Passengers:190 World's Best 2016 Award Rank: #10River Ship Best for: Adults who loves food, wine, culture, and Scandinavian design
Sails: The Danube River, the Maine River, the Rhine River
At a Glance: A Travel + Leisure World’s Best 2016 winner, placing tenth in the River Ship category. One of Viking’s much-lauded Longships, the Ve debuted in 2015 and continues the line’s tradition of destination-centric river cruises with an emphasis on cuisine and culture.
As befits Viking’s Scandinavian roots, the ship is all blonde woods, light fabrics, and clean lines. Floor-to-ceiling windows are everywhere, from the dining room to the sleek two-deck atrium, flooding the public spaces with light and giving everyone in the room a view of the castles and villages rolling by.
Reflecting the airy design of the rest of the ship, staterooms are filled with earth tones and accents of light gray, and all of the bathrooms have heated floors. Sizes range from 135 square feet for French Balcony rooms to 445 square feet for the two Explorer Suites, each of which has a private wraparound verandah and a French balcony off the bedroom. Seven Veranda Suites (275 square feet) and 39 Veranda Staterooms (205 square feet) also have full balconies, while the 25 Standard staterooms (150 square feet) have a window.
The first sign that this ship takes food seriously: the organic herb garden on the open-air top deck. You’ll find the greens—along with ingredients purchased fresh in each port—in the regionally inspired meals at The Restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, and a three-course dinner at night. For example, in Germany, passengers might be served dishes like forest mushroom velouté and Alsace pink roasted duck. (Classics like steak frites and poached salmon are also served.) For something more casual, head to the indoor-outdoor Aquavit Terrace, for a light breakfast, lunch, or dinner on the bow of the ship. Some tables sit on the deck, while others are more sheltered but located near a retractable glass wall that opens up to the outside on warm days.
To help immerse passengers in the local culture, experts and performers come on board at port. One day it might be folk singers, the next a classical quartet. Or you might take in a lecture on Mozart or learn how to make the perfect Austrian apple strudel.
In keeping with Viking’s no-nickel-and-diming philosophy, everything from unlimited WiFi to beer, house wine, and soft drinks at lunch and dinner are wrapped into your cruise fare. And so are many shore excursions, such as a guided tour of Vienna and a visit to Austria’s Melk Abbey. More involved outings—such as a home-hosted visit in Bratislava—generally cost extra.