Viking Hild's Lobby // © 2017 Viking River Cruises
Feature image (above): An aerial view of the longship // © 2017 Viking River Cruises
Launch: March 2017
Sailings: 12-day Paris to the Swiss Alps (Paris to Zurich) on the Moselle and Rhine rivers; eight-day Rhine Getaway on the Rhine (Amsterdam to Basel, Switzerland)
In Norse mythology, Hild was a Valkyrie who had the power to resurrect the dead and choose who would live and die in battle. Though named after the formidable goddess, Viking Longship Hild commands the Rhine River with a force I’d consider more “strong female figure” and less “terrifyingly intimidating.” The vessel is the latest from Viking River Cruises, along with sister ship Viking Longship Herja, both christened this March.
Nonetheless, there was something about the intimacy of the 190-passenger vessel that made me feel like my fellow cruisers and I somehow held dominion over the direction the sleek ship would take, as if we were subsumed into the ship’s very essence when we stepped onboard. This is a credit to the inimitable staff, who so amicably tend to guests that cruisers are seamlessly integrated into the fabric of ship life.
Design and Amenities
Viking’s streamlined Longship model also helps guests settle in easily. The clean lines of Scandinavian design, paired with a muted color palette and an efficient use of space, create an ambiance the company calls “understated luxury.”
Perhaps nowhere was this clearer to me than the Observation Lounge, which offers a bar; comfortable seating and tables for working, chatting, dining or all of the above; a pianist to serenade guests; and entry to the Aquavit Terrace, where passengers can relax alfresco while taking in sublime views of the Rhine.
Of course, one of the pleasures of river cruising is shore excursions, and Hild’s itineraries promise passengers access to some of Europe’s most charming and historical cities. Two of the high points of my mini-cruise from Koblenz, Germany, to Strasbourg, France, were visits to the latter city, as well as to Mainz, nestled at the confluence of the Rhine and Main rivers in Germany.
A favorite stop of guests, Strasbourg offers culture, history and, most important, food and wine. During the Taste the Best of Alsace excursion (available for an additional fee), cruisers will visit French merchants to sample delicacies such as cheeses, chocolates, gingerbread, freshly made pretzels and more, then taste wine with a sommelier and receive a lesson from a local chef on how to make tarte flambee.
During the included shore excursion in Mainz, guests will stand in awe of the stunning blue windows created by artist Marc Chagall in St. Stephen’s Church. They’ll also dive headfirst into the rich history of moveable type and browse rare, original prints of Johannes Gutenberg’s original Bible at the Gutenberg Museum.