Viva Cruises has now been sailing for five years, and the company is making a push to get more travelers from North America onto its riverboats.
“We are not a German line, but an international cruise line,” said Andrea Kruse, COO of Viva Cruises, which is based in Dusseldorf.
Viva Cruises is a new standalone brand for Scylla AG, the longtime river cruise ship operator that charters vessels for Tauck, Riviera River Cruises, Nicko Cruises and Phoenix Reisen.
Viva Two is the line’s second newbuild, following Viva One. That makes six ships in the Viva Cruises fleet overall, with another one in the works.
I cruised for a week on the Danube River onboard the line’s new ship, Viva Two, and, indeed, I found the ship’s design and overall program will give clients an incredibly satisfying experience. It’s ideal for travelers who enjoy an international blend of passengers (sometimes, this makes for a real European adventure).
Plus, the pricing for the ship’s first season is a deal.
Viva’s program is all-inclusive. Clients will find great value when compared with other lines, because the hassle-free fares include excursions, drinks all day, gratuities and Wi-Fi access.
Our seven-day Danube Metropolis itinerary started at around $1,850, compared with similar itineraries on Viking ($2,100), Avalon Waterways ($2,100) and AmaWaterways ($3,399). Other, shorter Danube itineraries are even less expensive (four-night cruises begin at $750, per person).
Staterooms and Decor
Viva Two’s standard French Balcony Cabins compare favorably to staterooms on Viking’s Longships. Cabins measure 150 square feet and feature a walk-in shower, plenty of wardrobe space, a large flat-screen television and a minifridge that can be stocked with guests’ preferred drinks.
The decor is modern and elegant. Large windows line the bar and lounge area on Deck 3 (Diamond Deck), as well as the lobby on Deck 2 (Ruby Deck), to let in plenty of light. The feel is elegant and comfortable.
Amenities include a small, heated pool on the Sun Deck, a fleet of 12 bikes, a spa with a sauna, a steam room and spa massage treatments, along with a fitness center. A boutique sells a range of clothes and jewelry.
The dining onboard Viva Two stands out. Viva Two is the line’s first ship with three restaurants; it adds Moments on Deck 1 (Emerald Deck), which offers buffet breakfasts and lunches, along with a five-course, wine-pairing dinner in a space that seats up to 60.
Riverside is the main restaurant, and Viva’s Bistro is a casual eatery for lunch and dinner (seafood specialties) that seats up to 30.
The menu offers a flavorful mix of regional delights and tasty favorites. We had schnitzel while in Vienna and goulash in Budapest, as well as tasty comfort foods such as fried chicken, lasagna al forno and gourmet cheeseburgers.
Viva Two chefs also create dishes made with veal, pork belly, duck, fish, lobster and steak. I found a good variety of healthy fare with vegan options listed on the menu for every meal, as well as salads, nuts, seeds, muesli, fresh fruit and a daily fruit smoothie.
Clients should note that there are no U.S. outlets or USB charging ports available, and cruisers must bring an adapter to power devices. And the stateroom televisions do not offer shows or movies on demand.
However, Kruse says the line is continuing to make adjustments to accommodate the tastes and preferences of its guests from North America.