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Viking River Cruises Dining

With a cruise line as luxurious and detail-oriented as Windstar Cruises, you can expect only the best dining experience and cuisine – and Windstar delivers. The food will please, the service will astound and the venues will amaze. From the romantic outdoor dining of the Candles Grill to the rich desserts of Stella Bistro, Windstar’s dining experience is elegant and top-notch. There is no set dining schedule, so you can eat where you want, when you want. Plus, all of the onboard dining venues are included in your fare. And while Windstar may be luxurious, the atmosphere is always elegant-casual so you can forget about the tuxedo and sports coat, and instead enjoy comfortable yacht attire. Featured below are a few of Windstar’s most popular dining options:

Windstar Cruises Amphora Restaurant

Learn More About Viking River Cruise's Beverage Packages

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Helene in Between

Helene in Between

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Viking River Cruise: 15 Things to Know Before You Go

By Helene Sula

The moon shone brightly on the smooth Rhône River as we sailed silently, passing dimly lit chateaus and castles. I took a seven-day Viking River Cruise through France’s Provence and Lyon region and was not only enthralled with the scenery but adored the ship itself. 

If you're considering a Viking Cruise or want to know what it's like to sail on a river, this post will guide you through everything you need to know before you go.

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I boarded the Viking Buri on a windy spring day in Avignon, France. Upon arrival, waiters greeted me with a lemongrass scented towel and a glass of ice water. After briefly looking at our passports, the Maître d' himself ushered our luggage into a cozy stateroom and explained the features of the room.

Was this really a cruise? Yes. And it only gets better from here.

Viking Cruises offers excursions on the sea and river. I was delighted to spend seven days along the Rhône River on the Provence and Lyon itinerary .

Viking features a number (over 60 in fact!) of river cruises on their fleet. I've outlined what you can expect on a river excursion.

15 things to know before you take a Viking River Cruise

It’s stress-free..

When I set sail on Viking I was immediately met with many questions, the most frequent, why take a cruise? To me, taking a cruise is probably the most relaxing vacation.

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Travel planning usually takes a lot of time: where to stay, eat, sleep, and most importantly, what to see. But when taking a cruise much of this (and more) is done for you. With a Viking cruise, you know they've taken care of everything. You can sit back and enjoy the scenery around you. No need to stress. When I really want to relax I choose Viking.

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See my first time cruising with Viking, here:

Stress-Free Travel with Viking Ocean Cruises

Very few “extra” costs

I hate being nickel and dimed. When paying for a vacation, I want to know all of my costs up front. This is one thing I love about Viking. Once you pay for your cruise, you’re pretty much all set. Included is a tour every day, all of your meals, and unlimited beer and wine at lunch and dinner. If you want an alcoholic drink at any other time, you can purchase the reasonably-priced “Silver Spirits” package which includes unlimited top-shelf liquor, specialty beer, and wine — available whenever you want.

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Once you book your cruise, you’ll receive extensive details about your journey and options for booking tours. Of course, you can stick to the included tours. We spent more to take a few optional tours. For example, we took a truffle, cheese, and wine tasting tour outside of Lyon — one of my favorite experiences on the trip. We also purchased an additional trip to a Les Baux to see “Carrieres de Lumières” — an incredible display of Van Gogh’s artwork on an old stone quarry wall. Set to music, it felt like walking through a real life “Fantasia” and as if I was part of the artist's masterpieces. I think these tours were all well worth the additional cost. 

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At the bottom of this post I share my exact trip itinerary.

It’s surprisingly casual

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have enough formal wear for dinner at night, as is required on some cruises, but not to worry. Viking River cruises are somewhat casual.  I loved that I could wear jeans or a dress at dinner. I would suggest packing a nice pair of flats, blouse, and jeans or pants, to wear for dinner (no shorts or t-shirts). You don’t have to wear a long black dress every night. I did also pack a few dresses, leggings, and I ended up buying a Viking fleece on board. I wasn’t anticipating how chilly France would be in May! I always pack my tennis shoes and a few lightweight sweaters. 

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You won’t spend tons of time in the room, but opt for a balcony

The itineraries with Viking sometimes mean you might visit one or two places in a day. That means you’ll have lots to see and do. But, when you are cruising, it’s absolutely wonderful to see the sights from the comfort of your room’s balcony. We spotted stately chateaus, vineyards clutching the sides of cliffs, and hilltop towns nestled beside fortresses. You can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea as you watch the world sail by. It’s a not-to-miss experience!

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For me, one advantage of a river cruise is the luxury of having all your belongings in one place. I travel a lot and am often hauling my stuff from place to place. With a cruise, I can easily visit multiple places across the country, or even countries, and have the convenience of putting everything in one spot and knowing all my meals, transfers, and sleeping is in one convenient and comfy spot.

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Bring Your Cruise Documents

This might sound like a no-brainer, but the two things you shouldn't forget are your passport and your cruise documents. The documents outline all the details you need to know about your trip and also include things like handy luggage tags.

You'll also find important information such as currency, language, and flight details if you booked with Viking.

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Something to note is that Viking provides transfers to and from the airport, so you won't need to worry about getting to and from. Since I was exploring France a bit before my cruise, I found my own way to the ship. But they provided transfers from the ship to the airport when I was departing.

Leave your converters at home

Another great feature of a Viking River cruise is the ship's electrical outlets. Is that a crazy thing to say?! Yes. But having to pack additional converters or keeping your fingers crossed that your curling iron won't blow up is a nice feature. On the Viking ships you'll find American plugs (as well as European), making it easy to plug in your electronics.

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Basically, Viking thinks of everything — just one reason I love this company.

Tell the staff about your special occasions

Michael and I were celebrating our 8th (!) wedding anniversary aboard the ship. I casually let the ship staff know about it. To our delight, on the night of our anniversary, the waitstaff surprised us with a delicious cake, candles, then serenaded us to “It's Now or Never.” It was such a memorable moment!

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Viking goes out of its way to make you feel special, especially if you're celebrating an important event. So feel free to let them know.

The ship has WiFi, but it's limited

Yes, they advertise WiFi on board the Viking ships, but it's not going to be lightning fast Internet like you're used to at home. Just something to keep in mind. The Internet is good enough to check your emails or social media, but not quite strong enough to upload a video. This is not the case on ocean cruises, but I did find this on the river.

viking river cruise bar hours

It's all about the destination

Yes, the cruise ship is incredible. But get off the boat! When you dock ashore, Viking includes an activity each and every day. This makes Viking different from other ships. They want you to get off the ship and find out more about the places you're visiting.

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If you want additional help you can also use the onboard concierge to plan additional experiences or things to do. I highly recommend using these services to find unique options, food, and things that interest you.

Seven days isn't enough? No worries! Viking offers trip extensions so you can see even more of the cities and learn more about the history.

The food alone is worth the cost of the trip

All the Swiss-trained chefs prepare the food fresh every day. Viking menus emphasize specialty dishes from the region where you’re cruising. All the delicious food on Viking is included and starts with a breakfast buffet and a choice to order off-the-menu. You can also grab pastries in the Aquavit terrace.

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Lunch is served in two locations: the dining room for a more formal order off-the-menu, or pasta and salad from the buffet. The Aquavit terrace grill serves burgers, hot dogs, and more. Dinner is served in the dining room or Aquavit and you’ll order off-the-menu.

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You’re encouraged to order a starter, main dish, and dessert. Don’t worry if you can’t choose. They’ll bring you both! I particularly enjoyed the savory soups such as mushroom truffle and French onion. There’s also a coffee and water station with soft, fresh baked cookies. They're dangerous — I couldn’t pass by without grabbing one. The exceptional food on Viking is worth the cost of the cruise alone. 

viking river cruise bar hours

Almost everyone on the ship has sailed with Viking before

The first night of our arrival we received welcome drinks and listened to music in the Aquavit lounge. The staff went over important information before introducing themselves. Then the guests were asked if they had sailed with Viking before. Nearly every hand shot up! A true testament to the Viking experience. 

viking river cruise bar hours

There's a reason why Viking consistently receives awards as the best cruise company out there.

The cruise is great for adults of any age

Viking doesn’t allow children on board. You must be at least 18 to book a cruise. Most of the time you’ll find a bit of an older crowd. But that’s not to say younger cruisers will feel out of place. There are activities to appeal to all ages. 

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River cruising differs greatly from ocean cruising

Having sailed with Viking on both ocean and river, I can tell you the experience is not the same. Ocean cruises feature a much larger ship, a wider variety of restaurants and entertainment, and a bigger crew. The Viking River cruises are more intimate. You usually dock overnight at many of the ports, leaving you the option to explore in the evening if you choose. 

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Leave time to explore your ship

The Viking Longship is an absolute masterpiece of Scandinavian design. Clean lines and beautiful, modern decor are featured throughout the vessel.

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We sailed on the Viking Buri — well equipped with everything you could need and more. A glamours marble entryway leads to a lovely staircase toward a library, beautiful dining room, sun deck, bar, lounge, as well as many tucked away corners where guests can relax. 

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The staff are world class

One day I mentioned that I preferred Diet Coke over coffee in the morning. Every morning after that, the waiter or waitress brought me a Diet Coke with a fresh glass of ice, I never had to ask again. They specialize in that personal touch, even making a point to remember names!

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Intent on making the trip the best ever, the staff are fun, personable, and helpful. They not only cook, clean, organize, and serve, but they also entertain. One reason I and others keep coming back to Viking is because of the incredible staff. One important note: you tip additionally per day, per person. I recommend to also tip any staff you feel went above and beyond. For us, it was the Maître d, bartender, and piano player.

Here’s a look at our exact 7-day Viking Buri Provence and Lyon Excursion:

Day 1 – arrival and avignon.

We arrived in Avignon and headed to the ship where a light lunch was provided. Our luggage was whisked right into the room and we had time to explore the boat and meet our fellow passengers on the ship.

Day 2 Arles

At Arles, known as the place where Van Gogh cut off his ear, we did a walking tour, saw the incredible Roman ruins, and walked the lovely sun-drenched cobblestone streets. Here we also went to Les Baux to see the “Carrieres de Lumières” exhibit in the quarry.

Day 3 Avignon

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Heading back to Avignon, we walked through the city walls and explored the Pope's Palace- one of the most important historical sites in France. Now, it's used for a theater festival each year. We also went to the market and sampled oysters and candied fruits.

Day 4 Viviers

Lavender is extremely prevalent in Provence. On a tour of a lavender museum, we learned the many uses of this beautiful flower. Driving through small towns near the area I spotted house after house with blue shutters — a signature color in Provence.

Day 5 Tournon

After exploring the small town of Tournon, we hopped on a steam train! Yes, this was an included tour — incredible. We passed beautiful churches, bridges, and a gorge. Afterward, we took a walking tour of Vienne with its lovely church and Roman temple.

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This, my second time to Lyon, reminded me of what makes this city so special — the incredible church, the views all around the city, the intricate and historical murals that explain its history. Because we were docked in Lyon that night, we could stroll the streets and take in the well-lit city after dark.

viking river cruise bar hours

Day 7 Lyon and Excursion

Today we left Lyon on a bus tour that started with learning and tasting wine in the Beaujolais region. After wine, we had a feast of truffle flavored delights followed by a truffle hunt with an adorable dog. We finished off the day learning about goat cheese making, and we brought home salted caramel sauce.

Day 8 Departure from Lyon

On our final day, we packed up our stuff, had a delicious breakfast, and Viking assisted us straight to the Lyon airport. I was so sad to go, but know I'll be booking another Viking cruise soon!

How to choose a Viking cruise:

First and foremost think about the length of time. You can opt to spend seven days cruising the river or opt for two weeks cruising in the ocean.

viking river cruise bar hours

Are you adventurous? Do you prefer seeing the sights like castles and walking cobblestone streets? Consider what you like to do or what's on your bucket-list and let the cruise fit your options.

If you're still feeling stuck, just remember, you can't really go wrong. Viking prides itself on going to astonishing and enriching destinations. I find Viking to be really exceptional. We left feeling they made every possible effort to make our trip special. And it was. 

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Helene Sula

I believe that one trip can change your life. It did for me. I'm a self proclaimed home body that quit her job, moved abroad, and more often than not, lives out of a carry-on bag. If I'm not traveling, I'm most likely re-reading Harry Potter or watching "Midnight in Paris" while snuggling my dogs. I'm a digital marketing expert who turned my love of travel into a full-time career. And I help others do it too.

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If you’re planning a Viking cruise and enjoy indulging in premium wines, cocktails, and spirits, this package might interest you.

In this guide, I’ll provide all the information you need about the  Viking Silver   Spirits Package , including its cost, benefits, and how to purchase it.

Viking Silver Spirits Package, Key Takeaways:

  • The  Viking Silver   Spirits Package  is an all-inclusive drinks package on Viking Ocean, River, and Expedition cruises.
  • It includes a variety of beverages, such as premium wines, cocktails, and spirits.
  • The package can be purchased for an additional cost and provides unlimited access to drinks up to $18.00, with a 30% discount on premium beverages above $50.
  • Both guests in a stateroom must purchase the package.
  • The package cost for a 7-night cruise is $175 per person, and a 14-night cruise costs $350 per person.
  • The Viking  Silver Spirits Package  can be purchased before the cruise or once on board.
  • Whether the package is worth it depends on individual preferences and drinking habits.

Viking Drinks Menu and Cost

Viking Expeditions

Regarding drinks, Viking offers a diverse selection on their cruises. Whether you prefer cocktails, wines, or beers , there’s something to suit every taste. The cost of drinks varies depending on the type of cruise – Ocean or River – and the currency used either USD or Euros.

On Viking Ocean Cruises, the drinks menu features a range of options. You can enjoy hard liquor for $6.00 to $8.00, while most cocktails and martinis are priced at $7.50. If you’re a wine enthusiast, a glass of house wine will cost you $5.00. Keep in mind that premium wines are available at an additional charge, with an average price of $8.00 per glass.

Viking Longship

For those cruising with Viking River Cruises in Europe, bar prices are quoted in Euros. Cocktails typically range around 9 Euros, while a glass of house white or red wine costs 5 Euros. As with Viking Ocean Cruises, premium wines are available for an extra fee, averaging about 8 Euros per glass.

Table: Viking Drinks Menu and Cost

These prices are subject to change, so checking the latest menu and costs onboard is always a good idea. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or enjoy a refreshing cocktail, Viking has a drink for every palate. With their extensive beverages menu, you’re sure to find the perfect drink to enhance your cruising experience .

Viking Silver Spirits Package

Viking Silver Spirits Package

The Viking  Silver Spirits Package  is a comprehensive drinks package on both Viking Ocean and River cruises. With this package, guests can enjoy unlimited access to a wide range of beverages, including premium wines, cocktails, and spirits. The package can be purchased for an additional cost and is available for the duration of the cruise.

Both guests in a stateroom must purchase the Viking  Silver Spirits Package  if they wish to avail of its benefits. The package includes drinks up to $18.00, with a 30% discount on premium beverages above $50. Beverage gratuities are also included, providing guests with a hassle-free and all-inclusive drinking experience.

Whether on a Viking Ocean or River cruise, the Viking Silver Spirits Package offers a convenient option for guests who enjoy indulging in various beverages. It provides the freedom to try different drinks without worrying about individual costs, making for a seamless and enjoyable cruise experience.

How to Buy the Viking Silver Spirits Package

Viking Silver Spirits Package Guide (2024) | 6

If you’re considering purchasing the  Viking Silver Spirits Package  for your upcoming cruise, there are a few different ways to buy it. Whether you want to secure the package before your trip or purchase it once onboard, Viking Cruises has made the process simple and convenient.

Buying the Package Before Your Cruise

Viking Expeditions - Viking Octantis

To buy the  Viking Silver Spirits Package  before your cruise, you’ll need to log into Once logged in, navigate to the “Onboard Experience” section and select “Dining & Beverage.” From there, you’ll need to choose the “Silver Spirits Beverage Package” option and proceed with the purchase. It’s important to note that both guests in a stateroom must purchase the package if they wish to avail of its benefits.

Purchasing the Package Onboard

If you decide to wait and purchase the Viking Silver Spirits Package once onboard, you can easily do so at one of the onboard bars or by speaking to Guest Services. They will guide you through the process and ensure the package is added to your account. Again, remember that both guests in a stateroom must purchase the package to enjoy its unlimited beverage benefits.

Whether you buy the package before your cruise or once onboard, the Viking Silver Spirits Package is a convenient way to enjoy unlimited access to a wide variety of premium wines, cocktails, and spirits. By following these simple steps, you’ll be able to purchase the package and enhance your cruising experience with Viking.

Is It Worth Getting the Viking Silver Spirits Package?

Viking Silver Spirits Package Guide (2024) | 6

When considering whether to purchase the Viking Silver Spirits Package, it’s essential to weigh the value and benefits it offers . The package provides unlimited access to a wide range of beverages, including premium wines, cocktails, and spirits. This all-inclusive option can be convenient for guests who enjoy trying different drinks and prefer not to worry about individual costs. With drinks up to $18.00 included and a 30% discount on premium beverages above $50, it can be an enticing offer for those seeking a hassle-free drinking experience.

However, whether or not the Viking Silver Spirits Package is worth it ultimately depends on individual preferences and drinking habits. Guests who don’t consume alcohol frequently or have specific preferences may find that the package doesn’t offer significant value for their needs. It’s essential to consider the potential cost of individual drinks and calculate whether the package cost justifies the expected consumption. Guests who prefer non-alcoholic beverages or have a specific budget may find purchasing drinks individually suits them better.

Viking Ocean Cruise Bar Menus and Prices

Viking Ocean Ship in Iceland.

Viking Ocean Cruises offers a delightful array of bars and dining venues on their ships, providing guests with a variety of beverages to suit their tastes. Whether you’re in the mood for a refreshing cocktail, a glass of wine, or a cold beer, you’ll find an extensive selection on the bar menus.

The bar menus on Viking Ocean Cruises showcase a wide range of drink options. From classic cocktails to innovative mixes, there’s something for everyone. You can also indulge in a glass of wine from their carefully curated wine menu or enjoy a beer from their selection. Each menu offers a variety of flavors and styles to cater to different preferences.

The prices of drinks on the Viking Ocean Cruises bar menus are reasonable and competitive. For hard liquor, prices range from $6.00 to $8.00 per drink. Most cocktails and martinis are priced at $7.50. If you prefer wine, a glass of house wine costs $5.00. These prices ensure that guests can enjoy their favorite beverages without breaking the bank.

While premium wines are available at an additional cost, the average price per glass is around $8.00. This allows guests to explore a higher-end selection of wines and further enhance their drinking experience.

For a complete list of alcoholic drinks and prices, guests can refer to the Viking Daily, the onboard newsletter, which provides comprehensive information about all the options available.

Table: Viking Ocean Cruise Bar Menu Prices

Viking river cruises bar prices.

Viking Lounge

When it comes to enjoying a drink onboard a Viking River Cruise , guests can access various beverages at the onboard bars. The prices of these drinks are quoted in Euros, ensuring a seamless experience for guests traveling in Europe .

Cocktails, perfect for unwinding after a day of exploring the picturesque landscapes, average around 9 Euros. For those who prefer a glass of house wine, the cost is approximately 5 Euros. If guests are looking to indulge in premium wines, they can expect to pay around 8 Euros per glass.

As Viking River Cruises continuously strives to provide an exceptional experience, it’s worth noting that the cost of some alcoholic beverages on the drinks menu has recently increased in 2023. This ensures that guests can enjoy a wide selection of beverages, including top-quality wines and spirits, during their river cruise adventure.

With these affordable prices and a variety of options, guests can relax and enjoy their favorite beverages while taking in the stunning scenery along the river.

Free Wine and Bringing Your Own Alcohol

Viking Silver Spirits Package Guide (2024) | 6

One of the perks of taking a Viking cruise is the complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks provided at lunch and dinner in the restaurants, the Explorer’s Lounge, and even in the cabins as part of the 24-hour room service.

The selection of wines varies depending on the cruise and offers guests the opportunity to taste wines from different regions. This complimentary wine is a great addition to the dining experience and allows guests to enjoy a glass of their favorite wine without worrying about additional costs.

For those who prefer to bring their own alcohol on board, Viking Cruises allows guests to do so without any corkage fee. Guests can purchase wine ashore and bring it on board to enjoy in the restaurants during dinner or in the comfort of their staterooms. This provides a chance for guests to enjoy their favorite bottle of wine while savoring the exquisite cuisine offered on the cruise.

“The complimentary wine and the option to bring your own alcohol on board make Viking cruises even more enjoyable, providing guests with the freedom to savor their favorite drinks without any additional charges.”

Overall, the inclusion of free wine and the option to bring your own alcohol on board add value to the Viking cruise experience. Whether enjoying a glass of wine with a delicious meal or sipping a favorite drink while taking in the breathtaking views, guests can indulge in their preferred beverages without worrying about the cost. It’s these small touches that make a Viking cruise even more memorable.

Final Thoughts

Viking Silver Spirits Package Guide (2024) | 6

The convenience and value of the Viking Silver Spirits Package depend on your personal drinking preferences and habits. If you love trying different drinks and want the freedom to order without hesitation, this package is definitely worth considering. However, it may not be the best fit for you if you prefer to enjoy just a few select beverages or are not a frequent drinker.

Calculating the potential cost of individual drinks and weighing it against the package price is essential to make an informed decision. Ultimately, the Viking Silver Spirits Package can enhance your cruise experience and provide an enjoyable and stress-free way to savor a wide variety of premium beverages.

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Viking Silver Spirits Package FAQ

What is the viking silver spirits package.

Viking Lounge

The Viking Silver Spirits Package is an all-inclusive drink package on Viking Ocean and River cruises. It includes a variety of beverages, including premium wines, cocktails, and spirits. The package can be purchased for an additional cost and provides unlimited access to drinks up to .00, with a 30% discount on premium beverages above. Both guests in a stateroom must purchase the package. The package cost for a 7-night cruise is 5 USD per person, and for a 14-night cruise, it is 0 USD per person. Beverage gratuities are included in the package.

How much do the drinks cost on Viking cruises?

Viking Longship in Paris

The cost of drinks varies depending on the type of cruise (Ocean or River) and the currency used (USD or Euros). On Viking Ocean Cruises, the drinks on their menu range from $6.00 to $8.00 for hard liquor and $7.50 for most cocktails and martinis. Viking River Cruises quote their prices in Euros, with cocktails averaging about 9 Euros and house wine costing 5 Euros.

Premium wines on both types of cruises are available at an additional charge. The cost for premium wines on Viking Ocean Cruises averages $8.00 per glass, while Viking River Cruises offers a selection of premium wines at about 8 Euros per glass.

How can I purchase the Viking Silver Spirits Package?

The Restaurant aboard the Viking Octantis

The Viking Silver Spirits Package can be purchased before the cruise or once on board. To buy the package before the cruise, guests can log into, go to Onboard Experience > Dining & Beverage > Silver Spirits Beverage Package, and select the package.

If guests purchase the package once on board, they can do so at one of the onboard bars or by speaking to Guest Services. It is important to note that both guests in a stateroom must purchase the package if they wish to avail of its benefits.

Is the Viking Silver Spirits Package worth it?

Viking Neptune in the Port of LA

It provides the convenience of unlimited access to a wide range of beverages up to $18.00, along with the 30% discount on premium beverages above $50. Guests should consider their drinking preferences and calculate the potential cost of individual drinks to determine if the package offers good value for their needs.

What are the drink prices on Viking Ocean Cruises?

Viking Freya

Viking Ocean Cruises offers a variety of bars and dining venues on their ships. The bar menus include a range of beverages, from cocktails to wines to beers. The drinks on the menu range from $6.00 to $8.00 for hard liquor, $7.50 for most cocktails and martinis, and USD 5.00 for a glass of house wine.

Premium wines are available at an additional cost. The wine menu offers a selection of red, white, and rosé wines, with prices averaging $8.00 per glass for premium wines. Guests can refer to the Viking Daily, the onboard newsletter, for a complete list of alcoholic drinks and prices.

Are there complimentary drinks on Viking cruises?

Our Breakfast, Served via Room Service.

Viking Ocean Cruises includes complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks at lunch and dinner in the restaurants, the Explorer’s Lounge, and even in the cabins as part of their 24-hour room service. The wines vary occasionally and on different cruises, offering guests a taste of different regions. Guests are also allowed to bring their own alcohol on board, with no corkage fee. They can purchase wine ashore and bring it on board to drink in the restaurants at dinner or enjoy it in their staterooms. Viking River Cruises has a similar alcohol policy, allowing guests to bring their own alcohol on board without a corkage fee.

The Viking Silver Spirits Package is a beverage package offered by Viking Cruises that allows passengers to enjoy a wide selection of premium wines by the glass, specialty cocktails, and other drinks for a fixed price.

How can I book the Viking Silver Spirits Package for my 2024 cruise?

You can book the Viking Silver Spirits Package when making your cruise reservation or by contacting Viking Cruises to add the package to your booking.

What drinks are included in the Viking Silver Spirits Package?

The package allows passengers to enjoy premium wines by the glass, specialty cocktails, specialty coffees, teas, and other beverages, making it a comprehensive beverage package for the cruise.

Is it worth considering the cruise drink packages, especially considering the Viking Silver Spirits Package?

Yes, especially considering the cruise drink packages, the Viking Silver Spirits Package offers great value for passengers who plan to enjoy many drinks throughout the cruise, making it a worthwhile consideration.

Can I still buy premium wines or cocktails if I have the Viking Silver Spirits Package?

No, if you have the Viking Silver Spirits Package, you are not required to buy additional premium wines or cocktails, as the package already includes a wide selection of premium beverages.

What is the cost of the Viking Silver Spirits Package for the 2024 cruise?

The cost of the package is typically per person per day, and passengers can choose to prepay for the package as part of their cruise fare.

Do I need to upgrade to the Viking Silver Spirits Package if I’m booked in a penthouse veranda?

If you’re booked in a penthouse veranda, the Viking Silver Spirits Package may already be included as part of your cruise fare, so be sure to check your booking to see if the package is offered as a complimentary inclusion.

Can I use the Viking Silver Spirits Package for drinks at the ship’s living room bar?

Yes, the Viking Silver Spirits Package can be used to enjoy drinks at various onboard bars and lounges, including the living room bar, where passengers can order from the package’s extensive drink menu.

What are the premium wines by the glass included in the Viking Silver Spirits Package?

The package offers a selection of premium wines by the glass, allowing passengers to enjoy high-quality wines from various regions while onboard the Viking Sea.

Can I use the Viking Silver Spirits Package during shore excursions in Arctic regions?

No, the Viking Silver Spirits Package is typically only applicable for drinks onboard the ship and may not be valid for use during shore excursions in Arctic regions.

John Shallo

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17 Best Viking Cruises Food Options I Enjoyed On Board

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Note: The Travel Awaits team regularly updates content to provide the latest, and most accurate information to our readers. The updated content in this article may not reflect the views or opinions of the original author.

I recently took a Viking River Cruise on their Rhine Getaway itinerary cruising down the Rhine River for eight days. It was an incredible journey visiting four countries and experiencing their distinct cuisine along the way. A river cruise is a very different experience from an ocean cruise when it comes to dining. On Viking River cruises, you can dine in the main dining area or at the Aquavit Terrace, which is an indoor-outdoor dining area. Both serve the same menu for each meal. Although it doesn’t have the variety you will find on the ocean ships, I ate very well, from delicious meals in the main dining room to most al fresco dining offered to room service.

Viking does a great job curating experiences that provide excellent opportunities to visit small local businesses and creators both on the ship as well as on their excursions. I am quite the foodie and consider food and wine an important component of travel. Meeting local cheese and winemakers as well as many others filled that need for me.

I was on a press trip for Viking Rivers Cruises on their newest ship, the Egdir . All opinions are my own.

Pro Tip: Each day Viking provides a Viking Daily , a four-page flier with the next day’s schedule as well as historical, cultural, and culinary information about your next destination. The culinary section can give you ideas of what you might want to taste during your visit.

Breakfast on the Edgir

17 Best Viking Cruises Food Options

On board the egdir, 1. breakfast.

Every morning I ate breakfast at the Aquavit Terrace. Our cruise was still on the chilly side, so I often had it all to myself. The view was lovely from the front of the ship, especially if cruising.

I ate the same thing just about every day. I love a European-style breakfast with meats and cheeses and fresh bread and croissants. Noshing on a crispy, buttery croissant and sipping fresh coffee, well it doesn’t get much better than that. You can also order breakfast items off the menu. One day, I just felt like eggs and was able to customize a one-egg omelet. It was just the right size and allowed room for croissants.

On both sides of the ship just outside the lounge are two coffee stations. A high-tech machine dispenses coffee, lattes, cappuccinos, and hot chocolate. A water dispenser offers still or sparkling water. In the morning, find breakfast pastries and, in the afternoon and evening, a variety of cookies which change each day.

Pro Tip: If you like a late-night snack, snag a few favorites to bring back to your room because there is no food available later at night.

Chef's Selections and Salad of the Day.

2. Salads And Chef’s Selections Of The Day

The Viking River Cruise menus have a section of items that are available each day and then a daily menu. I loved the variety of fresh salads with a new one each day. I really enjoyed these and loved that it was a smaller portion so you could enjoy something else as well. This was a good thing as each day the chef prepared a selection of appetizers and small bites to choose from. Always so fresh and appetizing that I often chose more than one!

Best brownie ever!

3. The Best Brownie Ever

One afternoon on a rare sunny day during our trip, I was able to dine outside on the Aquavit Terrace. The service was excellent, and the brownie dessert served at lunch that day was the best ever. The decadent, dark chocolatey goodness of the brownie was drizzled with a buttery, rich caramel sauce then topped with roasted pecans and served with a side of vanilla ice cream. So memorable.

Black Forest Cake in the Black Forest

During My Viking Egdir Excursions

4. black forest cake in the black forest.

What a treat to enjoy traditional Black Forest Cake in the Black Forest. The included excursion was a bus trip that took us to Hofgut Sternen, Germany — the Black Forest Village. From its humble beginnings as a 13th-century medieval horse station, it has evolved into a stop for visitors to the region. The long tradition of craftsmanship in the area is supported by the shops in the Black Forest Village.

Black Forest Cake is a culinary treat that infuses layers of chocolate sponge cake with kirsch , a local cherry brandy, mounds of whipped cream, sour cherries, and chocolate shavings. Enjoy a slice and pick up the recipe during your visit.

Pro Tip: The village can get rather crowded, so while everyone is exploring enjoy your cake first. The restaurant offered a special for Viking cruisers that included a slice of traditional Black Forest Cake and a cup of coffee. I enjoyed having the place to myself, and then I explored the village and even had time to hike a bit.

5. Currywurst At An Imbiss

I love meeting fellow writers during a press trip because they know things. Chris Owen of Chris Cruises is an expert on Viking Cruises, having been on over 30. When docked in Koblenz, he loves to get a Currywurst with pommes frites (fries) at an imbiss (a German fast-food stand) near the ship. Seeing the joy on his face munching on one of his favorite treats, I of course had to try one. Yum! Hard to believe this is fast food.

Flavors Of Alsace Excursion

I took the optional Flavors of Alsace excursion, which involved walking and eating throughout the Grande-Île UNESCO World Heritage Site of Strasbourg in France. This historic area is filled with small shops and eateries with a culinary heritage that is a blend of French and German cuisine. Here are a few of my favorites…

Apple Flammenkuchen

6. Flammenkuchen

I enjoyed this delicious Alsatian traditional flame-cooked dish at the Le Gruber Vinstube, which strives to preserve the authenticity of Alsatian cuisine and the traditional Vinstubes. Flammenkuchen is like a pizza, but the crust is super thin. The traditional savory version has a light delicate crust and is topped with a creamy sauce, bacon lardons, onions, and cheese. A more dramatic presentation was a version with apples that is drizzled with Calvados (a brandy from Normandy) and then lit on fire. A very impressive dessert.

Pro Tip: Check the Viking Daily each day for Live Culinary demonstrations. On our day in Strasbourg, Chef Lulian taught us how to make Flammenkuchen.

Wine and Cheese pairing at  Un Cantalou a Strasbourg

7. Wine And Cheese

One of the highlights of this tour was visiting Un Cantalou a Strasbourg . Owner Jeroud introduced our group to wines from the Alsace region perfectly paired with local cheese and charcuterie. He led the paired wine tasting of three regional wines, and it was a great presentation. Informative without being stuffy. Jeroud was so knowledgeable, but his bubbly personality made this such a fun event.

Eclairs from Donatien Maître Éclair

Donatien Maître Éclair was a fabulous stop. Owner Donatien Fehr is a true artist who has taken this humble pastry and elevated it to a whole new level of culinary delight. In addition to sweet pastries, he has created the savory éclair. On my visit, he was offering a ham and asparagus creation that utilized fresh, local asparagus. The crisp éclair shell was filled with flavorful filling and topped with ham and asparagus. It was so tasty. ‘

I also tried a pistachio cream sweet éclair which was divine. One of the things I was amazed about on this tour is that so many businesses focus on one thing and do it very well. Imagine a shop focusing on only eclairs!

Mustard Miller Harald Löhausn

9. The Mustard Museum

The Kölner Senfmuseum — or mustard museum — in Cologne, Germany was such an interesting experience. Mustard Miller Harald Löhausn shared how pure milled mustard is made, and we also got to try the different mustards. These mustards are made on-site with no additives from a basic recipe of mustard seeds, vinegar, salt, and spices. The mustard seeds are dry ground and added to the ingredients to ferment for a week then wet ground before aging for two months.

This all-natural mustard will keep for 2 years at room temperature. The mustards are packaged in handcrafted stoneware containers that are just beautiful and make a great souvenir. So how does it taste? Pretty good with a rich flavor not found in grocery store mustards. The best seller is their original from a recipe dating back to 1810.

Pro Tip: Purchase one stoneware urn, which is heavy, and then refill pouches to lessen the weight of your luggage. Also, buy one of the small wooden spoons which must be used to ensure the flavor of the mustard which is affected by metal.

Curated Dinner Excursions

Viking River Cruises offers a variety of dining experiences off the ship. I tried two, and although I tend to avoid the touristy experiences, I found I really enjoyed both of these excursions.

Author Peggy Cleveland trying White Asparagus

10. Dine In Rüdesheim Am Rhein

Despite getting on the kitschy mini-train that moved us from the ship to the restaurant, this was a fun experience. Rüdesheim is a charming small town and the Drosselgasse, a narrow pedestrian passageway, is just darling. The Rüdesheimer Schloss had a fest hall vibe to it where we enjoyed a farm-to-table meal of favorites from the Rheingau region. We even got to try the local Schnapps.

It was white asparagus season and we hadn’t had the opportunity to try them. The restaurant accommodated my request and I was able to order a plate for our table. The entertainment was fun and most of us joined in for the chicken dance, or the duck dance as it is known in this area.

11. Cologne’s Beer Culture And Dinner

This was such an interesting experience. We started at the Brauhaus zur Malzmühle, which since 1858 has been one of the more popular Brauhaus in Cologne. We enjoyed a multi-course meal with a variety of German favorites before joining our guide to try a few brewhouses. 

Kölsch is a crisp, light beer that is only brewed in Cologne. Unlike other areas of Germany where beer is served up in large steins, Kölsch is served straight from the barrel in special 7-ounce glasses which allows you to finish the beer while it is still cold. Such an interesting experience. Papa Joe’s Biersalon will remind you of the movie Cabaret with its jazzy vibe. It is worth a stop to see this collection of mechanical music machines from player pianos to animatronic musicians. Super fun.

Each Viking River Cruise itinerary will have different experiences, but the dining experience will be the same on each river voyage. I love this consistency of the brand — you know what to expect. Each trip will have a variety of on-ship culinary demonstrations and excursions as well as the delicious food served in the Dining Room and Aquavit Terrace.

Editor’s Take: Best Food On The Viking Egdir

TravelAwaits’ Senior VP, Missy Glassmaker, also enjoyed a week on the ship. Here are her picks for the best eats.

I agree with Peggy’s picks. The dining options were amazing and endless. Here are a few additional dining experiences I loved.

12. Roast Duck Breast

I never pass up duck when offered and this did not disappoint. Served with shiitake mushrooms, butternut squash, and Korean barbecue sauce, it was the perfect dinner choice to kick off our trip.

Grilled lamb chops

13. Grilled Lamb Chops

I couldn’t believe I ate this decadent meal for lunch, but I’m so happy I did. It felt like a special meal you would only enjoy on a rare Friday or Saturday night out, but it actually wasn’t too heavy for lunch and was oh-so-delicious.

viking river cruise bar hours

14. Bitterballen

Viking does an excellent job of incorporating local dishes into the nightly menus. Bitterballen was served while we were sailing through the Netherlands. It’s a breaded beef meatball served with spicy mustard. It was my first time trying it and I’ll definitely be looking for it again on my next visit.

15. Every Croissant

I didn’t keep track of how many croissants I consumed for good reason, but I enjoyed a few each day and one was better than the next, from plain to chocolate, apple, and pecan. Simply delicious!

16. Chocolate Mousse

This was offered a few times at lunch and dinner while sailing. It’s simple but perfect. Enjoy it with the Chianti I recommend below.

I loved the Kolsch in Cologne and the Riesling in Alsace, but the wine on the ship just felt special in part because the staff was so ridiculously amazing, they knew what I would love before I did. My favorites were the Chateau Miraval Cotes de Provence Rose with lunch and the Poggio al Sole Chianti Classico during and after dinner — occasionally paired with chocolate mousse for a lunch treat. The Gentil “Hugel” Alsace was also very good the first evening. 

The Best Dining Venues on Viking Cruises

Popular dishes on Viking cruises include Scandinavian specialties like gravlax and herring, as well as global cuisines such as sushi and pasta. Fine dining experiences offer gourmet meals paired with exquisite wines, ensuring a culinary journey on board in the main dining room and the areas I listed below.

The Chef’s Table

The Chef’s Table offers the perfect pairing of food and wine. The sommeliers and culinary masters at the Chef’s Table pour select vintages and serve thoughtfully prepared dishes during a multicourse tasting. A private dining room provides an opportunity to have an intimate meal.

The Pool Grill

For a relaxed lunch or an afternoon snack, the Pool Grill serves casual fare prepared to order and a small salad bar for lighter meals. Enjoy the poolside atmosphere while sipping the regional cocktails in the Pool Bar.

The World Cafe

Viking ships’ buffet, The World Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day.  A sushi bar with a seafood buffet is one of my highlights when it comes to evening offerings.

The Kitchen Table

The Kitchen Table is part shore excursion part cooking experience. It is a unique onboard cooking school with options to shop, cook, and eat with the masters. Witness the culinary expertise of top chefs as they bring local flavors from the market to the table. 

Room Service

Room service is excellent on all Viking cruise ships. The continental breakfast menu is comprehensive and offers a range of hot and cold dishes and coffee. Complimentary room service offers prompt delivery of delicious meals.

Viking really wants you to enjoy your meal. If you don’t like one thing, pick something else. Having trouble deciding? Pick both. I ended up with two desserts at one meal and loved sharing with the table. You’ll order, and eat, more food than you expected, but that’s what the excursions are for, and there’s a walking track on the top of the ship. Enjoy!

Heart set on a river cruise? Read all our Viking content here .

Are Meals Free on Viking Cruise Lines?

All meals on Viking cruise lines are complimentary, including specialty restaurants, a private dining room, room service, and other dining venues. The only dining experience with a fee is The Kitchen Table. 

What Are Specialty Restaurants on Viking Cruise Lines?

Specialty restaurants focus on local flavors and regional cuisine or culinary themes. Whether it’s an intimate chef’s table experience that can be enjoyed in the restaurant a private dining room or a casual al fresco dining option, these specialty venues offer variety and excitement.

Can I Order Room Service on Viking Cruises?

Yes, passengers can order room service on Viking cruise lines at any hour, any day. The complimentary menu includes a pasta dish, burgers, hot dogs, fish, chicken, a cheese plate, and fresh fruit as well as soft drinks, and desserts. 

What’s the Viking’s Pool Grill?

Pool Grill is Viking’s version of a burger bar. Pool Grill has a tasty take on the vegetarian burger, wings, chili dogs, pizza, grilled fish, and french fries. It also includes a small salad bar. Lunch is served daily at the Pool Grill.

Why Is the Viking’s Aquavit Terrace So Special?

Located outside the World Cafe, the Aquavit Terrace is an enchanting place where you can choose to either dine in a restaurant or in your own private dining room. It provides the most al fresco dining experiences of all ships at sea.

Image of Peggy Cleveland

She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her work can be found in Northwest Travel & Life Magazine , 253 Lifestyle Magazine , and other regional publications. She is the author of 100 Things to Do in Tacoma Before You Die , Reedy Press, and a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA). The name of her travel blog came about from her friends constantly asking her, "Peggy, Where Should I Go?"

All Things Cruise

Viking River Cruises Dining

Viking offers extraordinarily well-designed cruises that bring you closer to the cultures of the world. Its intimate, inclusive itineraries are designed to help you explore nuances of your destination: its food, culture, people and customs.

Destination-Focused Dining

Whatever your tastes, Viking River Cruises believes dining is an important part of your journey, both on shore and on board. Viking’s highly trained chefs are passionate about food and committed to providing an enriching culinary experience, whether you’re savoring authentic regional specialties or American classics. Dining areas—from the elegant Restaurant to the Sun Deck and Aquavit Terrace, the al fresco dining area at the bow of the ship—are the ideal setting for hospitable, attentive and personalized service.

What Are The Onboard Dining Times?

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the ship’s restaurant; however, you may opt for breakfast or lunch in the Lounge, or take a plate to the Sun Deck. Room service is not available. While serving times can vary depending upon excursions and cruise schedules, they are generally:

  • Breakfast: 7:00 AM–9:30 AM
  • Lunch: 12:00 PM–2:00 PM
  • Dinner: 7:00 PM

Hot coffee and tea from the coffee station, as well as bottled water in your stateroom, are complimentary throughout your voyage. Soft drinks, wine and beer are complimentary during lunch and dinner service; a charge applies outside these hours. You may bring local wines on board, and the Maître d’ will be happy to serve your wine without any corkage fee.

Every meal has vegetarian options on the menu, and chefs are able to prepare low-salt or gluten-free cuisine. Guests requiring special diets such as diabetic or low-cholesterol meals should have their agent alert Viking Cruises one month prior to departure and then guests should inform the Maître d’ when on board. The chefs will make every effort to accommodate these requests.

viking river cruise bar hours

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Travel with Lolly

The Complete Guide to a Viking River Cruise

Ever consider a Viking European river cruise? River cruises are very popular choices for people who like traveling to new places in the comfort of a floating hotel. That is, you sleep and eat on the ship and are transported to your destinations along a river. It’s certainly a relaxing way to travel. Plus, Viking offers several excursions each day that the ship is in port. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our Viking River cruise, which transported us comfortably to some amazing European destinations.

This article highlights the European river cruises aboard the Viking Longboats. The sizes of the ships are designed specifically for the rivers they ply (e.g., they need to navigate the sometimes narrow waterways and any locks along the way). Viking ships all sport calming Scandinavian decor and are designed efficiently.  The general experience on all Viking River cruise ships is the same, no matter what ship you’re on. However, the information in this article is from our Grand European Tour cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest aboard the Skirnir and Modi (more on the two ships later).  Once you’ve booked a Viking cruise, take the next steps , like creating an online account with Viking, to ensure a wonderful adventure .

The Viking Skirnir river cruise ship makes its way along the Rhine River.

NOTE: This article was completely updated in January 2023 from the original article, written in 2019 . Some procedures and protocols on cruise ships have changed to address public health concerns since the global COVID-19 pandemic. Check with your Viking agent or travel agent (or your MyVikingJourney online portal if you’re already booked on a cruise) to learn the latest protocols aboard the ship, and in the countries you’ll be visiting. Despite some tweaks, this article will prepare you for your Viking River cruise. Enjoy!

What to Expect on a Viking River Cruise

Viking is an industry leader for a variety of reasons, including their choices of fascinating destinations, varied excursion options, attention to detail in designing the private and shared spaces, and a welcoming and hard-working staff.

Viking River Cruise Destinations

You’ll find Viking River cruises throughout Europe, Egypt, and Southeast Asia . There are so many choices of destinations and lengths of the trip. Some people book two cruises back-to-back to extend their vacation. Also, Viking offers options to add a few days in the first or last destination before and after a cruise.

What You’ll Find on Viking

On all river cruises, guests are offered one complimentary shore excursion at every destination . In addition, quite a few “optional” excursions are available at an extra cost. The excursions provide guests with an array of experiences, including peeks into how locals live, how and where they work, and some “privileged access” options just for Viking guests.

Onboard you’ll have port talks to prepare you for each new day along with musical entertainment in the lounge. Plus, you can expect some special cooking and craft demonstrations, wine tastings, and presentations about a destination’s unique features .

Guests are served complimentary soft drinks, beer, or wine during lunch and dinner. There is an extra charge for the Silver Spirits package for guests who want to enjoy premium wines and beer, cocktails, and champagnes.

What You Won’t Find on Viking

There are several things you won’t find on a Viking River cruise, and they are often some of the prime reasons so many people choose Viking .

  • No inside staterooms.
  • No kids. All guests are 18 years old or more.
  • No smoking.
  • No casinos.
  • No formal nights.
  • No charge for Wi-Fi.

Viking River Cruise Ships

Viking Longboats have four decks:

  • The Sun Deck has tables and chairs for guests to enjoy the views plus a walking track.
  • The Upper Deck has the library, bar, lounge, Aquavit Terrace, coffee and tea station, and internet cafe, along with both of the Explorer Suites, all of the Veranda Suites, and some of the Veranda and French Balcony staterooms.
  • The Middle Deck has Guest Services, the restaurant, the Viking shop, and some of the Veranda and French Balcony staterooms. 
  • The Lower Deck has the Standard Staterooms.

Stairs connect all the decks; an elevator service the upper and middle decks.

Upholstered sofas and chairs and a piano sit in a Viking river cruise lounge.

Viking River Cruise Staterooms

All Viking River cruise ship staterooms have:

  • river views.
  • king-size beds that can be split to make two twin beds.
  • private bathrooms that are separate from the living space.
  • housekeeping twice a day.
  • a telephone, safe, and refrigerator.
  • a closet with wooden hangers.
  • luggage storage under the beds.
  • free Wi-Fi (though connection speeds vary depending upon location).
  • a flat-screen TV with infotainment options.
  • 110/220-volt outlets and USB ports.

Stateroom Options

The different types of staterooms range in size, available outdoor space, the time for guaranteed stateroom access, and amenities. Also, the ability to book optional excursions varies by the stateroom level . For example, the guests in the Explorer Suites can book optional excursions before guests in the Veranda Suites. This practice continues through all the classes of staterooms, with the standard staterooms getting the last optional booking options. Having said this, there are often opportunities to book optional excursions once you board the ship. This is because some guests may have canceled their planned optional excursions prior to the cruise, so it’s a good practice to check on this and any other concerns once you’re on board. 

Stateroom Categories

  • 150 square foot stateroom with picture window (no outdoor space)
  • located on the Main Deck (lowest deck)
  • 3:00 pm guaranteed stateroom access
  • 135 square foot stateroom with French balcony (sliding glass door with no outdoor space)
  • located on the Upper Deck and Middle Deck
  • 205 square foot room with full-size private veranda
  • 275 square foot suite with full-size private veranda
  • located on the Upper Deck 
  • 12:00 pm guaranteed stateroom access
  • mini-bar with wine, beer, and soft drinks that are replenished daily
  • complimentary fruit plate daily
  • complimentary laundry & shoe shine services
  • expansive 445 square foot living space (separate living room and bedroom) with wraparound balcony at the stern of the ship plus a French balcony in the bedroom. 
  • complimentary in-room breakfast service
  • complimentary Silver Spirits beverage package
  • private arrival and departure transfer (from and to the airport)

viking river cruise bar hours

Stateroom Amenities

The staterooms and bathrooms are efficiently designed to maximize usable space , and there are many things to appreciate in the staterooms.

  • A safe with an electronic keypad is provided in each room. You set the code, so it’s a cinch to remember. It easily holds passports and other travel documents, along with jewelry and money. One tip we learned is to put a shoe (just one!) in the safe the day before you check out. Having to look for the shoe on the last day will remind you to open the safe so you don’t forget your valuables.
  • Staterooms have 110V and 220V electrical outlets , so you can plug in whichever fits your needs. We took a universal travel adaptor with 4 USB plugs and 4 outlets and used just one outlet for all of our electronics (smartphones, cameras, tablets , and Apple Watch). That saved precious counter space.
  • There’s a full-size   hair dryer with a German Schuko 2-pin plug that matches the 2-prong outlet in the bathroom.
  • Upon arrival, sturdy wooden hangers were in your closet; if you need more, just ask, and they will be delivered promptly.
  • The bathroom awaits you with a complete supply of Freyja toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion, along with a shower cap and vanity set. These supplies are replenished as needed.
  • The bathroom has a laundry line in the shower that is handy for hanging hand-washed garments.
  • Laundry can be sent out to be done. It is usually returned within 24 hours. You can choose to have your garments washed and ironed or ironed only. For an idea of the costs for cleaning and ironing, pants are 6 Euros, a blouse is 5 Euros, and a polo shirt is 3.5 Euros (at the time of publication). Guests in an Explorer Suite or Veranda Suite receive complimentary laundry services.
  • There’s a mini-fridge in the staterooms. The staff will replenish whatever you consume when your room is cleaned.
  • A large glass bottle of water i n your guest room (along with glasses) will be replenished as needed. (You will also be offered bottled water as you leave for each excursion.)
  • There are two listening devices on lanyards and an earpiece (for your left ear) for each device inside your room. When not in use, keep these devices in the chargers so they are fully charged for excursions.
  • All rooms have a color TV with live channels, complimentary movies, and Viking programming . We used the TV for weather updates and a map that always shows the ship’s location; this was very handy as we navigated the rivers in between ports of call. 
  • Housekeeping will visit your room in the morning to clean it.
  • Housekeeping will revisit your room while you’re at dinner. You’ll notice the Viking Daily on your bed when you return to your room later that evening. This publication outlines the schedule for the next day, with all included and optional excursions as well as suggestions on where to visit and eat during your free time the next day.
  • There’s room under the bed to store suitcases after unpacking.

viking river cruise bar hours

Viking River Cruise Common Areas

In addition to your stateroom, there are several key public areas on the longships including an expansive, relaxing lounge and bar, the Aquavit Terrace at the ship’s bow for al fresco dining and soaking in river views, a dining room, a coffee/tea station, a small library, and an area with two desktop computers for guest use. For more details on the areas designed for guest comfort, read the illustrated guide to the Viking River Cruise ship’s common areas .

viking river cruise bar hours


Staterooms are guaranteed to be ready at 3:00 pm. (If you are booked in one of the suites, you’ll have access to your stateroom at 12:00.) If you arrive before your guaranteed time of 3:00 pm, you can spend time in the Lounge or leave your luggage on the ship and begin to explore the city on your own. A light buffet is available in the Lounge around midday, so you’ll be able to recharge a bit before the cruise begins — a nice treat if you just got off a long flight.

The Viking Onboard Experience

Naturally, safety is a primary concern of travelers and the crew. There was a mandatory safety drill on our first full day of the river cruise. Life vests were under the beds, but prior to the drill, they were placed on our beds while we were at lunch. Just before the drill, we were all asked to return to our staterooms and don our life vests. After that, we went to an assigned group on the upper deck (groups are determined by what floor the staterooms are on), and we had to give our stateroom number to the staff at the assigned location (for roll call). Once everyone was accounted for, we were able to leave, return our life vests to our stateroom, and resume what we were doing.

Each time you leave the ship, you scan your room key . When you return to the ship, you scan it again . This is one way the crew can account for all guests. Before leaving a dock, there may be announcements asking for guests in certain rooms to let the staff know they are on the ship. (It’s not uncommon for someone to forget to scan their card when returning to the ship.)

Attire on a river cruise is casual. During the day on excursions, travelers dress very comfortably as they leave the ship to explore a destination. However, most guests sport a smart casual look for dinner. Leave your dressier clothes at home; no formal nights are on a Viking River cruise. 

Meals on a Viking River Cruise

Three meals are included each day at the following times:

  • Breakfast: 7:00-9:00 am
  • Lunch: 12:00-2:00 pm 
  • Dinner: 7:00 pm

Soda, beer, and house wine are available at lunch and dinner at no charge.

Travelers who purchase the Silver Spirits beverage package (price varies depending on the length of your cruise) can get whatever alcoholic beverage they want during lunch, dinner, and whenever else the bar is staffed (afternoons and evenings) at no additional charge. The Silver Spirits package is complimentary for guests in an Explorer Suite.

If you have dietary restrictions, let Viking know when you book. You should also alert the Maitre d’ once on board.

The river cruises have open seating, so that means you aren’t assigned any table mates. Each time you enter the dining room, you find a table that you want to sit at. We enjoyed sitting with different people; it gave us a chance to learn about their travel experiences and lives a bit. You never know what you’ll learn or who you’ll meet!

Although lunch is available in the dining room, we favored the Aquavit Terrace (at the front of the ship) for our midday meal. It’s relaxed and has an abundant food buffet with soup, a variety of salads, meats, warm sandwiches (like paninis and Cuban sandwiches), fruit, and dessert. There’s always iced tea — often with different flavors every day. Servers take your drink orders (sodas, beer, wine) and freshen up your glass when it is empty. Just inside is the Lounge where we ate one rainy lunchtime. The Aquavit Terrace is one advantage Viking has over its competition. This is a great venue for enjoying the passing landscape on travel days and relaxed dining every day.

A collage picture of different meals served on a Viking river cruise longship.

Prior to dinner, the chef usually introduces the options including his/her recommendations. On our cruise, this was done in the Lounge just after the evening port talk by the program director. Dinner begins at 7:00 pm in the dining room. If you choose to eat on the Aquavit Terrace, dinner begins at 7:15 pm with all of the same options as in the dining room.

Menu Options

On one side of the menu are the “classics” or options that are always available. W hen we cruised, the “classics” included Caesar salad as a starter; steak, salmon, and chicken as entrees, and Creme Brûlée, a selection of cheeses, a fruit plate, and ice cream for dessert.

On the other side of the menu are “regional specialties” or options that are focused on our destinations. Examples were creamy potato soup, Wiener Schnitzel, and Sacher cake when in Vienna; while in Budapest, the menu featured Hungarian Farmer Salad, Fogas Karpathy (perch and shrimp in white wine sauce), and Zserbo (a layered walnut and chocolate cake).

Without a doubt, we give Viking chefs top marks for the presentation and flavor of the food they serve. We always enjoyed the variety of food from the local areas we were visiting. After all, we travel to experience new places, new food, and new people, so we like to eat local specialties whenever possible. We were never disappointed with our meal selections. Whichever side of the menu you order from, the meals for the entire table are served at the same time.

Guests & Socializing

Cruising is a social experience as you chat with fellow passengers on excursions, at the social hour before dinner in the Lounge, and at meals.  An easy way to begin a conversation is to ask where people are from, about their past travel experiences, and what excursions interest them the most. We’ve found there are a lot of commonalities as well as interesting folks to meet. 

River cruises are designed for the mature traveler as Viking guests must be 18 years old. Many of the guests are retired, but there were quite a few still working or recently retired. 

Exercising on a River Cruise

There is no fitness center or spa on Viking River cruise ships; the space that could be a fitness center is instead put to use in the common areas and staterooms. (European river cruise ships are limited in size due to the rivers they cruise on, so they have the same overall dimensions. Some companies may take space from common areas to put into spas and fitness centers; others, like Viking, use all that available space for staterooms and common areas.)

To burn off some of the calories ingested by the delicious food onboard, I walked in the morning around the sun deck track. 12.5 laps = 1 mile. Viking asks that guests not walk on the sun deck from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am as a courtesy to those whose cabins are just below the sun deck. Getting my heart rate up while enjoying beautiful scenery passing by while the ship made its way down a river was a win-win.

My husband prefers to jog each morning, and he was able to when we were docked in the early morning before excursions began. Other times, we were still sailing, so he could not. A good idea if you’re a runner is to check with the reception desk to map out when there will be time in the morning to leave the ship for a jog or run before excursions begin.

Excursions on a Viking River Cruise

You can sign up for excursions from your account on prior to your trip. Sometimes optional excursions sell out, although there are usually some available once you’re on the ship. Please note that Viking requires at least 48 hours’ cancellation notice if you are on the ship and decide not to go on an optional excursion. 

There are three activity levels for excursions :

  • Easy means the walking will be on mostly smooth (not cobbled) surfaces, there are few steps, and the tours will be 1.5 hours or less.
  • Moderate means the walking could be a little more strenuous or have more stairs or inclines. The total time on these outings could be 1.5 to 3 hours.
  • Demanding means extensive walking, hiking, or biking. Walking could be on unpaved or uneven surfaces and may involve many steps or steep inclines. The total time on these outings could be longer than 3 hours.

Prior to Excursions

About 15 minutes before each excursion, there is an announcement to remind guests that it is almost time to leave and to remember the listening devices. These devices are attached to lanyards with earpieces. 

You’ll receive an excursion card with a number and a letter. The number indicates which ship you’re on. (This is handy because you might encounter tour groups from other Viking ships that are docked in the same city at the same time.) The letter indicates which excursion group you’re on. Since there are often different excursions leaving simultaneously , this is an efficient way to find which tour guide to meet as you disembark the ship. The buses and tour guides for your group are each marked: the bus has a placard with the same number and letter to let you know you need to board that bus; the tour guide has a red and white sign on a paddle to indicate that group, as well.

Leaving the Ship

As you leave the ship, you’ll scan your room key to indicate your departure and rescan it upon returning . This is Viking’s way of accounting for guests.

As you leave the ship, you are handed a bottle of water.  To conserve resources, you could easily fill a reusable water bottle from home with water in the rooms. There are also bright red full-size Viking umbrellas to take along on excursions if it’s raining. I learned that I probably should have packed a small collapsable umbrella to stuff in my backpack; that way, I won’t be carrying the big Viking umbrella around after the rain has stopped while we’re still sightseeing.

A Few Important Excursion Notes

It’s important to note that when the ship docks somewhere in the morning and you go on an excursion, you sometimes will be brought back to the ship in a different location — like another city further down the river. This taught me to take pictures when I first see a scenic sight just in case I wouldn’t have the opportunity again.

There is precise timing to docking and excursions. For example, we arrived in Cologne at 9:30 am and our walking tour began at 10:00 am. Viking is very efficient with their timing. Likewise, when the ship is ready to leave, it leaves — as long as all the guests are accounted for. 

Not everyone needs to go on excursions. Some guests preferred to stay in the Lounge and simply relax, read a book, or enjoy the view beyond the big plate glass window or take in the views from the sun deck.

Big City Lesson

One thing we learned is that although some excursions will guide you through a large city, if it is inland a bit, you may be spending a significant amount of time traveling from the ship to the city — and comparatively modest amounts of time actually in the city itself. We learned this the hard way one day, and we realized that we actually prefer exploring the little towns that we dock at more. Our preferred day at a town where we were docked included a morning walking tour (an included excursion) to get the lay of the land. In the afternoon, we followed up on some of the suggestions the local guide from the morning had regarding how to spend the remainder of the day. That worked well as we enjoyed some nice non-touristy lunches and other walks and tours on our own.

Viking Communication

We found the onboard communication to be excellent . This includes the Viking Daily which provides information for each new day and the evening updates by the program director in the Lounge before dinner. There are also daily announcements with information on docking and reminders about impending excursion departures. 

TIP: Take a picture of The Viking Daily each evening before heading to bed. Then it’ll be the first photo on your camera roll before the next day’s activities. Doing so will help you remember months and years later where all your amazing pictures are from!

The crew communicates with each other quite well. For example, once the crew knows that everyone is accounted for after excursions, the ship is sailing within minutes of the anticipated departure (as noted in the Viking Daily ). 

Viking Staff

The Viking onboard staff — from the captain, hotel manager, and program director to the housekeeping and wait staff — were all positive, upbeat folks: smiling, accommodating, and helpful. Also, the onboard staff and the local guides speak English well.

Little Touches by Viking

Viking has perfected hospitality on many levels. Their crew is well-trained and genuinely appears to want to make you happy. There are lots of smiles and offers of help. They also are known for providing little touches that many guests appreciate. Here are some examples from our cruise:

  • Viking is happy to celebrate your birthdays and anniversaries while onboard. Many people were serenaded during dinner, and special treats made pleasant surprises. We celebrated a big anniversary on our cruise and were delighted with champagne and a special dessert awaiting us in our room after dinner one night.
  • Every once in a while, you may be treated to a little “extra” like a refreshing drink served on the sun deck while sailing one day.
  • I borrowed some books from the ship’s library and left them on a table in our room. When I returned, I noticed two Viking bookmarks resting on top of the books. Likewise, a few days later, I had just started reading a different book and placed it on my night table on top of my Kindle. When I returned to the room, I noticed another bookmark was placed on top of it. 

Tipping is the universal way to thank someone for providing excellent service — and you will find excellent service on Viking. You can choose to pre-pay gratuities which we did. Prepaid gratuities came to 18 Euros per guest per day. Viking adds a discretionary service charge (15 Euros per guest per day when we traveled) to your shipboard account if you choose not to prepay the gratuity . The tips cover all onboard staff. We also took along some thank you cards and added some extra cash to give to those we felt went above and beyond during our cruise.

The recommended tipping (for each guest) on excursions is 2 Euros for local guides and 1 Euro for bus drivers.  Needless to say, it’s handy to have small change for tipping.

Onboard Account

Viking keeps track of your expenses during the cruise, including bar items, laundry, phone calls, and purchases from the Viking shop (logo wear and souvenirs). When the cruise ends, you settle your account in cash (U.S. dollars or Euros) or by credit card.

Parallel Parked Ships

Sometimes there’s a lot of river cruise ship traffic in popular cities. This was true in Passau, a city of over 50,000, and especially in heavyweights like Vienna and Budapest. When this happens, the cruise ship parks parallel to another cruise ship. This means that your ship could be the first, second, or third ship docked. Furthermore, this means that you may have to walk through another ship to get to shore or people are walking through your ship to get to and from theirs. The ships are designed for this — to have travelers walk through the common spaces. And our experience was that we were usually parked next to other Viking ships, so we walked through familiar spaces.

Having to dock the ship next to another cruise ship also means that the view from your stateroom could be blocked and your cabin could be a bit dark.  We were docked next to other ships several times on our 15-day cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. It’s not a deal breaker for us, but it’s something every river cruise guest should be forewarned about. 

Two Viking river cruise ships are docked beside each other.

Transferring Ships

There are times when river cruise ships have to have guests disembark a ship and then board a sister ship. Sometimes the river water levels may be too low in spots (due to the lack of sufficient rain during summer) or there is another issue (like a broken lock) necessitating the change.

When We Had to Switch Ships

Here’s our story. We were sailing from Amsterdam to Budapest. There was a broken lock near Regensburg, about halfway between the two big cities. Viking had a sister ship sailing the same journey in the opposite direction — from Budapest to Amsterdam — so we switched ships. We got off our ship, the Skirnir, in Nuremberg (one of our scheduled ports) before the damaged lock. The guests on the other ship, the Modi, got off the ship at Regensburg, on the other side of the damaged lock. Essentially, each ship then turned around and went back to the city from which it originated. Suffice it to say that Viking has this all figured out and has contingency plans firmly in place.

Impact on Guests

What it meant for guests was a minor inconvenience. We had to have our luggage packed and placed outside our stateroom door by 7:00 am on the day of the switch. Viking collected the luggage (with different colored tags for the three different floors of the ship) and trucked it to where the Modi, our new ship, was docked. All guests left the ship for excursions (the times of the excursions were modified that day so they would all be timed for the same number of hours). After the excursions, we all met at a restaurant in Nuremberg for lunch, had a little free time, and then were bussed to the new ship in the late afternoon. As we arrived at the ship, we were warmly greeted, and we went to our rooms (which were intentionally left unlocked). Our luggage awaited us, and our new room keys were on the dresser.

Since they are sister ships, they are the same, so the only thing that changed was the crew. The one exception was the program director, who made the move with us. Otherwise, we had a brand new crew. We had grown to like the crew on the Skirnir, but we quickly came to like the new ones as well.


Viking has guest departures timed to match their future travel plans. Viking assigns different colored luggage tags to guests depending on what their next travel destination is (a post-excursion through Viking, a trip independent of Viking, or a flight home). The tags have the time the luggage must be outside the staterooms as well as the time that guests are expected to depart the ship. (Viking asks that luggage not be placed outside the staterooms when going to bed the previous night due to safety concerns — should there be an emergency, having bags in the narrow corridors would pose a safety risk.) 

On our cruise, some guests had to put their luggage outside their staterooms as early as 2:45 am and leave the ship at 3:30 am to go to the airport. Regardless of their next destinations, all guests had to place their luggage outside their rooms no later than 9:00 am. After that point, guests still on board could use the common areas (Lounge or sun deck) until their transfer to the airport or other destination. That way, Viking could clean the staterooms and ready the ship for the passengers boarding later that day for the next cruise.

Planning Your Viking River Cruise

Once you book a Viking River cruise, take the next steps to ensure an amazing experience . One of those steps is to create an online account with Viking. There you’ll find a countdown to departure, background on each port of call, the entire list of excursions available (some are complimentary; others cost extra) that you can book online, a calendar showing your itinerary for each day, and other helpful information about the cruise. For a complete list of action steps

You will receive your final travel documents and Viking luggage tags within three weeks of your trip. Included is a packet of information specific to your ship (including phone numbers on the ship plus embarkation location information) and an itinerary.

Booking Options

Some travelers prefer to book through Viking itself. We opted to book through our travel agent with whom we could meet face-to-face, ask questions, and learn from her knowledge of cruising and different cruise companies. Plus, some travel agents provide onboard credit to cruising clients. Since we booked through our travel agent, Viking sent her the final travel documents, and she checked them before passing them on to us.

Disclaimer: My husband and I paid for our Viking River cruise ourselves. We did not receive any compensation or discounts from Viking or any other organization. I merely want to share our experience on a river cruise with my readers. 

Related Articles

Viking related articles.

  • Viking Ocean Cruises: The Ultimate Guide
  • Viking Ocean Cruise Excursions: What You Need to Know
  • Viking Cruises: Best Action Steps to Take After Booking a Cruise
  • Viking River Cruises: The Complete Guide
  • Best Sights to See on a Viking Grand European Tour Cruise
  • Viking Antarctica Cruise: A Complete Guide for Adventurers

General Travel Planning Articles

  • Best Apps and Websites for Savvy Travelers
  • Travel Lightly: Top Ten Tips for Your Next Trip
  • Travel Planning Timeline
  • Expert Tips for Traveling to Europe for More Fun, Less Stress
  • How to Use Google Translate While Traveling

Final Thoughts

We thoroughly enjoyed our Viking River cruise. O n our trip, we met interesting people; visited fascinating places; sampled new foods, wines, and beer; and appreciated Viking’s convenience and gracious hospitality . We can’t say enough about how well-run and maintained the ships are. Although we have some other trips planned (that we organize ourselves, as we often do), we are contemplating which Viking cruise — river or ocean — we will be booking next. 

The Viking Grand European Tour from Amsterdam to Budapest was a great experience that we’ll never forget.

To ensure you remember all the great experiences on your cruise, take lots of pictures and create a photo book of your journey when you return home. You’ll be glad you did!

If you have taken a Viking River cruise and want to share your experiences, please do so in the comment area below. 🙂

108 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to a Viking River Cruise”

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Thank you so much for the wonderful information in this guide! We are leaving in 6 days for the Grand European Adventure from Amsterdam to Budapest. This is our first cruise ever, and you have answered many questions we still had. We appreciate you sharing your time and adventures with us, and I signed up for your “Travel With Lolly” newsletter too! Thanks again!

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I’m hoping you’re having a fabulous cruise! That’s a great itinerary.

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Things that I learned while stationed in Germany and traveling around the local economy. You need some small change for this. – Public toilets have attendants who maintain them and who expect a gratuity (.20-.50 Euros) for use. This may have increased since my last visit. – Damen = Women, not “The Men” – Herren = Men, not “Her”

Thanks, Rich!

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Some cruises include excursions. How expensive are the excursions? Where do you find the choices? Thanks!

Hi Leslie, Viking cruises include an excursion at each destination; these are usually general bus or walking tours of a city. In addition, they offer optional excursions that are more targeted to specific interests like concerts, museums, hiking or biking, and farm or winery tours. The anticipated optional excursions are listed on the Viking website for each cruise. They are also listed on, a site you can access after you book a Viking cruise, along with prices. Prices vary and usually run from $60-$200.

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Thanks for this information. I’ve been on a Viking ocean cruise but am going on my first river cruise in June. I found that it’s easy to book shore excursions on one’s own (through “Tours by Locals”, AirBnB, and other venues) and many cost far less than what Viking charges. For example, going to Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny will cost 4 of us about 1/3 of what Viking is charging. Going to a chocolate making session at Lindt will cost $90 per person — about twice that going w/Viking. I know they have staff to pay, and overhead to finance, and many people will want the easier route of booking a Viking excursion. But for those who have the time to explore options online, and are willing to read through reviews to ascertain the good and bad of each offered tour, I highly recommend a little independent booking.

Thanks for sharing, Carol!

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Thank you so much for this super-detailed information. :). I have a couple of follow up questions. I read a number of the comments, but time right now is a premium, so I apologize in advance if I am rehashing any prior q’s.

We are leaving on our Rhine cruise next week and are super excited! 1. Is there much sailing during daylight hours? I fear that all the great sailing will be while we are sleeping. The point of a cruise, for me, is a good bit of time enjoying the water. 2. My husband and I are seasoned travelers. Would you encourage or discourage any bookings at locations through outside vendors? I recall the part of your article that indicates the ship may change position during excursions. I would hate to book an outside excursion and come back to find the ship has gone on to another location. For instance, we would like to take a side morning trip to Heidelberg during the stop at Speyer, but we don’t want to do the 9 hour tour available through Viking. We were thinking we may get a ride to Heidelberg and tour the castle on our own. Viking doesn’t really say anything about outside tours.

Thanks again!

Hi Karen, There may be some sailing during the day, depending on the distance between two ports, but most of it is in the evening and at nighttime. You’ll probably be enjoying some views while sailing during late afternoon and early evening. To get more information about the times the ship is expected to be in port, use the Live Chat feature on the My Viking Journey online site to ask about it. When you know when the ship is in port, you can figure out when it will most likely be sailing and if you have enough time for an outside tour. I’ve found the Live Chat staff to be very helpful; hopefully, you will, too! Have a wonderful cruise!

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This is a very informative post and the details are very helpful. We will be doing the river cruise at the end of July (Budapest to Amsterdam) and opted for a post cruise excursion that offers 1-day tour and the next day on our own. With this 1 limited free day, can you please recommend a thing or two to do or visit in Amsterdam? We’re thinking of Anne Frank museum, is it worth it? My husband is a classical music junky and wanted to tour or watch something in Concertgebau. I will appreciate your recommendations.

Hi Joel, Spending time in Amsterdam offers so many options! It comes down to what you like to do. I think the Anne Frank House is worth a visit, as are the musuems. The only issue is getting tickets for a visit just a few weeks away. Perhaps going on TripAdvisor will give you ideas for things you’d enjoy doing. They may have recommendations for special interest tours or other experiences that speak to you!

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Hi Lolly – oh my goodness! This is the BEST information. Thank you so much for your thoroughness! We are taking our first river cruise in November 2024 (Rhine Getaway on the Gersemi) and we cannot wait, but we are also grateful that we have so much time to research and prepare. A river cruise has been on my list for quite some time. Thank you again!

I’m glad the article helped you prepare for your upcoming river cruise. I hope you have a wonderful time on the ship, exploring new places, and meeting new people. 🙂

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Lolly, No questions, I just wanted to thank you for having such an informative post. You answered all the questions we had after going through the Viking pages. Thanks for what you do.

Thanks for the kind words, Keith! I’m glad you found the article helpful.

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When using a visa credit card, will the charge be in dollars or Euros?

Hi Glenn, When using credit cards in Europe, it’s usually best to avoid converting the amount into dollars (because there’s usually a fee for doing so). So accept the transaction amount “without conversion,” as you want to use the local currency option.

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Although we’ve done probably 25 or so cruises on the big ships this is our first river cruise. We’ll be on the Grand European from Amsterdam to Budapest in July and we’re beginning to get really excited. Of course, that also means that we were starting to come up with all sorts of questions about the ship & excursions. Happily, your article has answered many of our questions!! I do have one question though – can we get additional Euros through the service desk on the ship or should we make sure we have plenty before we board? Thanks so much!

Hi Jan, I’m glad you found the article helpful! About Euros, Viking’s guest services desk will break Euros into smaller denominations, but they don’t handle currency exchanges. If you’re starting with some Euros, you should be able to easily obtain more from ATMs in Amsterdam (and other ports); the guest services desk should be able to tell you where to find one near the ship. Keep in mind that many shops and restaurants accept credit cards (VISA and MasterCard primarily), so you’ll probably use your Euros mostly for small incidentals and for tipping tour guides and bus drivers when on excursions. Accepting the local conversion rate (not into dollars) is usually advantageous when withdrawing from an ATM. For more tips for traveling to Europe, read Expert Tips for Traveling to Europe for More Fun, Less Stress . Have a wonderful cruise!

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How much time (approx) did you have in each port?

Great question, Jessica! Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. You can ask Viking or your travel agent for specifics for the cruise that interests you. As an example, on my upcoming Viking cruise in the Mediterranean, we arrive in port in the mornings by 8:00 or 9:00 am. Our departure times vary quite a bit from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

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What a great article! We leave on our trip tomorrow, Antwerp to Amsterdam for ten days. We have never cruised before. This was so helpful. Thank you for sharing.

Thanks for your kind words. Have a marvelous time!

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Thank you for this very informative article. Looking at the Viking Daily it appears that included tours are in the morning and optional ones are in the afternoon. Is it then possible to do one of each per day?

Hi Barb, Excursion options vary and are often driven by local tour operators and their schedules. There weren’t separate morning and afternoon excursions for an upcoming ocean cruise my husband and I are taking, and that’ll work out just fine. Most days, my husband and I will go on an excursion in the morning and then explore a town independently in the afternoon (and evening, if still in port) — perhaps having a leisurely lunch in a scenic spot, visiting a museum, or going for a hike nearby. I suggest asking about ideas for independent activity once you’re aboard the ship. The Viking Daily gives some general ideas, and I’m sure the Viking staff can help you find things (e.g., museums, restaurants, shops) that specifically interest you. Oftentimes, it’s exploring on our own that makes traveling so enjoyable. Hopefully, it will be the same for you, too. Have a wonderful cruise!

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Great article. Thank you for taking the time to post this. One question: in checking in for your flight at the end of the cruise, did you have any issues doing this on board the ship? We might want to change airline seats, which we cannot do before our cruise.

Hi Ron, I’ve not experienced any issues connecting online while on the ship. If you do, I’d suggest going to Guest Services for help. Have a wonderful cruise!

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Thanks for your article it was very informative. My husband and I are booked on the Grand European cruise with an extension in Prague at the end of June. We are traveling with 8 other people. Would there be any issue with booking an independent excursion for the days we will be in Prague or in the ports that we will be in overnight? Viking is only offering us a morning excursion the second day in Prague so we are looking to do some exploring on our own.

Hi Anne, booking an independent excursion shouldn’t be a problem. Quite a few cruisers actually do that. Just make sure you are aware of the times the ship will leave the port so you don’t miss its departure. Have a wonderful cruise!

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Great post. Very informative. One question though – How can we tell how much bus travel time is involved in each excursion? We are doing the Grand European Tours B-A with extensions in Prague and Amsterdam, and have booked a full schedule. We are doing the Salzburg Highlights but just read it’s a 2 hour bus ride each way. We don’t even know if it is The Sound of Music “heavy”, and that is kindof why we are doing it. There are other excursions that day that we could do. Thank you for your article and your help!

Hi Kathy, Great question! I suggest signing on to My Viking Journey and using the “Live Chat” feature to get your answer. After logging on to My Viking Journey, go to the “Shore Excursions” section and initiate a conversation with a Viking Cruise rep. You should see a red “Live Chat” box along the margin of the screen. You’ll be able to find out about the length of bus trips to/from excursions and other related information. Have a fabulous cruise!

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We have quite a bit of Viking on board credits and wanted to purchase optional shore excursions with that credit. But it looks like pre purchasing using on board credit isn’t possible. What are the chances of excursions still being available when we are on board? We are on the Aug Rhine cruise and our 1st river cruise.

Hi Pat, There’s a good chance that some optional excursions will be available once you board the ship — even if they’re listed on MyVikingJourney as being sold out. That’s because some people end up canceling their reservations for optional excursions. Go to the guest service desk and inquire about the excursions you want and if they’re fully booked, ask to be placed on a waitlist. Wishing you good luck and a fantastic cruise!

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I am going on a Christmas Market cruise with Viking in 2024. Since it will be winter with colder temps, I am wondering about the indoor lounging space/common areas on the longboats. Is there plenty of space for passengers indoors in the common areas, if the outdoors are too cold or rainy? Do you know if the outdoor areas on the sun deck can be enclosed for added warmth on these cooler weather trips? Thanks for any thoughts!

Hi Jaime, Viking’s European longship has a spacious lounge, the Aquavit Terrace (some of which can be enclosed in bad weather), and seating in the atrium area — all good choices for relaxing inside while not in your stateroom. The sun deck does not have enclosed spaces. Enjoy your cruise!

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Does anyone wear jeans at dinner?

Hi Carolyn,

Per Viking: “There are no ‘formal nights’ in the evening; recommended evening dress is ‘elegant casual.’ For ladies, this may include a dress, skirt or slacks with a sweater or blouse; and for gentlemen, trousers and a collared shirt. A tie and jacket are optional.”

However, some guests do wear nice jeans (not torn or ripped) in the evening. It’s relatively easy to dress up a pair of jeans a bit, so the overall look is “elegant casual.” Enjoy your cruise!

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GREAT INFO. Scheduled for Grand European in September 2023. Wondering how much american cash we should bring and do we need to get euros prior to arrival (if so how much). You mention that from 5:15-7 there will be drinks & live music or a port talk. If you want wine at that time is there a charge?

What is the availability of restroom facilities in these small towns? Do they charge for use?

Hi Victoria, I’m so glad you found the article helpful! Deciding on cash is a personal choice, of course. My husband and I like to have about 100-200 Euros on us before leaving home. Plus, we always have some dollars with us, too. If you want to obtain Euros before departure, check with your bank or AAA office to see if they can help you. Also, you can get Euros from bank ATMs after you land; there are probably some ATMS near your cruise embarkation site. We’ve never had a problem finding an ATM in Europe, and Viking can surely help direct you to one. Remember to notify your bank of your travel dates and destinations before leaving home! (Another idea is to get Euros at one of the airport currency exchange kiosks, but the exchange rates will probably not be favorable.)

Viking offers complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks during lunch and dinner. At other times, like when gathered in the lounge before dinner, you’ll charge your wine, beer, or cocktails to your stateroom.

Public restrooms are available in European towns, and many charge a nominal fee (.50-1 Euro). Your best bet is to ask about availability, location, and cost at Guest Services once onboard. Have a wonderful cruise in September!

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Thank you for great information and insights! We took our first Viking River cruise in 2018 (Rhine – Amsterdam to Basel) and leave in a month for the Danube (Budapest to Regensburg) with the pre and post cruise stays. You answered my questions about docking locations (though understand they are subject to change) and the Hungarian currency. Hope you have been able to enjoy more Viking cruises since your original one.

We are also thinking of taking an old smart phone and purchasing a SIM card that works in Europe for language translation, directions, and apps to enhance our experience. Our US-based cell phone service does not work outside of the US. Do you have any experience about this?

No, Tamara, I don’t have direct experience replacing SIM cards. My husband and I use a major U.S. cellphone carrier that functions well in Europe. When we travel to Europe, we notify our carrier before departure. It’s been a seamless process for us, and it functions well although we do incur additional international charges.

I’m glad you found the article helpful, Tamara. Our next Viking cruise is coming up soon, and I can’t wait. Enjoy your journey!

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Lolly, We are going to cruise Viking July on European sojourn with pre post extensions Bucharest and Amsterdam. This will be first river cruise for us. We are in a veranda A stateroom and doing business class flights as a bucket wish. We are experienced travelers on land but this will be a new experience. My first question is, without using the laundry service on board , do you have suggestions on washing items in your cabin? Is there a retractable clothes line in the shower to accommodate hanging clothes. ? You know is it a venus and mars question. Haha. I am sure i will have more later but your thread is wonderful. Any comments on safety in cities? Using ATMs machines? Thank you for your time. Rosetta

It sounds like you have a wonderful journey coming up this summer, Rosetta! Concerning laundry, yes, there is a retractable clothesline in the shower. I’ve hand washed some things in the sink and hung them up to dry on the line, and it worked fine. My husband and I sent out a few clothes to the Viking laundry, which also worked out well. Concerning safety, you can sign up for STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program), a free program run by the U.S. Department of State. Once enrolled, you enter the dates of your travel and your destinations. They will text you with any security issues you should be aware of while you’re away. (When we were in Europe a few years ago, we received texts of some demonstrations in town and were given their locations and advised to stay away. We weren’t near them then, but it was nice to be notified of them.) If you don’t live in the U.S., I’m sure other governments have similar programs for travelers. And about ATMs, we’ve used them in Europe without any problems. Just make sure you notify your bank before traveling, so they don’t flag your ATM transaction in another country as suspicious! Have fun!

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I didn’t read through all the comments, so I hope I’m not being repetitive. We thoroughly enjoyed our Viking river cruise from Prague to Paris last summer. I will add one note that we experienced. River traffic varies and the time to pass through the locks can change based on the number of ships, weather, etc. There were a few days when we arrived at our port later than planned and had much less time to explore the city. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but something you should be aware of. We also like to explore on our own, so there were times when we just joined a tour for a while and then told the guide we were going to branch out on our own. We always made sure we were back to the ship on time! We loved our trip and would recommend it to others.

You make an excellent point, Julia. As much as Viking tries to stick to its anticipated docking times, some things – like other ships waiting in line to go through locks, weather issues, and river levels – are beyond its control. It’s just the nature of this type of travel. And I think remembering that delays can arise on any type of travel (e.g., flights, cruises, trains) helps us all manage our expectations. So glad that you had a great cruise!

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As mentioned throughout the comments, thank you so much for such insightful and helpful information! My husband and I are doing the Grand Tour B —> A in early October 2023. I am very intrigued by the Salzberg excursion but see that it is a 2 plus hour bus ride each way. Do you have any experience with that destination? Would an excursion like that feel to rushed to enjoy, or do you know if Salzberg is a “not to be missed” kind of place? Really, just looking for your opinion on longer trips off-ship. Thank you!

Hi Robin, you pose a great question, but it isn’t easy to answer! My husband and I had planned to go on the Salzburg excursion, but when we learned we would be spending so much time on the bus to travel there and back (for a total of 9.5 hours), we decided to spend our time in Passau instead. We didn’t regret our decision. We took the walking tour of Passau, enjoyed a leisurely lunch in town, went on a hike, and strolled around town afterward. We liked exploring on our own after getting the lay of the land from the morning tour guide. Having said that, I know that Salzburg is lovely and many people enjoy that excursion. Frankly, I don’t think you can go wrong either way, but they’re two very different experiences. Enjoy your cruise! It’s a great one!

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Do you have to go on the planned excursion or can you go off and explore on your own?

Hi Daisy, you have the choice of going on the included or an optional excursion — or exploring on your own. Once you’re on the ship, you’ll learn the times that the ship will be docked in a city, so you can plan your day. For a walking tour (directly from the ship), some passengers go on the tour to learn about the destination and then spend the rest of the day shopping, enjoying a meal, or just wandering around. In addition, some people research other (non-Viking) tour options in advance of their cruise and book a personal or small-group tour to suit their specific interests on their own. Have fun whatever you decide to do!

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Just found your site–lots of great info! We’re doing the Rhine Getaway, Amsterdam to Basel in early Oct, but haven’t actually booked yet! We love most of the optional excursions versus the included excursions but about how much do the optional ones cost? Are they like $20 per person or more like $200? For instance, how much is the “Top of Cologne” in Cologne Germany and is it worth it? I like the idea of a smaller group so that is a plus. Thank you!!

Hi Stephanie, Thanks for your kind words. As you know, Viking offers an included excursion in each port. These are typically large-group bus or walking tours of a city that provide a nice overview of a place. The optional excursions have smaller groups and are more focused on cultural, recreational, and even culinary experiences. That’s where you might find biking or hiking options, or as you mentioned, the “Top of Cologne” optional tour. My husband and I took the “Top of Cologne” excursion, and it was one of the best. It was led by an art historian who took us up to the very top of the cathedral (above the ceiling) where the craftspeople worked. Before we descended, we were able to step outside and soak in panoramic views of the city. That was just one of the optional tours we enjoyed and still talk about. There are costs associated with the optional tours and they vary, and I suppose that correlates with the costs Viking incurs. You’ll see all your options on the online My Viking Journey portal when the tours open up prior to your trip. I’ve not taken a Viking optional tour that I didn’t like, but I will say that there are passengers who also book tours independent of Viking due to a keen interest in something and the personal or small-group experience that is available with independent tour guides. Good luck with your planning, and have a great cruise!

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So glad I discovered your very informative account of the Viking River Cruise! One question I have is how you handled local currency in Hungary as they do not use the euro. We have extended our cruise to allow two extra days in Budapest, thus giving us four days there. I’m sure we will need some “pocket money” for small purchases. Also, what shore excursions do you recommend while in Budapest?

Hi Pat, I’m so glad you found my article helpful! Regarding local currency in Hungary, you can head to an ATM once you’re there to get the amount of local cash you want. As for shore excursions, my husband and I enjoyed the walking tour (through Viking) that included the funicular up to Castle Hill. Also, we had booked an English-speaking tour of the Hungarian Parliament which ended up being fascinating; if you plan to do this, make sure to make reservations online ahead of your visit. We walked from where the ship was docked to the Parliament building for the tour and enjoyed a stroll back to the ship along the river. On our walk, we passed the Shoes Along the Danube (very moving) and other interesting sights. Some other Viking guests enjoyed their visits to the thermal baths, but we opted to “do our own thing” with the parliament tour and walks to areas recommended by our local tour guide (from the walking tour).

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Doing the Grand European Trip for our 50th in May of 2023. Going from A to B with two extra days in Amsterdam and Budapest. 1. We do the red eye and get into Amsterdam early morning. After clearing customs and immigration and getting our luggage, how do we find Viking to take us to our hotel or how does Viking find us? 2. Check-in time for the hotel is 3:00 PM. Does Viking get us into our room early or do we have to check our luggage with the hotel and wait until 3:00 PM? 3. On leaving Amsterdam, check-out time from the hotel is Noon but embarkation is not till 3:00 PM. What does Viking do with our luggage once we check out of the hotel? I don’t want to waste any precious time in Amsterdam because this may be the last time we see it. Thanks.

Sounds like you’ve got a great anniversary trip planned, Gary! A few weeks prior to your departure, Viking will send stickers for you to wear at the airport when you land, so they can identify you as a Viking guest. (You’ll also receive Viking tags for your luggage.) As for the specifics about checking in to hotels and then embarkation timing, I’d suggest you contact Viking directly (or your travel agent if you used one to book the trip). That way, you’ll learn exactly how things will work with getting to and from that specific hotel. I hope you have a wonderful 50th celebration on the Grand European Tour!

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Great article. Serious question… to get coffee in the morning without getting dressed??? Is room service available or will my husband have the opportunity to ‘fetch’ my coffee?

Hi Catherine, I’m glad the article was helpful. About coffee, there is a coffee and tea station on Viking’s river cruise ships that’s open 24/7 in the main common space. That makes it handy for your husband to fetch your morning cup! It’s also where you’ll find freshly baked goodies throughout the day.🙂 I hope you two have a fabulous time on your cruise!

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Hi Lolly, thank you for the great article and this really prepared us for our trip next week. I have a quick question that I wouldn’t seem to find the answer online: We are thinking about renting a car at Koblenz and go to Nurburgring for a few hours and also at Speyer to go to Stuttgart for the day. Is that possible? We found the car rentals and made reservations, but we can’t find any daily schedule of when the ship docks and departs at each port. Just wondering if there is a regular daily schedule and of course we understand the change caused by water level, weather, etc. Thanks again!

Hi Danny, I’m not sure which cruise you’re referring to, but you asked an excellent question about renting a car to make day trips while on the cruise. I think it would be a tight schedule if the ship is docked for just a day. You’d need to factor in picking up and dropping off the rental cars and then driving to and from your planned destinations. 

I’d suggest you talk with the staff once you are aboard to learn of their planned docking times and see what they recommend. That way, you’ll have current information and be able to talk to people “in the know” to see if your plans will work. Even with that information, as you mentioned, dockings could be delayed to traffic on the river or there could be delays going through locks.

I’m sorry I can’t give you a more definitive answer, but so much depends on conditions at the time you board and what the staff recommends. I hope you have a wonderful cruise and that things work out for your planned day trips!

Re renting a car to go to a specific place Viking tours don’t include: Is Uber possible in the cities Viking goes to? I’d much rather take an Uber than rent a car!!! Also, for individualized tours – try Tours by Locals (we’ve had EXCELLENT tours in many, many cities including Europe, India, Malaysia, Thailand…), or AirBnB’s tours.

Hi Carol, Although ride-share companies, like Uber, are in many cities worldwide, they’re not everywhere, so it depends on what cities you’re considering. Some areas also have other popular ride-share companies like Bolt in Europe. It’s best to check availability online — or ask Viking — for the cities you’ll be visiting. As for Tours by Locals, I’ve used them, as well, and was pleased.

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We are going on the Grand European tour in October 2022. How can we arrange individual tours or make dinner reservations if we dont know the times or the port arrangements? Do we just work with Viking program director on the day of or the day before?

Hi Kathleen, For individual tours and dinner reservations, I’d let the provider (tour company, restaurant) know what day you’ll be coming into port. They may be familiar enough with Viking’s schedule to easily accommodate you. Once onboard, verify the time you’ll be in port and then fine-tune your tour or dinner plans. Have a great cruise!

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We are taking the Grand European cruise, B-A, in late September 2022. The water levels are extremely low right now. Any thoughts on how this might play out for us?

Hi Karen, A few things could happen when river levels are too low for cruise ships. Passengers could disembark and be bussed on an excursion and then afterwards, be bussed to a different location on the river where the water levels are higher. There they may board another ship. For example, sometimes two sister ships sail on the same one-way voyage starting at the same time – just at opposite ends of the itinerary. That way, if they reach a low point in the river, they can have passengers disembark, go on bussed excursions, and afterwards be taken to the sister ship that completes the journey. To accomplish this, passengers pack up the night before the transfer, and while out on excursions, their luggage is transferred to the other ship. When passengers get to the sister ship, their luggage is in their new cabins (which are usually the same cabins they had on the original ship).

Another option, if the river levels are too low overall, would be for passengers to be bussed from destination to destination, staying in hotels, throughout the cruise.

Incidentally, we had to change ships midway through a river cruise because of a broken lock on the river, and Viking handled it professionally and without too much inconvenience.

One thing to keep in mind is that things can change from day to day, week to week – and that includes river levels. Low river levels today might be just fine for cruising in a few days.

I guess the bottom line is to remember that disruptions can happen whenever we travel, so plan to get the most out of each experience and cherish the time that you get to explore new places and meet new people. I hope you have a wonderful time!

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Lolly – just finished the Grand European tour a week ago (Budapest-Amsterdam). Was our first Viking cruise, so we used your article as a guide. We could not have chosen any better than the Skirnir and Viking. Everything was as you said – food, service, boat, amenities, all topnotch. (OK, the wifi in the rooms REALLY sucks…but if that’s your #1 problem, you aren’t doing badly). The hotel manager was great – and the program director was a literal Energizer Bunny. Herding 169 tourists onto separate buses all going separate places at separate times…wow, that’s a job! The maitre-d I am convinced is in league with the devil, as she tempted diners again and again with “just try this ONE little pastry”. Our stateroom steward kept the room immaculate. We kept our itinerary full, which might have been an error – trust me, you want to take a breather every few days! Viking then allowed us to purchase a no-expiry date voucher towards another cruise – an amount they matched. So for 200 dollars, we got a 400 value – good for tickets, flights, an excursion, or even the beverage package. We will definitely be using it in the years to come.

Oh, I’m so glad you had a wonderful cruise with amazing service! Haha, I got a kick out of being tempted with just one little pastry! Great service – sounds like Viking! As for keeping the itinerary full, it’s hard not to when you have so many great places to explore, but I agree that scheduling downtime is important, too. I bet you’re planning your next cruise already. I’m looking forward to ours next year!

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I was curious about what time you have to be back on the ship at night. We are thinking we would might rather be wandering through the town and trying local cuisine.

Hi Karen, you will have the freedom to wander on your own in the evenings in some locations. Check your cruise itinerary as it will tell you the expected times your ship will be docked at each stop. Once onboard, you’ll be given more specific times, so you’ll be able to fine-tune your plans. Enjoy!

They will let you know on board. They say they will be staying til X o’clock and then leaving. Better be aboard, cuz they won’t wait!

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Hi. I wonder if you have any thoughts on us meeting up with friends from Stuttgart. We would either meet in Bamburg or Wurzburg. Is this allowed? Also can you remember if those two cities is where the boat docked. Just thinking of the best options for meeting friends for a short visit. Thank you

Hi Theo, you shouldn’t have any problems meeting up with your friends in either Bamburg or Wurzburg while on the cruise. I’d suggest you reference your online itinerary on Viking’s site before departure to get a rough idea of when you’ll be docked in each city. Follow up with a conversation with the Viking staff when you’re onboard to learn the expected times and exact location of the ship while docked. This should allow you to finalize your plans to disembark and go meet your friends. Enjoy!

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WOW, what a complete piece of well written and informative information we have come across. Thanks!! We are heading out on our first river cruise, the Kara from Basel to Amsterdam in late September this year. Trying to guess the weather so we can narrow down what to pack. We’re celebrating our 50th! One of many questions we have is how much currency (and what kind) to bring with us. We saw you comment about change for guides and such and credit cards with no foreign charges. But, what else would we spend money on? We’re planning on a dinner in a town, tour of some beer gardens and lunch in Heidelberg, and just walking around. Your comments are really appreciated.

Congrats on your 50th! Sound like you have a great cruise coming up! As for how much money to bring along, I usually start out with about $300 worth of local currency. That gives my husband and me plenty of money for tipping the local guides and bus drivers as well as Viking staff before we leave. Also, having cash is great for souvenirs, incidentals, snacks, or a quick lunch while exploring a city. By the way, Viking does build in a set amount of gratuities for ship staff (or you can arrange for this on your account before sailing), but you may also want to give a personal cash tip to staff members who are particularly helpful. If you think you might do that, you may want to take along a few blank thank you cards to enclose your extra tips, so you can explain why you valued their service so much. I know other travelers who just get cash out of ATMs while traveling (and I’ve done that, too, of course), but I just like beginning the trip with some local cash. Good luck! Have fun!

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Most the times we always take the NCL cruise, but this is the first time on Viking Cruise River The Grand European Tour from Budapest to Amsterdam (for our 22nd anniversary).I’m so glad I found a lot of information from the article that’s very helpful for us for excursions, maybe transferring ships, parallel parked ships and other information. The best description and information about Viking River Cruise, thank you for taking the time to write this information, we’re very appreciate.

Thanks for your kind words, Triana. I hope you have a fabulous anniversary cruise!

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Thank you for your informative article! We leave Saturday for Prague followed by the Budapest to Amsterdam Viking river cruise. We have booked all the included excursions, but have held off booking the optional ones as we love to do our own thing when in port, and perhaps covering more “ground” than the optional excursions. Can you tell me which docking/ports might be too far from the cities/towns? Thank you!

Hi Deb, you’re just a few days away from your journey. How exciting! One great thing about Viking is that many times their ships dock right in the towns, so it’s easy to get off and be on your way to make your own discoveries. Of all the stops on the Grand European Tour, these are the cities in which our ship had prime docking spots (making it very easy to go out and explore on our own): Budapest, Vienna, Melk, Passau, Regensburg, Wurzburg, Cologne, and Amsterdam. Keep in mind, though, that things are not 100% the same from cruise to cruise due, in part, to other ship traffic at the time. The best thing to do is to talk with a Viking staff member as soon as you board to find out details for your specific cruise. Good luck! I hope you have a wonderful time!

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Thank you for all the information. We are planning to take the Grand European Tour in July of 2023. We are trying to determine if the additional cost for a veranda stateroom is worth the extra expense compared to the french balcony. On average, how much time did you spend on the boat sailing from each port? Do you travel overnight for most of the time or is there day travel as well?

Hi Tanya, Sounds like you have a great cruise coming up! About the stateroom, that really comes down to personal preference. Having the veranda offers you another personal space plus a nice perch (with chairs) from which to view the passing scenery during the time that the ship is sailing in daylight hours. (For my husband and me, having the personal outdoor space was high on our list. We enjoyed relaxing there and enjoying the sights and sounds of being on the ship. We actually enjoyed sitting outside in the dark before bed, too, cruising by small towns.) There’s a mix of traveling overnight (almost all of the time) and during the morning/afternoon/evening (some of the time). If you decide on the stateroom with a french balcony, you will still be able to enjoy some time outside in the common areas while the ship is sailing. I hope you have a wonderful time!

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We are scheduled to take the Viking Danube cruise in early June 2022. We chose a French Balcony room. My question is about size of our luggage (or size limitation due room size). I have seem videos of rooms but cannot perceive where we can place our 2 luggages + backpacks and not having to hop over them inside our room. Please hare your opinion with me.

Hi Ricardo, It sounds like you have a great trip ahead! You can store your luggage under the bed(s). Once unpacked, you can put your backpacks in your empty luggage and slide it all under the bed(s) and not think about them until it’s time to leave. Have a great cruise!

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First timer on river cruise. Does everyone get back on the bus when the excursion is over or is that the time you make plans for individual sightseeing? Did you use local guides? Did you bring euros or use credit card? Thanks

Hi David, it sounds like you’re gearing up for a great adventure! We went on the Viking excursions (with local guides) and did not book any local guides directly. A few guests scheduled independent sightseeing tours, and it seemed to work out well for them. By the way, the excursions included in the trip are typically large group experiences, while the optional excursions (available at an extra cost) are usually much smaller groups as they are more focused on specific areas of interest. We received great overviews of a place with the large group tours, but what we remember most were the unique experiences that came from the optional experiences. As for money, we used a credit card (with no foreign transaction fees) and Euros (very handy for tipping tour guides and purchasing small incidentals). Have a wonderful cruise!

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Thank you for the excellent summary of each important category. It is very helpful to reduce wandering around looking like a tourist while trying to figure out the procedures. 🙂 Any further suggestions about picking up the excursion cards each morning? How early are they available to avoid the rush? Did you see anyone carry on and off luggage? We travel light with one roll aboard and one backpack. Any idea if the Terrace will be open for meals in the chill of November? Is there a restaurant seating option for introverts? 🙂 Thanks again.

I’m glad you found the article helpful, Thomas! Now to your questions. I’d suggest you ask about picking up excursion cards and other details like that once you’re on the ship, as some procedures like this may vary a bit. We travel light, as well, but the ship will take care of delivering your luggage to your room; we just kept our small carry ons (the ones that fit under the airplane seats) with us. The Aquavit Terrace is a great place to have a meal. There’s a section of the Aquavit Terrace at the very front of the ship that’s open to the weather, but there’s also an area (just behind it) that can be enclosed with sliding glass doors, so the area can be enjoyed when the weather isn’t cooperating. And about general seating at meals in the dining room, there’s a choice of large and small tables and there’s no assigned seating, so if you’re one of the early ones at meal time, you’ll have a great chance of finding a setting that suits you best. Have a wonderful cruise, Thomas!

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Booked an Amsterdam to Budapest trip in September ’23….our first river cruise (for our 20th). Besides being helpful, your thorough details helped me to envision and imagine, which is my favorite part of planning! The daily planner for Vienna was the best….one of the stranger transitions from Ocean to River cruising is not having your port times right there on the schedule. Thanks for the great details!

I’m so glad you found the article helpful, Rich! I’m with you on how much fun it is to plan trips. Have a wonderful cruise next year!

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Thank you for taking the time to write this informative piece. We thoroughly enjoyed a Viking Ocean cruise in 2019 and have been eager to try river cruising. We’ll do the Grand European from B to A in October this year. Your descriptions of the change of ship due to the broken lock and of docking side by side with other ships were reassuring. I will miss the free on board laundromat from ocean cruising though! Your advice about avoiding the far inland tours is wise, I think. We are not interested in spending a lot of time on buses. All the best.

I’m glad you found the article helpful. You mentioned laundry, and although there’s no laundromat on Viking’s European river cruise ships, there is a laundry service that you can use. (Depending on the category of your stateroom, the laundry service may be complimentary.) We sent some clothing to be laundered, and we were happy with that choice. Enjoy your cruise this fall!

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Thanks for the great information. We are on a Viking rive4 cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam in April 2023.

What are your thoughts on the Silver Spirits package? I understand drinks are provided with meals but I enjoy a few drinks before dinner.

Good question, John, but it’s not an easy one to answer!

Here are a few things to think about when considering Viking’s Silver Spirits package.

As you probably know, Viking offers nice quality wine, beer, and soft drinks free of charge at lunch and dinner. The Silver Spirits package offers unlimited drinks including cocktails, premium wine, and beer. The Silver Spirits option is offered at a fixed price per guest and spans the entire length of the trip. You either choose it for your cruise, or you don’t – no daily option. (The price of the package varies, but it comes to about $20 or so a day per person.) If sharing a stateroom, both guests must pay for the package.

Paying upfront might offer peace of mind if you like knowing that it’s already paid for and you don’t have to think about an upcoming beverage bill. So it comes down to how much – and what kind of beverages – you’re likely to consume each day. You said you enjoy a few drinks before dinner, and if you add in some premium wine at dinner, the total you spend each day might add up pretty quickly. If you’re interested in figuring out the details, you may want to ask Viking for a bar menu with pricing before making up your mind.

With all that said, my husband and I did opt for the Silver Spirits package. In addition to cocktails, there were some very nice premium wine options aboard Viking, and we had fun trying ones that were new to us. We’ve had no regrets. 🙂

I hope you thoroughly enjoy your Viking cruise next year! Cheers!

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Hi, Considering the Silver Spirits package. What are the charges for individual cocktails, apertifs or premium beers/wines by glass? Thanks

Hi Linda, you’re facing a big decision: to go with Silver Spirits or not! As you probably know, the package includes unlimited beverages when the bars are open. That includes any drinks up to $15 like cocktails, aperitifs, and premium wines by the glass. Without the Silver Spirits package, I’d plan on $6-10 for most cocktails, aperitifs, or premium wine by the glass. (Viking offers complimentary house wine and beer at lunch and dinner.) Another consideration, of course, is how often you might order specialty drinks from the bar: at lunch, throughout the day, before and/or after dinner? Some folks elect to get the Silver Spirits package because they enjoy trying new cocktails and/or premium wines while on vacation. Others get the package because they like having their drinks all inclusive without having to think about a bar tab. Hope this info helps you a bit! Have a wonderful cruise!

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I agree with a previous comment about this being the most informative, most inclusive article I’ve seen as well. Indeed, very VERY helpful…especially for first time river cruisers. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Good Job!!

I’m so glad you found the article helpful, Ronnie! Thank you!

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I have been on 1 Viking River cruise and 3 (soon to be 4-I hope!) Ocean Cruises. My sister is taking her first river cruise in March and I found this site while trying to find info for her. This is by far THE BEST description and information on Viking River Cruises that I have ever read! Everyone should read this as every question seems to be answered well and clearly!

Thanks so much for the kind words, Laura! It makes me happy when I can help others get more comfortable with and enjoy their travels. Hope your sister finds her Viking river cruise everything she hopes it to be. What a great experience she has ahead of her! 🙂

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Interesting information! We’re planning a Viking river cruise May 2022. Trying to navigate changing pandemic restrictions is a challenge I’d rather not have to deal with, but we’ll give it a try.

Thanks, Tom! We do indeed have new travel hiccups and challenges these days. I hope things go smoothly for you and that you have a wonderful time!

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My husband and I will be sailing with Viking on a Rhine River cruise (Netherlands to Lucerne) this month and our very first river cruise (during a pandemic). Aside from the new safety protocols Viking has put in place your “Complete Guide to a Viking River cruise” was thoroughly informative, enjoyed the photos and took many notes while reading. Thank you for making me less anxious!

Happy traveling, Lolly!

Oh, I’m so happy you’re able to enjoy traveling safely during the pandemic. Yes, there have been changes to address public health safety, but I’m betting they won’t interfere with your overall enjoyment. And I’m so glad I was able to help you prepare for your cruise. Have fun! Bon voyage!

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Thank you! We depart in 9 days on the Grand European tour, and this is the best account I have seen… we’ve done a dozen ocean cruises on several lines, but never a river cruise. My husband had been to a number of these cities on business and wanted me to visit them too, and this makes it sound easy. I liked the posted copy of the daily ‘news’ and we had already decided from our ocean experiences to take the drinks package. We’ve chosen a mix of the included tours and the custom days, avoided any places to which we’ve already travelled and have added in the ‘extensions’ to both ends, hoping to see friends in Amsterdam. Especially your tips on dinner were helpful — I will pack his blazer. And the small umbrellas! Since it will be November, and I’m also afraid of open heights we’ve opted for the French balcony room. The rooms do seem smaller than ocean cruiser rooms: did you stay in your cabin a lot? Thank you so much for this detailed account. Much better idea of what we’re ‘sailing’ into now!

Hi Cynthia, I bet you’re so excited about your upcoming trip! It sounds like you are all set. I just have one clarification about dressing for dinner mentioned in the article you read. Many folks do tend to change from the clothes they wore for daily excursions to something a little dressier for dinner, but I wouldn’t call dinner attire dressy. It would be more like “smart casual” (so no worn jeans and flip-flops, for example). Your husband doesn’t need to pack a blazer if he wouldn’t normally wear one for dinner. (I’m trying to save you room in your luggage!) People are relaxed aboard Viking river cruises (no dressy occasions), and that’s one thing people tend to enjoy about the experience. Have a wonderful time!

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  • River Cruising

Looking for 2022 Viking River wine lists and bar prices

By NorskyGal , April 4, 2022 in River Cruising

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Cool Cruiser

Can someone who is currently on a Viking River Cruise (April 2022) please post pictures of the current wine lists and bar prices.  I'd like to research the wines in advance of our May 2022 Grand European Tour on the Danube and Rhine.  This will help me decide whether or not to buy the Silver Spirits drinks package.

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Canal archive

Surprised it’s not on the website!


If you go to your Myvikingjourney site, and go to Onboard Experiences.

Click on the Silver Spirts 'Learn More' tab-

On the left there is a Sample Menu you can click on, that brings you to a menu w/ costs for the bar.

At least for the European River cruises!

Thanks 2017newcruiser.  That's great for the bar prices!  I don't know how I missed that given that I've looked on that site enough times.

Now...if someone can copy a current wine list, that would be wonderful!

The Shrike

We always get the Silver Spirits package.  If you're even a moderate drinker it pays for itself.  The complimentary wines with lunch and dinner are good.  But the chef's picks are usually much better, but will cost you.  Two glasses of that with lunch and dinner each day alone will cover most of the costs of the SS package.  

Our first VRC was Romantic Danube.  The bartenders knew the drinkers' likes pretty much by day two.  Nothing like wandering into the bar after dinner and having the bartender say "Mr. James, we just brought up a couple of bottles of 15-year old Scotch, would you like to try them?"  And no matter what they were pouring it was covered by the SS.  


  • 2 weeks later...


On 4/4/2022 at 4:44 AM, NorskyGal said: This will help me decide whether or not to buy the Silver Spirits drinks package.

I am about to go on a Rhine Getaway so I'll try to get a photo for you.

HOWEVER, you do not have to buy it in advance, you can look at the drinks list when you board, see the prices and what is included - and what is not - and buy or not buy then.

Remember, everyone in the cabin must buy the package, and remember you can take drinks on board with you and they'll happily pour your own wine at meals no corkage.

If you drink a lot of spirits and cocktails it's probably worth it. We drink only wine with meals and the most interesting wines on the list have been excluded, so it's not been worth it to us. The house wine has been good, plus we've brought in local wines we've bought along the way.

This cruise, our 10th with Viking, the Silver Spirits package was included in the offer so I'll be trying the wine list -- but the sample menu on the website doesn't excite me.



1 minute ago, pontac said: This cruise, our 10th with Viking, the Silver Spirits package was included in the offer so I'll be trying the wine list -- but the sample menu on the website doesn't excite me.


Regardless, have a great cruise on the Viking Tialfi on "my" river. Will you be doing the same excursions as during your previous Rhine Getaway?

2 hours ago, notamermaid said: have a great cruise on the Viking Tialfi on "my" river. Will you be doing the same excursions as during your previous Rhine Getaway?    

Yes, from Basel to Amsterdam. It'd have been nice to do it in opposite direction but we got such a deal on this that, even tho' we weren't planning it we just booked it when the offer came.

Advantage is there's no pressing need to take shore trips again. If we don't feel like getting up early we can miss trip knowing we've already 'been there, done that'  🙂

Regarding Viking wine. Their house Austrian wine is of good quality and they often feature local wines, but we haven't had their Silver Spirits * package before and have bought local wine on shore. I am a wine buff..

*there's a clue in the name, it's not a Silver Wine package 

2 minutes ago, pontac said: *there's a clue in the name, it's not a Silver Wine package 

Ahhh, yes. Realize now. Nice to know there are a few local wines and you like an Austrian one.

Well, you know your way around the ports, so what bliss - getting up late and knowing that you will not miss anything and can wander off on your own to explore.

18 hours ago, pontac said:   Yes, from Basel to Amsterdam. It'd have been nice to do it in opposite direction but we got such a deal on this that, even tho' we weren't planning it we just booked it when the offer came.   Advantage is there's no pressing need to take shore trips again. If we don't feel like getting up early we can miss trip knowing we've already 'been there, done that'  🙂   Regarding Viking wine. Their house Austrian wine is of good quality and they often feature local wines, but we haven't had their Silver Spirits * package before and have bought local wine on shore. I am a wine buff..   *there's a clue in the name, it's not a Silver Wine package 

Where do you usually go to buy the regional wines? What kind of shops sell wine in germany, Austria and Budapest? 

On 4/23/2022 at 2:52 PM, Viking2020 said: Where do you usually go to buy the regional wines? What kind of shops sell wine in germany, Austria and Budapest? 

On any included walking tour you will see supermarkets and shops selling wines. Unless it's Sunday in Switzerland or Monday Morning in Germany!

Because the we had the Silver Spirits package and the wine list was very much better than I expected the only wine we bought on this trip was at an optional visit to a small family winery in Moselle (from Cologne, as a souvenir.

On 4/30/2022 at 6:55 PM, pontac said: Monday Morning in Germany!

Hmm, have not experienced a problem with that yet. I would say that should generally not be a problem but it may well depend on where you are. On Sundays shops are definitely closed in Germany, but a few designated tourist places are allowed to be open and wineries can sometimes help you out with buying wine on a Sunday. The cruise director would be the person to ask in such a case. In Germany, any EDEKA, REWE or similar supermarket chain will normally have a section of regional stuff including regional wine next to French, New Zealand, etc. Just look for the word "regional", it denotes a radius of usually 50km to 100km. I am on the Rhine but can get some wines from the Moselle for example. Or from Alsace. But you will be better off buying those right in Alsace for quality usually...

On the Vidar started Wednesday and have arrived in Passau. We are enjoying our cruise. We bought some very good sweet wines in Budapest at Faust Cellars in the Hilton but also the grocery store had them available. So far enjoyed the included Austrian wines. This boat has had Covid issues on the previous cruise and there is some again. They don’t announce anything but we’ve noticed at least 2 couples removed . The entertainment is not what we have experienced on prior cruises. The staff is great the food is very good and we are enjoying our trip. We have another booked on the Mississippi next spring but will NOT be booking anymore until after Covid restrictions. We dislike the daily spot tests and the masks. 


15 hours ago, notamermaid said: Hmm, have not experienced a problem with that yet. I would say that should generally not be a problem but it may well depend on where you are

Apologies, I got the day wrong! It was Sunday in Breisach

On 4/4/2022 at 4:44 AM, NorskyGal said: Can someone who is currently on a Viking River Cruise (April 2022) please post pictures of the current wine lists

 At last - this is the wine list from Viking Rhine Getaway 23-20 April. The five wines with an asterisk beside the bottle prices are not included in the Silver Spirits package


At those rates I’m glad I cruise with scenic far more choice and no extra cost.

A small selection of the wines on offer on Scenic Azure.


The wines included in the package were German - a Chardonnay (known as Weissburgunder in German) and a red blend - based I think on Dornfelder.


There was also a wine and cheese tasting

Two parties with a choice of drinks

Schnapps at the German night

Hot chocolate and rum while cruising Rhine Castles

For those who'd been before with Viking, the Explorer party with drink choices

Aquavit - I forget when

1 hour ago, Canal archive said: A small selection of the wines on offer on Scenic Azure.

Without knowing the identity of those wines it's not possible to judge the offering - but I should be  on Scenic (for the first time) in August.

So far, I am very un-impressed with them: instead of flying us non-stop to Bordeaux as Viking did with BA, they are flying us Air France to Paris with a long layover there. We will have to retrieve bags and go through customs then check  in (at another terminal?) for another flight

3 hours ago, pontac said:   Apologies, I got the day wrong! It was Sunday in Breisach

No problem. That explains it.

Thank you for posting the wine list. Great to finally read and see what the offers are. In the past, it has come across as though Viking may be a bit "sub-standard" when choosing regional wines but I am pleasantly surprised by the fact that Nahe and Ahr wines are on the list (both are left-bank tributaries of the Rhine). I must say, it would annoy me a bit though that few are available by the glass. And the prices for the bottles seem a little high. But then, I cannot know the quality of the wines.

Silvaner! Nice. But only one Moselle Riesling and one Rheingau Riesling? Could perhaps do better there.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed whichever one you chose to try.

We flew direct to Bordeaux from Bristol KLM.  You could Eurostar to Paris then TVR to Bordeaux.  Although Air France nearly really messed us up we were booked with them direct from Bristol and back. Without informing anyone including Scenic they decided to stop their direct flight returning to Bristol and re- routed us to Birmingham, well it did begin with a B. Luckily both Scenic and myself realised before it was to late to do anything about it. Scenic sorted it out with immediately and we flew KLM.

We would do the Bordeaux cruise again,  just a small tip when Scenic Diamond is ready to cruise through the Napoleon Bridge go up to the front deck to watch the ship being navigated through the navigation skills are superb. On our cruise a young Scenic captain returned from holiday to do the navigation they have to have particular qualifications.

Sun Lover

Are you allowed to bring other alcohol on board, such as vodka and rum, or only wine?

13 minutes ago, Sun Lover said: Are you allowed to bring other alcohol on board, such as vodka and rum, or only wine?

We had no problem bringing on board 2 bottles.  There didn't appear to be any rules against it, nor did they ask what was in our shopping bag, so we didn't give to much thought.

On 5/2/2022 at 2:37 PM, Canal archive said:  You could Eurostar to Paris then TVR to Bordeaux. 

That's what we booked originally. But I wasn't keen on having the Paris transfer so changed to a flight not assuming for a moment that it wouldn't be non-stop.

We've done Bordeaux before with Viking and booked Scenic expecting to go to different wineries. I'd like to compare the two lines, but the lack of a non-stop flight and a long layover in Paris means they will have to be magic+ to encourage us to book with them again.

@Sun Lover  I can only speak for Viking where you can bring any drink you like on board. There's a fridge in the cabin, ice machines in corridors, and you can ask for glasses at the bar if you don't want to use the in-room water glasses.

@notamermaid  I think it's not possible to make a wine list that will please everybody. Re wine prices, many passengers are on the Silver Spirits package and wines on list are included, so if you want only one glass of any wine you can. The package was included in our booking.

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viking river cruise bar hours

The 3 types of Viking cruise ships, explained

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Viking is unusual among major cruise lines in that it operates both ocean ships and river ships. Despite this, it has one of the easiest-to-understand fleets.

The vast majority of Viking’s river ships — at last count, there were 80 — feature the same design. If you’ve seen one of them, you’ve seen them all.

Ditto for the line’s ocean ships. Nine of Viking’s 11 ocean ships are nearly identical. The two exceptions are the recently unveiled Viking ocean vessels specifically designed for expedition cruising — a type of cruising that involves traveling to remote, hard-to-reach places on hardy vessels that carry their own landing craft.

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As a result, the bulk of Viking’s vessels falls into one of just three groups; all the ships in each group sport nearly identical designs.

An introduction to Viking cruise ships

Viking has expanded enormously in recent years with the addition of dozens of new river and ocean ships.

Founded in 1997 with four river vessels, the company operated just 29 ships as recently as 2012. Now, there are more than 90 ships in its fleet.

The vast majority of these ships are river ships — the company’s sole focus for its first 18 years in business. The company dominates the market for river cruises aimed at North Americans, accounting for about 50% of all such trips.

Starting in 2015, Viking began rolling out ocean cruise ships, too.

In early 2023, as noted above, Viking had 80 river ships in its fleet — almost all of which have the same basic design. The exceptions are a few vessels that Viking operates on rivers in Egypt and Asia (more on these ships below). The line also recently began offering cruises on the Mississippi River and its tributaries using a new type of vessel.

Related: The ultimate guide to Viking ships and itineraries

Viking’s ocean ships fall into two distinct groups: a series of 930-passenger traditional ocean ships that began debuting in 2015, and a series of 378-passenger expedition ships that began debuting in 2022.

Unlike most cruise lines, Viking doesn’t use the term “classes” to define different sets of ships in its fleet. Instead, it refers to its series of traditional ocean ships as the “Viking ocean ships” and its series of expedition ships as the “Viking expedition ships.” We’ve followed the same breakdown of the line’s ocean and river fleet below.

Viking ocean ships

Ships: Viking Saturn (2023), Viking Neptune (2022), Viking Mars (2022), Viking Venus (2021), Viking Jupiter (2019), Viking Orion (2018), Zhao Shang Yi Dun (2017), Viking Sky (2017), Viking Sea (2016) and Viking Star (2015).

Size: 47,800 tons.

For years, Viking only operated river ships, and some cruisers still think of the brand primarily as a river cruise company. However, since 2015, Viking has been rapidly rolling out a series of upscale ocean vessels; these new additions are increasingly dominating the world of higher-end ocean cruising.

As of June 2023, Viking has nine ships sailing the world’s oceans, each with a capacity for 930 passengers. That gives Viking 8,370 berths in the upscale ocean cruise market — more than competitors Oceania Cruises and Azamara combined.

The series is far from finished. Six more of the vessels are on order from Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri for delivery between 2024 and 2028, and the company also has options with Fincantieri for four more of the ships to debut in 2029 and 2030. Assuming they are all built, Viking’s ocean division will soon be bigger than Oceania, Azamara, Seabourn and Silversea Cruises  combined.

The first thing to know about the ships in this series is that they all are pretty much identical. When sailing on any one of them, you will be hard-pressed to tell what is different.

They’re also quite upscale. While Viking doesn’t market itself as a luxury line, some still consider it so. The vessels are full of luxury touches, from sumptuous bedding in cabins to heated floors in cabin bathrooms.

Related: The complete guide to Viking cabins and suites

Each of the ships in this series has a stylish, Scandinavian-influenced design that is a Viking trademark, and the cabins are large by cruise ship standards. Even the smallest cabins on each of the vessels have 270 square feet of space — a generous amount. Many cabins are significantly bigger than that, with 14 two-room suites on each of the vessels ranging in size from 757 to 1,448 square feet. Many of these bigger suites offer sweeping views from wrap-around private balconies.

Each of the ships’ interior spaces is built around an elegant, three-deck-high atrium filled with comfortable seating areas that have a living room-like feel. Each also has a bar and guest relations desk. At the top of the ships, you’ll find two-deck-high, glass-walled lounges that offer stunning views over the bow. Other interior spaces include a fitness center and a stylish spa with a thermal suite area that is open to all passengers at no extra charge (something that is not common on cruise vessels).

Multiple restaurants on board each of the vessels include Italian eatery Manfredi’s (named after former Silversea owner Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, a friend of Viking founder Torstein Hagen) and The Chef’s Table. The latter features rotating themed menus.

The centerpiece of the top deck of each of the ships is the main pool area, which features a glass magrodome that can close during inclement weather. The main pool area on each of the ships sits next to a lovely, glass-topped lounge with comfortable seating called the Wintergarden, which is home to afternoon tea. A den of serenity, it’s one of our favorite places on these vessels.

A secondary pool area with an infinity pool is at the back of each of the ships.

While all of the ships in this series are essentially identical, you will find small differences on a few of them. Most notably, two of the vessels in the series — Viking Orion and Viking Jupiter — have a small planetarium built into the top level of the two-level lounge at their fronts (known as the Explorers’ Lounge). Some of the later ships in the series have slightly larger fitness centers and slightly smaller hair salons.

Note that in addition to the nine Viking ocean ships officially in the Viking fleet, a 10th ship from the same series, Zhao Shang Yi Dun, caters exclusively to the China market as part of a joint venture between Viking and a Chinese company. When it debuted in 2017, the ship originally catered to the North American market and was called Viking Sun.

Viking river ships

Ships: Viking Fjorgyn (2022), Viking Kari (2022), Viking Radgrid (2022), Viking Skaga (2022) and more than 60 other Longships built since 2012, as well as additional river vessels.

Size: 4,000 to 5,000 tons.

River ships originally put Viking on the map, and they’re still at the core of the brand.

As noted above, the line has 80 river ships in its fleet. The vast majority of them have the same basic design and are known as Longships — a reference to the historic vessels used by Vikings in the Middle Ages.

Unveiled in 2012 and designed specifically to fit into the locks used across many of Europe’s rivers, the Longships broke new ground in river ship design in multiple ways.

For starters, they have a configuration that includes some of the largest suites ever for river ships in Europe. They also have a significant number of cabins with balconies — which is made possible by an innovative cabin area layout that offsets main corridors. (In other words, the corridors don’t run down the middle of the ship, creating a wider side with space for balconies and a narrower side with cabins turned sideways to also create room for verandas.)

Related: The ultimate guide to Viking’s cruise loyalty program

Other innovations include a squared-off bow that allows for eight more cabins than similarly sized ships operated by competitors. Also, quieter engines allow for more cabins at the rear. An enormous amount of groundbreaking engineering went into redesigning the bow areas of the ships, in particular, to enable extra cabins while still leaving room for needed machinery.

As a result of such innovations, the Viking Longships can carry more passengers than similarly sized ships operated by competitors. This has allowed Viking to offer lower prices than other river cruise lines and still bring in a similar amount of revenue per ship — a fact that has contributed greatly to the company’s rapid growth.

Like many river ships, each of the Viking Longships has one main restaurant where most passengers eat their meals as well as one main interior lounge with a bar. There’s also a secondary, casual dining area at the front of each vessel with indoor and outdoor seating. (The outdoor portion, called the Aquavit Terrace, also serves as a forward-facing outdoor lounge during off hours.) Unlike many river ships, the vessels have no spas or fitness centers.

As is typical for river ships, the top of every Viking Longship is covered with an expansive lounge area. There’s also a walking track and an herb garden — the latter used by the kitchen staff to grow herbs used during the preparation of onboard meals.

Most Viking Longships are 443 feet long — the perfect length to fit into the locks on many of Europe’s rivers. Viking also built slightly smaller versions of the Longships, measuring 361 feet or 410 feet in length, specifically to sail on rivers where lock sizes or other navigational factors require smaller vessels. The 410-foot-long versions of the vessels, for instance, were specifically built to sail into the heart of Paris on the Seine River.

Related: Fast-growing Viking unveils four new ships for the Seine

While the Longships come in several different lengths, they are essentially identical in their offerings and decor. The only notable difference is that the smaller versions of the ships have fewer cabins and thus hold fewer people. The 443-foot-long versions of the ship are designed for 190 passengers, for example, whereas the 410-foot-long versions of the vessels hold 168 passengers (since they have 11 fewer cabins).

While most Viking river ships are Longships, there are a few exceptions in the Viking river fleet. Viking operates several smaller, purpose-built vessels on the Nile River in Egypt. It also has several older river vessels that predate the Longships and traditionally have operated on rivers in Russia and Ukraine. (For now, river cruise itineraries in both countries are on hold due to the war in Ukraine.)

Viking also recently began sailings on the Mississippi River with a new ship specifically designed for the river and its tributaries.

As of May 2023, Viking had another 14 river ships either under construction or on order via provisional contracts.

Related: First look at Viking’s stylish new Nile River ship

Viking expedition ships

Ships: Viking Polaris (2022) and Viking Octantis (2022).

Size: 30,150 tons.

Designed to hold just 378 passengers, the Viking expedition ships are specifically designed to take travelers to the most off-the-beaten-path parts of the world, including Antarctica and the Arctic.

As of now, Viking operates just two ships in the series, Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris, both of which debuted in 2022 . No more are currently on order.

As is typical for expedition ships, these are tough vessels with reinforced bows that let them bump through ice in polar regions; the ships also have extra tanks for fuel and food.

Each of these vessels has its own landing craft on board to bring people ashore in remote locations, as well as kayaks and even submarines for exploring. (The latter is the hot new thing for expedition ships — upscale cruise brands Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours and Seabourn have been adding submarines to expedition ships , too.)

Like other expedition ships, both Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris are designed to operate with a large and seasoned “expedition team” that includes biologists, botanists, geologists, glaciologists and ornithologists who lecture regularly.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Viking ship

Each of the vessels has several new and unusual features, too. Most notable is The Hangar: an enclosed marina that allows passengers to transfer to a 12-seat excursion craft while still in the protected interior of the ship. It’s a first for an expedition cruise ship.

In another first for a polar expedition cruise vessel, every cabin has floor-to-ceiling glass walls that slide partially open from the top to create a balcony-like feel.

Both Viking Octantis and Viking Polaris are designed to be upscale. Like all Viking’s vessels, they boast elegant Scandinavian designs. The restaurants on both vessels include a version of Viking’s signature Italian spot, Manfredi’s and the Scandinavian-inspired Mamsen’s outlet.

Another feature of both ships that will be familiar to regular Viking customers is a top-of-the-ship, glass-walled Explorers’ Lounge offering stunning views of passing scenery.

In case you’re curious, Viking Octantis is named after Sigma Octantis, the current “south star” that hovers over the South Pole (also known as Polaris Australis). Polaris is named after the current “north star” that hovers over the North Pole. The names are a nod to the polar regions where these expedition ships will likely spend much of their time.

Bottom line

Viking operates more cruise vessels than any other major cruise company catering to North Americans. This is in part because it’s involved in both the ocean cruise and river cruise businesses. Despite its large size, its fleet of vessels is relatively easy to understand. The vast majority of both its ocean ships and river ships are almost identical in their designs.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • What to pack for your first cruise

SPONSORED:  With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The 3 types of Viking cruise ships, explained

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    viking river cruise bar hours


  1. Hours of bar on Viking River Cruise

    Lakewood, CO. #5. Posted July 26, 2017. We've never had a problem getting a mimosa at breakfast on any of our four Viking cruises, just order one from the waiter. I believe this is part of the included drinks with meals. Other than that, there is usually someone at the bar by 10 am or so based on what we've seen.

  2. Frequently Asked Questions

    *Free airfare on select departures of Grand European Tour, Capitals of Eastern Europe, Lyon Provence & the Rhineland and European Sojourn, plus select China, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Canada, Mississippi River, Great Lakes and Antarctica itineraries.

  3. Viking Silver Spirits Package + Viking Cruise Bar Menu

    Viking Ocean Cruises bar prices. The cost of drinks on Viking Ocean Cruises drinks menu are in USD, and they jumped slightly at the beginning of 2023. Prices for hard liquor average $6.00 to $8.00 USD. A Jameson whiskey is $6.00, for example, and a Grand Marnier costs $8.00. Most cocktails and martinis cost $7.50 USD.

  4. Viking River Cruises

    Enjoying a meal with friends on a Viking River Cruise. Photo credit: Diana Laskaris And Sue Reddel. 4. Decide What You'll Be Drinking. Beverages are part of the pleasure of dining. With Viking River Cruises you have a few options and you should think about which makes the most sense for you before you come aboard.

  5. Viking River Cruises Dining

    The Candles Grill is complimentary, but reservations are required. Dinner is served between 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM - perfect for dining to a beautiful sunset or star-filled sky. Stella Bistro. Windstar's Stella Bistro is a new French-inspired dining venue available only aboard the Wind Surf.

  6. Viking River Cruise: 15 Things to Know Before You Go

    Viking Cruises offers excursions on the sea and river. I was delighted to spend seven days along the Rhône River on the Provence and Lyon itinerary. Viking features a number (over 60 in fact!) of river cruises on their fleet. I've outlined what you can expect on a river excursion. 15 things to know before you take a Viking River Cruise

  7. Viking Silver Spirits Package Guide (2024)

    Viking Silver Spirits Package, Key Takeaways: The Viking Silver Spirits Package is an all-inclusive drinks package on Viking Ocean, River, and Expedition cruises.; It includes a variety of beverages, such as premium wines, cocktails, and spirits. The package can be purchased for an additional cost and provides unlimited access to drinks up to $18.00, with a 30% discount on premium beverages ...

  8. 17 Best Viking Cruises Food Options I Enjoyed On Board

    "The Viking River Cruise menus have a section of items that are available each day and then a daily menu." (Photo Credit: Peggy Cleveland) 2. Salads And Chef's Selections Of The Day. The Viking River Cruise menus have a section of items that are available each day and then a daily menu. I loved the variety of fresh salads with a new one ...

  9. Viking River Cruises

    Viking Cruises. Build your ideal trip. Call 1.406.541.2677. In terms of river cruise ships, Viking River Cruises has the most in the world. The Viking Longships® set the standard in the river cruise industry, bringing travelers the ultimate in comfort and service on the rivers.

  10. Viking River Cruises Dining

    While serving times can vary depending upon excursions and cruise schedules, they are generally: Breakfast: 7:00 AM-9:30 AM. Lunch: 12:00 PM-2:00 PM. Dinner: 7:00 PM. Hot coffee and tea from the coffee station, as well as bottled water in your stateroom, are complimentary throughout your voyage. Soft drinks, wine and beer are complimentary ...

  11. Aquavit Terrace on Viking River Cruises

    Aquavit Terrace, an indoor/outdoor cafe, is all sunlight and airiness. Situated at the front of the boat, the space features more than 180 degrees of floor-to-ceiling glass doors, giving it a ...

  12. What We Wish We Knew Before Our First Viking River Cruise

    Viking Cruises by Don Bucolo April 25, 2024. While we have been on 80 ocean cruises, we share all the Viking River cruise tips we wish we had known before our first river cruise! Viking is synonymous with river cruises, with a fleet of over 70 ships sailing on 4 continents. Heidi and I have sailed on Viking Ocean and even one of the cruise line ...

  13. The Complete Guide to a Viking River Cruise

    The Middle Deck has Guest Services, the restaurant, the Viking shop, and some of the Veranda and French Balcony staterooms. The Lower Deck has the Standard Staterooms. Stairs connect all the decks; an elevator service the upper and middle decks. The lounge on a Viking River cruise ship.

  14. My Trip

    Welcome to My Viking Journey, our online portal designed exclusively for guests to prepare for their upcoming voyage. Here you can customize your travel experience, so all the details are taken care of before you depart. Create an account today with your booking number in order to:

  15. Looking for 2022 Viking River wine lists and bar prices

    On 4/3/2022 at 8:44 PM, NorskyGal said: Can someone who is currently on a Viking River Cruise (April 2022) please post pictures of the current wine lists. At last - this is the wine list from Viking Rhine Getaway 23-20 April. The five wines with an asterisk beside the bottle prices are not included in the Silver Spirits package.

  16. Viking River Cruises®

    A Culinary Experience. The ship's highly trained chefs are passionate about food and committed to providing an enriching culinary experience. With flavors accented from our onboard herb garden and a wide selection of regional wines, you will find that with Viking, dining is part of the journey.

  17. River Cruises

    Journey with the world's #1 river cruise line. Award-winning Viking Longships. Owned & operated fleet, with the best docking locations in Europe and across the globe. Rivers; Oceans; Expeditions; Complimentary Brochures; Call Viking at 1-800-304-9616 or Contact Your Travel Advisor

  18. The 3 types of Viking cruise ships, explained

    When it debuted in 2017, the ship originally catered to the North American market and was called Viking Sun. Viking river ships. Ships: Viking Fjorgyn (2022), Viking Kari (2022), Viking Radgrid ...

  19. Viking River Cruises

    As the world's leading river cruise line, since its 1997 inception the company has grown to a fleet of 35 river vessels (in 2013) offering scenic cruising along the rivers of Europe, Russia, Ukraine, China, and Southeast Asia. Viking has been honored multiple times in Travel + Leisure's "World's Best" Awards and Condé Nast Traveler ...

  20. Updates on Current Sailings

    If you have any questions or need further information please contact Reservations at 1-877-523-0579 or email [email protected], Monday - Friday, 6:00 AM - 6:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM, PT. This page contains the most up to date information and details of any departures affected by any sort of disruption.

  21. Cruise Destinations Overview

    River Cruise Destinations. Journey into the heart of Europe, Asia, Egypt, the Upper and Lower Mississippi, and beyond on a culturally immersive scenic cruise. Whether you yearn to see the castle-lined Rhine, romantic Danube, historic Seine or vineyard-laced Douro, your river cruise with Viking begins here.

  22. Contact Us

    Contact Us. Reservations, Customer Service & Request a Brochure. 1-800-304-9616. Weekdays 5:00 AM - 7:00 PM. Weekends 5:00 AM - 7:00 PM. (ALL TIMES PACIFIC) First Name. Last Name. Preferred Contact Method.