Viking’s new river Longship

Joanna Lumley launches Viking Cruises’ absolutely fabulous new Longship

It’s hard to say which was the most impressive: Viking River Cruises’ new Longship ship the Viking Odin, or its godmother, the absolutely fabulous Joanna Lumley.

Viking Longship OdinOn the one hand, Viking Odin had an intoxicating mix of Scandinavian design and American luxury, but on the day four Viking Longships were launched simultaneously in Amsterdam and Rostock, Joanna Lumley’s christening speech had the wit and personality that made you proud to be a fellow Brit.

“I’ve never been godmother to a god before,” she announced, gleefully, “and Odin is the biggest Viking god of them all!”

The Viking Odin’s all-new, contemporary interior has a two-deck atrium lobby with a glass ceiling that feels open to the skies, and an Aquavit lounge with retractable glass roof that actually can open to the skies – you can bask in the sunshine either indoors or out.

Walls of glass slide away on the Aquavit TerraceThe ship’s clever design gives guests a wider choice of cabins and suites, most with proper sit-outside balconies and all – even the lower deck cabins without balconies – with heavenly beds, top-notch bathroom fittings, a large flat TV screen and free Wi-Fi. It’s a standard of luxury that Americans demand and increasingly get on river cruise ships.

The actress has become one of Britain’s best-loved TV travel presenters thanks to her programmes on cruising down the Nile, seeing the Northern Lights and unravelling the Greek gods legends.

Her experiences on ships started as “an Army brat” following her father around the world in “old tubs” where “we had one orange a day to keep the scurvy away and our biggest joy was playing deck quoits”.

Viking River Cruises couldn’t be more different. The Viking Odin was one of four new longboats being launched in March – two moored next to the cruise passenger terminal at Amsterdam’s old harbour and two at the shipyard in Rostock, Germany. Viking Idun, Viking Freya and Viking Njord are identically stylish and comfortable (with their own lovely, but rather less famous, godmothers).

Veranda stateroom accommodationThey will be joined by two more Viking Longships this summer, and six more next year with an option for another six in 2014.

“It’s a big day for Viking River Cruises,” announced proud owner Thor Hagen. “We started in Russia 15 years ago with nothing. This year we will have 23 ships of a world-class nature.”

The four new ships were designed by the team responsible for luxury sea cruise company Seabourn, and feature the designers’ signature stylish colours – mostly ochre and taupe – and their amazing use of glass to let in maximum light.

Viking Longship Odin sailing on the Rhine riverAs well as cabins with real balconies, the ships also have an internet station with computers for general use and a small library, and of course there’s a large restaurant with room to seat everybody at the same time, plus a comfortable lounge and bar with the conservatory-like Aquavit Terrace attached.

Thor Hagen, an extremely likeable Norwegian, described the Longships as “a quantum leap” adding: “These ships are trendsetters, they will revolutionise the market.”

Of course, he’s absolutely right, and as Joanna Lumley’s character Patsy would say: “It’s fabulous darling.”

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Viking River Cruises.

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Deborah Stone

Travel writer & journalist

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