Viva River Cruises – The Best River Cruise Line You’ve Never Heard Of
River cruising has been one of the fastest growing sectors of the travel industry over the past decade,
Photo caption: Andrea Kruse, COO Viva River Cruises
with seemingly dozens of new ships taking to the world’s waterways each year. One would think that perhaps there is enough capacity to handle the demand, unless of course you are Andrea Kruse, President of the year-old Viva River Cruises.
While a new cruise company, the owners of Viva are no strangers to river cruising. Scylla Group is one of the biggest builders of river cruise ships, supplying ships for some very familiar industry names like Tauck River Cruises and Riviera River Cruises. In fact, many of the ships these companies charter are part of Viva’s fleet. Familiar names in their fleet include the MS Lord Byron, MS Jane Austen, MS Inspire and MS Swiss Crown, to name a few. And while Viva’s 4-star cruises offer a slightly different set of amenities, many of the ships they sail are 5-star ships. Best yet, a look at their rate schedule reveals very competitive pricing, often comparable to 2 and 3-star lines‘ rates. Their pricing structure is straightforward with set pricing and no early bird or last minute price changes.
For their inaugural year of 2019, Viva River Cruises focused on shoulder and off-season itineraries of 4-7 nights. Their 10 ship fleet consists of ships from the aforementioned cruise lines, and others not in use during these seasons. Viva’s philosophy is to put to market an all-inclusive product including: full board, gratuities, wifi, alcoholic and soft drinks, coffee specialities, as well as a fully stocked mini-bar in cabins. With a focus on seasonal produce and creatively interpreted classic dishes, the ships’ dining rooms offer open seating with no rigid times, and a multi-course á la carte menu. What is not included in the all-inclusive pricing are shore excursions. Kruse believes that her guests should have the option of getting off the ship and exploring on their own, without the cost of excursions being built into their cruise fare. However, a full range of specially curated excursions are available for guests desiring that option. Excursions are value priced, with most coming in under $60pp.
2020 Year Round Cruising
Viva will launch an aggressive growth strategy in 2020 that will see the launch of their first Viva branded ship, Viva Tiara. Due to go into 2 months of drydock for total renovation in January, she will emerge as a 4-star ship with 76 cabins, featuring french balconies on Diamond and Ruby decks. Her inaugural 2020 season will see itineraries on the Rhine and Danube. In June of 2021, Viva will launch their first new build, the Viva One, followed soon after by the Viva Two. In the meantime, Viva will sail 120 cruises in 2020 on its 10 ship fleet.
2021 will also see the launch of Viva’s first expedition ship, the MS Seaventure (formerly the MS Bremen). The ship will sail its maiden voyage from Amsterdam on May 15, 2021, arriving in Hamburg on May 21st. From there the ship will sail 13 unique itineraries including: Iceland, the Brazilian Rainforest, Greenland, Canada, the Baltic and others. The sailings are available to book now and bookings made before the end of February 2020 earn a 10% discount. Commissions are from 10% with group allocations and net rates available.
Twinkling Lights and Laissez-faire on the Rhone
JAX FAX recently sailed on the MS Lord Byron for a 4-night cruise from Lyon to Viviers on the Rhone River. The ship was festively decorated for the holidays, and although it was a little cool to make use of the upper deck plunge pool, many guests did enjoy a beautiful sunny afternoon on deck as we sailed from our final port of Viviers and transited several massive locks. Staterooms feature floor to ceiling windows with the two upper decks offering french balconies with sliding doors. The rooms came complete with stocked mini-bar, two good sized closets, a dresser, an ample sized bathroom with large walk-in shower, a table and chairs, and a very comfortable bed.
Our excursions included a culinary walking tour of the Presqu’île peninsula of Lyon, a visit to the Lyon Christmas market, a cooking class and a meal in Tournon at celebrity chef Anne Sofie Pic’s three Michelin star restaurant, Maison Pic. The medieval town of Viviers, established in the 5th century, is a great place to explore by foot. The narrow, twisted passages inside the walled city lead up the hill to the Viviers Cathedral, overlooking the Rhone
Meals on the ship were excellent. A breakfast and lunch buffet was available as well as menu items, and dinner featured an á la carte menu with at least 3 choices of entree, including vegetarian.
Enjoy The Moment
“Enjoy the Moment” is the motto of Viva Cruises. Kruse believes premium ships should be a place of discovery for their guests. “On board, passengers experience a laid-back atmosphere with modern stylish ships designed to appeal to both the young and young at heart. Each cruise will feature one “special moment” that will surprise and delight our guests,” explains Kruse. Visit www.viva-cruises.com/us