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We gave Viking $8999.00 toward a future…

We gave Viking $8999.00 toward a future cruise. Due to illness we were unable to book a cruise. When we requested to use that deposit for another cruise and or return the money, they denied the request. Dealing with Miller Rubio was a lesson in duplicity and deceit.I would strongly encourage Ocean travelers to find a more honorable company.

Date of experience : April 04, 2024

Viking Corporate vs Viking Ship's Crew

This review is about Viking Corporate - NOT the Viking Vidar staff. Corporate lies - plain and simple. Trying to get specifics on a cruise itinerary was like pulling teeth. And, other than one Customer Rep - Patricia T - the Customer Reps will either tell you there's no way to find out an answer, or they will just tell you something to get rid of you. So what if what they told you made you make a certain choice of an included or optional tour, and THEN, WHILE ON THE CRUISE, you find out it was a LIE! Because of Viking Corporate, I will never go on another Viking cruise - which is sad because the Ship's Crew will do whatever it takes to make this the best vacation of your life

Date of experience : July 17, 2023

Privacy violation

Sent brochure without consent. I sent an email to be removed from the mailing list, but when attempting to call as a backup measure, I was notified that the privacy line was for employees and not for customers. The company is intentionally avoiding ways to respect consumer privacy. I will never be a customer of this cruise line.

Date of experience : February 03, 2024

Booked a cruise with Viking (which was…

Booked a cruise with Viking (which was listed as requiring $25 down to book). Shortly thereafter, Viking wanted full payment for a cruise 1 year in the future. Therefore, Viking is holding full payment and collecting interest on the funds. This appears to be a new money making mechanism by Viking using their client's money to increase their cash flow.

Date of experience : August 01, 2023

We have just returned from a wonderful ocean cruise

We have just returned from a wonderful cruise on Viking Sea from Athens to Venice. Unfortunately the airline lost our luggage for five days which was far from ideal but Viking staff provided us with toiletries and also laundered our clothes each evening returning them early next morning. Our cabin stewards, Angel and Rhuel went beyond the call of duty to help us out with a few other missing item. The food was very good, the cleanliness was excellent and most importantly, the Staff were lovely. We mainly did the included excursions and the guides were very knowledgeable and interesting. All transfers were well organised and there were representatives at the foreign airports guiding us to check in and sorting out our luggage transfer so we only had our hand luggage to carry. All in all we were very happy people and have already booked our next ocean cruise with them.

Date of experience : September 01, 2023

Bait and switch pure and simple

Bait and switch pure and simple. Reserve a cabin at a promotional rate, they cancel. Then, reinstate you at their rate that they want you to pay. Awful. Do not use this cruise line. Many other cruise lines honor their promotions. These people do not!!! Worst experience!!

Date of experience : December 03, 2023

Our first cruise with Viking and…

Our first cruise with Viking and definitely the last. A ship that was only a year old yet was already feeling its age. Staff service was hit and miss, tables for dining too close together and the meals in some occasions very inconsistent and not the 5* star we were expecting. Cleaning left a lot to be desired with housekeeping contacted on numerous occasions due to the poor state of public areas. We did our own flights thankfully as we heard horror stories from other passengers of misconnections and luggage taking extra days to arrive. The crew spent a lot of time cleaning the external areas of the shop - our balcony was cleaned every second day when this could have been better deployed into other areas. The oddest item was when ordering a Pina Colada received a mass of ice which was undrinkable. Complainants were given a tray of sugary cakes - not what we wanted , just good food and service which we paid a lot if money for.

Date of experience : October 03, 2023

Just received an email from Viking…

Just received an email from Viking informing us that half of the Xmas markets we were suppose to visit will not be open. They marketed the cruise as a Xmas market cruise which is why we booked it. We get the email 3 days prior to our trip and they knew from the beginning the markets would not open until early December. A clear case of bait and switch and will cause us to never cruise with them again.

Date of experience : November 21, 2023

Multiple airline delays and flight…

Multiple airline delays and flight cancellations resulted in my wife and I missing the first three days of the cruise and no realistic plan to meet up with the boat later, so requested a return flight to US ,which we got. After arriving home, we filed for reimbursement from Trip Mate. Payment was denied because we had used vouchers from covid cancelled cruises to pay for current cruise. $7,000 out the window. Never again Viking!

Date of experience : May 28, 2023

Viking Venus without most amenities.

Viking Venus : cruise round Med and on to Israel. This was a wonderful itinerary , a beautiful ship , excellent food and service. In fact, everything we have come to expect from Viking except…there were apparently a few cases of a GI infection . As a consequence all water amenities, main pool, infinity pool, jacuzzi and spa were closed for the whole of the cruise! As compensation we have been offered a derisory £200 voucher towards a future cruise. An insult! We will not be booking with Viking again.

Date of experience : November 25, 2022

I had a reservation for the Heart of…Delta

I had a reservation for the Heart of Delta Cruise including premium economy for the air portion. I was advised after booking and making my deposit that I was being downgraded to economy. I then called and was told if I wanted premium economy I would now have to pay a higher price. This is called bait and switch and is unethical if not down right fraudulent.

Date of experience : November 24, 2023

Uses stolen information to get…

Uses stolen information to get addresses for their mailing lists. I never use my living address, period. I only receive deliveries from Amazon here. Otherwise, only my state government and previous employers have had it. My state and one of those jobs were hacked last year and my information was stolen. Suddenly, I receive a Viking advertisement here. I have lived here 4.5 years and NEVER received junk mail for anything. What does this leave me to believe? Either 1) Viking brokered a deal to get my address from Amazon without my knowledge or consent--which I don't believe, or I would've gotten spam from other parties Amazon sold my info to in the past. Or 2) They bought it directly from my state. Highly unlikely since the only state dept that has this address is HIPAA protected. Or 2) Viking bought a blackhat list of stolen information from one of the previously mentioned data leaks. Even if I had the money to go on a cruise, I would NEVER use Viking at this point. Trash companies do trash things.

Date of experience : January 07, 2024

Viking Victim Unit

It's been three years now that Viking has held my family's money hostage because we don't wish to take the jab. Viking changed their policy after they took all our money, lured us into taking now worthless vouchers. They refuse to accept the fact that they changed the terms of the contract. Most all other cruise lines have dropped this mandate. The US gov has basically declared the "plandemic" over and all other mandates have been drop but Viking still won't change their policy. If you happen to be in the same position there is a group forming to file a class action law suit against Viking. #VikingVictims

Date of experience : February 01, 2023

What a cracking tour

What a cracking tour with the best guide Chris. Funny, interesting and a great way to see parts of Dublin and hear a bit of history to it too. Definitely recommend ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Date of experience : November 12, 2023

I'm with Robin (see below)

I'm with Robin (see below). We are cancelling our river cruise due to viking's heavy handed covid vaccine requirement. Also lost out on the cruise vouchers. NEVER BUY A VIKING CRUISE VOUCHER We will be sailing with a different cruise line and will not be back to Viking. Viking has lost four loyal customers with 10 past cruises between us.

Date of experience : February 18, 2023

No Refund Policy

Had a planned eastern European river cruise starting mid-October for over a year. Just got order from Doctor to cancel due to sudden onset of autoimmune kidney disease. Vikings' policy allows no refund under the circumstances (i.e. , I am out the $3500 no matter what) and a friend who will take my place must pay her full share of the room as well! Viking collects 3 fares for a 2 person room. Don't sail Viking unless you are guaranteed of going on the trip. We will never try Viking again!

Date of experience : August 30, 2022

Profit before customer experience

Viking changed our flight schedule at very short notice. Wanted us to travel with 3 flights via 2 countries, when we complained they hid behind T & C’s very sneaky & very poor customer service, they cited they couldn’t absorb costs of a more direct flight routing. Cannot recommend whatsoever - there are better cruise lines who deliver & care about providing a decent level of customer experience - avoid them if you can.

Date of experience : January 12, 2023

Fantastic experience, highly recommended

Fantastic experience, just returned from a cruise with Viking and was blown away by the quality of food, excursions and especially the staff who go above and beyond to ensure you have an amazing time, the ship was outstanding too. Thank you Viking! I have some wonderful memories that will stay with me and my mother forever.

Date of experience : October 03, 2021

Reserved cruise in July 2023

Reserved cruise in July 2023. Final payment end of September 2023. Used e-check to get 3.3% discount and then Viking, after final payment, went in and took $2281 more without warning. Travel agent called them, same day they requested transfer, and advised them of their error. Several days later, money gone causing overdraft situation. Called Viking and they couldn't care less about getting me back the money they stole from me. Travel agent receiving same run around. All they say is the refund request is submitted and then had the audacity to tell me the refund could take 21 business days. This was a once in a lifetime cruise and they are ruining it. I understand mistakes are made but they couldn't care less about resolving it properly or holding themselves accountable. I have filed complaints with the Los Angeles BBB and the FTC. Stay away from Viking.

Date of experience : October 02, 2023

Viking River Cruises and Flights

Attempting to book flights with a Viking Cruise, Passau to Budapest, June/July 2024 - when calling and speaking with three different Viking reps., get three completely different answers to the same questions. Viking needs all their employees to have better training on the exact details of booking flights. I hesitate to book a flight through Viking

Date of experience : October 29, 2023

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Viking Ocean Cruises

viking voyages reviews

Courtesy of Viking Ocean Cruises |

viking voyages reviews

Find a Cruise on Viking Ocean Cruises

with a cruise advisor

Cruising with Viking

Since 2015, Viking’s ocean cruises have earned acclaim for their inclusive luxury ships and engaging destination-focused itineraries. Viking’s voyages appeal to active and intellectual adults who are interested in learning about the history and culture of the destinations they visit. The cruise line's 10 identical 930-passenger ships include attractive perks, such as shipwide complimentary Wi-Fi and verandas for all cabins.

The smaller size of Viking's ships allows them to access more exclusive ports throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean. Standard cruise itineraries range from eight to 93 days, while the line's World Cruise options can last up to 180 days. As part of Viking's inclusive fare, passengers are also treated to one complimentary shore excursion in each port of call.

U.S. News Insider Tip: While Viking's cruise fares seem high compared to other lines, you need to compare their all-inclusive value to cruises where everything comes at an additional cost. There are very few extra expenses that you will have once you're on board the ship. They also offer discounted sailings, including their Quiet Season Mediterranean Cruises. – Gwen Pratesi, Contributor

Pros & Cons

All cabins include verandas

Shipwide Wi-Fi access on every vessel

Complimentary excursion at every port of call

Ships don't offer children's programming

No itineraries for less than seven nights

High prices year-round

  • Expert Rating » 4.7
  • Traveler Rating » 4.3
  • Health Rating » 5.0

Viking Ocean Cruises has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings.

  • # 1 in Best Cruise Lines for Couples
  • # 1 in Best Luxury Cruise Lines
  • # 1 in Best Cruise Lines in the Mediterranean

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Viking Venus

Viking Ocean Cruises Ships

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Viking Venus

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Viking Saturn

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Viking Mars

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Viking Jupiter

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Viking Star

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Viking Orion

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Viking Neptune

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Before You Book

  • A $500 deposit per person is required to secure a reservation on a Viking ocean cruise. A 20% deposit is required on cruise tours of 35 days or longer and Viking's World & Grand Cruises.
  • The date of your final payment is dependent on your itinerary and will be noted on your invoice.
  • If you cancel your cruise 120 days or more before your scheduled departure, you'll be charged $100 per person. Canceling closer to the cruise departure date will incur varying fees that are a percentage of the cruise fare. Visit Viking's Terms & Conditions  page for more information on the cancellation policy.
  • If you have any medical needs associated with a disability, you must inform Viking at the time of booking. To inquire about accessibility, you can call 1-877-668-4546. Viking does not permit women who are more than 24 weeks pregnant on any of its ocean cruises.
  • Viking does not allow children 17 or younger on its ocean cruises.

Before You Board

  • You must have a passport valid for at least six months after your cruise ends, as well as any necessary visas in order to board.
  • Passengers must bring any required inoculation records on board. Refer to the  World Health Organization  and the  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  websites to learn about recommended vaccinations.
  • You'll receive your travel documents about two weeks prior to your scheduled departure date. Your cruise embarkation time is based on your cabin category and begins at 11 a.m., but you'll need to be on board no later than two hours before departure.
  • You can make reservations for shore excursions, dining venues and spa treatments in advance on the My Viking Journey website. Booking windows open based on which cabin category you choose. For more information on when you can book, visit Viking's website.

Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.

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Traveling Tulls

Eco-Travel in Retirement – Nature and Sustainable Luxury Travel

viking voyages reviews

Elegance at Sea: An Authentic Viking Ocean Cruises Review

Viking Sea feature image

Embarking on a Viking Oceans cruise promises a luxurious and immersive journey. I am just back from my first Viking voyage, a 12-night cruise on Viking Sea,. In this review, I will share various aspects of the Viking experience, specifically a Viking Sea cruise ship review, to provide insights into what you can expect on this ship. I hope sharing this Viking Ocean cruises review will help you decide on your next adventure.

As a seasoned traveler and occasional cruiser, I believe I am well-equipped to provide insights into the Viking Oceans Cruise experience. My first two European travels (1963 & 1968) involved transatlantic voyages as my Dad was afraid of flying. Cruise ships have come a very long way since those days. (The ”spa” in our first ship, the MS Saturnia, featured vibrating belt machines and a lukewarm tub in a windowless room. But we had Italian language lessons onboard and daily Mass where I, a young GIRL was allowed to serve as altar boy!) Jump ahead 60 years and I have sailed on Windstar’s small ships 6 times, and have also explored other renowned cruise lines such as Princess and Norwegian, offering a comparative lens for evaluating Viking’s unique offerings.

With an extensive travel background that spans 68 countries, and includes bespoke safaris, ,journeys with prestigious tour operators like Tauck and Abercrombie & Kent, and many independent adventures, I bring a diverse and discerning perspective to this Viking Sea ship review. Note: We paid all expenses for this trip. Viking did not discount nor incentivize our travel.

Beautiful MV Viking Sea cruise ship in Puerto Rico

Table of Contents

Booking our first Viking Cruise

Viking offer three categories of journeys – river cruises, ocean cruises, and expedition cruises. We chose the Viking Oceans Cruise – Amazon & Caribbean Adventure – primarily for the itinerary. (Viking offers many unique destination-focused itineraries.) Visiting the Amazon has always been a dream of mine. And we were intrigued to try Viking ships having heard much about Viking River Cruises cultural and educational focus from friends. The Viking Ocean Cruises ships carry 930 passengers which seems like a lot to us but still considered a small ship by most cruisers.

Booking our cruise was a seamless process, with an intuitive online reservation system. However, for this trip, we chose to call Viking directly so as to secure flights that would work for us. We planned on arriving in San Juan a few days before the cruise to enjoy some sunshine and to forestall travel complications winter in New England can bring. The customer service representatives we spoke to during booking were very helpful and within minutes our trip was confirmed.

The next step in trip planning came when it was time to choose excursions. Viking has a unique (to us) reservation system for excursions and dining options. Each stateroom level has a date when reservation booking opens. For example, on our voyage the Penthouse Veranda occupants could make reservations 77 days before the cruise, the Deluxe Veranda 67 days, and the lowest category, Veranda, 60 days before the cruise. This was a stressful and unpleasant experience for us. By the time our category (deluxe veranda) was allowed to book, many tours were sold out. We managed to get much of what we wanted but honestly this added frustration and a sense of classism to the process. Note : Viking guarantees one or two included tours for everyone in each port. These are mostly bus rides or short walks.

Other than the above issue (and a few outside Viking’s control) things went well with Viking’s pre-cruise experience. We used Viking Air (got an offer for free airfare!) and got a direct flight, Boston to San Juan. Once we received our Delta confirmation code, we were able to upgrade our seats. (Some guests were able to upgrade from the My Viking page earlier but for some reason this was not available for our flight.)

Wintergarden on the Viking Sea

A+ Where Viking Shines

The ship: a viking sea cruise ship review.

The focal point of any cruise is the ship. In the case of the Viking cruises which seem to leave ports earlier than most cruise lines we’ve used, the design is paramount. And fortunately, it shines! Viking Ocean ships are designed with elegance and functionality in mind.

The Viking Sea is the loveliest ship we’ve traveled on. The ship’s decor is sleek Scandinavian with bits of whimsy. Spend some time in the Wintergarden and you’ll find birds and iconic landmarks integrated into the ironwork. Birds can also be ‘heard’ in some of the public restrooms. 🙂

Throughout the ship there are unique spaces where you can get away for a quiet read. Thus even with 930 guests onboard the ship never seems crowded. Even the main dining room, the Restaurant, is designed with partial wall breaks to simulate small dining areas.

Other unique public spaces include the ‘Living Room,’ a three-story elegant atrium where you’ll find games, puzzles, and cozy corners to sit while enjoying performances by Viking’s musicians. The Explorers’ Lounge and Torshavn are the focus for evening cocktails, music, and conversation. There are outside terraces for watching the world go by and a sports deck for shuffleboard enthusiasts. Last but a far cry from least is a Viking Ocean Cruise highlight – the extraordinary spa with traditional Nordic elements like sauna, vitality pool, cold plunge tubs, and a Snow Grotto.

Our Stateroom

Deluxe veranda stateroom on Viking Ocean cruise ship

We’re in a mid-level cabin, Deluxe Veranda, which is narrow, but has a lot of storage and a roomy bathroom with a great shower. (Not always the case on cruise ships!) I haven’t seen the other category staterooms but know the next step up – Penthouse Veranda- offers a few more feet in width and a fridge stocked with wine, beer, etc. Our fridge has soft drinks replenished daily.

When all our things were put away, we had plenty of room in this cabin and veranda to enjoy some quiet time. (270 square feet in total)

Evening in the Explorers Lounge on Viking Ocean cruises

Entertainment spaces with exceptional performances

[I neglected to get photos of the Star Theater, Torshavn and the Explorers’ Lounge, so I’ll try to describe each before I direct you to the Viking Serene Scandinavian Spaces webpage.]

  • The Star Theater is the primary theater location for live music and is the spot where guests gather for tendering. It is similar in style to other ships’ theaters with alternating rows of bucket chairs and cushioned bench seating. Interestingly, the back of the theater has two spaces which can be closed to create two movie theaters.
  • Torshavn is located just steps away from the Star Theater so attracts a lot of people after the evening’s performances. It has a nightclub vibe and is a great spot for late night dancing.
  • The Explorers’ Lounge is on the 7th and 8th floor. It’s a thoughtfully designed space with panoramic windows affording lovely views. The Explorers’ Lounge is where you’ll find Mamsen’s, a homestyle eating spot with late night treats.

Vocalist on Viking Sea

The onboard entertainment on our cruise was outstanding! We thoroughly enjoyed the Star Theater productions and planned our evenings around them. (We often skip the shows on other cruise lines.)

The entertainment is curated to appeal to a broad audience. The ship’s atrium, the Living Room, has either a classical pianist or a string duo playing almost all day. Lovely background music for your reading. Torshavn, the cozy club, and Explorers Lounge have shows each evening with more contemporary music.

But the best entertainment on this Viking itinerary was the evening show with the resident vocalists. They were immensely talented and the show’s choreography, stagecraft, and audio-visual elements made this a phenomenal experience.

Interestingly, it’s not just the ship’s vocalists that performed but also the cruise director! Big shout out to our cruise director, Ryan Bishop, who kept us informed and entertained all 12 days onboard. What a talent!

Guest lecturer on this Viking Sea itinerary

Including destination-focused enrichment is one of Viking‘s key attractions. On our Amazon and Caribbean Adventure itinerary we had a resident biologist, a resident historian, and a former CIA agent giving talks daily.

I loved the nature lectures. Dr. Philip Price included a lot of depth to his talks (bringing back much of my long-forgotten biology knowledge) but he seasoned his talk with humor so everyone could enjoy.

Having these short (45 minute) lectures definitely adds to the cruise experience. And best of all, if you’re unable to attend them in person, they are streamed all week on your cabin TV! We always watched one in the evening as we got ready for bed.

(The daily port talks are also available on your cabin TV. This was the first cruise when we actually used the cabin TV.)

Viking Sea spa

The Spa (and fitness center)

What can I say! We loved the spa! It’s a subdued quiet space to relax and rejuvenate after a day touring.

There is an open area with a large ‘vitality pool’ (hot tub with waves and bubbles on demand), a traditional hot tub, heated spa beds and loungers. From this central area you have access to the Snow Grotto and steam room. In each dressing area there is a sauna and cold plunge pool. I valiantly tried everything the spa had to offer but didn’t stay long in the cold plunge pool 🙂

Somehow, I hadn’t time for a massage but exercised in the well-equipped gym before luxuriating in the spa. There are three sections to the fitness center all with large windows to enjoy the view. The aerobic fitness area had many treadmills, several cycles, and a few elliptical machines. The next two rooms focused on weight training and stretching.

Viking Sea feature image

B+ A cut above most cruise ships

Service and staff.

The service provided by the crew can make or break your shipboard experience. For the most part, the Viking staff, known for their friendliness and professionalism, elevated our overall experience. We did not rate the service as excellent because it seemed the staff may have had more guests than they could handle. In the Restaurant we had several mix-ups with our orders and sometimes had long waits to be seated or served. But when the waitstaff came they were always friendly and courteous.

We had some frustrations with guest services not following up on requests for post-cruise plans. Our charter flight was scheduled to leave at 6 pm from Manaus so we hoped to use that day to see more of the city and surroundings on a private tour. But three days before we arrived in Manaus, guest services still had no idea what time we’d be disembarking, what hotel we would be brought to, and when we needed to get to the airport. Needless to say, we couldn’t book our tour and spent 6 hours in a hotel conference room before our flight.

But while onboard Guest Services came through with a level of hospitality we hadn’t found on other cruise lines. A big thank you to guest services for hosting an impromptu gathering of participants from Cruise Critic. We enjoyed drinks and appetizers in the 8th floor Explorers’ Lounge as we met offline for the first time.

In general, the crew’s cheerful dedication made us feel valued and well taken care of throughout the trip.

Ambiance/Social Aspects

The ambiance of the ship plays a crucial role in shaping the overall experience. Viking Ocean Cruise ships boast elegant designs with lots of areas to socialize or enjoy some solitude. It’s a sophisticated and comfortable atmosphere.

Of course, there’s little you can do to predict how you’ll enjoy your fellow travelers but on this cruise we met many wonderful people. All were well-traveled, so it was fun to chat and compare notes. The demographics on our tour:

  • overwhelmingly American
  • almost all over 60 years of age and retired
  • very little diversity
  • quite a few people with some sort of health or mobility issues. Happily, it seemed Viking is prepared to help everyone participate in events and excursions. The crew were sensitive to the needs of people with mobility issues, quickly seating them on tenders, etc.

afternoon tea in the Wintergarden on Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Sea cruise ship review: the dining experience

One of the challenges of traveling anywhere is managing expectations. We have had great food on Windstar and read rave reviews of Viking’s food before the trip, so perhaps we came onboard with unrealistic expectations for a ship serving 930 passengers and 465 crew members.

Viking offers a variety of dining venues offer diverse menus, providing guests with many choices for their cruise experience. We greatly appreciated that Viking offered selections in all venues that mirrored the destinations visited. We also appreciated that there are no formal nights on Viking (though there is a dress code for the better restaurants.)

There are many options available, including options for gluten free and vegetarian diets. The food was mostly good but rarely exceptional. Service in the main dining room could be spotty. All the waitstaff was friendly but appeared to be a bit overwhelmed at times. Perhaps the area was understaffed on this trip.

Tulls at Manfredi's, one of the specialty restaurants offered on Viking Ocean cruises

As we’re dedicated to our readers, we tried each of Viking Sea’s dining options. 😉 Here we are ready to try Manfredi’s, the Italian restaurant – yum!

The Restaurant

This is the primary restaurant on the ship. It’s an elegant space with multiple divisions which belied how many guests were being served. The Restaurant offered a fairly extensive menu with some dishes offered every night, some specific to the destination, some vegetarian, and many daily specials. We had some excellent meals here but also several mediocre meals. Our favorite entrees : Beef tenderloin with horseradish mashed potato was my favorite, Dave’s was the Norwegian salmon which is offered daily.

Sushi chef in the World Cafe. MV Viking Sea

The World Cafe is a cafeteria style option and is open for all meals. The quality of the food and selections offered were quite good. We enjoyed our meals here and understood why some cruisers only eat at the World Cafe. There is a small, shaded spot outside the World Cafe where you can bring your trays to enjoy some fresh air.

Be sure to frequent the World Cafe on Surf n’ Turf night! Lobster tails, shrimp cocktails, etc.! Yum! Dave gives a shout out to the gelato which he sampled daily for this complete review.

Note: the World Cafe is the only restaurant without a dress code. For more about this and other packing suggestions read Amazon and Caribbean Adventure: Your Ultimate Viking Cruise Packing List .

Surf 'n Turf night at the World Cafe. viking sea cruise ship review

There are two (occasionally three) specialty restaurants on the Viking Oceans Cruises ships. On our trip the third option – the Kitchen Table – was not open. Reservations are required for these restaurants but if you’re not able to secure a reservation before the trip, check with the dining desk managers as there are usually spots available.

Manfredi’s is the Italian themed dining option. It’s a pleasant space with mediterranean design. The food was good and the service in this restaurant was excellent.

Chef’s Table

The Chef’s Table was an alternative restaurant where wine is paired with each course. The theme of the tasting menu rotates every three days, so be sure to check what options are available on the night of your choosing.

We attended Mexican night and enjoyed the wine but were underwhelmed with the food. Our amuse bouche was one tortilla chip topped with an octopus-based salsa. The appetizer was one tamale in a clear soup. The main course was very tasty, but again only a small serving – short ribs with mole sauce and a tablespoon of sweet potato mash artfully displayed. Dessert was a selection of chocolate treats. Note : other cruisers raved about the Asian menu, so give it a try!

Afternoon tea being prepared in the Wintergarden

Wintergarden

This was my favorite dining option on the ship!

A traditional tea is served in this spectacular space every afternoon with classical music accompaniment. I love afternoon tea so made sure to get there twice on our trip. Scones with clotted cream, finger sandwiches, and sweet delicacies are served with your choice of dozens of teas. Relax, enjoy the music, and indulge.

There is no dress code for the Wintergarden, but many appeared to enjoying dressing as they might for afternoon tea at home.

Mamsen’s

Waffle at Mamsen's, a homestyle venue on Viking Ocean cruise ships

This is a Norwegian homestyle spot (literally) tucked into the Explorers’ Lounge. The recipes and even the plate design come from the kitchen of the Hagen family’s Mamsen (mother). This is where you’ll find traditional Norwegian open-faced sandwiches and specialty desserts.

Definitely try the waffles here one morning! It’s a quiet change from the other dining venues and has a lovely view.

The Pool Grill, as you’d expect, serves burgers, hot dogs, and occasionally a tuna steak all made to order. Very good for a quick meal on deck.

Room Service

We ordered from room service a few times, once for breakfast on our first sea day, and twice when our excursion got us back to the ship after the dining areas were closed. After a steamy excursion it was nice to put our feet up and enjoy a platter of cheese or a Caprese panini.

More Viking Sea options

Honestly, I can’t speak to this very well. There are lots of options listed on the Daily – mahjong, crafters corner, wine and spirits tasting, shuffleboard competitions, just to name a few – but we didn’t partake of anything except team trivia in the Explorers’ Lounge.

There are tables in the Atrium set up for Scrabble and other games. These were always busy and it looked like people were having fun.

Main pool area with retractable roof. Viking Sea cruise ship review

Ship’s pools

This is another category that is hard to rank. The main pool is in a gorgeous spot and has a partially retractable roof. I imagine this would be lovely if cruising in a cooler climate, but in the Caribbean and Amazon the roof opening was not sufficient to keep the space cool. We tried this for a few hours and gave up.

On the Aquavit Terrace at the rear of the ship there is an infinity pool and hot tub. This pool was perfect for a hot day in the tropics. Lovely refreshing water with enough space for several bathers. The only drawback here is that deck space is limited, and all loungers are in the sun.

Classical pianist in the atrium

Tips of first-time Viking cruisers

Cabin choice.

If you’re debating which cabin category to select, upgrade. As mentioned in the booking section above, there is a tier system for booking excursions and making dining reservations. If neither of these matter to you, choose whatever cabin you wish. But if you’re hoping to get on a specific tour, book a Penthouse Veranda or above. ( This was a real eye-opener for me. I felt a bit like a second-class citizen when I realized my mid-range cabin didn’t allow me to get some of the tours we’d looked forward to. Not a good feeling when you’ve booked a luxury brand cruise. )

Photo excursion in Anguilla.

There are 1-2 included excursions in every port of call. In addition, there are many optional tours with prices starting >$60 and up. We opted for two included shore excursions and many of the paid excursions. Most were very good to excellent. I’ve detailed our excursion experiences on Navigating the Amazon and Caribbean with Viking.

Note: Viking seems to leave ports earlier than other lines we have used. Our all-aboard times ranged from 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm. This made it more challenging to book tours with local companies (as we’ve enjoyed in other locations ), so we stuck with Viking’s offerings.

There are options to send out your laundry with a quick turnaround, but Viking is unique in providing free laundry facilities and detergent on each floor. This makes it easy to pack light for the cruise . The laundry room does gets crowded so plan on doing your wash in the off hours – during morning excursions, late at night or during dinner hours.

There are three onboard shops, one a jewelry store, one a small necessities shop, and one specializing in Nordic gear and souvenirs. Interestingly, though you have your choice of Nordic sweaters (on an Amazon cruise…hmm) there is no place to purchase a simple tee shirt. We had counted on this while packing so were disappointed. And before you say that the clientele was too upscale for tee shirts, believe me, most guests are wearing casual clothes including tees during the daytime hours and on excursions.

wine steward on MV Viking Sea ocean cruise ship

Silver spirit package

All Vikings Sea’s restaurants include wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner. We’d heard that the included wine was of poor quality, but we enjoyed every wine we were served. (Mind you, we are not oenophiles.)

Purchasing the Silver Spirits beverage package for $25 per person per night affords the guest upgraded wines, beers, and unlimited cocktails and spirits. As this was our first Viking cruise, we decided to test the value of the package. We enjoyed the included wine and beer, but also ordered cocktails or an evening aperitif as we desired. In the end our bill was $174.50, far less than the $600 the Silver Spirits package would have cost. We’re moderate drinkers on vacation but I think the liberal pours over dinner kept our costs low.

An oddity of the included beverages policy is that at events where sparkling wine is poured continuously, I had to pay $4 for a ginger ale. Hmm…

Viking Air Services

We used Viking Air for our travel. Just a bit of reading online will show you that Viking Air gets mixed reviews with some people being booked on circuitous routes to their destinations. Fortunately, we did not have any of these issues. We were booked on a direct flight from Boston to San Juan, Puerto Rico to begin our vacation. On the return Viking booked charter flights to transport passengers to Miami from Manaus. We gladly agreed to this. As this homeward travel day was long and involved Viking put all passengers up in a Marriott hotel in Miami, served dinner and breakfast, and arranged luggage transport for each leg of the journey. From Miami we had a direct flight home.

Unfortunately, plane issues on both the charter and direct flight home from Miami caused delays. When ultimately our Miami to Boston flight was cancelled, we scrambled to find a flight home rather than spend another night in Miami. Viking Air likely could have booked something for us, but as time was of the essence so we did it ourselves. When Viking learned of our difficult day, they issued us a future cruise credit. Unnecessary as it was not Viking’s fault, but we were impressed and appreciative.

Sustainability Practices

I have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) so we travel to get a few weeks in the sunshine each winter. We try to choose sustainable options as we did in Costa Rica , but sometimes we cruise. This year was challenging with losses of family and friends, so the convenience of a cruise was the best option. We chose Viking as it states a commitment to sustainability.

[Researching a bit, Viking receives mixed ratings for sustainability. Friends of the Earth gives Viking a poor grade despite acknowledging Viking has moved to advanced sewage treatment systems and exhaust scrubbers. The Cruise Line is kinder to Viking, giving the line credit for reducing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 40%.]

As I don’t have the ability to precisely measure the environmental impact of the cruise line, I base my comments on what I encountered on the ship.

  • Exhaust scrubbers to reduce air pollution
  • Viking has discontinued some tours they deemed unethical, e.g. the pink dolphin experience.
  • Paper straws are used in all venues when straws are requested
  • Serving sizes in the restaurants were not excessive, so less waste here. (However, the buffets in the World Cafe undoubtedly generate a lot of food waste.)
  • Time in ports was much too short to support local economies. On other cruises we try to frequent cafes, shops, and local guides, but with an early “all aboard”, on this itinerary we had to stick with ship tours.
  • Towels were changed daily despite us hanging them up for reuse.

Value for Money

Viking Ocean Cruises aims to provide value for money. The cost of the cruise, considering the inclusions and amenities, is competitive in the cruise industry. With the cruise cost including full use of the spa, the entertainment, and wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch and dinner, we felt that we got excellent value for our money.

We opted to use Viking’s air program and were pleased when offered a charter flight from Manaus to Miami and a hotel night in Miami before transiting home. And doubly pleased when we learned they organized a late (11 pm- 2 am!) dinner for us in Miami. Very professional of them to make these arrangements at their own expense after our cruise days had ended.

Viking Ocean Cruises Review: Conclusion

In conclusion, our cruise experience was a great blend of luxury, fun, and cultural exploration. From the ease of booking to the service on board, Viking Ocean Cruises offer a refined maritime adventure. The Viking Sea is beautifully appointed and without question a great ship. Whether seeking relaxation or immersive activities, travelers are likely to find their expectations exceeded on a Viking Oceans Cruise. I hope you have a wonderful trip!

For more information and recommendations for your Viking Ocean Cruises experience read:

  • Navigating the Amazon and Caribbean with Viking: An Honest Review – a specific Viking cruise review
  • Amazon and Caribbean Adventure: Your Ultimate Viking Cruise Packing List – packing tips for this unusual journey!

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Sail into luxury with our in-depth review of the Viking Sea and the unparalleled Viking cruise experience! 🚢✨ From the stunning onboard amenities to the breathtaking destinations, we've uncovered every detail to help you plan your dream voyage. Immerse yourself in the world of Viking Cruises as we share insights, tips, and highlights from our unforgettable journey. Cruise enthusiasts, this one's for you! 🌊⚓ #VikingCruiseReview #VikingSea #LuxuryTravel #CruiseExperience

Amy, a writer on responsible bucket list travel, is your reliable source for insightful travel advice. With a career background in libraries, and a degree in biology and mathematics, Amy's approach to travel is rooted in meticulous research and planning, and her commitment to eco-conscious adventures.

Amy’s dedication to sustainable travel practices, including efficient packing techniques, ensures that every adventure leaves a positive impact on both the environment and the traveler's well-being. Trust Amy to guide you towards meaningful and eco-friendly travel, making the most of your retirement years.

A lifelong New England resident, Amy is also the source for insider tips on travel in the Northeastern U.S.

  • Amy Tull https://travelingtulls.com/author/amy-travelingtulls/ 25 Tips to Conquer Travel Anxiety: How to Make Travel Easier (and almost stress-free!)
  • Amy Tull https://travelingtulls.com/author/amy-travelingtulls/ Easy Elegance: 3 Capsule Wardrobe Templates for Travel Planning
  • Amy Tull https://travelingtulls.com/author/amy-travelingtulls/ Navigating the Amazon and Caribbean with Viking: An Honest Review (2024)
  • Amy Tull https://travelingtulls.com/author/amy-travelingtulls/ Amazon and Caribbean Adventure: Your Ultimate Viking Cruise Packing List

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4 thoughts on “ Elegance at Sea: An Authentic Viking Ocean Cruises Review ”

  • Pingback: Amazon and Caribbean Adventure: Your Ultimate Viking Cruise Packing List - Traveling Tulls

I’ve been wondering about Viking cruises. I love that it is a kid-free environment but I didn’t realize the bulk of the people are 60+. That’s good to know. I’m saving this as a refresher when I’m ready to give them a try. Thanks!

I’ve never fancied a cruise but the ship looks lovely!

As someone who has never been on a holiday cruise, I found this very interesting. Thank you.

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The Roaming Boomers

Our review: viking ocean cruises.

Posted by David Porter on Thursday, September 23, 2021 · 11 Comments  

Our review of Viking Ocean Cruises comes after perhaps four years since we last sailed on one of their ocean ships.

And remarkably, in that period, we have grown to become the #2 booking agents for Viking Cruises in the world.

Further, Carol and I are the #1 booking agents for Viking Cruises, out of 20,000+ other agents in the Virtuoso Travel Network for the last four years running.

How has this happened?

Well, we work hard and smart.  But at the end of the day, Viking has carved out a massive niche with their small-ship (930 passengers) sailing vessels that folks have come to trust and adore.

Afternoon Tea on Viking Cruises

Afternoon Tea on Viking Cruises. Click for large view.

Impressions sailing with Viking for the second time

  • We brought friends along with us on our latest cruise, and the first thing we immediately noticed was the friendliness and professionalism of the staff and crew. Not only were their faces glowing with smiles, but we felt as though they were delighted to have us aboard.  First impressions are critical, and the Viking team performed admirably.
  • Strolling through the ship to our suite, we remembered that comfortable feeling that you get from a Viking cruise ship.  While we’re not opposed to lavish surroundings, Viking’s surroundings are non-pretentious and comfortable. Hence, their motto, “explore the world in comfort.”
  • Viking’s Health & Safety Protocols are simply above and beyond what most cruise lines are currently doing.  We felt safe sailing with Viking during this pandemic.  In fact, I wrote a whole article on this subject alone: CLICK HERE .
  • The cuisine on Viking Ocean Cruises is excellent.  Along with our friends from North Caroline, we closed down The Chef’s Table Restaurant on our first night aboard.  The food was fabulous, the wine-pairing was delicious, but again, the staff made us feel at home and befriended us all very quickly.  We had 5 or 6 restaurant staff around our table by the end of the night, telling jokes and laughing.  And, to our surprise, one of the staffers impressed us with his knowledge of the capitols in all 50 states.  The food in The Restaurant (the main dining venue) was outstanding.  However, four out of the seven nights of our cruise, we were to be found dining in Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant.  The Osso Bucco is fabulous.  The variety of pasta dishes kept us coming back. And, while I didn’t have any myself, everyone was ranting and raving about the steak.  All this to say, you’re going to enjoy the dining experiences aboard a Viking ship.
  • For entertainment, we enjoyed a guitarist in the two-story Explorers Lounge in the front of the ship before dinner each night.  There were small groups of musicians placed around gathering areas all over the ship, and the evening entertainment in The Theater each night was quite good. We all played name that tune one afternoon at sea.  We lost.  Carol and her friend watched a movie one afternoon in the cinema. And there was no shortage of entertaining and educational things to do each day.

Viking Cruises Day Bed Roaming Boomers

Carol enjoying the daybed on the deck of our suite.

I could go on, but this was a wonderful reminder of how much we love Viking.  And it also served as a reminder why our clients keep booking Viking with us over and over.

Viking avoids using the word luxury as they describe themselves. But for me, Viking is akin to Goldilocks. Luxurious, but not too extravagant. And comfortable in every way.  We tell our clients to think of Viking as a 4 1/2-star cruise line to help them place the Viking brand in their brains.

In closing, it was great to again be aboard one of their ocean cruises.  Next, we’re looking forward to sampling Viking’s new river ships on the Mississippi and one of their new expedition ships on the Great Lakes.

How to Book a Viking Ocean, River, or Expedition Cruise

The first thing to know is that booking a Viking cruise with Roaming Boomers Travel Services is the same price as booking directly with Viking.

However, when you book with us, as we are the #2 booking agents for Viking in the world, you will enjoy our expert advice and service.

In a short conversation with us, I promise that you will quickly understand the benefits of booking your fun Viking cruise with Roaming Boomers Travel Services.

For more information or to book a Viking cruise, please call Roaming Boomers Travel Services at (480) 550-1235 or use our convenient online information request ( click here ), and we’ll reach out to you.

Additional Reading :

  • The Best Way to Book an Ocean or River Cruise

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Category: Travel News & Tips · Tags: Luxury Ocean Cruises , Viking Ocean Cruises

11 Comments on “ Our Review: Viking Ocean Cruises ”

Thanks for this review – we’re doing our first cruise with Viking on the Jupiter in November, rescheduled from the same time last year. Are both anxious and really looking forward to it! We set up this trip on our own, but have been receiving your newsletters and assuming we book again with Viking, you’ll be our first contact! We’ve been impressed with Viking’s communications around their protocols and we feel confident about their onboard precautions. Main concern now is the flight and the extra days we’re spending in Rome & Barcelona, and being careful on any of our excursions.

I think it’s a new itinerary, but would also be interested in reviews from you or any of your customers on Viking’s Northern Lights cruise.

You mentioned loving Manfredi’s – we missed the reserve ahead window when Viking opened it for Manfredi’s and the Chef’s Table (we were on a domestic car trip!). Can they be booked while on board or keep extra seats for walk-ins? Thanks!

We’ve done 3 Viking Ocean cruises now (#4 in Dec) and we’ve found we really enjoy the Chef’s Table. They have a new menu every three days. We found that if flexible (early seating for us) you can get a reservation while onboard. You can probably get one reservation now—I would try. Manfredi’s is great and highly recommended too, but we find the Chefs Table always an unusual and excellent meal. Enjoy!!

Thanks for stopping by. I’m confident that you will enjoy your Viking cruise and their health & safety protocols are there to keep you safe.

While we have not personally enjoyed Viking’s Northern Lights cruise, we’ve had many clients on the cruise and they’ve all reported positive things.

With regard to Manfredi’s, when you get on the ship, as the concierge to get you booked. With the ships being at 50% capacity, it’s likely not to be a problem.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope all is well with you and Susie. Thanks for sharing your two cents about the dining options on Viking. And thanks for being great clients and friends. 🙂

I booked an Alaska cruise in 2020 for June 2022. I was sent an itinerary and a “Risk-free Guarantee”. I called viking in Feb 2022, 104 days before sailing. Due to circumstances, I needed to cancel the booking. I was told that I would receive either a voucher good on another cruise or a 20% penalty. I would be unable to use the voucher and had to accept the penalty.

The cancelation penalty was NEVER mentioned by the agent during booking.

This is theft by viking cruise line.

If you wanted to cancel with cash-back at 104-days prior to sailing, there would be a 20% penalty. However, their risk-free booking would have allowed you to rebook a new cruise using a future cruise voucher without any penalty. I’m not sure what happened, but somehow there is misinformation here. I’m sorry to hear of this.

I love your review of Viking Cruise. We took an ocean cruise two years ago of the Mediterranean Odyssey and it was wonderful. You are correct the Osso Bucco is FANTASTIC. We are booked on a combo River/ocean cruise in May and we are very excited about our trip!!!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Reginald. Have fun on your cruise, and if we can help you with your next booking, just let us know.

Interesting review! We just returned from the southern Atlantic journey and had to spend for good reason ten days on deck three!!! The tv entertainment was below any international standard and a new viking booking from europe is not possible.

Thank you for the comprehensive review. We have taken 2 Viking River cruises and had booked a 3rd for 2020. We used the voucher for a 2022 Ocean cruise on Sky that leaves in a month. We are looking forward to getting into Mafredi’s as much as possible.

We did have 1 BIG problem. After waiting and and planning for 2 years, just days before the excursions opened for us to book they ALL started showing as Sold Out. Once we could book, well over half were already full. Almost everything we wanted to do was gone. We called Viking several times and all they said was “just keep checking back to see if anything opens up”. No waitlist, no offers to accommodate our requests. NO customer service from Customer Service. Deluxe Veranda rooms are not cheap but Viking makes it clear the higher your room class the greater you chance of getting served. I feel bad for anyone in a lower tier room. They get no excursion options in some ports. We are looking forward to our trip but unless Viking fixes this issue I doubt we will do a 4th.

I am sorry to hear of your frustration w/ Viking’s shore excursions. We didn’t hear of these issues before Covid, so I suspect the support system for shore excursions isn’t yet in full swing with the required ground personnel. I will pass your comments along to Viking’s Sr. Executives.

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Viking Voyages

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Viking Voyages - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

Review: What It’s REALLY Like Aboard Viking River Cruises

viking voyages reviews

Viking River Cruises Review

Recently, I sailed on my first Viking River Cruise up the Rhine River to explore Switzerland , Germany , France and The Netherlands on their classic ‘Rhine Getaway’ river cruise.

The entire trip was calm and relaxing and I felt like it struck the perfect balance of sightseeing and leisure!

I’ve taken several European river cruises cruises with family before and immediately knew my mom would love the smaller atmosphere, quaint towns and relaxing vibe, so I brought her along for the trip!

I know river cruising is not for everyone so if you’re curious about Viking specifically or more generally wondering what there is to see and do along the Rhine River, I thought I’d recap our trip to show you the highlights.

I would recommend this trip if you enjoy small colorful towns, World War II history and good food.

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Keep reading below for a complete review of what cruising with Viking is like!

Or quickly jump to:

  • Rhine River Itinerary
  • River Cruises vs Ocean Cruises
  • Best European River Cruises
  • Pre-Trip Experience
  • Should You Book Flights Through Viking
  • On Board Experience
  • Viking Ship
  • Included Tours

Rhine Getaway Itinerary

We started in Basel, Switzerland (up north on the Rhine River) and ended at Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

Viking also offers the same route in reverse , from Amsterdam to Basel so you can pick either option. For a couple stops on the journey, boats running in opposite cities are docked together.

We had a wonderful time and especially loved how organized the entire Viking journey was, from pre-departure to on-board, everything was seamless.

Also unlike many other cruises or guided tours, almost everything was included , which made it feel like a truly relaxing vacation.

Here’s a snapshot of our 7-day itinerary and what we got up to each day!

Day 1: Arrive in Basel, Switzerland

viking voyages reviews

We arrived in the small, quaint town of Basel after our international flight.

This was the general arrival / travel date so we expected to just check in and relax but discovered that Viking organized a guided walking tour of the town. That was a nice surprise!

There’s also the option to arrive a couple days early and/or stay a couple days late. If you are thinking of this, here’s a quick guide to the best hotels in Basel  to help with accommodation.

Basel is an underrated tourist attraction and the third largest city in Switzerland. The town has a gorgeous Medieval center and plenty of world-class art museums.

There’s a reason Art Basel is held here!

We checked out the Romanesque cathedral, took endless pictures of the colorful medieval buildings and headed back to our ship to relax and meet everyone for cocktails and dinner. A great first day!

Day 2: Germany’s Black Forest & Colmar, France

viking voyages reviews

On our second day, we sailed northward to dock at Breisach, Germany .

In the morning, we learned how to make cuckoo-clocks, put together Black Forest cake and walked a bit throughout the Black Forest.

The wooded mountain range is the site of many local legends and populated all over with black fir trees. If you like hiking, the mountains are wonderful!

In the afternoon, we signed up for an optional tour to Colmar .

Located in the Alsace Lorraine region, the town is part of France but throughout much of history, changed hands between Germany and France.

You’ll find lots of German and French spoken as a result!

I highly recommend visiting this quaint medieval town. Every street looks perfectly preserved and it’s quite colorful. We wandered mostly on our own, ducking into gelato shops and chocolate stores while enjoying the colorful, medieval feel.

Day 3: Strasbourg, France

viking voyages reviews

If you skip the optional to Colmar, no worries!

Strasbourg is its larger cousin and also located in Alsace, France .

We had a wonderful guide for this day who guided us throughout the small canals, pointing out colorful streets and letting us know about Strasbourg’s tangled history in the hands of Germany and France.

Strasbourg occupies a strategic position on the Rhine River and is the ninth largest city in France.

It’s home to many European councils and organizations, like the European Court of Human Rights (a building built like a ship) and the Council of Europe.

For the most part, we stuck to the Old Medieval Town but drove through the modern section. Highly recommend a visit to the Cathedral!

Day 4: Heidelberg, Germany

viking voyages reviews

Heidelberg is a university town with a energetic, small town feel.

In the morning, we visited Heidelberg Castle, which perhaps should be called a ruined fortress, as much of it was destroyed by lightening, fires and war.

The ruins and castle are built high above the city and the observation terrace is well worth a look!

Meanwhile, the city was almost entirely spared from bomb attacks during World War II and it’s narrow streets and baroque charm remain largely intact.

We explored Heidelberg’s Old Town (Altstadt) by walking along the main shopping street Hauptstrasse. This is actually the longest shopping street in Europe!

For the most part, I spotted large chain stores & restaurants.

I actually recommend skipping this street to explore the quaint alleyways and backstreets instead. Much more picturesque!

Day 5: Rhine River Castles & Koblenz, Germany

viking voyages reviews

By day 5, we had reached the middle Rhine!

We spent our morning above deck watching the gorgeous small German towns and castles along both sides of the Rhine River. Our Viking program director gave a guided audio tour along the way, pointing out castles left and right.

Many of them are situated high above local towns and we saw lots of German camper vans parked at the base.

I recommend bringing a pair of binoculars for this part, as some of the castles can be set a bit farther away and the detail through a zoom is incredible.

By afternoon, we reached Koblenz, a city set at the mouth of two rivers.

We explored Marksburg Castle and wandered a bit on our own after. This was another ruined fortress high above the river.

Interesting history, but definitely wear good shoes ! The entire castle is unpaved, rocky and entirely uneven.

Note – a couple others from the cruise did the optional dinner excursion on this day and raved about it.

Day 6: Cologne, Germany

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During the Holy Roman Empire, Cologne was the largest medieval town in Europe. Naturally, it’s Gothic cathedral is the hallmark draw!

The nice thing about this stop is the ship can dock right into town, so you can join the tour or explore on your own.

We explored the Kölner Dom’s interior and were suitably awed.

If you want a great view, Viking offers an optional tour that takes you all the way to the very top! I had already been to Cologne on a previous trip so instead, we opted for a palace excursion.

I *love* an over the top, beautifully decorated mansion and have a whole series dedicated to them here .

We visited Augustusburg Castle, one of two gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage site classified as Bruhl Palaces.

The castle was once home to the prince-archbishops of Cologne and is decked out in gold, marble and all-around extravagance. I particularly liked the massive entryway staircase which was gilded and made my mouth drop open when we turned the corner.

Highly recommend this day trip if you love castles half as much as I do!

The interiors were really unique and the guided tour was excellent.

After the main palace, we did a quick tour of the hunting lodge as well, which was just as stunning. This is one stop I definitely wished we had more time in!

Day 7: Kinderdijk, The Netherlands

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Kinderdijk is home to the Netherlands’ famous windmills .

I’ll admit I didn’t know too much about the country outside of Amsterdam and our guide was quite helpful to explain the history of the nation and the purpose of its many windmills. 

Much of the Netherlands would sink, were it not for windmills to pump away water.

We even got to tour inside the home of a windmill keeper (see photos of a windmill  interior here!). What I didn’t realize was that windmill caretakers actually lived inside them with their families!

I thought the interiors were particularly interesting and our guide mentioned that some Dutch families managed to fit 13 children inside.

They’re quite small so I noticed lots of hooks for hanging, curved bunk-bed type rooms and lots of stair ladders. The Dutch windmill keepers also had a number of really unique boats which I took too many pictures of!

Fun fact: Kinderdijk is in the region of Holland in the nation of The Netherlands where the people speak Dutch .

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The Rhine Getaway Cruise

One thing I liked about sailing with Viking is how leisurely the day to day pace is.

There’s generally an opportunity to sight see in the morning and afternoon, with one included tour and one optional tour.

We chose to do 2 optionals and on the other days, relaxed on board or went into town to explore on our own! It was a well-balanced pace and I truly felt “on vacation”.

Here’s a recap of our daily itinerary with Viking:

viking voyages reviews

How River Cruises Differ vs. Ocean Cruises

Many of our stops were small European villages and medium sized cities, so we felt like we were able to see all the top sights without missing anything.

The best part? enjoying the comfort of a luxurious ship without worrying about transportation from town to town and only unpacking once .

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Small Ships

I think most of us are familiar with large ocean liners that sail to the Caribbean.

River cruises offer a very different experience – they’re much smaller ships, typically seating only 150-200 passengers.

The Viking Hlin ship that I was on had about 150 passengers and approximately 60 crew members, for reference.

No Seasickness

In general rivers are much calmer than the open seas and you won’t have to worry about rough seasickness.

We did a fun tour of the wheelhouse and learned from the Captain that Viking ships utilize four propellers instead of a traditional rudder.

Because of this, they have the flexibility to turn each propeller a full 360 degrees for precision and smooth sailing so you shouldn’t experience any seasickness on board.

viking voyages reviews

More About the Sights, Not On Board Entertainment

River cruising is a much more intimate experience, with unreserved seating at meal times so you get to mix and mingle with almost everyone on board by the end (if you want!).

There’s less on-board entertainment (no nightclubs or casinos on board) but each evening people congregated in the lounge by the bar and Viking had an on-board pianist. 

A couple nights during the week, Viking hosted either singers, dancers or local activities.

My favorite was the glass blowing demonstration by a glass master from Germany! He was quite an artist and had different glassblowing techniques than what I saw when I went to Venice .

Easier Disembarkation

T he number one reason why I like river cruises so much is because you get to see many small towns and sights in a leisurely fashion.

Depending on your journey, you stop in a new town every day or so and can get on and off the ship easily and on your own pace, without queuing for hours!

When I went on my cruise to Cuba , we received a group number each evening for the next day’s stop. That was a medium sized ship (roughly 500-1,000 passengers) and disembarking into town took about 2 hours, so depending on which group you were in.

I’m pretty impatient and hated the long lines. Everyone still has to be back on board at the same time, so for certain port stops, you would get much less time in town if you were part of the last disembarkation group.

viking voyages reviews

Which is the Best European River Cruise?

I wouldn’t say there’s a “best” European cruise per se, but there are a couple main rivers in Europe that offer river cruise experiences. The most popular are the Rhine River, the Elba and the Danube.

  • The Rhine River runs from the Swiss Alps through the Franco-German border and empties into the North Sea up in the Netherlands. This is the route we took.
  • The Elba River   is a major Central European river and predominantly flows through Germany and the Czech Republic. A small bit flows through Austria and Poland.
  • The Danube River is quite long, flowing through 10 countries through Central and Eastern Europe. It starts in Germany and flows along the borders of Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraine before emptying into the Black Sea. I did this route years ago with family and loved it because I felt like I saw so much of Eastern Europe in one go. Lots of quaint, small towns perfect for a quick afternoon visit!

Viking Cruises Review

Our Rhine Getaway hit a couple towns throughout Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands in one convenient week.

Plus it had the added bonus of only unpacking once!

You can see the route we took in the Rhine River cruise map below.

viking voyages reviews

Flights & Our Pre-Trip Experience

Once you book your Viking river cruise, the fun part is checking out the daily itinerary and browsing the optional excursions!

I was really impressed with Viking’s interactive website called My Viking Journey .

They have a handy map to show the journey along the Rhine River and make it easy to see what your options are each day. If you happen to pick an optional that conflicts with an included tour or a different optional tour, the website lets you know immediately.

Should You Book Airfare Through Viking?

Viking also offers airfare. 

We set a  fare alert and browsed for flights on our own, and after comparing it to the Viking customer service rep, found that they were able to get us a better deal. I was pretty amazed actually!

So I recommend booking airfare through Viking (after doing a price comparison on your own, of course).  It seems the company has relationships with partner airlines and is able to typically find flights cheaper than you can do on your own.

Another advantage to booking airfare through Viking is they also include round trip transfers.

We found this really handy after long travel days. For the arrival, our bus picked us up at the airport in Basel and left straightaway, which we really appreciated!

(Sometimes group tours will wait for the entire 50 passenger bus to fill up, which means you can get off a long trans-Atlantic flight and sit around for 90 minutes waiting for additional flights to land.)

On our departure, we had a very early flight so they arranged a cab direct to the airport – everything is totally taken care of!

Our On-board Experience on Viking’s Hlin Ship

viking voyages reviews

We sailed aboard the Viking Hlin.

All of Viking’s fleet are individually named after different Nordic Gods and Goddesses and while many of the river cruise ships are similar or even identical, the small touches and art are unique.

Each ship has a giant painting of the Nordic god at the top of the main staircase, dedicated to the deity it’s named after.

Having sailed on a couple other river cruises, I loved how distinctively luxurious the Viking ship and rooms were.

Veranda Room Tour

viking voyages reviews

Our Veranda stateroom was spacious, bright and airy with minimalist Nordic furniture and a cozy balcony. 

The ships are well designed to really maximize space and cabins feature a giant closet and tons of drawers to put away your clothes, should you wish to fully unpack.

Most river cruises are quite cozy and I typically keep my clothes in packing cubes … this was the first time I’ve fully unpacked!

There’s also a flat screen TV to listen to the daily on-boarding speech (if you don’t want to leave the comfort of your room) or to check the weather, watch TV, etc.

Our cabin had plenty of outlets, both European and American, so I could easily keep all my electronics charged.

On Board Amenities

My favorite part of our floor was the coffee & espresso bar to grab pastries and java any time of day. I helped myself to endless madeleines and double dark chocolate muffins.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention – Viking includes wifi on-board  free of charge. 

I thought that was such a nice touch given that I’m addicted to my phone. Internet service is a slower than usual, as it’s satellite service on the river and therefore inherently slower.

If you’ve cruised before you’ll appreciate this luxury! All other cruise lines charge exorbitant internet fees and still have slow service.

The Viking Ship

Our room was kept immaculately clean and always stocked with fresh fruit and water, thanks to a diligent cleaning staff. I’m a bit of a germaphobe and really felt at home on board.

The entire ship is airy and light-filled and despite it being a small river ship, it feels more spacious and open than some large cruise ships.

Above on the sun deck, they even have a small herb garden to season meals freshly.

In contrast, I once stayed on a ship where you had to step up into the bathroom and when the door was open, half the cabin space was used up – naturally, half the time I forgot the step existed and face planted.

Viking cabins have a pocket door so that the cabins feel spacious with glass door showers and fully openable doors that tightly seal, so water doesn’t get everywhere.

I did a cabin tour on my Instagram stories during the trip ( @shershegoes ) and got tons of messages that people were surprised how spacious and luxurious the cabins were!

Viking also clearly pays attention to the small details .

They design everything with care:

  • heated bathroom floors
  • angling the hallways to maximize cabin space
  • large-flip cap toiletries that don’t leave you struggling to open them (vs screw offs)
  • high quality European fixtures
  • leather staircase railings

…just some small details I noticed, but I could go on endlessly!

It’s really clear on-board that Viking don’t skimp out on customer service and they all added up to make a seamless vacation.

viking voyages reviews

Meals & Dining

All three meals are included on-board.

You have the choice to take meals either in the formal dining room or upstairs in the more casual Aquavit restaurant. We have nothing but great things to say about the meals!

Outdoor or Indoor Options

If you like to socialize and want a formal 3-course menu dinner, try the formal dining room on the main floor. 

If you want more relaxed, casual food with perhaps a table for just 2, the Aquavit upstairs is a great alternative. We had lunch a couple times there and it’s quite nice to see the river views and sit outside.

Local Cuisine

Viking also makes a effort to include local cuisine.

One night we had an Austrian / German night, with local specialties like sauerkraut, sausages, pretzels, schnitzel and plenty of German beer. 

It was a themed night, where the dining room transformed into checkered tablecloths, the staff put on their lederhosen and mini kegs were emptied!

Wine Included

Wines are included during dinner times, which I personally haven’t seen on any other cruise!

There’s also the option to purchase a Silver Spirits drink package if you wish to indulge in wine, beer and/or soft drinks before or after dinner.

viking voyages reviews

Viking’s Included Walking Tours

Each day, there’s an included guided walking tour.

All the local guides were quite knowledgeable and Viking provides headsets so you can clearly hear. There’s even a designated group for those who wish to tour at a slower pace.

What I really liked was that there’s no pressure to stay with the tour. You’re free to start with the tour and slip away if you find a restaurant you like or somewhere you want to linger (although it’s nice to let the guide know so they don’t wait for you).

They really encourage you to make the most of your trip.

And that’s it! Are you headed on a river cruise?

Let me know if you have any questions about our Rhine Getaway with Viking River Cruises in the comments below.

European River Cruise – Trip Planning Checklist

We opted to extend our stay in Europe after the cruise. Viking offers both pre and post extensions, which are a fun way to see more of Europe and combine the best of both worlds (guided group tours with individual trips).

For our flights, we took advantage of Viking’s flight booking service. We set fare alerts and browsed for flights on our own, and after comparing it to the Viking customer service rep, found that they were able to get us a better deal.

Be sure to get travel insurance   for your river cruise. River cruises are highly dependent on local water levels, and abnormally low water can negatively impact your trip by forcing the boat to re-route.

In recent years, the Elba river has occasionally suffered from extreme low water levels – perhaps due to global warming? In any case, don’t end up disappointed – travel insurance will help when you need it most. Get a  quote for your trip here .

Cruising Articles

Cruising on the Seine River from Paris to Normandy

Lobsters & Lighthouses: Sailing on a Maine Windjammer

Europe Travel Articles

1 Day in Basel:  Switzerland’s Most Underrated City!

Colmar, France: Is this Beauty in the Beast Town Real?

Everything to See & Do in Heidelberg, Germany

German Castles: A Photo Diary of Castles on the Rhine River

Fun Day Trips from Amsterdam: Visiting A Dutch Windmill Home

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Those photos are just perfect! They made me want to travel Europe more. Thanks for sharing such an informative post! :)

This looks so amazing. Your pictures are absolutely stunning. Such a great informative post.

Thanks Lynzy!

I have never been on a river cruise abroad. I am not sure that the tour that we did on the Ohio river would count as a cruise lol! I would like to visit here. All of your photos make me really want to plan a trip.

Wow, amazing indeed! I have to add this to my bucket list of places to visit! Your pictures are Stunning!!

The itinerary for this trip is near perfect. I think I’d enjoy every single thing planned. I especially like what’s scheduled on the third day.

Strasbourg is definitely a highlight! Supposedly the university is fantastic and has affordable tuition, i might just apply!

These photos make me want to head out on a cruise right now. I love the exotic feel of the settings in these photos and the breathtaking views. Someday I will get it together enough to visit.

Hey Melissa, glad you like the itinerary/photos! Hope you get to experience it soon :)

I was sooooooo excited to read your article! I have wanted to go on a Viking River Cruise for awhile now. Thanks so much for the helpful information.

It was my first Viking River Cruise and I totally loved it (as you can tell from the post) Let me know if you have any questions and I hope you sail with them soon!

Oh that looks amazing and your photography is beautiful. I would really love to do one of these holidays but with 6 children i worry about all the water! lol

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This sounds much better than I expected! Some family members have been trying to get me to do one of these. Thanks for sharing!

This was an excellent review! I’ve always wondered about Viking River Cruises and have strayed away from them because I just had never heard much about them. I love cruising on the big ships though, so I’m sure I would love a river cruise as well!

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Hey! Thank you so much for the detailed information about your cruise. I am actually headed on this cruise in a week and I’m very excited.

Ah you’ll love it!! Have fun :)

Im obsessed with this blog! My fiancé and I are taking our honeymoon early and heading on the Rhine Getaway in 2 weeks. Is there and particular must dos in the other places where you don’t have the more thorough blog posts? Also do you have any more pictures of the verandah room, as that is the room type we will be in, and of the ship itself? What was the weather like? Are there specific things we should be packing as far as clothes or anything else?

Hi Alyssa, ooh have fun! Hm I think Viking’s included tours do a great job of showing you the main highlights in each town, while giving you some free time to explore or have lunch in town if you wish.

I did the optional tour to Augustusberg palace which I really enjoyed, its on the Cologne day. Just a gorgeous, unique palace and hunting lodge. There’s also an optional to see the top of Cologne’s cathedral which other people on the ship liked. And then one night there’s a fancy dinner in a palace – I didn’t sign up for it but almost regretted it bc it got rave reviews from those who did! I think its the same night as the German dinner night on board so whatever you pick you’ll have a fabulous dinner. Definitely recommend the Colmar optional, which I have the post about. If you havent been to Amsterdam before you might want to stay longer after.

We went in early May and it rained a bit and was pretty cold. Viking has huge umbrellas, which was a nice touch bc I forgot to bring mine. Other than that nothing specific to pack – its pretty casual. It’s summer now so I’m sure the weather will be much better for you!

You’ll love the rooms! I was so impressed with how comfortable they were given that its a river cruise and the ship is small. My pictures of our room didn’t come out so nice because my stuff was sprawled everywhere ha.. but we had a veranda room as well! Loved the balcony. All the bathrooms have heated floors which I loved and now want to install in my bathroom. I snuck a peek at the suites which have a separate living room area and look really really nice. I’ve also never seen a more diligent cleaning staff!!

We sailed on the Hlin ship, which I think they said was 8 years old, but looked almost brand new to me. Viking takes amazing care of their river ships! I chatted to the staff one day and they spend the winter season breaking everything down, cleaning and doing engineering things to keep it in great shape.

Oh! Do the roundhouse mini tour where you get to see the caption’s… office thing on the roof. He tells you how the ship steers and has some fun facts about the mechanics. I always find that kind of stuff interesting (how things work, how they became ships captain etc). If I remember correctly its something you can sign up for on one of the slow days when we’re cruising. Only if you’re interested, its not an official tour or anything!

Oh and bring binoculars if you have them! It’ll come in handy the morning where we saw the german forts on the Rhine. I brought a gigantic zoom lens to take those photos, the castles are high up on hills while the ship sails in the middle of the Rhine. Feel tree to shoot me any more questions and I’ll do my best to answer :)

Can’t say enough great things about Viking and I’m already dreaming about doing another with them!

Thanks! Any chance you have a list or something of the times you were in and out of each port? I’d love to know how long we get to stay each place

No. You can try checking the viking journey site for more info. It was generally around a 1 hr tour and maybe an 30min – hour of free time

But like the whole day how early could you get off the ship and how late could you start in port before you had to be back on? I can’t find that information anywhere.

It depends on when the ship gets into town and if it’s departing for a different town that evening or docking overnight.

Do you remember which ports you were docked at overnight?

Don’t remember off the top of my head but check your My Viking Journey portal! Lots of helpful info there :)

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We did the Viking Paris to Normandy cruise in September of 2016. It was wonderful. We’re booking the Rhine Getaway today for September of next year. Thanks so much for all the helpful information!!

Did you fly nonstop to Basel or make a connection? I’ve bookmarked this page as I will be doing the same cruise next summer. :)

Hey Tiffany – I had a connection in Europe. I do recommend checking out flight pricing with Viking – they surprised me with cheaper airfare than I could find on my own and they also took care of the transfers. You can just ask them what the flight price will be before committing and do a little comparison check with google flights. Enjoy your trip, its a fab river cruise experience :)

Loved your post. I’m thinking of going next April. I have two questions: what are the temperatures like and is there a fitness or exercise room on board? It sound silly, but with all that eating I’ll want to do something to keep the weight off.

Hi Bonnie – I went in mid May and it was still chilly..anywhere from 40-60 degrees. This year I remember being surprised, because we had a very late spring season so it’s hard to say what 2018 will be like! It rained a couple times in the first 2 days of the trip, and I forgot to pack my umbrella, but luckily Viking has some HUGE umbrellas on board for guests to borrow. I know for me personally, even though it can be colder I prefer traveling to Europe in April/May before the crowds hit.

River cruise ships are small so there’s usually no room on board for a dedicated fitness room. That said on the roof of the ship, they have a track loop so some runners used that to their advantage. I think it was 13 laps on the roof deck equaled 1 mile and I only remember that because my mom kept up with her daily mile runs ha. On Viking’s ocean cruises, those ships are bigger and I believe Viking has both a fitness room and a pool on ocean routes.

All of the included daily tours are walking tours, so you do walk some of it off although I agree with you – it’s hard to restrict yourself on vacation and there can be some longer bus rides where you just sit and sit! Have a fabulous trip and let me know if you have any other questions

Hi, My name is Sunny Fletcher, I really enjoyed your write up and it was super inspiring! My boyfriend and I loved this particular itinerary but did not see it on the viking site when we searched for this particular 7 day cruise. Do you have any other cruise lines you could suggest? Also what is the predominate age group on these cruises. We are in our 40’s would we feel out of place? Thanks for your help.

Sunny Fletcher

Hi Sunny! So glad you liked it. I would say you would be more in place than I was on the trip ha! Im in my 20s and went with my mom. The crowd has a good mix of age groups, predominantly 40+ to retirees and I would say Viking is a more active program than other river cruises. I do a lot of tours with my family so I guess I’m maybe more used to being the odd one out, but I don’t mind as long as the itinerary is good!

Here is the cruise we took, it’s called their Rhine Getaway route. I heard that they also offer the same route during the holiday season, when Christmas markets are open so you might like that idea too.

https://www.vikingrivercruises.com/cruise-destinations/europe/rhine-getaway/2017-amsterdam-basel/index.html

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Enjoyed your piece on the Viking Rhine Getaway. We’re likely going to book it for May 2018. With both artificial hips, spine issues, etc., I don’t walk so well, or far, anymore. My wife is fine, can walk forever. With my cane I can do probably a mile before a rest. I’m wondering about the shore excursions, many of which are “walking tours”. Will I be able to do them? If not, what are the options? Many thanks, Jerry

Hi Jerry! I think you would love the cruise and will try to provide my perspective.

All the included excursions are walking tours but some cities involve a bus to get to the town first while other cities viking can dock right in town so the actual walking part is not necessarily that strenuous. Cities like Colmar and Basel have compact Old Towns so the walking is quite short, but Marksburg Castle was very uneven inside (lots of cobblestone old steps) that I even found that shaky.

Regardless i would say that Viking is very accommodating.

There was a man on our tour who was blind and used a cane and he did all of the walking tours. Sometimes the guide gave him a hand. For some towns, Viking offered bicycle tuk tuks or cabs to drive passengers right to the town center. I felt the tours were quite leisurely paced and if at any time you don’t want to continue, you can leave the group to explore at your own pace or do your own thing altogether.

Many thanks for your reassuring reply. Most likely I’ll be fine. I wonder if Uber is available along the Rhine River route?

A couple more questions. I’m trying to do a little research on flights in and out. We’ll probably book through Viking, but I’d like to see what the options are regarding connections, etc. Do you remember what the required times were to get aboard the ship, and to leave at the end? Should we plan to arrive a day before departure?

Hm not sure about Uber. Lots of European countries ban it so I wouldn’t count on it, but there are regular cabs and the bike tuk tuks. Plus viking’s bus coaches.

You can arrive early or stay later but I flew in the day of departure. If I remember right, the boat sets sail in early evening so arriving the day of in the morning is fine. If you want to explore more of town, then I would stay extra.

We did the Basel > Amsterdam route. Basel is very small and I felt like we saw enough on the day of. If you arrive in the AM, Viking is nice and provides a complimentary informal walking tour of the old town! Lots of people extended their stay in Amsterdam since you don’f actually see that city during the itinerary.

I don’t remember the exact time you should leave, because we flew to Copenhagen on a very early flight. I think maybe they ask you to leave by early afternoon? So they have time to clean the boat before the next sailing route. Hope that helps!

Sadly Viking no longer provides this walking tour of Basel on the day of arrival. I checked with them A few days ago prior to our departure today and Viking said that the walking tour was no longer available. Very disappointed!

aw that sucks. i guess a lot has changed with covid. you’ll still have a great time i hope!

Hi,I have taken two Viking trips, the Danube Waltz two years ago and the Balzel to Amsterdam last year, I can’t say enough about how wonderful the trips themselves were, however, the air fair provided was another story. I understand it is offered free, BUT, when you are stuck in the last row in the plane, get told this is the only food option that is left and sorry there is NO WATER AVAILABLE, it made for a very long ride home from France with a man in front of us who had definitely not showered in a while.

Hey Dolores – sorry to hear you had a bad flight! To be honest I hate the entire flying experience and never have a great flight! I don’t think Viking has anything to do with the airline (ours wasn’t free) and we had a couple options for flight options/ seats etc

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Nice read. Quick question what is Vikings policy to bringing your own alcohol drinks on board. It sounds like it would be nice to sit on the room balcony with a bottle of wine.

Hi Ron – sorry for the delayed response, I think I missed seeing this! Yes, you can definitely sit on your room balcony and enjoy your own bottle of wine. Just so you know, all wine is included during meal times as well. I’m not a huge drinker but spent lots of mornings enjoying my coffee on the balcony.. it was so relaxing! :)

HELLO, we are taking the Rhine River cruise in late Oct. I know no one can accurately forecast the weather,wondering what kind of jacket/coat should I pack. Also, will the christmas markets be open?

Hi Lynda, I would think it’d be pretty cold. Usually October in central Europe is ~50s during the day and as low as ~40s around night time. I would probably pack jeans/long pants, light sweaters and either a wool coat like this http://bit.ly/2vz4X6w or if you’re wearing layers, a windbreaker like this one: http://bit.ly/2wz0plj .

Unfortunately the Christmas markets don’t open until late November but I would think October would be a beautiful time to see fall folliage along the river? Autumn is my favorite season so I’m sure it will be even more magical in Europe. Have a great trip!

Thanks for the great review. I’m taking this trip in April 2018 but in reverse. This answered many of my questions. Thanks for all the great details. I can’t wait.

Lots of helpful info there! Someone just told me that she had been on 3 river cruises — I think all Viking — and that you had to leave the ship around 7:30 a.m. if you wanted to join the walking tour. I’ve never heard anyone else mention such an early start. Did you experience this on your trip?

Hm.. I think I got up by 7:30am but I don’t think we left the ship quite that early. I want to stay it was about ~7:30am breakfast, leave by 8:30-9am. There are generally 2 time slots for tours per day, one in the morning and one after lunch – you can do both or just do one. Usually everyone does the morning one and if you book an optional tour, that would be your afternoon option.

FTo be honest, every land group tour that I’ve been on and when I travel personally, I get up very early to see as much as possible so I felt like Viking was nice and a “slower pace”. One lady at dinner mentioned she thought the times were early for her, so I guess it depends on your personal travel style!

Once you book a tour, Viking has a section of their website called “my viking journey” where you can see the optional tours offered and it makes it very easy to see the tour times so that you don’t double book yourself. Hope that helps!

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If the intinerary shows a tour for morning or morning and afternoon does that mean they leave after the tour or do they stay till evening so you can mull around?

Hi Margie – it depends! If the ship is staying in town and not sailing onward, you can stay out on your own after the tour, have lunch in town instead of on the ship, wander etc. For example, I think in Strasbourg some of us did this. Also in Cologne we docked overnight so you could hang out all night until the early AM if you wanted!

If you decide you’ve seen enough when the tour ends, then you can take advantage of the included shuttle bus to take you back to the ship.

Sometimes, the ship sails onward or if it’s an optional tour it might be a town far away from the dock, so it’s expected that you’ll go with the group. For example, the Colmar optional tour which I took takes you to Colmar (which is not close to the dock) so you wouldn’t want to linger. Hope that helps!

I love the idea of a river tour, especially the unpacking bit. ;) How was the social situation on board? Were the other guests mostly much older? I think that’s what’s holding me back on trying it myself. I don’t want to be the only 30-something on a ship full of seniors. :\

Hi Melissa! Ha yes the unpacking part and luxurious room were too good to pass up. Hm.. it’s definitely an older crowd, most people in their late 40s – 50s if I had to guess their ages. Some retirees as well. But, I do lots of group tours with my family and I would say its more of the “active” older / retired crowd vs those who just like to be shuttled from place to place.

There were some 30 something couples on board and at dinner you can either eat solo or mingle, so it just depends on what you prefer. If you prefer a really social atmosphere, European hostels are the best bet or I’ve had friends who went solo and joined something like a G Adventures tour for the social atmosphere.

Would you be going solo?

Because cabins are usually meant for 2 people, river cruises in general tend to charge a single supplement fee (I think Viking does, but I’m not certain).

Sher, My husband and I are traveling next June on Viking River Cruise Paris to Swiss Alps. I was wondering if you would suggest we bring binoculars and a camera with a zoom lens to see and get good pics from the river itself. Also wondering if you know how flexible they are regarding problems clients have with food issues? I was glad to hear that if the pace of the tour was too fast or slow that you could break away from the group, however are cabs fairly easy to find if you find yourself needing to return to the boat? Do you suggest a particular app for your phone to translate? Also wondering about carrying cash or credit cards for excursions, should we have both or did you find one better than the other? Thanks I know that’s a lot of questions!

Hi Colleen,

Ooh Paris! Sounds like a good itinerary.

1) I’m a bit of a photo fanatic so I was very glad I brought my zoom lens. I think my mom would have appreciated binoculars, especially since she has poor vision. You can definitely see the castles from the naked eye on the boat, but if you want to see detail binoculars are helpful. Did you check out my German castles post? All those photos were shot with a 70-200mm lens (mostly at the 200mm mark) so as an example, you won’t see the individual castle windows or small town churches like in those photos without a zoom or binoculars. I mentioned it in the post because I didn’t bring binoculars on a safari trip to Africa and while I could see the animals just fine, a kind man lent me his for a day and it was such a better view! ha. So just personal preference.

2. Hm, I don’t personally have any dietary restrictions so I’m not sure. For dinner, there are always several options to choose from, including a vegetarian one. I *think* they have options for gluten free but I’m not 100% sure – you can try using the chat bot on the viking website or calling a customer service rep to make sure.

The waiters and all the staff are exceptionally friendly / helpful and can make menu substitutions if you don’t like anything or are allergic. I remember they had ipads during dinner service to jot notes & things. They also have excellent memories! If you wanted two appetizers or ahem, two desserts (like I sometimes did), they’re very generous with that, it’s not an issue. Or if you wanted appetizers instead of mains, that sort of thing is easy for them to accommodate.

3. I think cabs would be easy to find. I didn’t do the exact route you’re mentioning so some cities would be different, but in general I find that the stops were small European towns so it’s easy to wander and find your way back to the main square. Even Paris is not so big a city :)

Usually at the front desk, they will have maps of the city so ask for one of those before you disembark and if you want to explore on your own, then you can use the map. Also a tip is to download the offline Google Maps for each city you’ll be visiting. I always do that before I travel! I’m a big walker so with the offline map downloaded, you can navigate yourself back to the main square or the dock. And of course if you get cell service using something like Know Roaming (which I’ve reviewed on my blog briefly here ) then you can get cell service too for emergencies.

Viking uses these headphone systems which are pretty good and they split the passengers into smaller groups, so if you see yourself wanting to explore more of the city just let the guide know you’re leaving the group and you can find out about local cabs or meeting points, etc. Every evening, they leave a pamphlet in your cabin so you can get a sense of what you’ll be visiting the next day.

4. I use google translate on my phone for translation but I think you do need cell service for it to work. In general everyone in Europe speaks excellent English :)

5. I rarely bring cash to be honest, I bring a couple credit cards which carry no foreign fees and I bring my debit card for the atm / emergencies. I’m also not a shopper / I don’t buy souvenirs anymore but if you like to shop, cash is helpful for small things like street fairs, flea markets, christmas market stalls, food stalls. Do you have Chase bank? You can call ahead and ask your local branch, mine in NYC can exchange euros same day, so if you want to bring like 100 – 200 euro just to be safe, you can try that. I’m sure other banks do it too.

For the optional tours, I would recommend booking those in advance. Some of the popular ones fill up. If you login to the “My Viking Journey” website it will show you, day by day, which tours are available and also will warn you if you’re booking overlapping tours or things that conflict. I found it quite handy! So since you book those ahead, you book them all on credit card.

In general I prefer credit cards because I get points and I find carrying cash /dealing with change a pain. But that’s just me!

Hope that helps – feel free to reach out if you have more questions.

I enjoyed your account of the river cruise and I’m curious as to how dressy or casual folks were. Do you have a packing list for this trip?

Thanks, Penny

Hi Penny! Glad you liked the article.

People were pretty casual (pants, jeans, cold weather jackets etc) but I also went in May when the weather was still pretty chilly. For dinner time, I believe they ask for closed toe shoes and no shorts, but there isn’t a requirement for jackets so it’s no where near formal.

I haven’t written a packing guide yet but have gotten a couple requests so I’ll add that to my list of posts to write!

What did you do at night?

We either went back into town, had drinks in the lounge or stayed in to watch Downton Abbey (LOL).

It’s generally pretty quiet at night since it’s a small ship vs. huge ocean liners.

We also loved our river cruise! We left from Amsterdam in August and finished in Budapest with the optional trip to Prague. One word of caution, while the glassblower’s demonstration was awesome, he has yet to send us any of the items we ordered and paid for. He said it would be 3 weeks…it is now about 5 months. After multiple emails to him (unanswered) and emails and phone calls to Viking we are giving up and disputing the charges on our card. I’ve seen other complaints on trip forums about him. I’m disappointed Viking still brings him on board!

Hi Nancy – glad to hear you liked the cruise as well! Wow, I had no idea about the glassblower. I’m wondering if it’s the same glassblower since the one on our trip didn’t have large items to ship, he brought lots of little items (candle holders, ornaments, figurines, vases, etc) that you purchased right there, they packaged up for you and then you took it with you right away.

I got one of the glass ornaments and hung it on my tree this past Christmas!

I’m so shocked to hear the glassblower you had didn’t ship promptly. Have you reached out to Viking customer service to file a claim and let them know? That’s very disappointing and you should dispute the charge if it’s been 5+ months and no package. Credit card companies are usually great about resolving that in your favor.

The glassblower was Karl Ittig. His business is Glas Haus Wertheim. We bought some shot glases from him on the ship and brought them home with us. The problem is with what we ordered. We ordered 2 ornaments that were to have names etched in them along with the year. We also ordered a set of his Jagermeister shot glasses for our son with his monogram etched on them. Our friends also ordered his salad dressing bottles. They also have received nothing. We have contacted Viking several times. They said they’d look into it but nothing happened. The last time they were the ones to say to dispute the claim. It’s disappointing that Viking does not seem to care that much. It makes us wonder if they get some kind of a kickback from the glassblower.

I just google searched his name and photos of him came up. He’s not the same glassblower who was on my river cruise (Viking has so many ships I’m sure they have many, many glassblowers that they partner with).

Viking probably does get a kickback. Pretty much every travel company or tour builds in visits to local businesses and in return they get a % of commissions, just like a shoe salesman at any dept store. If you ever go on a Chinese tour – man, those take the cake for how many shopping visits they can pack in, all because they get a commission! Same with hotel concierges – they usually recommend restaurants they get a kickback from. such is life!

It’s really unfortunate that you haven’t received the items and that he essentially stole your money. If you paid via credit card, you should definitely get your money back. In my experience, American credit card companies (is yours american?) have fantastic customer service and you can file a dispute online very easily.

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My husband and I are taking this river cruise next year for our 20th anniversary and I can’t wait. I really enjoyed reading your take on it and seeing all the pictures. Can you tell me where the above picture was taken with the yellow/cream colored building with all of the decorations and red hearts? It looks like a fun place to visit. Thank you, Michelle

Hi Michelle – have fun! It’s a great cruise. The yellow building with the hearts is in Colmar, France – possibly one of the cutest towns I’ve ever been to :)

We’re considering this same cruise (from Basel to Amsterdam). Curious to know, are there better views on one side of the ship than the other? We were thinking of getting a french balcony versus the veranda. Which did you have?

Hi Dawn! We didn’t feel like there were better views on one side or the other. Hm, I can’t remember the name of our room but we had a small narrow balcony with 2 chairs and a side table where we could drink coffee outside. It was nice to get fresh air and we sat on it once or twice during sailings. We also peeked into some suites and those looked HUGE!

I think the standard rooms are fine, since you don’t spend all that much inside.

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Hi! My mom and I are thinking going on the same Vikings tour as you and your mom, but we are doing the reverse route. :) It’s nice to see that some other young people go as well! My question for you is that my mom will be 74 by the time we take this cruise. She can’t walk very long distances without needing to sit and rest for a couple of minutes. Bad knees and back. It seems like your excursions had a lot of walking involved. Do you think, in your experience, she will have issues with the walking tours that are provided by Viking?

Thank you! Sarah

Hi Sarah – sounds fun! I think she could do it. There’s 1 walking tour per day in each city / stop. The walking tours are about 1 hour, give or take, but if you get tired or want to leave, there’s no problem with ditching the tour to go stop at a cafe or go shopping. The tours are optional too, so if you and your mom would prefer you can always just leave the ship on your own and come back when you wish, instead of doing the tour. It depends on the stop (sometimes the boat isn’t docked in the center of town so it’d be difficult in those instances, it just depends on the river / boat area).

From the top of my head – the Black Forest is very doable, Colmar is a very small town so we booked the optional tour but explored on our own, the windmills are within walking distance from the boat and you can go at your own pace. Cologne we docked right in town. I wouldn’t recommend Marksburg castle because it’s very old and entirely uneven cobblestones.

The Viking staff can help you arrange a taxi or bike peddler if you want to go into town in more comfort or come back early. Overall I felt like the cruise was very relaxing. Hope that helps!

Hi Sarah – One thing I forgot to mention in my comment. Each day for the included walking tours, there is a designated group for those who want to explore at a slower pace. I didn’t join those groups so I’m not sure exactly how they work but thought that group could be great for your mom!

Considering this same cruise in 2019. Is there a bar on the ship to have a drink after dinner? Does Viking allow you to bring your own liquor on board?

Hi Diana – yes there is a nice bar and big lounge area. If you buy your own bottle of wine or spirits in the town, you can definitely bring it on board. I saw people drinking on their balcony. I’m not sure if you can bring your own liquor to the bar area though.

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Loved the article. We just booked a Danube cruise so I’m excited and this is really helpful information. I can’t wait. It all sounds wonderful.

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Sher, Great Blog, thanks. You photos are sensational. How did you compensate for the movement of the boat? Were you using a tripod? What’s your preferred camera? (We leave in 2 weeks! so excited.)

Hi Kathy – thanks so much for the kind words! Do you mean the photos of the German castles? For the most part, I shot these photos on the day excursions into each town, so we were on foot and exploring. I do have a tripod ( this one ) but the boat moves slowly enough when it sails that you can still get handheld shots. All my gear is listed on my FAQ page here :)

Thank you! Very helpful??

Thank you so much for your detailed comments from your Viking Riverboat Cruise on the Rhine. My husband and I are taking the same trip in June 2018 and were extremely impressed by your suggestions. It was wonderful reading about someone else’s experiences and recommendations. Your photography is oustanding. We are looking forward to our trip even more thanks to you!

Thanks so much for the kind words Patricia! Have a great time on your trip :)

Hi thanks for all the info in your blog….sounds like we have signed up for the right cruise.

We are taking the Rhine Getaway in July as a 70th birthday celebration for my husband. We are landing in Basel a couple days early and planned to take a train for a day trip to Lucerne (about an hour ride). Wondering if you have any thoughts about things to see/do in Lucerne?

We also extended a couple days in Amsterdam…any specific must sees (we were thinking of the hop on and off bus or canal boat give us flavor of city and an easy way to get around), and know we want to see the Ice Bar.

Thanks again for all you info!!!

Wow sounds like a great birthday celebration! Lucerne is very pretty, we just took it easy and walked around.

I have a post on day trips from Amsterdam here . The city itself is very popular, a bit crowded, so try to go early for things like the Anne Frank Museum. Try a canal cruise too! Since you have more time, I really liked visiting the Hague and Bruges. The Hague has some stunning buildings like the International Court of Justice while Bruges is more small town / medieval, very picturesque. Have a great trip!

Quite a thorough review. Many of our questions were answered. We’ve not been to Germany before so we are curious and deciding between this river cruise or a land tour. It does sound like this would be a great first-time visit to upper Europe (We have been to Rome, Athens & Crete). I really would like to see the Alps too. We’d like to also see Lucerne(Cogwheel Train, Gondola) and Munich.

Hello, Thank-You for ALL the tips on River Cruising. My 89-year-old mother and myself are planning a 2019 Paris and the heart of Normandy in Early April. any recommendations or comments on that trip?

Great summary of the trip. We’re going on the Rhine cruise in November and can’t wait. Leaving from Miami to Basel. We’ve been in many cruises in large ships but this one will be a treat. Decided to go business class with Lufthansa and that will also be a treat. Thanks!

Hi John – glad you liked my recap! Ooh, business class on Lufthansa will be such a treat. Have a great time – I think you will like the more intimate atmosphere on a river cruise!

Planning a 25th Anniversary trip for my wife in 2020.

Really enjoyed reading about your experiences. Not sure yet what trip we want to take, but you make a great argument for the trip you described in this Rhine Getaway river cruise.

Thanks for the detail.

Sounds like an amazing anniversary trip! Have a great time Marty

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Hello Sher,

Most important we do everything right on this trip in Sept Getaway Rhine. Long story, but neither myself or my companion has had a vacation in over 13 years — and I feel as if I’m planning in a vacuum. My companion is in his late eighties but wants to see the Rhine — I’m in my late seventies and just want to see something again. Would it be wise for us to just walk around the small villages rather than do the excursions? Some of them seem to take so long. My companion wants to see the war memorial in Colmar which we’ve signed up for and we have also reserved tickets to Van gogh exhibit. Am tempted to skip Heidelberg and Marksburg castle because of demanding climbs. All so confusing. Also, very important. we’ve been told many people wear jeans to dinner. True? Will appreciate your feedback — we must enjoy this trip. Thank you, Sandra

Hi Sandra – it’s up to you! Most of the guided tours take place in the morning (you’ll get a schedule the night before in your room), so you can decide what you’d like to do each day. I would suggest trying out 1 or 2 of the included free walking tours since you can always leave the group to go back to the ship or explore on your own if you no longer want to participate. Viking is very flexible and their tour guides are OK if you decide to leave mid-tour. Just let them know so they don’t include you in the headcount.

Yes, I would definitely suggest you skip Marksburg. The castle is in ruins and the footpaths are cobblestone – very uneven, very challenging for unsteady walkers. Heidelberg Castle is on a hill, but it’s much flatter and easier to walk, so it’s up to you.

You can wear whatever you want to dinner, Viking is pretty casual! Jeans are fine. Hope that helps!

Hi – great article, comprehensive & thoughtful! Wondering what time of year you went on the Viking river cruise?

Hi Kathy – I went in spring, at the beginning of the season!

Thank you for all the great information. We will be doing the same trip the first week of November and it’s so nice to hear we made a great decision!

Hi there! We’re on our final day of the Romantic Danube Viking River cruise. I agree with everything you’ve stated. Great ship, staff, food, and itinerary. Water levels are a huge deal, though. We’re presently completing a 3 hour bus transfer from Vienna to Budapest – missing one of the most scenic parts of the cruise. We are making our 2nd ship swap for the final night / our 3rd ship.

We received an email from Viking one week prior to departure telling us about the issue between Passau & Krems. Tuesday night our program director informed us of the additional issues past Vienna. We cruised the scenic Wachau valley after dark.

So we missed 2 of the 3 primary cruising segments. Spent 6-7 hours on buses – very nice buses- but buses.

We realize Viking can not control water levels, but their communication was late & misleading. They’ve been doing this for months – maybe years, yet acted like it was out of the ordinary. Passenger morale was affected. I’m not sure if they’ll offer vouchers. Some passengers were very upset.

Nothing about this on their website – apart from the fine print – but cruisers are blogging actively about this issue.

Great review, though.

-Scott S. from Boise

Hi Scott – Wow, yikes! So sorry to hear that your cruise had an issue. I hadn’t known about the water levels issue as our cruise was on the Rhine River, and to my knowledge, the Rhine River hasn’t had any critically low water levels. I’m not an expert by any means though.

I sympathize with you since it’s a terrible situation all around. Viking cant control the water, but naturally you didn’t have the full experience. It’s good that Viking had a back up plan so you could still at least experience the cities on the itinerary.

Has customer service gotten back to you about vouchers or anything else they can offer?

Also, just curious – when they emailed you a week before departure, were you able to cancel the cruise and opt for a later date?

We river cruised on emerald last year,sounds very comparable to Viking. They did include wine or beer with lunch and the 5 course dinner. You mentioned wine with dinner. Does Viking also include included wine and beer with lunch? . Viking is maybe more catered to Americans (ie: flight prices transatlantic). We are trying to find the best river cruise from Amsterdam to Basel,Switzerland, and this trip you took sounds wonderful. I do recommend you try out Emerald,they are fantastic. What would be comparable to a cabin with a “balcony” ? Ie: a window that rolls all the way down? These answers will possibly help us to decide. Thanks so much. Maria

Hi Maria – I hadn’t heard of Emerald before, thanks for bringing them to my attention! I just looked them up and they seem to have very similar luxury river cruises. It seems like they are an Australian company?

You’re right that Viking has a big American market. I believe the owner / company ethos is Scandinavian but they seem to focus on the American market as there were lots of American travelers on our journey.

I’m not sure what you mean by “what would be comparable to a cabin with a balcony”. Are you asking about accommodation on Viking? All the rooms are quite nice, the more expensive rooms get you more a bigger floorplan, higher floor and potentially a small outdoor balcony. For us, we had a small outdoor area – not too big, just enough to fit a small table and chairs and have a glass of wine or morning coffee. Hope that helps!

Or do you mean what are the rooms like without a balcony? If you go to Viking’s website here and scroll down, they have a floorplan of the Europe river ships and each room. There’s also pictures of the standard / french balcony and veranda rooms. Hope that helps!

Hi Sher – My wife and I will be going on our first cruise ever in September 2019 on the Amsterdam to Basel run, with an extra few days in Basel. I had booked a couple months ago and splurged on the two room Veranda suite. We’re very much looking forward to the trip but was curious if our suite is worth the cost. Will we find that we spend very little time there anyway? Thanks for your great website.

Hi Doug – ooh fancy! We haven’t personally stayed in the suites before, but we’ve gotten a peak into the rooms and they look super spacious and very nice.

We definitely spend a lot more time in our rooms on river cruises vs. ocean cruises, as there’s not as much on board entertainment. Also if the weather is great, it’s very nice to sit on the balcony with a glass of wine during sailings and typically September is beautiful in Europe!

I was thinking of cruising the rhine w/viking, is November OK to do this??? Thx

Hi Karen – Hm.. November might be a bit cold. I think May to October might be more comfortable weather wise!

I enjoyed this blog so much, we were thinking of doing a cruise, but now you have convinced me. Excellent writing, informative , and your photos are wonderful. One question, my husband enjoys a good cigar and drink, is there a designated smoking section with a view or just an area for smoking? Thank you again for such a great blog. PS just started following you on Instagram!!

Is their drinks package worth the price?

Hi Peter – it depends on how much you like to drink ;) Viking includes house wine with lunch and dinner. If you want other drinks, or perhaps cocktails after dinner, then I would say it’s worth getting. If you are fine with wine during meals, then don’t bother!

One of the best written river cruise reviews I’ve ever read. Sher, you have a great style in presenting activities as well as the cruise experience.

Wondering how well the cruise would be for me as I am oxygen 24 hrs….Also is there much climbing involved?

Hi Cliff – The ship has an elevator on board that you can use. For the excursions, there wasn’t any climbing but the tour of Marksburg Castle had VERY uneven paths (broken stones) so I’d probably recommend skipping that.

Hi great information, was wondering when do you think is the best time of month to do this cruise? I was thinking March or October, any thoughts?

Hi Suzanne – the European river cruise season starts in May. Usually the clean the ships in the winter and do maintenance, upkeep etc, so I don’t think March sailings for the Rhine river are available. I could be wrong! I also think it would be too cold in March to enjoy.

October would be nice! I haven’t done any fall sailings but I think it would be much less crowded and perhaps the leaves would change. Plus there’s Oktoberfest in Germany in October!

Hi, Sher We are doing our first Viking cruise in October 2019. Amsterdam to Basel. We are arriving from Philadelphia. We do not have the pre or post add on days, but do want to see the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. Do you think we will have time? Also, I was interested in the added excursion to the top of one of the cathedrals and was under the impression there was an elevator, however, also saw where you had to climb over 300 steps! I have found your website to be very informative.

Hi Donna, thanks! Hm.. I’m not sure if you have time for the Anne Frank house. On the last day of the cruise, you’re expected to leave the ship quite early (I believe before noon), but if your flight is that evening, you may have time.

Make sure to book your tickets online before your trip, you can do that on their official website. It’s one of the THE most popular attractions in Amsterdam so expect really long lines. Or, you can take a walking tour that covers the history of Ann Frank, these are pretty popular.

Regarding the cathedral.. I assume you mean the Cologne one? It’s been a long time since I went to the top (I went before the Viking trip) so I don’t quite remember. I believe there is no lift, as it’s a very historic, old church. But you can double check with Viking before booking their excursion!

Have a great trip :)

Great info thanks

We are planning our trip on Viking River Cruises from Amsterdam to Basil in mid May, and I”m trying to figure out what and how much to pack. I see that the weather is quite changeable, rainy, cool to moderate. Are there laundry services on board the ship (Viking Einar) or facilities for guest to go their own laundry?

Hi Deborah, Yes if I remember correctly there’s laundry service on board.

Sher – my sister’s and some girlfriends of ours are planning our 1st ever international trip for our 50th bdays (gulp, can’t believe we will be 50!). As most of us have never been overseas and an international trip is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity for us, we need a trip that is easy to navigate for newbies and gets us the most bang for our buck (see all we can). I have several questions for you: Did Viking pay for you to take this trip? Do you think the Rhine Getaway would be a good choice for this group based on my description above? Is there any “night life” for the evenings (we don’t want to be in large touristy areas but do want to experience as much as possible)? We don’t want to go during peak season or the worst weather time. Would April be a good time to go? Many of us either have German and/or Irish heritage so we were wanting to fly to Ireland at the end of the cruise. Is that possible? I’m sure I will have a ton more questions so please let me know how best to communicate with you. Thank you so much for your post. It was very helpful.

Hi Tracie – ooh sounds like a fun birthday milestone! To answer your questions:

No – Viking did not pay me to take the trip (but that would be the dream). I did receive the Rhine cruise complimentary, along with several other journalists, in exchange for taking photos and showcasing the cruise on my Instagram account. I ended up loving the trip so much that I decided to write a more in-depth review on my website. They had no control or input in what I wrote – the article is entirely my own opinions.

Should you take the Rhine Getaway for your group trip? I think it depends. If you are looking to celebrate with a bang, then no Viking probably isn’t the trip. At least, not their river cruises. The river cruise ships are intimate (maybe 100+ passengers) and there isn’t much in the way of entertainment at night. No casino, no pool, no shows, dancing etc. There is a pianist on board, a roomy lounge and a great bar, but that’s about it.

The ocean cruises (which I have not been on) are much larger ships with entertainment on board.

You can go out at night off the ship if the boat is docked. It depends on the city though. Some cities have their docks right in the town center, like Cologne, so you could stay out all night until the ship leaves the next morning. Other cities, like Paris, the docks are about 30-45 min driving outside Paris proper, so it’s less convenient. Viking will organize shuttles for you to go into a nearby town, but if you wanted to go out at night into Paris, you would have to take your own taxi. For places like Rome, forget it – its like a 2 hour drive. It just depends on the city’s port logistics.

If you are ok with a more cultural, relaxing trip then Viking would be good. And then you can fly to Ireland after and party :) Dublin is a great city for that, and all over Ireland, the pubs are fantastic, the people are so friendly, it’s a great country to have a good time in!

The river cruise season kicks off in mid May, so April is a bit too early. Try late May or early June, or maybe mid September – mid October, to avoid crowds + have great weather.

Hope that helps

My husband and I are going on the Rhine Getaway this summer. I have 2 questions: 1) Strasbourg – should we take the optional Strasbourg from the Top? Or stick to the included Strasbourg Highlights? 2) Heidelberg – we are doing the 6 hr included tour in the morning. We thought it would be fun to do the Dine in City Rudesheim that evening for $158 total. Is that worth it???

Many thanks! Have enjoyed and learned so much reading your review and insights.

Hi Elizabeth,

Hm, I stuck to the included Strasbourg tour and thought it was a good half day tour. We had free time after to explore the city. If you like a good view, maybe the optional is good? I don’t think there is an elevator for the cathedral though – its stairs. Up to you!

For your second question, I just double checked the Viking website because I can’t remember the specifics. They list the Rudesheim am Rhein optional on the Koblenz Day, not the Heidelberg day. That’s the add-on dinner you’re referring to right?

But under the Heidelberg day, I wrote we went to Rudesheim that night on our own so I think you are right about it being the Heidelberg day. If I remember correctly, the boat docks in Rudesheim, so you can go into town on your own and choose a restaurant if you want. I don’t think the optional is necessary.

If you are interested because you want a good local dinner, we heard rave reviews from the people on board who did the Schloss Johannisberg castle dinner + wine tasting, the next night in Koblenz.

If you do choose that, just to let you know, the fun ‘local dinner’ night that Viking does is on the same evening. So whatever you chose, it will be a memorable dinner!

On board they decorate it like a mini Oktoberfest, with music and local cuisine, beer, pretzels, schnitzel etc. It was loads of fun, but only half the people were on board (other half chose between the optional dinners and they came back very happy too).

Hope that helps – have a great trip!

We just booked this cruise for April 2020. What a wonderful blog. Thank you so much. I will be checking back and taking notes!!

We have booked the cruise from Basel to Amsterdam for late September, our 50th anniversary. We did Avignon to Lyons last year on Viking and loved it! Your descriptions of life on ship are spot on. We are seniors and I have a knee problem (May have surgery soon, took the insurance) and found the “leisure” walking groups doable. Did not ascend the Popes’ Palace but admired from below. Question: Recommendations for hotels in Amsterdam? Fantastic blog. Thank you.

We are going on the Rhine Getaway (our first river cruise) very shortly–love your review! My question: should we get “the local money” euro or do most of the shops take American credit cards? Thanks.

Hi Linda, ooh fun! Have a great trip! Hm, for the most part the cruise is “all inclusive” so you would only need cash for souvenirs and any meals you wanted to take on your own. Most restaurants and stores will take American credit cards with chips but to be safe, you can take some euro out. Ask your bank if they will change for you? Ours offers it without fees.

We have been on Viking a few times. You really did them well with your descriptions. They are a great company and we feel they really treat you well.I would love to do a cruise like you did and write about everything. I have suggested it to them and haven’t heard back. I would love to rate their ocean ships, especially northern Norway.

We are going on Paris to the Swiss Alps in September for 12 days then followed by 4 days of post trips to Zermatt and Geneva. Since this is going to be my first trip, would you suggest to bring a medium size luggage – around 26” and personal bag, or carry-on luggage and personal bag are enough?

Hi Dina – ah, hard to say. If I can, I usually bring personal bag + carry on. But for 2 week trips sometimes I need a checked suitcase. I will say the nice thing about cruises is you can unpack once, so there’s less worry about hauling a case to and from!

Such a great blog!! Thank you so much for all the information! My husband is looking at the same itinerary for Nov 2020 as a 15th wedding anniversary trip; even the extra days in Amsterdam. I was unsure, never taken a river cruise, but I am very excited now! I am just unsure about mid-November weather. I don’t mind cool temps; how much of a difference weather wise do you think going in October would be? Thanks again!

Hi Amy! I would typically recommend October over mid November. The weather is a little better and sometimes in Europe things will close for the season by mid October. Double check opening times for any attractions you want to visit, and also see if fall foliage will take place in October or November! I think fall colors would be amazing for a river cruise!

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We are going on the same cruise on this same ship in early August. I can’t wait! Love the blog and your information! Your blog was more of an “any person’s view.” Some other blogs don’t give as much information or are clearly biased as a travel expert, and difficult to relate to.

Are soft drinks available all day? Are they included in the price? I understand beer and wine is included with dinner. If not, are there stores in town where you can soft drinks to keep in your room?

Are you able to go on and off the ship as often as you like? What do you need to carry with you in town, ie passport? I was really hoping to go for a couple of early morning jogs along the river.

Ah, thanks so much for the kind words :)

Soft drinks are available during lunch and dinner times and included. There’s a coffee machine that makes espresso, latte, etc drinks that’s available any time of day.

You can go on and off the ship anytime it’s docked (but some parts of the day, you may be sailing). Typically when the ship pulls into a town, there will be a morning or afternoon excursion – usually 1 is a free guided walking tour and 1 is an paid optional tour. You can do one, both, or none and explore on your own!

I usually leave my passport in the safe – I don’t carry it into town. I usually would just bring a wallet and day bag. Hm, I’m not sure if early morning jogs are possible, since it depends when the ship arrives but usually there is an overnight in a location and you could definitely do a morning jog then!

We are taking this cruise in September of 2020 but from Amsterdam to Basel. Although too early to get our flight information, we are NOT going two days early. If our flight gets in early enough we would like to try to see one of the museums. Does the transport from the airport take you directly to the ship even if hours before the 3 pm check in time? And, would we be able to leave our suitcase on the ship and go to the museum? And finally, would the Viking staff be able to help us get the admission ticket to the Rijksmuseum? Seeing “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt is on his bucket list. Thanks in advance!

We’re doing the Rhine as well, but Amsterdam to Basel. If our flight gets in early enough we’d love to see the Rijksmuseum, my hubby wants to see Rembrandt’s “Night Watch”. Would the Viking staff be able to help us with getting admission tickets when we arrive at the ship? Will we be able to leave our suitcase on the ship even if our room us not ready? Thanks in advance.

Hi Marylee,

Yes, if you choose to take Viking’s transport they will take you directly to the ship. Both times we’ve sailed with Viking our flights have been redeyes, so we arrived in the morning on the first day. We checked in (Viking stores your luggage) and rooms aren’t ready (until 12pm I think) but you can relax in the common areas and Viking will set up lunch.

We did started in Basel, and Viking also organized a nice extra walking tour for any passengers who arrived early the first day. I’m not sure if the same applies if you start in Amsterdam. Basel is a very small city, and the ship docks pretty much in the center of the old town, so if the docking situation is similar in Amsterdam, I would think they would offer the same (but again, I’m not sure)

Amsterdam is extremely popular with tourists, so you should see what the museum ticket policy is. Is the Night Watch a big attraction? Sometimes you can buy tickets online in advance, especially for really popular sights that hoards of people want to see.

I’m not sure if Viking can get you tickets when you arrive.. I would imagine it would be a little difficult the day of since the staff is typically busy with cleaning the ship, check outs and new arrivals, but you can ask their customer support to see? On Viking’s website they have a chat function where you can speak to customer service. Or it might be straight forward to just take a cab from the ship to the museum and buy tickets directly.

Hope that helps! Enjoy the trip :)

Hello! I really enjoyed reading this and such lovely photos … can’t wait for our river cruise to begin next weekend. We are booked on the the Eir Longboat cruising from Amsterdam to Basel and then two days in Lucerne. We have prebooked every included excursion (don’t want to miss anything!!) My question is: can you remember the time in the morning that the excursions start? Being retired, we are quite used to our lazy mornings and worried that the excursion departure times will be a bit early for us. Thank you!

Hi Patsy! Hm.. each excursion is different, but generally the programmed activities would start each day around 8am (if I remember right). So we’d get up around 7 to get ready and have breakfast. Every day was different, depending on if the ship docks right in town or if there’s driving.. but in general I’d say 7:30am-9am start times.

I usually am a night owl, but on trips I think it’s a little easier to get up early since I’m excited and with the time difference. I’m sure you guys will have a great time!

what about at night? when does the ship shut down for the night?

Not sure what you mean by shut down. You can hang out in the lounge until past midnight I think.

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Thanks for your very helpful, “real person” information & the responses you provide to all the questions ! I will be sailing the same route later this year, and have a delicate question. What is the restroom situation on the tour buses or in the various towns ? I have a sensitive stomach and never know when something may disagree with me. I will likely skip breakfasts before the included (typically morning) free tours… but can’t skip all meals ! Do ALL the tour buses have an emergency restroom on them ? Are some of the castle tours soooo long that it is impossible to use a restroom before the end of the tour ? Is it easy to find a public restroom (even in a small coffee shop and then buy something from them in return) along the walking tours or during afternoon free time ? I am very glad to see you can slip away from a tour if needed. That piece of information is priceless ! (Did anyone do that & then were they able to find their group again in a little while ?)

Hi Liz – yes the coaches all have bathrooms on board. Depending on the itinerary you pick, the driving times differ. For the Rhine cruise, most of the drives were pretty short.

We’ve also done the Paris to Normandy cruise and the day you visit Normandy is a very long day with long (2 hr) drives. Italy is similar – very long drives. It basically boils down to the distance between the port and the town.

Yes, plenty of coffee shops to pop into!

If you leave the group tour (we did a couple times), it’s pretty difficult to find them again, since the group is constantly on the move. We tried once and couldn’t rejoin the group.

Your review of the Rhine River Cruise is most helpful! We have our first cruise booked November 8th, 2019 Basel to Amsterdam…it looks like it might be cold…I hope it’s early enough in November that it wont be…:( Question…is it worth the extended 2 day in Amsterdam? Thank you!

Hi Linda, so glad it’s helpful! We didn’t book the 2 day extension, as we had visited Amsterdam before. I think if you haven’t been, it might be nice for convenience but Amsterdam is also a very easy city to see on your own.

We are going on this cruise in September 2019. We want to meet a friend in either Heidelberg or Koblenz. What time is the afternoon “on-board” for passengers, and what time in the morning can passengers generally leave the ship? Viking can’t give us even a range of times for either. Any insight is appreciated.

I don’t know offhand and I think it probably varies on each trip – depending on which route you are doing (starting in Basel vs starting in Amsterdam), the water levels, how fast you go through the locks, traffic with other ships, etc.

You can try asking the crew when you go on board. Typically they lay out a program the night before for the following day, with more specific schedule times.

Great article and pictures! We are going on the Zurich to Paris 12 day Viking Cruise on March 28th, 2020. We were assured by the Viking agent that April weather will be in the 60’s. Sounds like it will be colder than that. I spoke to two friends that went on a similar Viking cruise on the Rhine. One did not like it, the other loved it. The person that didn’t like it said the food was so so, and you were only treated well at meals if you tip. We were thinking of paying gratuities in advance. What do you think?

Hi Patrice – ooh Zurich to Paris sounds like a nice itinerary! Hm, I do think April will be quite chilly. Weather is hard to predict but I definitely find that winter seems to get longer every year. I think it’s hard to get truly nice, all day sunny weather in Europe until early June. It will most likely be jacket, sweater + scarf weather in April and even May. The upside is much less crowds :)

I’ve been on several Viking cruises now. The first I thought the food was fantastic, the second time it was only good. Maybe I have gotten more picky (ha) but I think the food quality is definitely solid (maybe it wont blow you away, but hopefully you wont feel disappointed!).

I find it a little odd that your friend mentioned that about tipping to get good service. The one thing I think Viking does an excellent job of compared to other companies, is having extremely friendly service. the dining staff especially are very very nice. If you sit in the same area frequently, some of the really attentive staff even start remembering your drink / meal preferences. I never felt any pressure to tip individually, ahead of or during the trip.

It’s up to you, but I would suggest paying gratuity at the end. I know some companies now offer that you can pay in advance of a trip, but I don’t really know that the money gets to the staff on your itinerary that way. How do they keep track of it all? And do they really divvy it out to everyone on board? Also I think it’s nice to tip at the end, so you can have discretion if you want to tip an individual staff member separately, or what have you. Sometimes certain people on board go out of their way to make your trip memorable.

If you get to the airport early and take a tour with viking do they take care of your luggage before you can board the ship?

hm in our experience you can generally board the day your cruise starts. the bus will take you from the airport to the ship and then they’ll store your luggage for you until the rooms are ready. usually they put out lunch too, and sometimes a bonus walking tour if the ship is docked near the city (depends on which itinerary you’re taking). and sometimes, if you’re lucky, rooms are ready early!

My daughter and I are getting ready to do this same itinerary. My second VRC, her first. We are both so excited to be traveling together. Thanks for the great pictures and information.

Is it really a bummer to be in the economy rooms? The river cruise we are looking at is the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel and looking at going with friends who booked way before us. Most of the rooms are booked and only economy ones left. Just wondering if this will really be a downer?

Hi Gail! What time of year are you looking to visit?

I think it depends how much you value hotel rooms / rooms in general. Obviously the more expensive cabins are nicer, but if you like to socialize and plan to hang out in the bar and common areas, then the room is really just a place to sleep. The beds, showers, closets etc are the same across all the rooms.

The more expensive rooms are on a higher floor, have a larger square footage and have better views (larger windows, some with balconies, etc). I think honestly it is a nice to have, but the thing you remember most about a vacation is the destination and the memories, not the rooms :)

Oh and I asked what time of year, because we took a winter cruise and did not use the balcony at all, whereas in the summer the extra outdoor space was very nice and a great way to enjoy the sailing portions. So in colder or rainy months, having a balcony or extra large window is probably not very important, vs in late spring/summer.

I would like to do a river cruise. What is a cruise that has tours inside for castles and palaces? I would like to see beautiful interiors. If I do the Rhine getaway should I take post cruise to Amsterdam for any inside tours of castles or palaces and cathedrals also? Cathedrals on the Rhine getaway inside tours? Are tours expensive foe what I want to see?

The Rhine Getaway itinerary I reviewed in this article does include some cathedrals and castle ruins.

But, most of the castles on the Rhine river are ruins or old medieval castles, they’re not so much “Disney” like castles. For that, I believe you would need to rent a car and do a road trip as they’re not on the water.

You could do the Viking Rhine cruise above, and then do a post cruise trip to Copenhagen. Some of the most beautiful castles I’ve ever seen are in Copenhagen – I wrote about them in this post .

We booked our flights through Viking and then explored Copenhagen on our own, which was pretty easy as it’s a very modern city.

Just curious what your trip cost. We’re looking at $5,000-$6,000 per person in late October, including airfare from MN (about $600 per person), for this itinerary. Does that sound right?

Hi Shelley, Cost depends on so many factors (time of year, cabin, add on tours, flight pricing, etc), but Viking has a dates + pricing chart on their website that you can use to compare.

Thank you very much for sharing your experiences. I enjoyed reading your reviews and it is very helpful. I’m planning the trip in early November 2020 for my 30th anniversary. I have a few questions. Will it be a place inside the ship to sit and enjoy the view when sailing through the UNESC part of the Rhine when it is too cold outside? How much the optional excursion will be raftly around? 2020 will be marked Beethoven’s 250th birthday. I really like to go to Bonn. Is it possible that I can go our own when ship dock in Cologne?

Hi Tracy, sounds like a great birthday trip!

The best viewing point is on the roof deck, but there is also a smaller room with floor to ceiling windows, the Aquavit casual dining room, where you can enjoy the view indoors.

Each of the optionals has their own price, but they should be listed on Viking’s website. Hm, I’m not sure if you will have time to see Bonn when in Cologne. You can ask the Tour Director when you are onboard to see if there is enough time.

How comfortable are the beds .

What did you do on your amsterdam 2 day extension tour and do you know where I can find more specific info on the Viking extended tour

Hi JoAnne, we’ve been to Amsterdam on a previous trip so we didn’t opt for the 2 day extension tour with our Viking cruise. But, you can find more information about the optional extensions on Viking’s website!

We booked the Rhine Getaway for May 2020. I really appreciate your comments & suggestions. We are excited to go especially after reading this article.

Thanks, Janet

ooh have fun! May is a great time to visit :)

Love this blog. Found it today. Never been on a river cruise. I’m about to book the Basel to Amsterdam for my 60th b’day with my wife in Sept. So is the best way to book the cruise on line directly with Viking ? Any advantages going through a travel agent ? Tks Pierre

We are doing the Rhine Getaway in August 2020. Have enjoyed reading many of your reviews/suggestions. I know the currency is euros, do local vendors accept credit cards? What amount of currency do you recommend for an 8 day cruise? Most likely will do meals on the ship when possible. Thank you.

Yes most places in Europe take credit card. Just make sure you have a credit card with a chip on it, and that you let your bank company know you’ll be traveling abroad.

If you plan to eat most meals on the ship, I don’t really think you need much else, except for how much you want to spend on souvenirs.

Just found your blog and am loving reading all about this cruise! We’re taking this exact one for our honeymoon in April and it’s getting me even more excited!

I stumbled onto this blog while doing research for our up and coming River cruise. It sounds like almost the same cruise with one small stop difference (you stopped in Heidelberg and we’re stopping in Steyer. This article really helped solidify what I had already heard about Viking. I’ve been on several cruises on those big ships and cannot wait to do this river cruise. Thanks for the info.

How did you obtain your tour guide for Strausburg, was it through Viking or an independent source?

Hi Virginia, Viking provides all the tour guides. Strasbourg is part of the itinerary so the tour + guide were included with the cruise.

There are also extra tours available at an additional charge for some of the stops. For example, we paid for the Colmar day tour and on that optional tour, Viking also provided the tour guide (and transportation). Hope that helps

I also want to know about the comfort of the beds!

Hi Vicki, I thought the beds were comfy for a ship! To be honest I can fall asleep anywhere so I’m probably not the best person to ask..

Thanks so much for this post! My fiancé and I are scheduled to go on the first Viking Rhine Getaway on Aug 1 after COVID! I’m in my 20s and he’s in his 30/, so I’m assuming we will be some of the younger ones on board.. my biggest question is about attire. I pretty much live in athleisure so I’m worried we are going to be too informal compared to the rest of the crowd. What kinds of things do people wear during the day tours and dinners on board?

Ooh I’m jealous of your trip!

I would say you can wear whatever you want. There’s no dress code and Viking is pretty casual. Some people do dress up for dinner (just a nice top and jeans/pants) but it’s not required by any means. For the excursions, they’re usually walking tours so most people wear comfy clothes (good walking shoes, comfy pants, t-shirt and jacket if it’s colder).

We’ve all had about 18 months of lounging at home in sweats, so I don’t think anyone will look twice at wearing athleisure :)

Have a great time!

We depart on 9/15/21 and are so excited our rescheduled 2020 trip is happening this year! We’re doing the Lake Como extension before our cruise and staying in Amsterdam for two days on our own after the cruise. Any suggestions of things we must see or do?

Oooh that’s amazing! Yes I have a lot of posts on Lake Como and Northern Italy (under the Destinations menu tab, or you can type in the search box)

Hello. I noticed that the cruise includes 3 meals/day. My concern would be what if you’re out sightseeing and you want to experience the local cuisine by eating lunch or dinner in the town? Do you get a choice of not eating every meal on board the ship? I would want to eat at the different restaurants. Do you just pay for all the meals and if you want to skip some on the ship, you just eat the cost?

Yup, you an definitely skip the ship meals and eat at local spots if you’d like!

Sher, Thank you for sharing this very detailed and encouraging insight into the Viking Rhine River tour. Our 4 children gave us a Viking Rhine River tour for our 50th wedding anniversary (Oct. 16th) because during our 2nd year of marriage we lived in Erlangen, Germany for the year. We are in the planning phase of our trip. We hope to go in the May timeframe. Your post has given us great encouragement.

We have several questions and would appreciate your unbiased input: 1. My wife is diabetic (Type 2) and takes medicine that makes her have to use the bathroom about every 2 hours. Is that going to be a problem while touring, hanging around town, or riding on the bus? 2. We are 74 and 75 respectively, and while we are in fairly good health, long, rushed , arduous walking would not be fun or even physically welcome. Is that a problem? 3. We have heard from friends who have taken ocean cruises that sometime the evening entertainment is very risque. This would not be appealing to us, so we were wondering if that is what we might experience? 4. Since the world is not fully over COVID, what are the chances that that is going to have us in masks the whole time, or worse yet end up quarantined somewhere?

Thank you for any insights you can provide especially since you traveled with you Mom.

Hud and Susan

Hi Hud and Susan, that’s so sweet of your kids! I think you’ll really enjoy the river cruise. It’s very relaxing and you can do as much or as little as you want :) I also really loved the Rhine itinerary and the whole river cruising experience.

For the Rhine River itinerary, I don’t recall that we had any significantly long (2+ hour) bus rides. Most of the bus rides were 30 minutes to an hour and there is a bathroom on the bus for emergencies. You can check with Viking’s customer service about the bus times (just to be sure), as I’m sure it can vary slightly from year to year and on weather conditions. Basically if the ship can dock in a port that’s near town, the transportation time is very short. In some countries though, like Italy, the cruise terminals are located quite far from the city, so if you picked one of the Italy itineraries you might be subjected to long bus rides. But for the Rhine itinerary it’s not like that at all, and sometimes the ship can dock right in town and you walk off the boat and are in the city center! overall I *think* it would be ok in terms of your wife’s medicine. There are multiple bathrooms on board Viking, and in town there is always a cafe where you can get a cup of coffee and use the facilities.

There is typically a guided tour every day (usually in the morning) and Viking always has a slower paced group option. So you can join that group for the walking tour and it will be a more leisurely pace and route. Even for the regular groups, my mom didn’t find the pace to be rushed or strenuous, but pretty relaxing.

No, if anything there isn’t that much entertainment on the river cruise at night. Most people go to the lounge to socialize or get a drink, or relax in their room on the balcony.

Hm, I don’t know about the mask situation. You can probably ask Viking’s customer service for their policy on board. And you can check the country government health websites for each city on the itinerary. I would hope things would be even better in spring of next year, but you really never know!

Hope this helps x Sher

Were you aware that if you book two cruises back to back on Viking, butterfly cruises, that they won’t honor the promotions on either cruise? I booked two cruises that had free air promotions. Even though Viking was saving money by paying for one airfare instead of two, they would not agree to honor the promotions. Their solution was for me to cancel the second cruise. Strange that they would penalize me for giving them more business.

hm that is really strange! i’ve never tried back to back cruises, but good to know

Thank you for this wonderful article. I am wondering if it makes sense to save $$ and get a lower priced cabin without a balcony of any sort.

Sher, Thanks so much for this valuable information. It is much appreciated! We’ll be on the Rhine Getaway cruise this coming August. Do you know which stops where the ship docks you are able to walk off the ship right into a town or very close to it? Also, is there a way to find out how long the drive by bus is for each excursion? I read reviews on another site that particularly complained about the drive to the Black Forest and that there really wasn’t a lot of time to look around once there. It sounds like out of a 4 hour excursion, almost 3 hours are traveling by bus. Thanks for your help.

Hi Shelley, glad it was helpful! I remember Koblenz we docked right in town so you could walk off the ship and be in the middle of the historic area. That stop was overnight so you could explore all night if you wanted to!

Most of the other stops, the ship will be close to town but docked for only a couple hours. So it’s about enough time to do the tour + have some free time then time to leave.

I don’t remember any long bus rides other than Colmar, but it wasn’t bad.. maybe an hour. It could change by year though! I think Viking and all the cruise ships may change docks from season to season, as routes depend on water levels, weather conditions + town permits.

Hi, very interesting blog. We are from Canada and meeting up with friends from UK and have booked a Rhine cruise in September. I’ve been trying to find where Viking docks in Basel, can you help? Thanks in advance.

Hi Sue, I don’t know the exact name of the dock (and it may change from year to year) so best to ask Viking’s customer service!

Love your blog, Sher! Did you do the full-day Taste of Alsace tour in Strasbourg? I have signed up for it on my upcoming Rhine River tour despite its “Difficult” rating. While i can walk pretty well for longish distances (up to 2 miles at a time), I have trouble with steep inclines and with steps unless there is a rail to hold onto and I am hoping the rating is simply because it involves a full day of walking from place to place, rather than because of a lot of stairs and steep terrain, etc. Any insights you can give??? — Jackie, age 71

Ah, I didn’t do that tour sorry! Maybe viking’s customer service team can give you a more detailed breakdown of the tour.. I remember also that the staff on board are very accommodating! In general, Strasbourg is a nice big flat city – it’s not one of those tiny historic towns with uneven cobblestones. i don’t remember much stairs or steep terrain.

I want to thank you so much for this information. We are going on the Rhine cruise next week (concerned about water levels) and since we booked I’ve come across some Viking haters. This is a bucket list trip for us, so your information is much appreciated. I was wondering how much flexibility there is to get on and of the ships while at port. Can you just come and go? Thank you! And please pray for rain or do a rain dance.

yes, while the ship is docked you can come and go easily! it’s one of the things i like most about small ship cruises vs the massive cruise liners

Great article! We leave today for our 1st river cruise with Viking! A bit worried about water levels on the Rhine river. Disappointed to learn that Viking no longer offers the walking tour on the day of arrival in Basel. Was really looking forward to that!

I have been trying to get a Rhine itinerary with a more accurate detail of the time arrive and depart in each port…. even approximately would help.

I think their sailing schedules may shift so that’s likely why they don’t have detailed times published. You can try asking customer service

The best traveling experience we have ever had. Our Rhine River cruise was something we will never forget. From arrival in Amsterdam to our return after two additional nights in Lucerne, we enjoyed every minute. We are already booked on one of their ocean cruises (Mediterranean) next year.

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Viking Ocean Cruises Review: Luxe Details, Lively Destinations

Posted by Ariana Jade (AJ) | Sep 10, 2023 | Cruises , Cruises , Hotels + Resorts | 0 |

Viking Ocean Cruises Review: Luxe Details, Lively Destinations

Edify your travel experience and your social media aesthetic with Viking Ocean Cruises.

These cruises are not your typical odyssey; Viking’s voyages stimulate the intellectual passenger with a different kind of adventure. Passengers sailing with Viking can expect intentionality, simplicity, and excellence. From the unique itineraries to the design of the ship itself, Viking Ocean Cruises don’t miss a beat. You might just book your next stay onboard before leaving your first one.

A Little About Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises

Credit: Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises take after their river cruise counterparts. You can find the same vibe and atmosphere on all of Vikings vessels. The focus of their experience doesn’t intertwine with lobby casinos and crowded ports. Guests are intended to feel steady and tranquil while enjoying their trip. Viking curated their inclusive ships to have the necessities and cut the excess. This simple approach means that all guests have access to the Nordic spa ,  a variety of well-designed lounging areas, and all dining onboard. Within their five identical 930 passenger ships, people can experience planned itineraries that range from 8 days to 20 weeks. Travelers purely have the freedom to enjoy the space and the journey.

Viking Ocean Cruise Features & Benefits

Viking Ocean Cruises - Staterooms

Viking’s variety of different staterooms all possess a fresh feeling. Mellow colors of gray and white tie in with deep blues, which conveys an inviting and neutral space. The staterooms (all 464 of them) include a balcony where guests can simply enjoy and view the open sea. Some may choose to cozy up in the 270-square-foot veranda cabin and watch marine life through the in-suite binoculars. Others may select an Explorer’s Suite and discover a 757-square-footed space that includes a living room and massive soaking bathtub. The wraparound balcony within a suite offers gorgeous morning and evening views.

The Scandinavian vibe of cool yet comfortable trends into guest quarters. Guests can pop open the complimentary champagne in celebration of the journey that they are about to embark on. Sailing with Viking Ocean Cruises also means that comfort does not stop after things start. After the day of activities, staterooms offer peace and quiet to recharge. Laundry services are offered and especially come in handy for guests who cruise for weeks at a time. Passengers have access to 24-hour room service. You can rest assured in your stateroom bed knowing that the staff serves with excellence.

Viking Ocean Cruises - Dining

You will want to make it a point to eat onboard a Viking Ocean Cruise. Viking takes the fuss out of the dining experience by including the meals at their different venues in the cruise cost. Yes, they calculated that expense so you would have one less thing to worry about. Passengers get quality combinations and different dishes to choose from! There are a number of select-styled restaurants to explore while out at sea with Viking.

Go ahead and order the beef tartare with quail egg from their Italian place, ‘Manfredi's’! Foodies can also sample Norwegian specials at ‘Mamsen's’ where the goods are served on yellow and blue folk-inspired dinnerware. Another Viking venue called, ‘The Chef’s Table’, features a 5-course tasting menu paired with wines. If you are hungry for something less extravagant, ‘The Restaurant’ offers classic bites and serves cuisine inspired by the surrounding region. Guests can head over to the ship’s buffet area for casual dining, but do not worry- quality has not been sacrificed here! For something personal, passengers can participate in culinary lessons with hand-selected ingredients from local markets. Instead of mediocre dishes under hot lamps, you’ll find an appetizing array of international flavors at each of Viking’s restaurants.

Viking Ocean Cruises - Amenities

Amenities are beautiful additions that enhance a traveler’s experience. Viking Ocean Cruises yet again puts their guests at the forefront of their minds and has included major features to create a hassle-free environment. Guests are welcome to use the free WiFi (something regularly not common on cruises), Passengers can upload their photos and long journeyers can keep in touch with people from afar. You can choose to do this in the multitude of accessible lounge areas, or you can multitask and work on your tan on the side of the two infinity edge pools. The main pool even sits under a retractable roof, so guests can cool off and enjoy a glass of wine. House wines are included at lunch and dinner. If you really want to enjoy the variety of beverages onboard, Viking offers a package that even calculates gratuity into the total. Repeat it with me! Fuss. Free.

Guests have full access to the Nordic-themed spa facility on board. Two words: snow grotto. Yes, they have a snow grotto where actual snowflakes fall on the ship! Allow your circulatory system to refresh itself in the chilled air. Be sure to open those pores in the sauna or fitness center beforehand. Afterward, maybe make your way to the whirlpool? Then, possibly head over to the salon for even more? With so many phenomenal options, Viking passengers are sure to find something to put them at ease.

Entertainment

Viking Ocean Cruises - Entertainment

If you thought Viking could not have any further benefits, passengers are given one complimentary shore excursion! In fact, Viking Cruises’s destination-dominant trips are paired with their onboard activities.  Their ‘Culture Curriculum’ program partners with organizations that include The Metropolitan Opera , University of Oslo , TED , and National Geographic . For further studies, lectures and discussions are held with experts of the area. Viking Ocean Cruises truly desires to connect passengers to their destinations by providing must-sees and introductions to locals. Viking cruisers will truly learn about the history and culture of their travels, and with information backed up from the best of the best.

Do not fear if you want to book another excursion (there are a multitude of exciting ones to choose from)! Viking Ocean keeps their hassle-free streak with purchasing of additional excursions. Seafood lovers will enjoy farming oyster in Dubrovnik, Croatia . Viking can take guests to the ultimate Christmas magic by visiting pop-up markets along the Danube! Sicilian sailors can see olive oil production with Viking. While a ‘Port Talk’ may give guests insight on the experience, learning and actually dancing traditional Caribbean style in St. Kitts is an experience that is unforgettable. There are so many moments Viking Cruises wants their guests to experience, and they set the bar high by ensuring the time spent is fulfilling.

What Travelers Are Saying About Viking Ocean Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises

Travelers have often stated to have sailed with Viking before. Previous passengers who have gone on Viking’s River Cruises had a notion that their ocean counterparts would be equally enjoyable. The culture of Viking River translated smoothly into Viking Ocean, and guests continue to love the calm yet engaging atmosphere of the ship. Viking encourages an adult atmosphere with no children’s activities and programs onboard. Guests are welcomed into an uncomplicated series of excursions and are invited to new sights to encounter together.

Alternative Cruise Ships

Viking definitely has our pick for multiple reasons. We love the close-knit feel, the immersive excursions, and the culture of the ship while out to sea. Here are a few other options that are in the runnings of great adventure alongside Viking Ocean Cruises.

1. U by Uniworld

U by Uniworld

Credit: Uniworld Cruises

Keep reading if you love the idea of the Viking and want to find the hot spots to show your friends back at university. U by Uniworld is a river cruise line directed towards college students and young professionals. U contains flexible cabins, common areas for connecting with fellow passengers, and dreamy destinations to fill your feed with. Reviews are calling U the ‘millennial’ cruise experience with the balance of content and club scene.  Passengers can pick and choose how to spend their time, and they will be sure to find amazing food and activities on and off the ship. Do I sense someone planning their next spring break trip?

2. American Cruise Lines (Historic Cruise on the Chesapeake Bay)

American Cruise Lines

Credit: American Cruise Lines

Okay, fine. I have a personal preference for this one. I love my home! This cruise sails right through the heart of it. This Chesapeake Bay tour by American Cruise Lines stretches across Virginia and Maryland. Picture a Nicholas Sparks movie scenery! You may not see Ryan Gosling running to you in the rain, but Spanish moss and swaying willows are a guaranteed sight. Come learn more about the Chesapeake Bay and the historical landmarks that give us insight into our country's past. Enjoy some fish and crabs by the boxes for dinner! You’ll want to prep yourself for the cozy, beautiful East Coast sunrises in the mornings.

3. Aqua Expeditions

Aqua Expeditions

Credit: Aqua Expeditions

Guests can experience and learn more about wildlife on a cruise! Aqua Expeditions takes their passengers on journeys to destinations varying from the Amazon to the Mekong rivers. Onboard, the marine life can be observed from the deck. When the ship is docked, excursions extend into lush green jungles. People sailing with Aqua Expeditions receive a unique journey with fascinating animals all around while learning how surrounding communities are impacted. Not only is this cruise line unique for its destinations, but also for the awareness of the environment and of the locals. Your trip may impact others more than you anticipated!

When on a cruise, one can take the time to reach for adventure and to replenish in one trip.

There are a number of different types of cruises that fit all seasons of life. Viking Ocean Cruises offers the best of both worlds with simplicity. Cruising on the vast oceans or on the concentrated rivers both present unique ways for the traveler to see the world. Whether you are looking for an ongoing adventurous itinerary or calm leisurely journey, the culture and atmosphere of a cruise ship can truly influence the experience.  Passengers can truly expect an impacting time away with a Viking voyage.

Related Article: 6 Best Cruises for Couples in Need of a Romantic Getaway

About The Author

Ariana Jade (AJ)

Ariana Jade (AJ)

AJ is a full-time content creator, MBA student, and dog mom. A native of Virginia Beach, AJ loves the ocean and the great outdoors. AJ enjoys clean and bright design elements, good conversation, and great coffee.

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I've been on more than 150 cruise ships; here are my first impressions of Scarlet Lady, the first-ever Virgin Voyages vessel

Gene Sloan

I expected to hate it. I really did.

But four days into my first sailing on Scarlet Lady , the hot new cruise ship for adults from start-up line Virgin Voyages , I am finding that I am not hating it all. In fact, I'm sort of loving it.

It turns out that this flashy new brand, which initially filled its marketing messages with so many images of the young and the hip that some people thought it was just for millennials , might be the perfect cruise line for someone like me: A somewhat balding, 52-year-old father of three who is starting to look back wistfully at the fun of his younger, more carefree days.

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I'm not sure what that says about Virgin Voyages' prospects. It may not be what they want to hear. If too many people like me start booking Scarlet Lady, the line's chances of drawing twentysomethings and thirtysomethings may be lost forever.

But maybe this is all part of the plan. People my age do have more money to spend than the youngsters.

The allure of Scarlet Lady

Designed as a no-kids zone , Scarlet Lady is filled with stylish, adult-oriented nightspots and bars promising a hopping scene late into the night as well as such hipster venues as a tattoo parlor and a colorful karaoke lounge . There's onboard entertainment that is innovative and sometimes edgy in a way that you don't normally see on cruise ships. There's staff that are there in part to encourage you to let loose a little -- or a lot.

In short, it feels like the sort of cruise ship that young people would want to sail on, even if, in the end, it doesn't draw as many young people as some might have expected (early word is the average booker is in her or his 50s ). And that may be what makes it the perfect ship for somewhat older people like me who miss the wilder and crazier days of their youth.

If we can't be young again, at least we can pretend for a few days, right?

I expected to hate Scarlet Lady in part because of the way it was initially marketed, as a place for the young and the hip and the beautiful. That clearly isn't me.

I also was put off a bit by Virgin Voyages' "we know better" attitude toward cruising. It has been a cruise company that has talked itself up at times in the lead-up to Scarlet Lady's launch by pooh-poohing the things that other cruise companies do . This seemed suspect to me given how incredibly successful these other cruise companies have been.

RELATED: Why you've got it all wrong if you think Scarlet Lady is just for millennials

Could Virgin Voyages and its backers at Richard Branson's Virgin Group really know better?

Now that I have been on board Scarlet Lady for a few days, I am starting to think that maybe, in a few areas at least, they do.

Here, some of my first impressions of the vessel, which is on its maiden voyage out of Miami (I will post more of my initial thoughts on the experience in the coming days):

It's a ship for adults like no other

It's taken me a few days to fully appreciate what a difference it makes that this is an adults-only cruise vessel -- one where nobody under the age of 18 is allowed on board.

The fact that there are no kids on board means Virgin Voyages can offer a far more adult array of entertainment from one end of Scarlet Lady to the other than you'll find on the ships of Royal Caribbean , Norwegian Cruise Line and other big cruise brands, even during the daytime, and even in public areas such as around the pool. The line even can be a little naughty.

A couple of days ago, during an impromptu wedding event at the base of the swirling staircase in the center of the ship, an emcee loudly quizzed one of the two women getting married about their favorite sexual positions, much to the delight of the crowd of passengers looking on. You probably wouldn't see that on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas .

Naughty sex talk also was the theme of a one-woman cabaret show called Never Sleep Alone that took place last night in the ship's The Manor nightclub (transformed into a cabaret lounge). Raunchy and heavy on audience participation, it involved "resident sexologist" Alex Schiller, who claimed to have slept with more than 4,000 people, offering up tips on how to make sure you're never lacking for a partner in bed at night.

viking voyages reviews

In a playful hint at what we were supposed to do with the information, there were condoms on every table in the room for us to take away. And just to sexy it up a little more, Schiller (who some may know from her sex-focused podcast, also called Never Sleep Alone) stripped down to her bustier and stockings at the end of the show.

The kicker here is that I was watching this performance at 8 p.m., before I even had gone to dinner (there was another showing at 10:30 p.m.). This is a time when pretty much every other big ship at sea is running PG-rated entertainment in its showrooms to cater to a family crowd.

Virgin Voyages isn't the first cruise line to tout adult-focused ships where no kids are allowed . A handful of other lines such as Viking and the U.K.'s Saga Cruises have similar no-kids policies. But those lines offer a more traditional cruise experience aimed at older travelers. They are lines for sixtysomething and seventysomething retirees looking for late-in-life "enrichment" in the form of onboard lectures and educational touring in ports.

As you can see from the image above, Virgin Voyages is offering a whole new type of adult cruise.

The entertainment sets a new bar

Virgin Voyages promised to shake things up when it comes to cruise ship entertainment, and -- in my opinion, at least -- it has delivered. Big time. The entertainment that you'll see on Scarlet Lady is edgy and experimental and really pushes the boundaries of what entertainment at sea can be -- and not just because it includes a sex-themed show with a "resident sexologist."

For starters, the line has done away with the traditional, Broadway-style theater with rows of fixed seats that you'll find on most big cruise vessels as well as the traditional, Broadway-style shows and Las Vegas-style musical reviews that you'll typically find playing in them. In its place is a soaring, box-like entertainment space called the Red Room that can transform into all sorts of configurations to allow for different types of unusual performances.

The Red Room, notably, is home to what is surely the most avant-garde "show" ever on a cruise ship -- an energetic, dance party-meets-performance extravaganza called UNTITLED DANCESHOWPARTYTHING. Created by the well-known choreographers Sam Pinkleton and Ani Taj, it takes place in the Red Room configured as a flat dance floor, with a rolling stage in the middle and several other platforms on which dancers perform and interact as showgoers stand on the dance floor around them. The music is blasting, and the walls are lined with video screens projecting an ever-changing kaleidoscope of often incongruous images, including a giant cat head that exclaims "don't be an a**hole" to the crowd as assistants push the stage around the room, ushering showgoers out of the way. At times, the dancers encourage the crowd to join in with the dancing, and many do.

viking voyages reviews

The line has described the show as "a hype music video disguised as an absurdist style dance party," and that pretty much sums it up. I absolutely loved it.

Reconfigured to have two rows of stadium seating with a performance area in the middle, the Red Room hosts another wowzer of a show called Duel Reality that is a modern take on Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" told through highly choreographed, music-infused acrobatics.

Other entertainment on board is more subtle but no less avante-garde. Throughout this sailing, small groups of performers have appeared as if out of nowhere in lounges and bars to perform short "micro plays" lasting just a few minutes before disappearing. I was sitting in Sip, the ship's Champagne bar, a few nights ago with my TPG colleague Madison Blancaflor (stay tuned for her take on Scarlet Lady in the next few days) when a seemingly crazed man wearing a poncho and carrying an umbrella began asking me if I had "seen her." He then launched into a tale that I think was about some sort of rogue sailing ship of old.

viking voyages reviews

Madison and I were both so stunned by this odd intrusion into our otherwise quiet conversation that neither of us really caught what he was talking about. But in retrospect, it was kind of delightful (at least for me. Madison seems to still be a bit traumatized by the whole experience).

The entertainment on Scarlet Lady also includes a lot of party-like events such as the everyone-wear-red-and-be-prepared-to-dance Scarlet Night Pool Party that happens on the second night of this itinerary. There are performers dancing on the pool deck and part-way through the event, they encourage passengers to jump into the water with them.

viking voyages reviews

There also is nightly dancing in the ship's two-story-high nightclub, The Manor.

In general, it's a ship where there's always a party going on somewhere at night, and there's always music playing in almost every venue, even in places where it probably shouldn't be (often at a sound level several twists of the speaker dial too high -- at least for a 52-year-old like me; by the time you get to my age, you like to actually be able to hear the people with whom you're talking in bars and restaurants).

The dining sets a new bar, too

The days of cruise ships having one big main dining room where everybody on board eats in fixed seatings is long gone. These days, you'll find a wide choice of restaurants on most big cruise vessels, and even smaller vessels offer at least a few choices.

But the idea of a main dining room hasn't completely disappeared from the cruise world. On many ships, even when there are a lot of restaurant choices, there still is one or more "main" restaurants that is notably bigger than all the rest and where you will eat the bulk of your meals.

Often, these big main dining rooms are included in the fare, whereas the smaller "specialty" restaurants, which typically offer a more intimate and upscale experience, come with an extra charge.

viking voyages reviews

Virgin Voyages has done away with this sort of main vs. specialty restaurant arrangement completely on Scarlet Lady. There really is no main dining room on the ship. There is no default place where you will eat on most nights. Like a resort on land, Scarlet Lady is home to an array of eateries, none notably bigger than another, and there is no differentiation between "included eateries" and extra-charge venues.

The cost of going to any of the restaurants on Scarlet Lady is the same: nothing.

My take on this is one word: finally. Longtime cruisers are accustomed to the idea of the main dining rooms vs. specialty restaurants split on cruise ships. But to anyone who isn't a regular cruiser, it can just feel weird -- and outdated. I suspect it's a major hurdle for many non-cruisers (still the majority of Americans) to give cruising a try.

Virgin Voyages hypes the fact that it has more than 20 eateries on Scarlet Lady. But the reality is there are just six restaurants. The line gets to the higher number in part by counting all of the many separate food stations at Scarlet Lady's buffet-like food court . There are about a dozen of these stations, depending on how you count them.

But six restaurants for a ship the size of Scarlet Lady still is impressive (at 110,000 tons, Scarlet Lady isn't nearly as big as the biggest ships from some other lines).

I've tried four of the six eateries so far, and I've enjoyed them all, even if I quibbled a bit about the quality of a 'secret,' off-menu steak that is available at one of them.

I particularly loved Gunbae, a Korean barbecue eatery with circular tables built around specially engineered flameless grills where servers cook Korean-style seafood and meat in front of you. These same servers also lead you in Korean drinking games (the first round of shots of Korean soju is on them).

I also was impressed with the pasta dishes at Extra Virgin, the ship's Italian eatery. I ordered a side of carbonara to accompany my main course, a porcini-rubbed New York Strip steak, just to test it. I was pleasantly surprised to see the dish was made with bucatini, the long, narrow tube-like pasta that is considered proper for carbonara but often isn't used at Italian restaurants.

The pasta, notably, is hand-made on site.

It's inclusive in a wonderful way

The fact that none of the restaurants mentioned above come with a charge is a big deal.

There are $2,000-a-night luxury ships such as Crystal Cruises ' new Crystal Endeavor that include the cost of dining in all of their restaurants in their fares. But you don't see this sort of thing on the bigger ships operated by the likes of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line.

And it's not just the restaurants that are included in the fare on Scarlet Lady. So are gratuities for the ship's staff, a line item that can cost $15 a day per person or more on many lines, and onboard Wi-Fi (for a basic Wi-Fi connection that is relatively slow; a faster connection on this sailing came with a $40 per person, per cruise upcharge ).

In addition, a wide array of wellness classes, including spin classes and yoga classes, are included in the fare. That's not something you see on many lines.

A common complaint about Virgin Voyages that I have heard from cruising regulars over the past year as it has prepared to debut is that its pricing is too high. And, indeed, it's not an inexpensive line. The starting rate for four-night Scarlet Lady sailings out of Miami over the coming months is $650 per person. That's more than four times as much as the $151 per person starting rate you'll find for some four-night sailings out of Miami on what many cruisers consider the port city's best short-haul ship: Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.

But you'll pay a lot more in "extras" if sailing on Freedom of the Seas, where specialty restaurants, gratuities and Wi-Fi are not included in the fare.

Bottom line

I'm not blown away by everything that I am encountering on Scarlet Lady. While much of the ship is well-designed, with stylish, contemporary spaces, there are a few areas that are so minimalist as to appear almost unfinished. The elevator hallways, in particular, are so plain, unadorned and brightly lit that they give off the air of a hospital ward. There also is a noticeable lack of signage around the ship, to the point that it took me two days to discover one tucked-away bar called The Loose Cannon. Virgin Voyages' app isn't much help when it comes to getting you around, either (nor is it particularly intuitive).

But, for the most part, I am impressed by what I am seeing on Scarlet Lady -- and that's coming from someone who has sailed on more than 150 different ships during 20-plus years of writing about cruising. Virgin Voyages clearly has spent a lot of time rethinking what a cruise can be, and it has come up with some wonderful new ways of doing things.

That doesn't mean that I'm sure Virgin Voyages is going to be a success. It's possible that, despite the line's best efforts, the ship is still not cool enough for the young and the hip crowd that some have thought would be its natural market. Maybe no cruise ship can be. It also may be too pricey for a younger crowd. At the same time, Scarlet Lady may turn out to be just a tad too cool for many people in my generation, even for those of us looking to have some fun.

It's a fine line that Virgin Voyages is trying to walk. Whether it's a hit with the younger generations, older generations, both groups of people, or none at all, remains to be seen.

Gene Sloan is part of a three-person team from TPG and sister brand Lonely Planet reporting live this week from Scarlet Lady's maiden voyage out of Miami. You can find all of his dispatches on his author's page .

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

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Virgin Voyages vs Viking Cruises

Friday, April 5th

2024 Cruise Line Reviews

Virgin Voyages Review

  • Virgin Voyages
  • Best for adults-only fun in the Caribbean, Europe, and South Pacific
  • Four ships in the fleet
  • 100+ destinations
  • 20+ eateries featuring menus curated by Michelin star chefs (all-inclusive)
  • All essential drinks (water, juice, soda, tea, coffee) included
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Gratuities already included in the fare

Virgin Voyages is one of the newest cruise lines in the industry, getting its start in 2020. They offer a unique, fun, and modern experience strictly for adults, but there's nothing outdated or stodgy about these sailings. From the exciting onboard entertainment to the balconies with hammocks, Virgin Voyages does cruising differently. The amenities are tech-forward and eco-friendly, sailings are available that won't charge the dreaded "single supplement" , and you'll get a lot of premium perks at no extra charge (like WiFi and gratuities). For adults-only fun and relaxation, Virgin Voyages is a perfect choice.

Viking Cruises Review

  • Viking Cruises
  • Best for river cruises
  • Over 60 river- and ocean-going ships in the fleet
  • Viking Expeditions available to Antarctica, the Great Lakes, and Canada
  • Must be 18+
  • Complimentary amenities include Wi-Fi; house wines, beers, and soft drinks with onboard lunches and dinners; coffee and hot tea available 24/7; self-service launderettes
  • Every sailing includes one shore excursion in each port of call, including visits to UNESCO sites

Viking Cruises is a luxury cruise line known for its sophisticated and immersive travel experiences. With a fleet of more than 60 river and ocean-going vessels, Viking offers river cruises in Europe, Russia, Ukraine, Asia, and Egypt, as well as ocean cruises to destinations including Scandinavia, the Baltic, the Mediterranean, North America, the Caribbean, and the Arctic. The company is well-loved for its all-inclusive pricing, which covers everything from onboard meals and drinks to shore excursions and WiFi (but not gratuities, FYI). Viking is also known for its emphasis on cultural immersion and enrichment, with onshore experiences designed to help travelers connect with local people, history, and traditions. With an emphasis on comfort, relaxation, and exploration, Viking offers a high-end cruise experience for adult travelers seeking a refined and enriching vacation.

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  • Royal Caribbean

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4 Stars

  • Regent Seven Seas

Norwegian Cruise Line Review

  • Norwegian Cruise Line

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  • Princess Cruises

Holland America Review

  • Holland America

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The 15 Best Cruise Lines

Which cruise line is the best.

Cruising is a popular way of traveling for many people, offering a unique experience that combines the convenience of a floating hotel with the excitement of visiting multiple destinations in one trip. In an average year, over fifteen million people say "all aboard" and set sail on an amazing vacation.

There are many different cruise lines to choose from, and each one offers a different type of experience. Some are geared towards families, while others are more focused on luxury or adventure. What would you like to see and do while you're onboard? Is a casino a must-have or a rather-avoid? Would a Broadway-caliber show tip the scales for you? Do you need a wide range of activities to keep the kiddos happy while the adults live it up or relax? The onboard activities and amenities can really make or break your vacation, so be sure you know what you're getting.

The Best Cruise Lines

Cruise Line FAQ

Which cruise line is the best, what is included in the cost of a cruise, what is the minimum age to cruise, what are the dining options on a cruise ship, are cruise ships crowded, do i have to dress up, are activities included at destination ports, can i bring my own alcohol onboard.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Another factor that can influence which cruise line you choose is the itinerary. Cruise ships travel all over the world, but some cruise lines may not have destinations available where you're hoping to go. You should also consider the size of the ship: larger ships offer more amenities, but smaller ships can access ports that bigger ships can't.

Speaking of amenities, make sure you understand what you'll get as part of your fare and which extras will come with an additional cost. For example, most cruises offer drink packages for alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, but a few have drink stations where you can get complimentary lemonade, coffee and tea. Other amenities that might be important to you are Wi-Fi, spa services, babysitting, fitness classes, and upgraded dining experiences. You can usually get a decent discount if you sign up for an amenities package before you sail, so keep an eye out for promotions in the months leading up to your sailing.

When you take a cruise, it's almost always expected that you'll tip the crew members who have attended to your needs while onboard: your cabin steward ( who probably leaves your towels folded into fun shapes every night ), your servers at your nightly meals, and the head waiter. Cruise lines have a recommended gratuity to cover all three of those staff members, usually $15-$20 per traveler, per day; the total gratuity amount may be charged automatically to your account, or you may be given envelopes to make cash payments.

While it usually isn't mandatory to pay those gratuities - you can ask to have them removed if they're applied automatically, especially if you've received poor service - it's typically considered in poor taste not to tip at the suggested levels (because crew members' salaries, much like servers at your local restaurant, are based on the expectation of tips paid by guests). And, if you receive service that goes above and beyond, adding to the recommended gratuity is always appreciated. Be aware that tips for bartenders, poolside servers, and professional services provided in the spa or elsewhere are not included in the daily suggested gratuity and may be charged automatically at the time of service.

Now that you have a good overview of the cruising experience, which cruise line should you choose? Beyond the points we already covered, here are a few additional criteria that might make it easier to pick:

  • Embarkation port. You could get a great deal on a cruise, but what will it cost you to get to the port? That could involve airfare, an overnight stay or two in a nearby hotel (so that you're less likely to be affected by travel delays), and transportation from the airport or hotel to the port. This is especially true if you're taking a cruise that departs from an international destination.
  • Perks for repeat cruisers. Like frequent flyer programs on airlines, most cruise lines offer benefits the more you sail. If you find yourself absolutely loving cruise vacations, it can be advantageous to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Rewards programs can include casino benefits, complimentary meals at the upgraded dining experiences, exclusive sail-away parties with free cocktails and tchotchkes, early-access booking on future cruises, and much more.
  • Reputation. It's a really smart idea to see what other travelers have said about their overall experience with a cruise line before booking your trip. The ads on TV may make that private island look amazing, but someone who's been there might point out that you'll pay extra to get on that waterslide. Or, previous cruisers could tell you that despite having several formal nights on the schedule, a particular cruise line has no problem with people showing up to dinner in flip-flops and swimsuit coverups. Find out if the cruise line you're considering lines up in reality with what they advertise.

Here at Top Consumer Reviews, cruising is one of our favorite ways to travel and experience new things. And with so many different cruise lines to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But, don't worry: take a look at our in-depth analysis of today's most popular options, find the one that's the best match for your vacation ideas and your travel party, and book that trip you've been dreaming of. Bon voyage!

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The Best Reviews are at Top Consumer Reviews

IMAGES

  1. The Best Adult Only Cruises: Viking and Virgin Voyages

    viking voyages reviews

  2. Viking Venus review: Inside new Viking Voyages…

    viking voyages reviews

  3. Viking Highlights New Expedition Voyages

    viking voyages reviews

  4. Viking launches Great Lakes voyages starting in 2022

    viking voyages reviews

  5. Viking Voyages

    viking voyages reviews

  6. Viking Turns Cruise Voyages Into Science Expeditions

    viking voyages reviews

COMMENTS

  1. Viking Cruise Reviews (2024 UPDATED): Ratings of Viking River Cruises

    Show more filters. 1 - 10 of 9,391 Viking Cruise Reviews. HEART OF THE RHINE - LOVED THE ALPS. Review for a Europe - River Cruise Cruise on Viking Tialfi. CATANEO. First Time Cruiser • Age 60s ...

  2. Viking Ocean Cruise Reviews

    Good cruise on Viking. but with issues. Review for a South America Cruise on Viking Jupiter. PDXView. 6-10 Cruises • Age 70s. Read More. Sail Date: February 2024. Helpful. Cruise was great ...

  3. Viking Cruises Reviews

    Not so. • Poor judgment in resolving issues - there was a delay in arriving at a port due to the country's customs procedures. All guests understood this was not Viking's fault. But continuing with excursions such that we didn't get lunch till 3pm (seating, not eating) was absolutely thoughtless.

  4. Viking Ocean Cruises Review

    Rankings. Viking Ocean Cruises has been ranked based on an expert evaluation of the line's level of luxury, as well as an assessment of user reviews and health ratings. #1. in Best Cruise Lines ...

  5. Elegance at Sea: An Authentic Viking Ocean Cruises Review

    I am just back from my first Viking voyage, a 12-night cruise on Viking Sea,. In this review, I will share various aspects of the Viking experience, specifically a Viking Sea cruise ship review, to provide insights into what you can expect on this ship. I hope sharing this Viking Ocean cruises review will help you decide on your next adventure.

  6. Viking River Cruises Reviews

    1 - 10 of 8,954 Viking River Cruises Reviews. HEART OF THE RHINE - LOVED THE ALPS. Review for a Europe - River Cruise Cruise on Viking Tialfi. CATANEO. First Time Cruiser • Age 60s. Read More ...

  7. Viking Ocean Cruise Reviews (2024 UPDATED): Ratings of Viking Ocean Cruises

    Destination. Show more filters. 1 - 10 of 6,787 Viking Ocean Cruise Reviews. Great experience! Review for a Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise on Viking Mars. JVA63. 2-5 Cruises • Age 60s. Read More. Sail Date: March 2024.

  8. Our Review: Viking Ocean Cruises

    Our review of Viking Ocean Cruises comes after perhaps four years since we last sailed on one of their ocean ships. And remarkably, in that period, we have grown to become the #2 booking agents for Viking Cruises in the world. Further, Carol and I are the #1 booking agents for Viking Cruises, out of 20,000+ other agents in the Virtuoso Travel ...

  9. Viking Voyages

    Our love of the sea, sailing, and adventure combined with years of operational experience ensures every tour reaches its full potential. We invite you to join us on one of the world's most unique sailing trips. Bergen, Norway. Contact. Why book with Viking Voyages. Yacht Captain, Carpenter, Classic Car Dealer.

  10. Viking Cruises Review for April 2024

    Viking Cruises. Best for river cruises. Over 60 river- and ocean-going ships in the fleet. Viking Expeditions available to Antarctica, the Great Lakes, and Canada. Must be 18+. Complimentary amenities include Wi-Fi; house wines, beers, and soft drinks with onboard lunches and dinners; coffee and hot tea available 24/7; self-service launderettes.

  11. Cruising with Viking Ocean: Conclusion of Our 32-Day Hosted French

    The Viking Ocean Cruises 2022 Grand Polynesia Voyage has come to a triumphant completion in Los Angeles. Our longtime Cruise Specialists Voyage Host, Tom Mullen, shares his thoughts from the last few days of the voyage, which took place January 5 to February 6, 2022.

  12. The ultimate guide to Viking cruise ships and itineraries

    Viking voyages bring a lot of extended stays in ports where passengers get more time to explore historical sites and experience the local culture than is typical on cruises. Unlike most lines, Viking offers included-in-the-fare tours in every port, allowing every passenger on board to get a guided experience during stops without having to pay ...

  13. Review: What It's REALLY Like Aboard Viking River Cruises

    I think most of us are familiar with large ocean liners that sail to the Caribbean. River cruises offer a very different experience - they're much smaller ships, typically seating only 150-200 passengers. The Viking Hlin ship that I was on had about 150 passengers and approximately 60 crew members, for reference.

  14. Expert Review of Viking Sea Cruise Ship

    Excellent. Overall. Colleen McDaniel. Editor-In-Chief. Viking Sea, the second oceangoing ship from longtime river cruise stalwart Viking, is a stunning vessel that seamlessly integrates comfort ...

  15. Viking Ocean Norway Cruise Reviews

    1 - 10 of 1,428 Viking Ocean Norway Cruise Reviews. Best cruise line for us. Review for a Baltic Sea Cruise on Viking Venus. heartsgoout. First Time Cruiser • Age 70s. Read More. Sail Date ...

  16. Viking Ocean Cruises Review: Luxe Details, Lively Destinations

    Reviews are calling U the 'millennial' cruise experience with the balance of content and club scene. Passengers can pick and choose how to spend their time, and they will be sure to find amazing food and activities on and off the ship. ... Passengers can truly expect an impacting time away with a Viking voyage. Related Article: 6 Best ...

  17. Viking cruise cabins and suites: A guide to everything you want to know

    The typical Viking river ship has nine suites broken down into two categories — 275-square-foot Veranda Suites and 445-square-foot Explorers Suites. Bottom line. Viking operates ships with a very easy-to-understand array of cabins, unlike some of its competitors.

  18. River + Ocean Combinations

    Viking River & Ocean Voyages bring you the best of both worlds. More discoveries, from riverside villages to historic coastal ports. Cruise award-winning fleets of river and ocean ships. Cultural enrichment on board and on shore by river and ocean. A greater value: Fly overseas once for two cruises in one. Truly connect to your destination by ...

  19. I've been on more than 150 cruise ships; here are my first impressions

    Virgin Voyages isn't the first cruise line to tout adult-focused ships where no kids are allowed. A handful of other lines such as Viking and the U.K.'s Saga Cruises have similar no-kids policies. But those lines offer a more traditional cruise experience aimed at older travelers.

  20. Virgin Voyages vs Viking Cruises

    Virgin Voyages is one of the newest cruise lines in the industry, getting its start in 2020. They offer a unique, fun, and modern experience strictly for adults, but there's nothing outdated or stodgy about these sailings. From the exciting onboard entertainment to the balconies with hammocks, Virgin Voyages does cruising differently.

  21. Viking Voyager

    Enhance your onboard experience with our mobile app now available to all active Ocean, River and Expedition voyages. With our app, you can: View a Snapshot of Your Day. • Check daily schedule in your personalized calendar. • See what's happening on board with the Viking Daily. • Get weather forecasts, port information & more.

  22. Viking Expeditions Cruise Reviews

    1 - 10 of 254 Viking Expeditions Cruise Reviews. Learn while cruising in first class environment. Review for a South America Cruise on Viking Polaris. Valkyrie rider. 6-10 Cruises • Age 70s ...

  23. Virgin Voyages Cruise Reviews

    Virgin Voyages Cruise Reviews: See what 1,778 cruisers had to say about their Virgin Voyages cruise. Find detailed reviews of all Virgin Voyages cruise ships and destinations.