Viking River Cruise Longship Overview
I am not much for crowds, especially while on vacation. That means when I cruise, I tend to favor small luxury cruise ship lines that carry just a few hundred passengers. You won’t find me on a mega-ship with thousands of other vacationers vying for a lounge chair or waiting in the buffet line. Having always enjoyed intimate style cruises, I turned to Viking, a leader in the industry, to try river cruising for the first time. Recently, I had the opportunity to sail onboard the Viking River Cruise Longship Atla from Budapest to Nuremberg along the Danube River.
As a first-time river cruiser, I had no idea what to expect onboard this type of ship and how it might differ from being on an ocean liner. What I found is that by utilizing thoughtful design techniques Viking is able to make great use of all of the spaces throughout their Longships.
Viking River Cruise Longships Layout
Each Viking River Cruise Longship is made up of four decks. There is space for relaxing, eating, socializing and sleeping. With enough areas for everyone to enjoy, the luxurious ship never feels crowded. Due to unusually low water levels in Europe, that required a ship transfer mid-cruise, I had the opportunity to sail on both the Viking Atla and the Viking Jarl. From experience, I can tell you that these two vessels are exactly alike.
The Sun Deck
You will enjoy the best, unobstructed views of the river on the Sun Deck. From your lounge chair, you can literally watch the world go by. Seating is plentiful. There are loungers for sunbathing and tables and chairs for gathering with friends. There is also a large covered space on the top deck to shield you from the sun.
The ships sail at a leisurely pace allowing passengers to really take in the spectacular scenery. As you cruise along the river, picturesque villages like Dürnstein in the Wachau Valley of Austria will come into view. Make sure you have your camera with you at all times!
Note: For safety reasons, sometimes you will find the sun deck closed. When a longship goes under a bridge that has low clearance, the railings around the top deck collapse to lie flat, the wheelhouse lowers, and all of the chairs are put away. Passengers are also not allowed on the Sun Deck during lock transits.
The Upper Deck
The lounge, library and Aquavit Terrace are all found on the upper deck. If you enjoy al fresco dining chose to have your breakfast or lunch in the Aquavit Terrace. Additionally, on some nights, they’ll offer a bar-style menu for dinner.
The indoor lounge is quite large and is capable of accommodating all 190 passengers. Each evening before dinner, guests gather here to listen to the program director review the excursions for the next day.
Note: There is free Wi-Fi throughout the ship, although connection speed may vary. You might consider some of these options for staying connected while cruising if you find that you just cannot unplug for the week.
The Middle Deck
The Middle Deck is home to the reception area and the ship store. The Restaurant is also on this deck. In the evening dinner service begins promptly at 7:00 pm. Although seating is open, and no reservations are necessary, it is likely that you will have to dine with other passengers. The smallest table accommodates six people. If you desire more privacy, there are a few tables for two or four people up in the Aquavit Terrace.
Note: Room service is not available on a Viking River Cruise Longship. Unless you will be dining on shore or during an excursion, plan to eat during the scheduled service times.
We had a Veranda Stateroom on the middle deck. Even the stateroom is only 205 square feet, it felt spacious, not small. The floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors let in plenty of natural light making the cabin feel large and open. It is lovely to have a small outdoor living space to enjoy. The Veranda has two chairs and a small table.
Note: The Lower Deck staterooms are at water level and have half-height picture windows.
The hotel-style bed is very comfortable and appointed luxury linens and pillows. There are two different types of lights on the headrest which provide plenty of light for reading at night.
In the cabin, there are both 110/220 volt outlets and USB ports as well as a safe, refrigerator, and hairdryer. A large flat-screen TV has movies on demand, several major news networks, National Geographic and more. Each day you will find a copy of the Viking Daily on the credenza and fresh bottled water which is replenished daily. Housekeeping comes twice a day.
Often times I find clothing storage can be limited on a cruise ship, with not enough space to properly put away your belongings. The Viking River Cruise Longship staterooms have roomy wardrobes with shelving and space for hanging clothes. Under the bureau that runs the length of the room, there are a set of six soft closing drawers. Additionally, there is bedside storage and space under the bed for suitcases or other bulky items. Although it is not very large, the bathroom design is smart and makes good use of all the space. There is a roomy glass-enclosed shower, that is large by cruise ship standards, plus enough shelving space to store toiletries. The real luxury though is the radiant floor heat. There is nothing quite like stepping out of the shower onto warm tiles.
A Viking River Cruise is the perfect way to explore multiple European countries in the span of just one week. The longships are extremely comfortable and have many of the same amenities found in luxury hotels.
Disclosure: Complimentary accommodations, meals, transportation, and some activities were provided by Viking Cruises. No other compensation was received for this review. This post reflects the honest opinion of my experience without outside influence.