What we’re finding after just a few days on the River Danube is a congenial group of like-minded North American travelers that Viking has enabled to share a lifetime-quality experience from day one. There are others too; a Scottish taxi driver with nearly 2 million miles to his credit that will no doubt have unimaginable stories to tell, for one. But after just a few days we have discovered the remarkable value of what Viking does.
It’s not really the wonderful longships they have created which are truly an engineering marvel and some of the best on the river. It’s not even the unique destinations we visit along the way, an element of the experience that I had planned on being the focus of this report. I suppose it should come as no surprise that it’s the people that make the difference.
The iconic destinations we are visiting really are wonderful as is Viking Odin, the ship we are sailing on. But very much like big ship cruises or any other mode of travel, it’s the people; the crew of the ship and the passengers on board that make the difference.
Viking has done a good job of selecting experienced seamen for their ships. Conversations with many crew members on Viking Odin have revealed that most have previous experience. Many of them came to Viking with ocean cruise backgrounds and unanimously tell me how much better their lives are since joining the Viking family.
In a similar fashion, Viking’s clear vision of bringing together like-minded travelers has created an onboard atmosphere of camaraderie that is undeniable. On busses, at tables for dinner, on deck, in port; wherever we go, passengers on board are a comfortable group that fit together well.
Remember being on a cruise, meeting someone you liked towards the end and wishing you had met them earlier? That happens on day one with Viking, leaving the remaining days to share the experience, entertain each other with stories and perhaps come away from it all a bit changed. A bit more enlightened. A little broader horizons. Surely, better traveled.
Stay tuned as we work our way along the river from Budapest to Amsterdam on a 15-day Grand European Tour hosted by Viking River Cruises. As always, my words are my own and no expectation has been set by the cruise line for what you see here,