A Viking River Cruise has all the necessary requirements for a good cruise but a few tweaks would make it an outstanding option for an active audience.
Tweak 1) Soft adventure and active excursion options. To balance an occasional overindulgence at dinner, we wanted light adventure options in our daily itinerary like hiking, biking, or kayaking. There were bikes on the dock but they were for staff use only.
Tweak 2) Walking itineraries. At each stop we were provided with a map that gauged intensity levels like hilly streets and cobblestone roads, but it would have been great if they added walking itineraries to the mix.
Tweak 3) Nightly entertainment. Let’s just go ahead and call this a renovation. The first night on the cruise was a blast- there was a DJ playing dance-able music to a packed lounge. Night 2 was a watered down version of the first night, with a piano player trying to drum up some dancers. Night 3 was just plain awful. Too much Moon River and bad Johnny Cash imitations had us heading for the door.
One night we had a trivia contest where we teamed up with other passengers and answered questions about music. We won a bottle of champagne and everyone seemed to really enjoy that. I was surprised they did not offer that again.
Tweak 4) Social Media. I photo bombed a few passengers and took random pictures that had us all cracking up. It would have been great to see photos of passengers and their excursions on the dining room monitor including an official cruise hashtag.
Tweak 5) Interactive events. I signed up for a French cooking class, however, too few guests signed up so it was canceled. This could have been a generational thing – many of the guests are retired, not just from work but from cooking, so this class did not appeal to them. I am still slinging pots and pans at dinner and I was in France! So learning to cook something simple, delicious and FRENCH would have been right up my alley.
Tweak 6) Fun Tour Guides. All of the tour guides for our land excursions were knowledgeable but only one was enthusiastic and energetic. Because of this, my husband and I would start the tour with the guide and then veer off on our own. It was also hard to understand many of the guides so that made it more of a challenge to stay engaged.
Tweak 7) Exercise. Staying active while on any vacation can prove challenging and incorporating it into our cruise took some effort on our part. There were plenty of excursions by coach bus to museums, cathedrals and towns but no soft adventure and we were not sure which excursions were a walkable distance away. Plus it rained for half of our trip. There is no gym or pool onboard so my husband and I had to find ways to add activities into our day. Instead of taking the bus to a museum, we hiked up 300 steps to the top. We walked a ton, even opting to walk and meet the ship upriver instead of cruising to that stop. My advice: talk to the on-board program director for activity suggestions on day one.
Lastly, Viking Cruises has announced the addition of ocean cruising options which will begin in 2015. Fingers crossed that the larger ships and ports of call will draw in a younger crowd to cross over to the river cruising style.
What Did the Other Passengers Think?
I did make an effort to get to know the other passengers on our cruise and ask them what they thought of the experience. The consensus: the cruise line could use some improvements but they would unanimously river cruise again and many only with Viking.
My husband said he would without a doubt river cruise again and I think the best way to sum it up is by sharing that I just visited our new friends that we met on the cruise.