Welcome to the future of river cruising

Heralding a new era in European river cruising, the Viking Longships have arrived. These revolutionary vessels are setting innovative standards in style, space and comfort. With names inspired by the celebrated Viking gods, the Viking Longships represent a quantum leap in design, elegance, and state-of-the-art engineering. Guests enjoy:

  • A radical new patent-pending design which allows for full-size staterooms combined with full-size verandas
  • Large suites with a veranda outside the living room and French balcony in the bedroom
  • French balcony staterooms featuring floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors
  • Two sumptuous 445 sq. ft. Explorer Suites with private wraparound verandas and 270° views
  • Deluxe amenities like premium bath products and high-definition in-room entertainment
  • The all-new Aquavit Terrace—an indoor/outdoor area at the bow of the ship for viewing, relaxing and casual dining
  • Quiet, environmentally friendly hybrid engines, solar panels and an organic herb garden on the large sun deck
  • Fine cuisine, exemplary service and immersive, culture-rich itineraries—all the things you have come to expect from Viking

 

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Viking Odin on the Romantic Danube

This is absolutely the best way to be introduced to a part of the world that is new to you. The brand new Viking Odin had clearly benefited from Viking's years of experience in its design and amenities. But it wasn't just the boat's beautiful interior or our roomy cabin's thoughtful design that made the trip so comfortable. It was the crew that made it made it special, worry-free and fun. I cannot imagine how Viking is able to recruit such pleasant and hard working crew members. Our room was perfectly cleaned while we were at breakfast every morning and straightened up every evening while we dined. I have not experienced such service and attention to every detail at any resort or hotel I've visited. The meals were uniformly excellent, with dishes offered each evening that were characteristic of the region. The chef came out most evenings and sincerely wanted to know what we had liked and what else we might like to see on the menu. The wines served were quite good and I don't think the attentive waiters ever let a glass become empty during dinner. I admit that I can't compare Viking to other river cruise lines and I may never be able to since I'm unlikely to commit my money and vacation time to a competing company in the hope that their ship might be as nice and their service as good as Viking's. We thought that we would be on our own for the two extra days we spent in Budapest, but even there Viking delivered our bags to our hotel room and had a concierge on duty every day to give us suggestions, make dinner reservations, buy concert tickets.

 

Celebrating with Viking River Cruises onboard Viking Odin

From the moment I boarded the Viking Odin, my home for the inaugural cruise, I knew I was in for a special treat. From the friendly and courteous staff, some of whom I had grown quite attached to by the end of my cruise; to the amenities on board and in the cabins; to the unforgettable excursions; and yes, the glorious food--the scrumptious, delicious, gourmet food we delighted in each night. Plus, there many magical moments on board from sailing through locks and under bridges to cruising the rivers past idyllic landscapes, fascinating architecture and enchanting villages. I am still reeling from the entire experience and urge all who seek a leisurely and convenient way to see the sites of Europe, to see out Viking River Cruises for an unforgettable vacation that will create memories to last a lifetime!

Our first port-of-call was Volendam where upon arrival, we embarked on a journey through Edam--home of that most scrumptious cheese; Marken--a quaint seaside village on the shores of the Ijsselmeer and then back to Volendam for a stroll through narrow streets lined with quaint and uniquely Dutch architecture.

The next week, we awoke to the enchanting site of windmills barely visible in the misty horizon--Kinderdijk--where we learned about the miller's heritage and the workings of the windmills. We even climbed to the top of one of them. After lunch, we sailed to Rotterdam for a tour of the Hague to see the Queen's palace grounds and office, the Peace Palace and the Mauritshuis Musuem--home to "Girl with Pearl Earring" among other famous works of art.

Not only does Viking River Cruises operate world-class ships with exceptional guest service, they provide enriching and cultural experiences for all who sail from the accommodations and spectacular ships to the epicurean delights and immersive guided tours through the various ports of call. Above all that, I think what I enjoyed the most is the intimate setting on board these river-going vessels. To sum it all up, this will not be the last time I experience Viking River Cruises--they have a new fan for life!

 

Maiden voyage of the Viking Freya

THE CABINS

Overall, our cabin was very nice. Among the things we liked were the heated bathroom floor, the big flat-screen TV, the safe and ample storage. I wish the weather was better so that we could have enjoyed the veranda, but there's nothing Viking could do about that. The shower is the best I've had on a cruise ship, and the towels are big and fluffy. I also really like the king-size sheets and duvets. Our biggest complaint about the cabin - and this is HUGE - is the damned glass bath/shower wall. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING???? Being able to transform the wall from clear to frosted (and back again) is certainly high tech and glitzy, but it significantly degraded our cruise experience. Why? Because there is no way to make the wall opaque, so whenever the bathroom light is turned on at night, the entire cabin is illuminated, thereby disturbing whoever is still in bed trying to sleep. This one single feature will prevent me from ever considering cruising on a Viking ship which is so equipped.

THE DINING ROOM

The food on the Viking Freya was almost always very good and nicely presented. The dinner portions were on the small side, which I think is just right. (I hate to see food wasted.) The one exception was the "highly recommended by the chef" sea bass, which was just awful: dry, overcooked, tough and flavorless. The included wines were decent and plentiful. I have three major dining concerns. First, the dining room is very, very noisy. We think this is because there are too many tables squeezed into too small a space with no partitions to break up the noise. Second, the dining staff was mostly inexperienced, often inefficient and frequently less-than-friendly. I'll chalk most of this up to it being a brand new ship. Third, the Aquavit venue breakfast offerings were too limited . . . seemingly little more than coffee and a couple of stale donuts.

THE SHIP

The Viking Freya is new and shiny, and, as mentioned above, the cabins have several attractive features not found on other river cruise ships. But there are several things about the new "Longship" class that were disappointing. The biggest, single concern is that the lounge is cramped and simply too small to handle the passenger compliment. When there was a presentation or performance, not everyone could fit in there to see it. Numerous times, the staff set up a couple dozen uncomfortable folding chairs to try to handle the overflow, but even that didn't always work. We left a couple of lectures early because we couldn't see. Our impression is that Viking was so intent on creating Aquavit and the forward open dining area, that they cut back too much on lounge space. We also had several problems that I'll mostly chalk up to maiden voyage glitches. For example, the elevator almost never worked; the AC broke one night leaving rooms hot and uncomfortable; the TV weather channel was never programmed for "our" cruise, so we got weather reports for cities along the Danube; and for a few days there was a sewage problem that stunk up much of the 2nd level cabin area.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

On the last night of the cruise, the cruise director and staff pushed and cajoled passengers to buy raffle tickets for some unspecified mystery merchandise. They never told us ahead of time what they were raffling off or where the proceeds from the raffle would go. (The raffle items turned out to be a couple cheap Viking hats and towels.) The whole thing was unseemly.

I was annoyed by the way the cruise evaluation forms were handled, especially when the cruise director coached passengers to inflate the ratings on the forms. I think he was way out of line to do so. Early in the cruise, I asked the front desk person if I could get a copy of the form early in the cruise so I could fill out portions of it along the way. There are so many things that happen on days 1-4 that ought to be mentioned, but I forget about them by the end of the cruise, and I thought detailed comments would be especially useful for the maiden voyage of a new ship. But I was told "No". Instead, they handed them out the day before departure.

 

Viking Freya Grand European Sept 2012

The Viking Freya is one of their new longships on its first season. The Viking personnel were extremely attentive and competent from meeting us at the airport to seeing us off at another airport. The crew was well trained in the Viking culture which appears to be passenger focused. One must remember that this is a river cruise on a smaller ship which will not have the amenities of an ocean ship. It is the apples and oranges situation. This ship was very comfortable, the cabins small but quite adequate. The bathroom floor was heated, a nice touch. They have a bathroom wall which turns transparent at the touch of a switch, the purpose of which we never figured out.There were some mechanical glitches with the ship, the elevator stopped working, and there were some heating/cooling problems. There was a broken water pipe with some water which was quickly and efficiently handled by the crew. The Lounge is really not large enough to seat all the passengers for the briefings and entertainment.

But, the tours were great and well run. They had a "leisure" group which went at a slower pace if you desired. I can't say enough about the program staff which who were excellent. The housekeeping staff is the best I have seen, the stateroom and the whole ship were kept immaculately clean. The dining room staff was great, very attentive and flexible. The food was generally excellent with a few misses as would be expected. Overall this is the best cruise we have taken. I have read some other reviews, and just remind folks that this is different from an ocean liner cruise. Try it, you'll like it.

 

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