River Cruise Review: Viking River Cruises
As the world's biggest river cruise line, Viking River Cruises lays claim to the largest fleet, most extensive network of rivers and a wealth of experience navigating the world's waterways. In a nod to the company's Norwegian heritage, Viking River Cruise ships feature sleek, fairly minimalist Scandinavian-style interiors as well as pioneering hybrid diesel-electric engines, which reduce environmental impact as well as noise and vibration.
With the launch of 10 Viking Longships in 2013 and an anticipated 12 new Longships in 2014, Viking is leading the river cruise industry in terms of expansion. These award-winning, 190-passenger ships feature innovative touches such as an indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace lounge and dining area at the prow of the ship, large suites at the stern and an organic herb garden.
Although Viking attaches great importance to the quality of its ships, the acclaimed Viking Culture Curriculum ensures passengers are kept entertained ashore with a wide selection of included excursions on each voyage as well as exclusive optional tours (at an additional cost).
Selling point: Viking River Cruises owns most of its moorings (unlike other cruise lines, which rent from local authorities), with the result that its ships invariably secure the best mooring positions, meaning passengers never have far to walk to town or the coach pick-up point.
Keep in mind: If you're considering a Danube cruise, bear in mind that the Viking ships are slightly higher than many other cruise ships on the river, meaning that the roof deck is often closed for days at a time.
Operating since: 1997
Number of ships: 35 vessels, plus 14 scheduled to launch in 2014
- Europe: Danube, Douro, Elbe, Garonne, Gironde, Main, Moselle, Nederrun, Nieuwe Maas, Rhine, Rhône, Saône, Seine, Waal
- Russia: Dnieper, Neva, Svir, Tsars, Volga
- Asia: Irrawaddy, Mekong, Yangtze
Most popular route: Week-long voyages along the Rhine from March to December annually, from $1756 per person.
What's included: Cruise fares include full board accommodation with wine, beer or soft drinks at lunch and dinner; and shore excursions.
Contact: 800-304-9616; www.vikingrivercruises.com
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