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Viking River Cruises: The Best Pick for First Time Cruisers

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Cruising is something that a lot of people are on the fence about. The idea of travelling by boat and exploring several destinations in a relaxing manor is enticing. However, it also comes with a few fears; boredom from being on the water too long, being to slow-paced, or even being too fancy. At least, that’s how my mom and I both felt. That is, until we tried a Viking River Cruise.

In December of 2017 we both wanted to experience Europe’s Christmas markets. It would by my third time and my mom’s second. Our last trip we did everything by plane and train and while it was fun, it was tiring. This trip we wanted something more relaxing so decided to give the Romantic Danube Christmas Market river cruise a chance. By the end of the 8 days, we fell in love with this way of travel and based on our experience I would suggest a Viking River cruise to any first time cruisers. Here’s why.

It’s Active

I’ve always sort of had this notion that cruising is for people who want to see the world and travel without really having to do much. Not at all the case with Viking. We were up and off the boat before 9am most days ready to explore the city on walking tours that lasted about two hours (up to four hours for the excursions that included a bus tour).

Afternoons were usually free time to explore more of the port, or you could join one of the optional tours for a more in-depth experience in the area or even have a chance to explore another outlying city. Sure, you could stay on board all day if you really wanted to, but rarely did anyone stay behind.

Viking River Cruise

It’s Easy Cruising

I love water and I love boats but the idea of being stuck on one had me wondering if I might find it boring.

Thankfully, I didn’t.

Most of our sailing was done in the evening or nights; after a full day of exploring. The sailing that we did do during the day was stunningly scenic and had me wishing it lasted longer. Plus, the fact that we were on a river, rather than the sea or ocean, meant no worries of getting sea sick which a couple people on board mentioned had been a problem for them in the past.

Viking River Cruise

It’s Not All Old, Boring People

Perhaps my biggest thought about cruising, especially river cruising, was that it was for old retired people. I’m not going to lie; the majority (but not all) of passengers were older, retired people. At 28, I was definitely the baby on board, but it was never awkward or weird. I met some amazing people who I laughed and joked with well into the night. Sure, the majority of these people were physically older than me but they were tons fun and shared a lot of the same interests as I do which made them great company.

Viking River Cruise

There’s a lot of Freedom

Our Viking River cruise offered an included experience or tour in every port we visited, but they weren’t mandatory and even if you did choose to go on them, there was still plenty of free time after to explore on your own. Since the Viking River long ships are actually not that big, they get prime docking spaces. In Budapest, Passau, and Regensburg we literally walked off the ship and into town. In Vienna, we were a five-minute walk from a metro station that would get us to the city centre in under ten minutes. Nuremberg was the only port where we had to dock outside of town, but even then there were complimentary shuttles on the day everyone arrived so they could go into town and explore. The cruise definitely enhanced the experience, but in no way did we find it limiting.

Viking River Cruise

It’s Casual

One of the things I hear the most about cruises is reference to the formal night. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my cute dresses, but I don’t have a ball gown in my closet. Thankfully our Viking cruise didn’t have a formal night, but I still stressed a bit about what to wear and ended up packing way more than needed, you know, just in case. I was pleased to find out though that the experience, including dinners, was pretty casual. Sure, you could dress up if you wanted (I wore one of my Cherry Velvet dresses for our goodbye dinner) but mostly I just wore jeans and a nicer top or sweater at dinner. My favourite go-tos for this were my Diane Kroe origami top and layer jacket- both of which I was easily able to transition from day (with my favourite leggings) to night.

*pssst: You can save $10 off your Diane Kroe order with promo code HANNAH10

Viking River Cruise

I’m not going to lie, I had a few concerns about cruising, but after my Viking River Cruise I can officially say I’m a fan. So is my mom. In fact, we loved it so much that we’re both already eyeing other Viking River cruise routes with thoughts towards the future.

Disclaimer: My mom and I were guests about the Viking Long ship Jarl for the Romantic Danube Christmas Market Cruise. All opinions are, as always, my own.  

Best Cruise for first time Cruisers

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11 thoughts on “Viking River Cruises: The Best Pick for First Time Cruisers

  1. chantae

    I’ve been looking for a cruise that’d be a good fit for my family! We’re a mix of active and laid-back — some of us like to stay behind while the others like to explore. I LOVE your pictures of the castle! I keep hearing great reviews of Viking and what a unique way to see the different cities! I bet you got views of the skyline that few others did, haha!

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      The castles along the Wachau Valley were AMAZING! Sadly it poured rain for most of it, but I sucked it up and stayed on the sundeck under the cover (with gluhwien) because it was way too pretty not too. So many cool castles- I was a happy girl!

  2. Jeff & Crystal Bryant

    Our first cruise was in the Caribbean last year, but we have been eyeing the European river cruise notion. This article certainly helps calm our trepidation about whether it would be a good fit for us. Thanks for such a well written piece,

  3. Steve P

    Loved reading your article. My fiancee and i are planning a honeymoon trip “The Rhine Getaway” in Aug 2019. Tell me please, is there a place to find past cruisers for a referral and save another $200 and talk about what to expect? I would be interested to know. Thanks,
    Steve P
    Houston TX

  4. Keri

    What type of room did you stay in? I am planning on doing a viking Cruise in the Spring and wondered if you had a standroom room or french balcony etc Do you actually spend a lot of time in your room or on the viewing decks? Glad the rain didn’t spoil the trip. That is one thing I worry about in the Spring.
    Keri
    Vancouver, BC

    1. Hannah Logan Post author

      Hey Keri,
      We had a French Balcony which was beautiful but given the weather we didn’t actually use it. That being said, the views on that level (3rd) were beautiful while cruising and when the boat was docked since we were well above the waterline.

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