Her name means "life" in Norse mythology and since March 2014 Viking Longship Lif has lived up to her name with a welcoming crew that offers professionalism, making sure passengers forget about everything except when shore excursions begin and when meals are served.
Designed by the Norwegian firm Yran & Storbraaten, the ship's decor is minimalistic mirroring Viking's Scandinavian roots and creating a calming home away from home. The ship's public space includes the reception lobby with an information desk and small gift shop, and a library with a nice selection of books and the use of computers. The dining room, with its linen tablecloths, features floor-to-ceiling windows; it's bright and beautiful with tables of different configurations to accommodate different sized groups.
The indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace area at the bow of the ship is another feature of the ship and its sister Longship vessels. Here a casual lunch of sandwiches, salads and desserts is served everyday if you don't want to eat in the dining room. The lounge and bar area, with floor-to-ceiling windows, is another excellent area to enjoy a drink and watch the world go by. It is here the evening briefing takes place as well as after-dinner programing.
The sun deck is another fantastic place to spend time when the ship is sailing from port to port. With its 360-degree views and shaded sitting area, putting green and walking track, you can relax or take a few laps.
Viking Lif offers a variety of cabins to fit needs and budget. There are two 445 square-foot-Explorer Suites, which are among the largest at sea, and seven 275 square foot Veranda Suites that are all true suites featuring two rooms with a private veranda in the living room and a French balcony in the bedroom. The line has a variety of upscale amenities, including a 40-inch flat-screen television featuring "view from the bridge," movies on-demand and selected news and other popular channels, bottled water that's replenished daily and free Wi-Fi.
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The restaurant staff is friendly and efficient. The food lacks only in the selection of vegetarian entrees; nonexistent on some evening menus.
One plus for all Viking cruises is their choice of tour guides and included shore excursions, which the line continually revisits. By integrating the culture through local food, people and customs, they are adding an additional layer to the experience beyond seeing landmarks and learning about an area's history.
The general age for river cruise passengers is 60 and older, but Lif and other Longships, with their contemporary design, were built with an eye toward attracting a slightly younger traveler. Regardless of age, passengers tend to be well-traveled (though many are visiting Europe for the first time).
Casual, comfortable attire is encouraged for both ship and shore on Viking Longships. The must-pack item is, without question, a comfortable pair of walking shoes for shore tours. As the ship sails in Europe, with its lovely and historic landscapes, tours frequently involve cobblestones and other uneven surfaces. Both the staff and the daily program provide ample notice when this is the case.
Generally, passengers "dress up" to varying degrees in the evenings, but never to the level of a big-ship formal night. Most don the kind of attire worn at a country club dinner, but others don't bother to change from their sensible shore excursion gear. Save your best outfits (maybe casual dresses for women and collared shirts and blazers for men) for events like the Captain's Welcome and Farewell Dinners.
Thank you Viking, thank you Lif, thank you Leonard!
A jewel of a cruise and a diamond as a cruise director