Museum extends activities: international visitors numbers increasing

The Viking Ship Museum is full of life – with many foreign languages in the mix. Despite a quiet start to the tourist season, it would appear that international visitors are returning to Roskilde.
Published 10th Aug 2021

The Viking Ship Museum is full of life – with many foreign languages in the mix. Despite a quiet start to the tourist season, it would appear that international visitors are returning to Roskilde.

A lot of things have been turned upside down this last year and a half, and the absence of the many international guests has really stood out at the Viking Ship Museum.

“We’ve had a lot of support from the Danish public, also this summer, and we’re really happy about that”, tells Rikke Johansen, Team Leader for Communications at the Viking Ship Museum. “But we were beginning to worry about the end of the Danish school holidays, where – naturally enough – you can’t expect to have quite as many happy families with children at the Museum, but the Danish guests have been replaced by German, Dutch and southern European families”.

Daily guided tours in Danish and English

This growing interest has led the Viking Ship Museum to extend the summer’s many activities, but with a linguistic twist:

“We have changed the guided tour schedule so that we now have two daily tours in English and one daily tour in Danish, and we’re also going to continue with both a Danish and an English family tour each day”.

Sailing trips are back

During 2020 and until now in 2021, the social-distancing restrictions have made it impossible to raise the sails during the Museum’s sailing trips, where guests can buy a ticket on the day, as the they would not be able to hold the required 2m distance when raising and handling the sail.

Therefore, the Museum has offered rowing trips instead, where it’s easier to maintain distance between guests. However, with the new social-distancing recommendations, it is now possible to both sail and row:

“We use our large Faroe Island boats for the trips on the fjord and they’re actually so big, that it’s possible to sit with 1m distance, even when almost all of the oars are manned. So now we can take out 20 guests at a time instead of just 9 during ‘Corona-time’”, explains Rikke Johansen. “But we still keep all the good habits and disinfect the life-jackets and boat between each trip, so it’s still very safe to take part”.

Sail in the wake of the Vikings

From August 19th, one of the daily boat-trips will once again be a ‘real’ sailing trip. On the first departure each day, which leaves ca. 11:00, the sails will be set. The remaining trips each day will be rowing, rather than sailing.

“We’ve noticed that many of our guests are really happy about rowing on the fjord and actually don’t miss having the opportunity to sail. Therefore, we’ll continue with the rowing trips and will evaluate and see if ‘rowing only’ trips will become a permanent fixture in the future”.

You can buy a ticket to the daily sailing and rowing trips on the day from 10:00. For groups booking a private sailing trip, it will also be possible to both row and sail. You can see departure times on the Museum’s website and there you can also find information about how to book sailing trips for private groups.

The ‘buy on the day’ sailing trips will continue until September 19th, while it will be possible to book trips for private groups until September 30th.

Not as it was pre-Corona

Despite positivity over the increasing numbers of visitors from abroad and the support from the Danish visitors, the situation is still very different from how it was pre-Corona: 

“During the summer holiday period, we’ve had roughly 50% of the number of guests we had in 2019, so we still have a long way to go before we can start celebrating. But we will allow ourselves a pat on the back because our visitor surveys show that the guests who have visited us are very satisfied with the new activities we have on offer, such as the new audio guide and the digital game we have in the Viking Ship Hall”, says Rikke Johansen.

“We can also conclude that the new ‘Build a Boat’ workshop is a great success. Boats are being built like never before and guests are having a great time creating something together”.

Holding our breath after a slow spring

With a slow start to the season after the Corona lockdown, it’s still too early to predict how the rest of the year will be. VisitDenmark’s attractions list, which has just been published for 2020, has placed the Viking Ship Museum as the 90th most-visited attraction in Denmark, whereas in 2019, the Museum had a much better 43rd place on the list.  

The numbers show that while 170,547 visitors bought at ticket to the Viking Ship Museum in 2019, the Museum experienced a dramatic fall of 114,097 guests (-67%) in 2020, so that the year closed with a result of just 56,450 tickets purchased.

Extension of activities

So the Museum is still holding its breath and keeping fingers crossed that the foreign tourists will help ensure a better autumn than that in 2020:

“It makes you hopeful that we can return to the time before Corona, when you walk around the Museum and hear foreign languages. We can also see that a large number of Danes without children have chosen to hold their holidays in August so we’ve therefore decided to extend the summer activity programme, so they can get the most out of their visit”.

But the Museum isn’t just going to sit back with fingers crossed. These times demand creative thinking and the ability to adapt to developments in tourism.

Visitor numbers are therefore closely-watched, so that the right initiatives can be taken and also to ensure that there aren’t more activities on offer than there are guests to experience them:

“We evaluate regularly in terms of what activities we have on offer – actually, almost weekly – and so far, we will continue with guided tours, ‘pop-up’ demonstrations and activities on the lawn up until September 5th, with an option for further extensions if we can see that the visitor numbers are steady. Sailing trips will continue until September 19th, while the boatbuilders will continue their work building the Viking ship until the end of the Autumn mid-term, and so too will the ‘Build a Boat’ workshop”.

The Viking Ship Museum’s Café Knarr is still open – also for those who haven’t bought a ticket to the Museum – every day from 10:00 – 17:00. In line with the current restrictions, a Corona Pass is only necessary if eating indoors.

Late Summer at the Viking Ship Museum

Check the calendar to see what’s on when you visit: 

Created by Lærke Søgård og Rikke Johansen