The Seabournization Of Viking River Cruises, Part II: Public Spaces & Service

Yesterday, I wrote about the The Seabournization Of Viking River Cruises: Odin, Seabjørnized, Part I. Today, I will tackle the public spaces and service on the new Viking Odin.

Certainly, the new generation of Longships is a quantum leap forward for Viking River Cruises, not only in the hardware component (the ships themselves) but also in the software component (service and dining).

Throughout Viking Odin are large, flat-panel Sony televisions, even in the staterooms.

To see how far Viking has progressed, I need look no farther than next door. Tied up beside us in Amsterdam is the year-old Viking Prestige. It’s a  good-looking river cruiser by any measure, but next to Odin, Prestige appears, well, ordinary.

Situated forward on deck three, the Aquavit Terrace, an outdoor venue.

Spanning four decks, Odin features 95 staterooms and suites ranging from 135 square feet, a bit of a squeeze for two I suspect, to 445 square feet, a pair of two-room Explorer Suites, situated aft. I’ll report on accommodations tomorrow.

There are three decks of public spaces, including the Sun Deck, with lots of space for sunning or to sit in the shade — and there’s even an organic herb garden.

All public rooms are situated forward. I do miss an aft public room, such as the quiet space at the back of the ship found on AmaWaterways, but of course, I could always book an Explorer Suite on Viking Odin if I wanted to enjoy the river receding in the wake as Odin motors to the next destination.

One of the more popular spaces is sure to be the Aquavit Terrace, not only a good place to enjoy the views but also to dine. Though we’re docked in Amsterdam, I can imagine the pleasure of sitting at the Aquavit Terrace for lunch while the ship slices through the rivers of Europe.

Light lunches are served at the Aquavit Terrace.

Aquavit reminds me of Seabourn Odyssey’s Pool Grill, without the pool, of course. I imagine Viking will spawn new ideas about how to use this beautiful space once the ships begin regular sailings. I haven’t seen the full Viking program, but I’m told this space will host outdoor barbecues and dinners.

Open invitation: The Aquavit Terrace.

The attractive Viking Lounge, with its floor-to-ceiling windows, sits just behind the Aquavit Terrace. The  lounge is the ship’s main watering hole and the epicenter of entertainment, from enrichment lectures to live music.

Served in the Viking Lounge, Aquavit, of course - and a lot more.

On deck two, the attractive main dining room exemplifies Scandinavian simplicity. Anna Storbraaten, Bjørn’s Swedish wife, executed much of the design (for an introduction to the designers, see yesterday’s post). Anna told me that in her mind the restaurant evokes a Scandinavian spring after the melting of the snow, when the earth contrasts with the birches.

Just in case you are wondering: A scene I see often in southern Sweden, birch forests in late winter.

Much of the emphasis on Odin, in fact, is aimed at harmonizing with nature, not in a Feng Shui sense but in a practical Scandinavian way where the appreciation of nature is, well, natural and abundant.

Entering the main dining room on deck two.

The table settings are particularly attractive and of a Nordic nature. Richard Riveire, of Los Angeles-based Rottet Studio, had the job of choosing those, as well as other elements of the ship’s interior design. He told me that Viking River Cruises is increasingly getting in touch with its inner Viking (and its Norse heritage), thus the simple table settings: colored plates and glasses, fresh flowers and elegant cutlery.

Table settings: simple, yet elegant.

Elements of nature are abundant on Viking Odin.

Service on Viking Odin is professional and personable. That said, it does not match the level of Seabourn, which, along with Silversea Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, sets a high bar for the service factor.

Still, staff on Viking Odin have been extremely attentive, of a pleasant demeanor during every encounter I have had with them, and proud of their company. “Happy crew, happy ship,” as the saying goes, and staff told me that Viking management treats them well.

New on Viking: Friendly Filipinos.

For the first time in my river cruise experience, I noted the presence of Filipino staff, who practically rule the ocean-cruise industry and do a great job in the service sector, coming from a culture of service. I was told there were a dozen on board who joined the ship recently. They work alongside a largely Eastern European staff on board the Viking Odin, and the mix of the two cultures seems to work well.

Tomorrow, I’ll take you inside the staterooms and suites on Viking Odin. Stay tuned!

Missed yesterday’s story? See The Seabournization Of Viking River Cruises: Odin, Seabjørnized, Part I