what to expect
On a brief sailing, we got a taste of what awaits your clients this year with large, roomy, beautifully designed cabins with 26-inch flat-screen TVs, high-end bath products and balconies. On the ship we sailed, the Odin, two Explorer Suites provide spectacular 270-degree views with a private wraparound verandah. Veranda Suites feature two full rooms with a verandah off the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom. In fact, all the Viking Longships boast more full-size verandahs and full-size staterooms than any other river cruise ship in Europe.
A staple of all the ships is the Aquavit Terrace, which offers a unique indoor/outdoor viewing area at the bow of the ship. Here, too, guests can enjoy outdoor cafe-style dining, ideal for the spring/summer/fall sailing seasons. The Aquavit Terrace is surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows that roll aside to create an indoor-outdoor area that combines the comfort of the indoors with the fresh outdoors—something that’s bound to be exceedingly popular on spring and summer sailings in Europe.
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 through 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 one evening, many people remarked they weren’t even aware we’d set sail, the ride was so smooth.
One thing that hasn’t changed on the longships is Viking’s well-deserved reputation for service. Room service is impeccable and even with many new cruise staff, dining service was excellent. Embarkation and debarkation was seamless, with friendly and knowledgeable staff throughout.
It’s that well-deserved reputation for service and excellence, along with a relentless and highly effective marketing strategy that’s definitely made Viking the leader in the river cruise segment.
“Viking as a line will carry over 125,000 passengers in 2012—that’s global—and our occupancy rates overall are excellent, so we are quite pleased. Yes, we know that our other partners in the river cruising industry are doing well, too. But we are dramatically gaining market share on them. In 2007, Viking had 19 percent of the North America, Europe, China and Russia river cruising market,” and Marnell adds, “the company is projecting 36 percent in 2013.”
The new ships’ itineraries for 2012 are as follows:
- The Viking Odin has an 8-day Romantic Danube sailing from Budapest to Nuremberg priced from $1,656 pp and the 8-day Danube Waltz sailing from Passau to Budapest priced from $1,456 pp.
- The Viking Njord has a 15-day Grand European Tour sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers priced from $3,362 pp; the 8-day Danube Waltz from Passau to Budapest program priced from $1,456 pp, and the 10-day Tulips & Windmills sailing from Amsterdam to Antwerp and back to Amsterdam priced from $1,872 pp.
- The Viking Idun also does a 15-day Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest priced from $3,362 pp; the 8-day Danube Waltz from Passau to Budapest from $1,456 pp, and the 10-day Tulips & Windmills sailing from $1,872 pp.
- The Viking Freya also has a 15-day Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest from $3,362; the 8-day Danube Waltz from $1,456 pp, and still another Tulips & Windmills from $1,872.
- The Viking Embla sails still another 15-day Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest from $3,362 pp; the Romantic Danube from Budapest to Nuremberg from $1,656 pp, and the 8-day Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Basel priced from $1,156 pp.
- The Viking Aegir sails from Amsterdam to Budapest on the 15-day Grand European Tour from $3,362 pp, as well as the 8-day Rhine Getaway from Amsterdam to Basel from $1,156 pp.
All prices are land only, but watch for special air and sale prices on the Christmas market and holiday cruise sailings.
Archived related articles: European River Cruising 2012 (March 2012)