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The Viking Njord is one of six new Longships launched by Viking River Cruises in 2012. This new class of European river ship has received a lot of publicity due to the number of ships launched in one year, plus the cruise line's plans to add eight more Longships in 2013 and a dozen additional Longships in 2014. With 26 identical Longships launched in just three years, Viking almost doubles its worldwide fleet of river ships. All of the Longships are named for Norse gods, so some of the names may be unfamiliar to many travelers, but at least they are unique! I sailed a Danube River Christmas market cruise on the Viking Njord in December 2012 and came away greatly impressed with the Longship. This article provides a detailed tour of the Viking Njord, and these Longship photos complement the article.
Viking Longship ItinerariesThe Viking Njord and other Longships sail at least a dozen different itineraries on the great rivers of Europe, including the Danube, Main, Rhine, and Moselle of Central Europe; the Saône, Rhône, Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers of France; and the rivers and waterways of the Netherlands. The itineraries range from 7 to 22 days, and with so many ships available, the itineraries can be combined into longer river voyages. Other Viking ships sail these same rivers, but also cruise on the Seine, Elbe, and Douro Rivers of Europe. Viking also operates river ships in Russia, Egypt, the Ukraine, China, and Southeast Asia.
What's Included on a Viking Longship Cruise?Many cruise travelers think river cruises are much more expensive that ocean cruises since the basic fare is higher. This difference is the way cruises are priced. Everything on an ocean cruise (except room and meals) is mostly a la carte. For example, cruise travelers almost always pay extra for shore excursions on ocean cruises. However, on a river cruise, most shore excursions are included in the basic fare. This difference can add up to hundreds of dollars per person. In addition, the Viking Longships feature complimentary beer, wine, and soft drinks with onboard dinner and lunch service, plus free Wi-Fi, bottled water, and port charges. For many travelers, the total coast of a a river cruise vacation on a Viking Longship will not be much different than an ocean cruise.
Let's take a tour of the Viking Njord. Click on each link below to learn more about the ship.
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- Cabins and Suites
- Interior Common Areas
- Outdoor Decks
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Cabins and Suites
The cabins and the suites on the Viking Njord and other Longships are among the many innovative features found on this new class of river ship. The cabin layout and features are the same on all the Longships.
All the cabins and suites on the Viking Njord have an excellent selection of modern amenities. These include: hotel-style beds that can be configured as either twin or queen-sized, plenty of storage space with self-closing drawers, beds that are tall enough to store suitcases underneath, lighted closet with shelves and hanging space, vanity desk, a private bathroom with shower and heated floors (a real treat!), premium toilet amenities, bathrobe and slippers, 40-inch flat panel television with infotainment system that features movies on demand and several different news channels, telephone, safe, refrigerator, hair dryer, and individual climate control.
The ship has 95 cabins and suites, accommodating 190 guests. The cabins and suites are of five different types in eight different categories:
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- Explorer Suites (Category ES). The Viking Njord has two of these suites, each with 445 square feet. The Explorer Suites have a separate bedroom and sitting room. The best feature of these suites is their wraparound verandas. Since the Explorer Suites are aft on the Upper Deck, they each have 270-degree views of the river and scenic landscape. In addition to the wraparound veranda off the sitting room, the Explorer Suites have a French balcony in the bedroom and two flat panel televisions. The Explorer Suite bathroom has two sinks and a shower with a window view! (Don't worry, the flip of a switch masks the view.)
- Veranda Suites (Category AA). The Viking Njord has seven Veranda Suites on the Upper Deck, each measuring 275 square feet. These suites also have a separate bedroom and sitting room. The bedroom has a French balcony, and the sitting room has a full veranda with two chairs, perfect for watching the world go by. The bathroom and shower are slightly larger than in the cabin categories.
- Veranda Cabins (Category A and B). The 205-square-foot Veranda Cabins on the Viking Njord are on the Upper Deck (category A) and Middle Deck (category B). The Longships have 39 of these cabins, making it the most prevalent category. I stayed in one of these cabins on our Christmas market cruise and especially enjoyed two of the amenities I had not experienced on other European river cruises--the heated floor in the bathroom and the full veranda with two chairs. I'm sure we would have used the veranda even more had it not been winter time. The bathroom has two glass walls. Guests can't see outside like from the shower in the Explorer Suites, but the glass walls can be transformed from transparent to translucent with the flip of a switch. This is one of the most important things to know about the cabins!
- French Balcony Cabins (Category C and D). These 22 cabins measure 135 square feet and are similar to cabins found on most European river ships. Category C is on the Upper Deck and Category D is on the Middle Deck. Guests don't have a full veranda, but they can open the French balcony and enjoy the river scenery and fresh air. The French balcony cabins have all the amenities of the Veranda Cabins except for a chair and small table.
- Standard Cabins (Category E and F). The 25 Standard Cabins measure 150 square feet and are located on the Main Deck. Although they are a little larger than the French balcony cabins, they do not have windows that can be opened since they are on the water level. The window in the Standard Cabin is similar in size to those usually found in oceanview cabins on traditional ocean-going ships. The Standard Cabins do include all of the other amenities found in the French balcony cabins.
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Dining and Cuisine
Most meals on the Viking Njord and other Viking Longships of Viking River Cruises are served in the Restaurant on the Middle Deck. However, lighter meals are served on the Aquavit Terrace, which has both indoor and outdoor seating.
All meals are open seating, and complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks are available during lunch and dinner. Since there's always something to see outside on a river cruise, both the Restaurant and the Aquavit Terrace feature great views.
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Viking Restaurant. Breakfast is a buffet, but guests can also order from a menu. An omelet station is open each day. Lunch is also a sumptuous buffet with salads, soups, hot selections, and usually a pasta dish. In addition, guests can order dishes from their waiter off the luncheon menu.
Dinner is served from a menu, with a choice of appetizers, soups, or salads; main course; and dessert or cheese plate. Many of the items served are regional favorites, giving guests the opportunity to try some of the foods they might enjoy if they dined ashore. Dinner usually has a fish, beef, chicken, and vegetarian selection for the main course, but guests can always get a grilled chicken breast, salmon, Caesar salad, or steak if they choose. Dress at meals in the Restaurant is usually cruise casual, but many guests dressed up a little for dinner. The Captain's Farewell Dinner was our dressiest meal, with many men wearing jackets. Formal attire is not required for any meal.
Aquavit Terrace. The Aquavit Terrace is a feature found on the Viking Longships like the Viking Njord, but also on the Viking Prestige. This casual dining spot features both indoor seating in a sunroom on the Longships and outdoor seating forward of the Observation Lounge. It's a great addition to the ship and nice to have an alternate place to dine.
A Continental breakfast is served in the Aquavit Terrace, and coffee and muffins are available at the coffee bar aft of the Observation Lounge (also called the Viking Lounge). The 24-hur coffee bar also has complimentary tea and cappuccino. A buffet lunch is also served at the Aquavit Terrace. On our December holiday cruise, we enjoyed a traditional Austrian lunch in the Aquavit Terrace while sailing from Durnstein to Melk, Austria. This meal featured three types of sausages, German/Austrian potato salad, and beer. Those who didn't want to have the Austrian meal ate in the Restaurant for lunch.
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Interior Common Areas
The interiors of the Viking Njord are comfortable, contemporary, and have simple lines, much like you would expect of a ship with a Norse name. Guests enter on the Middle Deck, which houses the reception desk, small boutique, and some quiet lounge chairs. Stairs go down to the Standard Staterooms on the Main Deck, and up to the Upper Deck. An elevator connects all the decks for those who cannot climb steps.
The Upper Deck has a library and Internet center overlooking the Reception area, along with the 24-hour coffee bar, Observation Lounge, and Aquavit Terrace. The Observation Lounge has a nice bar and plenty of seating. This lounge (also called the Viking Lounge) is the hub of the ship. Lectures, cultural presentations, live music, evening entertainment, and the daily briefing by the cruise director are in the Observation Lounge/Viking Lounge. Cooking demonstrations and activities like cookie decorating are in the indoor sunroom area of the Aquavit Terrace.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Outdoor Deck Areas
The Viking Njord has two main outdoor deck areas--the sun deck on the top of the Longship and the outdoor seating/dining area of the Aquavit Terrace on the bow of the ship forward of the Observation Lounge/Viking Lounge on the Upper Deck. Two other features to check for when outdoors--the solar panels and the organic herb garden on the sun deck.
The sun deck has plenty of lounge chairs, both in the sun and covered for those seeking shade. There's also an outdoor chess board and putting green. The sun deck didn't get much usage on our December holiday cruise, but it is a busy place on cruises the other three seasons of the year.
The Aquavit Terrace has outdoor seating and al fresco dining forward of the Observation Lounge. This is a perfect place to watch the passing scenery and enjoy a drink or a light meal. Like the sun deck, it didn't get much usage on our December cruise, other than for those ducking in and out to make photos of the gorgeous winter landscape, much of which was snow-covered.
The Viking Njord and other Longships are a great addition to the Viking fleet. The ship is super-quiet, thanks to its energy-efficient hybrid engines. The cabins are modern, and the new Veranda Suites are popular with those who enjoy having separate sitting and sleeping areas. As noted before, I especially enjoyed having a heated floor in the bathroom and a full veranda. Adding an outdoor dining area was also an excellent idea, and I'm sure it is popular on warmer itineraries. With two dozen Longships sailing the rivers of Europe by 2014, it's good news for the cruising public to have so many of these ships available on the various European river cruise itineraries.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary cruise accommodation for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.