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May 13, 2022
Viking Cruises: Ocean or River?


A Viking river longship (river ships are purpose-built for the destination; this one is for European rivers)


A Viking ocean ship (all Viking ocean ships are identical; though the Orion and Jupiter also have planetariums)

We have sailed on numerous Viking ocean cruises as guest enrichment lecturers and workshop hosts. Our recent Grand European Tour is our first Viking river cruise. In this post, we will discuss some of the similarities and differences between ocean and river.


This image shows a river longship and ocean ship in relative scale

First, here are some of the things that make Viking cruises different from other brands:


River grand staircase, looking up


River grand staircase, looking down


Ocean grand staircase, looking up


Ocean grand staircase, looking down

As the company chairman says, Viking is “the thinking person’s cruise.” You take a Viking cruise because you want to learn about the places you visit: the history, culture, art and science.

Viking basically invented modern river cruising. They entered ocean cruising in 2015 and immediately shot to the top of “best of” lists, a distinction they have held ever since.


Both river and ocean ships feature similar motifs and bright, airy Scandinavian designs. Here is the river bar, with the “clinker-built” overlapping wood plank construction used on classic Viking ships


And here is the ocean bar, echoing the same design


River lounge


Ocean has two lounges. This is the “Living Room” (there is also an “Explorer’s Lounge”)

So… would you prefer a Viking ocean cruise or a Viking river cruise? That depends on your taste and preferences. Here are some of the major differences we noticed. Neither side is better or worse; they are just different.


River main restaurant


Ocean main restaurant


River Aquavit outdoor terrace


Ocean Aquavit outdoor terrace


River Aquavit enclosed terrace


Ocean’s enclosed terrace is “Wintergarden,” where tea is served every afternoon


Ocean’s self-service buffet is for more casual dining

So… do we prefer an ocean cruise or a river cruise? Well, Viking ocean cruises have this great enrichment lecturer named Russell, and this great workshop host named Gail…


River Guest Services


Ocean Guest Services


River library


Ocean has several libraries spread throughout the ship


River lectures are held in the lounge


Ocean lectures are held in the Star Theatre

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