can hire a private tour guide to take you on a customized tour. We did the customized tours in both our pre- and post-cruise tour cities of Prague and Budapest. In Prague, we organized the tours through the Prague tourist board, and in Budapest as well as later on, in Bratislava, our tour guides were organized for us by special friends with personal ties to those cities. In Vienna, however, we also asked our Hotel Concierge to organize a tour guide to supplement the help we received from the Vienna Tourist Board. Finally, in Krakow, we once again organized our tour guides through the Hotel Concierge.
If you want a relaxing luxury “touring” vacation with first-class service and comfort, convenience both onboard ship and for visiting the ports plus very little pre-trip planning, I highly recommend Viking River Cruises.
Stay tuned to BonVoyageurs.com for more Countries of the World as we share our joie de vivre from around the world. Luxury escapes, cruises and city breaks to Quebec City, New York, Washington, Buenos Aires. In Europe, places like Paris France, Nice France, Provence and the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), Tuscany and Florence in Italy, Rome, Napoli and the Amalfi Coast. In Asia, countries like China, India, Nepal and so much more!