Ok, let’s get this out of the way. Viking river cruises aren’t cheap. In fact, for most of us, saving for a luxury river cruise is a multi-year process.
Of course, this is not necessarily a bad thing, as anticipation can be part of the fun of any trip. But, the question still remains. Do Viking river cruises offer an excellent value for money? Or, are you better off going with one of the lesser-known ships on the river?
This winter, I had the opportunity to join Viking on their Rhine Getaway cruise, so, I now have a good understanding of what they offer. Now, I can’t imagine taking a river cruise with anyone else!
Here are 5 reasons Viking river cruises are worth every single penny.
From the second you step on a Viking longship, you feel like you have entered another world. The décor is elegant. The staff is impeccably trained. The music is tasteful. All of these factors combine into an ambiance that strips the stress right off of your shoulders. It’s almost as if the ship is saying, “You deserve this. You’ve worked so hard. Now sit back, relax and let me take care of you.”
Of course, the ship itself is magnificent. But, what really sets Viking apart is the attentiveness of its crew. When my waiter noticed that I like to add a few ice-cubes to my wine, he made this a standard part of his routine. Every morning, as I walk to breakfast, the crew greets me by name. As with so many things in life, it’s the details that count – and Viking nails them!
On many large ocean-going cruise ships, visiting the specialty restaurants will set you back a pretty penny. The buffet may be free, but, if you want a truly special dining experience, you will need to be prepared to pay extra. This makes sense when you consider the fact that large cruise ships have to serve thousands of passengers at every meal. There simply isn’t time to provide everyone with a luxury dining experience.
Life on a Viking ship is completely different. With fewer than 200 passengers to serve, the food is top notch and the service is truly personal. At the same time, the dining experience isn’t stuffy or uncomfortable. As with so many things on a Viking ship, the crew just wants you to feel comfortable.
On my ship, the crew was testing a special Scandinavian menu, which they may decide to roll out on other cruises. I won’t give away too many secrets here, but, let’s just say that the food was spectacular. The crab-cakes, in particular, were the best that I have ever tasted. If you go on a Viking cruise, don’t forget to try this special dining experience.
Many cruise lines offer low up-front prices and make their money on the “extras.” For example, they might charge for shore trips and cultural experiences. With Viking, cultural experiences are not a side show. They are an integral part of the trip. As a result, most of the shore trips that Viking offers are included in the price. This includes transportation, guided tours and event entry.
With Viking, traveling into each city is a pleasure. Every morning, you are whisked away from the ship in an air-conditioned, luxury coach. As you travel to your next cultural experience, Viking’s expert guides give you all the context you need. They even teach you a few words of the local language. All-in-all, it’s an amazing experience.
Of course, they also offer optional paid events, but, these are not necessary to getting the most from your cruise.
By the time we reach our 60s, most of us are very conscious about our health. This includes being careful about how much alcohol we consume. At the same time, for those of us enjoy the occasional drink, taking a cruise can be an opportunity to relax the rules a little bit.
This is another area that Viking stands out. For starters, they include high-quality beer and wine with every meal. As you would expect on a luxury cruise, there is never any tension with the crew. Within reason, you are invited to sit back, relax and enjoy your favorite beverages.
In addition to beer and wine, our cruise offered free specialty alcoholic beverages when appropriate. For example, when we got together to decorate the Christmas tree, the eggnog and hot chocolate with Bailey’s Irish cream were plentiful. At the German themed dinner, cherry schnapps was the beverage of choice – at least for those of us who were brave (or reckless) enough to partake.
One of the most challenging parts of any trip is finding comfortable, affordable accommodation. You want to stay in a hotel that offers all of the comforts of home, but, you also want to be close to all the action. As luxury floating hotels, Viking ships offer the best of both worlds.
As one woman commented on my cruise, “This is great. You just need to unpack your suitcase once!” This simple statement captures the convenience that river cruising offers. Every day, you are delivered into the very heart of a new city. You don’t need to worry about checking in to a new hotel. Your hotel comes along for the ride.
At the end of the day, when it comes to river cruising, you get what you pay for. Viking is certainly not the cheapest option on the water, but, they may just be the best. It may take a bit longer to save for a Viking cruise, but, it is definitely worth it – because YOU are worth it!
Have you ever taken a river cruise? What was your experience? Do you agree that it is sometimes worth waiting a little longer to take a truly spectacular trip? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.
Tags Senior Cruises