Christening Prelude: Arrival in Amsterdam & the Viking Aegir

It's Almost Here! Viking Longships stretched far as the eye can see line the docks at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam in Amsterdam, Netherlands on March 19, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

It’s Almost Here! Viking Longships stretched far as the eye can see line the docks at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam in Amsterdam, Netherlands on March 19, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Just after noon local time, I stepped oboard the beautiful Viking Aegir, one of ten new vessels set to be christened by Viking River Cruises tomorrow here at the Port of Amsterdam.

I was whisked from Schiphol Airport to the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam aboard one of Viking’s new, logo-branded motorcoaches. You can’t miss the rendering of the Viking Longships running along the side!

The entire dock apron is occupied by Viking River Cruises' latest-and-greatest. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The entire dock apron is occupied by Viking River Cruises’ latest-and-greatest. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Nearly the entire length of the pier here in Amsterdam is taken up with Viking’s latest-and-greatest: there are six Longships berthed two abreast, taking up over 1,300 feet of docking space. In fact, Viking Odin had to reposition to the additional berths closer to Amsterdam Centraal Station in order to facilitate the embarkation of passengers tomorrow as she sets out on her first voyage of the season.

Some big changes have been made aboard Viking Bragi, like the entirely-new decor scheme. Beautifully done! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Some big changes have been made aboard Viking Bragi, like the entirely-new decor scheme. Beautifully done! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

In order to get to Viking Aegir, which entered service last summer, I had to pass through the stunning Viking Bragi, fresh from the Neptun Werft shipyard in Rostock, Germany – and the difference was nothing short of astonishing.

This new partition greets guests entering the dining room aboard Viking Bragi. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

This new partition greets guests entering the dining room aboard Viking Bragi. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Gone are the marble and stone accents in the soaring atrium, replaced instead with soft wood accents that lend Viking Bragi and the nearby Viking Skadi an intimate, almost oriental feel. The entrance to the Restaurant, in particular, is done in spectacular style, with slatted woodwork dividers that let the room retain an elegant ambiance while giving diners more privacy than the previous glass wine rack arrangement.

Wood accents and partitions replace the previous use of marble and stone aboard earlier Viking Longships, which seems to also improve acoustics. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Wood accents and partitions replace the previous use of marble and stone aboard earlier Viking Longships, which seems to also improve acoustics. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The atriums on these Viking Longships are phenomenal, but I feel like Viking has really struck gold with this newest batch of Longships. They have managed to retain some of the cozy wood-panelled ambiance that made their ships so successful in the first place, while continuing to further enhance the pioneering look that Norwegian design firm Yran & Storbraaten first introduced aboard the Longships this time last year.

The Library and reading corner aboard Viking Bragi have also been re-done! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Library and reading corner aboard Viking Bragi have also been re-done! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Even here oaboard Viking Aegir, some wonderfully subtle enhancements have been made to my full-verandah stateroom. The headboard has been completely redesigned to incorporate circular, push-on reading lights that are a book-lover’s dream come true, and electrical switches for the room’s lighting have been repositioned lower onto the front bezel of the bedside tables.

My Veranda stateroom aboard Viking Aegir: comfortable and well-appointed. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

My Veranda stateroom aboard Viking Aegir: comfortable and well-appointed. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

There’s also plenty of North American and European power outlets in my stateroom: three of each. I can’t tell you how fantastic it was not to have to fish out my power converters. Many river cruise ships feature only two-prong, European-style outlets.

One other cool feature about my stateroom here aboard Viking Aegir that differs from past Longships: when I turned my massive, 40-inch Sony Bravia television on to listen to some classical music while writing this, sound came not from the TV but from three high-quality speakers tucked into the ceiling of my stateroom.

Redesigned headboards now boast small push-on reading lights. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Redesigned headboards now boast small push-on reading lights. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

I’m a huge detail person, which is why I’ve made it something of a mission to pick out all the little enhancements and improvements that have been made throughout. It proves that Viking isn’t just making all these vessels cookie-cutter clones of each other; each successive pair of Longships have been tweaked and refined in ways that most guests will never notice.

Closet doors are now made of wood-like materials, replacing the frosted glass on earlier Longships. Also note the proper bathroom wall where the picture is (Viking Freya has an all-frosted glass bathroom wall) Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Closet doors are now made of wood-like materials, replacing the frosted glass on earlier Longships. Also note the proper bathroom wall where the picture is (Viking Freya has an all-frosted glass bathroom wall) Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

With guests still arriving onboard for the Christening Ceremonies tomorrow, today was relaxed and low-key, with lunch served in the beautiful indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace and free time given in the afternoon to explore the stunning city of Amsterdam. At night, Viking arranged for a walking tour of Amsterdam’s iconic Red Light District that followed a delicious meal in the Restaurant on Deck 2.

Strolling through Amsterdam! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Strolling through Amsterdam! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Viking River Cruises was founded in 1997 by Torstein Hagen, who literally built the company from the ground up, starting with a few vessels purchased outright in Russia.

To see row after row of these brand-new vessels tied up along the quayside here in Amsterdam is a true sight to behold. Everyone onboard is talking about it, and an enormous grey banner announcing the new Viking Longships hangs outside the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam, on display for the world to see.

Still Beautiful: the Atrium aboard Viking Aegir at night is wonderfully inviting. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Still Beautiful: the Atrium aboard Viking Aegir at night is wonderfully inviting. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Tomorrow, Viking will make cruise history when they christen ten Viking Longships in a single day, and I couldn’t be more proud or honoured to be here to witness it. But I suspect the significance of tomorrow will not be lost on Mr. Hagen, who has seen his company – and indeed, the river cruise industry – grow and expand in ways that were probably never envisioned back in 1997.

It’s an achievement of the highest order.

Ready for the big day tomorrow, as Viking prepares to make cruising history - again. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Ready for the big day tomorrow, as Viking prepares to make cruising history – again. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Our Live Voyage Report continues tomorrow, as we witness the record-breaking christening of 10 of Viking River Cruises’ beautiful Viking Longships! Be sure to follow along on twitter by following @deckchairblog or the hashtag #LiveVoyageReport.

 

 

3 Responses to Viking Longships 2013 Live Voyage Report – Day 1

  1. Nicholas Sabalos says:

    What an awesome display of beautiful new ships, Aaron! You have done some much to generate excitement and a sincere desire, on my part, to experience these unique cruise experiences on the rivers of Europe!

    Wishing you an amazing day for Wednesday’s christenings!

  2. Bob says:

    Please send us updates as much a possible within shorts times, your link is already spread under many viking crew members and we like to see the the update for the best cruiseship company , we are all proud to work for such a splendid company. Please update us so frequently as possible.

  3. Kim says:

    What an amazing experience this must be for you and everyone there. You by far have the most coverage on this event. I cannot find anyone else hat has this much wonderful information and photos available for all of us to see.

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