You may have seen the Viking River Cruises commercials during your favorite TV show or during an episode of “Downton Abbey.” Beyond the aerial views of castles and the Viking Longships, there is much more to this line. Unlike other standard ocean cruises, your river cruise will be focused on the destination and cultural enrichment.
Before my first river cruise, I wondered if this would all be too cerebral of a vacation for me. After all, I had enjoyed lounging poolside sipping a Coco Loco in hand during my last cruise. I had seen the photos of Viking River Cruises, and it all piqued my interest. Now, after two Viking River Cruises, the way I look at travel and cruising in general has changed.
Here are some of my favorite reasons you should take a Viking River Cruise:
- The Crew and Staff – As one customer put it, “They are like a well-oiled machine.” During our two cruises, they never ceased to impress me. Unlike being on a large mega cruise ship, you will get to know many of the crew members by name and they yours. They are genuinely very warm and make things run on time and smoothly during your whole cruise. The crew is limited in size so you will see them working together as a team often. The ambiance is casual, but the ship is spotless and warm with its Scandinavian design.
- Don’t Worry, You’re With Viking – It can be very intimidating traveling overseas for the first time. I know it was for me and my wife. So much of it is truly foreign in language, culture, and currency. Viking Cruises simplifies this all for you. If you purchase your flight and transfers through Viking, they meet you at the airport. You are then taken by coach or bus to your Viking Longship. Your bags are taken from you, and the next time you will see them is in your cabin. When you return to the airport, the crew will escort you inside to check-in. Once inside, they make sure you’re all set and have no problems getting to your gate. It’s honestly like having a local friend holding your hand along the way. It’s the little things like this that make what could be a stressful time easy and enjoyable instead. Viking does this repeatedly, and it’s why they have so many repeat customers.
- Your Home Away From Home – During your cruise, you may feel like you’re still at home. How can that be? The crew, staff and tour guides all speak English. Further, most–if not all–of your passengers will be from the United States. Some passengers may be from Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Since the whole experience is tailored predominantly for guests from the United States, you won’t have to hear announcements in seven different languages or use a language line to order an extra bagel at breakfast. It’s one of those little things that Viking Cruises does that makes you all the more comfortable away from home.
- It’s Already Included – When you go on a traditional ocean cruise, it’s always difficult to budget.To book your cruise, you pay your basic cruise fare and often can include your tips. However, once you step onboard your ship you’re bombarded with what seems like endless opportunities to buy extra things. On your Viking Cruise your out-of-pocket expenses can be minimal. You have tours, entertainment, and all meals already included for each day. If you want to use the internet, you have an internet station and free Wi-Fi onboard. They even have free movies and music available on your TV in your cabin. Beer, wine, and soda is complimentary during lunch and dinner. Your cabin includes an always fresh selection of fruit, ice, and bottled water. You will have some opportunities to purchase some optional tours and of course you will be expected to pay your tips at the end of the cruise. However, compared to a traditional cruise, you are not continually bothered to buy extras because they’re already included.
- Become An Explorer – I have traveled to a lot of places. But taking a river cruise made me feel more like an explorer. It starts with the international flight and the realization that you’re going to a land far away. Before you know it, you are on an ancient river with sights, sounds, and smells new to your senses. You have spent most of your adult life with your only reference to castles and Medieval times in story books and theme parks. Now you find yourself immersed in the culture, language, and food. This is different from other cruises. You’re not on an island tour looking out a window. Your feet are touching the same ground as your ancestors’ feet did, as you visit cathedrals, castles, and pathways that have been used for thousands of years. You sample the food and meet everyday people along the way. This is no cheap diversion or tour; this is a once in a lifetime experience. It changes you. You now understand a new place and feel truly connected to it. The ancient river becomes your conduit for discovery and exploration.
For more information on Viking River Cruises visit www.vikingrivercruises.com