Days on a Viking Elbe cruise are often packed with enrichment-oriented shore excursions. On our trip, there was a lovely balance of cultural, historic and nature-oriented explorations. Passengers had the opportunity to sign up for tours based on their preferred paces. One particular favorite tour among those offered complementary was a visit to the Meissen porcelain factory, which did a first-rate job of showing passengers how its products are made (the two in-house gift shops did a rollicking trade and there's a lovely cafe as well for light fare). In Dresden, the included walking tour was sufficient to get a handle on the gorgeous rebuilt-to-period city, and we loved that there was plenty of free time to go back and visit places we were most interested in. We learned about beer, quite a stalwart drink in the region, in Litomerice from a young couple brewing their own microbrews, and walked in Martin Luther's Reformation steps in Wittenberg. There were a handful of extra fee tours, including a visit to Terezin in the Czech Republic; it's the sobering site of a Nazi camp. And in Dresden, an optional tour allows passengers to shop with the chef at a local market.
Onboard, there wasn't a heavy schedule of activities and most of the passengers wouldn't have had time for them anyway. Occasionally Viking brought local performers aboard for cultural performances. Probably the best fun we had was an after-dinner folklore performance by our ship's wait staff wearing native costumes -- they encouraged passengers to get up and dance with them, and it was a blast.
A pianist played classical and modern melodies during cocktail hour, after dinner and often at lunch. The music drifted to and through the Aquavit Terrace -- a nice accompaniment on warm, sunny days.
QuietVox headsets with earphones (found in each cabin) are provided for every tour so that everyone can hear what local guides are saying.
As is the case on all riverboats, Viking Longships have only a few public rooms, making it easy to get to know this ship -- not to mention many of your fellow passengers.
The lobby and atrium space is light and airy and very compact. This is where you'll find the customer service desk, along with some shelves that house a collection of Viking logowear and a small library. There is a pair of computers for those who want to check email; most folks brought their own devices.
The lounge has three distinct areas. There's the U-shaped bar and the lounge area with different table and chair configurations (and we loved that there were a number of tables at dining height, which also made working on laptops, playing cards and writing letters comfortable). There's also the glass-roofed conservatory area that opens up in nice weather.
On the sundeck, we adored the rocking chairs. There's plenty of seating, both chaises and table setups, and a canopy for shade.
The ship has no spa, fitness center, pool nor hot tub. The program director can help you book spa appointments in ports along the way, and you can also request help with cycling rentals.
The sun deck has a walking track, a putting green and a giant chess set.
Viking is an adults-only cruise line; passengers must be 18 to sail.