Viking Vilhjalm Review: Festive Christmas Cruise on the Danube

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The Viking Viljhalm longship that travels between Budapest, Hungary and Passau, Germany.
The Viking Viljhjalm longship travels between Budapest, Hungary and Passau, Germany. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

Shortly after checking in at reception on the elegant Viking Viljhalm longship docked in Budapest, my daughter Christina and I were escorted to our stateroom. Our luggage arrived a few minutes later. Christina and I were excited to experience our first Viking river cruise as well as our first European Christmas markets.

The Viking Viljhalm sails along the Danube from Budapest, Hungary, to Passau, Germany, with port stops in Bratislava, Slovakia, and Vienna, Linz and Krems in Austria. For our Viking Danube Christmas Delights cruise, the Viljhalm was festively decorated for the holidays with garland, ornaments and a Christmas tree.

Since all fees are paid upfront (and we booked our shore excursions in advance), we enjoyed a relaxing and exciting week onboard Viking Viljhalm. The staff was friendly and the service was impeccable.

Viking’s all-inclusive fares cover one complimentary shore excursion, free beer, wine and soft drinks with onboard lunch and dinner, free wifi, port taxes and fees. Ground transfers are included with the purchase of Viking Air. Additional shore excursions, and pre- and post-cruise stays are available for purchase.

Read More: A Merry Viking River Cruise from Budapest

The Viking Viljham ship offers the option to dine indoors at the Al fresco and outdoor at the Aquavit Terrace.  indoor/outdoor
Al fresco dining on the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace. Photo courtesy: Viking

Viking Longships

The elegant Viking Viljhalm is among the river cruise company’s longships that sail in Europe. The 433-foot Viljhalm launched in 2016 and has the same design as the first longships that debuted in 2012. Reflecting Viking’s Norwegian heritage, these streamlined ships easily navigate the Danube and numerous locks – an exciting feature of a river cruise. The Viljhalm longship comfortably accommodates 190 guests and 53 crew members.

Like the other longships, the Viljhalm has four decks. The Main Deck (staterooms without balconies), Middle Deck (staterooms with balconies/verandas, restaurant, guest services and a shop), Upper Deck (staterooms with balconies, verandas, lounge, bar, Aquavit Terrace and library), and Sun Deck. There’s an elevator that travels from the Middle to Upper Deck.

The ship’s spacious public spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows and doors create a bright and airy environment for a scenic sailing experience. And a smooth and quiet sailing thanks to the ecologically friendly hybrid engines that produce less vibration.

Viking Viljhalm's Veranda Stateroom offers generous storage room.
A Veranda Stateroom has a small sitting area and generous storage space. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

Types of Staterooms

The Viljhalm’s 95 staterooms have private balconies and/or verandas and range in size from 135 square feet for a standard room to 445 square feet for an Explorer Suite.

We stayed in a Veranda Stateroom, which measures 205 square feet including the balcony with floor-to-ceiling windows. The beds in the staterooms feature plush king beds but can be configured for two twins, which is what we requested.

After we unpacked, utilizing ample dresser drawers and closets, we stowed our luggage under our beds to free up floor space. There was plenty of space for each of us to have our own side of the room to dress and primp for dinner.

Room amenities include a mini fridge, a flat-screen TV with an infotainment system featuring live TV channels, complimentary Movies on Demand and in-ship programming. Bottled water is replenished daily. While the bathroom was somewhat compact, it had premium bath amenities.

We enjoyed our balcony although our December sailing made it chilly to stay outside for long. However the floor-to-ceiling windows made it easy to watch the passing scenery from inside our room.

Read More: Corinthia Hotel Review: Luxury Stay Pre-Cruise in Budapest

Viking Viljhalm's Main Deck atrium that houses the reception desk where guests check in and out of the shore.
Bright and airy atrium. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

Elegant Atrium

Located on the Main Deck, the spacious atrium has a reception desk, guest services and a small shop. It’s also where you check in and out for shore excursions.

Take your lunch at the Aquiavit Terrace in the Viking Viljhalm that's located at the bow.
Aquavit Terrace. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

Aquavit Terrace

Located at the bow, the indoor/outdoor Aquavit Terrace is a lovely space for a casual breakfast or lunch. Whether you sit indoors, which has floor-to-ceiling windows and doors, or outdoors on the terrace for al fresco dining, you’ll get great views of the passing scenery.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The Aquavit Terrace is one of the best places to watch the ship pass through locks.

Watch the Salzburg Sound of Music Singers perform in the Lounge of the Viking Viljhalm.
The Salzburg Sound of Music Singers perform in the Lounge. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff


Adjacent to the Aquavit Terrace is the Lounge, a spacious, inviting area with comfortable seating areas, a bar and a dance floor. During the day, people hang out reading a book or chatting with friends. It becomes more lively later in the evening when people gather for cocktails, port talks and after-dinner entertainment. Evening shows feature regional performers, sing-a-longs, trivia games, and music by Viljhalm’s onboard musician.

The main dining room of the Ciking Viljhalm where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the main dining room. Photo courtesy: Viking

Main Restaurant

Meals are served in the main restaurant. Christina and I agreed the ship’s food was superb and exceeded our expectations. The menu features regional cuisine and chef specialties. For example, while in Austria, the chef’s tasting platter included pumpkin seed-crusted chicken thigh, braised beef, cheese-filled sausage, potato salad, dumplings, red cabbage and sauerkraut.

Throughout the week, there was a buffet and omelet station or you could order eggs, pancakes, French toast and other items from the menu. Lunch and dinner entrees included daily classic items (salads, cheeseburgers (including vegan), hot dogs, steak, etc) and regional dishes (goulash, soups, pasta, sausages, chicken paprikash, etc).

Complimentary beverages including beer and wine are served with meals. We upgraded to the Silver Spirits drink package ($25 per person, per day), which offers premium wine, champagne, cocktails and aperitifs.

Play games, catch up on emails and read comfortably at the Viking Viljhalm's library.
The library offers a comfortable place to read, play a game or catch up on emails. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff


On the ship’s Upper Deck, there’s a cozy library (with books and games) and two computers.

Cath the panoramic views of passing sceneries at the Viking Viljhalm's sundeck.
The sundeck offers panoramic views of passing scenery. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff


Although our Viking Veranda stateroom had a delightful private balcony, we often went up to the sun deck for spectacular 360-degree views. While cruising through Austria’s enchanting Wachau Valley, the ship’s program director pointed out castle ruins, vineyards, and charming towns.

The top deck has a walking track and lounge chairs.

Scenes of the Wachau Valley in Austria from the Viking Viljhalm
Cruising through the scenic Wachau Valley in Austria. Photo credit: Mimi Slawoff

Where does Viking Villhalm sail?

The ship sails from Budapest, Hungary to Passau, Germany, and from Passau to Budapest.

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Native Angeleno and seasoned travel journalist Mimi Slawoff writes for numerous print and digital publications. She is also the author of Oldest Los Angeles (Reedy Press, 2022). A lifelong world traveler, Mimi is an award-winning journalist who writes about outdoor adventures, cruises, Europe and cultural activities. Mimi has three grown kids and lives with her husband and their dog, Maya, in Los Angeles.
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