Crossing the threshold of the new Viva Two riverboat, I read the sign at the entrance: “Enjoy the Moment.”
That’s exactly what I did on my weeklong cruise on the Danube River. I enjoyed every moment of it.
Christened in Düsseldorf, Germany, on March 23, the 195-passenger, 52-crew Viva Two features 95 stylish and comfortable cabins. The seventh ship in the fleet, Viva Two’s parent company is the 50-year-old riverboat builder Scylla which has built vessels for some of the best-known river cruise brands.
“We are still young and just celebrated our fifth birthday,” says Andrea Kruse, chief operating officer for Viva Cruises. “Viva is more or less my child. I have been with Viva since the beginning of founding.”
Viva Cruises is scheduled to launch its new riverboat, Viva Enjoy, in 2024. That makes a new vessel for three years in a row – Viva One in 2022, Viva Two in 2023 and Viva Enjoy in 2024. Viva Enjoy will first set sail on a 12-night inaugural cruise on September 22, 2024, leaving from Frankfurt, Germany, and heading to Vienna, Austria.
“We have grown quickly,” Andrea says. “Viva Enjoy will be our eighth vessel and will be virtually identical in design to Viva Two so guests know in a certain way what to expect.”
Based in Düsseldorf, Viva Cruises originally catered to a primarily European clientele but has now expanded to the United States market. On my cruise, the passengers were mostly American and German with some Scandinavians. Shipboard announcements were given in both English and German. Printed materials were in both languages. Tours were separated according to language. It all seemed to work just fine.
Offering Year-Round Cruises
“We are a little different and different is good,” says John Dennis, vice president of sales and marketing North America for Viva Cruises. “We operate on full year-round cruises and that is different. We are the only cruise line that operates year-round in Europe.”
Other cruise lines generally cease operation between January and March. Since Viva Cruises operates year-round, passengers get to see rivers and cities apart from the busy season when crowds are smaller and the weather is cooler.
Another plus is that Viva Two is an all-inclusive cruise. “It is not designed to nickel and dime people. It is truly all inclusive,” John says. “That means it’s an open bar.”
The all-inclusive concept includes complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, stocked stateroom minibar, WiFi, tips and gratuities, snacks and meals in the ship’s three restaurants, use of the tiled steam room and infrared sauna and one excursion in every port.
Steam room and sauna
Open Airy Decor
The exterior of Viva Two is sleek and modern. Inside, the Viva Two has a bright and airy split-level design with a curved staircase and panoramic windows for wonderful river views.
The décor offers a warm color scheme of blues, beiges and browns. Light woods and subdued lighting makes the interior feel even brighter and more open. Flowers and plants add a nice touch of greenery.
A small boutique carries a good range of jewelry and clothing. The spa has a fitness center, sauna, steam room and massage treatment room.
The sun deck offers plenty of seating, either in shaded areas or unshaded. There is also a small heated pool on the upper deck which I think would be great to relax in during cooler months and watch the shore sights pass by. Bicycles are available for rides during port stops.
My Deck 2 Stateroom
Seeing the stateroom where I’m going to stay the next week is always exciting and my Viva Two home is a beauty. Cabin attendant Saputra welcomed me and asked if I would like my complimentary bottle of sparkling wine opened. All passengers receive the wine, he said.
Saputra also told me that my minibar would be restocked daily and to let him know if there is anything I would like added to it. Since cola is my caffeine of choice, Saputra said he would always be sure a bottle of cold Coke was in the fridge.
Subtle colors in my stateroom are relaxing and the large floor-to-ceiling glassed wall on the river side is my favorite. No balcony but the window slides open which almost makes my whole room a French balcony.
My cabin has plenty of storage space, comfy chair, desk and desk chair, 32-inch flat screen TV, Nespresso coffeemaker and mini fridge. Outlets need an adapter since there are no U.S. outlets or USB charging ports. I had brought several adapters.
My bathroom has Rituals luxury brand toiletries, big walk-in shower with strong water pressure and plenty of hot water, plus push button controls for rainfall and directional showers.
Push button controls and rainfall and directional showers
A Green Ship
Two complimentary water bottles are waiting in my stateroom. I can refill the bottles at a shipboard water station which offers a choice of chilled still or sparkling water. The water bottles which are ours to take home are part of the Viva Two’s efforts to be one of the most environmentally friendly vessels on Europe’s river.
Complimentary water bottle instead of disposable plastic bottles
“No plastics,” Andrea says. “Plastic bottles are such a waste.”
Viva Two has received the gold certificate from the Green Award Foundation, presented only to vessels with the highest environmental standards.
Adding to those efforts are the ship’s low-draught design and extensive use of 76 solar panels built into the top deck to help offset some of the ship’s energy usage. The most significant technical innovation is the exhaust system which has a catalytic converter and a particle filter. Also, the Viva Two, like all of Viva Cruises’ ships, is equipped with technology that allows it to connect to a power source while it is moored.
Three Shipboard Restaurants
Now, let’s talk about food. Always a popular part of cruising, dining on the Viva Two is pure pleasure. Not only is the food delicious but also we have three restaurants with no extra charge to dine in any of them.
“We focus on local cuisine and local fresh ingredients. That is important to us,” Andrea says. “We offer vegetarian choices as well.”
Riverside Restaurant is the main dining spot and the largest restaurant with wonderful river views. Another great feature is flexible dining times and no reserved seats.
At the aft of the ship, the smaller Bistro specializes in seafood and requires dinner reservations since it seats just 30.
The Mediterranean-inspired Moments also requires dinner reservations for its five-course wine-pairing dinner. Moments seats 60 with plenty of tables for two. Moments has a slightly sunken seating area in the middle of the restaurant with small tables and bistro chairs. Moments also features an open kitchen to watch meals being prepared.
Coffee stations gives passengers access to coffee and tea. Canapes are served in the lounge at cocktail hour before dinner and late-night snacks arrive at 10 p.m.
Cruising on the Danube River
My seven-night itinerary called the “Danube Metropolis” went round-trip from Vienna with fascinating stops along the way. We visited three of the four capital cities on the Danube – Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava.
We also visited the UNESCO-listed Wachau Valley and Esztergom in Hungary; Krems, Linz, Salzburg and Engelhartszell in Austria; and Passau in Germany.
A musician and frequent dining companion, Reidar Olav Meling of Norway says he chose to cruise on Viva Two because he had heard good things about the new ship and because he wanted to visit musical sites offered on the Viva Two itinerary.
In particular, Reidar was interested in visiting the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart birthplace in Salzburg and sites associated with Franz Liszt in Vienna and Budapest. Salzburg is also where the real von Trapp family once lived and where the movie classic, “The Sound of Music,” was filmed.
Birthplace of Mozart in Salzburg
A first-time cruiser, Reidar says he was quite impressed with Viva Two and so pleased he may consider booking another cruise.
“It is a beautiful ship and a good way to travel,” Reidar says. “You have a good place to sleep, good food to eat and good people to travel with. It gives you good memories.”
That is the goal of any cruise line and one Viva Cruises tries to successfully acccomplish, Andrea adds. “We work very hard to live up to our motto – ‘Enjoy the Moment.’”
Bottom Line: My first glimpse of the Viva Two made me think that it’s sleek exterior must glide along the water. That it does. Little noise or vibration when the ship is moving.
Then I wondered if the ship’s interior could live up to its beautiful exterior. Indeed, it does. When I’m on a cruise, I want to be able to see the river or ocean and the passing scenery. The Viva Two décor is light-filled with many large windows so I had an exterior view almost anyplace I was sitting.
The all-inclusive concept was much appreciated as was the top-notch crew. A crew can make or break a cruise. The Viva Two crew was very friendly and helpful.
Passengers were a pleasant mix of Europeans and Americans. Although a German friend of my parents helped name me when I was born, I don’t speak a word of German. Yet, I never felt as though I couldn’t communicate with others on the Viva Two.
Seeing the world and making new discoveries is a universal joy to many travelers. That is certainly what we did on the Viva Two. We took time to relax and “Enjoy the Moment.”