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Viking Embla Review

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54% of cruisers loved it
  • One of the line's newest Longship-class boats
  • Free shipwide wireless Internet
  • Try your hand at cuckoo clock-making, wooden shoe-carving or glassblowing

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Viking Embla Overview

(4.0) 4.0 out of 5+ star rating
In 2012, Viking River Cruises kicked off a dramatic three-year-long fleet expansion by inaugurating six ships. A year later, 10 more identical ships were christened, and another dozen are due in 2014. Viking Embla was one of the original sextuplets -- branded "Longships" named for Norse gods -- to hit the water, and the six sisters have made quite a splash on the river scene since their debuts. German-built Viking Embla and its sister ships represent a new take on river hospitality, one in which a sleek, Scandinavian ambience is the antithesis of river's traditionally fusty vessels.

What first strikes you as you step onboard? Sunlight. Streaming in through the glass-enclosed, two-story atrium is enough light to allow real flowers to grow. With backlit marble panels rising above a terrazzo floor and wood-and-glass staircase, and pale, earth-toned decor, the space has energy and natural appeal. If the ambience reminds some of Seabourn's Odyssey class, that's not a coincidence -- the vessels share the same lead designer, Norwegian firm Yran & Storbraaten.

But beyond the airy vibe of its public spaces, Viking Embla floats a whole raft of features new to river cruising in Europe.

Fittingly for a line named after Scandinavian conquerors, there is a sense of minimalism on Embla. You can perhaps best see the efficiency and maximization of available area onboard in the surprising new signature spaces that have been conjured: the Aquavit Terrace, the two largest true suites on a riverboat in Europe (each with separate living room and bedroom), not to mention seven slightly smaller true suites with separate living and sleeping rooms, and an increased number of cabins with full and French balconies.

Don't be fooled, though; creating those spaces was more hard work than magic. The designers' creation of such new spaces required a lot of rethinking about the basic structure of river ships. To fit under the bridges and through the locks of Europe's inland waterways, riverboats have to meet specific size requirements. If length or depth is extended past those limits, the ship won't sail.

As a workaround, designers blunted the traditional pointy-nosed bow of Viking's ships to provide more space. The result was Aquavit Terrace. A lovely open-air cafe on the ship's bow, the venue provides something of a river rarity: an alternative casual eatery with indoor/outdoor seating.

It also positioned interior corridors off-center to accommodate cabins -- full balconies on one side and narrower cabins, some elevated to suites with separate sleeping and living areas, placed sideways on the other side.

Less visible, but no less cutting-edge, are the ship's "green" advances, including hybrid diesel-electric engines which burn less fuel and produce 20 percent fewer emissions, making longships cleaner and quieter than their competitors. There are even solar panels on the sun deck that help to fuel the engines. And the ship's chef maintains an organic garden on Embla 's upper deck during growing season.

The ride onboard is slow and smooth as you pass by scenery that includes the Rhine Gorge -- or Upper Middle Rhine Valley -- a UNESCO World Heritage site littered with history-rich vistas of castles and medieval towns.
Viking Embla Fellow Passengers
The general age for river cruise passengers is 60 and older, but Embla and other Longships, with their contemporary design, were built with an eye toward attracting a slightly younger traveler. Regardless of age, passengers tend to be well-traveled (though many are visiting Europe for the first time).
Viking Embla Dress Code
Casual, comfortable attire is encouraged for both ship and shore on Viking Longships. The must-pack item is, without question, a comfortable pair of walking shoes for shore tours. As the ship sails in Europe, with its lovely and historic landscapes, tours frequently involve cobblestones and other uneven surfaces. Both the staff and the daily program provide ample notice when this is the case.

Generally, passengers "dress up" to varying degrees in the evenings, but never to the level of a big-ship formal night. Most don the kind of attire worn at a country club dinner, but others don't bother to change from their sensible shore excursion gear. Save your best outfits (maybe casual dresses for women and collared shirts and blazers for men) for events like the Captain's Welcome and Farewell Dinners
Viking Embla Gratuity
Tips are not included in the cruise fare. They are paid at the end of the cruise in cash or by credit card. (Euros are the onboard currency, but dollars are also accepted for gratuities.) The recommended amount on Viking's Europe cruises is 12 euros per passenger, per day, which is divided up among the crew.
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Viking Embla Member Reviews 27 Reviews
   Disappointing
August 2014

The ship was clean, attractive and the crew outstanding. That said, much was negative. The dining experience was dreadful. One seating for 180 people in a crowded, noisy room made for a rude crush when the dining room doors opened. There was one ...continue


   Lemon Law
July 2014

We booked the two week grand european cruise and looked forward to what the brochures called, "scenic cruising" and "lovely walks" in cities along the way. What we got was one day of scenic cruising with the rest of the time being bused to an ...continue


   Great cruise thru Eastern & Central Europe
June 2014

We enjoyed good weather, a great crew, super Program Director, excellent food, nice accommodations, and minimal hiccups. Viking has obviously worked very hard to address issues posted in previous reviews, with one exception: they could still be ...continue


1 - 3 of 27 Reviews


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