Viva Cruises is a relatively new name on the international river cruise scene, although many river cruisers may well be familiar with their style of ships. The line, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary, is the tour operator arm of the Swiss-based Scylla shipping group, which constructs and charters vessels for other lines including upmarket Tauck.
Viva Cruises is now actively marketing its English-speaking cruises to a wider audience, including the U.S. and Canada. Viva Two -- which will be joined by an identical sister ship in fall 2024 -- is the seventh ship in the fleet. Offering a premium all-inclusive cruise experience, Viva Two showcases some innovative all-new design details and amenities, such as multiple and flexible dining options that are a rarity on other riverboats.
The ship will appeal to anyone looking for a relaxed river cruise where everything is taken of, including gratuities. Viva Cruises is also notable as it offers year-round sailings in Europe.
The ship sails on a variety of cruises on the Danube, including classic seven-night round trip sailings from Vienna and Passau plus longer itineraries such as a 15-night cruise to and from Passau to the Danube Delta, where the river meets the Black Sea. There are also Christmas market cruises.
We sailed on the seven-night Danube Metropolis round trip Vienna itinerary, which provided an excellent overview and introduction to the region. There were stops at three of the four capital cities on the Danube -- Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava -- with contrasting panoramic highlights such as sailing through the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley. An overnight in Budapest provided ample opportunity to explore city's buzzing nightlife scene with an optional guided excursion to visit some of the bars.
Coming from such an experienced shipping company (Scylla was founded 50 years ago) it's probably no surprise Viva Two has neat design features that make it stand out from the crowd. Most notably, a split-level deck layout and extensive use of glass creates a real sense of space and light in public areas.
Instead of the traditional river vessel set up of a lounge incorporating a bar, this area is divided in two. Leading from the lounge, the bar is situated at the bottom of a curved staircase. It has panoramic windows, overlooks the front of the ship and has a sheltered outdoor area which is a great spot for sundowners on warm evenings. Additionally, a ceiling only covers part of the main dining room, with some of the tables visible from the bar and lounge, and this adds to the airy and bright feel. There are also two other dining venues, which is also unusual.
Along with a small massage room, offering reasonably priced treatments, the ship has a sauna, steam room and gym.
The sun deck is nicely set up with a range of loungers, deckchairs, and tables and chairs, including shaded spots and useful glass windbreaks. There is also a small splash pool which is heated in cooler weather.
* All dining venues
Unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
Bottle of Prosecco on arrival and replenished mini-bar
Shore excursion in every port
* Spa treatments
Viva Cruises has transformed itself from a company serving German speakers to a truly international line offering a warm welcome to passengers from throughout Europe, North America and beyond. The ship tends to attract mature couples, groups and a handful of solo cruisers. It's rare to see any young children.
As the line is much less rigid and regimented than some, providing passengers with flexible multi-choice dining and a selection of shore tours, it's likely that as Viva Cruises becomes better-known in English speaking markets it will also attract younger crowd which will add to the diverse onboard atmosphere. English and German are the onboard languages.