Viking Legend Entertainment
Entertainment on Viking Legend is low-key, home-grown. There is a friendly singer/keyboardist who sings Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" with an Eastern European accent – so that it comes out "Margaweetaville" – and plays everything from Beatles to Mozart (he even occasionally picks up an accordion). He plays during cocktail hour and some evenings after dinner, and also fills the peanut bowls in the bar in between sets, helping out the ship's one bartender.
Local entertainers come onboard some nights after dinner including a small troupe of musicians/dancers introduced by our program director as “Hungarian gypsies.” Other nights after dinner (at about 9 p.m.) the program director does slideshow/lectures that are more entertaining than intellectual, covering topics like the coffeehouse culture in Vienna (he makes such observations as "The Blue Danube never was blue. I don't know who wrote that. He must have been on booze or something.").
The majority of passengers head to their cabins after dinner; this is not a ship for nightlife.
Those seeking intellectual discussion will be more pleased with an afternoon lecture one day by a young German bureaucrat/graduate student discussing the history and future of the European Union.
Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship for free (it works best in public areas), and if you don't you're your own laptop you can rent one for 5 euros ($7.42) per hour. Be aware it is not high speed.
On the flatscreen TV in your cabin you can watch CNN International, BBC World, CNBC Europe, sometimes Bloomberg, one English movie channel, and itinerary-related channel and three German TV stations – where late at night there are often shows with nudity.
Among other onboard activities, the crew invites passengers on a galley tour towards the end of each cruise, and at the program director's whim there may be an afternoon Liar's Club (particularly on a day with low bridges when the sundeck is closed), an evening talent show, or an afternoon strudel-making demonstration by the chef.
Much more impressive, and really the big event of every day on the Viking Legend, are the complimentary shore excursions. These well-planned outings range from two-hour walking tours to full-day bus tours. Nearly everyone participates – though you also have the option of staying on the ship. The tours require some walking on cobblestones or uphill, so may not be appropriate to some with physical limitations.
All passengers at check-in are assigned a bus (you can switch if you want to be with friends) and given a pair of disposable headphones for use throughout the cruise. These hook into a wonderful Quietvox receiver system – with pocketsize units distributed each day – that allows everyone to easily hear the guides (the only dial to toy with is the volume). If you lose your headphones – guilty! – extra pairs are available.
For those who want to go off on their own to explore the ports, also particularly impressive is the ship's concierge desk. Since the ship is staffed with crew who hail from some of the countries you are visiting if you want to head off on your own you can truly get local advice – from navigating the subways of Vienna to finding the best pastry in Budapest. The program manager uses a computer to carefully check museum hours, is equipped with maps, and gives all passengers his cell phone number in case you get lost.
There are a few extra-charge excursions offered in addition to the complimentary daily outing – a big hit was a musical evening in Vienna for 75 euros ($111 per person), but really you can have a very stimulating cruise and see all the main sights without paying extra.
Viking Legend Public Rooms
Overall the ship makes the most of windows. You are rarely without views. Throughout the ship, the décor is streamlined, contemporary Scandinavian.
You enter the Viking Legend into a pretty, modern, light-filled two-deck reception area with a front desk to one side and a dramatic chrome staircase leading up to the next level, where the Observation Lounge is located. The wooden entranceway floor (which can get slippery when wet) is covered in part by a large pale Oriental carpet and the overall ambience is light and airy. Windows on both levels and a skylight above the staircase provide so much light that there are even real plants growing in planters in the foyer. Off in a corner is a small boutique, with t-shirts and a few other trinkets (you can buy sundries such as toothpaste at the front desk).
Head up the staircase to Deck 3 and there's the Observation Lounge, the second big public room after the restaurant, with floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides and a semi-circle bar with cushioned bar stools at the non-windowed end. The lounge is filled with tables for four and stuffed chairs in blue, coral and tan, all with window views. The multi-purpose venue hosts a daily briefing/cocktail hour with the ship's program director each evening before dinner and after-dinner entertainment as well. There are a few tables and chairs on a small deck outside the lounge too, where you can bring your lunch or coffee or drinks if you want to be outside.
The only other indoor public room is the windowed Library aft on Deck 3, with cushy chairs and a few tables. There are some board games on the shelves but few books (this space is generally used as a quiet area for reading and postcard writing). Again, there are a few tables and chairs outside as well.
The ship does not have an elevator, and those with trouble walking up stairs will have trouble getting to the lounge – though will be able to access the dining room. There are ramps to get onboard.
Throughout the ship, the contemporary art was chosen by the line's president's wife (she also picked the carpet in the reception area). Framed old maps add a nice travel touch in several areas as well.
Viking Legend Spa & Fitness
The sundeck is the main outdoor space, running across the entire 443-foot length of the ship on the top deck. It's enormous with various areas for sun and shade (under canvas awnings) and 360 degree views. You can relax in blue canvas sling chairs or soft plastic lounge chairs (comfortable, though not padded) or at tables with chairs, and on a warm and sunny day this is the place to be. The entire deck is covered in blue outdoor carpeting (providing soundproofing for cabins directly below). The Captain's Wheelhouse is up on top.
Occasionally, when the ship goes through areas with low bridges, the sundeck is closed (and at really low bridges the Wheelhouse and canvas awnings are collapsed).
There is no spa, gym, jogging track, pool, or Jacuzzi. Most days a very easy "light" exercise class (really a stretch class) is conducted by the program manager in the Viking Lounge, at 7 a.m. You can exercise- walk on the padded sundeck, but there are steps you need to think about in a few areas so you don't trip. While it's not quite exercise, there is a giant chess set up on the top deck too, and moving the pieces is at least slightly aerobic. Those seeking to burn calories and get the heart rate up are best off walking or jogging on shore.
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