The Viking Tour company handles everything for the travelers. They provide air service and pay for coach class. When you land, there is a representative to pick you up and take you to a hotel or the boat. They look after your luggage and the check-in process. They will explain all activities and schedules. You are free to take advantage of this or go off on your own, as long as you get back to the boat on time (they won't wait). Land tours use very comfortable buses with good legroom, large windows and storage for luggage and bags. There is plenty of cold bottled water and even an airplane style bathroom.
A local tour guide will lead you through all the interesting sights of the off-boat excursions. Everyone is given an audio receiver to hear live narrative from the guide. They know a tremendous amount of detail and history about the places you visit. They give very entertaining descriptions of local history and culture. The head tour director for the Alsvin, Marianne, our Viking spokesperson for the entire trip, was exceptional. She presented all activities, answered questions, entertained the travelers and was a nurturing parent to all. We miss her already.
Viking River Tours use modern, high-tech longboats. They accommodate 180 passengers and about 50 crew. They are low and narrow to fit under bridges and tight waterways. On board is a main dining room and two smaller dining areas, one inside at the bow and one in the open. All are roomy and comfortable. There is a library, bar, lounge, information center and gift shop. The top (sun) deck has a putting green, shuffleboard, herb garden and walking track. It has lounge chairs, both under cover and in the open.
Meals are fine restaurant quality. For breakfast or lunch, you can choose from the buffet, order from a menu or both. Dinner menu choices include local cuisine or a chef special. Usually there are two or three different selections from each and you can mix and match. Then there are three or four dessert selections. With lunch and dinner is a selection of complimentary house wines, beers, coffee or soft drinks and of course, water. Bar drinks are extra, unless you purchase the "Silver Service" package. Nobody loses weight on this cruise. But with all the hiking, we didn't gain either.
The staff and crew are exceptionally friendly and diligent. They will ask your name and room number (for special drinks and tours) once, then remember it for the rest of the cruise. At dinner be prepared to be entertained and served by the wait staff who are really interested in you and what you like to eat and drink. There's no rush, but you don't have to wait long for service either. Between meals, they will make sure you are comfortable, whether in the lounge or on the sun deck. After a land tour they welcome you back on board with drinks and a snack.
The standard staterooms are small but very comfortable with king size beds, lots of storage, a full bathroom and compact shower. Each room has a large TV screen with entertainment channels, weather, upcoming events, tours and the ships position on a map. The ride is so smooth, you can't tell if the boat is moving or stationary. There is no noise from the boat or other staterooms. The only time you can tell you are on a boat (other than looking outside) is when traversing the locks or docking, then you may feel a slight bump.