Aboard the Viking Odin: a tour of a Viking longship

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When you’re thinking of taking a cruise, one of the things you’re most interested in is the ship itself: what’s it like inside, what do the cabins look like, what kind of facilities does it have? In a recent post, I gave my impressions of cruising on the Viking Odin river cruise ship. Today, I’m going to zoom in a little closer and give you a look at the ship itself.

The Odin was the first of Viking’s trademark longship vessels. All the longships are very similar, with the same basic features: three decks, an attractive atrium, one dining room, an indoor lounge and an indoor-outdoor Aquavit Terrace on the front deck. So while we’re touring the Odin, this is pretty much a representative tour of a Viking longship.

Let’s start with the look of the ship. Once you get used to the amazing length of these ships, they’re quite attractive, with their low, sleek lines and lots of glass, from the many balconies to the lounge and restaurant areas.

Viking Odin river mooring

The other thing you notice is the top deck, called the Sun Deck, where the bridge is located. The bridge is small, and most of the space is devoted to lounge chairs and areas where you can take a walk, or just hang out and watch the river slide by. There’s also an area where smokers can have a puff or two. (One note: this deck is not always open — operations can cause the captain to close it off.)

Viking Odin top deck

But let’s get on the ship. And since your cabin is the first thing you see when you get on board, I’ll start there. I had a verandah stateroom, and it was very handsome, with a nice, understated colour scheme and lots of light, due to the huge, floor-to-ceiling windows that are standard issue on these ships. These cabins are 205 square feet — bigger than the average cabin on most ocean cruise ships — and open onto a full balcony.

Viking Odin cabin view

The longships also have French balcony staterooms, which are 135 square feet and have sliding glass doors but no full balcony. And there are some 150-square-foot “water level” cabins on the lower deck that have a smaller window, located high on the wall. There are no inside cabins.

If you want to spend a little more, you can get a two-room verandah suite — these come in at 275 square feet and have a sitting room. And for the high rollers, there are two luxurious 445-foot Explorer Suites at the stern of the ship, with wrap-around balconies for a 270-degree view.

My cabin had a good range of features: a telephone, refrigerator, safe and a 40-inch flat-screen TV with a fairly full entertainment package, including a number of international networks like the BBC and CNN. There were both 220V and 110-V power outlets. Viking was also nice enough to put a colourful fruit bowl in the room and replenish it daily.

Fruit bowl Viking Odin

The bathroom was small but well planned and very functional, with a heated floor and a shower big enough for most people.

Viking Odin bathroom

I could describe the rest of the ship, but better to just show it to you live. Here’s a walk-around I did on a day I decided to stay on the ship rather than take the daily excursion.

That’s most of the common areas on the ship, but there’s still the lobby, where we mustered for the excursions every day, and the dining room.

Unfortunately, the video didn’t give you a great look at the dining room, so here’s a photo, courtesy of Viking Cruises. The room is big and bright, thanks to its wall-to-wall windows., with a fairly neutral decor. There’s a variety of tables for four, six, eight and 10 — but no tables for two. If you want an intimate dinner, your best bet may be to take your food up to the Sun Deck.

Viking dining room

The Aquavit Terrace doubles as an alternative dining room: a buffet service is offered at lunch and dinner, so if you’re up for something light, you can enjoy it al fresco. It’s also a great place for a drink and some conversation at any time of the day or night. And it’s right above the kitchen, so see if the servers will take you downstairs for a kitchen tour.

A few other notes

Since this is river cruising, your fare includes free house wine and beer with your meals (both are very drinkable). There’s no extra charge unless you order something special. However, your drinks at the bar later do cost extra. A premium drinks package, called Silver Spirits, iswine on the Aquavit Terrace available.

Internet access is also included, and all the cabins have wi-fi. However, if you’re expecting the lightning-fast connection you have at home, you’ll be disappointed. It’s still satellite service, and it can get s-l-o-w at peak times when everyone jumps on the internet.

In my cabin I felt very little vibration from the engines, which are at the rear of the ship. There are side thrusters as well, which help the ship manoeuvre through tight spots, like the river locks. (The locks are 12 metres wide, the ships a maximum of 11.45 metres, so there’s only a tiny gap on each side.) With a third-deck cabin, however, I did hear some thumping when the crew was active on the Sun Deck above.

As for getting on and off the ship for excursions, a simple ramp does the job — there’s no waiting for tenders. And with a maximum capacity of 190 passengers, boarding and departing the ship doesn’t take long. For those with mobility problems, there’s an elevator on board, which runs from the middle to the upper deck — best not to book a water-level cabin.

So that’s my tour of a Viking longship. I hope it gives you a basic understanding of what these ships are like. If you’ve only sailed on ocean cruisers before, as I had, it can be a bit of an adjustment. And you may miss some of the things the big ships feature, like theatres and specialty restaurants and comedy clubs.

But at the same time, life is simpler on these smaller ships, there’s no getting lost on endless corridors, and with a daily excursion included in the price, you may not miss all the bells and whistles. If you want to get a closer look at the river cruising experience, you can find my first-hand review here.

I was a guest of Viking Cruises on my river cruise. However, the views expressed are my own.

Photos taken with the Nikon D5500 SLR; video shot with the Fuji XQ2 compact camera.

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Paul Marshman is a retired journalist who spent 30 years as a writer and editor on Canadian newspapers, while travelling to the ends of the earth. Now he continues to travel while passing on his travel experiences to you.

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