Viking River Cruise amenities pamper passengers with the ultimate in creature comforts. Here are Backroad Planet’s Top 11 amenities!


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We were guests of Viking Cruises, but the pleasure of shipboard amenities was all ours.


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Viking River Cruises by design pamper their passengers in every possible way. We should know! Jerry and I just returned from a journey down the most ancient of backroads, on a 15-day Grand European river cruise through five countries on three rivers. From the moment we boarded our longship, the Viking Mimir, to the time we said our goodbyes, Viking Cruises never slacked in giving us the ultimate royal treatment. Although we could never enumerate the countless ways Viking provided us the finest in creature comforts, there are few luxurious standouts we could not let go unsaid.


Red Carpet Treatment


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Our Amsterdam search for the docking location of the Viking Mimir was nothing less than a wild goose chase (more about that later), but our release from the cab ride felt like a homecoming of prodigal sons. Viking literally and figuratively rolled out the red carpet for us. As we ambled up the gangplank, several staff members were waiting to welcome us with warm smiles and the announcement that dinner was being served. The hotel manger showed us to our veranda stateroom where we discovered yet another welcome.


Flowers and Fruit


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They say . . . whoever “they” are . . . that it’s the little things that count. Viking must believe that adage because they major in minors so well. Upon arrival, our stateroom had been appointed with fresh flowers, fruit, sparkling wine, and a handwritten note of welcome from the hotel manager. For some reason we never got around to sampling the complimentary wine, probably because there were so many other beverage options, but the fruit was another story. Our stateroom steward left fresh fruit daily. The nectarines were tasty, but the green grapes were our favorites.  Our flower arrangement lasted for the duration of the journey. Although the peonies faded, the delphiniums and Canterbury bells remained pristine until the end.


Coffee and Cookie Station


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Without question, the onboard coffee and cookie station was a regular hangout of ours. A selection of fine teas and a variety of coffees were available 24 hours a day, . . . but alas the cookies were not. A selection of fine pastries appeared at the station during the morning hours, replaced with addictive cookies in the afternoon, but by the evening hours, when we really wanted a late-night snack, they were all put away. Because we could not live without those ambrosial oatmeal raisin and chocolate macadamia delicacies, it didn’t take us long to find a solution. A mischievous waiter snuck us out some cookies the first night, but after that we learned to grab a stash after lunch to carry to our cabin for later. Remember that tip!


L’Occitane Bath & Body Products


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Viking stateroom baths are stocked with the fragrance of Provence. After showering and shampooing, often twice a day with L’Occitane products, the essence of citrus verbena is one I will always associate with a Viking river cruise. Although I am a devotee of Yardley Lavender, another unisex line, this French designer fragrance is now running a close second. Shhh . . . . don’t tell anyone I jumped ship with two sets of shampoo, soap, and body wash!


Parties & Celebrations


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Anyone who knows me well knows that I am most definitely NOT a party animal. Loud, obnoxious settings make me want to head for the hills. On board our Viking longship it seemed that every time we turned around there was another celebration in the making. We had an Explorer Society cocktail party, then a special Canada Day gathering, a 4th of July celebration, a Taste of Austria dinner (where the crew pulled out all the stops), and several other events. All of them were easygoing affairs, but also great fun!


Publications


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Viking does a thorough job communicating with daily print publications including mini-newspapers available at breakfast, maps of local port cities at the front desk, assorted recipes and information sheets distributed at presentations, and my personal favorite the Viking Daily that always appeared in our stateroom while we were at dinner to help us plan for the following day. The front page of each Viking Daily features a detailed schedule of the next day’s activities, while the remaining three pages provide history and background of daily destinations, cultural mini-lessons, local fast facts, and additional things to see and do while in port.


Send-Offs and Welcomes


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Viking staff members were always at their posts as our tour groups left the ship each day. They distributed bottles of water to keep us hydrated during the record-breaking heatwave of the European summer and to send us off with enthusiastic wishes for the day. Even better, they were there to greet us when we returned with warm, moist towels and tasty tidbits such as Chef Axel’s handmade chocolate truffles.


Lectures & Presentations


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Viking River Cruises do not feature highly-energized stage productions typical of ocean cruise lines. They do, however, have lectures, presentations, demonstrations, and/or low-key floor shows daily. The comedic opera singers, glassmaking demonstration, and the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal presentation were especially memorable. The ever-present cruise pianist provided relaxing background music, as well as accompaniment for singing and dancing in the evening. These laid-back entertaining and educational amenities were much more to my liking than tiresome commercial glitz and glitter.


Unexpected Treats


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Who doesn’t like the element of surprise? On board our Viking longship there were always treats appearing when you least expected them. Suddenly, waiters would appear with complimentary cocktails, savory morsels, shots of local spirits, hors d’oeuvres, or various other tastings. Sometimes these treats appeared in our stateroom in the form of chocolates or flowers. Just one more way our riverine host made us feel special!


Housekeeping


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I first discovered the ship housekeeping staff one morning when I awoke earlier than usual. I thought a special cleaning force had boarded the ship when we docked earlier. Not so! They had been there all along doing their sweeping and dusting and polishing and sanitizing while passengers slept until our ship sparkled like new.


Ship Staff


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Although this list is not numbered in order of importance, in this case, I truly saved the best for last. The staff of the Viking Mimir were without question the best amenity on board. These talented professionals were responsible for making the magic happen for all of us, and they did. Ship executives such as the hotel manger, maître d’, executive chef, and concierge were gregarious people with big personalities who filled the gathering spaces with their warmth. Without question, our program director Roos Wilmer was truly one of the most congenial, gifted leaders I have ever met. But it did not stop there. Our stateroom steward Jonathan with his ever-cheerful smile and gentle spirit brightened the entire upper deck. I will never forget his greeting of, “Happy American Day!” on the morning of July 4. Our wait staff were the people we got to know best because they were at our beck and call during breakfast, lunch, dinner, and every special event. These lovely people from nations around the world wormed their way into our hearts in a way we will never forget. I never got a straight answer, but I am positive that Viking employees have to pass intense personality assessments before they are hired. Thanks Viking, for the human amenity that blessed our river cruise more than any other!


Final Words


This post highlights some of the many ways Viking River Cruises go above and beyond to provide their passengers the best in comfort and convenience. We learned on our recent Grand European Tour that a Viking river cruise is everything you dream it will be and so much more. If you would like to combine the luxuries of an all-inclusive resort with travel to authentic scenic and historical destinations, then a Viking river cruise is your best bet!

As always, Jerry and I love hearing from our readers. If you have taken a river cruise, what shipboard amenities did you enjoy? What services and conveniences do you think are essential to river cruise travel? We invite you to leave your comments and questions below, and we always respond!


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Viking river cruise amenities are designed to pamper passengers with the ultimate in creature comforts. Here are Backroad Planet's Top 11 amenities!

 

Howard Blount is founder and co-owner of the travel blog BackroadPlanet.com. He has traveled internationally since boyhood and lived abroad in Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay. Now his passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. On the stuffy side, “Mr. Blount” has been a writer, consultant, and published author with the likes of Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Although his road trips are financed by his day job as a middle school teacher, Howard would much rather be doing anything that includes mountains, waterfalls, dachshunds, gospel choirs, books, restored classic movies on Blu-ray, HDTV, autumn, sandhill cranes, hot springs, Florida springs, rain and other gloomy weather, log cabins, cracker shacks, abandoned sites, unearthed history, genealogy, museums, documentaries, To Kill a Mockingbird, scenic and historical sites, castles, cathedrals, the Civil War, cold sheets, National and State Park Passports, quotes, the Rambos, Dionne Warwick, Steely Dan, Doobies, Diet Pepsi, Fish City Grill, anything Apple, all things British, Jesus, and lists. And on a random note, Howard is a fourth cousin once removed to Truman Capote.

 

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