2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first Viking River cruise and it was fantastic. My husband and I were the very first guests to register on the Eir's maiden voyage - what a surprise to learn this when we boarded so very early that first morning. I must ... Read More
This was our first Viking River cruise and it was fantastic. My husband and I were the very first guests to register on the Eir's maiden voyage - what a surprise to learn this when we boarded so very early that first morning. I must admit that I do not like being on the open water where I cannot see land - being able to see both shores was a definite plus. The entire trip was a moment out of time. Words cannot describe our experience; it was so special. The crew could not have been more attentive; the cabin was excellent; the choice of excursions was varied; and the food was superb. We extended our experience by traveling on to Lucerne where we stayed at the Hotel Schweizerhof. A trip again to Switzerland is on our bucket list. There just was not enough time to do all that we wished to do. One of the things we enjoyed the most was the small number of other passengers - 200 versus 2000 or more. I could go on-and-on expressing our pleasure; but, will conclude with saying that we cannot wait to go again. The only problem is deciding which cruise to take next. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first cruise on Viking. From the first night (when Program Director Leonard loaned us fleece pullovers to watch departure from Amsterdam), through snow in Rothenberg and our bike ride from Melk to Krems (Concierge Michal ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Viking. From the first night (when Program Director Leonard loaned us fleece pullovers to watch departure from Amsterdam), through snow in Rothenberg and our bike ride from Melk to Krems (Concierge Michal suggested and helped us coordinate), to the last night in the hotel in Bucharest, this is the best cruise we have ever taken. We participated in everything that our energy level allowed, because it was all so much fun! We like the smaller ships rather than the huge ocean going liners we have experienced in the past. After just a few days, we had met many of the other passengers and felt like longtime friends of the staff. We were thrilled to wave from the ship with Katja, our Hotel Manager, as we passed her husband on the shore waving to us from their home town. Food and dining room service was extraordinary. We made it a point to dine with our favorite dining room waiters, Gabor and Oggy. We liked that the wine came from the regions we visited. The food menus were varied and met our needs and preferences. The open seating dining encouraged us to meet new people at every meal. Our stateroom was on the main deck—large porthole, no balcony or French balcony. We loved it. Swans came up to our porthole and looked inside. Plenty of space for everything. The included tours normally had two options—walk more or walk less and more slowly. We were happy with the guides, who all spoke excellent English and provided a wealth of history and current events about the locale and country. Program Director Leonard’s daily briefings, occasional history lessons, and narrative through the Iron Gate were exceptional. We were amazed that Viking could make major itinerary changes. Because of a marathon in Vienna we headed to Bratislava that Sunday and Viking bused us back to Vienna for the concert on Sunday night. We had paid extra for the optional concert, but Viking comp’d everyone wishing to attend. We were highly impressed by the energy level of the entire staff. They were up before we were, working all day, and in bed after we were. And they all maintained their smiles and took such good care of us. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
We have been on a number of European bus tours and enjoyed each one to the fullest. But this river cruise was more relaxing while still providing the sights and a wonderful variety of excursions that we enjoy. The nightly pre-dinner ... Read More
We have been on a number of European bus tours and enjoyed each one to the fullest. But this river cruise was more relaxing while still providing the sights and a wonderful variety of excursions that we enjoy. The nightly pre-dinner routine was calming and gave a sence of home and stability to the trip. On board entertainment was excellent in variety and quality, as well. Our program director, Leonard, was fantastic for this job. He was a rock! Patient, funny, smart, reliable and fun to be around. The food was fabulous! Well prepared and beautifully presented. Plentiful in amount and variety. The staff was warm, friendly, courteous in the highest degree.We loved each one! We cannot say one negative thing about this trip. We enjoyed it thoroughly. Thank you! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
The river cruise was the start of our honeymoon and we felt unsure what to expect as we had never done a cruise before. Well all I can say it was exceptional and outstanding. The service was excellent as was the food and wine. We ... Read More
The river cruise was the start of our honeymoon and we felt unsure what to expect as we had never done a cruise before. Well all I can say it was exceptional and outstanding. The service was excellent as was the food and wine. We couldn't fault other than they need to have some toothpicks which I know is picky!! We were trying to fill out the sheet with comments on how they could improve the cruise and the toothpicks was the only thing we could come up with. The tours were excellent as was the guide. I did do an extra tour to the winery - it was okay but not as good as the included tours we did. In the end we could not fault Viking and considering we were on our honeymoon at no time did we feel over crowded with 197 other guests. Would thoroughly recommend Viking so much so we have just booked another cruise for next year at the Captains recommendation. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2015
My Dad is 89 and still doing well enough to want to get out and see the world. He discovered river cruises in the US and loved taking them with my mother. When she passed he asked if my sister and I might be interested in taking a cruise ... Read More
My Dad is 89 and still doing well enough to want to get out and see the world. He discovered river cruises in the US and loved taking them with my mother. When she passed he asked if my sister and I might be interested in taking a cruise with him. After considering this heavy decision for about a nano second we agreed to go. Lucky us, that Dad wanted to use Viking for his next great adventure. The Idi was a one year old, stunning ship. Rooms were open and light with every detail thought out for comfort with windows everywhere for views that beg to be savored. The rooms were beautifully appointed with plenty of storage and light. I didn't have to worry about 110 or 220 ...they had both. There were plenty of nooks and cozy seating areas to feel as if you had the ship to yourself, and the lounge was large enough to accommodate all 170 passengers during talks and evening entertainment. The crew was top notch, they all worked tirelessly to make our trip memorable and enjoyable. With 50 crew members we were afforded a lot of personal attention. They worked as a team and they had a marvelous way of communication that made their care of each passenger appear seamless and effortless. We found ourselves talking about the incredible onboard entertainment and the wonderful crew as much as we relived the shore excursions. Everyday was something unique. As full as our trip was, we didn't feel pushed or rushed, and the few days that Dad opted to stay on board he was able to enjoy sights from the comfort of the sun deck, lounge, or his own private balcony. I knew very little about the area along the Rhine before leaving on this trip. Our tour guides had such depth of knowledge about their cities that I doubt a college course could have offered more. As out one tour guide pointed out ... not just an ABC tour...(another 'blinking' cathedral or castle), but an in-depth study of the architecture, art, culture and people of the beautiful Rhine valley. The bus transportation was as comfortable as the ship. Mercedes Benz buses glided us through tight streets and curving mountain roads with skill and ease. Great drivers that we never failed to tip for a job well done! The crew always gave us a warm welcome "home" when we returned to the ship. From our arrival at the Amsterdam airport to the departing security check in Switzerland, Viking was there for us to guide us on our way. We felt safe and cared for every moment of our trip. I am a tough one for diet. Medically challenged to eat no dairy, meat or gluten...the French chef on our ship struggled to think anyone would not benefit from a little cream or cheese, but he amazed me with something every meal that was delicious and filling. The tables were always exquisitely set with white clothes and beautiful table settings. I had to review my etiquette to be sure I was using the correct fork or spoon but there was still a casual mood and atmosphere that made dining a place to meet new friends and compare daily experiences. After a week of being back home, Dad remarked he was not as fond of our present cruise..."we have been in the same port for three days and there is no beautiful river outside his window".....We must plan another trip! Impressed by our experience my nephew booked his honeymoon with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
This was our 1st river cruise and it exceeded expectations. The ship and our cabin were clean, spacious and nicely decorated. Fresh flowers everywhere. Staff were all friendly and professional. Tours/shore excursions were well ... Read More
This was our 1st river cruise and it exceeded expectations. The ship and our cabin were clean, spacious and nicely decorated. Fresh flowers everywhere. Staff were all friendly and professional. Tours/shore excursions were well organized with good local guides. Most excursions had more than enough free time built in for whatever you wanted to do. Meals were very good with different dining options available. Overall a wonderful experience. We already have next year's cruise booked! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
This was our first river cruise -- the Grand European -- and we went in with limited expectations, although at the steep rates we did expect the best. We weren't disappointed. No complaints possible about onboard conditions and ... Read More
This was our first river cruise -- the Grand European -- and we went in with limited expectations, although at the steep rates we did expect the best. We weren't disappointed. No complaints possible about onboard conditions and treatment -- everything was well-maintained and the staff were extremely helpful and cheerful. The food was also superb, thanks to chef Michel and his team. It was hard not to over-indulge. Wine was included with lunch and dinner. Program director Claus ran a good tour and onboard event program as well. Pianist Jerzy provided good lounge entertainment and there were some special concerts a few evenings. There were many activities, but no feeling of pressure to participate. It was an enjoyable and relaxing atmosphere and we had a lot of fun. We travelled with friends, which added to the enjoyment, and we met lots of other interesting people on board. A lot of the actual travel took place overnight, to permit shore stops and tours, with a limited amount of daytime cruising through the most interesting sections of the Rhine and the Danube. Most of the onshore tours were included, but there were a few optional extras. We chose a few and were happy with our choices (e.g. bus to Rothenburg, concert in Vienna, wine tour in Krems). Our shipboard days were very full, but you could always choose not to go onshore for a tour. There was plenty of relaxation time. We also took extensions in both Amsterdam and Prague. There was more free time in the extensions, but the tours were a little tougher, especially in Prague, where we had a very long and gruelling first day. Fitness involved walking, since there were no exercise facilities on board apart from a walking track on the top deck. Tours at the stops were mostly on foot, and many on cobbled streets. Some were quite lengthy, a challenge for some passengers. I know I was stretched at times, having arthritis. They did offer some slower-paced tours in certain spots, as well as some tougher trips in others. It balanced out pretty well, but I would like to have seen a lot more information ahead of time in order to pace myself better. As well, they always give distances in times, and everything seems to be "5 to 10 minutes"...whether it could be 5, or 25, depending on your degree of fitness. A distance in kilometres would be more helpful, with information on the degree of incline and the frequency of stairs. We had our flights and transfers arranged by Viking as well, and another time would probably do our own. Transfers were "legal" but very tight, with little leeway for delays or getting lost in airports like Frankfurt. We got where we were going, with our luggage, but it was the most stressful part of the trip. We found Viking responsive to comments, both good and critical, and felt we got good value for the trip as a whole. We would consider travelling with Viking again, possibly on one of their new ocean trips. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2014
This was a great ship with great people. The staff was fantastic and the other passengers were delightful. Our cabin was excellent. Our ship carried 122 passengers and I think it might hold 130 maximum. Other similar sized ships will carry ... Read More
This was a great ship with great people. The staff was fantastic and the other passengers were delightful. Our cabin was excellent. Our ship carried 122 passengers and I think it might hold 130 maximum. Other similar sized ships will carry up to 220 passengers in the same space. We stayed at the Tauck-recommended hotel in Basel (our point of embarkation). The hotel is nice but sterile. We much preferred making out own arrangements on the other end in Amsterdam. We stayed at the Estherea Hotel and it was delightful. Onboard, the internet was somewhere between terrible and non-existent. The food was average at best. We rarely docked in any town that was mentioned in the cruise itinerary. If you take this cruise, you should count on spending 2-3 hours on a bus everyday if you want to see what they advertise. On several nights we were docked in industrial harbors. Scrap metal is not what I wanted to see out of my very nice cabin. Unfortunately, if you don't get on the bus (at 8:15 to 9 am virtually every day) you will not see the sight for the day. A few times there was something to see right off boat but not what I went on the cruise to see. The buses are nice and the drivers are excellent and amazing, I just did not expect to spend so much time each and every day on a bus. Also, because we were not docked in the main towns, it was very difficult to spend extra time in a place that was interesting. Most of the tours were a little superficial to me and often I felt the guides were filling if the space because of time constraints. Unfortunately, they filled with fluff instead of the massive amounts of history available in this area. I have to admit, I do not think this tour was a good fit for me. I am 55 and I think the average age on board was closer to 75. Most of these people are retired and do not need to keep in touch with business, at least occasionally, while on vacation. There was a wide variety of food but it was the same for breakfast and lunch everyday (with a very few exceptions). One passenger made a comment about it feeling like the movie Groundhog Day. I talked with the chef about the food and they tried to make me special meals (the staff really wants to please) but they just do not have the equipment or something to make it happen. I think the food is probably very healthy but it has very little flavor. I had soggy fish and dry tough meat and sometimes I had warm, medium rare ultra-lean beef that tasted like nothing. The waiters and table service were excellent. Unfortunately, I am afraid that the Rhine River is oversold. There are too many boats and people at all of the sights so you can't get close, you can't enjoy and it is all just touristy. There were a couple of times there was on board entertainment and it was nice. We had a dinner in a castle where we were too cramped together to make it comfortable. Likewise, the wine tasting event had us packed check to jowl for another excursion. I would miss both of those if given the option to go back. There was a daytime castle tour that my wife took that she said was excellent. Most of the tours and destinations were nice. It simply took too much time to get to and from them to make it enjoyable. Disembarkation went well. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014
First ever river cruise with Scenic Jade from Amsterdam to Budapest and will not be my last. In fact I have already booked a week long cruise next year from Basel to Amsterdam intending to tour Switzerland prior to joining the Scenic ... Read More
First ever river cruise with Scenic Jade from Amsterdam to Budapest and will not be my last. In fact I have already booked a week long cruise next year from Basel to Amsterdam intending to tour Switzerland prior to joining the Scenic cruise but after this year's experience I have already inquired about an additional longer cruise. We joined in Amsterdam at the Hilton Double Tree hotel. Arrived at the hotel at around mid-day where Scenic tours were well signposted the Scenic representative took our luggage and we next saw it in our room on the Scenic Jade. Refreshments were available at the meeting point until we left there at 3 p.m for the Scenic Jade so we were able to explore Amsterdam until we departed for the ship. The same procedure in Budapest, luggage transferred to the Marriot Budapest and refreshment available there until 3 p.m. or until you removed your luggage if you were staying at another hotel which we were. I could go through every day but that would be far too long just to say that every day there was some excursion arranged usually two or 3 choices in addition to the ones you opt for when you do the booking. The guides are all very good and do their best throughout. After each tour there is usually some free time for you to do your own thing before getting back on the bus and returning to the ship for lunch or dinner. Some of the excursions involved lunch or dinner and when we left the ship at Dusseldorf for that excursion we were meant to rejoin the ship at Cologne for lunch but the Jade developed a fault in one engine so it was late arriving in Cologne. Full marks to Scenic they arranged we go on anther large cruise boat for lunch and cruise along the river at Cologne while we were dining. Not long after lunch our temporary boat pulled in and we rejoined the Jade. If you wanted to give the excursions a miss then you were free to lounge about all day on the Jade. You are usually greeted back on the Jade with hand towels and a welcoming drink after a day's excursion. I would also have preferred to have sailed to Bratislava rather than travel by coach as you do pass it on the way from Vienna to Budapest but I guess there is some reason for not doing that. Also the tour of Salzburg which for me is Mozart but included the Sound of Music. Perhaps other people liked that but not my cup of tea and then the free time only would have allowed a quick visit to the castle from which there is a stunning view and also no time for a tour of the Mozart museum. I should mention that if you go on the Salzburg tour try to get the Scenic guide Eva a lady who dresses in Austrian national dress. She is by far the best tour guide I have ever come across and a bundle of laughs throughout the tour. Often there are various lectures or entertainment on board. I particularly liked the one about the Rhine Main Danube river. I had bought the book they sell on board so it was a pleasant surprise that the gentleman giving the lecture was the author and he signed the book. There was also an entertaining demo on glass blowing. The entertainment at Schlossburg castle was very good with a Shakespearian Anglo German gentleman making it a memorable night. I choose the visit to Bratislava as I had already seen the Schoenberg Palace in Vienna but if you haven't seen it then that is a must see along with Melk Abbey. Vienna and Budapest the two most scenic cities in Europe well worth staying on in Budapest for a few days and getting to see more of the city. I booked a Deluxe Balcony cabin on the Rhine deck the Danube is the next one up. I found the cabin to be excellent never had any problem sleeping although I did hear others complain that they could hear the engine especially going through the locks and they were on the Danube deck. The cabin was cleaned etc twice a day and the mini bar which we hardly used was restocked. I found that I had eaten and drunk enough in the restaurant or cafe that I rarely needed to use the mini bar in the cabin. The bathroom is small but I found it was always clean with excellent towels and toiletries and the shower was roomy as far as I was concerned but then I am not overly large. I tend to agree with those who say they may as well have incorporated the balcony into the room rather than separate it. It isn't large enough for two people to use without having to push past each other if one is already sitting there. The staff throughout were fantastic, we never used the butler service as it was just as easy to use the cafes etc and choose what you wanted. Our cabin steward Agus was simply great nothing too much trouble and once when my cabin electronic door lock failed he spotted me struggling and had the maintenance man there within 10 minutes and the batteries were replaced. Dining was a bit of a mixed bag. First breakfast, excellent choices eggs cooked any way you liked and always a very good selection I don't see how you could improve on this. Fresh tea and coffee always available from the waiters who were constantly checking. Lunch was a buffet again very good selection but usually too many people at the same time so that it was difficult to know where to join the queue at the central buffet. Wine was always available but I don't think the wine available in the dining room was all that good. I generally like full bodied wines but often it was Italian wines and once a Chianti which I found undrinkable. There were better wines available but they were not the ones being offered at lunch or dinner. Dinner was more of a disappointment although with some exceptions. Here I think they tried to be too fancy with far too many courses and often you are left wondering what it is meant to be. Given that everyone arrived for dinner at the same time the staff were literally run off their feet trying to serve everyone with drinks and their food. If you wanted to skip the lunch buffet then a light lunch was available in the cafe with additional snacks and desserts along with drinks. There was also a coffee machine available 24 hours with an excellent selection of coffees and some cookies along with a range of teas. The bar staff were excellent and drinks were freely available but I did find that if my favoured prosecco was not available they would pass you off with some other sparkling wine thinking that you would not notice the difference. Portobello Italian restaurant again a very good experience but again just a bit too fancy. Just as an example the minestrone soup which is a very basic soup just like most good Italian soups but if someone hadn't told you it was a minestrone soup you would need to be told. The food was good but I think it goes over the top and Italian food which is amongst my favourites could be improved by being a bit more basic and more Italian. Dress code, most people made an effort but there were some who just wore shorts and even T shirts for dinner. The captains dinner at the beginning and end, usually most people tended to dress smart casual some with ties but open necked long sleeved shirts, casual jacket smart trousers but as I say there were others who just turned up, dressed as if they were going to MacDonalds. The ladies tended to be the smarter. I have probably missed a lot out so if you have any questions please feel free to post them and I will do my best. Did I have some minor quibbles, yes of course as I have listed above. However the overall experience was very good and as I have already stated I have booked my next cruise with Scenic. I like that everything is already paid for and I found that apart from the excursions where you might have a coffee or ice cream during your free time after the tour then everything was taken care of. Full marks to Scenic for an excellent river cruise, I am hooked. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
The bottom line: my 6 years old daughter was crying when we were leaving the ship - and asked me to promise her that the next cruise will be at least twice longer... Now to details. We were warned upfront (including by Cruise Critics ... Read More
The bottom line: my 6 years old daughter was crying when we were leaving the ship - and asked me to promise her that the next cruise will be at least twice longer... Now to details. We were warned upfront (including by Cruise Critics reviews) that Celebrity cruises is positioned more to elder people - but it should be less relevant for European cruises especially during the summer school vacations. Indeed, the majority - over 70% to my assessment - of passengers of our cruise were closer to our parents' ages rather to ours (early 40s), and number of kids of our kids' ages (6 and 12) was counted in just few tens. I realize that cruises which are more family and kids oriented would offer even more activities and attractions appealing for us, and probably next time we will be looking for these more - but this does not mean that we didn't enjoy our cruise! Including kids clubs' activities. We chose this specific cruise mainly because of its itinerary and timing - and we enjoyed each and every moment! Especially we enjoyed the following aspects of our cruise: (a) embarcation and disembarcation processess at each and every port were extremely efficient (b) very friendly and helpful staff, giving a pleasant feeling at every corner of the ship (c) excellent food both at Oceanview Cafe and especially at San Marco restaurant (d) Gym and spa are excellent, especially helpful on see days but also good after busy port days. Couple of minor drawbacks: (a) Stockholm deserves much more than 7 hours we were given (b) Major activities and shows are too much oriented for the elder croud... Again, we didn't feel bored - but we were expecting for more... Details about the stateroom are given separately. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
For our first cruise or organized trip of any kind, my wife and I started in July, 2014 with Viking's Grand European trip from Amsterdam to Budapest. After 34 vacations abroad strictly on our own where we set the pace and chose the ... Read More
For our first cruise or organized trip of any kind, my wife and I started in July, 2014 with Viking's Grand European trip from Amsterdam to Budapest. After 34 vacations abroad strictly on our own where we set the pace and chose the places, it was a bit hard getting used to leaving the boat by 8:30 or so every morning. But we've since taken two more Viking trips (China - THE best trip we've ever taken and France, not nearly as good as the Grand European), have one more paid for (Russia) and one in planning (Portugal), so, as you can see, we LOVE Viking and have gotten into their daily rhythm fine. Overall, the best parts of this and every Viking voyage are the people we meet and the new friends we make. On this cruise, we got to know a wonderfully diverse crowd from a New Jersey FBI detective in his 50s to a Polish Jew in her 80s, now living in Canada, who escaped the Nazis with her family. From morning to night, the Viking meals are long and leisurely providing plenty of time for lots of great conversations. And speaking of meals, the breakfasts (great brown breads and wonderfully cheeses) and lunches (super salads and made-fresh pastas) were dependably delicious. On the other hand, the chef tried too hard at dinner to be experimental. We had many dishes he labeled "deconstructed" this or that, e.g. well known dishes with their layers all flipped around. Still he had more successes than failures. We went in July. If we get to do the trip again, that would definitely be the month we'd pick. Temperatures in Holland and Germany early in the trip were in the 70s with some rainy days and by the time we got to Austria and Hungry the temps were in the 80s with clear skies every day. We like to be able to short sleeve shirts, so it was perfect for us. In contrast, we recently did Viking in France in October and had to wear down jackets and sometimes even thermal underwear -- that's not how we like to travel. Another benefit of the good weather and mainly clear skies was that we got tons of great pictures every day. We still love looking at them -- they are photos we can savor forever. As far as places we visited, all were quite interesting but Amsterdam and Vienna were by far the best. Two recommendations for you. One, come early with Viking or own your own and spent extra time in Amsterdam and the area around it, easily accessible by train. We spent three wonderful nights at the Movenpick Hotel in Amsterdam on our own. It's a great hotel, and the one Viking uses. It's right by the central train station and so close to the boat that you can walk to board it. Second, if offered, don't take the bus tour in Vienna. They offer us a subway start to all-walking tour. We saw a lot more that way. AND, don't go back to the boat that day until way after dinner. So many things to see and do in Vienna. Our favorite was seeing the colors of the rides at the Prater (admission is free) at night. Got some amazing photos. Our favorite time of the trip was when the boat pulled in after dark into Budapest, where, for miles on end, every building and every bridge was lit up. We all watched from the top deck. The locals were on the bridges cheering as we would go by. Some really magical moments that kept taking our breath away. The local guides were consistently good and many were excellent, all with clear English skills unlike our France trip on Viking where "house" was frequently spoken as "owls" and where the guides were way too didactic, as if they were preparing us for a pop quiz. Our tour director, Ray Bauer, was hard working and hilarious. The best time we had on the boat was a group competition quiz that he ran. We all competed hard and laughed loud. What fun we had! Finally, one example of the dedication of the crew. My wife, before we started the Viking trip, fell in Amsterdam. Her leg started swelling after the cruise started. Viking arranged transportation to and from the nearest hospital and a member of the staff accompanied us and became our personal assistant in dealing with the hospital receptionists and doctors. She never left our side until we were back on the boat. We did NOT have the Viking trip or any other special insurance. Our only costs were $80 to the hospital, a well-deserved tip to the staff member and two modest taxi fees. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
This was our first river cruise and it was an excellent experience. We went from Amsterdam to Budapest. It is called the Grand European Tour. The Viking Atla is a very new boat and is streamlined and modern in its design. I think what set ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and it was an excellent experience. We went from Amsterdam to Budapest. It is called the Grand European Tour. The Viking Atla is a very new boat and is streamlined and modern in its design. I think what set this tour apart from say an Ocean tour was the fact that so much of the included excursions were cultural and intellectual in nature. There was always something new to learn and the quality of the tours very high. There was also lots of options regarding spending time at leisure.We did luck out with regards to the sometimes capricious nature of rivers - sometimes they are too low etc. Conditions for us were perfect. The ship ran like clockwork with all tours precisely on time and well-organized. Our program director Caspar, would brief us the night before which helped with planning. Many of the destinations small and charming. I was surprised by all the local musicians that came aboard. There was also a glass blower that was very entertaining, The quality of the meals was very high. An added touch were cookies, donuts and latte machines available throughout the day and evening. Most remarkable for us was the quality of service by the housekeeping and restaurant staff. They were courteous, friendly and amazingly efficient. We celebrated our 30th Anniversary aboard ship and staff really made it special. We came away from this tour feeling like we had been treated as special guests. We took the more expensive route of allowing Viking to arrange the air. The connections and flights were not always ideal but the seamless transfers from hotel to airport more than made up for that. One employee even offered to stand in line for me to hold my place at the VAT desk at the airport because she could see I was getting tired. Truly amazing service from start to finish. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
As a treat to ourselves, we decided to indulge in a holiday where we had everything organised for us. We don't like sitting on beaches - we like to be active and see interesting things. Our ship was exactly like the ones we had seen ... Read More
As a treat to ourselves, we decided to indulge in a holiday where we had everything organised for us. We don't like sitting on beaches - we like to be active and see interesting things. Our ship was exactly like the ones we had seen on TV, and we were given a really nice room with our own shower room en suite and a great view of the water - at eye level! Brilliant. We could see swans swimming up to the glass, we saw the inside of a lock in the middle of the night. Loved it! There was a great system for checking us off and on the boat, and once we got used to the way it worked, we felt most secure - no chance of getting lost or left behind. We were able to choose which activities which suited us best, and also the quality i.e. did we want the active or the gentle trip? We really enjoyed the range of activities, especially having our own personal courier in a range of languages. We learnt far more this way than we would have done if we'd been wandering alone. The food was wonderful. In some situations I have problems since I don't eat meat, but I always had a huge choice - served by fantastic waiters with load of humour. Great salads in the middle of the day, so we didn't put on too much weight. Even when we could not get our boat under the bridges and therefore did not reach our expected destination, we were not disappointed - we had local trips instead. Much more fun. We still got to our disembarkation point without any problems - and so careful over security with baggage. We really enjoyed our trip and have already booked into another one on a different river. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We disembarked one week ago at Budapest from MS AMASONATA finishing the River Cruise "Magnificent Europe" First of all, we had to recognize, it is a curiosity, that a married hungarian couple over 65 just fly to Amsterdam to ... Read More
We disembarked one week ago at Budapest from MS AMASONATA finishing the River Cruise "Magnificent Europe" First of all, we had to recognize, it is a curiosity, that a married hungarian couple over 65 just fly to Amsterdam to attend a luxury river cruise and sail to Budapest. As a bad luck, we had the worst 10-12 days of european wether during may. But nevertheless the cruise was so good, so wonderful, that we enjoyed it from the first moment to the last one. The brand new ship, AMASONATA is very nice with all imaginable comfort. The whole crew, the whole staff is incredibly polite, well trained, smiling, kind and first of all totally professional. Captain, Jan de Bruijn, Hotel Manager, Guido Kollmann, Chef Michael Ferstl made an excellent work. And of course the Cruise Manager, Nick Hartog, who is one of the best fellow, who I ever had met. The whole cruise was so marvelous, so admirable, so excellent, that we never shall forget it. The tours, the sights, the meals, the onboard entetainments, everything was remarkable. We had so many impressions, we will not forget at all. And finally let me mention our trip advisor, Betsy Scherr from San Diego, who helped us to organize the whole. Thank you wery much: Edit and Andras Miklovicz   Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
From the moment we boarded the ship in Amsterdam, the Viking crew treated us royally. Everything was so organized - The service was exceptional. food was outstanding. our cabin was nicely appointed and the bed so very comfortable. Great ... Read More
From the moment we boarded the ship in Amsterdam, the Viking crew treated us royally. Everything was so organized - The service was exceptional. food was outstanding. our cabin was nicely appointed and the bed so very comfortable. Great bathroom - heated floors and mini clothesline for hanging up washing. It was so nice having a French Balcony room - nice watching the world go by in the comfort of our room. The common areas onboard were lovely, comfortable and always clean. The daily tours were very well organized - the tour guides were exceptional - I loved the personal touches each of them added to their commentaries. Sometimes it would have been nice to have been able to spend a bit more time in the towns - but seeing how the schedules ran - I understand why we couldn't. The highlight of the tour had to be arriving in Budapest at night - what a beautiful city both in daylight as well as night time. This was our first trip to Europe and our first cruise - we were spoiled and Viking has set the bar high for any future trips we take. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
My husband and I along with four friends were on the inaugural Lif sailing through the Netherlands and Belgium on March 23, 2014. My husband and I and another couple had not sailed before but have traveled extensively throughout Europe ... Read More
My husband and I along with four friends were on the inaugural Lif sailing through the Netherlands and Belgium on March 23, 2014. My husband and I and another couple had not sailed before but have traveled extensively throughout Europe managing our own travel arrangements. I have to admit that our Viking trip exceeded our expectations. The most amazing part for me was the crew. The crew made us feel so comfortable and welcome. We were always greeted by the staff and crew. There were a number of extras that the staff did like greeting us back from an outing on the dock - holding letters which spelled out "welcome back". It was our home away from home.  The food was plentiful and delicious and the choices would please a picky eater. We even tried dishes that we would not normally choose. The excursions were well planned, interesting and always on time. The information for the next day's excursion was detailed at the evening's briefing session. There were a few glitches but they were minor and when they was brought to staff's attention, they were acknowledged and corrected. That is how a problem should be handled. Our trip truly delivered what was promised and we are looking forward to our next Viking cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
As first time cruisers we had a lot of questions. Cruise critic was very helpful for many of them. Neo romantica is a really beautiful ship and the staff are superb. The Baltic Northern Capitals are really beautiful and there are plenty of ... Read More
As first time cruisers we had a lot of questions. Cruise critic was very helpful for many of them. Neo romantica is a really beautiful ship and the staff are superb. The Baltic Northern Capitals are really beautiful and there are plenty of opportunities to see great art and design which we took full advantage of. We picked the all inclusive drinks package and enjoyed the range within in it. We really enjoyed the smaller bar entertainment where we found an excellent extempore pianist Akos who really had us sitting up and taking notice and a silver trio with sax, electric piano and excellent singer who provided a great atmosphere. Listening to the night out band in the background whilst drifting out of port looking out of the full length windows with a cocktail in hand and some nibbles of nuts, mini pretetzels and crisps was another pleasure. The other entertainment was also fine, the other standout being an italian tenor whose name I have misplaced - sorry that I have. We hardly ate or drank ashore just took a small bottle of water, a bit of fruit and hardboiled eggs from the breakfast buffet and a flask of spirits from our all inclusive package for pain relief for an osteoarthritic knee! We found the public transport affordable and clear and convenient meaning that we did not have to do much walking. St Petersberg did private tour which was three times what we paid for the actual cruise which we got on late avail..! At Stockholm we concentrated on the Museum of Modern Art which has an exhibition stuffed with Andy Warhol, Richard Hamilton, Matisses including his metal work, Piccasso etc etc. In Copenhagen we concentrated on the Museum of Design and saw some really unique beautiful things, again concentrating on maximum things to see per pace walked.Visby was on the itinerary but most people including ourselves never got to see it because the conditions were not right for the tender boat transfers and we have little time on Bornholm where we had to go to a small town on the other side rather than Ronne due to the sea and wind combined conditions making tender boat transfer too challenging. Also we went at the advertised time to pick up tender transfers and ended up at the end of the list as they were doling out tickets before the time advertised - my only real criticism. Strategically I think if you really want to be sure of seeing most of a tender boat destination with shorter time ashore then you need to pay out for the ship tour as they seemed to go ashore first and be least affected by the situation - understandably I suppose. Evening meals on board Neo Romantica were served; not buffet. The menus were varied and especially good if you like fine dining,italian approaches to food. Fruit was available throughout but vegetables tended to be nodded at through foams etc so ensure you get your fibre through salads and lunch buffet items if this is important for you. There was plenty of food overall. When ordering you need to say I want the soup, cheese etc though as at first we just told them what we wanted where there was a choice and so didn't get served the other items at all. If you did not like anything they were responsive to this, being willing to offer an alternative. As service is tailored to people relaxing and enjoying a leisurly meal rather than a fast food fill up, those with demanding stomachs may find it advisable not to miss an odd item from the grill or tea menu earlier. Snacks are not available at all times so keep an eye on food opening times! The hot chocolate drinks from the Chocolate bar are a particularly delicious fall back!The spa prices are nowhere to be found on costas website or by enquiry. On board we decided to avail ourselves of the spa access package for the whole 12 night cruise at 199 Euros for a couple or 123 Euros single. This provided access to facilities which were beautiful, clean and relaxing including thallostherapy pool, saunas at two different temparatures, steam room , frigidarium, tepidarium, foot baths, a relaxing warm room with sofas and heated ceramic ergonomic leaners and a japanese tea room with three choices of ayeravedic tea and a daily solarium session if wanted. Daily prices were 38 Euros and sometimes 25. There were plenty of clean towels available and hot and cold water to drink as well as showers. Lockers were digital which saved the issue of having to have coins available. There were plenty of treatments available and a hairdressers also on board. Prices were in the league of what people pay when when they are not going for cheapest end of the market but there were various package offers available on some days. All in all prices were nowhere near what we would would ever pay for anything being natural cheapskates but not sufficiently high for us to be tempted to make sarcastic remarks! Air hockey, table football, a small library with books in different languages and other entertainments were also around. The swimming pools are more accurately water holes to cool off in on deck - if you want to keep fit you'll have to use the gym or jog round the track on deck. You cannot plug any devices into the TVs in the cabins and we couldn't see any way of viewing your own media on the TV. The only TV channel in English is BBC and France 24 is sometimes in English. I think they may have had movies on demand but we didn't have time or inclination to explore what they were, another couple of nights and we probably would have done. One of us speaks a little of other languages and this made the cruise experience more fun too as we were able to chat a bit with other guests who also tried to utilise their English a bit. People who only speak English and want access to TV English programming may feel more isolated unless they bring their own media - a great chance to potentially connect with that other person who shares the same living space with you but is always busy doing something else! On a final note Amsterdam railway station is a nightmare as there are no porters or trolleys available and the left luggage lockers only work with credit and possibly debit cards and there are too few lockers for large suitcases and some of those available are at head height - you have been warned. It may be worthwhile trying to get a hotel added at Amsterdam when you book as this is of course one of the most beautiful cities with so much to see and do and will ensure you have somewhere to leave those cases. There was hardly any alcohol available at Costa's embarkation point. I think there may have been a bottle of wine, not sure whether it was openable there or not. After a long journey to the embarkation point access to a beer would have been great. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
We were supposed to be on the Var, but due to the flooding, it was stuck in Nuremberg and couldn't leave, so we were on the Prestige for the first few days. Our cabins were great, the food excellent, the crew very personable, and our ... Read More
We were supposed to be on the Var, but due to the flooding, it was stuck in Nuremberg and couldn't leave, so we were on the Prestige for the first few days. Our cabins were great, the food excellent, the crew very personable, and our Program Director, Mieke Bakker, was very sweet and informative. The Prestige was looking a little run down on the outside and required some paint one day. Switched to the Var in Nuremberg and it was beautiful! Lots of light and open areas and the lounge was bigger than on the Prestige. Our shower did leak a bit, but that was because it was missing the weather stripping. The food was great. Due to an engine problem, we had to stay over night in Engelhartzell, Austria, but it was fixed. Then, due to a lock being damaged from the flooding, we could not sail all the way to Budapest and went by bus. On our next to last night on the Var, Mieke gave us question forms to fill out to see how we had liked the cruise so far and Mom and I wrote some very nice comments about her and showed them to her because she was hot and tired and we thought that might cheer her up and she looked at mine and said "thank you, darling" and gave me a kiss on the cheek. On our last night in Budapest, she arranged our dinner entertainment, which was local singers and they were great. The morning of our departure, she had a few minutes before seeing the next group off and Mom took a picture of her with me. We met lots of interesting people here. And they had our safety in mind when it came to the lock being damaged. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
The urber large cruise ships have never appealed to us and have avoided joining friends on trips. We thought a europe river curise would be the best way to tour and get a taste of cruising. Booked a 8 day Rhein river curise on the Viking ... Read More
The urber large cruise ships have never appealed to us and have avoided joining friends on trips. We thought a europe river curise would be the best way to tour and get a taste of cruising. Booked a 8 day Rhein river curise on the Viking Sun. For the most part the trip was very good experience. The ship was clean and well kept. The service was very good. The excursions were good and well excuted. The activity directors were very good. Particulary Damionano and Arturo, both represented Viking very well.The food, was just okay. Choices were limited and although the food quality was good it didnt meet our expectations for fine dining on a cruise ship. The major diapointment however was about 20% of our trip was cut short because of hi water levels on the Rhein. Major flooding on all the europiean rivers. Our big cruse vacation of a life time turned into a bus tour. Obvisouly river conditions are not Vikings fault however, this was no suprise to Viking. Now that we know about "Cruse Critic" we see similar reviews from over a year ago. Water levels will affect your curise!! We feel Viking in good faith should have communicated this condition to us and given us the option to reschedule or cancel. We felt bad for the people coming aboard for the next cruse, as the flooding was getting worse. Viking did however gives us a 50% discount on another curise and did comp drinks and other services. Not sure we would book with Viking again. Advice from a first time cruiser: Buyers beware! It's up to you to check river conditions. Don't expect Viking to inform you of conditions and be sure to check cancelation policy before you book your trip. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
Our first cruise of any type was on the Avalon Vista's Amsterdam - Budapest June 23 - July 7 sailing. In a word - wow! Far exceeded our expectations. We were in one of their suites, mid-level near the stern of the ship. Our first ... Read More
Our first cruise of any type was on the Avalon Vista's Amsterdam - Budapest June 23 - July 7 sailing. In a word - wow! Far exceeded our expectations. We were in one of their suites, mid-level near the stern of the ship. Our first night because we were in port with no engines running and we were so tired after being up for 30 hours we slept like a log. First time we've experienced sleeping in a bed with no sheets, just the two twins pushed together with about a 2 inch foam mattress pad over the top to make a queen and two duvet covers, one for each person. Wife said it was great having her own cover and me not taking it all night. lol Early up next morning for an 8:30 am canal cruise in the rain. The only thing we weren't happy with was having to get up so early every morning, 6:30 - 7:00, to have breakfast and then get ready to go on their morning excursions. Obviously we're late risers. The cruise, cruise director Andrzej (Andre) Sanakiewicz, and all the waiters especially Ilie, Michael and Ginda and our maid Cinthia were fantastic and calling us by our first names within 2 days. Captain Hank you could talk to anytime he was out of his pilot house and you could also visit him in there. Our first night of cruising we became very used to the engine noise and would only wake up when they shut them down for a lock or sped up. Then of course we'd have to look out the HUGE door/windows to see where we were and what we were doing. The way the bed is layed out so you could lay there watching the world go by is fantastic. Food was awesome and menus for lunch and dinner were posted on the tv daily. Breakfast buffet was always the same, lots to choose from and to vary your choices daily. Lunch buffet was different every day or you could order something from your waiter. Dinners ranged from 4 - 7 courses and we found them to be excellent. I had a seared butter fish one night that has to have been the best fish dish I've ever eaten. Most of our included excursions were well run by local tour guides, 2 not so great, and we only did 2 of the "pay for" one to Zaanse Schans in Amsterdam and the Vienna Concert both of which we're glad we took in. The one day when most of the passengers were off on 10 hour excursions from Passau we stayed on board and sailed down the Danube, best decision we made sitting on top deck seeing all the villages, etc. as we past by. Free wine and beer with dinner, wish they also included it for lunch, and sparkling wine with breakfast. Drinks in the lounge weren't cheap but they have a 2 for 1 happy hour before dinner and a special cocktail every day. Unfortunately our first night at dinner we heard someone do the big cough and we both said oh bleep and by the end of the cruise most passengers were experiencing some symtoms of a nasty cold. Wife missed the Farewell dinner and excursions in Bratislave and Budapest. There were hand sanitizers at the entrance to the restaurant and as well as you came on board and were well used. Met lots of people, tables ofr 2, 4, 6 and 8. Most were from Australia and New Zealand, 4 from Canada, 16 from USA and a few from UK. Would we do it again? Maybe. River cruises are expensive and flights from Western Canada to Europe also very expensive. We feel we got good value for our buck and saw history that we never thought we ever would. Visiting about 13 or so churches and cathedrals became a bit much by the end of the trip but the cathedrals are really awesome to visit. And most allowed you to take pictures, even with flash. If we were to do it again we'd definitley go over a couple days early and stay an extra day or two at the end. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
This was a very busy cruise because there were only 4 days at sea; which was sufficient for my husband. Everything was very clean and the staff very professional and friendly. We are not big eaters and so although the buffet was very ... Read More
This was a very busy cruise because there were only 4 days at sea; which was sufficient for my husband. Everything was very clean and the staff very professional and friendly. We are not big eaters and so although the buffet was very plentiful we did not try a lot of the options. the dinner meals were varied and offered something for everyone. My husband loves fish and tried many types and found them very good except for the cod. I am a light eater and managed to find salads and small plates to enjoy. Our room was small for 3 adults and we were told it was bigger. My husband slept on a made up couch which was a bit short for someone six feet tall. However the room was kept very clean and the staff responsive to any request. Although there were several talks and entertainment we found activities a bit limited. I would have enjoyed a separate games room where there would be cards, scrabble, backgammon and other games displayed. There really is not anything to complain about in the service but we realize that we are not really cruisers as we like to be busy and the ship didn't offer enough activities and our day tours felt rushed. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
We were passengers on the Scenic Ruby tour departing Amsterdam on 27th May 2013. Our primary purpose in travelling on the Scenic Ruby was to cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Our specific interest was in the Rivers as a ... Read More
We were passengers on the Scenic Ruby tour departing Amsterdam on 27th May 2013. Our primary purpose in travelling on the Scenic Ruby was to cruise the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Our specific interest was in the Rivers as a transportation system and the scenery along the river. We have a son who lives on the Rhine in Germany and by visiting him on several occasions in the past we had noticed many river ships, and not having previously experienced luxury river cruising, we chose the Jewels of Europe tour we thought it would enable us to explore the river and to experience its much vaunted beauty. Our actual experience was not remotely close to Scenics advertised ultimate luxury river cruising experience. The rivers were swollen and well up before we started out from Amsterdam. Having worked extensively for many years in flood disaster management and flood recovery on rivers in Australia, I know that the upstream hydrology patterns would have dictated near the start of the voyage that the ship would not be able to undertake the journey on schedule. Yet Scenic failed to inform the passengers about the true extent of the impending disaster until over a week into the "cruise" and then only drip fed us with what information it saw fit for us to know while our ships sat day after day in ugly industrial terminals before Scenic eventually acknowledged that we would not sail again - at all. In fact we cruised for only 2 days of a 15 day tour. There was nothing relaxing about the cruise. Instead of cruising, we were shunted in buses backwards and forwards along the route, completely missing most of the river scenery. This required very early starts, day after day, instead of waking up fresh and stepping off in new cities. We were accommodated on 3 separate ships along the way, and dined on a 4th lots of packing and unpacking totally at odds with what was advertised. This cruise of a lifetime was completely unspectacular. While the Cruise Director and ships staff are to be complimented for doing their very best to feed, water, entertain, look after all the passengers, and keep us calm, there was a very strong undercurrent of conversation among the passengers about Scenics failure to properly inform us of the reality of our situation enabling people to make choices about whether to stay or go. If the tour had been cancelled, our travel insurance would have covered us. Since it was not, we had little option but to persevere. Passengers were informed, when the full extent of the flood became apparent, that most of the other affected ship companies cancelled the remainder of their cruises and sent their passengers home to work things out with insurers. We would have preferred to do the same. We feel we got only about 30-40% of the experience we were offered but Scenic was unwilling to provide equitable compensation offering only $500 as a "gesture of goodwill". Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2013
I had researched long and hard for a couple of years, since our last ocean cruise in 2008 (Cherry Blossom Cruise) about European river cruises. Considering lines, ships, itineraries, inclusions and extensions that we wanted to make. Taking ... Read More
I had researched long and hard for a couple of years, since our last ocean cruise in 2008 (Cherry Blossom Cruise) about European river cruises. Considering lines, ships, itineraries, inclusions and extensions that we wanted to make. Taking into account all of the above decided on booking Scenic Tours Amsterdam to Bucharest, Black Sea and Turkey. 38 days in total, 21 days on board the Scenic Crystal. We booked through my travel agent and then Scenic tours, both our airline tickets with Singapore Airlines ( entitled to only pay taxes with early bird offer and free stop over in Singapore on our return) and our accommodation at Amsterdam at the Doubletree. My husband and I are in our late 40's, and traveled with my parents (mid 70's). We booked the Royal Panoramic Suite on the Danube deck (had paid a $500 fee to be informed when bookings opened to secure this cabin as there are only 2 of them, 20 months in advance of cruise date). Because this was our first time in Europe, I was happy to have transfers, etc all taken care of by Scenic. We arrived 7.20am on Saturday and had a private car meet us and transfer us to the Doubletree with a little orientation tour on the way into town from the airport. Arrived at Doubletree and we were able to check into our room before 8am, at no extra charge (we did not book it for the night before, as is sometimes suggested), so was very happy with the efficient check in service and the staff were all very courteous during our stay. We had upgraded at the Doubletree, to a King City suite, so had a room on the highest floor looking out over the city and Centraal station. The room was very clean, plenty of room and stocked with plenty of towels and toiletries. The hotel is ideally suited to exploring the city as all the trams run from Centraal Station, and the canal bus has a stop at the station, although it is only a 5-10 minute walk to Dam Square on the flat. The hotel also has bike available for hire (16 euros daily). Would stay here again. On the day of checkout from the hotel, Scenic had an information desk, luggage store and refreshments available on the first floor of the hotel. The Scenic Crystal docked the day before and there were passengers arriving from the ship waiting for transfers to airport etc, as they finished their cruises, so it was all happening. My husband and I had more exploring of Amsterdam planned, so left our luggage here to be transferred to the ship. We could have been back at 3pm for a bus transfer to the Crystal, or make our own way to the ship. After a full day in Amsterdam we arrived at the ship at about 6.30pm. We were welcomed on board by staff, checked in with our passports and given a welcome rose and escorted to our cabin. As the evening meal was being served in the restaurant, we dumped our coats & shopping and headed to the dining room and met up with our other family members. All the ship's staff was very welcoming and friendly, and there was lots of chatter amongst the passengers of where we had been, where we come from, etc. The ship was clean, with plenty of room for everyone and lots of areas for people to gather in small groups. The staff were helpful in guiding us with directions, until we all got familiar with the ship and routines. All the staff wore their name tags with their nationality, and there were a lot of introductions all round. Nothing was too much trouble, and it wasn't long before staff were anticipating what you wanted. There is always someone at the reception desk 24 hours (except when doing security rounds overnight for about 10 minutes at a time). Our cabin was at the rear of the ship, the panoramic suite, and we had no problems with noise, vibrations and/or fumes. In fact on some occasions we were docked when we went to sleep and woke to find that we were either in a different port or underway, and we hadn't heard a thing. The toiletries were fine and plentiful, as was the supply of towels and the linen changes. The linen and towels were of high quality and very luxurious. The panoramic lounge has many different seats available from couches to lounge chairs, bar stools & seats at tables. There is a library at the rear of the lounge that has many books about ports of call, it also has the coffee& tea making facilities. We always picked up a pot of tea or a hot chocolate here to take to our cabin when going to bed. The bar is toward the front of the lounge and there is a piano, where Josef our musician played during our cruise. THe river cafe is in the lounge and provided early risers breakfast, and light snacks/treats options during the day. Portabellos is an intimate Italian dining experience that is to the fore of the bar area on this level, and it a very pleasant dining experience. The Crystal dining room is a level down and has plenty of tables of all varying configurations, although pretty close together. Some meals here are table service meals and others are a buffet. There is always some meals you can order from your waiter and they are very happy to accommodate all requests. Drinks are served freely in the dining room and always plenty of cold water available. The food was exceptional, although if you like your meat well done, make sure you tell your waiter this, as they tend to serve their meat on the rarer side of the ledger. The food was always hot and if you want more bread rolls, again just ask. We dined at the La Rive table and this was a fun night of food and wine, the waiters, Adam & Stan, were so knowledgeable about the wines and the chef came out at the end of the meal as well. Because we were in a royal suite we dined on the Captain's table on the farewell night. The Captain was a very funny guy from Bulgaria and was more than happy to talk anywhere, anytime. When you are up on deck, you are always welcomed to go into the wheelhouse and ask questions, and even steer the ship. I had a small turn going through the Iron Gates, but got so nervous I was going to stuff up, handed the controls back. The gym was limited, with a treadmill, bike, cross trainer, and is used mostly by the Captain!! There are towels, water and apples in the gym. The electric bikes are available for use whenever in port and they are great. So easy to use, just make sure you turn the assist off when negotiating tight corners!! The wellness centre has and area for hair dressing and then an inner room for beauty and massage. Both the stylist and therapist here were excellent. I recommend a massage, and their rates are very reasonable compared to some ships. The platinum facial was pure heaven and included everything except a back massage! There was a shop on board that had branded clothing of Scenic, and some jewelry & watches for purchase. Room service was available in our suite and we had breakfast in the room a few times when we had to be up to buses early. The food was hot and huge serves, and always at the time requested. You could also order and early morning tea/coffee and this too was a little indulgent. Service was always with a smile and a little chat, with small touches like having bottled water at reception as you leave for excursions and having warm face washers and refreshing drinks to welcome you back on board. After one very wet excursion we were met with umbrellas to protect us up the gangway and warm face washers & towels after a very wet bike ride. The port excursions were well organised and there was a talk the day previous to explain everyone's options, and lay out the schedules for buses etc. Our cruise director, Marin, was always available and easy going, and made every attempt to meet your requests. Along the cruise there were entertainers that came on board, usually traditional dancers & musicians of the relevant country. Otherwise the ship's musician, Josef, provided the musical entertainment. On the day of disembarkation, we were given tags for our luggage and had to have them out the front of our cabins by 8am. It is all hands on deck, as everyone assists with the unloading of luggage. Some of the excursions we went on: Zaanse Schans It was wet, so a little restricted, but thoroughly enjoyed the windmills and the reserve in general. Tip: stop at the shops along the way, have much more variety than those at the main entrance. Photo revenue goes to continue the preservation of the buildings in the reserve. Cologne Guide was very poor. We ended up leaving him and joining another of our groups once we found out where to board our boat. Went back to the cathedral in our free time and climbed the 509 stairs to the top, the only ones on board to do so. Such a lovely city. Walked along the Hohenzollernbrucke rail bridge that is covered in masses of padlocks of couples declaring their love for each other and then casting the keys to their locks into the river Rhine. Loved it. Passau We headed from Passau to Cesky Krumlov for the day. Others went to Salzburg, and some others went to the salt mines. My mother stayed in Passau and went on a walking tour of the city (it was flooded 4 days later). Cesky Krumlov took about 1 1/2 hours via bus, travelling through Czech countryside, to a very impressive town with a very impressive castle. We spent the day exploring and had lunch, returning via bus to Linz, where we re-boarded the Crystal. Had tea and then some exploring of the city centre of Linz before setting off at about 11.30pm. Budapest What a thoroughly delightful city. We arrived on the Scenic Crystal at about 10.30pm and cruised up and down the river so we could all take photos of all these incredible sights lit up at night. It really was very magical. We docked opposite parliament house. This city has many places to visit. We went on a city tour with the Cave Hospital, that was very interesting, and saw many beautiful buildings and had more opportunities outside as it wasn't raining!! We could see the water levels rising whilst docked here. This was where all but 30 of us left the cruise and headed off in many directions, and a bunch of newbies arrived for the next 7 days into Eastern Europe. We walked to the Fisherman's Bastion, parliament, Shoes by the Danube, St Stephan's Bascilica, the Hungarian markets, the Gellert Baths, the Church in the Cave, and many other places along the river. The lighting engineer of Budapest has the most important job, as this city is so wonderfully lit at night. Need more time here. Bucharest Bucharest was the beginning of our land component of our Black Sea - Turkey extension. It was a relative unknown city, compared to the other cities we had visited. Communist architecture evident everywhere, but many gems to be found. The people's parliament is almost hideous in it's over sized grandeur, very similar to the Nazi architectural style of intimidation by size. There is some humour in Bucharest. A base of an old monument to Lenin (knocked down during the overthrow of the communist government) now has students place another monument there from time to time. It was a worm whilst we were there. We stayed at the JW Marriott, that was very nice and comfortable, although a little way out of town (a good 20-30 minute walk). Here is where the service industry is trying hard, but tourists, especially Western tourists are all very new to them. Not many smiles, no eye contact, although not that they weren't doing their job, it's just that they were often having loud discussions/disagreements with other staff in front of guests, and that sort of thing. I'm sure after a few more years they will have it all down pat. I recommend that you research what you want to see before you get here, as there is so much to see. We took an excursion to see the Snagov Lake and Monastery, which is about 90 minutes from Bucharest. It was lovely and similar to the Bulgarian style of church, with al frescoes painted all over the interior. There is only one toilet on the monastery island. It was a lovely preserved part of Romanian life. The shopping in Bucharest is good, with prices being the cheapest in Europe I had seen so far, with the quality not being compromised. I did enjoy our visit. Istanbul The Dolmabahce palace was beautiful, although Scenic used their own guides for the tour it was difficult to hear what they were saying with a larger group of 63 people. (the headsets are only used whilst on the spaceships). You are not allowed to take photos, the architecture inside is very impressive and beautiful. The site is perfect right beside the Bosphorous, and the gardens are equally magnificent. The mosque, underground cistern, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi palace were all very impressive. The Bosphorous cruise was a standout, as Scenic book the whole ship out so there is plenty of room to roam around and see everything in the 1 and a half hours spent on the water. The guides did a great job as we were there at the same time that Taksim Square was the centre of some riots, and they managed to show us everything around these disputes, and keep us out of harm's way. Underground Cistern Such an incredible feat of engineering from so long ago. Fascinating. Blue Mosque Enjoyed the knowledge of the guides and the beauty and scale of the mosque. Grand Bazaar This was a little dull, found the sales people a little rude, for the first time on my trip. Not many people around, maybe due to the Taksim Square riots. Hagia Sofia So much history. Love Ataturks' vision in making this a museum. Again knowledgeable guides. Bosphorous Cruise The Bosphorous cruise was a standout, as Scenic booked the whole ship out so there is plenty of room to roam around and see everything in the 1 and a half hours spent on the water, with all areas of interest pointed out to you by the guides. Topkapi Needed a little more time here, but that was not to be helped as our hotel was within the area locked down at 4pm around Taksim Square so we had to be back within a time frame that was not the usual. Spice Market Loved the presentation and the smells, although they sell a bit more than spices here. In conclusion, we had a great trip, in some difficult circumstances, although the staff never let on to the guests the extra work this caused them all. The ship was perfect, such a lovely indulgence. I did enjoy the direction we went (Amsterdam to Bucharest) but would have loved to have had the land content first and then lived it up in the boat not needing to go back to living out of a suitcase. But this is nit picking. The staff are the Crystal's best asset, and I felt privileged to have been part of their family for 21 days. Would recommend Scenic Tours to everyone, they were very helpful and all went very smoothly, and would definitely tour with them again. Karyn   Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
As first time cruisers, we couldn't have asked for a better trip. The Viking Sun crew was awesome! The day trips were quite interesting and fun filled. Even the local guides selected for various tours were fantastic. The food on board ... Read More
As first time cruisers, we couldn't have asked for a better trip. The Viking Sun crew was awesome! The day trips were quite interesting and fun filled. Even the local guides selected for various tours were fantastic. The food on board was delicious. We loved the relaxed atmosphere of hanging out in the lounge, visiting with other members of our group as well as folks from the UK and USA. The housekeeping staff was phenomenal. Those folks worked tirelessly to keep the ship clean and welcoming. The Program Director, Damiano was awesome! Funny, attentive and always had an upbeat smile. We liked that lunch on board offered two options: either in the main dining room or in the lounge. Having the chef outline the evening's dinner menu each night was a plus. The shore excursions were excellent. We never felt hurried and we had plenty of free time with each excursion. At the end of the trip, Viking's departure process was very organized. As a retired military member, I'm used to logistics and organization. The Viking Sun crew gets high marks from me! We visited Kinderdijk, Netherlands; Cologne, Germany; Koblenz, Germany (where we visited Marksburg Castle);Mannheim, Germany where we went by bus to Heidelberg; Kehl, Germany where we went by bus to Strasbourg, France; Breisach, Germany where we took a bus ride to the Black Forest and visited a cuckoo clock workshop (and ate real Black Forest cake!). Final port was Basel, Switzerland where we transferred to the airport for our trip home., Read Less
Sail Date: April 2013
As you can see from my title, this was our first river cruise. We had tried 1 Caribbean cruise before and we weren't too crazy about our experience with that. We selected Viking because of the Rhine itinerary (been to some of the ... Read More
As you can see from my title, this was our first river cruise. We had tried 1 Caribbean cruise before and we weren't too crazy about our experience with that. We selected Viking because of the Rhine itinerary (been to some of the places before on a Globus tour) and wanted to spend more time in places like Cologne and Heidelberg. Also Viking had a price that was in our range. Pre-trip. We are a couple in our 50's. We took our 24 yo daughter and 35 yo niece along. The Viking sales agent Alex was very helpful and made several great suggestions. We went with special Viking air and transfers and were extremely pleased with our flights. Viking even called 3 weeks before departure and asked if we had any questions. We elected to go with 2 standard rooms and a post-trip extension to Lucerne. Arrival. Our plane landed early and we were taken to the Helvetia about 10am. We were greeted by the Cruise Director George who took us onboard. Although our rooms would have been ready by 11am, we elected to have a hot beverage and then head out and explore Amsterdam. Check in went smoothly when we returned at 5pm. Ship. We liked our standard room. The size was perfect and the bed was very comfortable. We would probably stay on a higher deck next time. Being on the bottom deck, we could hear toilets flush throughout the ship. We could feel vibrations from time to time but really did not experience much loud noise. The layout of the ship was good. Most people would have very little walking to get from cabin to lounge or dining room. Even though it was only April, the river was starting to fill up with cruises. A Viking longship and 2 Avalon ships seemed to follow our every move on the Rhine. A few times we had to cross through another ship to get to shore. Food. Food ranged from okay to excellent. I thought they did a good job with choices considering that they had 180 people to feed -- all ordering at once. They had a choice of meat, fish, or vegetarian for every meal. Sometimes it was chaotic with some tables seeming to get served faster than others. They had usually a local specialty at each port. The wine was good -- not much selection but it seemed to change each day. We consider ourselves wine snobs, it wasn't Bordeaux but it was still good. One evening, I asked the waiter why they hadn't poured a Riesling yet (we were in Germany after all). He said if I had purchased the extra spirits plan then I could have a bottle. I hadn't but he brought me a bottle anyway. The servers worked extremely hard (a bit understaffed) and tried to accommodate everyone's wishes. Breakfast and lunch were basically buffets, but they did have a few items that could be ordered from the menu. A hot beverage bar was always open, usually stocked with fresh cookies. Excursions. The highlight of the trip. The Middle Rhine is absolutely gorgeous. Viking had 4 brand new buses that they had purchased to follow us the whole trip. They used them for transfers to and from the airport and the regular and optional excursions. The local guides I thought were all enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Viking left several hours of free time in each port for exploring on one's own. Maps were made available. The concierge on board the ship was always available to help you book things on the side. Staff. The staff was fantastic. Everyone had to multitask and work long hours but they had a smile on their face the whole time. I think they could have used 5 more people for meals to ease the confusion. I'm sure they are trained to be polite but I swear they remembered our names instantly. The rooms were spotless. The Cruise Director George Nakos was fun and made friends with everyone. The Captain Florian Sulzer seemed to always be helping out with various tasks. I think Viking deserves an A Plus for the staff and crew. Post Trip. The Rhine levels were too high for our last day so we had to be bused the last 20 miles to Basel or wherever everyone was scheduled to go. Viking even took care of the people who had not booked transfers with them. Viking representatives were everywhere -- at the post trip hotel and even the airport to make sure we got to our gate. Pros. The Staff. The Itinerary. All the small details being taken care of. We will do a Viking Cruise again. Cons. Can't really think of anything. Entertainment was average but honestly we went to bed by 10 every night. Read Less

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