The Viking Beyla and Viking Astrild are two identical river cruise ships sailing the Elbe River in the Czech Republic and eastern Germany for Viking Cruises. The two ships were launched in 2015 and are shorter, have one less deck, and carry about 50 percent fewer passengers than the Viking Longships sailing other European rivers. The two Elbe River "baby" Longships are 361 feet long and carry 98 guests; the traditional Viking Longships are 443 feet long and carry 190 guests.
These two smaller ships were specifically designed with less draft to sail the shallow Elbe River, but drought conditions their first two years in service have prohibited their sailing the entire route for a few weeks of each 9-month cruise season. This is unfortunate since the Elbe is a fascinating river cruise itinerary and, when combined with hotel stays at Prague and Berlin at each end of the tour, makes for a memorable cruise vacation. Snow melting and spring rains usually keep the river filled during the spring and early summer. However, it's difficult to predict when there will be enough rain to keep the water levels high enough to safely sail in the summer and fall.
Stuff happens. Low waters on the Elbe transformed our river cruise into a boatel/bus tour with Viking. It was the third cruise of the season where the ships could not sail. Although everyone who chose to take the tour (about half the passengers canceled) was disappointed, most were very satisfied by the end of the 10-day vacation. They also received a generous discount from Viking on their next cruise.
The Viking teams from the Viking Beyla and Viking Astrild were disappointed too but did an exceptional job of making sure the guests saw everything on the planned schedule plus additional tours since The only thing we didn't do was cruise. We stayed in a hotel in Prague as planned for one night, stayed on the river ships for seven nights (three on the Viking Beyla and four on the Viking Astrild), and ended our tour with one night in a Berlin hotel as planned. My Elbe River travel journal shows that you can have a great time on any Viking river cruise ship even if you never move (except on a bus).
Since I stayed on both ships, this article provides a detailed look at the common areas, cabins, and dining venues on the Viking Beyla and Viking Astrild. Except for the crews, the two ships are identical. As on every Viking ship I've ever sailed on, the crew was outstanding.
Entry on Viking Astrild, a Viking Cruises River Ship on the Elbe River
Both ships have a painting in their entry that reflects the ship's Nordic heritage. This one on the Viking Astrild is the Nordic goddess of love who carries the name. In old Norse, Astrild means "love-fire" or "passion". The Viking Beyla is named for the female servant of the Norse god Freyr, which isn't quite as exciting, is it?
Both ships feature the simple, classic design seen on all of Viking's Longships, with lots of comfortable space and light woods and furnishings.
Reception Desk and View of Restaurant on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
Entering the Viking Beyla or Viking Astrild, guests first see the reception desk but also get a peek at the Restaurant down the steps. The ships have only three passenger decks: Deck 1 has the Restaurant and Standard Cabins; Deck 2 has the rest of the accommodations, the Lounge, Bar, and Aquavit Terrace; and Deck 3 is the outdoor sun deck.
Cabins and Suites on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The identical Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla have four different types of cabins and suites in six different categories. All of the suites and cabins are on deck 2 except the Standard Cabins, which are located on deck 1. All of the accommodations have both 220- and 110-volt plugs, individual climate control, a telephone, 42-inch flat panel television with premium entertainment package, refrigerator, safe, use of bathrobe and slippers upon request, hairdryer, and bottled water replenished daily.
- Veranda Suite (Category AA) - Each ship has two Veranda Suites. These are true suites measuring 250 square feet with separate sitting room and bedroom divided by a pocket door. The sitting room (seen in the photo above) has a sliding glass door leading to a private balcony, and the bedroom has a French balcony. The bath is larger than in the other accommodations, and the suite has a television in both rooms.
- Veranda Stateroom (Category A and B) - The Veranda Staterooms have 180 square feet (including the balcony) and sliding glass doors leading to a private balcony.
- French Balcony Cabin (Category C and D) - The French balcony staterooms measure 122 square feet. They have floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open to create the French Balcony. The interior of these cabins feels similar in size to the Veranda cabins since none of the square footage is used for a balcony.
- Standard Cabin (Category E) - The Standard Cabins measure 140 square feet and have a picture window that does not open. On the Longships, this window is high up on the wall; however, on the two "baby" Longships, this huge window is in the middle of the wall and provides great views, which is a plus for those watching their budget.
Veranda Suite Sitting Room on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
In addition to the sofa, chair, table, and sliding glass door to the balcony, the Veranda Suites on the Viking Beyla and Viking Astrild have a small desk area with space to plug in any electronics guests might bring along.
Bedroom in Veranda Suite on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The bedroom in the Veranda Suite is small but can support either one large bed or two twins along with two nightstands and a lighted closet.
Bathroom Vanity in Veranda Suite on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The bathroom in the Veranda Suite on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild is large and has plenty of storage space.
Shower and Sink in Veranda Suite on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
This large shower is a real plus for the bathroom in the Veranda Suite on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild. The shower is not as large in the other staterooms but is adequate and as large as found on many ocean ships.
Sun Deck and Navigation Bridge on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
Like most river ships, the sun deck on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild is open and spacious, perfect for watching the river scenery pass by.
Sun Deck on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The sun deck on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild has both open and covered areas.
Herb Garden and Putting Green on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The Viking chefs have a place to grow their own herbs on the sun deck of the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild. The river ships also have a putting green for those who like to hone their golf skills while sailing down the river.
Internet Room on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild have free WiFi throughout the ships. Each has a small internet area with two laptops for those who don't bring along their own computer or tablet.
Observation Lounge and Bar on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The forward Observation Lounge and Bar are the hub of all the activities on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild. The Lounge is used for the nightly briefings, meetings, entertainment, or just sitting and watching the river scenery glide by with new or old friends.
Bar on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The Bar in the Observation Lounge stays busy on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild.
Observation Lounge and Aquavit Terrace on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The Observation Lounge opens directly onto the Aquavit Terrace, an outdoor seating area that is a signature item on all the Longships--both the full-sized and the baby Longships Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild
Indoor/Outdoor Seating in Lounge of Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
The doors to the Aquavit Terrace can be opened to the Observation Lounge, making a nice indoor/outdoor seating area for the guests on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild river ships.
Comfortable Seating on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
Guests can either sit at the bar or in one of the many comfortable seating areas in the Observation Lounge on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild river ships.
Light Breakfast in the Lounge on Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
Early or late risers can enjoy a light breakfast in the Observation Lounge. A light lunch is also available in the Lounge for those in a hurry or who don't want to be tempted by some of the delicious lunch items on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild.
Restaurant on the Viking Beyla and Viking Astrild
The Restaurant is on deck 1 of the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild river cruise ships. It is spacious, with seating for 4, 6, or 8 guests. Breakfast and lunch are mostly buffets, but there are menus for those who prefer to be served. Dinner is served from a menu, with a nice selection of regional dishes, starters, main dishes, and desserts. The dinner menu also always features a selection of classical items like Caesar salad, poached salmon, chicken breast, and grilled rib eye steak.
German Dinner on the Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ships
Along with regional German or eastern European dishes at most meals, the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild galleys serve a German dinner one night on each cruise. The tables are decorated in the blue and white of Bavaria, and the food was wonderful. Not surprisingly, the beer and pretzels were a popular treat (in addition to the rest of the German buffet).
Veal for Dinner on the Viking Astrild, a Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ship
This carved veal tenderloin with jus, lemon potato gratin, sauteed forest mushrooms, and sweet peas were served on the Viking Astrild as one of the main dishes for dinner. It was as exquisite as it looks. Both ships have the same menus, and we all appreciated the fresh salads at lunch, good soup dishes, and a variety of other selections.
Caramelized Sea Scallops on the Viking Beyla, a Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ship
The food items were presented just as well (and were as tasty) on the Viking Beyla. One of our table mates at dinner ordered these caramelized scallops with port wine sauce, which came along with crisp bacon, braised savoy cabbage, and thyme roasted potatoes. She said they were as delicious as they appear. As they say, everything is better with bacon!
Apple Hazelnut Crumble on the Viking Beyla, a Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ship
Main dishes on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild were also yummy. This apple hazelnut crumble was topped with malted whiskey ice cream. I had mine with vanilla ice cream instead, but those who had the whiskey-flavored swore it was good. We were all happy that the galley was willing to substitute items or to bring extra helpings of popular items.
Chocolate Souffle on the Viking Astrild, a Viking Cruises' Elbe River Ship
Since our trip included time spent on the Viking Beyla and the Viking Astrild, the chefs had to work together to make sure they didn't duplicate any meals or items. We ended up having chocolate souffle on both ships, but no one complained. It was interesting to me that the presentation was very similar and both were delicious.
Viking Beyla in Dresden, Germany
This photo of the Viking Beyla at the dock in Dresden shows the Aquavit Terrace, Observation Lounge, and the sun deck.
Swans and the Viking Beyla in Dresden, Germany
A family of swans lived near where the Viking Beyla was docked in Dresden. This photo shows the large picture windows in the deck 1 Standard Cabins. The view is not as expansive as a Veranda or French balcony cabin, but it is larger than on the lowest deck cabins on other European river ships.
Viking Astrild in Wittenberg, Germany
The Viking Astrild looks identical on the outside and on the inside to her sister ship the Viking Beyla.
The Viking Astrild and Viking Beyla are similar to the other Longships in the Viking Cruises European river fleet, but carry about half the number of passengers. This gives the ships a more intimate feel and enables the guests to become better acquainted with each other and for the crew to learn the guest's preferences more quickly. Their Elbe River cruise itineraries help guests learn more about the region and provide amazing river cruise vacation memories.