Viking River Cruises, a Swiss company, offers more than its name suggests. While most ships in its vast fleet of 66 vessels do indeed offer European river cruises, the line also has four ocean-going ships. The river vessels, known as Longships, carry 190 passengers and have all-outside cabins. Most Viking Longships follow European routes, with a number of different cruises on offer from 7 to 14 nights.
However, Viking does not only operate in its home continent. The Viking Mekong follows the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia, while the Imperial Jewels of China voyage on the Viking Emerald, is a great chance to visit some of China's lesser-known cities, on the Yangtze River.
Nevertheless, Viking's most popular routes are in Europe, with regular cruises on the Danube, the Rhine and the Elbe. These romantic voyages attract a lot of couples and destinations include some of Europe's most beautiful cities, including Amsterdam, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague. For a particularly romantic experience, try the Seine cruise on the Viking Kadlin, which gives passengers the chance to get to know not only Paris, but also other, smaller French towns.
Be aware that, on certain routes, passengers will travel by private bus to transfer when the river becomes impassable. This is a common occurrence and is very well-managed. When it comes to shore excursions, Viking can take advantage of the fact that the Longships are usually able to dock right in the heart of the city.
As such, many shore excursions are walking tours which leave directly from the dock. All passengers are given QuietVox headsets so that they can listen to the experienced, professional guides who provide cultural and historical information about the city. Depending on the location, panoramic bus tours may also be on offer. In some cities, passengers can also experience wine tastings or special dinner outings, for an extra price.
Viking River Cruises are aimed at adult passengers, and the ships do not offer facilities or specific programs to keep children entertained. It's not unheard of to see teenagers onboard, but the company doesn’t offer targeted entertainment for the age group. Most travelers are more mature, with European river cruises in particular attracting a 50+ crowd. While the Asian voyages have a bit more variety in passenger ages, they’re also geared toward adults.
The Longships all have the same layout, with 25 standard staterooms, 22 French balcony staterooms, 39 veranda staterooms, 7 veranda suites and 2 explorer suites. All cabins on Viking Longships are outside cabins and are equipped with a private bathroom with shower, flat screen TV, refrigerator, hair dryer, individual climate control and safe. The finest Explorer suites have a private wraparound veranda and a large bathroom with double sinks and heated floor.
Viking River Cruises do not offer the same entertainment that seasoned ocean-cruisers may be used to. While there are some trivia nights and movie screenings, most onboard activities focus on the cultures that passengers will be visiting during their journey. Often, regional music or dance performances are shown, and professors from European universities offer lectures.
Cooking and crafting courses, focusing on the traditions of the destination, are frequently available. Most passengers on Viking River Cruises are mature and well-educated, and these lectures and courses are usually well-attended.
Onboard, there are no pools, gyms or spas, but Viking has partnerships in place with many luxury hotels along the route, allowing passengers to use their facilities while the ships are in port. As the river cruises do not encompass any sea days, the lack of fitness equipment does not usually affect guests too badly, and the regular walking tours ensure that it's easy to stay active on a romantic, culturally-rich journey with Viking River Cruises.