Viking Cruises began more than 20 years ago (1997) as a river cruise line. Today, you know it as one of the fastest-growing and most-diverse cruise companies in the world, offering river cruises and ocean voyages all over the globe. Plus, Viking will soon be launching (in 2022) its first vessels – Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris — in a planned fleet of expedition ships.
Viking Cruises has been successful in creating a consistently excellent cruise value, with an emphasis on comfortable and elegant ships, outstanding service and fun and interesting itineraries that highlight a region’s culture and history.
To help you pick your Viking Cruises trip, we offer this guide filled with our insider tips and info to help you enjoy a fabulous cruise with Viking no matter what type of sailing you choose.
Viking River Cruises
Viking made its name as a leader in river cruising. The cruise features ships with a sleek Scandinavian design, and these vessels carry curious travelers along the great rivers in Russia, Ukraine, Europe, Egypt and Asia.
Viking Mississippi, a 386-passenger ship, also is scheduled to launch on the Mighty Mississippi River in August 2022.
But it has been the Viking 190-passenger Viking Longships that sail on the Danube and Rhine Rivers in Europe which have helped propel river cruising into the spotlight as a spectacular way to see the world.
Viking cruises on nearly all the major rivers throughout the world, from the great inland waterways of Europe to the exotic and beautiful rivers in Asia, as well as the majestic Nile on its Egypt voyages.
In Europe, Viking’s popular Rhine and Danube River cruises range in duration from eight to 23 days, visiting up to eight different countries on the award-winning Viking Longships.
The grand voyages along these rivers take you the full length of the Rhine and Danube and also include the Main River (the longest tributary of the Rhine). These are the busiest rivers for cruising, with hundreds of ships moving up and down them weekly during the season, which typically runs from April to December, closing out with the highly popular Christmas Markets voyages.
Viking also sails with ships specifically designed for the Elbe River (between Berlin and Prague), the Nile River in Egypt, the Douro River in Portugal, the Seine in France, the Dnieper in Ukraine, the Volga in Russia and the Mekong in Vietnam and Cambodia. And, as mentioned, Viking Mississippi is coming soon to the United States.
All of Viking’s voyages focus on a theme to highlight the best of a region. This means there are so many kinds of cruises in their portfolio that might appeal to you. In France for example, you could choose the “Paris and the Heart of Normandy” roundtrip sailing from Paris that lasts eight days and explores the gardens and settings that inspired Monet, as well as the battlefields at Normandy and the art, wines, food, culture and other culturally significant points of interest along the Seine.
On the line’s “European Sojourn,” you’ll cruise in the canals of Amsterdam and alongside the stunning castles of the Rhine River as you visit Germany, Vienna, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania. That’s eight countries and countless memories on a 23-day epic voyage.
These are just two examples of the dozens of Viking river cruise programs you can choose from.
Viking Longships are easily recognizable in the Danube and Rhine Rivers, easing through the waterways or alongside the banks in some of the most charming and historic villages and cities throughout Europe, delivering avid travelers exciting new experiences each day.
The longships carry up to 190 passengers in 95 fairly spacious staterooms, a majority featuring balconies (either full verandas or French balconies). The ships also offer a pair of two-room, 445-square-foot Explorers Suites at the aft of the ships and six 275-square-foot, two-room Veranda Suites.
Cabins also include 40-inch flat screen TVs with a range of mon-demand movies and a selection of cable news and entertainment channels.
The ships offer a lot of outdoor space so that travelers can enjoy the views while sailing. These ships have four passenger decks, with cabins and public spaces on three interior decks. The top Sun Deck offers panoramic views, sun loungers, a walking track, putting green, herb garden and the ship’s wheelhouse, where the captain operates the vessel.
Deck 3 includes a main atrium area with the lobby and guest services desk and a small library area with a selection of books, puzzles and games. Also, this is the level for the Observation Lounge – which serves as the ship’s bar and entertainment area — and the innovative Aquavit Buffet and Aquavit Terrace dining spot, which sits outside at the bow after you pass through the lounge and is an ideal place for alfresco breakfast, lunch, dinner or cocktails.
The main dining room offers open seating and three meals a day, including buffet stations for breakfast and lunch.
Viking’s river ships don’t have fitness centers, spas or carry bikes onboard. (They do offer biking excursions, and will help you find bike rentals if you want to pedal around on your own.)
Viking’s specialized ships that sail in other regions such as Asia and Egypt offer mostly the same features but perhaps in a scaled-down space depending on the location.
Passengers enjoy a broad range of cultural programming and fun entertainment. Daily activities onboard and ashore include an included shore excursion in every port. This might be a tour of a fascinating city such as Vienna or Budapest or a look around the charming village of windmills, Kinderdijk, in the Netherlands.
Viking also offers a variety of optional excursions that come with a fee. The excursion included in your cruise fare is typically an overview-type tour of the city, town or village that you are visiting for the day. The optional for-fee excursions might be a trip to a popular museum or palace or an evening concert in Vienna, for examples.
You can also expect to enjoy onboard cultural or history talks or music performances in the ship’s Observation Lounge during your voyage. The cruise manager will also design a program of entertainment like dance parties or trivia contests to that you can interact and have fun with your new friends during your cruise.
All meals are included on the ship, and you can enjoy selected beer and wines, as well as sodas, with your lunch and dinner. You will pay for specialty drinks and cocktails as well as drinks ordered outside of those meal times.
Why It’s Special
The special touches you get on a Viking river cruise make it unique and memorable. The staff goes out of the way to offer friendly and attentive service. Viking makes every effort to accommodate special requests, whether it comes to food or activities. We made a casual reference to being excited to try the beers of Germany on our Rhine River cruise with Viking, and the cruise manager quickly arranged a special night-time group tour of Kolsch brewhouses in Cologne for anyone interested in joining.
He led our small group around for a festive night sampling the beer that made Cologne famous.
Viking is the world leader in river cruising, setting the standard for modern river cruising. It has the largest fleet, so you can find a special cruise almost anywhere on Viking. Imagine your delight in seeing ancient castles and lush vineyards along the banks of the rivers as you sail through Europe.
The ships also feature large and comfortable cabins and a diverse and engaging program of enrichment and entertainment.
Nightly, the Observation Lounge is filled with passengers engaged in lively conversation or hitting the dance floor.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Viking made its mark with river cruising, but the company’s expansion into ocean cruising has been a revelation for travelers who enjoy an affordable, immersive and inclusive sailing experience with a bit of luxury. Viking Ocean Cruises’ growing fleet of nearly-identical attractive and spacious 930-passenger ships offer a fantastic space to call home while joining fellow explorers on journeys to a range of fascinating cities and towns around the world.
Viking offers voyages to every part of the world on its ocean ships that are a delight to sail because of the excellent staff service and warm and embracing Scandinavian style.
You can choose cruises in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Northern Europe, Asia, Australia and even an epic sailing on a longer “Grand Voyage” or Viking’s “World Cruise.”
As mentioned, each Viking Ocean cruise ship carries up to 930 passengers and have only slight differences in the design of the indoor spaces. Viking Sea, Viking Sky, Viking Star, Viking Sun, Viking Orion, Viking Jupiter have all been launched since 2015 for the fast-growing Viking Ocean brand.
Viking Venus (2021) and Viking Mars (2022) are also on the way.
Comfort and smart design are the hallmarks of the ships, which offer passengers plenty of space to move around. No crowds onboard these vessels that feature more than 50 cubic feet of space per passenger. Compare that with a number around 30 on the mega cruise ships.
These ships offer a wide variety of staterooms, and they all have balconies. You can choose a Veranda Stateroom (from 270 square feet to 338 square feet), or get a range of extra perks and amenities in the larger Explorer Suites (from 757 square feet to 1,163 square feet). The Penthouse Junior Suite (405 square feet) and massive Owner’s Suite (1,448 square feet) also are options.
Public spaces include the line’s signature Living Room, which a wonderfully inviting gathering area in the center of the ship for live music, trivia, dancing, cocktails or just relaxing to read a book. The smartly designed ship features power outlets in these spaces.
The ships also offer a large fitness center and the LivNordic Spa (a complimentary amenity with thalassotherapy pool hot tub, steam rooms, snow grotto and sauna.) The ships also feature a salon for treatments and shops selling luxury clothes, jewelry and mementos from your cruise.
Deck 7 features a main pool in a serene area that is an oasis in any weather because of a retractable roof. You’ll also find the pool grill and bar here, and the adjacent Winter Garden and lanai areas are additional delightfully designed spaces for relaxing and watching the world go by as you sail. The Winter Garden is also home of the daily afternoon tea sessions accompanied by live music performances.
At the back of the ships on Deck 7 is the blissful Infinity Pool and hot tub, complete with loungers and calming views of the ship’s wake. The Explorers Lounge at the bow of the ship is a gathering spot for afternoon peace and quiet or evening convivial entertainment and cocktails. This lounge spans Decks 7 and 8, the spaces are filled with bookshelves holding reading materials and art pieces highlighting the heritage of adventurous travel. You’ll find it hard to leave once you plop down into one of the comfy couches or chairs adorned with soft blankets and pillows.
The ship, of course, features a range of bars and restaurants.
The World Café is the buffet area on the ships, and it always offers a variety of fresh seafood, pastas, pizza, sushi and desserts, breads and regional cuisine. The Pool Grill is a fast-casual option, and the burger menu is loaded with all sorts of creative options.
Mamsen’s serves Norwegian comfort foods. The eatery is located in the Explorers’ Lounge and named for the mother of Viking Cruise Line founder Torstein Hagen. You’ll find it hard to stay away. Drop by for a snack of open-faced sandwiches, specialty cakes and pastries or a late-night snack of cured meats and pea soup. The signature favorites include the delicious heart-shaped waffles topped with jam or brown goat cheese.
Manfredi’s is the Italian restaurant, and the Chef’s Table venue offers a rotating multi-course menu highlighting special cuisine from around the globe — such as Mexican, Asian, French and others — and paired with the recommended wines.
The Restaurant is Viking’s traditional open-seating main dining room. You can get breakfast, lunch and dinner in this venue. All of these dining experiences are included in your cruise fare.
Live music and events such as Armanac and chocolate tastings happen in Torshavn, a night club with a dimly lit setting and ultra-hip vibe. The Theater offers enrichment talks, nightly shows and movie nights.
Viking Ocean cruise fares include all meals, and beer and wine with your lunches and dinners.
You get unlimited use of the LivNordic Spa, and Viking offers one included shore excursion in each port (typically a bus tour or walking tour of the destination.)
WiFi is also complimentary.
Tip: Get the Viking Silver Spirits drink package if you like to enjoy a drink or three each day of your cruise. It’s just $19.95 per person per day, an extremely affordable price when compared to other packages in the cruise industry.
Why It’s Special
Viking Ocean cruises offer creative itineraries to lesser-visited ports and destinations. The 930-passenger ships are welcomed into numerous interesting ports in places like Norway, Estonia and Sweden as well as charming islands of the Caribbean, such as Antigua, Tortola, or on adventurous journeys to the Falkland Islands and the fjords of Chile.
All staterooms have balconies, service is also top-notch, and the space-per-passenger ratio allows you to roam the ship without ever encountering a crowd. It’s a truly blissful and enriching cruising experience.