Viking River Cruises, longship, Dürnstein
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises | Viking longship in Dürnstein
Viking River Cruises, MS Mayfair, Reception
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises / TB Studios | Reception Area on the MS Mayfair
Viking River Cruises, Viking Odin, Aquavit Terrace
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises | Aquavit Terrace on the Viking Longship Odin
Viking River Cruises, Viking Longship Hlin, Observation Lounge
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises / M. Wollsdorf | Observation Lounge on the Viking Longship Hlin
Meissen, Germany, The Viking Beyla by the Albrechtsburg
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises | Viking Beyla by Albrechtsburg Castle
Viking River Cruises, MS Omar El Khayam, Lounge
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises / Tarek El Baradie | Lounge on the MS Omar El Khayam
Viking River Cruises, MS Mayfair, Sun Deck Pool
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises / Tarek El Baradie | Sundeck on MS Mayfair
Viking River Cruises, Viking Longship, Golf and Herb Garden
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises | Longship Golf and Herb Garden
Viking River Cruises, Viking Mekong and Mandalay, Stateroom
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises | Stateroom on the Viking Mekong and Mandalay
Viking River Cruises, MS Mayfair, Lounge Terrace
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises / Tarek El Baradie | Lounge Terrace on MS Mayfair
Viking River Cruises, Viking Hemming, Porto, Portugal
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Photo Credit: Viking River Cruises / Kevin Foley | Viking Hemming in Porto

Viking River Cruises

Viking River Cruises, MS Omar El Khayam, Sun Deck Pool Photo credit: Viking River Cruises / Tarek El Baradie | Sun Deck Pool on the MS Omar El Khayam

After launching their first ship in 1997, Viking quickly rose to Big Kahuna status among river cruise lines. The company now has more than 50 ships (at least twice as many as other leading lines), sailing Europe's rivers as well as in Egypt, Asia, and Russia. The line continues to launch new ships as well, most of them 190-passenger longships highlighting an innovative, contemporary design that accomplishes the goal of modernizing river cruising.

What We Love

Smart Design: The high-tech longships, all named for Norse gods and heroes, are sleek and modern, done up in appealing Scandinavian decor and showcasing light-filled atriums, glass elevators, cabins with verandas, two-room suites, and alfresco alternative dining.

Uniformity: The longships are virtually interchangeable, so you can pick a route rather than trying to get on a particular ship.

Best Known For

Easy Exploration: River cruising with Viking is spoon-fed travel at its best. You don't need to bring a guidebook or worry about getting around because local guides meet you at each port. On the ship, you're fed, provided with wine and beer (with lunch and dinner), and well cared for. All you have to do is enjoy river views as your floating hotel takes you from one place to the next.

Local Flair: Viking's crew includes folks from Eastern Europe (even from some of the cities you may be visiting), menus present such local treats as Wiener schnitzel, and entertainment involves regional folkloric troupes.

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Who It's Best For

An Older Crowd: The ships are designed for couples and singles ages 55-plus. Most passengers are well past retirement age.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

You Need to Book in Advance: Viking can't build ships fast enough. Make reservations about a year in advance for popular summertime cruises such as the Rhine or Danube. This ruins the option of spontaneously deciding to do a river cruise.

You Are Part of a Pack: Although you are free to go off on your own in port (as long as you carefully keep track of ship departure times), river cruising Viking-style is very much about traveling as a group.

Fran Golden

Fran Golden is a Cleveland-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.

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