The Viking Magni was the lovely ship that so Magni-ficently transported me down the Rhine for Viking’s Rhine Getaway itinerary. All of Viking’s Longships are named for Viking gods or heroes, and the Magni was named for a god warriors used to pray to for strength in battle. That’s quite a name for a serene river ship!
The Magni is one of Viking’s new Longships, and by design, it is nearly identical to their other Longships. Viking has the highest brand awareness of all river cruise companies, and it is a growing river cruise force as the most- award-winning river cruise line. Currently there are 30 Longships, and the total fleet is comprised of 53 vessels. With approximately 10 more Longships planned for a 2015 arrival, Viking is committed to these innovative ships, and their total fleet is anticipated to be right around 60 ships by the end of 2015.
With value in mind, Viking strives for excellence. One area that Viking excels at is their Longship cabin design. A patented layout has created larger verandas and spacious suites. One of my favorite features of my cabin was the heated tile floors in my bathroom, and these are standard in all cabins, regardless of the category. I toured the different cabin categories, from the standard picture window, to the French Balcony, Veranda, Veranda Suite, and finally to the Explorer Suite (the largest on Europe’s rivers). Each one was very comfortable, and depending on one’s needs or desires for space and a balcony, there is a cabin just right for everyone and all budgets. All cabins have hotel-style beds and can offer a twin-bed configuration. Each cabin also has a refrigerator in case you pick up local wine, beer or other treats in port. All guests have access to complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the ship, and I found the connection to be pretty good.
Of the common areas on this ship, my favorite feature was the Aquavit Terrace, which can only be found on the Viking Longships. With indoor/outdoor seating this was a gravitational pull on the ship for those wanting to take in the sights. When it was warm enough we sat outside, but when it was a little too chilly we sat behind the glass doors and took in the breathtaking sights in comfort. This is where I sat when we cruised down the Upper Middle Rhine and watched vineyards and castles pass on both sides of the ship, and this is where I ate when I wanted a light, casual meal.
Wine, beer and/or soft drinks are complimentary with lunch and dinner, and Viking encourages you to purchase wine in port and enjoy it onboard. Premium Spirits packages are available for purchase, and this may fit some passengers’ needs, but I found their wine service to be just right for me. The crew offered a few complimentary specialty drinks throughout the week too, such as German beer during our Taste of Germany dinner, Rudesheimer Coffee when we were sailing the scenic Rhine Gorge, and jenever during a Dutch presentation.
Viking’s Rhine Getaway itinerary touched four countries: the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland. We started in Amsterdam and ended in Basel and visited several UNESCO World Heritage sites. I took all of the included Viking shore excursions, and all of the guides were experts and of outstanding quality. They were passionate about their port city, and they were approachable. The Cologne and Heidelberg guides were exceptional. With the QuietVox headsets it was easy to follow the guides without staying too close to them in places they had to speak quietly, or if we wanted to wander off slightly for a better photo-op we were still able to hear our guide and not get lost.
It’s hard to pick a favorite port, but I am partial to France, and I would have to choose Strasbourg, as it is steeped in history with nearly equal parts of French and German cultures, and it is one of the most picturesque European cities I have seen. There were many highlights on this week-long cruise though, including a cuckoo clock demonstration in the Black Forest, going inside a windmill in Kinderdijk, visiting Christmas markets in Colmar on an optional excursion, and seeing the Lorelei Rock.
Every effort was made to make this cruise wonderfully memorable and for all guests to feel perfectly at home. Those guests wanting to visit the kitchen were allowed access, and those of us who wanted to visit the captain in the Wheelhouse were welcomed in to hear how the ship navigates the Rhine and its locks. It was apparent that the Viking crew takes great pride in their Magni-ficent ship. From the concierge at the front desk to the stewards, bartenders, program director, waiters, and ship captain, they were there to make everyone’s week on the Rhine a true pleasure. Each day when we returned from shore excursions we were treated to a special touch. Whether it was a Welcome Home sign, or a warm towel, or chocolates, the crew was always friendly and gracious.
If you would like to hear more about my Magni-ficent cruise with Viking or would like help with booking your next river cruise, please contact me, and I will work with you to find the best cruise line, ship and cabin depending on your needs/wants.