Unlike the bigger ocean ships that come with Broadway shows, pools with water slides and casinos, river cruise ships focus more on enriching escapes -- with a bigger focus on shore excursions, local immersion and educational entertainment. That's not to say you won't find karaoke happening one night or a rowdy night of dancing to '70s rock another, but the vibe, and the entertainment, is very much geared to the older audience.
What makes a cruise on Viking Mimir so memorable has less to do with the vessel itself and more to do with the culture-packed shore excursions. Daily excursions are offered in every port, complimentary with your cruise fare. In bigger ports, multiple excursions and options are available so you can experience what you'd like at a pace that's comfortable. Most of the passengers, you'll find, stick to the included tours -- whether they're walking or coach escorted. In addition, some opt for the extra excursions, which can range from a concert or ballet in town to a local home visit. Costs for these range from 30 euro to more than 100, and you can sign up with the cruise director anytime during your voyage. To make the excursion even more educational, and less intrusive to other visitors, Viking provides Vox headphones and what they call a "quiet box," which allows you to hear the guide via earphones.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Since most of the passengers choose to disembark daily to explore Europe's rich ports, there isn't much to do onboard if you choose to stay, aside from the library or a few games on the upper deck. Most of the entertainment, lectures and tastings are offered at night, either before or after dinner in the lounge. During cocktail hour, you can expect to hear the musician playing classical favorites while the bartender shakes and pours libations. After the cruise director's daily port talk, he/she will introduce the entertainment (if they have it). The entertainment is always local to the destination, and is highly regarded by the passengers. During the Grand European Tour, there was entertainment every few nights, including an Austrian wine tasting, an on-ship opera performance, an educational talk on sustainability, a glass-blowing demonstration (and sale) and a cheese tasting. All of these activities are free to enjoy, and give you a little glance into the local culture without having to get off the ship.
Due to the tight constraint in the size of riverboats, there is only one main bar, which is situated in the main lounge. Both of these sit on the second floor -- accessible by atrium stairs or glass elevator. The entrance to the lounge is magnificent, with a striking grand staircase, marble wall slats decorating the sides of the steps and sliding-glass doors on either side to welcome you in.
Like the rest of Mimir's other public spaces, the lounge is arranged to be as open as possible to encourage mingling among guests, allow for room to walk around and to give the impression of more space. Modern couches in muted gray, ivory and beige are grouped along the windows, giving you plenty of vantage points to enjoy the scenery. The couches are accented with bolder red, orange or yellow throw pillows, making it easier to truly relax and unwind after a busy day sightseeing. In addition, there are a few tables with chairs in the center near the piano, as well as near the entrance to the Aquavit Terrace.
The bar is simple but elegant, with wood paneling and 10 bar stools scattered around it. This, as many passengers will tell you, is the social hub of the ship. Here you'll find guests laughing and chatting with each other and the bartender, munching on complimentary snacks like wasabi peas and Chex Mix.
One of the ship's most popular areas during the warm summer months is the Upper Deck, which runs the entire length of the vessel. In addition to a running track, outdoor chairs, plush comfortable couches, tables and sweeping 360-degree views, Mimir also has a fresh and organic herb garden planted during the warmer months, which provides some edibles for the downstairs menu as well as a much needed dash of fresh greenery. There's also a shuffleboard, small putting green, a giant cheese set and a small shaded area to sit and soak up the view.
On the Upper Deck, you'll also find the ship's bridge, which lowers and rises to fit under low bridges. There's an open-bridge policy, which gives passengers the chance to talk with the captains, except when they are navigating the tight locks.
Viking Mimir has a reception desk that's open 24 hours while the concierge and cruise director hold varying hours (depending on the day's itinerary).
A contemporary-designed elevator takes passengers with mobility issues from floor to floor. There's a small shop next to reception that sells anything you might need for your journey, from raincoats to logo-emblazed umbrellas to books and luggage tags.
Laundry services are offered for any cruise length and can be handled through your room steward.
There is complimentary Wi-Fi available throughout the ship, including in cabin. However, it can be unreliable as you sail through parts of the Danube, Rhine and definitely when crossing European locks. For those passengers without computers or personal devices, Viking has two desktop computers hooked up so you can check email, surf the web or update Facebook.
Adjacent to the computers is a stocked library, offering popular titles and reading material about the destinations you're cruising to.
No Viking Longships (Mimir included) feature a spa, a fitness center, pool or hot tub. Viking has agreements with luxury hotels in several of the cities the ship visits, allowing passengers to use the hotels' health club facilities. Aside from a running track on the deck of the ship, there are no places for guests to work out.
Viking River Cruises does not cater to children and young families. The minimum age to sail is 18.
* May require additional fees