Review: the VIVA One river cruise ship

Viva One

City hopping from Belgium to Germany and back on the VIVA One.

Last year, we almost booked a 14-day VIVA cruise on the Danube.

However we hadn’t traveled with VIVA before, and felt like it would be a better option to travel with and experience this company during a much shorter trip if possible. Just imagine that it is not really what we like, that would be a very long 14 days.

We receive an offer for a 5-day river cruise on board the VIVA One, from Antwerp to Rotterdam, Düsseldorf and Amsterdam back to Antwerp.

Sounds like the perfect opportunity to get to know VIVA river cruises!

Did we like it, and would we book again?

Let’s find out!

We fully paid for our trip on board the VIVA One and didn’t get or ask anything in return for this review.

Video

We made a video of our stay on board the VIVA One.

You can watch it here:

VIVA One

The VIVA One was built in 2022.

The ship has 88 cabins and suites, accommodating a total of 176 passengers. On board there are 2 restaurants: the VIVA Bistro and the Riverside restaurant, both included in the price.

VIVA Cruises offers an extensive all-inclusive formula in which meals, drinks, tips and minibar on board are all included.

Boarding

Embarkation starts at 2:30pm.

The VIVA One is docked right at the Antwerp Cruise Terminal, that is a 25 minute walk from our doorstep. We get there around 3pm, a staff member writes our cabin number on a little label, attaches is to our luggage and has his colleague take the luggage up to the ship.

We follow, head up the short passenger boarding bridge and receive our room keys at the reception desk.

Our cabin is located on the Ruby deck of the VIVA One, one flight of stairs down from the reception and bar area.

Viva One

Cabin

We are staying in stateroom 216, a ‘double cabin’ class room on the starboard side of the ship.

As soon as we step inside, we like the soft colors and wood tones. Even though it is a very cloudy and grey rainy day, still a lot of light is flowing in from the large French balcony windows that reach from the floor all the way up to the ceiling.

The cupboards, desk, bed, linens, walls, decoration… It all looks very pristine and clean.

Bedroom

Let’s start off with the bedroom itself.

Cozy is the feeling we get here: the colors, yellow light, wood tones and rug all give this room a very homey vibe. Plus it is nice and warm inside. The bed looks very inviting, with its high mattress and fluffy pillows.

On both sides of the bed is a bedside table, a lamp and light switches to control the lights in the room. Also on both sides is an electric socket, no USB port though, which we find surprising since a ship built in 2022.

A digital clock is also present, however we unplugged it was too bright during the night.

Next to the window is a comfortable soft chair and a coffee table, a nice spot for a cup of coffee in the morning.

Opposite the bed is a wall full of cupboards and storage space , a wardrobe, a TV and a small desk.

The wardrobe holds a large safe, 2 bathrobes and 2 pairs of slippers, a blue blanket, shelves and plenty of clothes hangers. Underneath the TV are 2 more large drawers to store stuff. You can easily put your empty luggage under the bed once you have unpacked.

Plenty of storage room to arrange and organise our stuff, we thought!

Also underneath the TV is a mini bar that is free: it contains fruit juice, Fanta, regular Coke, Coke zero and 2 beers. A bottle of sparkling wine was waiting for us on the desk when we arrived so we put it in the fridge as well. A bottle opener is also present, as well as 2 wine glasses.

The mini bar is restocked if you drink something.

We used the coffee machine daily: it comes with 6 coffee capsules, milk, sugar and sweetener. Same thing here if you drink a coffee: the capsules are restocked daily.

The transparent plastic reusable VIVA water bottles are a nice touch, you can refill them with water and sparkling water at the water station near the reception. And you can take them home at the end of your river cruise.

Was there anything we didn’t like?

The aircon and heating unit was a bit loud we thought. We didn’t need or use the TV, however if you are a TV watcher, all the TV and radio channels were German. Again, not a problem for us but other guests might find that disappointing.

We also thought that the room wasn’t very soundproof, the cabin door was quite thin and we could hear quite a lot of noise from the hallway from people walking past, whether they were talking or not. We had cabins under, above and next to us but no noise complaints there.

Viva One

Bathroom

The bathroom is brightly lit and again looks immaculate.

Very clean and well maintained vanity and shower, as if it has never been used before.

The shower is not spacious but still large enough. Good water pressure and temperature from the rain shower. Both glass shower doors open to the inside and outside. We loved the fragrant Ritual bath products, excellent quality shower gel, shampoo and conditioner!

The one sink vanity provides enough space to organize and store your bathroom amenities.

Provided are a shower cap, Rituals soap bar and body lotion, hand towels, a spare toilet roll and hair dryer. Kleenex can be found on the desk in your room.

The bath towels were good, and were changed every time you would put them on the floor during morning service and turndown service in the evening.

Very good bathroom here on the VIVA One, can’t fault it.

There is a turndown service in the evening while you enjoy dinner. Beds are not really made up like the staff does in the morning, just neatly rearranged. Towels are changed if necessary, minibar and coffee is restocked.

Next day’s daily program is left on your bed together with 2 small hazelnut chocolate bars.

Viva One
Viva One
Viva One
Viva One

Reception

The reception area is in the centre of the ship.

It is where all 3 stateroom floors, bar and lounge area and Riverside restaurant kind of connect. A small atrium let’s call it. There is an elevator as well if necessary.

The reception has 2 desks where you can find at least one receptionist at all times during your stay. Here you are welcome if you have any type of questions, want to make a restaurant reservation, book a massage or pedicure, connect your devices to the onboard wifi, or if you have any type of question or request.

Right after checkin in and getting to know our cabin, we requested 2 extra pillows at the reception which were delivered within 10 minutes. Making a dinner reservation for the next day was taken care of instantly as well.

The staff was very polite, friendly and hands on. Excellent service at the reception!

Also in this area opposite the reception desk is the excursions desk where you can book your guided trips and tours, or get extra information about the cities you are about to visit, rent (free) bikes, specific docking location etc. We didn’t book any excursions with VIVA, we decided to explore Rotterdam, Düsseldorf and Amsterdam on our own.

Next to the excursions desk is a small shop that sells accessories such as scarfs, jewellery, sunglasses, hats, caps, handbags, Ritual perfumes etc.

One flight of stairs down is the atrium where you can find the water refill station for your reusable VIVA water bottles, public toilets, and a messaging board where you can check today’s menus for both restaurants.

Viva One
Viva One
Viva One

Lounge and bar

Next to the reception area is the lounge and bar area.

It is the heart of the ship where evening entertainment, captain’s welcome drink, afternoon tea and events take place. It is nicely decorated with lovely colors, comfortable chairs and fresh flowers.

The wide windows give you a lovely view on the surroundings once the ship is on the move, very enjoyable.

Here you can come and sit to read a book, meet up with people, enjoy a drink and relax.

The bar opens at 10am and closes at midnight.

All drinks a la carte are included: water, hot beverages, soft drinks, beers (bottled and on tap), cocktails, prosecco, champagne, wine, liquors and spirits… It is all included and of good quality.

We thought that the service was quite attentive and fast.

Afternoon tea

On some days afternoon tea is served in the lounge, check the daily program in your room for the right hours.

Come and enjoy a collection of sweet and savory treats such as sandwiches, pies, tarts, patisserie, pan cotta, cheese, crackers, biscuits and warm bread pudding.

Plenty of choice, we really liked the quality of the treats on offer. Excellent patisserie, scones with cream and jam, yummy sandwiches. That together with a cup of tea or a glass of champagne, made it a lovely afternoon bite. Very enjoyable moment. A pianist plays some classic tunes on a grand piano as well, excellent.

If afternoon tea isn’t served, you can still ask the bar staff for a slice of cake or pie in the afternoon.

Yum.

Viva One
Viva One

The lounge is pretty quiet in the morning, after lunch it tends to fill up fast. When afternoon tea is served and live piano is played, this place is packed and it gets extremely noisy. We have been on other river cruises and the lounges were very comparable in size. It was never this noisy before, so we blamed it on the bad acoustics?

The seating area at the very end behind the bar was more enjoyable so we preferred to sit there before and after dinner. More about evening entertainment later in the post.

Viva One
Viva One
Viva One

Riverside restaurant

The Riverside main dining room is located under the reception and bar lounge area.

Here breakfast, lunch and dinner is served.

Again it is a nicely decorated place that looks very inviting.

But again the unbelievable bad acoustic design really made it hard to have a proper conversation with fellow guests at our table without shouting.

The service at the restaurant was really excellent, with again a very attentive and super friendly staff.

Viva One
Viva One
Viva One

Breakfast

Breakfast on the VIVA One is served buffet style in the Riverside restaurant.

It is open from 7:30am until 9:30am.

We very much liked the choice there was.

Cold items included several Danish pastries, a nice choice of breads, marmalades, cold cuts, cheeses, smoked salmon, pickled herring, fruit juices, prosecco, raw vegetables, muesli, granola, yogurts.

On the hot station: scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, potato croquettes, and a daily changing choice of waffles, pancakes, tomatoes, mushrooms, roast potatoes.

Besides the buffet items, you also have the possibility to have eggs to order. Omelettes with ham, cheese, smoked salmon, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers and/or onions. Fried eggs, freshly scrambled eggs, boiled or poached eggs.

Warm cereal was also on the menu: semolina or oat porridge.

Our eggs to order were always cooked perfectly, and made in no time. We never had to wait long to get them delivered to our table. The scrambled eggs on the hot buffet were delicious as well, we have to add. Nicely seasoned and creamy, not the dry powdery stuff you often get in hotels. The bacon wasn’t crispy but very flavorful and nicely salty though.

Excellent quality, we really enjoyed our breakfasts here. Yum!

Staff was great, always welcoming and fast to prep a table if necessary. Coffee was also served in coffee jugs that were placed on your breakfast table. We really appreciate that. We drink quite a few cups of coffee for breakfast and always find it annoying to having to ask for extra coffee refills 10 times or more.

Great start of our day, very happy with the breakfast on board the VIVA One!

Viva One
Viva One

Lunch

Lunch is served in the Riverside restaurant from 12:30pm until 2pm.

It consists of a starter, main dish and dessert.

Mains included steak, fish and chips, and pasta or a salad. Vegetarian options are available as well.

We had lunch on the VIVA One just once, in the Bistro (more on that later). On all other days we visited the cities where we were docked and had lunch in town.

Dinner

Dinner is served in the Riverside restaurant from 7pm until 9pm.

It consists of an appetizer, soup, main (meat, fish or vegetarian) and dessert.

We had dinner here 3 times, and apart from one main course we loved all the dishes that we ordered. Excellent food, fresh ingredients, perfect execution and top notch seasoning.

The dishes that we loved the most were the juicy beef tenderloin, rosé duck fillet and turbot. Every single one was amazing, and served in excellent company of perfectly cooked vegetables, mashed potatoes, celeriac puree and gnocchi.

The only time we were let down was when we ordered the pot of fresh mussels cooked in white wine with vegetables. The mussels were chewy, as if they had been cooked in advance and then reheated. Pity.

The appetisers, salad and soups on the dinner menus were also very appetising: we remember the poached egg with broad beans and prosciutto, smoky split pea soup, cream of cauliflower soup with truffle foam and roasted vegetable medley with bresaola and bread sticks.

Same song for the desserts: the sweet desserts were excellent, but what we loved the most was the cheese plate. Lovely mix of flavorful hard and soft cheeses, served at room temperature with fresh fruits, crackers and nuts. Yum.

During dinner there are 2 wine suggestions, red and white. You can also get rosé wine but you have to ask for it. The wines were OK, French and South African wines. We were expecting to see more German wines on this ship since VIVA is a German river cruise company, and Germany was the destination of the trip. Germany has excellent and very affordable wines, our trip would have been even better to see some here on the VIVA One to accompany our dinners.

Staff again was always very hands on, extremely friendly and attentive.

On the third night on the VIVA One a Gala dinner was announced on the daily program we received the night before, and a captain’s cocktail right before that. What wasn’t mentioned is that all guests were supposed to sit down for dinner at 7pm. We went for a drink in the lounge at 7:30pm and the bar man asked if we were skipping dinner. He said that tonight dinner started at 7pm for everyone, so we made our way to the Riverside restaurant with our drinks. A waiter showed us to a table of 6 where 4 other guests were in the middle of eating their starters. He brought us our appetiser, soup and starter in no time, so that by the time the main dish was served we had already caught up with everyone.

Viva One

Bistro restaurant

At the end of the Diamond deck hallway in the back of the ship is another restaurant called VIVA’s Bistro.

It is a small place with seating for about 32 people.

The Bistro is open for an early bird breakfast from 7am until 7:30am, lunch from 12:30pm until 2pm and dinner from 7pm until 9pm. When it is the Gala dinner night at the Riverside restaurant, the Bistro is closed.

For dinner you need to make a reservation in advance at the reception.

Lunch

As the VIVA One was leaving Rotterdam at 1pm, we decided to have lunch here at the Bistro.

There were only 2 other couples who had the same idea, so it was very quiet. We had a table by the window and enjoyed our lunch while watching our ship leave Rotterdam and head for Düsseldorf. Even though it was a grey and cold autumn day, the landscapes and panorama were great.

The waiter promptly brought us menus and took care of our drink order.

On the menu simple items such as soup, salads, grilled sandwiches and burgers. Which sounded perfect after walking around in Rotterdam in the cold icy weather.

We ordered the tomato soup, caesar salad with chicken, and both the grilled pastrami sandwich.

The food is prepared in a small kitchen on the spot, and since there is almost no one in the restaurant our food arrives at light speed. The waiter also tops up our wine glasses and gets us an extra portion of bread and butter.

The soup is creamy and hot, just what I was craving after our walk. Yum, excellent.

On the opposite side of the table sits the caesar salad with chicken, super crispy and fresh little gem lettuce in a light dressing covered with shaved parmesan cheese, croutons and juicy strips of chicken breast. Perfectly seasoned, very good caesar salad. Loved it!

Our sandwiches arrive not much later after our waiter has cleared our table.

Grilled caraway seed rye bread, stuffed with pastrami, sauerkraut and cheese. It looks a little thin at first, but the flavor is absolutely there. There’s extra mustard on the side if you like.

And the fries that come with the sandwich are good as well. Crispy and well cooked, with ketchup and mayo on the side.

We decide to skip dessert and go to our room for a shower and a nap.

This was a delicious lunch!

Viva One

Dinner

On our second night on the VIVA One we booked a table for dinner at the Bistro.

The place is fully booked.

We get the last free table, a table for 2 near the entrance. The same waiter who took care of us during lunch here the other day hands out menus and brings a bottle of water. Another waiter stops by with bottles of red and white wine and fills our glasses.

It takes a while before we can place our order. It seems like a lot of dishes are coming out of the kitchen at the same time. Some plates are dying in the window, it feels like the staff doesn’t know where to look first. Anyway, the wine is still being topped up, and the bread and butter are again delicious to munch and snack on. We are in no hurry.

20 minutes later service is back on track and our orders are taken. Cured meats and roasted vegetables for starters, chimichurri steak and prawns for mains and sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

Both starters are cold, so they arrive pretty fast.

Prosciutto and salami, served with bread sticks and a spicy tomato jam. Good, not mind blowing but a nice little starter.

The roasted vegetables are a mixture of carrot, zucchini, bimi broccoli and tomatoes, served with a dipping sauce drizzled with balsamic vinegar and bread sticks as well.

Again a simple starter, nice. Opens up our palates.

Viva One
Viva One

Our mains arrive.

The prawns are steaming hot, clearly microwaved. But they are surprisingly juicy and plump. The buttery sauce that is served with it is a tad spicy and quite pleasant. It could have been served with some more grilled bread than just 2 slices.

The side dish consists of oven baked cauliflower with cheese and capers. An odd flavor combo but it works. Just not alongside these buttery spicy prawns we think.

The steak is supposed to be a sirloin, however it is not what you would expect it to be. No sear on it, it looks like this slice was cut off a larger cooked beef cut. Even though the chimichurri is zippy, it can’t hide the poor an pale look. Not a lot of flavor in this ‘steak’. And it was lukewarm at best. We left more than half of it on our plate. Nobody asked why.

The sweet potato fries were crispy, but a bit dry. And again a surprising side dish that sounded odd at first but turned out to taste really nice: cooked black beans topped off with feta cheese.

Happy with our main meals? Not really, if we had more days left on this VIVA One cruise trip, we would not come back here in the evening.

Fortunately dessert was absolutely to die for: sticky toffee pudding served warm with ice cream, strawberries, sliced banana and syrup. What a heavenly treat!

Viva One

Sundeck and jacuzzi

Take the outside steps at reception level and they will lead you to the sundeck on the very top of the VIVA One.

Plenty of space here to enjoy the surrounding landscapes when the ship is on the move, or just docked in a beautiful place. This is also the only place where smoking is allowed.

There are sun loungers, chairs and tables, covered by a removable sun canopy and even a couple of hammocks.

At the end of the sundeck is a small jacuzzi.

On our trip the weather wasn’t great, lots of rain, cloudy skies and wind. So not the best time to sit outside, however the jacuzzi was working and the water was nice and warm. Not that we ever saw anyone brave enough for a quick dip in the pool.

But we can imagine that when the sun is out, this sundeck must be lovely to come sit in a lounger, read, nap, have a drink and enjoy.

Viva One
Viva One
Viva One
Viva One

Entertainment

After dinner the bar and lounge area fills up again with guests.

Drinks are being served, the bar staff is extremely busy and fast to take and bring your order.

Depending on the day, evening entertainment starts at 9pm or 9:30pm.

ON our VIVA One trip a singing duo would entertain guests with a synthesiser and perform songs by Tom Jones, Boney M., Barry White and so. The people loved it, the dance floor would be packed each night. However this kind of music is not our cup of tea, a bit too tacky and mellow. Other guests were having a great time, which is great. It was just not for us. We would usually stay for a drink or 2 and then go to our room.

During afternoon tea a pianist plays classics on the grand piano next to the bar.

One morning after breakfast an Antwerp comedian and singer would perform, but we left before that to explore Düsseldorf instead.

Wellness and gym

The VIVA One has a sauna, steam bath, gym and wellness on board.

You can book your treatments at the reception area.

Wifi

Internet connection was great and very fast.

Upon embarkation, link your device(s) to the wifi network and have a member of the reception team scan the QR code to connect you to the onboard wifi.

The internet speed was good enough even to download episodes on Netflix and such, excellent!

Bike rental

VIVA One has (non-electric) bikes on board that you can use for free.

Ask a member of the reception or excursion staff if you are interested.

Depending on the capacity, it is possible to take your own bikes with you on board the ship. Make sure to ask in advance when you book your trip.

Viva One

Would we recommend the VIVA One river cruise ship?

Yes, it is a beautiful ship.

We really liked the feeling of being surrounded, in our room and public spaces, by things looking very spic and span, and fresh and bright.

The food in the Riverside restaurant for us was a true highlight. Excellent, a real treat.

The staff all around the ship was superb, extremely helpful and fast.

There were a couple of things that we didn’t quite like, however keeping those in mind we now know what to expect on a VIVA cruise.

So would we book again with VIVA and on the VIVA One?

Yes, definitely!

This 5 day trip was an excellent way to find out if VIVA cruises is a river cruise company for us.

Pros

  • fresh, bright and modern river cruise ship
  • comfortable and beautiful design of the cabin and bathroom
  • very good mattress and pillows
  • excellent housekeeping
  • all inclusive food, drinks, tips and minibar
  • excellent food on the Riverside dinner menu
  • very helpful and attentive staff and service
  • excellent and fast internet connect

Cons

  • unbelievably bad acoustics, very noisy lounge bar and main restaurant
  • underwhelming quality of the Bistro dinner menu
  • evening entertainment was not our cup of tea

We fully paid for our trip on board the VIVA One and didn’t get or ask anything in return for this review.

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