PHOTO: Viking River Cruises' Viking Hild. (photo by Jason Leppert)
As of 2017, Viking River Cruises is sailing 48 of its acclaimed Viking Longships, and we have some suggestions for how to best enjoy your time onboard the next-generation fleet.
Don’t Expect an Ocean Ship Experience
A riverboat is not an ocean cruise ship, and that’s perfectly alright. In fact, the Longships' smaller size ensures a more intimate experience that is a pleasant change of pace.
Just don’t head onboard anticipating lavish entertainment and dozens of dining options; You won't find them here. Instead, you’ll get a return to cruising basics where the destination is at the heart of the experience.
Maximize the Shower Space
Cabins are comparable in size to ocean ships with the only exception perhaps being the private bathrooms. They are understandably smaller, but like the rest of the ship, skimpier showers also cleverly maximize every inch of space.
Both glass enclosure panels swing in and out, making it easy to enter for bathing. When out, you can swing them completely back into the shower and out of the way while drying off.
Take Advantage of Inclusions
Viking Longships also delightfully differ from ocean ships in their extensive inclusiveness. Wi-Fi access is entirely free onboard, for instance. So too are house soft drinks, beers and wines at meal times. Plus, a complimentary shore excursion is available in every port.
That means Viking offers an exceptional value proposition, one that it has even extended to its own ocean product.
READ MORE: Viking River Cruises' 2017 Viking Longships Review
Charge and Bring Your QUIETVOX Devices
Speaking of shore excursions, most rely on the cruise-use of QUIETVOX audio devices for broadcasting the tour guide’s commentary to guest ear pieces when touring destinations. They are located in the cabin, and it can happen that people either forget them or neglect to charge them.
Just in case, the line usually can accommodate a spare replacement on the spot. Or as an alternative, consider enjoying the tour in part or entirely without commentary, simply taking in everything for yourself.
Grab an Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
A hidden gem and a perfect snack to enjoy when returning from a tour, Viking’s signature oatmeal raisin cookies are at the coffee stations in the afternoons. They truly are the best such cookies I have ever had, and I’m not usually a fan of the variety. (Friend and colleague Chris Owen concurs.)
Put some on a plate and take them back to your room as a treat before dinner.
Enjoy Dinner at the Aquavit Terrace
Another little-known secret is the ability to grab dinner at the Aquavit Terrace. Breakfasts and lunches are more readily available here and at the main Restaurant, but the al fresco alternative is a much quieter option for dinner (as well where bar snacks are served).
The menu is more extensive than you might expect, with the likes of hamburgers, other sandwiches and even quesadillas enjoyed upstairs. It’s especially a great way to enjoy the passing scenery when the ship is sailing in the evening hours.
The venue's convertible nature ensures it can open up when the weather is warm and close back up when it is cold.
READ MORE: Top Five Picks for Summer Cruise Destinations
Catch Up on “Downton Abbey”
As mentioned before, entertainment is sparse onboard, save for a fine resident pianist and the occasional regional musicians brought aboard to serenade guests. But there is another option.
The large flat panel televisions in each cabin have a good library of free on-demand films and TV shows, and that includes “Downton Abbey.” Since Viking was a sponsor of PBS’ Masterpiece, you can catch up on episodes of the UK's hit program.
The cruise line even offers an optional tour of the show’s Highclere Castle filming location as well.