Alongside its twin ship, the Viking Beyla, the sleek and contemporary Viking Astrild was brand new for 2015. With a customised Longship-class design, and ‘Longship-esque’ qualities, Viking Astrild can easily navigate the Elbe River, thanks to state-of-the-art engineering and a custom hull. Combine these elements with its green credentials, including hybrid diesel-electric fuel and solar panels onboard, and it’s easy to see why the Viking Astrild is one of the most energy-efficient, clean and quiet vessels on the Elbe today. As soon as guests step aboard they will feel at home in the inviting atrium with natural light and bright and airy feel. Staterooms and public areas are beautifully decorated and well-appointed, the activity and entertainment curriculum is excellent and the cuisine on offer is mouth-wateringly good – what more could a river cruise guest wish for?
Passengers Guests tend to be mature, well-travelled and affluent holidaymakers from the USA, but it’s not uncommon for guests from other English-speaking countries such as the UK, Canada and Australia to be onboard to enjoy the itineraries. While the Viking Astrild does boast Longship-esque qualities, it is much smaller than its big sisters in the Longship-class. The maximum capacity of the ship is only 98 guests, meaning there’s almost no chance of feeling overcrowded, while also providing ample opportunity to mingle with like-minded travellers. The specially trained crew and staff members, including the Cruise Director, are on-hand every step of the way to ensure a pleasant sail, and the Viking Daily newsletter ensures every guest can plan their time wisely.
Dining The main restaurant onboard can be found on the Main Deck and serves up a buffet breakfast and lunch, as well as an a la carte five-course evening meal with waiter-service. For breakfast, guests can pick from a range of cereals, cheeses, continental meats, fruit and made-to order eggs and hot dishes, and for lunch, there’s an array of soups, salads, entrees and desserts on offer. The five-course gourmet evening meal, which features fresh, seasonal and local produce (including herbs from the onboard organic herb garden!) includes both traditional favourites and authentic regional specialities. Complimentary wines, beers, soft drinks and water are served with lunch and dinner, and hot drinks are available from the self-serve station throughout the day, free of charge. Guests can also upgrade their drinks package to include fine wines and premium spirits if they wish. As well as the main restaurant, the Viking Astrild also boasts the Aquavit Terrace, situated at the front of the Panorama Lounge on the Middle Deck. Here, guests can enjoy an early-riser breakfast, as well as casual light bites and grill fare, which is served al-fresco when the weather allows. The dress code here, and elsewhere on the ship, is casual. However, many guests prefer to dress up slightly during the evening.
Entertainment While entertainment onboard may be low-key, it is in-keeping with the Elbe itinerary and gives guests a perfect opportunity to relax in good company, with excellent music and enthralling performances, after a busy day sightseeing and exploring. The Observation Lounge onboard features a full-service, lively bar where guests can grab a drink, before taking a seat and enjoying an intriguing entertainment programme, varying from baroque chamber musicians to Czech folkloric performances.
Activities As part of the Viking Culture Curriculum, passengers can enjoy a variety of activities onboard and onshore, as well as opportunities and experiences that can leave them feeling enlightened to the region. Onboard, there are a number of expert-led lectures, discussions and presentations planned to coincide with the Elbe itinerary, on subjects such as Luther & the Reformation, modern day Czech Republic and the 2002 Elbe flood. Shore excursions and guided tours around iconic cities like Berlin, Prague and Dresden, as well as visits to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites and various towns, museums and notable landmarks, ensure that all guests onboard have ample opportunity to appreciate the region in all its glory. Back onboard, guests can also make use of the ship-wide complimentary Wi-Fi whenever they like.
Accommodation Of the 49 staterooms onboard, which range in size between 122 sq. ft. to 250 sq. ft., all offer outside river views and most feature verandas or French balconies. The only ones that don’t are the 140 sq. ft. standard staterooms that are on the Main Deck and feature picture windows instead. Suites benefit from both a veranda in the sitting area and a French balcony in the bedroom. Whichever stateroom you book, amenities that come as standard include hotel-style beds (which can be configured as twin beds if necessary), a private bathroom with shower and premium bath products, bathrobes and slippers (on request), telephone, fridge, in-room safe, hairdryer, climate control, flatscreen TV with various channels and complimentary bottled water that is replenished daily.
Spa/Wellbeing The Sun Deck onboard the Viking Astrild features plenty of relaxing sunloungers on which to kick back and unwind. There is also a shaded sitting area for when guests wish to sit back and watch the glorious scenery drift by without worrying about the strong sun’s rays.
Itineraries The Viking Astrild offers the ten-day ‘Elegant Elbe’ itinerary, which sails from Berlin to Prague and includes nine guided tours. Soak up the sightseeing opportunities in the majestic cities of Berlin, Prague and Dresden before exploring historic Wittenberg – well known for being home to Martin Luther – and feast your eyes on the breath-taking ‘Saxon Switzerland’ region of Germany as you weave through the towering rock formations. Pre- and post- cruise extensions are available in Berlin and Prague too.