Viking Helgrim is the fourth of four "baby Longships" -- scaled-down versions of the line's classic river vessels that ply the Rhine, Danube and Rhone. What this means is they carry around half the number of passengers (190 versus 106), and every public area is correspondingly smaller to fit into the narrower locks along the Douro.
It also means there is even more of an intimate atmosphere than you might find on a bigger ship, with crew knowing your name -- and dining and drinking preferences -- after just a day or two, and you'll be saying "hi" to fellow passengers like old friends in the short space of time.
There's another plus -- Viking has installed a small swimming pool on the Sun Deck, which the full-size ships do not have.
Cabins, in a classic Scandinavian-style chic design of blond woods and soft colors, are modern and comfortable. All have river views -- the majority with French balconies or regular balconies. Suites are genuine suites, with two separate rooms and a walk-in wardrobe.
Itineraries do not vary year-round: Porto to Porto round trip, calling in at tiny Portuguese villages, like Pinhao, Regua and Barca d'Alva, along the way and a day trip to the gorgeous university town of Salamanca, in Spain. Note that there is not much in the way of big sights or cities along the Douro, and almost all transfers to places of interest will be at least 45 minutes. Viking also offers various add-ons, including Lisbon, Madrid and post-cruise in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Another quirk of the Douro is there is no nighttime navigation -- all sailing is during the day -- so if you choose to do all the excursions, you will miss out on the stunning scenery that this region is famed for.
Viking Helgrim is small but has everything you need -- a perfect ship for navigating this beautiful river.
The passenger makeup is primarily North American, with the majority hailing from the U.S. with a smattering of Brits, Australians and New Zealanders. All announcements and signage are in English. The age is 65+.
Daytime: Casual, with shorts and tees most common inside the ship, and bathing suits and cover-ups de rigueur on the Sun Deck.
Evening: Mostly casual, with men occasionally donning a collared shirt (never a jacket and tie) and smart slacks, and ladies wearing a dress and sometimes heels. There is no formal night.
Not permitted: No swimwear permitted in the main dining room.
Included with your cruise fare:
Not included with your cruise fare:
Viking Prestige, which debuted in 2011, was Viking River Cruises' last new-build before it introduced its revolutionary Longship series in 2012. It has a lounge, dining room, library, a sun deck and cabins on three decks.
One of the original "Longships," Viking Aegir and its sister ships represent a new take on river hospitality, one in which a sleek, Scandinavian ambience is the antithesis of river's traditionally fusty vessels.