TRAVEL THERE: THREE SQUARES A DAY & ALL THE WINE YOU CAN DRINK ON THE VIKING TOR
From first meal to last, Viking River Cruises does everything right. Everything I loved about meals on other cruises they incorporated into their food service and what I hated they left out.
Single Seating Service
The overriding difference between river and ocean cruising is size. For me that was good news. Everything I wanted was either on the same floor as my stateroom or one floor down. I could be in my room one minute and in the next I could be sitting in the dining room.
Each meal was served in one seating and you sat wherever you wanted. One thing I had really liked about assigned seating on ocean cruises was that your server really got to know you and within a day or two they had all your preferences down. It also narrowed down the thousands of possible table mates to a table-full of people to have dinner with and I’d always been lucky enough to really like the people we sat with. Well, on the riverboat, we got to know all the servers and by the end of the cruise each of them knew us well enough to provide incredibly individualized service. The small number of passengers also made cruise friends a lot easier to find.
Two Dining Venues
We chose to eat all our meals in the Restaurant. The spacious room had tables of various sizes spread comfortably around the room. On both sides were large windows looking out onto the river, sometimes at a city where we were docked and at other times at changing scenery, as the boat made its way to the next destination. In the center of the room was a three-sided buffet for breakfast and lunch. Dinner was usually from the menu, except for a special regional buffet one evening.
The other venue was the Aqauvit Terrace. Had the weather been a tad warmer, we would probably have been all over this, especially at lunch. The Terrace was at the bow of the boat, offering a view of the scenery ahead. Half of the seating is actually outside on the deck, but some is inside a glass-encased section at the end of the lounge. That’s where the buffet is and all the meals in the Terrace are served buffet style. Rumor had it that the Terrace menu focused more on sandwiches, salads and small plates, many of which were included on the Restaurant’s menu. Perhaps I should have checked it all out for you, but I was on vacation after all.
All the Wine You Can Drink
This was one of my favorite things about the cruise. The battle of the bottle on the other ships was a confrontation we could not win. On Viking we couldn’t lose, because there was no battle. Each evening they had a small selection of wines, both red and white, which were included in the price of the cruise. Most nights it seems there were only two (one red, one white) but on some of the evenings regional specialties were included which expanded the selection.
My husband, who is a little more picky about wine than me, was always quite pleased with the red choice. I adored the white wines, especially the regional specialties. If you are a wine snob, there is a package you can buy that affords you premium wines, but we didn’t need it and we didn’t meet anyone who did.
It really is all the wine you can drink. Once the wait person finds out which color you prefer for the evening, they’ll keep pouring it for you until you tell them to stop. If mid-meal you want to change colors, that’s fine too. I don’t exactly know how they afford to be so generous, but this single act of generosity endeared me to them forever.
I’ve still got a lot more to say about food, but I’ve run out of words today, so come back next week for a description of the meals.