Travel Weekly’s managing editor, Rebecca Tobin, was aboard two new Viking River Cruises ships in France this week: the Heimdal and the Forseti. Her first dispatch follows.
My cabin on both the Viking Heimdal and Viking Foresti was a Veranda Stateroom that has a small balcony that would be a nice, quiet spot for river-gazing.
The creme de la creme of Viking cabins is the Explorer Suite: a 445-square-foot aft cabin featuring a living room with a wraparound balcony and a bedroom with French balcony.
Viking CEO Torstein Hagen emphasized that the Viking suites are actual suites, i.e. two rooms — "a suite is a suite is a suite." Each Viking Longship has two Explorer Suites.
The line's Scandinavian decor is its signature. Woods, creams and blues give the ships a light, airy feel (also helped by the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lounge and restaurant).
I particularly like the wood-slatted design of the bar in the lounge — it's square, with a glass cabinet in the center to display liquor bottles, which provides visual interest while opening up the entire space.
There are subtle surprises throughout the ship, such as heated tile floors in the cabin bathrooms.
"We try to be a little bit simple in the way we describe things," Hagen said. "We don't clutter things up a lot on these ships. But we have a lot of high-quality items ... when you look at the fine details, there are many."
On one hand, if you see a river cruise ship in Europe, chances are it'll be a Viking one. The 18 ships it christened this week are on top of the 10 it brought out in 2013, and it has 12 more in the wings for 2015. Hagen's goal, he has said, is to operate 100 ships by 2020.
"From 2001, we've put in $400 million in developing the river cruise market," he said.
"Nobody has dared to do what we did," he added. "But we are Vikings." Updated: This report was updated to indicate the reporter's cabin category was the same on both Viking ships.