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Travel: Are we ready yet?

Exploring St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, touring London with Blue Badge guides and delving into the Byzantine wonders of Istanbul are hardly what one might expect to be doing throughout a worldwide pandemic. But I have done all that and more. 

Lest you think I have been outrageously irresponsible or simply mad throughout these challenging times, I must explain that it was a virtual quest. It was all made possible by the daily free online programming by Viking Cruises. With the way this top rated cruise line looks after its passengers it is not surprising that they have been named #1 river cruise line by Condé Nast Traveler and World’s Best Ocean Cruise Line by Travel and Leisure for five years in a row.

Thanks to these presentations, I stayed connected to the rest of the world, listened to resident historians, astronomers and archaeologists and enjoyed musical performances from afar. I remaining as close as I could to their cruise experiences by going online at 2 p.m. or catching it later, as you can, too, at

Favorite places

Viking Cruises is well known for its sponsorship of other programming with National Geographic, The Metropolitan Opera, BBC and Masterpiece series like Downton Abbey on PBS. One of the virtual tours went behind the scenes to Highclere Castle, the setting for Downton Abbey. Did you know that back in 1922 the fifth Earl of Carnavon, George Herbert and archaeologist Howard Carter explored Egypt and opened Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922? Highclere’s current owner, Lord Carnarvon, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon, guided our way through a six room exhibit of Egyptian relics that had long been hidden there, just as he might on a privileged access tour during one of their cruise excursions.

Another day I went online to tour the the Kon-Tiki Museum with Thor Heyerdahl, Jr., son of the Norwegian adventurer. I had an insider’s garden tour at Claude Monet’s gardens at Giverny and listened to Monet’s great-grandson’s recollections of family holidays.

Documentaries, interviews, lectures,performances and more

The virtual tours and lectures were as close as possible to the ones we had enjoyed onboard our Viking ocean and river cruises. I learned about topics ranging from ancient Egyptian poetry, the Russian Revolution and the history of Vienna’s music to the history of the spice trade.

There were interviews of celebrity chefs, a dog musher, best-selling authors, a princess, a former NASA astronaut, winemakers, explorers, shipbuilder, duke, actress, singer, master gardener, filmmaker,  classical musicians, owner of a palace, an earl and professors. Something for everyone.

When the pandemic came crashing down on our everyday lives this was a bright spot I could count on. I traveled virtually to more ports, places, and treasures around the world than I would ever have actually done in this amount of time

Being home also meant more time to cook and try something new. I savored the flavors of travel with sessions on preparing traditional favorites like Dutch bitterballen, Swiss rösti, German Black Forest Cake and French souffles.

Getting ready to go

Now that I am fully vaccinatedI can hardly wait to turn dreams into reality, book my next river and ocean cruises and once again enjoy the thrill of being there. I’m happy to wear a mask wherever it is recommended and to do what it takes to keep others safe, as well. I want to travel with companies that make every effort to do the right thing.

I’m checking the CDC guidelines, domestic and international. looking for the places with the highest vaccination rates, declining rates of infection and lowest density of COVID cases.

I looking at options closer to home, including a new ship on the the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, Canada and New England cruises, adventures in Alaska and relaxing voyages to Bermuda, where we spent our honeymoon. Some will have to wait until 2022.

As the world opens to Americans, I am longing to get back to exploring it through its rivers and oceans. And I will turn first to Viking Cruises, the company that stood out from the rest by bringing its destinations and experiences to us all while faced with unprecedented challenges.


  1. When I read your opening paragraph, I thought to myself, “No way!” Then I saw that you took advantage of virtual travel with Viking. Now I wish I had done this instead of moping around because travel was not an option.

    • Apparently my automatic notification of comments has not been working! Sorry about the delay in replying. You can still watch, Suzanne, on demand or live at 2 p.m. It’s the next best thing to being there.

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