As we look back on memories made during our Viking River Cruises Christmas markets sailing, it would be very easy to focus all of our attention on the markets themselves. After all; booths filled with colorful gifts mixed in with every imaginable holiday treat are a big reason we went there. But to not mention the base river cruising experience on our Viking longship would be like saying Santa did it all without the help of elves or reindeer. The story would not be complete.
Part Eins (one) of this series brought us across the pond from our home in Orlando, directly to Nuremberg, a day early. All settled in for a cold winter’s night, we woke to breakfast at the Grand Merdien Hotel before a short bus ride would take us to Viking Delling, our home for the next week.
A highlight of sailing with Viking River Cruises are the unique Viking longships, designed to get the most out of limited space available. Unlike majestic ocean cruise ships that can tower 18 stories high with length measured in football fields, river cruise ships can not be an inch higher than the underside of bridges they will pass under. Width is limited by the locks they will pass through too. Above, we see a Viking crew member helping guide the ship in and out of a lock on the river Danube.
One of the first parts of river cruising that cruise travelers from North America find surprising is the apparent lack of security at ports. There is no punching in and out to get on and off the ship. Barriers to protect passengers from the outside world are few too, by design. With less than 200 passengers on board, a stranger is noticed. Culturally curious Viking guests can and do walk on and off the ship at their leisure to engage the places we stop at along the way.
In town with local guides, we explore those places with safe and interesting areas pointed out along the way that we might return to in abundant free time offered after touring. In Nuremberg, for example, we toured the historic areas of the city center, hitting highlights along the way with the tour ending just short of where the largest Christmas market in the area was being held, just before it opened. At any other time of the year we would probably end up in about the same place, with Christmas markets replaced by a city market where fruits, vegetables and craft items were sold.
Regardless of the time of year we visit, doing so by Viking longship is a pleasure for a number of reasons. We know the layout of the cabins, have stayed in most categories and can unpack swiftly. Saying “I used the stairs and never used the elevators once!” on a large ocean ship means something. On a Viking longship just three decks high, not so much. Not that we don’t get exercise, we do but most of it is off the ship on each day’s included tour if not exploring on our own.
Another pleasure aboard Viking longships and one of the most interesting parts of river cruising in general is the people we meet along the way, both on and off the ship. Most have marvelous stories to tell and are eager to chat with visitors to their part of the world. Viking sources crew members locally, with many finding their own homes along the rivers they sail.
One of our first stops on board a Viking longship is the Aquavit Terrace where lunch is being served. Consistently, from the beginning to the end, Viking crew members in all areas of the ship are warm, friendly and enjoy talking to Viking guests.
Readers who followed along live on our voyage via Instagram, Facebook or Twitter might remember posts from time to time inviting them to “Meet our new friend” throughout the journey. There was good reason for that, other than to help jog my memory of who they are, something they seem to be pretty good at without prompting.
Like ocean cruising, odds are against seeing any of the crew members again. Still, with less than 200 passengers on board and about 50 crew members, we get to know a lot of them just going about our day. Make an effort to know those we are sailing with, both crew and guests, and a far more engaging experience occurs.
Interestingly, we do see Viking crew members that we have come to know on past sailings though. Shown here, Viking Program Director Joey who we sailed with on last year’s Christmas markets cruise when visiting Cologne, Germany last summer.
Still, the very nature of travel takes us to places where we have the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the destinations if not the people we meet along the way. Frankly, that can be done on any cruise line, on any ship and in any part of the world, begging the question: “So what makes the Viking version of a cruise vacation so special?” All of the above began answering that question. The complete answer is next, in part drei (three) of Festive Sailing With Viking River Cruises. First, since the focus on our itinerary was indeed Christmas markets, a few shots of some we saw in the early days of our sailing.
Want to skip ahead and see the rest of the trip, in greater detail? These posts should work very nicely for that:
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: What To Wear
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Travelers We Will See On The Ship
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: River vs. Ocean Experience
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: The Viking Longships
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: When Winter Travel Is Worth It
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Remember Where You Are
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Looking Forward To Vienna
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Ocean Cruise Skills I Will Not Need On My Viking River Cruise
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Going Through Locks, Will They Be Frozen?
- The 12 Days Of Viking Christmas: Overnight In Budapest: What To Do
- Nuremberg’s Meridien Grand Hotel A Great Pre Cruise Option
Facebook photo albums-
@Exposure Photo Story Books
- Regensburg, Germany- A Christmas Markets Visit With Viking River Cruises
- The Grand Cathedrals Of Europe
Posted Live from Viking Delling-
- Viking Social Begins With A Bit Of Familiarity
- The Most Popular River Cruise Line In The World
- 10 Reasons To Buy A Christmas Markets Cruise Today
- 5 Secret Reasons Why The Viking Empire Is Expanding
- Viking Christmas Markets: Video Vs. Reality
- Actually, Christmas Markets Were Just One Part Of Our Cruise
Post Cruise Reflections-
- Festive Sailing With Viking River Cruises- Part Eins
- Flickr photo Album- Viking Social Rewind 2014