Fodor’s Expert Review
Viking Schumann and Viking Fontane are small, intimate river cruise vessels with an unusually shallow 80 cm draft, meaning the bottom of the ship is very flat, and has pump jets that minimize the impact of potentially low water levels. These vessels are perfect for the Elbe River, which is very shallow. The intimate cruise ships carry just 112 passengers.Read More
Like its sister ship the Viking Schumann, the 112-passenger Viking Fontane has a 360-degree panoramic deck and is built specifically for the shallow waters of Germany’s Elbe River. The 10-day Elegant Elbe cruise begins in Berlin and ends in Prague, cruising through the magnificent rock formations of the Saxon Switzerland region near the Czech border.
In the luxury river cruising niche, Viking is an absolute winner, receiving praise from both the industry and demanding clientele. In 2013, Viking will operate 30 vessels. Nearly half of these were added in the last two years as the new Longship-class of next-generation vessels, inspired by ancient Norse longships and designed with sophisticated elegance by famed Norwegian maritime architects Yran and Storbraaten. All-inclusive fares, superb service, and sleek rooms with exceptional views are showcased. Apart from minor design flaws, river cruising doesn’t get any better than this.
Viking’s two smallest ships are the intimate 124-passenger Fontane and Schumann, both built with the shallow Elbe River in mind. Among Viking’s other ships, capacity ranges between 150 and 160 guests. These include the Danube, Europe, Neptune, Pride, Sky, and Spirit. With capacity for 198 guests, Helvetia and Sun are larger. The first “green” ship, built in 2009—the 189-passenger Legend—features diesel electric hybrid engines. The wow factor is high for newer green vessels Aegir, Embla, Freya, Idun, Njord, and Odin—all launched in 2012.
Cruises in Europe are offered on the Rhine, Main, Danube, Elbe, Saône, Seine, and Rhône rivers, as well as the canals of the Netherlands and Belgium. Viking also has five ships in Russia and Ukraine. Kirov, Pakhomov, Peterhof, and Surkov sail on the Volga, while Lomonosov meanders the Dnieper.