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A Dutch Arrival and the beautiful Viking Odin
Our Live Trip Report officially kicks off today, as we traveled to Amsterdam to stay onboard and experience Viking River Cruises stunning new Viking Odin, part of a massive newbuid order that will see twelve of these new “Longships” added to the feet by 2014.
Before we begin, though, I have to say a few kind words about Lufthansa. They’ve been my transatlantic carrier of choice for a while now, partly because of their modern fleet but mainly because of their friendly service and convenient connections. In December, I was irrevocably spoiled when they put me in business class and yesterday, aboard the same aircraft no less, I suddenly found myself bumped from Economy Class to Business Class.
I don’t know if it was good luck, happenstance, or if my name is on some wonderful, magical list – but either way, I was always taught to be grateful for what I have, and I was more than grateful for the upgrade that allowed me four hours of sleep before a very busy day. So I have to give credit where credit is due – it’s just good karma.
It’s a good thing I got all that sleep, because the chic Viking Odin awaited me at the Port of Amsterdam. We’re tied up alongside several other Viking River Cruises vessels. Already, preparations are underway for tomorrow’s christening ceremonies, with red and white balloons lining the decks and red-carpet gangplanks set up.
But today was all about exploring Viking Odin top to bottom, and here’s the lowdown: she’s a beautiful ship. You’d be hard-pressed to see so much wall-to-wall glass in any other ship, and the two-story foyer, with its modern Grand Staircase and beautiful skylight, gives Viking Odin an almost ethereal appearance inside. Glass doors whirr open everywhere automatically; in fact, the only door I have to physically turn a handle to operate is in my stateroom.
I’m in one of the French Balcony staterooms on Main Deck 2. My handy Viking River Cruises brochure says they’re 135 square feet, but they feel more spacious than that, thanks to some clever design features like glass sliding closet and bathroom doors, and an inlaid flat-panel Sony television that’s the largest I’ve seen on a ship.
There’s also plenty of drawers and storage space, though my closet has a strange L-shaped protrusion in the closet that makes it tough to hang the suit jacket and four shirts I brought with me. But believe me when I say this is a very minor detail; for a couple looking to relax with a view of the waterways of Europe, these French Balcony staterooms fit the bill. They’re also noticeably modern in design, with thoughtful touches like dimmer switches on the lights, lights in the closet that turn on when the doors are opened, and a digital thermostat.
Viking Odin still has that luxuriant “new ship” smell, and already her first passengers are settling into their shipboard routines. Cocktails were held in the Viking Lounge between 5pm and 7pm, with information on tomorrow’s activities held at 6pm.
This was followed by a sumptuous Norwegian-themed dinner that featured plenty of adventurous dishes for those willing to sample a taste of the Vikings, but which also had plenty of dishes for those with less daring palettes.
This evening, passengers aboard Viking Odin could take in a tour of the Bols Distillery or visit Amsterdam’s famous Red Light District. Being my first time to Amsterdam, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to witness firsthand the very essence of this Dutch city’s “live and let live” attitude.
As with most river cruises, guests have QuietVox headsets to use when touring to allow you to hear your guide at all times. This evening, our groups were small enough that we didn’t have to use these handy devices. Instead, we strolled along the Red Light District while our guide gave us a history of this area, one of the oldest in Amsterdam. The evening was capped off with a drink at a local pub.
Walking along the narrow alleyways bathed in crimson light, I couldn’t help but feel this is what Paris or Berlin must have felt like in their heydays. One building even had tinted lanterns outside that contrasted with the neon-clad girls in their brightly-lit windows, and there was a swanky restaurant around the corner filled with well-dressed men in business suits. If anything, Amsterdam is a city of contrasts.
After touring Amsterdam, it was back to the beautiful Viking Odin for a nightcap with friends before returning to my comfortable stateroom. Come to think of it, that plush bed is calling my name.
After all, tomorrow promises to be quite the day for all of us – and for Viking Odin and her sister, Viking Idun, docked just behind us.
Our Live Trip Report from aboard the new Viking Odin continues tomorrow as we celebrate the christening ceremonies of this fantastic new ship. Want to get in on the river cruise action? Be sure to pay a visit to the Viking River Cruises website for all the details on the new Longships, and our very own sister-site, River Cruise Advisor!
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