How do you define onboard comfort? For me, it’s about feeling as much at home on an ocean cruise ship or riverboat as I do in my city of origin, and Viking River Cruises is a fine example of that kind of atmosphere. In fact, the line describes the approach as understated elegance. Other riverboats may be more ornate and elaborate, but Viking strikes a balance that’s just right on its latest set of Longships.
From the outside, very few changes have been made from the first Longship introduced in 2012 to the newest ones just christened in 2014, and the same is true of the riverboats’ overall layout. On the inside, the interior design has seen the most revisions, and with each iteration, the canvas continues to be refined. In the lobby, ceiling fixtures from the first set of vessels and wooden slat partitions tried on the intermediate ones have been removed to make it even more open and airy.
At the head of the stairwell, the signature art piece now paints an abstract portrait of the mythological Norse god for which each riverboat is named. Ship-wide, colors have shifted away from neutral grays to warmer earthen tones. What remains from the very beginning are the vessels’ wonderful use of natural materials like woods and marbles and the floor-to-ceiling windows and overhead skylight.
Nowhere are the expansive windows more welcome than in the observation lounge where looking out onto the surrounding scenery is always a joy. Here, forward seating now includes more tables and chairs to enjoy casual breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The innovative al fresco Aquavit Terrace at the bow can still be opened or enclosed depending on the weather.
Staterooms and Suites
Chairman and CEO of Viking, Torstein Hagen, inventively reconfigured the Longships from the start with an offset central corridor that allows for larger staterooms with full verandas on one side of the ship and smaller staterooms with French balconies or double-room suites on the other. Since the first set of veranda staterooms, lighting has been improved with brighter LEDs, and the counter at the foot of the bed is deeper across its entire length.
In the bathrooms, gone are the switchable opaque/transparent glass walls from some of the earlier Longships, and small white tiles and silver counters and floors have made way for larger textured beige tiles on the walls, darker faux-wood tiles on the floor and lighter-colored sinks. Illumination remains plentiful, and the narrow but long showers are still navigable thanks to a glass enclosure instead of shower curtains that encroach on too many other ships.
For a line that strives for great food over gourmet food, Viking River Cruises’ cuisine has always impressed with its creative flair, colorful compositions and fine flavors. The fair easily matches and sometimes exceeds that found on premium ocean lines like Holland America Line and Celebrity Cruises. Especially considering the small size of the galley onboard, the available selection and output fleet-wide astounds.
Wood partitions may have been removed from the lobby, but in the main dining room they and softer surfaces have been employed for sound-deadening and textural aesthetics. The overall effect is another earthen-tone room that is a handsome improvement from the earliest designs. The dining room is both casual and elegant with bright lighting and great views outside the abundant windows.
The modern Scandinavian design of the Viking Longships always lends itself to comfort onboard, and in 2015, there will be another 10 of these riverboats introduced, likely with even more subtle improvements. At that point, there will be 40 of these vessels in service, and so far, each one, from the first to the last, is an absolute hit in our book. After all, we can never wait to step back onboard Viking River Cruises.
For more information on the Viking Longships, visit Viking River Cruises‘ website here.
What is your impression of the latest Longships? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the “Leave a Reply” section below…
HEADER IMAGE SOURCE: JASON LEPPERT