Viking is a travel brand commonly thought of as synonymous with European river cruising, and for a number of good reasons. Easy-to-navigate online Viking resources make planning easy. In price comparisons with other river cruise lines, Viking typically comes out ahead. Itineraries range from classic Rhine/Danube sailings to exotic China, Russia and Portugal offerings. Those are all good reasons to consider a Viking River Cruise. But what makes Viking a perfect choice? Here are but a few of the reasons:
Viking River Cruise crew members come from the part of the world in which their ship sails. It is not uncommon to pass by the hometown of a cabin steward on one itinerary or a favorite place of a waiter on another. That makes for happier crew members which translates to a better experience for travelers.
Also not hard to find: crew members who came from the world of big ship ocean cruising. They appreciate being one of 50 crew on a Viking Longship as opposed to one of thousands on a big ocean ship. Life is good for them and includes a Viking-exclusive benefit: a retirement program. That has the best of river cruise crew members lining up to get on a Viking ship.
A big part of any cruise experience is dining and river cruises are no exception. On a Viking River Cruise, the menu changes as the ship sails from one country to another, reflecting the local culture and cuisine. Better yet, beers and wine also change as the ship sails through some of the most renowned regions of production in the world.
Add in that those evolving vintages are included in the price for good measure – this would of itself make for a better than average value. That there are culinary demonstrations, tastings and geo-specific events is an unexpected bonus.
One of the commonly misunderstood parts of river cruising is that itineraries often vary from what is published in a brochure. Compared to ocean cruises where ships go from place to place with few variations, river cruises commonly adjust itineraries for a variety of reasons. High or low water levels can cause a modification of an itinerary that results in what is called a “ship swap”.
Say the river level is too high to go under a bridge. River cruise lines with just a few ships will cancel the sailing travelers commonly plan far in advance, ruining their trip. If they have enough ships, then the passengers will move from one ship on one side of the bridge to another on the other side. The two ships involved in the swap might be different, better or worse than the one left behind. The large fleet of identical Viking Longships makes ship swaps a breeze with few cancellations.
You don’t have to look far to find river cruise lines and ships with more features. Some try to provide an experience on the river that is similar to an ocean cruise. While that effort might be appreciated and seem attractive to fans of ocean cruises, it is a futile effort for the most part. River cruise ships are limited by size. They can not be any taller than the lowest bridge they will pass under. They can not be any wider than one of the numerous locks they will pass through. One of the big factors in the value of a Viking River Cruise comes from the fact that they know why travelers come to Europe for a river cruise: to see the places along the river. Not to have a treatment in a tiny spa or use one of a few machines in an exercise room.
All of the above gets you close to what makes Viking perfect for your river cruise. What “seals the deal” with Viking is actually a side effect of everything else they do. When it is all said and done, when travelers are on their way back home after sailing with Viking, one element of the overall experience brings them back for more: it was a very personal experience that exceeded their expectations. You can’t ask for more than that from any travel company.
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