Today I am in Amsterdam for the christening ceremony of the new Viking Longships. Viking River Cruises has flown in four godmothers to perform the christening, and the godmother of the Viking Odin is Joanna Lumley. I have already caught a glimpse of her when she arrived this morning, and she looked fabulous - absolutely fabulous! See our Facebook page for a photo.
Naval architects Yran & Storbraaten, who were the team behind the design of the recent new Seabourn ships, have designed these new Viking Longships, and these new river cruise boats offer state-of-the-art engineering, design and luxury.
These "green" ships, feature energy-efficient hybrid engines, solar panels and an organic herb garden, and were named to honour prominent members of the Norse pantheon - the four ships are the Vikng Idun, Viking Odin, Viking Njord and Viking Freya.
When you embark you enter a very light and airy reception area, located on the ground floor of a 3-deck atrium. In fact the whole ship is very light - with lots of glass ceilings, large windows, light beech furniture with accents of eggshell blue dotted around.
The main lounge features a bar and plenty of comfy sofas and chairs, and leading from this towards the very front of the riverboat is the Aquavit Terrace - an al fresco casual dining area. This is a unique space that I've not seen on other riverboats, and under the warm Amsterdam sun made a delightful place to sit and take lunch, with plenty of chairs and tables for guests to sit at. There are glass screen overlooking the bow to keep those breezes away for when the ship is cruising along the river. I really liked this space, and see it being a very popular venue.
I arrived yesterday and after a very good buffet lunch (at the Aquavit Terrace) we were treated to a private tour of the Van Gogh Museum. Or guide Peter was excellent and showed us around and talked about many of Van Goghs famous works, as well as giving us a lot of background information on his life and history.
Back on board we had a welcome speech from the cruise director, and then it was down to dinner. The menu was based on Norwegian food, and featured a mixture of fish and meat dishes, along with reindeer steak too! I declined the reindeer steak and had a fillet of beef - the food was very good and tasty and the service from the crew was excellent.
I am in a D Grade French Balcony suite. It has a built in wardrobe with sliding glass doors, mini safe, spacious bathroom with shower and L'Occitane products. Full suite specs:-
Sony 26-inch flat-panel TV with premium entertainment package including: CNBC, CNN, Fox News, ESPN, National Geographic, MGM Movies, Sky Cinema, videos on demand and "View From the Bridge"
The TV selection for entertainment is very good - however I would like to see a UK channel on there in amongst all the American channels!
The beds are really comfy and there are plenty of sockets to keep things charged - important for today's modern traveller. For the tours the ship uses the QuietVox system, and these are on charge in the cabin, along with fresh fruit, bottled water, ice bucket, flower arrangement and phone. There is a large mirror on the back of the door and another located next to the TV, (by a socket) - perfect for ladies (and men) who need to do their hair with a dryer or straighteners! I don't have that problem!
The top deck features astro-turf, however rather than the usual garish blue or green, it was brown, and had patterns on it to resemble decking, and gave the deck area a nice classy appearance. Plenty of good quality recliners and chairs can be found here, along with a giant chess set, shuffleboard, the herb garden, a small putting green and off course the bridge house. In the sunshine as you are cruising along the river this area would be a great place to relax with a drink and watch the scenery unfold.
Time to get ready for the christening - the other godmothers are Gail Wiswedel, Dr Lisa Randall & Rebecca Eaton.