Things you may want to know about Viking River Cruises
I love planning a trip, so for me, getting on a cruise is giving someone else control. The cruise line picks the ports, the meal options, the excursion options and much more. This is a different kind of vacation for me, so I hoped after years of watching Viking Cruise television commercials the experience could live up to their legendary marketing. You’ve seen the ads – castles, clinking Champagne glasses, everyone having so much fun. The great news is that Viking lives up their reputation and I am glad we went on a Viking river cruise.
Viking is ranked the #1 river cruise line in many surveys. Here are a few of the reasons I enjoyed Viking and think it was worth the price:
MAXIMIZING TIME: It would take so much time to plan your own trip to all of the places we visited in just one week. While you give up the freedom of schedule and choice, in return you are never lost trying to find a hotel, restaurant or scenic spot and free tours in all ports means no need to dig through guidebooks for the details about what you’re seeing. At the same time, as noted above, we had several stops where we were able to explore on our own in order to fully enjoy the places we visited.
FOOD: The food on our Viking ship was delicious, beautifully presented and definitely better food than other cruise lines we’ve experienced. The menus mirrored the regions we were in, which was fun and added to the educational aspect of the journey. Most meals were plated with waiter service, but at breakfast you could order from a menu or visit the breakfast buffet (or both!). I should also point out that there were limited snacking options on the cruise during the day. Self-serve coffee and tea were always available with cookies or muffins, but there are no continually open cafes or restaurants on board like other cruise lines, nor room service outside of mealtimes.
THE SHIP: We sailed the Viking Gersemi, a ship that was new in 2020 and didn’t sail until 2022 due to Covid, so it was virtually brand new. The ship was modern, compact and easy to get around. We opted for the least expensive cabin and stayed in what I jokingly called the steerage rooms below the waterline. Our accommodations were as nice as any cruise ship I’ve ever been on. I never noticed the noise of water or anything unusual, other than when we went through river locks. The room was super comfortable and spacious for a basic cruise cabin. We had a double bed that was high enough off the floor that the suitcases could be stored beneath, plenty of closet and drawer space for a week and a very small but well-appointed bathroom with heated floors and premium Frejya bath products. The room was spotless and continually cleaned by an attendant almost invisibly (we never came back to the room and had to wait while a cleaning person was inside).
THE CREW: The staff was helpful and knowledgeable when we had questions about ports, excursions, timing and transfers. We enjoyed the personalities of several of the more public facing cruise staff members including the cruise director, several waiters and the head bartender.
PORTS AND EXCURSIONS: The excursions were mostly great and led by knowledgeable guides. Viking includes one free excursion per port stop with the ability to upgrade to other excursions. They were well organized, ran on time and it would have taken a lot of time to line up private tours in all these locations on my own. We did purchase a tour of the Cologne Cathedral, given by the church, which was outstanding. But for the majority of the trip, I never felt like I needed additional or different tour options. We tipped the tour guides because they deserved it, but never felt like anyone was expecting tips.
THE VIKING APP: As soon as your Viking cruise is booked, you are able to log into “My Viking Journey” on Viking’s website and start choosing your excursions, learn more about the ship and plan. Once you step onto the ship, you are able to access the Viking app and see very specific itineraries for your day and week. As well you can even see on the app what is on the menu that night for dinner, which helped me choose lunch while we were off the ship knowing what we could choose from that night (gotta make the most of all those meal options to ensure we tasted everything Europe had to offer!). The app also was a good reminder of sailing times and when we had to return to the ship.
The control freak side of me happily would give the reins back to Viking anytime!