The Lorelei Can’t Lure Me Away from Viking Hild
Thursday, April 13, 2017
Sometimes, you just want a day at sea. A day to relax, do very little, and enjoy your opulent floating surroundings. But on the waterways of Europe, sea days are uncommon. That’s why you have to create your own.
Today proved to be an excellent opportunity to create my very own sea – er, river – day aboard Viking River Cruises Viking Hild as she sails the 12-day Paris to the Swiss Alps river cruise tour; a brand-new itinerary for Viking this year.
Everyone onboard Viking Hild was treated to a morning of scenic cruising along the Rhine River, which we entered late last night after having spent the past three days sailing the Moselle River from Trier, Germany. In the afternoon, guests could take part in a visit to the famous Lorelei – a rocky outcrop bordering a complicated reverse “S”-curve that was said to swallow up ships that followed the Lorelei’s siren song.
Now, I was tempted to do this. I’ve sailed past the Lorelei rock twice now, and the sight from the Rhine is a spectacular one. Viking has just started taking guests up to the rock for a panoramic view of the Rhine below and a visit to the gift shop. Since I’ve never done this, it seemed like the perfect opportunity.
But my own siren – the Viking Hild – was calling to me. And she said, ‘stay onboard.’
One thing most folks don’t realize about river cruising is that you don’t have to take the excursions. You’re literally free to create your own adventure, to a degree, and indulge in your own personal interests. That’s why I chose to give the complimentary bus tour a pass and, instead, sail past the Lorelei aboard Viking Hild. That I could spend just over an hour in our service port of call, Kaub, was just the icing on the cake.
That, and the chance to spend the better part of the day aboard the gorgeous Viking Hild.
The Viking Longships
When Viking introduced the Viking Longships back in March of 2012 in Amsterdam, there was nothing like them afloat. Five years later, that still holds true. It’s not happenstance: Viking engineered it that way.
At every turn, Viking’s thoughtfulness shows through this ship, from the onboard Library to the convenient Internet Centre. No detail has been overlooked, from the 110V, North American style outlets in each stateroom to the heated bathroom floors, the placement of the chairs in the lounge, to the intricate designs on the dinner menus. Nothing has been left to chance here – and that’s exactly how Viking intended it to be.
Little touches abound aboard Viking Hild and her Longship sisters. Up top on the Sun Deck, you can expect to find plenty of seating, a mii-golf course, and a full-fledged herb garden. Solar panels placed atop the ship’s two massive, stern-facing Explorer’s Suites help to offset the ship’s power consumption.
In the ship’s two-storey atrium, guests can find a ridiculously well-stocked library on the starboard side of the ship, and an internet centre with two laptop computers on the port side. The Viking Lounge, where the day’s entertainment and briefings are held, is all the way forward. And everywhere you turn, floor-to-ceiling glass windows rise up to meet you.
To ensure no one followed in their footsteps, Viking took the unprecedented step of filing for patents on the corridor design, which was placed a metre to the right in relation to most ships, which have their corridors run smack down the middle of the ship. Viking did this so that it would be able to create river cruising’s first true suites on the port side of the ship, while still having standard balcony staterooms on the starboard side. It did this by “rotating” the suites to run bow to stern instead of the more common port-starboard arrangement. It also patented that design.
All told, Viking filed stem-to-stern patents for its Viking Longships, ensuring that its competitors could never follow in its footsteps.
Viking Hild is one of the newest Longships. Launched this past February, she is similar to the last batch of Longships that debuted last year, and the year before that. Viking now has over 50 of these classy vessels in its fleet and, in years past, I’d delight in picking out the subtle but noticeable differences.
You can tell, though, that Viking has hit the sweet spot in the design of the Longships, because very little differs about Viking Hild from last year’s Longships – with a few minor cosmetic exceptions:
- The carpeting outside the dining room now shifts towards a red, not blue, gradient;
- The dance floor is made of darker wood aboard Viking Hild than past vessels;
- Runners on the bed now have brown, not grey, fringing.
So who cares? I do. These small shifts in design show that Viking is listening to its customers. On past ships, differences were more obvious: power outlets m