About a year ago, I gave my contact details to Viking River Cruises. They advertise on TV on something I watch, I disunremember exactly what right now.
I also saw their rather lovely looking boats when we were on a school trip to the Rhineland last summer – there is no question their boats were the swankiest on the river.
Their itineraries also look outstanding. Their most recent mailing details an 8 day rail tour where you go from St Pancras to either Strasbourg or Amsterdam, and for all the of the rest of the time they feed and entertain you. It’s full board on boat. There are excursions to a bunch of World Heritage Sites I’d be thrilled to visit, and the whole trip looks awesome.
Since I signed up for a bit more information, though, they have bombarded me with direct mail – two or three emails a week and at least three glossy brochures in the post every month.
Every so often they send emails designed to allay any fears you might have. What is life like on board? Is the food designed with English people in mind? Don’t tell me I have to eat that foreign muck or talk to the boat staff in anything other than the Queen’s English?
After a while they even sent me a survey with the subtext WE’VE SENT YOU A MILLION BOOKLETS, WHY OH WHY HAVEN’T YOU BOOKED ANYTHING YET YOU INGRATE????
Well, there’s a few reasons.
One, all the beautiful stuff they send make it clear that their target market is heterosexual married couples in their 70s. While, to be honest, quite a lot of our holidays have been surrounded by people like this, with whom we have had quite nice times, I’m slightly less convinced I’d want to be shut up on a boat with then what appears to be precious little respite for 192 hours. Seriously, it looks like you do everything together. Eat together, day trip together, German lessons together.
Two, the lowest possible cost – for a broom cupboard with a porthole below the water line in November – starts at £1500 per person. I’ve never had a package holiday so I don’t quite know what it is we spend on going away. But I’m pretty certain even our most lavish excesses have never amounted to a three grand holiday and we certainly can’t afford it. If we were to spend that much, we’d have to save up a bit more and spring for a slightly nicer room where we have a chance to hide from the monoglot septuagenarians for at least a few hours a day without bumping our knees on the wardrobe when we got up to make tea. And, of course, we’d have to go in school holidays which bumps up the price considerably.
Whilst I’d love to take P on holiday to Germany, I don’t think it’s going to be with Viking any time soon.