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Viking Splash Tour

For our latest instalment of ‘An American in Dublin’ we sent our roving reporter (and enthusiastic DublinTown Intern) Emma, to experience the popular Viking Splash Tour where she discovered that buses do in fact float!:

Last week, my family—parents, fourteen-year-old brother, and ten-year-old sister—came to visit me in Dublin. My mother was quite enthusiastic about almost everything (the fourteen-year-old brother not so much). When she saw the Viking Splash Tour, she literally shrieked.

“Oh!” she exclaimed. “We HAVE to do this. I’ve always thought I’d make a good Viking.” She seemed surprised by my siblings’ and my laughter. “What?” she asked indignantly. “I like sailing. I eat meat. I appreciate a good revenge plot. And you know I have a head for hats.”

Well then. Obviously, we had to do it.

I expect that you’ve seen the Viking Splash Tour around town; it is, after all, rather hard to miss. Possibly because of the yelling tourists wearing Viking helmets, I’ve always thought this tour was a BYOB sort of situation. It’s not, actually. It’s quite family-friendly. It’s just that people are really enthusiastic. (Also, your captain will make it very clear that alcohol is not allowed on board. So don’t BYOB.)

Each boat is named after a Viking god—‘cuz, you know, this is an educational tour—and each tour guide has a Viking name. Our ship was the Odin and our guide was Captain Pat. (Most tour guides have more awe-imposing names, like Anto the Atrocious or Jimmy the Gallant. I guess Captain Pat is a modest sort of Viking.) When you step on the ship, you’ll notice the horned helmets laid out neatly on the seats. You do not get to keep them. (My suggestion for the Viking Splash Tour: let us keep the helmets. Brand ‘em and let visitors do your advertising!).

As your captain will explain, Vikings do not like Celts. This means that when you’re on the Viking ship and wearing the Viking helmet you have to roar at unsuspecting pedestrians. My mother was very good at this. At first you feel—I felt, at least—a little self-conscious screaming at strangers, but you quickly get over this when you realize how fun it is to roar at men who jump, shriek, and then, seeing that it’s the Viking Splash Tour, try to act cool. Great craic, that.

The tour is about 75 minutes and includes most of the major sights: Trinity College, the Mansion House, more government buildings, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Molly Malone, etc. (my geography is abysmal, so I’m definitely getting the order wrong here—the route is not as insane as that list would suggest). When you get to the Docklands, each passenger is given an enormous life jacket, giant flotation bumpers are attached to the bus, and you drive right into the water.

The water entry part of the tour is a bit disconcerting, to be honest, but I will attest that the buses do in fact float. You’ll be fine. So you cruise around for a bit and watch the water skiers and remark on how impressive Bord Gáis is and isn’t it annoying that Lion King tickets sell out so quickly. It’s all very pleasant and surprisingly genteel for a Viking cruise. I suppose even Vikings had their genteel moments though.

And then you drive back up the ramp and you’re on land again, and you hand in your life jacket and then you’re a Viking again. You drive back to town—periodically doing the Viking roar along the way—and wind up back at Stephen’s Green North.

The Viking Splash Tour is all good fun. The tour guides are excellent, and there’s lots of banter and wit. Fun for the whole family, really; even my sullen fourteen-year-old brother had a good time. (He especially liked Molly Malone.) My mother might have been right on this one. And I’d be a pretty good Viking too.

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