On my last evening in Amsterdam, I happened to overhear two women at a table near mine talking excitedly about something. It turns out they were talking – I kid you not – about Viking River Cruises, and their new Viking Longships.

Last week, we witnessed 10 of Viking River Cruises' Viking Longships christened in the Port of Amsterdam. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Last week, we witnessed 10 of Viking River Cruises’ Viking Longships christened in the Port of Amsterdam. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

I love when something like that happens, because it lets me be a “fly-on-the-wall” and find out what other people think. Plus, having just attended a Guinness World Record-breaking christening event for the line, I pretended to nurse my Merlot and just switched into full eavesdropping mode.

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The one woman was embarking a Viking river cruise in a few days, and was telling the other woman how great river cruising is. She hit all the major talking points: it’s convenient; it’s enriching; it’s relaxing. “You unpack once,” she said, “and then they just take you everywhere.”

She went on for probably 10 minutes about how excited she was to sail on one of the new Longships.

Enhancements Galore: the newest class of Viking Longships boasts more space on the Sun Deck, thanks to relocation of the ship's Solar Panels further aft. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Enhancements Galore: the newest class of Viking Longships boasts more space on the Sun Deck, thanks to relocation of the ship’s Solar Panels further aft. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

These are the moments I wish I could record with some small device (speak clearly into the salt shaker, please) and send off to Viking’s PR team, because that really is as good as it gets: word of mouth referrals.

With 16 Viking Longships scheduled to enter service by the fall, and another 12 coming online next year (plus options for even more after that), you can expect to see and hear plenty about Viking River Cruises – and for good reason.

Guests walk past the Viking Longships on Christening Day, March 20, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Guests walk past the Viking Longships on Christening Day, March 20, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

A recap of our full Live Voyage Report:

Day 1 – Arrival aboard Viking Aegir & the new Viking Bragi

Day 2 – Christening 10 Viking Longships in a Single Day

Day 3 – Cruising to Hoorn, Netherlands

Day 4 – Disembarkation & Exploring Amsterdam & Haarlem

Day 5 – Cycling Amsterdam

The gorgeous reception set up inside Passenger Terminal Amsterdam. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The gorgeous reception set up inside Passenger Terminal Amsterdam. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

As amazing as the christening of 10 ships in a single day (and winning a Guinness World Record for it) is, that’s not the reason I find these ships so special. As I said the other day, their key strength lies in the fact that they’re so universally-appealing and technologically advanced.

Viking has  already produced a short video of the ceremonies:

The ship’s propulsion system is the quietest I’ve ever heard on any ship. There’s so little noise and vibration that it’s caught me off-guard on a number of occasions – you won’t realize you’re moving until you look out the windows.

Sailing aboard the Longships is a quiet pleasure. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Sailing aboard the Longships is a quiet pleasure. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Then there’s the neat, quirky little features like the onboard herb garden, the solar energy panels, the 40-inch Sony Bravia flat-panel TV’s that border on being absurdly large, and the multitude of lighting options in each stateroom. All of the features I’ve listed are ones that would likely get scrapped on other lines, but here they’re given high importance. Even little details like the relocation of the light switches aboard Viking Aegir, or the addition of North American-style electrical outlets makes a huge difference to the cruise experience.

The forward-facing Aquavit Lounge is open for light breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is my favorite spot on board. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The forward-facing Aquavit Lounge is open for light breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is my favorite spot on board. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Another wonderful feature: I’ve never seen so many fresh flowers on a river cruise ship as the stunning tulips and roses aboard Viking Aegir. Are fresh-cut flowers a make-or-break feature? Not at all – but you’ll be surprised how much you miss them when you sail aboard a ship that lacks them.

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

A few readers emailed to ask about food and activities onboard; both of those are tough questions to answer because of the fact that this was a christening where the ships remained primarily docked in Amsterdam. For a full overview of what a day-by-day voyage aboard a Viking Longship is like, check out my Christmas Markets Live Voyage Report aboard Viking Freya.

The stunning, newly-designed atrium space aboard Viking Bragi. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The stunning, newly-designed atrium space aboard Viking Bragi. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Last week was truly all about the record-breaking christening event in Amsterdam. When I attended the inaugural christening of the first four Viking Longships this time last year, I thought that really was a monumental achievement.

This year, when the motorcoach I was on turned the corner to the dock at the Passenger Terminal Amsterdam and all I could see were Longships lined up two and even three abreast, it was a stunning sight.

Hoorn, Netherlands was a gorgeous port of call on our short christening voyage. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Hoorn, Netherlands was a gorgeous port of call on our short christening voyage. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

They’re an excellent testament not just to the popularity of river cruising, which continues to explode, but also of Viking River Cruises itself, which continues to fill these new ships as quickly as it can build them. While you can find a deep-ocean cruise departing next week that you can still get a spot onboard, many of Viking’s sailings are sold out right through the summer. Even certain categories on their popular Christmas Markets voyages – which take place in December – are booked up.

My personal advice: if you haven’t been river cruising, this is the year you should.

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Stay tuned to learn all about our next Live Voyage Report – coming soon here on From the Deck Chair! From the Deck Chair will return on Wednesday.

 

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