Viking River Cruises operates a well-oiled travel machine and sailings on Alsvin are no exception. The logistics of the pre- and post-cruise extensions are executed smoothly from arrival to departure. Both included and optional activities are scheduled in Paris and Prague. Comfortable motor coaches transport guests to and from the ship for the eleven-night cruise that is the centerpiece of the cruise tours.
In Norse mythology, Alsvin (meaning quick-footed or rapid goer) was one of two steeds that pulled the chariot of the sun across the sky. Art throughout the ship is equine-themed in homage to its mythological namesake amid a decor that is soothing and understated in Scandinavian style. Colors throughout the ship are tan, gray and pale steel blue. Floor-to ceiling glass doors and windows lend an expansiveness to the public spaces.
That expansiveness, combined with plenty of outdoor space on the top deck and comfortable cabins (many with balconies), fosters an uncrowded atmosphere to the ship. Meals and activities are scheduled to create a smooth flow of passengers from one point to another, avoiding long lines and bottlenecks.
Both included and optional port tours consist of guided walking tours, motor coach tours or combinations of both. When needed, tours are divided into smaller groups, with one group usually created for “leisure” walkers, where the tour utilizes shortcuts to reduce the overall length of the walk while also avoiding stairs or inclines where possible. An estimate of the walking distance and the number of stairs involved in the next day’s tour is explained each evening by the program manager.
Because the ship frequently docks near city centers, it is easy to skip the ship’s tours and venture out on your own, either on foot or by taxi. City maps are available for each stop at the reception desk on the Middle Deck (Deck 2). Staff at the reception desk are both knowledgeable and eager to assist with plans you would like to make in any city along the way.
Food onboard Alsvin was wonderful. Breakfast and lunch are served buffet style, and both lunch and dinner include regional specialties as the cruise progresses. Local beer and wine are served during lunch and dinner. Snacks consist of pastries and cookies located at two self-serve beverage stations. When I first met the chef I talked to him with a little Tagalog and that cemented a good relationship.
One shore excursion is included in each port of call, including the pre- and post-cruise extensions. The excursions are usually an overview of the port and its history. Points of interest are visited, either on foot or as drive-bys in motor coaches. One wine tasting excursion may also be included. Bottled water is handed out at the beginning of each tour during the cruise portion of the trip.