Viking Longship HeimdalFrom the sleek interiors to the innovative ecological features that allow voyages to be cleaner, quieter and more efficient, Viking River Cruises’ Viking Longships provide the comforts of a top-class hotel, on the water. The fleet is continuously growing, with the Heimdal joining in 2014 – the year when Viking became a World Record Holder for ‘most ships inaugurated in one day by one company’. As soon as guests walk onboard, they can enjoy the airy, spacious and bright atrium, before spending time in the uncrowded public areas and beautifully-appointed staterooms.
The demand for river cruises continues to grow, and Viking River Cruises are at the top of the game. The Heimdal – named after the son of Odin - cruises the Rhone and Saone through the picturesque countryside of France, and provides top-quality activities and experiences both onboard and off.
Passengers When full, the Longship Heimdal can accommodate up to 190 passengers, providing a friendly and intimate river cruise while also ensuring guests can enjoy spacious and uncrowded surroundings. Staff are professional and attentive, and a Programme Director is available onboard to ensure all guests are well looked after at all times. The majority of travellers tend to be American, but guests from the UK, Canada and Australia also find these cruises popular. Passengers will have similar interests in travel, culture, history, the arts and local heritage.
Dining Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served in the onboard restaurant, which benefits from floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows and an open seating policy. Guests can enjoy relaxed vibes here, despite the elegant décor and well-presented tables and chairs, owed in part to the casual dress code that is encouraged. Breakfast and lunch are in the form of a buffet, with a range of dishes available to suit every palate including pastries, fruit, cheese, cold meats and cereals at breakfast, and soups, salads and desserts at lunchtime. Hot dishes are also available, with made-to-order eggs and entrees easily prepared by the professional chefs. Dinner is a five-course gourmet meal with waiter service, and offers a range of authentic local dishes and traditional Western alternatives. There is also the casual al-fresco Aquavit Terrace onboard, where guests can take early riser breakfasts, and lighter lunches and dinners, at the same time as enjoying the beautiful views with both outdoor and indoor seating. Drinks including local wines, beers and soft drinks are complimentary with lunch and dinner, with the option to upgrade the drinks package to include fine wines and premium spirits also available.
Entertainment Guests can enjoy relaxed evenings onboard, with the soothing sounds of a piano in the background, as they sip after-dinner drinks in the Observation Lounge. The entertainment programme is low-key, but local performers are often invited onboard for enthralling shows, such as lively French accordion tunes that are a perfect way of sampling the local musical heritage. Events including the Captain’s welcome reception, welcome dinner and farewell dinner are also perfect excuses for mingling with fellow passengers and dressing up a little.
Activities The Culture Curriculum that the Viking Longship Heimdal offers reflects the itinerary that it sails, and ensures that all guests have the opportunity to enrich their minds onboard as well as off. Passengers can embrace activities such as French cheese tasting and Burgundian wine tasting, and can learn how to make the perfect fondant au chocolate. Or they can spend some time listening to expert-led lectures on topics including the current affairs in France and the painters of the Provence. Off the ship, the captivating itinerary continues, with several guided tours led by local experts which include the use of individual audio headsets, and plenty of excursions and unique opportunities such as visiting local markets, observing the art of silk printing, a trip to Chateauneuf-du-Pape’s vineyards and learning more about the winemaking process in one of the Beaujolais’ famous wine cellars. Guests can also spend time exploring independently when time allows. The vessel also provides complimentary Wi-Fi across the ship, a well-stocked library corner including books, games and magazines, and a boutique.
Accommodation There are a total of 95 staterooms onboard the Heimdal – all of which offer outside river views of varying standards and differ in size between 135sq. ft. and 445 sq. ft. The 25 Main Deck standard staterooms feature half-height picture windows, while the remaining staterooms that are found on the Upper and Middle Decks feature either a French balcony or a veranda. Suites feature both a full-size veranda off the living area and a French balcony off the bedroom; Explorer Suites go one step further, featuring an incredible wraparound veranda that provides 270degree views of the river. All other amenities remain the same across the various stateroom categories, and include hotel-style beds, a private bathroom with shower and premium toiletries, ample storage space, flatscreen TV with entertainment package, climate control, telephone, hairdryer, safe, fridge, complimentary bottled water (replenished daily) and bathrobes/slippers on request.
Spa/Wellbeing Enjoy a stroll around the walking track on the Sun Deck, smell the aromas in the organic herb garden, or pitch and putt on the putting green. Alternatively, put your feet up and kick back on one of the comfortable sunloungers, or sip a refreshing drink in the canopied seating area, as you soak up the breathtaking panoramic views of the countryside as it drifts by.
Itineraries For 2016, the Viking Longship Heimdal offers the eight day ‘Lyon and Provence’ tour, which takes in parts of the Rhone and Saone Rivers. Sail between Avignon and Lyon and soak up some of the breathtaking scenery that the Provence region provides. Visit Gallo-Roman ruins in Avignon, learn about the region’s winemaking traditions, enjoy gastronomic wonders in Lyon, or extend your stay with pre- and post- extensions in Paris and the French Riviera.