Viking Longship Kara
Inaugurated in 2014, the Viking Longship Kara was fittingly named after a Valkyrie from Norse folklore who was also known as a swan maiden. It effortlessly sails along the Rhine River between Holland’s cosmopolitan capital and cultural hub – Amsterdam – and Basel, a river city situated in north-western Switzerland. As one of Viking River Cruise’s long line of Longship-class vessels, the Kara features all of the facilities that its sisters also boast, including contemporary décor with Scandinavian influences, spacious public areas and well-appointed staterooms. Guests travelling on the Kara can enjoy a clean, quiet and efficient voyage along one of Europe’s finest rivers, thanks to the vessel’s eco-friendly credentials which contribute to the line’s ‘green’ initiative, including organic herb garden, hybrid diesel-electric engines and onboard solar panels which help to drive the vessel between its port stops.
Passengers Like the other vessels in the Longship-class, the Kara can hold up to 190 guests – all of whom can enjoy the excellent service of the onboard crew and staff, including the help of a Cruise Director throughout every voyage. The Viking Daily newsletter is delivered to every stateroom, every evening, so that all guests can plan their days and evenings effectively. The majority of travellers tend to be from English-speaking nations – particularly the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia – and most are from a senior, well-travelled demographic. However, the contemporary design of the fleet can often attract slightly younger travellers who also have a keen interest in discovering more of what Europe has to offer.
Dining There is one main dining venue onboard, which provides breakfast, lunch and dinner to all guests. Breakfast and lunch are served as a buffet, with a wide range of dishes to suit all palates, from cereals, continental meats, fruit and pastries for breakfast to soups, salads and entrees for lunch. Made-to-order hot dishes are also available. Dinner is a sit-down fine dining five-course affair, with a menu filled with both regional specialities and traditional favourites. Local wines, beers and soft drinks are free-flowing with lunch and dinner, and there’s also an optional upgrade to the drinks package available, which includes premium spirits and fine wines. A hot beverage station is available onboard, where guests can help themselves to tea and coffee, 24hours a day. There is also an al-fresco, casual Aquavit Terrace, where guests can sample casual grill fare while also having a choice of taking a seat in either indoor or outdoor viewing areas. Regardless of where you dine, you can expect open-seating and a flexible and relaxed vibe – there is no formal dress code, either.
Entertainment Onboard entertainment is low-key, with many guests heading to their staterooms during the early evening in preparation for the next day’s activities. However, there is a resident pianist providing soothing background music, and local performers are often invited onboard to showcase some regional music, including classical music performances on the Rhine. Guests can also look forward to the Captain’s welcome party and dinner, and gourmet farewell dinner events.
Activities During downtime, guests can enjoy the onboard library corner and boutique. There is also shipwide Wi-Fi available, at no extra charge. The Viking Culture Curriculum ensures guests have plenty of opportunities to appreciate the local culture and enrich their minds, with expert-led lectures on Germany’s current affairs and the origins of Rhine River cruising, glassblowing demonstrations, Dutch cheese and jenever liquor tasting, and Dutch shuffleboard classes all examples of what is often available onboard. Every Viking itinerary also includes several shore excursions and guided tours, with plenty of opportunity to explore independently, too. All guided tours include the use of audio headsets, so no information is missed, regardless of where you are in the crowd, and with experiences ranging from exploring Kinderdijk’s windmills to appreciating the nightlife in Rudesheim’s Drosselgasse, there’s never a dull moment!
Accommodation There are eight accommodation classes onboard, ranging from the basic 150 sq. ft. Standard Staterooms with half-height picture window, to higher end accommodation options, including the sumptuous 445 sq. ft. Explorer Suite, which features both a French balcony and an incredible wraparound veranda providing amazing 270degree views. All staterooms are outside, with river view, and all but the standard staterooms have either a French balcony or veranda. Veranda Suites also have a full-size veranda as well as a French balcony in the bedroom. While higher end suites have more spacious living areas, the amenities that come as standard include hotel-style double beds (with optional twin configuration available), private bathroom with shower, upscale bath products, bathrobes and slippers on request, individual climate control, in-room safe, fridge with bottled water (free of charge), flatscreen TV with infotainment system and entertainment package, hairdryer and telephone. There’s also ample storage space in wardrobes and under the beds for your belongings and suitcases.
Spa/Wellbeing There may be no spa facilities onboard but guests can still feel invigorated and refreshed thanks to the relaxing sunloungers and shaded sitting area on the Sun Deck – perfect to unwind when not onshore. Golf fans will enjoy the putting green for a little competition between friends, and the walking track is ideal for a leisurely stroll.
Itineraries The Longship Kara currently sails eight-day itineraries that focus on the Rhine River, including the popular Rhine Discovery voyage. As part of this itinerary, guests can join six guided tours, including the windmills of Kinderdijk, a walking tour of Cologne and a guided tour of Strasbourg. There are also plenty of opportunities to appreciate the local culture, from exploring Heidelberg and Speyer, to visiting an authentic cuckoo clock workshop in Breisach and learning how to make your own Alsatian Flammkuchen – a mouth-watering dough dish that can be sweet or savoury!