, Europe's largest river cruise line by half, and growing, has for years been extolling the design of its new "Longships" series as revolutionary. These ships, Viking boasted, would have the first true suites on the rivers -- defining "suites" as accommodations with two distinct rooms (other lines offer suite accommodations that are basically a larger-than-usual room). They would have full-sized balconies, just like ocean-going big ships. And they would feature the first genuinely outdoor cafe on a riverboat.
On our original sneak preview cruise aboard Viking Odin, the big buzz was how much this riverboat echoes the feeling of
's new Odyssey-class trio. And it's true. Certainly the fact that Yran and Storbraaten, the same maritime design firm that created Seabourn's interiors, also decorated the Longships is one reason they share an airy and light-filled ambience.
In this case, Viking has delivered on much of its hype. Not only were these ships created at the highest standard for Viking itself, but they're helping, along with lines like AMAWATERWAYS, Uniworld and Avalon Waterways, to establish a new benchmark for comfort in European river cruising.