How to plan for a Viking River Cruise (Hint: It’s very easy)
After you have selected and booked your itinerary you may wonder how to best plan for a Viking River Cruise. Fear not!
Although we hear that ocean cruise lines have ways for you to book shore excursions ahead of your cruise as far as we know only Viking River Cruises has this feature available for river cruises. This is the first year it’s been available and it’s been a great excitement-builder and a helpful planning tool. (Just one example is the weather forecasts which Blonde is using to justify buying an entirely new, and completely unnecessary, wardrobe.)
At some point after you are booked for your cruise Viking River sends you a link to set up an account in “My Viking Journey“.
Use My Viking Journey to plan your river cruise
It’s important to note that you could probably get by doing virtually none of what we’re going to recommend. If you prefer to choose your onshore excursions once you’re on the ship you can still do so. However, it is possible some of the popular extra cost excursions may have already been booked. But, if they can accommodate you, Viking River will find a way to do so. (Like the private tour of the Hermitage we are going to go on. Brag. Brag. Brag.) So even if you’re more commitment-phobic than Blonde you can still review all of the options and get excited about the others that appeal to you the most.
On the first day the planner was available to us we gleefully went through it and looked at the videos about the various excursions and booked everything you could put an “x” next to. Whether we survive the schedule we have created for ourselves remains to be seen.
You can use the planner (or the regular Viking River Cruise website) to see where your cabin is and if you have a veranda, a window or an optional trapeze (possibly not true either). We have a cabin with a veranda for our Waterways of the Tsars cruise – woo hoo!
In most cases this is a part of how to plan for your Viking River cruise that you will want to do prior to booking your cruise but it never hurts to verify that you have what you meant to have.
Projected weather for the day of each activity
Admittedly this forecast could end up being wrong but it gives you a useful guideline for packing. (The outfits the dancers are wearing above seem to be very poor choices for cool, rainy weather which could explain those very serious expressions.)
Other types of options you may want to consider
You can order a premium beverage package, buy travel insurance and manage your flights using the My Viking Journey planner. (We assume that the flight part is only true if you booked your airfare through them.)
If you are planning to celebrate a special occasion onboard you can even plan for that on My Viking Journey.
Buy a guidebook
Every evening on your Viking River Cruise you will be given a briefing about the next day’s activities and information on the area you are going to be visiting. You do not need a guidebook at all to plan for your Viking River cruise.
But we like to buy them as part of the anticipation-building process. If you plan to do a pre or post trip extension a guidebook is a really good idea. Guidebooks can also help you decide how to plan to use free time at your various destinations.
In our case it helped us realize that we won’t be spending a minute or a ruble buying Russian clothing.
Find a reading list for your destination
Notice that we just said to find a reading list; we didn’t say to actually read the recommendations. We are practical! This is the kind of good intention that doesn’t always result in the actual behavior (remember your New Year’s resolutions?).
Just by Googling “reading list for Viking River Waterways of the Tsars” we found that they have a recommended list of historical and fictional books.
Get some packing advice
Viking has some general advice on the Journey Planner site but for more specific inspiration we often check out what other frequent travelers advise. One of our favorite sites is Travel Fashion Girl even though we realize that she is discouragingly younger, buffer and more packing-restrained than we are.
But she has so many ways you can search by destinations, types of travel, beauty “necessities” (cosmetic surgery at our ages) and even travel gear. It’s a very helpful site.
Set up a Google alert for information about your destination
OK, this is quite nerdy but can be interesting just for the information in general or if you’re feeling wary about something. By setting up a Google alert for “Russian Travel” Blonde learned that Vladimir Putin and SpongeBob Square Pants are the two leading stars of Russian television. It could have been very embarrassing to show up without that information.
Get busy driving your friends nuts
For those of us who are chronic travelers it’s hard to find friends who can endure our seemingly never-ending babble about the trips we have taken, want to take and are preparing to take.
Too bad – talk about it anyway! That will provide your friends something valid to complain about you behind your back when you’re gone.
You’ll probably make some new friends on your river cruise and maybe they will be more able to withstand the onslaught of trip-talk.
Maybe; don’t try to talk to us about it, we’re talking about our own trips!