It was a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my husband' parents, they had always wanted to do a European River cruise. We could not have been happier with the service provided by APT and the crew aboard the AmaReina.
Prior ... Read More
It was a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for my husband' parents, they had always wanted to do a European River cruise. We could not have been happier with the service provided by APT and the crew aboard the AmaReina.
Prior to departure APt were a breeze to deal with, and we were able to purchase drastically discounted Business Class fares because of the cabins we booked. The travel documentation and travel packs from APT were great.
Despite high waters we were able to make all our scheduled destinations by boat. The food was of good quality and it was a nice touch that the wines at lunch and dinner were always from the country we were travelling through. The tours and freedom of choice activities were also well planned and designed to make the most of your trip.
Some drawbacks were that for the more independent travellers there was not enough free time in some of the ports. Also these cruises can become a breeding ground for germs. I think most of the guests came down with colds and flu.
One more advantage was that even though we had a late flight on the last day we were able to stay on board until 2pm and APT had arranged airport transfers for us. Read Less
First thing you need to do prior to taking a Scenic cruise, if my first experience is typical and I think it is, try to lose some weight. Failing that and regardless how successful, bring clothes that will adapt to a weight increase. In ... Read More
First thing you need to do prior to taking a Scenic cruise, if my first experience is typical and I think it is, try to lose some weight. Failing that and regardless how successful, bring clothes that will adapt to a weight increase. In the two weeks I spent on Scenic Crystal going from Amsterdam to Budapest 27 April to 11 May 2016 I managed to gain almost a stone (sounds less that way). Even my wife who is much more judicious in her eating and drinking gained. So be forewarned; the food is 24 hours and excellent. The liquor offerings are top shelf or just about anything you would want. A Scenic repeat couple told us they “go into training” prior to a Scenic cruise.
When you first board your ‘space ship’ as Scenic likes to call their custom designed boats, you notice how friendly all the staff and crew are to you. They are obviously trained to act this way and it is nice. It lasts the whole time and must get tiring for them, but they keep it up. More about the staff later.
Our cabin (port side, diamond deck) was a standard balcony and had a nice and spacious feeling considering the actual space (19sqm/205sqft). A nice amount of storage and room to store your luggage under the queen size bed. Our shower was actually full-sized, not the corner one pictured in the published deck plan. There is one category below this cabin and four above and the advice I got from this thread was accurate; this is the best choice unless you are willing to splurge on one of the Royal Suites. Your only other decision is which deck, as the upper Diamond Deck includes a higher degree of butler services and an invitation to special wine tasting dinner. The uniquely designed ‘Sun Lounge’ balcony with full width window that could be lowered to half height was nice, but we found that we actually didn’t use it too much. That the chairs weren’t too comfortable would be one reason, but the action and fun was going on in the public areas where all the food and drink was flowing.
I’ll mention a relatively minor consideration in choosing a cabin; port or starboard side. This has nothing to do with the POSH myth, but how the boat moors along the way. As most daylight moorings are on the right your view is generally less obstructed going south on the port side, the higher the deck, and the farther aft your cabin is located. Although I can’t personally verify, then starboard going north as I would think the same moorings would be used but on the left. Regardless, Scenic rarely moors beside another cruise ship forcing you to look into someone’s cabin. Unlike what we saw Viking doing with multiple Viking ships. The only time we saw another Scenic ship (Jewel) was when it passed going the opposite direction.
Our fellow passengers (148) were predominately Australians which was certainly expected with a scattering of UK, Canadian, and US like ourselves. No other nationalities represented (other than by marriage). All were generally friendly and as all meals are open seating, you tend to meet a lot of people. There was one large group of Australians that stuck together, but I assume they knew each other prior to the cruise. We ended up spending a lot of time with a Canadian couple and are thinking of going on another Scenic cruise with them.
The median age of Scenic passengers is purported to be about 68 and I would guess based on this trip that is about right. The few “youngsters” were in their forties with quite a few in their eighties. The vast majority were late sixties and seventies. As the information Scenic puts out emphasizes more than once, to take full advantage of the cruise and all the shore excursions, you need to be in fairly good physical shape. Even on board, there are a lot of stairs to climb to and from the various decks. There is one tiny elevator, but really not something you want to depend upon constantly. Too many passengers, in my opinion, didn’t read or pay attention to the physical demands to fully enjoy the trip. Of course, you can just go for the ride, on board entertainment, food and drink. It is like being on a moving five-star hotel. There was one couple in one of the two top Royal Panorama Suites who were making their fifth voyage on the same cruise. I don’t think they went on any of the shore excursions. “Been there, done that” I guess.
The wait and housekeeping staff from what we learned was mostly from various Eastern European and former Soviet bloc countries and very attentive and hard working. I don’t think they get a day off the whole cruise season, April to October, as one cruise ends another begins the same day. Giuseppe (hope I spelled it right), our constant live musical entertainment, singing and playing an electronic piano, was from Italy. He was very good and accepting of being ignored in the background. Tough on the ego in my opinion, but goes with the territory.
Probably the hardest working person in my view was Adrian, the cruise director. He barely gets time to sleep with juggling staff, tour arrangements, answering questions, handling problems, and herding and trying to keep track of all the passengers. The latter reminded me of my multiple feline household. He also gave a nightly “Port Talk” in the main Crystal Lounge of the next day’s events and tour options.
Finally, our chef whose name I am embarrassed to admit I did not record, did a superb job preparing imaginative, location themed and professionally presented meals working from a relatively small kitchen area. Each Port Talk he would bring out his recommended main course for that evening. Below is just one dinner menu for Thursday May 5th 2016 while near Regensburg, Germany:
Appetizers: Black Forest Ham, Farmer’s Bread, Mixed Pickles; “Maultaschen” Franconian Pasta Squares filled with Mushrooms, Brown Butter
Soups: Herb Essence, Puff Pastry Stick; Old Fashioned Potato Soup, Chanterelles
Main Courses: Oven-baked Seabass, Asparagus, Lemon-Cilantro Confit, ginger Risotto; Tender Pork Loin, Herb Farce, Glazed Vanilla Carrots, Palatine Red Wine Butter, Local Potatos; Celery Medallion in Hazelnut Crust, Lentils, Pumpkin Sauce, Herb Potatos
Desserts: Bavarian Cream & Elderflower Jelly, Forest Berries, Crispy Basket; Strawberry Ice Cream, Caramelized Walnuts, Whipped Cream; German Apple Pie; Fresh Fruit Platter
Daily Cheese Selection: Bresse Bleu Cheese, Porcini, Smoked Cheese, Water Crackers
For breakfast and lunch there were also standard menu options you could order custom. For a couple lunches I ordered a petite filet, rare with fries and it was delivered perfectly cooked in about 5 minutes. If anyone went hungry on the cruise it was because they were sick and couldn’t eat.
I won’t go into a description of all the shore excursions other than to say the ones we chose based on recommendations on this thread were all excellent with knowledgeable local guides. Scenic uses this electronic device that charges in your cabin called Tailormade® which you take and hang around your neck and connect with earbuds. Your tour guide has a master unit which you can then easily hear the running commentary. As it seems with all electronics, some passengers had trouble keeping their Tailormade® charged and a couple times the guide’s master unit refused to operate. Generally, the system worked fine though and could also be listened to while on-board with a running commentary of what the ship was passing.
Really the only problem I had was with my email. My email uses IMAP/STMP protocol rather than the older POP to send and the Crystal’s server didn’t recognize it. My wife had no problem as she still uses POP for both sending and receiving. Minor issue really. It was kind of nice being email free really.
The trip had only one logistical issue with one of the bow thruster props needing replacement requiring an emergency trip to the nearest dry dock. River/canal regs are that no ship can travel without functioning propulsion systems to limit banging into the sides of the locks. Adrian rearranged one day’s activities to allow for the repair and it had little impact (especially in comparison to the terrible river and canal flooding impacts just a few weeks later).
My final recommendation is to take advantage of staying an extra day or two in your embarkation city to help adjust to the time shift. Also use Scenic to book your accommodations since it will be the hotel that they use to gather all the passengers. They also provide someone to meet you at the airport and transport you to the hotel. All pre-paid like everything with Scenic.
Have a great trip…we sure did. Read Less
Cabin 236, the last room at the end of the hallway on Jasper’s second floor, was not to our liking on our Amsterdam to Budapest cruise due to the continual sound of the engine at the end of the ship. The noise was slightly ... Read More
Cabin 236, the last room at the end of the hallway on Jasper’s second floor, was not to our liking on our Amsterdam to Budapest cruise due to the continual sound of the engine at the end of the ship. The noise was slightly abated by keeping the folding glass balcony doors shut as well as the retractable window. The ship sails at nighttime so when the canal locks are encountered these noises seemed to be louder than when the ship was just cruising on the river. Needless to say our sleep was not restful nor sound. The ship was fully booked so while staff were apologetic little could be done for us until the ship reached Budapest when a cabin 4 doors down the hallway became available for our cruise from Budapest to Bucharest. What a difference! We were very appreciative of this cabin change and based on that cabin, 231, I would give the Scenic Jasper top marks for Balcony category cabins.
On future river cruises with Scenic we would re-book a Balcony cabin. These cabins offer sufficient room for storage and moving about, have a feeling of spaciousness given by the use of mirrors and full length window, and a good shower space in the bathroom with rain shower head and many water jets. We loved the extra sitting space the enclosed balcony gave us where we could see the riverside while we were in the cabin. The retractable window also provided access to fresh air, an option to room controlled air conditioning. This enclosed balcony was one of the reasons for us choosing Scenic. The padded wicker chairs in this area looked great and were comfortable, but when I sat in them, my view was blocked by the wood railing. The beds were very comfortable with choices of pillows if the 2 on the bed weren’t suitable. The white duvet and sheets gave the room a cozy modern look. I was glad the bed was higher up so that I could store my suitcase under it. The closet was divided into 2 sections with sliding doors that overlap – a nuisance at times when both occupants want to use the closet. The closet had space for hanging clothes on wooden hangers and open shelves for further storage. The night stand beside the bed also had drawers for additional storage and the bathroom had shelves for toiletry bags. In addition, glass shelves over the console ledge were also available for the tourist guide book, the river map, and room guide that were included in the room. The wall mounted TV/computer was such a nice inclusion with its free access to the internet, limited number of movies, music, the daily program, weather, and webcam view of the river from the bridge. We didn’t have to bring our own computer along. The Tailormade audio guides had a docking station in the room and these devices were loaded with sightseeing information for each port and sights along the river. These devices were also used by the local guides to communicate to us while doing the walking tours. The free in-room internet use on the computer and the tailormade devices, available in all cabin categories, were another reason why we chose Scenic. The room included an easy to use safe and always fully stocked minibar. Also free, was 1kg bag of laundry done once during the 2 week cruise. In case you haven’t packed an umbrella, there will be a large one available in the room along with 2 Nordic walking sticks. We both, however, made good use of the heavy terry robes and slippers so nice to slip into after a shower. The room had everything we wanted to make our stay comfortable.
Time spent in the cabins varies with passengers. We liked to get out of the cabin to enjoy the ship’s public areas – the Lounge, and sundeck. The Lounge area at the front of the ship offered comfortable tub chairs from which we could see both sides of the river while enjoying early morning coffee from the self-serve coffee machine or afternoon cocktails/drinks. Drinks were included in the inclusive offer so no extra charges were encountered for these refreshments. The padded tub chairs in the Lounge were my seating preference to the hard seated couches. Several abbreviated newspapers for different nationalities along with crossword puzzles were provided daily. The very small library offered some mysteries and travel information, but we didn’t have time for reading on this trip. The top sundeck was useful when in port with its small tepid water pool, loungers, and wicker chairs. Sun umbrellas provided shade. Some passengers opted to walk around this top deck while others preferred to use several exercise machines in the fitness room on the first floor. We didn’t try out the ebikes although the straight and long paths on the riverside looked inviting for such activity.
We, of course, spent a lot of our time in the elegant dining room set with tables covered with white table cloths and sparkling stemware for 4-6 people. Wait staff, dressed in black and white, offered drinks, took our orders, and provided efficient friendly service despite the fact that seating was tight. Breakfast and lunch were buffets while dinner was ordered from a menu. Hamburgers, chicken, steak, Caesar salad, and salmon were always alternatives to the buffet and dinner options. Although dining hours were set, enough time was given to accommodate dining preferences for either an early or later meal. Dinner, however, started at 7 with appetizers finally being served 45 minutes later and dessert was served 2 hours later so dinner was finished around 9pm. Food was delicious, varied, and attractively plated. If sitting with interesting passengers, this time passed quickly; otherwise, the time in the dining room dragged on. After dinner, we usually headed to our room rather than sit in the lounge where the pianist entertained and more drinks were served while guests chatted with fellow passengers. A limited menu was available for room service ranging from a continental breakfast to soups, sandwiches, cheese trays usually delivered by the butler assigned to the room – useful if just a light meal was wanted. Additionally, pizza, salads, paninis, cakes, and ice cream were available all the time up to late afternoon in the café in the Lounge area. Meals in the Portobello Restaurant were over-rated, IMO; we preferred the meals in the dining room.
Another reason for buying a Scenic cruise was their wonderful all-inclusive sightseeing program with daily excursions accompanied by local guides and their evening enrichment events. The local guides, speaking good English and often university students, gave a 1 ½ hour orientation walking tour of the old medieval city/town pointing out the important attractions and history, but offering no inside visits, even to free entrances like churches. Following the walking tour, usually an hour or so was given for free time, enough for a rushed visit to one art gallery, museum, or church. Tours were well organized and described the previous evening by the cruise director. When the ship was at a dock a good distance from the city (Nuremburg and Vienna), a free shuttle bus was offered in the afternoon for those wishing to return for additional sightseeing on their own. Tours ranged from part to full days with lunch included on full day trips; passengers could opt to stay on board and not go out too. The top notch enrichment events ranged from an evening Medieval dinner at Marksburg castle, music concert in a Viennese palace, lunch while being entertained by professional singers singing Sound of Music songs in Saltzburg, to a local sausage lunch, Biergarten style, in a small Bavarian town where huge heart-shaped lebkuchen cookies were given as a parting gift. In Serbia, we had a group lunch in the home of a retired Serbian couple where we shared life stories through an English speaking Serbian university student. These activities were described in Scenic’s brochures and itinerary booklets so the sightseeing program was well laid out. Unlike ocean going travel where the times of port arrival and leaving are posted prior to sailing, with river cruising the times of arrival and leaving the dock where only made available a day prior to arrival due to the vagaries of water levels and busy canals. Thus, while planning at home the sights I wanted to see at the various ports, I never knew exactly how much time would be spent in a town/city nor how much free time would be available for visiting their attractions on my own. The 2 day stays in Vienna and Budapest offered guests the opportunity to see several attractions on their own compared to the short visiting hours allowed at small town stops along the Rhine and Danube rivers. In Budapest the ship docks on the Buda side, a good 20 minute walk over the Chain Bridge to the Pest side, but also close to a major transportation hub where optional bus/tram/metro rides would eliminate so much walking to get to the Pest side attractions. In this city, you need the local currency (Hungarian forinth) so it is convenient to buy some while at home. Know that on Mondays art galleries and museums are closed In Europe, leaving churches, parks, shopping, and city walks as activities to pursue.
GETTING ON AND OFF THE SHIP:
Embarkation and disembarkation, both with transfers provided, went smoothly. The Doubletree Hilton in Amsterdam offered a brightly lit conference room as a daytime gathering point until we could board the Jasper, four hours later after our arrival. While this hotel offers a good location for sightseeing, I found its contemporary décor a nuisance as there were no comfortable tub chairs to sit in after a long overnight flight.
WORTH TO ADVERTISE:
Scenic delivered on all points of their cruise as described in the brochure, local information session, and website. It was the detailed local information session that got us interested in booking a river cruise with Scenic. The video presentation which showed the cabins, the Lounge, sundeck and dining areas, and the excursions including the special enrichment activities gave us a good idea as to what to expect. Although this was our first European river cruise, it was such a worthwhile experience that we would not hesitate to book additional river cruises with Scenic. Their friendly, “can’t do enough for you” staff, added to the enjoyment of our trip. Read Less
Having wanted to cruise from Amsterdam to Bucharest for several years, we investigated several companies and chose Scenic because it appeared to offer an excellent service, wide range of excursions and, importantly, was all inclusive. The ... Read More
Having wanted to cruise from Amsterdam to Bucharest for several years, we investigated several companies and chose Scenic because it appeared to offer an excellent service, wide range of excursions and, importantly, was all inclusive. The latter appealed enormously as we knew we would not be liable for an expensive drinks bill and tipping at the end of the cruise.
This cruise became our 50th wedding anniversary present to ourselves and we could not fault in any way the service we received. I travelled with a mobility scooter. All staff went out of their way to assist us when leaving and returning to the ship which was an enormous help.
From the moment we stepped onto the ship until we left we were looked after in every possible way as expected on a luxury cruise. Our cabin, was large, well equipped with the cabin attendant maintaining it to the highest standard throughout. Dining was one sitting, with a wide choice at each meal. Guests in some cabins had the option to dine at Table la Rive and Portabellos once during the voyage both of which very enjoyable. There was also a cafe area providing snacks, cakes and ice cream all day as well as light lunches.
All excursions were included and offered a wide choice - often with a small surprise element such as included wine and snacks, musical entertainment etc.. On a number of occasions additional entertainment was offered on board and included musicians, folk music and dancers, a wine lecture, a sand artist - all were of the highest quality and much enjoyed.
The staff were understanding when we needed to consult a doctor, arranging English speaking taxi transport and appointment.
Would you travel with Scenic again - definitely and recommend them Read Less
Avalon was recommended by our travel agent.
The overall cruise was wonderful. The places we saw were fascinating and the time spent on board very relaxing. But it's the service of the staff that I will remember the most. Within ... Read More
Avalon was recommended by our travel agent.
The overall cruise was wonderful. The places we saw were fascinating and the time spent on board very relaxing. But it's the service of the staff that I will remember the most. Within days of boarding the waitstaff knew what beverage I preferred for breakfast and had noticed that I used honey in my tea so brought that too. The bar staff remembered the drinks we ordered and could bring your order if you gave them a wave. The evening waitstaff were always attending to drinks and we're happy to bring extra if requested. Then there were the staff that cleaned the suites and liked to leave animals made from towels to make the guests smile. All the staff from the captain to the kitchen hands were friendly, helpful and made all their guests feel very special. I would not hesitate to recommend Avalon to all my friends and family. Read Less
This was our first river cruise and we had heard so much we were looking forward to the trip very much. The first greetings by the crew made us very welcome and were settled into our cabin very quickly by our butler Ilona. We were ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and we had heard so much we were looking forward to the trip very much. The first greetings by the crew made us very welcome and were settled into our cabin very quickly by our butler Ilona. We were pleasantly surprised by the amount of space we had in our cabin and the fact that our cases were under the bed made it so much more roomy. Having our own balcony was great too. The eating arrangements were excellent with plenty of choices of menu items and places to eat. The quality of food was excellent and you would have thought that you were eating in a 5 star restaurant. The lounge facility's were again excellent providing comfort and tea and coffee facilities at all times. Entertainment on board was very good and variable. The day tours also were very good with a high standard of guides. Finally I cannot speak highly enough of of the staff. From the cabin staff, reception staff and the dining and waiting staff were excellent. I made a point of addressing all staff by name to show respect for the work that they do and the personal attention they paid to the guests. Whilst some may consider the overall costs expensive the fact that you don't have to put your hand in your pocket for two weeks makes it reasonable. We are so pleased that we did the cruise and recommend it to others. Read Less
We chose this Cruise after a presentation and booked immediately without shopping or comparisons and Wow did we pick a great one.
WAB 503 Amsterdam to Budapest.
the only complaint I can think of is the parts of the river I missed ... Read More
We chose this Cruise after a presentation and booked immediately without shopping or comparisons and Wow did we pick a great one.
WAB 503 Amsterdam to Budapest.
the only complaint I can think of is the parts of the river I missed during the overnight sailing.
My fellow passengers, the cruise director Gusta and all the guides were on time, every time. No waiting about, clear directions and very organized.
Most the local guides were very knowledgeable and fun to walk with.
The Crew were happy, a pleasure to deal with and took the very best care of me.
The food was outstanding. The choices, the freshness and the presentation.
Really I have no complaints, ok just one other, I like being treated like a Queen and the cruise was far too short.
Yes I would go again, I will go again and I will without a doubt travel with Avalon. Read Less
I waited a few weeks to write my review because I simply didn't know where to begin. I took a 2 week European trip with 8 days being on the River Empress. From start to finish every moment I spent on the ship was memorable and worth ... Read More
I waited a few weeks to write my review because I simply didn't know where to begin. I took a 2 week European trip with 8 days being on the River Empress. From start to finish every moment I spent on the ship was memorable and worth every penny spent. From arriving at the dock and being greeted by the captain and crew who swooped my bags up and took them to my room. The room was smaller then I anticipated and I do wish I had paid for a larger room. The room was beautifully decorated and I felt the luxury. I was sharing the room with a friend and it was crowded all the time. Even so, we figured out a way to make it work and usually were in the room at different times. I also met people on the trip who traveled without having to pay a single supplement but I had not been able to find that option. Next time I will have my own room and that will make a big difference. I loved sitting in the room and watch as we navigated up River and through the locks.
The crew was simply perfect. I really don't know how service could be better than it was. The crew remembered me and knew all my tastes and preferences and I noticed thAt was true for all the other passengers. Within one day, I had made many new friends and knew passengers and crew buy name. I would easily be Able to travel alone and have time to be alone as well as meet friends to spend time with.
I became sick on the trip and the crew took care to make sure that I had extra care. They even helped get me to the apotheke to get some relief.
Dining was always a treat and the staff in the dining room were superb. I loved that we could dress casually and be truly comfortable everywhere onboard.
I loved the scenic stretch where we saw the castles but wish we could have had actual printouts to follow. The weather was cold and it was not possible to hear the commentary once I moved to the lounge.
The gentle walking options were still difficult for me but that was because I was sick and had a hurt foot. Even so, they helped me figure out options that I could handle. They went above and beyond. Sometimes I felt very rushed and didn't have enough time to really explore the town but I realize that they have many people to accommodate. I actually liked the quietness of the ship and that they only had a pianist. I enjoyed being Able to look out the window, write in my journal and visit with new friends. I wouldn't want a bunch of flashy entertainment like on an ocean cruise. I enjoyed the daily meeting to learn about the next day's options. I thought Dirk and Ramona did an exceptional job of making sure everything came off perfect.
I also enjoyed watching the crew work on the ship while they navigated the Rhine. The captain spent time talking to us and explained how the locks worked.
When it was time to embark I found myself welling up with tears. It was quite overwhelming to think of al the things I saw and the wonderful people I met. Read Less
The whole experience was excellent. The staff were wonderful & our tour Director ( Kurt) was excellent. We would do another one in a heartbeat! We couldn't fault anything . The only complaint we would would have is that very old ... Read More
The whole experience was excellent. The staff were wonderful & our tour Director ( Kurt) was excellent. We would do another one in a heartbeat! We couldn't fault anything . The only complaint we would would have is that very old people who do these cruises, should have their own carer with them! It is not the problem of the passengers or the crew & the tour guides to "babysit " them!
We think all the tours were excellent - I put our survey form in too early - before Budapest -& we really loved it there . My husband thinks I'm mad as he is English, but we saw snow fall as well as made snowballs up the mountain (Alp) in Salzburg which we also loved . There was nowhere that we didn't enjoy - except maybe Bamburg & that was the cold not the place!
The ship was brilliant ~ our Stateroom, although comfortable was very small & the set-up was such that you couldn't have the cupboard open & use the door to come in or go out at the same time! We couldn't fault the staff - they were all brilliant & very helpful & caring.
As I said before - we would do another one in a heartbeat! The food was amazing as well.( & never ending or so it seemed!!) Read Less
From go to whoa the Scenic Cruise on the Scenic Jade was absolutely amazing. The ship is a floating hotel of immense quality and the staff were faultless in all aspects, from presentation to customer service and doing all the little extras ... Read More
From go to whoa the Scenic Cruise on the Scenic Jade was absolutely amazing. The ship is a floating hotel of immense quality and the staff were faultless in all aspects, from presentation to customer service and doing all the little extras with smiles upon their faces.
They really go above and beyond, believe me. We found the cabin to have ample space and very comfortable.
All shore excursions were handled with precision and informative, the guides were very knowledgeable.
The entertainment both on board and ashore was mind blowing. Dining was an experience that will not soon be forgotten (the waistline will see to that).
Overall an experience that will stay with both my wife and myself forever. Can't recommend it highly enough.
If you're thinking of doing one of these trips, GO FOR IT. Read Less
Although we've traveled extensively this was our first river cruise. And this is the only to go! We added a pre-cruise stay in Amsterdam. What a fun city! The canal boat trip, Rijksmuseum and tour of the red light district were ... Read More
Although we've traveled extensively this was our first river cruise. And this is the only to go! We added a pre-cruise stay in Amsterdam. What a fun city! The canal boat trip, Rijksmuseum and tour of the red light district were excellent.
Our cabin, with nice veranda, was clean, functional had plenty of storage. The bathroom was spotless and the shower had great pressure and lots of hot water! The cabin was very quiet too.
The cabin crew was marvelous. The waiters were always there to refill your glass or bring anything you needed. Our cruise director Barry was funny, spirited, knowledgeable and very accommodating.
It was necessary to change ships twice due to low water levels on the rivers. The crew helped make the transitions very easy and Viking gave us some perks to make up for the inconvenience. For example: we all got gratis tickets to the Mozart/Strauss concert in Vienna. This concert is not to be missed!
Food was very good, regional and plentiful. The local wine and beer excellent! We often enjoyed the casual dining in the Aquavit Terrace but the dining room service was wonderful too and there were so many choices for all the meals services.
Sailing was a wonderful way to see the shoreline close up and personal. We took many photos from our veranda or the sun deck. The lights of Budapest were amazing and the countryside in Netherlands and Germany so beautiful!
The excursions were led by well informed and personable guides, and there was always time to explore on our own stopping in a pub for a beer or a bakery for a pastry or even a bratwurst. Oh the food was excellent!
The optional trips we choose were to Rothenberg, the winery visit and the Jewish history trip in Nuremberg. All were worth it! We kept busy but didn't feel overwhelmed as we could choose to remain onboard if we wanted to just chill out.
We met great people and are staying touch with several couples. The onboard activities were fun. George our pianist was there nightly to provide music for listening. Some danced but we would have preferred a little more rock style music for our dancing. Still it was fun.
We enjoyed the glass blowing presentation, the informative locks presentation and the various musical performances in the lounge.
We loved the small towns in Germany and Austria like Miltenberg and Passau where you could explore on your own and go to lunch with friends in the gasthaus restaurants. Yummy! We shopped for gifts and souvenirs at the various Christmas markets.
We loved this trip so much we are already booked the Rivers of Gold trip to Portugal in August for our anniversary! Viking truly provides a remarkable program and met all our needs and much more. Thank you, Viking, for the GREAT holiday! Read Less
After spending three days in Singapore and two days in Amsterdam which we thoroughly enjoyed my friend and I hailed a taxi and headed for the wharf to embark on our river cruise.
We sailed on the Amabella from Amsterdam to Budapest and ... Read More
After spending three days in Singapore and two days in Amsterdam which we thoroughly enjoyed my friend and I hailed a taxi and headed for the wharf to embark on our river cruise.
We sailed on the Amabella from Amsterdam to Budapest and had an unforgettable voyage full of wondrous experiences, discoveries, taste sensations and much more.
I read the review by Lovable and Daisy and agree with and endorse their review of our time on the Amabella.
Our first delight was our cabin - 317 on the top deck. Even though we had 2 single beds we had plenty of room as well as our twin balconies to spread out and be comfortable. It was lovely sitting on the balcony watching the small towns, vineyards and scenery passing by.
Our next delight was the food- which was scrumptious. There were lots of food combinations and interesting tastes and presentations. We had plenty of options to choose from and excellent wines to compliment the adequate sized meals
The shore excursions successfully catered for peoples' differing interests, hobbies and experiences and where necessary buses were always on time and waiting to take us into the town and return us to the boat after a great shore experience.
The lounge was a great place to catch up with people, listen to the music, relax,have a delicious afternoon tea, watch going through the locks head on and enjoy a drink or two.
All entertainment and enrichment actives were conducted in the lounge and appeared to be enjoyed by all.
It really was a fantastic complete holiday package.
All staff were very friendly and went above and beyond their duties to ensure that we all had a very enjoyable time at all times.
I also enjoyed the Amabella over the Amaprima- felt it was more comfortable, or maybe I was just used to the Amabella.
Kristen was an excellent Tour Director and started up an extra group (Pink group for the slow walkers) when she realised there was a need for it. She was always available to deal with any problems that could have interfered with the smooth running of our holiday programme.
The captain was superb at going through the really tight locks and was really disappointed he could only take us as far as Viena and couldn't sail us to Budapest because of the low water level of the river.
We travelled by bus to Budapest and transferred to the Amaprima and had an unbelievable night cruise sailing past the lights of Budapest - absolutely awesome.
Unfortunately next day was disembarkation and taxis and buses took us all to hotels or the airport. It was a very smooth operation. I didn't want to leave the boat.
Some people had a few small whinges but I couldn't find fault with anything on the cruise. I just loved everything about it. I also loved the small size of the cruise,-161 people can move around and have their own space without being on top of each other.
I'm looking forward to my next river cruise.
Well done Amabella staff- an excellent job Read Less
The trip down the Rhine River with stops at 2000 year old German cities along the way and too many castles to count was stimulating and beautiful. The ship was new, extremely comfortable, food healthy and light ( although one could eat ... Read More
The trip down the Rhine River with stops at 2000 year old German cities along the way and too many castles to count was stimulating and beautiful. The ship was new, extremely comfortable, food healthy and light ( although one could eat more calories without any trouble), a good but small gym and an amazing staff. Everyone was extremely responsive to any logistical request and or maintenance need ( we had a water leak in our bathroom that was fixed within minutes) Departures were arranged with efficiency and no confusion even when fog canceled many flights and required re-booking. The only problem was the low level of the water in the Rhine due to lack of rain so our arrivals were slowed by the necessity of traveling behind other slower ships all using the only available channel with enough water. Read Less
My mother, who passed away earlier this summer, swore she would never go on a cruise. My father, widowed at the ripe young age of 79 and overwhelmed by sadness and being alone, asked me to accompany him on a cruise. We had friends who ... Read More
My mother, who passed away earlier this summer, swore she would never go on a cruise. My father, widowed at the ripe young age of 79 and overwhelmed by sadness and being alone, asked me to accompany him on a cruise. We had friends who had traveled with Uniworld in Europe previously and raved about the experience. In fact, they took the exact cruise (Castles on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel) we signed up for several years before. So we planned the trip around my father's octogenarian cousin in Amsterdam... we'd start there and end there.
The flight in coach class from LAX to Amsterdam was great for me, but my dad was super uncomfortable. He would have preferred a stop-over. I think he is nuts. KLM was nice, although they did switch aircraft on us at the last minute and it's conceivable that we got a plane with smaller seats. I admit that the seats were small and close to one another. Again, he would have preferred a break. I say get it all over with. (Note: the flight home was also nonstop, seats were roomier, and the flight was a breeze.)
In Amsterdam we stayed at the modest but super comfy (and ideally located) Best Western Delphi on Apollolan, adjacent to the Beethovenstraadt shopping district. Easy to catch the trolley to the heart of Amsterdam, but far enough away for peace, quiet, and cost-effective travelling. Online pricing was great. Location was literally 5 to 7 minutes from the Van Gogh Museum and Rijksmuseum in super efficient and easy-to-use public transit.
Got ourselves to the port in Amsterdam for the cruise, easy as pie. Cruise folk were welcoming from the very beginning. We ate lunch on board before sailing - with my dad's cousin, I might add - and despite the cold and light rain (mid-October departure) it was a fun and exciting day.
Sites were great along the Rhine. Walking tours, particularly the gentle walkers tours, were ideal for my slow dad. And the availability of the Alpine walking sticks was genius. Whoever thought of that should get a raise. REALLY helped my dad (and many others on the cruise) get around on cobbled streets. Weather was cold, and for the most part grey; for me it was a tremendous and wonderful change from the California drought. My dad, also known as Grumpy Grumperson, was a bit put out, but had the proper clothing and was fine. Heavy coat, cashmere scarf, nice lined gloves and an in-room thermostat... what more could he ask for? Don't ask...
Day trips were well-planned, well-guided, and not too overwhelming (not too fast, not too far, not too much information to manage), even though their cost was in addition to the cruise for the most part. My favorite was the Black Forest. Would have loved more time in Strasbourg - guess I'll have to go back. Heidelberg Castle tour was lovely, but if you've been before (as we both had), that field trip is ONLY a shopping excursion. Included for all excursions were ear pieces with transmitters so on tour with a guide, you could easily hear everything being said. That was SUPER clever, and worthwhile.
Ship amenities were wonderful. Meals were plentiful, delicious, and varied. Super nice to be able to eat well (read healthy) at every single meal and not feel like I was missing out. The fact that drinks - ALL drinks - are included in the price of admission makes the cruise even better. I had prosecco a lot. My dad is a single malt scotch guy. Neither of us was disappointed. Would have liked a better rowing machine in the gym, but who goes on a cruise to row in the workout room? I guess I do. My dad had a couple of massages and loved them. Thanks for making that service available.
Bar/lounge entertainment was a bit 1950s Vegas hotel, but I imagine it's hard to find excellence when you're at sea (on the river) for weeks at a time. Pianist was good, but not great. It's OK - it was background noise to the rest of the trip. And he was far better than having no music at all.
Staff were OUTSTANDING. LOVE YOU GUYS! First, they put up with Mr. Grumperson. Second, and more importantly, they were charming, smart, witty, fun, professional, and attentive. Seriously, thank you all.
Rooms were surprisingly (to me) comfortable for such a small space. The beds were plush, as were the bathrobes. Room safe was a breeze to use. Bathroom was totally great (love the nightlight feature). HATED when another ship was parked outside my bedroom window, but I'm guessing that couldn't be helped. If it had happened more than once and for more than a relatively limited time, I might have been uncomfortable.
Would love to take a cruise with my love next time (although my dad can come too as long as he's less grumpy). But, I have to say, that as far as having a vacation where I was supposed to be looking after my dad while on holiday, the river cruise was ideal, and Uniworld made it totally possible.
Thanks, Uniworld. I had a lovely time. I hope I can do it again, soon! Read Less
Our first European river cruise with anybody and we're glad we chose Uniworld, and specifically, the "Legendary Rhine and Moselle" cruise on the River Queen. From the time of boarding to the time of departure for the Basel ... Read More
Our first European river cruise with anybody and we're glad we chose Uniworld, and specifically, the "Legendary Rhine and Moselle" cruise on the River Queen. From the time of boarding to the time of departure for the Basel airport, the service provided by the crew was fantastic...rarely are you pampered to this degree. It was a 9 hour time difference for us to adjust to, which took a few days, but the activities, both ashore and aboard became increasingly easier to get in sync with.
The "River Queen" is an older girl, but she wears her age gracefully, is beautifully appointed, and impeccably maintained...on more than one occasion, I saw people on the shore taking pictures of us as we glided by.
Crew: Well, there are only so many superlatives you can use but suffice it to say that the staff on our sailing were attentive to our every need and we literally lacked for nothing...from the full "treat" jars in the cabin and lounge, to the staff remembering how you like your favorite drink, and the dining service was exemplary. Our cabin seemed to be "made up" as soon as we vacated for the days activities and I don't recall any question that the reception area staff couldn't answer for you. The dining staff, from chef to waiter, were top-notch and we thought the food delicious and well-prepared.
Tours: All very interesting...we would have liked to have had more time in the Roman-Germanic Museum in Cologne as it could be a tour all by itself. The Marksburg Castle tour in Koblenz (with added gondola ride over the Rhine) was well worth the additional cost and the included Reichsburg Castle excursion in Cochem shouldn't be missed either. If you like German white wines, then by all means, do NOT miss the Dr. Pauly wine tasting in Bernkastle. We'd been to the Luxembourg-Trier region in the late 1970's but totally enjoyed our return visit and the stop at the American Military Cemetery. In short, we enjoyed every tour we took, as evidenced by the number of photos we came home with.
Entertainment: In addition to the rest of the staff, we would be remiss if we didn't mention our resident musician, Dariousz...he provided a very pleasant interlude after returning from a tour and before/after dinner. The other performers that came aboard in certain cities were also very good.
Weather: While mostly overcast with some occasional rain showers, we did enjoy some nicer days towards the end of the trip where you could sit up on the sun deck with a very warm blanket and just take in the scenery that these rivers are so well known for. All-in-all, the weather was only a minor annoyance at most.
Disembarkation: There were about 16 of us who had to leave for the Basel airport at 4am for early flights so the crew put out an "early snack/breakfast" for us. Our luggage was taken off the ship, put onto the waiting bus, our cruise director (Christine) came aboard to wish us good-bye and we were very quickly on our way to the airport...all handled very efficiently.
Summary: One very nice, but often overlooked feature of Uniworld is that all gratuities are included in your basic cost, and while you may not know what percentage the crew actually receives, it's one less thing for you to worry about when you disembark. We met many very interesting people, had great dining companions, and hope to take another Uniworld cruise in the coming years. Read Less
My wife and I took a river cruise called Castles along the Rhein. And they were not kidding. The view from the boat was amazing. the castles were so beautiful. you could also see the small villages. it was our first time to Europe and ... Read More
My wife and I took a river cruise called Castles along the Rhein. And they were not kidding. The view from the boat was amazing. the castles were so beautiful. you could also see the small villages. it was our first time to Europe and first time on a cruise. It was the best experience. Our cabin was nice and roomy We were on the third level. we had a huge window that you could open and the views were great. We enjoyed great food on the boat. It was an all inclusive cruise. The service was awesome. The excursions were wonderful and the stops that we made along the way were great also. we stopped near big cities and small villages. they would have buses ready in the morning ready to take you into the towns. they were always on time, so you were never cheated out of time. We had the options of spending the day visiting the towns or doing a day excursion. It was a great way to see Europe. We can't wait to do it again. I would recommend it. Read Less
We have never had such a magical experience. From the Concierge to the room cleaners they were all wonderful. The ports of call were fantastic even though the weather didn't cooperate. The food servers were wonderful and the meals ... Read More
We have never had such a magical experience. From the Concierge to the room cleaners they were all wonderful. The ports of call were fantastic even though the weather didn't cooperate. The food servers were wonderful and the meals were fantastic.
We participated in and musical guessing game and won a bottle of wine.
I am handicapped and was treated with genuine care and concern. We brought a travel wheelchair along and it didn't work very well on the cobblestone streets so our wonderful concierge let us use a wheelchair that was on board and worked much better because it had larger tires.
I would like to particularly mention a couple of people who made our trip so much more enjoyable: Carl, the Cruise Director, Bili, the Concierge, and two of the servers Norman and Robert who were both so special.
We hope that some day we will be able to cruise with Viking again.
Thank you for an unforgettable time Read Less
Back yesterday from 14 glorious nights on the Viking Baldur/ and Magni. It was our very first cruise ever..to celebrate my retirement and our 30th Anniversary. We arrived in Amsterdam late as the airport was fogged in...regret we ... Read More
Back yesterday from 14 glorious nights on the Viking Baldur/ and Magni. It was our very first cruise ever..to celebrate my retirement and our 30th Anniversary. We arrived in Amsterdam late as the airport was fogged in...regret we didn't get a chance to see the city at all. But nor regrets after that!
Can't say enough about the crew and staff...our Hotel manager Jens was fabulous as was Claus, our Tour Director. The chef and wait staff were outstanding. A special shout out to Jackson and Pamela who took such care of our table every night!!!!
We knew going in that the water levels were quite low but Viking was hoping that our cruise would be the first all season to make it all the way through to Budapest. Unfortunately that was not to be. We eventually had to repack and were bused to Nuremburg to pick up the new ship-the Viking Magni. However, it was a seamless transfer and Viking handled everything so smoothly!
Each day brought new delights! the tours were very well orchestrated and we never had an overly large tour group. The guides were very well versed. The cathedrals, castles, monasteries and fortresses were all amazing. The highlight was a Concert in Vienna! Sailing into Budapest at night was spectacular! It is not to be missed!
The food was plentiful and absolutely delicious. The Chefs on both ships were so talented. As a non-meat eater I was pleased that there were vegetarian entrees at both lunch and dinner. If I wanted something different it was no problem.
We met so many wonderful people on board as well...The dinner is open seating but we managed to sit each night with 3 couple we met the first night. What fun we had! Be prepared to eat and drink...many times a day! Even some special afternoon treats some days!
If you are debating whether to take this cruise -do it! You will have a lifetime of memories! Read Less
Have to admit this was our first cruise of any kind. We had a fantastic time on the Baldur!! the crew was amazing. Jens, the Hotel manager was always available. The crew was friendly and very obliging. A special shout out to Jackson ... Read More
Have to admit this was our first cruise of any kind. We had a fantastic time on the Baldur!! the crew was amazing. Jens, the Hotel manager was always available. The crew was friendly and very obliging. A special shout out to Jackson and Pamela for taking such good care of us in the Dining Room each night! Out Tour Director was Claus...who came in as a last minute replacement. He was so knowledgeable and has the patience of a saint!
Low river levels continued along the Danube. we knew beforehand that it was a possibility that we would have to change ships due to this problem. Unfortunately we did...but the change over was seamless. Viking handled everything and we entered into the Viking Magni through crew members shouting hello! Of course no one wanted to have to repack but it could not be helped. Viking had no control over this situation. As a special treat Viking paid for all the guests to attend the Vienna Symphony concert...what a lovely night that was!
Each port along the way was beautiful! The guides- for the most part- were very nice and had an amazing amount of knowledge about the cities and towns. Some days we had a guided tour in the morning and then the afternoon free to explore on your own. My husband and I especially enjoyed this aspect. Even with the transfer to the Magni we went to all the places listed in the original itinerary.
The cabin, though small, was comfortable. Large bed...delightful! Bathroom was small but efficient.
Now the food...unreal! Both ships had Chefs that were outstanding and very willing to make anything special. I do not eat much meat and every night there was a vegetarian meal available..including the appetizer! One evening, Chef George on the Magni, made me a special appetizer! The table of 8 with whom we ate was over the moon with the food! The breakfast buffet was endless...Lunch could be eaten in the Dining Room or up in the Lounge..
The view of Budapest at night was stunning...a definite must see!
Our flight back to NY through Muncih was leaving at 6AM.. Viking had us on the bus by 3;30..after giving us breakfast!
My husband and I would not hesitate to cruise with Viking again. In fact we look forward to it! It was worth every penny! Read Less
Everything about the cruise was above expectations! The food was outstanding, always served quickly, hot and beautifully presented! The service staff prompt, courteous, and personable! The local guides through the audio devices were so ... Read More
Everything about the cruise was above expectations! The food was outstanding, always served quickly, hot and beautifully presented! The service staff prompt, courteous, and personable! The local guides through the audio devices were so knowledgeable and answered every question. The small groups made everything accessible! Our Cruise Director could not have been better! Roos's commentaries while cruising were so informative and she has the perfect personality to deal with groups and individuals. All of the officers were friendly and informative while being very professional. We have already booked another Viking cruise! Thank you! Read Less
2015 saw our first river cruise of what promises to be many. My wife and I had probably the best vacation that we have ever had. We had previously experienced Ocean cruises but we found this to be the most relaxing and most enjoyable ever. ... Read More
2015 saw our first river cruise of what promises to be many. My wife and I had probably the best vacation that we have ever had. We had previously experienced Ocean cruises but we found this to be the most relaxing and most enjoyable ever. We made some new friends on the 1st day, who we spent most of the 14 days with. Our trip was unfortunately split between 2 longships, the Baldur and the Magni. The reason for this was the low water level on the Danube. We were warned ahead of the trip that this might happen. However this in no way dramatically altered our overall review of this trip.
Both Embarkation and Disembarkation were seamless. All staff were very helpful and considerate to our needs.
The cabin was extremely well appointed and maintained very well on a daily basis.
All of the staff on board were fabulous and very attentive to our needs. Our hotel manager Jens and Tour director Claus were very patient and incredible. The dining room staff and chef were outstanding. In fact the overall review of Viking's organization and attention to detail in caring for everyone on board was first class.
All excursions in the ports along the way were beautiful! The tour guides were very nice and very knowledgeable about the cities and towns and their history. The freedom to explore on our own was appreciated and allowed us to investigate other interests. Even with the transfer to the Magni we went to all the places listed in the original itinerary.
The onboard demonstrations and talks were very informative and enjoyable.
Our first thoughts on arriving at our destination was "lets do it again".
Several previous customers have indicated that Viking is a "Class Act" and both my wife and I have to agree. We loved this trip so much that we have booked a Portugal trip next March with 2 of the friends we made on this trip.
Congratulations on an excellent organization. Read Less
We wanted to celebrate my wife's 60th birthday in a special way and we could not have asked for a better way to do so. The whole trip was AMAZING! From only having to unpack & pack once (ok, it was twice because of the low level ... Read More
We wanted to celebrate my wife's 60th birthday in a special way and we could not have asked for a better way to do so. The whole trip was AMAZING! From only having to unpack & pack once (ok, it was twice because of the low level of water in the Danube-but Viking can't control everything) while getting to visit interesting out of the way towns and attractions in the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Hungary was an absolute joy. The staffs on both river ships the Bragi and her sister ship Skadi made us feel right at home. They were quick to learn our preferences (such as having our ice bucket filled each morning) and fulfilling them without us having to prompt them.
Our cruise director, Roos, was very knowledgable and charismatic, making this trip unforgettable . We had excellent daily tour guides that made each stop both informative and fun. The audio sets used by the guides allowed me to wander and linger behind our group to take the photographs that I wanted while not missing any of their knowledge or humor. The two weeks spent with Viking not only provided us with unforgetable memories but also new life long friendships. Upon our return, when I have been asked how our trip went, my consistent reply has been "If you can afford it, you should absolutely experience a Viking River Cruise." The only thing that I would change, if we were do it all over again, would be to extend our time in both Amsterdam and Budipest, but due to my work responsibilities, that was not possible. Read Less
All our needs were taken care of. The tours were well done and informative. The guides were interesting and funny. Our tour director, Oliver, kept things running smoothly and always kept us informed as to what was happening. Our concierge, ... Read More
All our needs were taken care of. The tours were well done and informative. The guides were interesting and funny. Our tour director, Oliver, kept things running smoothly and always kept us informed as to what was happening. Our concierge, Coco, was always availed to help out. The food was delicious with lots of choices. We enjoyed meeting the whole staff to include visiting the kitchen. The wait staff was excellent, always smiling and ready to serve. The staterooms were always kept clean. I would definitely recommend a Viking cruise and at some point would consider doing another. Read Less
This was an absolutely excellent river cruise. Embarkation was excellent since we were met at the airport and driven to the hotel. The hotel stay was also excellent in a four star establishment. The ship, dining hall, lounge, hallways, ... Read More
This was an absolutely excellent river cruise. Embarkation was excellent since we were met at the airport and driven to the hotel. The hotel stay was also excellent in a four star establishment. The ship, dining hall, lounge, hallways, and cabins were always very clean. Everything in the cabins was well supplied. The staff were always friendly and very helpful. The food was excellently prepared and the staff were excellent in taking the menu requests and delivering the menu items requested. They were constantly waiting on us in refilling wine, water, tea, and other beverages.
The program director and other chief staff were very knowledgeable and all daily activities were well planned. Day tours of the cities were well planned and the tour guides were very knowledgeable and very accommodating. While the ship cruised at night to the next destination, the travel was so smooth it was sometimes difficult to know we were actually moving. This river cruise was very enjoyable, the scenery was breathtaking, and the knowledge gained of the country sides traveled was inspiring. Disembarkation was also excellent since we were driven from the ship to the airport. We would recommend this cruise to anyone wanting to know more about life in the countries along the Rhine and Danube. Read Less
The entire trip was just excellent. The cabins were nice, they were small, but that's to be expected on a boat. Everyone treated you as if you were royalty. The food was great. The tours were outstanding. I had a minor issue with the ... Read More
The entire trip was just excellent. The cabins were nice, they were small, but that's to be expected on a boat. Everyone treated you as if you were royalty. The food was great. The tours were outstanding. I had a minor issue with the PA not working in my room which caused me to miss one excursion, but I got past that okay. My laundry was done fast and very professionally presented to me. The crew and the waiters were very nice. The waiters were fun, always joking, yet very professional. We had an issue where the river water was too low due to a summer drought. We had to pack up, and were bused 3 hours to an identical boat. Same cabin, same good service, same everything. We were friendly with the crew of the Engvi and were unsure of what might await us. I can't remember the name of the second boat, but the whole thing was done almost seamlessly. The boat's entertainment officer [Barry] was very talented, and always had everyone laughing. I told him I wanted to visit Scotland, and since he is Scottish, I thought he would be a good guy to talk to. He spent quite a while telling me what to see and where to go. He is one great guy. I would highly recommend Viking to anyone. Thank you for making my vacation memorable. Read Less