Individuals interested in exotic river cruises will find a stunning array of options with Viking River Cruises, the largest river cruise line in the world. Offering a range of itineraries spanning two of the most culturally diverse continents on the planet, this cruise line delivers extraordinary experiences for all its passengers.
The Viking River Cruises Fleet
Viking River operates a large fleet of more than a dozen ships, all designed to maximize passengers' river-going experiences. These ships ply some of the most active waterways in the world, including the Danube, Rhine, Yangtze, and Seine rivers, offering travelers an intimate glimpse of the culture, history, and ambience of many different ports.
River cruise ships are naturally smaller than their ocean-going brethren, and Viking River's ships range from 75-150 cabins. The average capacity is 150 passengers per vessel, though the more modern, larger ships - the Viking Century Sky and Viking Century Sun - can easily host twice that number. Cabin spaces are comparable to similar berths on other cruise ships, and public areas are spaciously designed to allow passengers plenty of opportunities to watch the passing shore as they cruise.
With many one-way and round-trip itinerary options, Viking River Cruises operates from a wide number of departure ports, including:
- Chalon, Paris, and Avignon in France
- Magdeburg, Germany
- Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Chongqing and Nanjing in China
- Kiev, Ukraine
- St. Petersburg and Moscow in Russia
Along with these major embarkation ports, passengers can frequently find unique itineraries with other departure and arrival options to suit their travel plans.
Viking River's ships are tastefully designed but subtle in their décor. The true attractions of these voyages are the myriad ports of call, and the soft color palates and light woods used throughout the vessels will not distract from the castles, manors, and rich landscapes vying for attention outside the wide windows. Panoramic windows, sun decks, and spacious promenades ensure sweeping views of cities, villages, and towns regardless of each passenger's viewpoint.
Viking River Cruises concentrates its voyages in three regions: Europe, Russia, and China. While that may seem limiting, those regions include dozens of rivers suitable for a wide variety of cruises. In fact, the company frequently themes its voyages to trace cultural and historical significance, with itineraries that include:
- "Footsteps of the Cossacks" and "Waterways of the Czars" in Russia
- "Imperial Jewels of China"
- "Romantic Danube", "Scenic Elbe," and "Tulips and Windmills" in sections of Europe
- European overview voyages such as the "Grand European Tour" and the "European Adventure" itineraries
These and other port-intensive voyages range from 7-14 days with a very few shorter options offered periodically, particularly in China.
Despite the small size of Viking River's ships, there is no lack of activities on board, though the options are significantly different than those offered by ocean-going vessels.
Because of the ships' small size, dining options are more limited than large vessels. Each ship has only one or two restaurants, but the cuisine offers a decadent taste of the cruise region with multi-course menus geared to give travelers a sumptuous experience with local cuisine. A welcoming cocktail reception and captain's farewell dinner are staple dining events on board as well.
The entertainment options aboard these river ships are more subdued than the hectic venues of larger ships. While some vessels are equipped with a lounge and may offer musical entertainment, port lectures and cultural demonstrations are far more popular. Chinese acrobats frequently entertain during itineraries in China, while wine tastings are popular in France, and wooden shoe carving demonstrations are a favorite event on voyages through Holland.Most vessels also offer a cozy library and observation lounge for passengers interested in pursuing their own entertainment, though the frequent stops at various ports preclude many opportunities for solitude.
Spas and Fitness
The larger Viking River vessels do offer minor gym facilities, and several ships are equipped with a pool, sauna, whirlpool, and basic spa amenities. The far more popular exercise, however, is to join in walking tours at various ports of call, where expert guides regale visitors with historical and cultural minutia while pointing out the most popular sites of each destination.
Games and Contests
Because the ships visit so many ports of call and passengers tend to be older, more seasoned travelers, games and contests are rare aboard these ships. Some trivia quizzes or other culturally-oriented activities may be scheduled, however.
There are no scheduled or coordinated children's programs aboard Viking River Cruises, and these voyages are not recommended for young passengers.
Because the ports themselves are the main attraction of these river voyages, Viking River Cruises includes English-speaking guided shore excursions in its cruise prices. This ensures that all passengers are able to partake of the rich opportunities they find while plying these diverse rivers.
Cons About Viking River Cruises
As a river cruise company, Viking River naturally offers fewer onboard amenities than major cruise lines. Passengers interested in nightly musical entertainment, energetic shows, and daily activities will be disappointed if they choose this cruise line.
Viking River Cruises offers some of the most diverse river cruise itineraries of any company currently sailing through Europe, Asia, and Russia. For more information, visit their official website, VikingRivers.com.