“My Viking Journey” lets clients evaluate onboard dining options before they sail. // © 2016 Viking Cruises
Feature image (above): Services offered on Viking’s online portal include prebooking shore excursions, making payments, printing documents and more. // © 2016 Viking Cruises
As river cruising has matured, it has created more choices for travelers, who can now customize their trips by selecting the activities, food and land options that satisfy their tastes. Where once most guests just took the offered complimentary shore excursions and went to onboard lectures, there are now true dining choices and excursion options, from guided tours to informed independent exploration, bicycle tours and opportunities to meet locals.
This year, Viking Cruises is bringing a feature for prearranging many of these choices to its river ships — a feature originally designed for seagoing passengers. The online portal for “My Viking Journey” is a system that allows guests to book shore excursions after exploring information and visuals; check dining choices; and get the hang of their particular vessel before they leave home. The company has rolled out the tool to all river cruise guests, and it can be accessed as soon as a booking is made.
Viking River Cruises has created a special brochure to introduce the system to its river cruisers, who can get answers for 50 frequently asked questions that let even novice guests know what to expect on their journey and how to prepare for it — creating a match between expectations and reality, a major factor in guest satisfaction. The information is detailed and takes the entire vacation experience into consideration, from packing to post-cruise land stays. Everything from airline luggage policies and tipping to seating at dinner is set forward for the guest, along with information that helps passengers avoid the “I wish I had known” syndrome halfway through the cruise.
Guest information forms can be filled in through My Viking Journey, and passengers can also access and print visa applications and travel itineraries. Additionally, they can book travel insurance and browse and book shore excursions beyond the complimentary choice offered each day; they can make payments and print documents; and, 75 days before departure, they can access their flight details and manage their daily schedules in their personal calendars.
And if it’s true that anticipation makes pleasure more intense, this tool is a gem. Interactive street maps allow travelers to plan their explorations or shopping trips, and there are descriptions of points of interest in the destinations they will visit, along with curated videos and photo galleries.
Guests can even access sample dining menus, including the entree choices that will be available at dinner every night, in addition to the changing selections. There is also the opportunity to check the advantages of upgrades such as Silver Spirits, which covers unlimited premium wines, beers, juices and mineral water for the entire cruise, as well as make such arrangements online.
And exploring the various pre-and post-cruise land options can be very persuasive, even for clients who hadn’t previously considered extending their stay.
Overall, the portal engages travelers with extensive information and affords leisured planning of the details of their cruise before they leave home.