After taking two Viking River Cruises it is clear this is a great travel option and a terrific convenience for middle aged couples and seniors. You are met at the airport where your luggage is taken away to be transported to your hotel. You then begin your tour with an overnight stay at a 4 or 5 star hotel centrally located in a major the city not far from where the ship is docked. A concierge from Viking is available in the lobby and can suggest places to go and things to do on your own. There are optional excursions you may be able to sign up for at this time as well. Your luggage is picked up from the hotel and brought to your cabin where it stays until the last day of the river tour. Your luggage is then transported to a hotel for the final night of your tour. You are escorted to the airport and helped until you go to the security check. You literally don’t have to think!! You have an option to include a pre or post tour with stay at the hotels you checked into.
After you are checked into your comfortable cabin by noon you generally have lunch on board in the dining room or enjoy a buffet lunch near the lounge are. The choice is yours. On Viking there is one dining room and one buffet area. There is open seating which allows you to get to converse with almost everyone on board by the end of the cruise leading to the development of lasting travel friendships. The menu includes various gourmet dishes at least one from the areas in which you have been with a choice of about 5 different dishes daily plus the meals offered as options if you do not want the daily menu. Your dietary needs are satisfied as well. Coffee, tea, beer or wine is plentiful during the meals. You can purchase alcoholic drinks at the bar. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate and cookies are always available.
There are no more then 200 passengers onboard. On the open top deck you can sit and enjoy a 360 degree view while sailing smoothly on the river. The cruise director occasionally indicates sites along the river. You do much of the cruising at night and dock during the early morning, after breakfast to either go on an included excursion or an optional excursion or go on your own. Free time is built into the excursions after the tour guide completes their presentation. Usually there is about 15 people in a group depending on the site you are visiting. The excursions are given by local guides who are experts in the area in which you are travelling. Cultural experiences are always available such as a concert in Vienna, visiting a kindergarten in Bulgaria, sitting with a family in Croatia for coffee and cake and so on. The excursions offered do cater to different activity and interest levels. The excursions offered are, in my opinion are excellent.
Unlike an ocean cruise, river cruising is very low keyed. In the evening there are often cultural presented by locals from the next port stop on the following day. Demonstrations, speakers from the areas you will visit, onboard dancing, live music, or games directed by the cruise director are examples of evening activities. The cruise director will go over the agenda for the following day directly after dinner. All activities are optional. The dining and programs offered are interesting and allow for socializing with new friends from all over the English speaking nations.
River cruising is not for everyone. If you are a party person or travelling with children an ocean cruise is a better option. In fact children are not permitted on most river cruises.
If you enjoy an intimate, calm, culturally enriching atmosphere this is definitely a great travel option for you!