On a cruise ship
CruiseClout score: 95.0
Viking Helvetia: Ship overview & photo tour
As far as river cruise boats go, Viking Helvetia is a bit older, as she entered service in 2006. With that said, onboard service, quality tours and good food are standard across the fleet and reflect the brand, which has has received numerous awards for its itineraries and innovative ship designs and onboard programming.
Who will like sailing on Viking Helvetia
Viking River Cruises attracts an older demographic that is continuously getting younger. If you have an interest in exploring art, culture or history, then sailing on Viking Helvetia will make an ideal vacation, especially with the onboard educational activities available.
Other options: Viking river ships ply the rivers of Europe, Russia, Egypt and Asia, and Viking is introducing an ocean-going fleet starting later in 2015. See other Viking ships.
For guests who want a river cruise experience that's more upscale — less crowded, more amenities, often bigger cabins — you may want to check out itineraries from AmaWaterways, Uniworld or Scenic Cruises. But remember, Viking is one of the most popular river cruise lines in the world and remains a good choice if you're just beginning to try river cruising.
Where Viking Helvetia sails
Viking Helvetia sails the Rhine River, to or from Amsterdam, Netherlands and Basel, Switzerland.
River cruising: It's about destination immersion
River cruising is about the destination probably more so than the ship. The ports of call shadow the onboard amenities; however, Viking helps guests learn about the local culture, history and highlights of the places that they visit. Don't be surprised to see local dishes on the menu or local entertainers sharing their music, dancing and stories.
Viking Helvetia includes daily tours with the cruise fare, which makes the hassle of figuring out logistics less challenging. Most tours are done around lunch and then you are free to do what you choose until the ship leaves port. You'll be given a nightly briefing in the evening before dinner to get updates on the next day’s call to discuss the upcoming day’s activities, tours and logistics. Plan to attend the session to discover highlights of the upcoming town's history, art, food, music and architecture.
Viking Helvetia has one restaurant. The atmosphere is casual yet elegant. When Helvetia is not scheduled to leave port until later in the evening, treat yourself to a night on the town and sample cuisine at a nearby restaurant (at your own expense, but a nice way to experience the local culture.)
For breakfast, there is an ample buffet with a lot of variety. You can choose from a selection of pastries, cereals, breakfast meats, egg dishes, fresh fruit and selected cheeses. At lunch, select from the soup and sandwich bar, or from a choice of entrées and dessert. And for dinner, expect a five-course menu with regional specialties.
There are 99 outside staterooms on Viking Helvetia (37 are French Balcony Staterooms). Overall, cabins are average size for a river boat (most approximately 170 square feet, with a few measuring 151 square feet), but there is plenty of closet space and extra storage available under the bed.
In general, top deck cabins will fetch higher prices, so be on the lookout for upgrade offers and booking incentives to make them more attainable. The higher the deck, the better the views and the less likely you will hear noise from the engine.
Entertainment & activities
River cruising is very mellow. There are not any large production shows or comedy clubs. What you will enjoy is some light piano music played by the house musician and local entertainers who are brought onto the ship to sing, dance or tell stories from the local perspective. After dinner, people hang out in the lounge and have an after-dinner drink, or they can walk back into town if the ship is not leaving port until later in the evening.
To complement your onshore excursions, take part in immersive learning and enhancement activities both on board and ashore. Programming can include cooking classes, lectures about significant historical events or traditional performances of folk music and dance. Don't miss the onboard opportunities to discover local tastes such as sampling local cheeses, coffees, liqueurs, beers and other delicacies (Christmas cookies and Gluwein, for example, during a Christmas Markets cruise).
Have you cruised on Viking Helvetia? What was it like? We'd love to hear about your own experience.
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Interested in a cruise on this ship?
Top highlights on this ship
- Obervation lounge and bar
- Tours included in the price
- Free WiFi
Top dining options on board
“Nicely outfitted, Viking Helvetia has an airy comfortable design scheme that’s an excellent choice for a high-quality river cruise. The cuisine is good and varied, but the ‘wow’ factor is missing.”