Fodor’s Expert Review
Viking Europe, Viking Neptune, Viking Pride and Viking Spirit are four sister ships that set the bar for river cruising in Europe when they were launched in 2001. They feature a beautifully designed layout of public areas and a wraparound deck that allows guests to enjoy scenery in the open air any time they wish, even during canal lock transiting or while sailing under low bridges; each ship accommodates just 150 guests in spacious staterooms, most with windows that open. See Europe on an elegant, versatile river cruise ship.Read More
Its French-dedicated sister ships—the Viking Neptune and the Viking Pride—are built with the same features as the attractive Viking Spirit, which has a walk-around, open-air promenade deck and a partially-covered sundeck to enjoy eight-day cruises from Paris to Normandy that include a stopover in historic Giverny to visit Monet’s former home and famous water lily gardens. The Viking Spirit was launched in 2001.
In the luxury river cruising niche, Viking is an absolute winner, receiving praise from both the industry and demanding clientele. In 2013, Viking will operate 30 vessels. Nearly half of these were added in the last two years as the new Longship-class of next-generation vessels, inspired by ancient Norse longships and designed with sophisticated elegance by famed Norwegian maritime architects Yran and Storbraaten. All-inclusive fares, superb service, and sleek rooms with exceptional views are showcased. Apart from minor design flaws, river cruising doesn’t get any better than this.
Viking’s two smallest ships are the intimate 124-passenger Fontane and Schumann, both built with the shallow Elbe River in mind. Among Viking’s other ships, capacity ranges between 150 and 160 guests. These include the Danube, Europe, Neptune, Pride, Sky, and Spirit. With capacity for 198 guests, Helvetia and Sun are larger. The first “green” ship, built in 2009—the 189-passenger Legend—features diesel electric hybrid engines. The wow factor is high for newer green vessels Aegir, Embla, Freya, Idun, Njord, and Odin—all launched in 2012.
Cruises in Europe are offered on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Elbe, Saône, Seine, and Rhône rivers, as well as the canals of the Netherlands and Belgium. Viking also has five ships in Russia and Ukraine. Kirov, Pakhomov, Peterhof, and Surkov sail on the Volga, while Lomonosov meanders the Dnieper.