Norwegian Vikings didn’t always have the best of intentions. They had a reputation for keen navigational abilities and their Viking Longships were the envy of most seafaring warriors, but they were not known for their hospitality, shall we say. Fast forward to current day and the Norwegians still know how to build sleek ships and they are still referred to as longships. Viking River Cruises has turned their longships into river-going boutique hotels.
While some mega cruise ships carry thousands of passengers, Viking longships have a capacity of 190, in addition to a crew of 48-50. At 443 feet, you will not be getting lost on the ship, as I often did on another ocean-going cruise line. Instead, you’ll explore Europe’s rivers on a floating hotel of sorts. That’s because the Norwegian-based company employs hotel managers on their ships and they offer the same personalized service of a boutique hotel. From hotel quality beds to high-end bath amenities, you’ll feel like you are staying in a hotel, all while the scenery changes around you. One of my favorite features of river cruising – only having to unpack my suitcase once!
I sailed with Viking on a Danube River cruise awhile back, exploring Christmas Markets in several countries. On this particular cruise, our longship explored the heart of Germany. Once again, I set sail during Christmas Market season, as river cruising is one of the best ways to bring on the holiday cheer in my opinion. On this particular voyage, I met solo travelers, couples celebrating a special anniversary, a mother/daughter holiday trip and a very special father and son sunset sail – as this would be their last big trip together.
You’ll find all the luxuries inside the longship that you would expect in an upscale hotel. The light-filled atrium lobby is where you’ll check in and out of the ship for daily journeys into town while your ship is docked. Additionally, there is a restaurant onboard, with a kitchen turning out high-end cuisine, Aquavit Terrace for outside dining, a library and computer center and sundeck for exercising and watching the ship pass through locks. The staterooms are well designed (I’m part Norwegian, so I feel okay boasting about the smart-design room features.) Of course, sailing on the river is like moving along an escalator, most times it is smooth sailing. Additionally, the Viking ship has complimentary wifi! Now that’s something not every hotel offers.
I wouldn’t recommend this trip for children or teenagers unless they are interested in history and mature for their age. There are no rock climbing walls, teen video rooms or swimming pools on board, instead your children will be dining with adult passengers and learning about the region they are visiting on shore excursions.
Rates on European river cruises start at $1,999, depending on the destination, length of stay and room type. While beer and wine are included with lunch and dinner pricing, packages deals are available for an additional fee. Most shore excursions are included in pricing, with additional fees listed for some shore excursions. Check the website for current pricing.
Viking Longship hotel review and photos by San Francisco-based travel writer & river cruise enthusiast Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Viking River Cruises while researching additional travel articles.