At every port of call, the ship offers an included excursion covering the main sights or highlights -- generally a city walk, countryside bus tour or major sight visit.
Most shore excursion tours are very well done, with excellent and informative local guides, though there is the occasional tired, touristy "cuckoo clock factory"-type shopping excursion.
* May require additional fees
Most tours roughly run half a day. For a town or sight not located right at the docks, the walk or visit itself might only last from one to three hours but the guides tend to fill the bus transfer time with informative chatter.
Passengers with mobility issues can take a modified version of the primary tour, wherever possible (this being Europe, not every medieval town or castle is overly accessible).
At most ports, you can also sign up for an additional or an optional tour for a fee (usually €49 - €89 per person for a half-day tour, €149 - €189 for an all-day tour). These optional tours range from visiting other, nearby towns or taking an in-depth thematic exploration -- a World War II tour, winery visit, culinary tasting walk around town, tour of suburban palaces, specialty dinner or pub crawl to discover varieties of local beer. Again, most are well worth the investment -- though the restaurant dinners can be a bit canned and touristy (they need places that can routinely seat dozens and dozens of people at once, which tends to rule out the local little family bistros).
Reservations for optional excursions need to be made either two weeks ahead of time, or by 10 p.m. on embarkation day (though there sometimes is some wiggle room to sign up on the second day).
The program director provides daily briefings about the next day's tours, activities and sailing schedule; conducts some of the onboard enrichment programs; does the guiding on any sailing day (say, sailing past historic castles); and organizes the local guides at each port of call.
At port, passengers are divided into groups of anywhere from 20 to 40 people, with each group assigned a local guide. The guides tend to be excellent, very personable and veritable fonts of information on local history and culture, each an eager and heartfelt ambassador for the place they call home.
Conveniently, guiding is done via Quietvox radio headset, so you can wander to some degree and take photographs while still hearing the guide's chatter (you recharge your headset receiver in your stateroom each night; don't forget to bring yours on each tour).
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
There are one or two organized activities onboard every day -- perhaps a cooking demonstration, lecture or high tea service in the afternoon, followed by a concert, group quiz game or artistic or craft demonstration after dinner.
There is a piano player who plays in the lounge nightly before and after dinner and again after the evening activities until midnight or later.
There is a rich cultural curriculum program onboard a Viking ship, tailored to the itinerary and day's sightseeing.
For example, since our cruise visited mostly French and German designations in territories that have been disputed over the centuries between the two, a Ph.D. historian was brought onboard to spend an hour explaining the history of relations between the two nations, from the post-Roman era to today as well an idea of the future, fielding questions with open honesty and deep expertise.
On the morning we sailed through the Rhine Delta of Amsterdam toward Kinderdijk windmills, the tour director gave a fascinating lecture on the history of Dutch water management and land reclamation, from earthen dikes and the windmill-driven drainage of the Golden Age to modern retractable sea walls and plans to combat global warming.
There is only one bar and lounge onboard, the Aquavit, and it acts as the central gathering point on the ship.
The main room is spacious, with floor-to-ceiling windows and friendly bar service, and doubles as the evening briefing room for the next day's activities.
Fore of this, the lounge opens onto indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace, where you can sip a cocktail at the very prow of the ship (again, clearly designed with walls made entirely of windows).
Stairs from here (and elsewhere along the ship) lead to the open Sun Deck, scattered with recliners, with a covered sitting area aft bolstered by glass-wall wind blocks.
Since most of the days are spent on shore excursions, onboard ship facilitates are pretty spare -- just two small putting greens and a shuffleboard pitch flanking the small aromatic herb garden at the back of the ship-long, top-level Sun Deck. (The herb garden is lovely in of itself, but it's really there for the chef.)
The top deck also comes equipped with plenty of chairs, and blankets to wrap up when it's breezier than you dressed for.
In the aft section of the Sun Deck, a section of chairs is protected by glass wind blocks and sun shades so you can stay protected while still enjoying the views and fresh air.
There are also some board games available in the library.
Wi-Fi is free throughout the ship, though slow and sometimes spotty (unavoidable when you are dealing with satellite signals and a moving target).
On one side of the upper level of the Atrium (reception is on the lower level) is a small station with several internet-connected laptops available to guests at any time, and on the other side a small library stocked with a motley assortment of take-a-book-leave-a-book novels, a few board games and plenty of picture books, histories and travel guides to the destinations (heavy on the Danube end of the itinerary).
The concierge is excellent at arranging personalized shore excursions, restaurant reservations and transfers.
There is a laundry service onboard charging reasonable-for-a-hotel rates.
There is no spa onboard, and most of the exercise you will get will be on walking tours as there is no gym.
There is a jogging track around the back half of the ship -- though, as it is right above the third deck staterooms, the crew kindly request you restrict your use to between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Viking's adults-only policy is that passengers must be 18 to sail.