Every night after dinner, passengers on this boat make their way to the Viking Lounge to schmooze over local wines, piano tunes and sweeping views of France's sleepy and relatively untouched Provence and Burgundy regions. And that's life onboard Viking Buri: simple, friendly and worry-free. The atmosphere, combined with the line's moderate pricing -- by river cruise standards -- is what makes the 190-passenger vessel and the rest of Viking River Cruises' fleet the most popular choice among North Americans.
Viking Buri is one of a handful of identical "Longships," each of which boasts a sleek, minimalist vibe while maintaining a sense of hominess. There's one dining room, one lounge area with a bar, a terrace and a sun deck with a "backyard in the summertime" feel, thanks to its abundance of seating, an herb garden and games. All public spaces are flooded with light and open to the surrounding views.
While it would be nice to have a top-deck hot tub or other fancy amenity, the lack of choice works in Viking's favor. Passengers never have to overthink where to eat dinner, what to drink or how to spend their free time. At least one shore tour per day is complimentary, as are all meals and wine, beer and soft drinks at lunch and dinner. (Internet is also free.)
Our favorite hangout spot has to be the Aquavit Terrace. Viking nailed it with this space, which was originally a design measure to work around European riverboat size requirements. On the Longships, the traditional, pointy-nosed bow was stunted, leaving room for the alfresco dining venue. While this is fairly standard now, the concept was brand-new when Longships debuted in 2014 and it's still among the loveliest out there.
Also deserving of mention is the riverboat's mechanical design. Viking Longships are equipped with hybrid engines that are not only environmentally friendly, but also produce less vibration for a smoother ride. They even include solar panels, which help to meet fuel requirements.