Please Join Me On My Boozy and Culturally Stimulating Viking River Cruise


As you are no doubt aware, Viking River Cruises is currently offering a Grand European Tour 2-for-1 Special. Because it takes me quite a long time to get sick of your company, I’d like to invite you to have the Viking Experience with me.


The Viking Experience does not involve acting like a Viking, which is to say a seafaring Scandinavian who traded and raided shit from the late 8th to 11th centuries, but it does involve a lot of white wine. When the Norman Conquest of England shut things down for the Vikings, they went dormant for a while and then became a river cruise.


Of course, you know Viking from its advertisements on Masterpiece Theatre, which helpfully remind viewers that although we are not Lady Mary and do not have an abbey, all is not lost.


Abbey or no abbey, we have the opportunity to travel from Amsterdam to Budapest on a longship, which is better than a regular ship because it is long. Who needs a boring old normal cruise ship when we have the comfort and elegance of Viking at our fingertips? Viking offers all the luxury of big ocean liners, but without the diarrhea.


We’ll spend fifteen days navigating the world’s great rivers, gliding through the heart of landscapes and cities, and learning how to make our own Rüdesheimer coffee. The views from the balconies of our staterooms will bring us closer to iconic landmarks, timeless treasures, and local life. It’s a feeling that only a river and prescription-strength painkillers can give you.


There won’t be any waterslides or conga lines on our cruise, but there will be a lot of fabulous old people who will love us and beg to dine with us every evening. We’ll be the young whippersnappers on board, and the old people will pinch our cheeks and ask us to tell them again about the silly stuff we think about because we’re forty. They will call us “spring chickens” and exchange warm, knowing glances with one another when we complain about our jobs.


We’ll be the life of the party. At exactly 3:00 every afternoon, we’ll sit down at our table on the sun deck and say, “Good evening, Alfonse,” and Alfonse will immediately bring us perfectly cold gin martinis and some classy bar snacks like cheesy puffs and cashews. By the end of our trip, Alfonse will be “Alfie,” and he’ll tell us about his game called Count the White Men in Polo Shirts.


Viking also offers an array of fine wines, so we can drink all the Pinot Grigio we want – heck, we can even bathe in the stuff. Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys are taking a short break from their wine show to discuss the richness of French soil with us. In the evenings, we’ll watch the sun drop behind ancient monuments and take turns reading Byron out loud to them.


Please pack glamorous eveningwear in the manner of Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as we will be attending bingo and a lecture on Dracula. Please also pack a backup case of champagne, which we will drink while wandering through fields of sunflowers and places where war crimes were committed.


In case you’re still unconvinced – or haven’t forgotten that thing I did in Paris last year (in the end, the mime was fine) – I’d also like to mention that we will experience art. And I don’t mean looking at art in art museums, which is okay but nothing to get worked up about. No, on our Viking River Cruise, we will be stepping into the canvas.


This may strike you as unlikely as canvases are notoriously difficult to step into, but we’re going to do it all the same. Are you familiar with Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night? Well, we can experience the actual place in Arles, which Negative Nelly TripAdvisor reviewers describe as a tourist trap with subpar paella. We can also step into other charming canvases, like Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes and Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son.


When we’re finished stepping into canvases, we’ll eat a lot of lobster and duck on the sundeck and talk about BBC adaptations of nineteenth-century novels. If the mood strikes, we can enjoy a concert of Baroque organ music on board before we turn in at 9:00, a full hour-and-a-half after everyone else has gone to bed. (Mildred and Fred from Minneapolis will refer to us as the “Late-Night Ladies.”)


I will conclude by saying that this is a journey that will forever change your perspective on the world. If you don’t come, you will always be the same, and you will suck – like people who don’t go on expensive cruises. The Matthews and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Susan Harlan is an English professor at Wake Forest University and a freelance writer. Her humor writing has appeared in venues including McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Awl, The Billfold, Avidly, The Toast, Robot Butt, and The Establishment. When she is not being sexually harassed or filling out forms, she enjoys collecting things that she does not need.

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