There’s a first time for everything and I was definitely excited about taking my first ever river cruise with Viking River Cruises. I had my previous ocean cruise experiences to draw from, but would river cruising be different? The next seven days would be an adventure and a way to figure all of that out.
After boarding Viking Atla, I made my way to my cabin to attempt a little unpacking. I then had a little time to get out and explore the ship. The Viking River crew took incredible care of us as soon as we stepped foot on the ship with Attila who helped us locate guest services so we could formally check in and our cabin steward, Marius, who let us know that he was there for any request we had.
Since we had arrived after 3 pm to the ship, it was no time at all before it was time for dinner. Meals are held in the main dining room located on the main deck where you’ll find communal tables for eating. This definitely helps you interact and engage with other guests onboard the ship.
Every dinner served onboard Viking Atla begins with an amuse bouche and on this night it was one with chicken. This vegetarian decide to pass on it, but others at the table seemed to enjoy it. Our server was Dave, a friendly and engaging man who always made me smile. Alongside him was Ruth who helped him with drinks (wine, coffee) as well as clearing plates between courses. It was during this meal that I met the wonderful Ivelin, the Maitre D’ who came around to introduce himself to everyone individually and took our specific food requests and made notations on his iPhone. He came around at the perfect time as after looking at the menu, I wondered if I was going to have a problem finding things to eat. The menu also shows the suggested wines and I started my meal with a glass of the Riesling Hillside.
On this night my dinner began with Greek Salad & Feta Cheese with cucumber, peppers, onions, olives & vinaigrette for my first course, which had loads of fresh vegetables and was light and tasty. While others at my table enjoyed the Zwiebelrostbraten, an Austrian classic of beef piled high with fried onions or the Pan Fried Char Fillet, I was presented with a plate of steamed vegetables and the accompanying pea purée I had requested. What I really wanted was protein, but there wasn’t any tofu, seitan, tempeh, Gardein, etc. onboard. Yes, I do love vegetables, but I crave protein just like everyone else.
After entrees were served, a cheese plate was delivered to the table that came with Bavarian Blu, a German blue cheese with soft taste and mild aroma, which I quickly passed over (not a big fan of the blue) and Comté, a cow’s milk cheese that tastes of brown butter and roasted nuts with a sweet finish. I was happy to have a few grams of protein even if only hidden in cheese. For dessert the servers generally make a recommendation, but I opted for the cool maracujá (passionfruit) sorbet, which was the highlight of my meal. Every dinner thereafter, I ended my meal with the perfectly made sorbet.
After dinner I walked out on the side deck to admire the pinks in the sky as the sun made its descent on the horizon over Erlangen.
Later that night I was feeling antsy and went on a little tour of the ship. I started at the end of my deck near the Internet/Library area overlooking the stairs on the Upper Deck.
If you take the stairs down one flight or even the elevator nearby, you will now be on the Middle Deck and in Reception with the shop directly opposite it. No matter what time of day it is, someone is always there to assist you.
There are so many little nooks and crannies throughout the ship, both inside and out, to sit and check your email or FaceBook, especially with WiFi included in your cruise fare!
Unlike ocean cruises, since there are only about 190 people onboard, you might want to sit and enjoy a drink after dinner and listen to the music in the lounge. In fact, I even found a few people dancing so although quiet on the deck, there were still people out having a good time.
With no potential dance partner in sight (just joking!), I decided to walk out toward the Aquavit Terrace. This is the forward part of the Upper Deck that is open and an ideal area for grabbing a meal or a drink during the day. At night it was really quiet as no one was around. I love the abundance of comfortable, cushy seats with pillows to sit back and relax on no matter what time of day as well as standard tables and chairs.
As you can see so far you won’t find people staying up all night going to bars, lounges, and the casino because there aren’t any onboard. But that’s the point since river cruising is far more about the view, the experience, and most definitely about the destinations.
Moving back inside toward the lounge you’ll see an assortment of seating options from cushioned bench seating to tables and chairs where I often saw people chatting and playing games during the day. In the afternoon and evening they’d switch over to conversation with cocktails, but regardless — the lounge is definitely a communal space to meet other cruisers and to relax.
On my way back to my cabin, I stopped off to grab a cup of coffee. There are two little alcoves at the entrance of the lounge with automatic coffee machines that dispense lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, etc., which is great for any coffee drinker. You’ll also find flavored syrups, sugar, and tea, too. In the morning they also have pastries if you’re hungry or if you miss breakfast and in the afternoon they usually have cookies, too.
As day one drew to a close, I was ecstatic to finally experience Viking Atla and all that a river cruise offers as we floated along the Danube. Stay tuned for more posts about my river cruise experience with Viking River Cruises.
I was a guest of Viking River Cruises for this cruise, but as always — all opinions and photographs are my own.