Just off Viking River Cruises new longship Viking Odin, we came back to an office full of questions from readers. Here, as promised, are answers to every one of them with some similar questions combined in the first of two parts.
Jane, Loretta, Herb, Al and Georgette ask a number of ways “So how was river cruising?” (As former ocean cruisers), “Do you think we would like it?”
Viking was very good. It was my first time sailing a river cruise and it is quite different. I did a bunch of articles if you want more info but, basically, those who are NOT social people and NOT interested in the destinations (rather than what there is to do on the ship) should NOT do this.
Frankly, there is very little to do on the ship. No casino, No sports activities, No Spa, Very little entertainment. The focus is very much on the people (you and those you are sailing with) and the wonderful places you will see and people you will meet ashore….and oh how you will see it! The closest thing I can compare a river cruise experience to in the world of ocean cruising is an Escorted Cruistour in Alaska where a guide comes along with you every step of the way. They make sure you are in the right place at the right time, organize everything for you and then you just get off the ship at the right time and let them handle the rest of it. A river cruise is very much like that.
I like that they allow plenty of time to shop, immerse yourself in the local area being visited on that day and run it all at a nice pace, not so slow as to be boring and not so fast as to feel rushed.
The ship is very nice as will be all the new Viking ships, very much like a standard cabin on a newer ocean cruise ship, a bit smaller and with a much smaller balcony but with more features (lots of plugs, heated tile floor in bathroom, luxury soaps and bath products, fabulous climate control, etc)
There are no inside cabins, there are a few river view (with a big window) but mostly balcony with a couple two room suites that are to die for.
These are small ships, like there is one hallway down the center with cabins on both sides and that’s it- that is the full width of the ship.
There are four decks
- Sun Deck- The top deck is for observation, big chess game, putting green and herb garden, nothing else.
- Upper Deck- The next deck down 2/3 used for cabins, one third used for a very nice Observation lounge that they also do interesting lectures in that opens out on to an open-air café of sorts called the Aquavit Terrace that serves a buffet breakfast and lunch.
- Middle deck – The next deck down is 2/3 cabins and one third for the kitchen and the ship’s Restaurant where there is one seating at 7:00 for dinner right after a briefing on the next day’s plan by the ship’s Program Director in the lounge one floor up (like Cruise Director but there are no shows, comedians, jugglers or other stuff)
- Main deck- the bottom deck has the river view cabins, crew quarters and machinery.
On board the dress and ambiance is casual. There is really never a need for fully dressed up dinners but they do have Captains Dinners which might have men in a jacket. In fact, many wore a jacket for dinner most nights but an informal sports jacket . Ladies dressed in casual clothing except for nighttime when they might have dressed it up a bit but nothing formal…especially after coming off a long day ashore.
I would very much like to do this again with more time on the ship to get a real feel for it. I have heard from others that a 14 day is too long…like after about day 9 all the castles, sites and wonders of the world start to blend together. 7 days looks to be the right amount of time but, again, I have not experienced that personally so can’t really report on it yet. I say “yet” because we will be doing one of these in the future for sure, on one of these new Viking ships. This is THE way to see Europe and Viking has over 20 ships doing this sort of thing. I also understand that the size of the staterooms on these new ships is considerably larger than other river cruise ships.
One thing I found odd, the level of security on the ship. There really is not any security to speak of on these ships, nor does there need to be apparently. It kind of makes me wonder just how dangerous it is here in America when I travel to Europe and see very little security in place, yet they have no problems.
Coming up: More of your questions about river cruising answered.
- River cruising a viable option for the right traveler, expertly advised (chriscruises.net)
- Cruise line to christen four ships in one day (chriscruises.net)
- Cruise line introduces suites, on a river ship (chriscruises.net)
- River cruise line staterooms on par, if not better, than the best at sea (chriscruises.net)
- Getting there is half of something, we’re just not sure what (chriscruises.net)