There are common elements to just about any European river cruise. Regardless of the river cruise line chosen, it’s hard to miss certain parts that stand out and are unique. Castles dot the landscape at strategic locations overlooking rivers and valleys. Large expanses of land produce grapes on vines that have been doing so for generations. Markets go on daily in city centers along rivers as they have for centuries, not far from grand cathedrals. Traveling with Viking River Cruises, I have visited Germany’s Kolner Dom Cathedral a number of times, always learning something different. The video featured here highlights a distinct Viking advantage that solidifies their leadership position in our world of river cruising and brings introduction of a new term: the distinct Third Level Viking Advantage.
SEE MORE: This is also part of Viking’s Exploring More website, a dedicated collection of award-winning short films where Viking’s Karine Hagen shares some of her favorite insights into world cultures.
The Kolner Dom Cathedral in Cologne, known by those who live there as simply “The Dom”, dominates the city skyline as the largest cathedral in the world should. It’s still a work in progress that began in 1248. Today, 100 craftsmen work every day, 365 days a year to maintain the structure. Over 20,000 visitors a day visit this worlds-tallest twin-spired church that stands 157 m (515 ft) tall. Choosing to go beyond the tour guide walk through the magnificent structure. Viking’s Karine Hagen takes us behind the scenes, into areas of the structure normally off limits to the general public.
I watched this video three times to let it sink in how important the Cologne Cathedral was in days of old and is in today’s often chaotic world. Religion was a central focus of European cities and towns long before North American cities were even thought of. They formed a core base of beliefs that can be found and seen even today, although unlike The Dom, they may be hard to sort out.
Third Level Viking Advantage
The above thought is a third level takeaway from traveling with Viking that one does not get with any other travel company I have yet to experience. If the term “third level Viking Advantage” is not familiar, let me explain:
- First level: Viking cruises include a tour every day. We went to Cologne on the carefully planned Viking tour du jour that included the Cologne Cathedral, among other iconic landmarks. That tour was led by a local guide, charged with imparting critical talking points about the places we saw along the way
- Second level: Viking Cruises is not satisfied to simply address a subject and move along to the next . They constantly revisit every element of what they do, tweaking the experience to bring the best possible experience for Viking explorers. This video documents that thought.
- Third level: A message so powerful that it brings life-framing perspective is imparted one way or another. In this case, this video built on top of my previous experience with Viking, at the scene, in person. It was an experience so rich that the video brings it back as though I am there now.
I enjoyed that video so much that it inspired what might be called a Fourth Level experience, a call to action in my real world of today. Rather than simply sitting by, passively watching this video multiple times, I searched back though photo archives for images of the Dom captured during my previous visits. I found they looked a bit different, perhaps had a bit more meaning than before.
The Cologne Cathedral is also a part of our Cathedrals Of Europe photo narrative, a work in progress as we continue exploring these magnificent structures. The third level Viking Advantage dictates that I go back and add more photos and continue this effort.
The Cathedrals Of Europe by CHRIS OWEN on Exposure