Viking Hild includes at least one complimentary shore excursion in each port; it's usually a city walking tour or a coach tour. Keep in mind that towns along the Rhine can be small, and you might have more than one excursion per day. Viking uses the QuietVox system, which allows you to hear the guide and still wander off a bit. Large golf-sized umbrellas are provided for excursions on rainy days so there's no need to bring your own. Before dinner every night, there's a port talk in the bar to explain what the choices are.
Where Viking River Cruises has shown great gains is in its for-fee shore excursion offerings. It's a lesson learned from the company's ocean cruise counterpart, where shore excursions fall into three categories: Local Life, Working World and Privileged Access. A Local Life tour might visit a market with one of the ship's chefs, while a Working World excursion might tour the Mercedes-Benz plant. Privileged Access tours take passengers behind the scenes or to a museum after-hours. We enjoyed the Taste of Alsace tour in Strasbourg, stopping at a market, a cheese shop, the famed Christian's chocolatier and a bakery, followed by a sampling of Alsatian wines. The tours are bookable ahead of your cruise on My Viking Journey.
* May require additional fees
Viking Hild uses local guides for its excursions. Like any cruise you take, they will vary in quality. Always bring a city map with you, available at the front desk, so you can explore on your own if a walking tour gets boring. Cards noting the address of the ship are available at the front desk when you leave.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
Entertainment on Viking Hild is low key (as it is on most river cruise ships). Local performers visit the ship several times a cruise to showcase dances or music. Otherwise, there's a musician who travels onboard and plays his keyboard in the bar after dinner. Sometimes there's dancing, depending on the crowd, but we wouldn't count on it.
Various enrichment activities take place on Viking Hild, depending on the itinerary. Viking's Cultural Curriculum might include a demonstration on how to make an Alsatian flammkuchen (a German-style pizza) or Rudesheim coffee (a brandy-based, cream-topped coffee), an onboard tasting of wines from the Mosel or Alsace and a lecture on Rhine River history. Viking also provides a list of related reading material in My Viking Journey before the trip, for passengers who like to read books set in the locales visited. Almost all enrichment activities take place in the Viking Bar.
Viking Hild has one bar, and it's most active before dinner for cocktails and after dinner. Whether or not the bar is lively completely depends on the crowd onboard; we've seen them delightfully social after the meal, with people having fun with new friends and we've seen them extremely quiet by 10 p.m.
Viking Lounge (Upper Deck): The Viking Lounge is the main gathering place for the ship, and it continues the ship's airy feel. There are plenty of seating configurations and it never feels too full. You'll find people in the bar at all hours, although not necessarily imbibing, as it's the closest indoor area to the Aquavit Terrace (and you can eat your light breakfast, lunch and dinner here, if the Terrace is too chilly).
Drink prices are in euros and there's no extra gratuity added. A wide range of drinks are available, from local wines and beers, draft beer, cocktails, mocktails, scotches and whiskeys and coffees with a dram of something special. A Silver Spirit beverage package is also available to make your experience more all inclusive.
Before dinner, dishes of nuts, crackers and wasabi nibbles are available. The staff also comes around with a "midnight snack" around 11 p.m. A musician with a keyboard plays mostly songs from the 50s, 60s and 70s; rarely do passengers get up and dance, but it could happen, depending on the crowd.
Viking Hild has a pleasant Sun Deck, with plenty of chairs, tables and loungers; there's also a covered area to protect from summer sun. The Viking herb garden, where the chefs grow organic rosemary, mint, thyme, basil and other fresh ingredients, is an attractive addition. Viking Hild has two putting greens, as well as a shuffleboard.
The Sun Deck has a smoking area, at the rear of the ship. No smoking is allowed elsewhere on the ship.
The Guest Service desk is in the atrium, on the Main Deck right where passengers board the ship. Here you can check-in, pay your bill, pick up city maps, report issues with your cabin if you have any and exchange any QuietVox headsets. Passengers are asked to check out when they leave the ship to go to shore.
Across from Guest Services, there's a small store, mostly filled with Viking logowear. Viking has a partnership with the Norwegian clothing manufacturer Helly Hansen, and the raincoats and sweaters are attractive and well made.
The program manager has a desk on the main floor, just before the restaurant entrance. This is where you'd go to get recommendations if you want to split off from the group to eat at a local restaurant or to book a local spa treatment. (Overall, we find that most passengers tend to stick with the included programs and meals).
An elevator runs between the Main Deck and upper deck only; passengers with mobility issues should avoid cabins on the lower deck and may miss out on activities up on the Sun Deck.
The third floor is home to a small computer lounge, as well as the library, which is fairly generous for a ship of this size; many current best-sellers were on the shelves. There are also some cozy sofas and chairs here, making it a pleasant place to hang out when the sun is streaming through the atrium windows.
Viking has laundry service, for a fee, as well as shoeshines; passengers in suites receive these in their fare.
Viking Hild does not have an onboard spa or gym. If a passenger wants to book a spa appointment on shore, or use a gym while the ship is docked in port, the concierge has a list of available options and can book it for you. (Passengers are also encouraged to make these type of requests online before the trip, through the My Viking Journey interface).
There is a walking track on the Sun Deck, although passengers are encouraged to wait until after 8 a.m. to use it (as it's right above cabins). Note for runners: Many of the areas along the Rhine, where Viking Hild sails, have flat pedestrian and bike paths adjoining the river.
Viking River Cruises does not encourage children onboard; the minimum age to sail is 18. All cabins, including suites, are restricted to two people, and there are no connecting rooms. Viking River Cruises are very popular for adult family groups; we've often seen parents traveling with adult children.