River Cruise Ship Review: Viking Fontane
Fontane was built in 1991 to navigate the shallow waters of the Elbe. However, these days river levels between Litomerice and Prague can fall too low for it to sail, when coaches are used to transport guests (as was the case in July). Fontane was refurbished in 2010 and today wears the white and red livery of Viking River Cruises.
A regular presence on the Elbe, Viking Fontane excels in the kitchen, if not in all facilities. A member of the vast Viking fleet, let's take a look at what makes this particular ship such a dream to cruise on.
This light-filled ship caters to a roughly equal mix of British and American passengers. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and the spacious Observation Lounge is the main public space, with a well-stocked bar and a grand piano.
Expect talks and demonstrations by the chef and sommelier and a music quiz. Local musicians play on some evenings; otherwise the resident pianist entertains.
There is a small library with board games and jigsaws. The sun deck is partly shaded by a large canopy, with loungers, tables and parasols, but there is no pool, spa or bicycles for guests to use. Deck activities are cancelled in bad weather, with nothing to replace them.
A drawback for many will be this ship’s want of a lift, especially as the restaurant is not directly accessible from main-deck staterooms, despite being on the same level.
Guests must first go upstairs before coming back down to dine, which those with limited mobility will find awkward. There is one stairlift.
The 48 standard staterooms are on the small side. All have twin beds separated by a bedside table. Bathrooms (no bath) are roomy, although at the expense of hanging space elsewhere.
The windows are large; only those on the upper deck can be opened. There are eight much larger luxury staterooms with double bed and French balcony. All rooms have climate control.
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Food & Drink
Fontane’s kitchen excels, offering a wide menu choice. The day starts with continental or cooked breakfast to order, with home-made pastries for morning coffee and afternoon tea.
For lunch, soup and sandwiches are available from the lounge buffet or there is waiter service in the downstairs restaurant.
Complimentary house wines accompany the five-course dinner, which often features regional specialities. Self-service tea, coffee and fruit juice are free 24 hours a day. Service is exemplary throughout the ship.
An experienced cruise director strives to ensure guests get the most from their holiday, although pre-tour lectures are lacking.
Excursions are included in the fare, with a choice some days. Coach tours are normally divided into groups, so guests with reduced mobility can choose a 'leisurely' option.
Value For Money
Wi-Fi of acceptable speed is free, as are drinks served with meals; otherwise a glass of wine is €4.20 ($6.50); draft beer €2.80 ($4.40) . The Silver Spirits drinks package, only bookable on board, is €150 ($235).
Viking Fontane is cruising 10-day Elbe itineraries from Berlin to Prague (and reverse) from March to October 2016.
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This article was written by Caroline Elderfield from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.