Viking Cruises is the world’s largest river cruise line, established in 1997. In the mid-90’s, Torstein Hagen took a river cruise through Russia, and became inspired to start his own line, having formerly been CEO of Royal Viking Line. The line started with four Russian vessels in 1997, and acquired a large number of additional ships in the following few years. Since 2000, the company has built almost all of their own river ships, including the uniquely designed and iconic Viking Longships. Now, the line has been introducing new ships almost every year for a decade and seems to be endlessly expanding.
Ships: 73 total. 57 Longships in Europe.
How Many Passengers: From 60 to 256 passengers.
Personality: Viking ships interiors feature a contemporary, uncluttered and bright Scandinavian design. The colors around the ships are modern and subtle. The mostly Eastern European crew is friendly; eager to chat with guests and get to know them a little bit.
Fellow Passengers: Travelers are well-educated and well-traveled; many are repeat Viking guests. Though most are 55 or older, the line also attracts a good number of active, younger guests who are looking for a destination-focused journey with contemporary accommodations.
Onboard Viking river ships
Cabins: From 150 to 445 square feet. All cabins include either balconies or outside windows, and feature the same sleek, modern design that the rest of the ship boasts. Because of the large windows or balconies, staterooms are filled with natural light and are outfitted with light, natural wood throughout. Also important to note: cabins have heated floors. Viking ships also include two larger suites than you’ll find on most river lines; 445 square feet with a wraparound balcony for 270 degree views.
Dining Experience: Meals are open seating on Viking. Breakfast offers both a buffet and menu options. Lunch features a buffet and a menu option, while dinner is a multi-course affair. Cuisine that guests will find onboard include both options that are inspired by the destinations the cruise visits, and classic American dishes as well. On the longships, there’s also lighter fare in the al fresco indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace lounge.
Amenities: An onboard enrichment program offers lectures on history and art, folkloric shows, local musicians, tasting of wines from the voyage’s destinations, and themed dinners with regional specialties. At least one shore excursion choice in each port is also included in the cruise fare.
Best For: Older and middle-aged couples, English-speaking guests, and well-traveled individuals who are focused on the destinations the cruise visits.
Included Alcohol: House wines and beers are included with lunch and dinner.
Where They Go: Danube, Main and Rhine rivers; rivers in France, the Douro in Portugal and the Elbe river in Germany. More exotic cruises include Russia, Ukraine, Asia, and Egypt.
Contributor: Sarah Bretz