The lounge has a baby grand piano, where a pianist plays classical and modern melodies during cocktail hour and sometimes at lunch. The music drifts to and through the Aquavit Terrace -- a nice accompaniment on warm, sunny days.
The cruise director hosts a variety of informal evening entertainment in the lounge; from pub trivia nights to the sales pitch veiled by a cruise slideshow, it's all done in a spirit of fun and inclusivity. The lounge is also equipped with large pull-down movie screens and surround sound for movie nights. Regional performers occasionally come onboard to provide additional entertainment.
Professors give onboard lectures, which span a variety of subjects. And, given that many of the line's passengers are highly educated and well-informed, the talks can inspire probing questions and stimulating discussion.
Hands-on crafting demonstrations and cooking courses are often available, and they're tailored to the culture and traditions of the ship's itinerary.
Most passengers participate in the daily shore excursions included in the cruise fares, and a fair number also opt for the fee-added alternative trips provided by the line. Shore excursions are typically of the basic bus or walking tour variety, but for-fee excursions also include events like wine tastings and off-ship dinner outings. Prices for these range between 30 and 60 euros per person. QuietVox headsets with headphones (found in each cabin) are provided for every tour so that everyone can hear what local guides are saying.
As is the case on most riverboats, Viking Hemming has only one real public room -- the cozy and beautiful lounge -- so it's easy to get to know the ship. There, passengers will find a television nook and also a small library with a terrific selection of books pegged to the ship's Douro itinerary.
There's a pocket-sized boutique which, interestingly enough, sold more local trinkets (and frankly some gorgeous Portuguese crafts and purses made out of cork, which is a major export) than Viking regalia.
There's no atrium on Viking Hemming; the entrance is on deck three. (It's pleasant but not as eye-popping as the Longships' multi-level areas.) There you'll find the concierge and the main desk. Two elevators serve decks one and two.
Up above, the top sun deck, an expanse that runs the entire length of the vessel, has the lovely and unusual addition of an organic herb garden. In a first for the Longship-style design, Viking Hemming also has a small swimming pool. There's a shuffleboard court, a pair of putting greens and a giant chess set, too, but views are the main reasons to be up there. Retained from earlier Viking ships are the two wonderful canopy areas, providing lots of shaded space for those who don't want too much sun. Plenty of tables, chairs and cushioned loungers are available.
The ship's bridge lowers and rises to fit under low overhangs and is an attraction unto itself. There's an open-bridge policy, allowing passengers to schmooze with the officers, except when they're navigating the tight locks.
Aside from the aforementioned swimming pool (more of a dipping pool than one for swimming laps), the ship has no spa, fitness center or hot tub, but Viking has agreements with luxury hotels in several of the cities the ship visits, allowing passengers to use the hotels' health facilities. Viking does not offer bicycles for use. As on most river cruises, though, most passengers opt for exercising via daily shore tours that involve walking or cycling. The concierge can arrange for cycle rental in various ports of call.
Viking restricts passengers to 18 on its ships, and there are no facilities or programs at all for kids.