Viking Embla Cabins
Every cabin comes with a view on Viking's Longships; there isn't a single interior cabin to be found onboard.
Inside, the rooms are impeccably designed and customized for convenience (with a couple exceptions, noted later). Like most cabins on riverboats, they're smaller than their big-ship brethren, ranging from 135 square feet in the smallest staterooms, to 205 square feet for those in the verandah (balcony) category. Light wooden cabinetry, fluffy white duvets, faux suede headboards, gray and tan accents and modern Norse art create a light, airy and comfortable sleeping environment. To cap off the boutique feel, a live orchid sits on one of two bedside tables next to the hotel-like queen-sized bed (which can be reconfigured into two twins).
An impressive 39 cabins on Middle and Upper Decks have real balconies, a wonderful and highly touted addition that allows you to take in the views gliding past in virtual privacy. Though the balconies, which Viking calls verandahs, are not as wide as you'll find on oceangoing ships, there is still room on each for two straight-backed mesh outdoor chairs and a tiny wooden table. Longship balconies add square footage to typically compact river cabins (205 square feet each), a notable bonus when most river ship staterooms offer, at best, the sliding glass door openings termed "French balconies."
Another 22 cabins (135 square feet each) on Middle and Upper Decks have the aforementioned French balconies -- floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors you can open for breezes. The pseudo-balconies do the trick of making the cabins feel larger than they actually are.
Twenty-five value-priced cabins (150 square feet each) on the waterline of the Main deck have views via high, rectangular portholes, and they're slightly bigger than the French balcony cabins. For those seeking more space, seven Veranda Suites (275 square feet apiece) on the Upper Deck have small living rooms with sofas, desks and balconies, as well as separate bedrooms with vanities and French balconies.
The top two Explorer Suites on Upper Deck, all the way aft, are, at 445 square feet each, the largest found on any of Europe's riverboats. Each living room has a wraparound balcony, where you can host another couple for cocktails. The bedroom has a French balcony and can be closed off by a curtain or doors.
Throughout all cabins, bathrooms feature rounded sinks, snug glass shower cubes (larger in the suites) and heated floors. There are a few common points of complaint among passengers revolving around the shower cubical in non-suite cabins. It is narrow and tapered at the end, and there's not much in the way of elbow room. And, despite a waterproof seal at the bottom of the glass door, the size of the facility makes it difficult to avoid puddles on the bathroom floor.
Running a close second among bathroom complaints on our cruise were the low-flush toilets instituted by Viking, which, passengers said, had a tendency to require several flushes. The toilets are part of Viking's environmentally conscious design, and both complaints, although valid, are minor given the overall comfort and quality of the cabins.
Storage space in most cabins includes a full-length, sliding-door closet with room for hanging clothes on one side and shelves and a cabinet (with a safe) on the other. Drawers beneath the large vanity are small and narrow, but there is enough room for two people packing casual attire, and there's extra room under the bed for suitcases. (One notable casualty of the new ship design is that the Veranda Suites have, apart from larger closets, extremely limited storage space.)
Great care seems to have gone into cabin lighting, which includes dimmers, bedside controls and mirrored vanities -- all much appreciated by passengers. There are two American (110 volt) and two European (220 volt) outlets in addition to one European outlet devoted to charging the QuietVox headsets.
Every cabin is equipped with a safe and a mini-fridge (with notches in the fridge shelving that make it possible to chill a bottle of wine upright), as well as a handheld hair dryer. Bath products are L'Occitane. Bathrobes are available on request.
Large 40-inch Sony HD flat-screen TV's serve up several channels on an interactive menu, including CNN, BBC, CNBC, Fox, ESPN, National Geographic Channel, MGM and Sky. There is also a good variety of complimentary movies on demand, including new releases, classics and travel and historical documentaries by Rick Steves, A&E and the History Channel. In another area of the menu, TV's list ship information -- including names of every member of the crew -- and show feeds from bow and lounge cameras. There are also pre-programmed music channels, but, for a more personalized selection, plug your iPod into the available port that's connected to the integrated Bose surround-sound system.
Complimentary Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship, including in cabins. On our fairly standard Rhine river cruise, it was reliable, if not blazingly fast. Fresh fruit and bottled water are also complimentary and provided in all cabins daily. There are ice buckets in each cabin, but you must fill them yourself from an ice machine located in the hallway on each deck.
Next: Viking Embla Dining
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