Viking Longships are sailing European waters again, only this time, instead of creating havoc, they’re creating unforgettable vacation experiences for river cruisers aboard six new Viking River Cruises in 2012, four of which were christened last week in Amsterdam. The six new ships for 2012—Viking Odin, Vikiing Freya, Viking Njord, Viking Idun, Viking Aegir and Viking Embla—will be followed by six more new Viking Longships currently being built for 2013. The six new ships sailing European rivers this year represent a 35 percent increase in capacity for the Viking inventory and they’re truly a marvel of design and engineering.
We attended the recent christening in Amsterdam where it had been originally planned to have four of the ships in port for a record-breaking four christenings in one day, but two of the ships were still in the shipyard where workers were working around the clock doing last-minute changes. All four were still christened with the ceremonies shown on large video screens that were connected to video of the last two ships being finished in the Rotterdam shipyard.
On a brief sailing, we got a taste of what awaits your clients this year with large roomy, beautifully designed cabins with large-screen TVs, roomy bath facilities with high-end bath products, and a unique new design that affords not only larger cabins, but more balconies, as well. A new staple on all the ships is the Aquavit Terrace, which offers a unique indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the ship and will most assuredly be one of the most popular venues aboard these new ships. Here, too, guests can enjoy outdoor cafe-style dining, ideal for the spring/summer/fall sailing seasons.
Unique nuances include an herb garden that heightens the already excellent dining options available on board with menus that are clearly creative—many of which will reflect the specialized cuisine of the regions the ships will be sailing through, along with a choice of standard international cuisine such as chicken and steak dishes. Still another gourmet experience awaits clients with Viking’s pairing with a fifth generation vineyard in Austria’s Wachau Valley to produce several exclusive varieties, making Viking the only river cruise company with its own winemaker.
The engineering aspects are also truly unique and will make “green” travelers especially happy. Solar panels have been installed, making the ship more energy friendly and they’ve developed energy-efficient hybrid engines that dramatically reduce engine vibrations for a remarkably smooth ride. In fact, when we departed our dock for a short cruise around the Amsterdam port at dinner time one evening, many people remarked they weren’t even aware we’d set sail the ride was so smooth, almost eerily free of vibration or engine noise.
One thing that hasn’t changed on the Longships is Viking’s well-deserved reputation for service. Room service was impeccable and virtually invisible and even with many new cruise staff, dining service is excellent. Embarkation and debarkation is seamless, with friendly and knowledgeable staff throughout.
Watch for our in-depth onboard review of the Viking Odin in the May issue and go to vikingrivercruises.com for the latest information on the new ships.