Viking is an interesting company – founded by Scandinavians, HQ in Switzerland, staffed by European crew and service staff – and almost entirely English-speaking. Probably 95% Americans, ten or so Canadians, and a sprinkling of others. No one native to the areas we visited. Most staff speak at least 3 languages, and one spoke 5. Likewise, most ports we visited had high degrees of English speakers (as second language). The lingua franca of the day. Tourism bowing to American money? With no reserved seating, we met quite a few of our follow travellers, and somehow gravitated to the Canadians – maybe the hockey connection? The beds were large and comfortable ,and it was a pleasure to leave the sliders partway open in the night to get the air and hear the lap of water as we moved – otherwise, very quiet.
The cabins were as expected, small but well-laid out – we wondered how larger people could manage the bathrooms and showers – or perhaps they reserved mostly in the larger suites. Average ages between 60 and 70 – the recently retired, also as expected. A few older and getting around with canes or walkers. A few younger, surprisingly, from 30’s to 50’s. Most of the excursions required quite a lot of walking, but of course, always the option to stay on the ship.
I can think of no real mishaps on the cruise – everyone back safely, no injuries. The minor downsides are quiet evenings (a piano player in the lounge). And no snacks between meals – they must not know Americans that well! Two nights there were optional (paid for) excursions into town for drinking and dining, which we enjoyed. And a couple of trivia evenings, to liven things up. It amused me that the evening music provided was geared to Americans of our generation – probably heard YMCA four times, and Sweet Caroline 2 or 3. Is that how they perceive us?
Each Viking river cruise ship is laid out the same. Sometimes in port, we were docked next to another Viking ship and had to cross through their lobby to get on board – exactly the same! Except every ship has the name of a different Norse god or goddess. Our Cruise Director, Boyan, explained that they didn’t mind being the “McDonalds” of the cruising industry, so that repeaters knew exactly what to expect. Something to be said for that, I guess – but not exactly the Viking culture of plunging into the unknown😊
Our ship was the Viking Eir – goddess of mercy and healing. I liked that. It tickled a memory from the Viking series on TV, at the very beginning, first episode. That extremely violent battle that Ragnar and Rollo are engaged in, and all the corpses left on the ground. For a moment, Ragnar has a hallucinatory vision, a female presence, who lifts a dead body from the ground and carries it upwards. Eir, I think now, in retrospect.
In all, a good value for the money – about $8,000 for two of us including the airfare. I am grateful that we are able, health and finance wise, to be able to travel. For all it’s problems, it’s still a remarkable world.