4 November 2014

SHIP REVIEW: Viking Buri

Stateroom on Viking Buri.
Photo: Viking River Cruises
Viking Buri is a Longship-class vessel identical to Viking Hemdal and Viking Hermod, which also sail the Rhone. Viking first debuted its Longships in 2012 to critical acclaim for their design and technology; Buri was launched in March this year. That makes it the largest and newest ship in Europe, carrying 190 passengers and featuring a sleek, almost minimalist Scandinavian design that sensibly dispenses with fuss and amenities (such as a gym) that are seldom used. The result is glass-enclosed, light-filled, spacious public areas, with colours in muted browns and white and sophisticated lighting creating a décor that recalls contemporary boutique hotels.
Viking Buri’s sundeck stretches across the entire ship, with organic herb garden, putting green and walking track, as well as abundant shaded seating against the Provençal sun. The Observation Lounge – the social hub of the ship thanks to its seating and bar – has floor-to-ceiling windows that further allow every glimpse of passing scenery. However, the library area, which occupies the back of older Viking ships, now appears as a cramped afterthought in the upstairs lobby.
Informal dining space on Viking Buri.
Photo: Viking River Cruises
On-board entertainment reinforces Viking’s educational ethos and aims at understanding local culture. Passengers are well-travelled yet still enquiring; the mostly American retirees are increasingly being joined by British, Australians and steadily younger passengers.
DINING Panoramic windows mean you won’t miss the scenery from the elegant but casual dining room, where open seating encourages mingling. Food is very fresh and high in quality but unadventurous, with only occasional forays into regional cuisine; no chance of escargots here. Three-course dinners are more formal than buffet-style breakfasts and lunch.
ACCOMMODATION Standard staterooms have no room for seats and only portholes; it’s worth investing in a Veranda Stateroom if the budget stretches. Suites are the largest on Europe’s rivers. Excellent showers and heated bathroom floors are a pleasure, and overall the cabins are stylish, comfortable and immaculately maintained by hardworking stewards.

Aquavit Terrace on a Viking Longdhip.
Photo: Viking River Cruises
HIGHLIGHTS Aquavit Terrace at the ship’s bow is a delight, providing an indoor-outdoor space for watching the passing scenery or enjoying an al fresco meal as an alternative to more formal dining. Energy-efficient hybrid engines are surprisingly quiet and low on vibrations. Invariably friendly and enthusiastic Viking staff are, as always, a standout.

Have you been on the Viking Buri or a similar Longship? We'd love to hear your comments.

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