2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Reportedly Alexander the Great wept when told there were no more lands left to conquer. In that spirit, after 30 Celebrity ocean cruises, I decided to try a Brandy Alexander on our first river cruise. Amsterdam to Basel 8-day Rhine river ... Read More
Reportedly Alexander the Great wept when told there were no more lands left to conquer. In that spirit, after 30 Celebrity ocean cruises, I decided to try a Brandy Alexander on our first river cruise. Amsterdam to Basel 8-day Rhine river cruise starting Dec. 15, 2018 on 180-passengers Viking Tialfi. We added Viking’s 2-day Lake Lucerne extension for $599 pp at 5-star lakefront Schweizerhof Hotel (built 1845), 1 guided tour, transfers and breakfast included. This review compares the Celebrity ocean and Viking Rhine river experience. Meal service is suspended during this irreverent? flight of fancy. Our TA had advised that the Rhine river was particularly scenic with hills and medieval castle ruins (nearly 40). The Rhine also has a heavy volume of commercial ships rushing close by at 12 knots when we were docked at the riverside. The first port’s guided visit let those inclined climb up the interior of a 500-year-old family-managed windmill. Included guided tours featured the Cologne and the Strasbourg Cathedrals and the 11th century Marksburg castle. The guided tour to the romantic Heidelberg Castle featured the world’s largest (58,000 gallons) wine barrel built in 1751. This Viking trip was titled Rhine Christmas Markets offering the attraction of bright festively decorated specialty seasonal stores set up in town plazas. However, the port stops allowed visiting only during daylight hours. Some markets closed at 7pm. Staff were scrambling at the end in Basel to organize and store all the supplies, kitchenware, etc. because it was the last trip until late March 2019. Background: I’m a frequent Celebrity cruiser, sailing accompanied by my starter wife of 43 years, Joan. Even after all this time I’m still a little chagrined that her favorite song is Deanna Carter’s “Did I shave my legs for this?” Some may have run into me since 2000 on past CC Celebrity roll calls and on board socials. Others on past Celebrity trips may have also crossed my path. If you overheard a woman telling her husband “Remember what happened the last time ….” – that was me! Alternatively, if you noticed a woman among other ladies saying “Now what’s he think he’s doing ….” – that was me! Advance message board “Roll Calls” are uncommon among the typically 150-200 passengers on a river trip. I normally organizes a review under the “Miniskirt” rule (short enough to be interesting but long enough to cover what’s essential) Times have changed however. I will modify the advice of “Sing like no one is listening”, etc. and instead will write like no one is reading. So liberating. Passenger comparison: The presence of only 180 passengers soon led to a comfortable relaxed familiarity among the predominantly active well-traveled 55-75-year-old couples (I’m sure the wives were much younger). On this trip I presume Mae West’s dictum that “good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.” did not apply. It’s rumored that Celebrity stopped publicizing ceremonies for the renewal of wedding vows after Guest Relations was flooded with hopeful individuals asking about expiration dates. Many were first-time river cruisers also. I understand E. Hemmingway said he drank (a lot) in order to make other people interesting. We found everyone cordial and welcoming in the lounge and at shared dining tables (irrespective of my drinking). Brings to mind Paul Hornung’s statement “I read about the evils of drinking, so I gave up reading.” And M. Mokhonoana’s “Millions of deaths would not have happened if it weren’t for the consumption of alcohol. The same can be said about millions of births.” The river ship held a safety orientation that was smaller scale than on ocean mega-ships. On ocean cruises, having grown up watching the Twilight Zone and X-files, I would look around my muster group hoping no one closely resembled William Bendix and/or Tallulah Bankhead. Stateroom comparison Viking’s bottom-deck ‘river view’ and upper-deck veranda cabins are generally similar size and layout to Celebrity’s but neither inside cabins nor super-size suites are offered. Viking river ships are not outfitted for mobility impaired passengers. A non-mix Patron margarita was $8. WIFI was free but laundry priced per item. For budget and packing convenience I brought light weight quick-dry polyester undershorts that I could wash in the sink using shampoo. I later realized a potential downside of combining liberal amounts of shampoo but limited hand rinsing. If I fell overboard, rescuers could be perplexed by a foaming crotch. We had the lower deck standard cabin with long horizontal windows (“aquarium view”) at head height. The propeller sounds of from each of the many ships passing nearby were transmitted for 1-2 minutes through the hull. I planned to describe the passing propeller noise like briefly being within __ feet of a sloshing washing machine. So I tried to measure by sitting nearby but my wife had me to leave so she could do laundry. So the precise noise level remains as inexplicable as Al Capone’s secret vault room. Other Viking features: adults only 18+, no smoking, no casino, no photographers, no art auction, no theatre shows, no formal nights. Daily attire for men featured blue jeans or chinos. Our trip had a pianist nightly in the lounge and two guest acts, a rock trio (Eagles, Beatles) and classical violin duo. Food, dining As some wag noted “Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” And rotund Orson Welles weighed in “My doctor told me I had to stop throwing intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.” The food was available in a small casual buffet off the lounge or in the table-service dining room. Breakfast had the standard offerings including omelets to order and fresh breads, pastries. A self-serve fresh-grind Espresso/Cappucino machine was always available. There were fewer entrée choices but some local cuisine was included. In general, food was satisfactory and on par with Celebrity. Spa services are based on the proposition “Time may be a healer, but it is no beautician.” Viking river fleet does not have fitness equipment or spa facilities. Their website’s FAQ reports that the ship’s Concierge can arrange access to partner facilities in many ports. WEATHER Downsides Dreary gray, foggy, chilly drizzle was common on the river route but most seem prepared. The universal recommendation to ‘wear layers’ to flexibly adjust was in order. It occurred to me that the ‘layering’ lesson had been disregarded to their detriment by the area’s Neanderthals. They might have survived if they had used a deer skin base layer, fashionably accented with a interwoven pastiche of muskrat pelts, with a final poncho-style bearskin outer-layer – snake skin belt optional. Of course, only dark bearskin after Labor Day. It was too uncomfortable to use the topmost unsheltered viewing and lounging deck. Viking Tialfi did not have a pool but I saw a small lounging pool on a competitor’s river ship. WEATHER Upsides Unfavorable weather conditions lead to ‘Christmas Markets” trips being the least expensive of the season. It was $3,000 each for the ‘standard’ cabin but included round trip economy air (major US hubs), airport transfers, 2-4 hour guided tour at each port, free (slow) WIFI, house beer/wine with lunch/dinner. Balcony cabin fares jumped $1,000+ pp above standard but the weather precluded sitting out unless attired as recommended for a Neanderthal. A -$1,000 pp air credit applied if you provide your own travel. A Bayerische draught lager, a cabernet/merlot blend and a pleasant dry white Burgundy was included at meals. Suggested tips reached $190 for the cabin. The wintry weather held a pleasant advantage - crowds in major tourist areas were low. Along with other sites, we noted that popular areas such as Lake Lucerne would be practically impassable in peak season. Our guide claimed that Marksburg Castle, Braubach has 6 million annual visitors. There were only a couple hundred tourists on the dreary day our ship’s tour visited. River depth, noise vs Ocean Water is not as deep (at least on Rhine) - no Poseidon catastrophe here – even Shelly Winters could clamber up the TWO decks to escape. Most long-haul river ships have three cabin decks with upper open sun deck for viewing. The floor of the lowest cabin deck is below the water line. I saw another new river ship with 5 decks and our Captain said it could only travel between two middle-Rhine cities because of low bridges. Indeed, unusually high or low water levels for the Rhine can restrict ship travel. We learned that in a recent major drought, people could wade across the Rhine in some sections. Both Viking and Scenic offer a ‘water level guarantee’. They intend to bring another ship from the opposite direction to transfer passengers to bypass the unnavigable section. Refunds are offered if they can’t manage that substitution. LOCKS The lower Rhine is navigable because of numerous locks that each raise/lower a ship about 40 feet in about 10 minutes. The river cruise spends each day in a town or city, traveling overnight – no relaxing sea-days. At worst, the river is choppy, so no sea sickness. At one point there was a long loop in the river so passengers were transferred to busses and rode 30 minutes into the city while the ship travelled 3.5 hours to catch up. This conserved time for the morning tours. Another time the ship pulled to the river edge to let 12 passengers embark on a paid tour – a drop-off taking only 20 minutes. All included walking tours provided individual ear-bud listening devices to hear the guide. The ship carried power-assist bicycles for use in ports. Service was pleasant and attentive. The CD had 5 years prior ocean ship experience. The crew was predominantly from eastern Europe and seemed efficient and competent. Lake Lucerne (2-day Viking guided extension) Twenty of us were transferred from the Basel endpoint on a coach to Lake Lucerne’s elegant lakefront Hotel Schweizerhof. On arrival, most joined the guided 2-hour walking tour of the historic district. Viking stationed an concierge agent during the morning and afternoon for both days. On the third morning the included coach transfer left our hotel at 6am for Zurich airport to connect through Amsterdam to Atlanta. Others had later shuttle departures. Many tree sellers were along the avenues – apparently its common there to buy trees just before Christmas day. We hoped to ride the 100+-year-old steam-drive side-paddle-wheel ferries but they were in for maintenance over winter. We visited a local museum, took long walks and retired early. In summer, many sail to ascend 7000-ft Mt. Pilatus using variety of cogwheel rail (world’s steepest), cable car and gondola. SUMMARY A river cruise offers an attractive small-ship alternative to ocean cruises. A river cruise is more suitable to touring countries interior areas as opposed to coastal ports. A river cruise is more oriented to adults touring historic sights but provides only limited ancillaries like casinos, pools, and floor shows. Since I’ve written like no one is reading, I’ll end with an Oscar Wilde remark “I don’t want to go to heaven – none of my friends are there.” Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
To start, I would like to say I feel so bad for people who booked a River Cruise, but got cheated out of their vacation due to the low water levels. I hope someday you have a trip that will more that double your expectations. Next, for ... Read More
To start, I would like to say I feel so bad for people who booked a River Cruise, but got cheated out of their vacation due to the low water levels. I hope someday you have a trip that will more that double your expectations. Next, for those who will be traveling on the Rhine soon (Basel to Amsterdam), I want to say from the start that, Yes, the Water Levels will affect you. I say that right away, because I wish someone was honest enough to tell me that from the start. Instead, I got cryptic emails from Viking. I then call them as the website suggests for updates, and they tell me I'm doing the right thing by trying to stay informed and to call as it gets closer to the day to find out about water levels. I called the day before I was going to leave and the cruise representative I spoke to had to put me on hold two times just to come back on the phone to tell me that they are still unsure if my trip would be affected by the low water levels. Now that I have gone through the Rhine River cruise, I can tell you with certainty that your cruise will be affected. Even if it rained for a week, I don't think that would be enough to help the water levels. Let me put it this way, there were parts of the river that I could walk on. On the very first night when the Cruise Director welcomed us aboard, he said "I know you are all concerned about the water levels, but we won't know if we have to swap ships until the night before". Then, the captain got up, and made his welcome speech and said, "Yes, you will be affected". At least someone was telling the truth. The Cruise Director though, still insisted we won't really know till the day before. Then sure enough, on the day before, he explained that due to the low levels we would have to "Swap Ships". A lot of people had questions of course, but the Cruise Director stopped the Q&A session after a certain point stating it was time for dinner. Myself and other passengers realize there is nothing they could do about the water levels, but we didn't appreciate being left in the dark. The Ship Swap meant we had to pack up before our tour of the day, and at the end of the day we would be 'bussed' to a new Viking ship, Tialfi, that was docked where the water levels would allow us to continue travelling to Amsterdam. The passengers from the other ship would then be bussed to our old ship. Our luggage would already be in our new ship, same rooms #'s, however, different crew, which was another disappointment, because I had gotten to know the crew members on Viking Alruna. We didn't mind packing up again, but what I did mind was skipping a port, Koblenz Germany. And even though Viking committed to making sure we got to go on all the included tours, the ship swap meant that we would not be able to go on the optional tours. I was very disappointed, because I was really looking forward to having dinner at the Eberbach Monastery. The low water levels also meant we couldn't do the "Middle Rhine Sailing" portion on our ship. We had to take a 2 1/2 bus ride to board a smaller boat that would allow us to cruise in the low water levels of the Middle Rhine. Note, the food on this non-Viking boat was "Horibleeeee" ! (A dry piece of Chicken (no sauce or anything) that was inedible with french fries - I just ate the fries). The Middle Rhine cruise itself, however, was magnificent, with memorable views of castles & fortresses. This is probably my favorite part of the whole Trip ! After cruising the Middle Rhine, we toured Marksburg castle, and then had a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to our new ship. They handed out lunch bags with a sandwich & fruit for the bus ride. Despite all the disappointment associated with the water levels, I still give Viking a 3 star, because the crew was amazing, the food was amazing, and the included tours, although short (Not enough time on your own), were really amazing. (I'll do separate reviews with tips on each of the ports). Also, Viking is very organized with the Embarkation and Disembarkation process. They will give thorough instructions and help you if you need guidance. I realize Viking and other cruise companies can not do anything about the water levels, however they can do something about treating passengers "Fairly" and with respect. I just wish they were truthful about the trip up front. I also wish the 25% credit off our next cruise "due to the disruption in our itinerary", would have been applied to the Current cruise - that would have made more sense, and have been a more sincere gesture. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Thought of trying river cruising in early 2017 and the Rhine River with castles along the way seemed enticing. Compared prices of different river cruise companies and Viking stood out as the more affordable one, without sacrificing quality ... Read More
Thought of trying river cruising in early 2017 and the Rhine River with castles along the way seemed enticing. Compared prices of different river cruise companies and Viking stood out as the more affordable one, without sacrificing quality of accommodations, food and excursions. Chose early November sailing when price is a bit less (definitely still not cheap), booked cabin with balcony and chose to stay 2 days in Amsterdam prior to cruise. Got flight arrangement from Viking too and it really turned out to be a good deal for us. Loved every minute of this trip -- Viking reps met us at the Schipol airport early in the morning and drove us in a comfortable van to the Movenpick Hotel, where other Viking reps gave us a short briefing, then we checked in our room at around 9 a.m! Our room had a good view of the harbor and Central Station. My husband and I were already having breakfast in the cafe nearby after an hour of checking in and off we went to explore Amsterdam. The things we planned to do in Amsterdam were all accomplished, thanks to early online reservation for Anne Frank House and Van Gogh museum. We got the I Amsterdam Card for 48 hours which allowed us to go to the other museums without waiting in line and use the tram. Amsterdam has a great public transportation system but too many bikes for our comfort. Embarkation was simple and easy on day of sailing, our cabin was very clean; all places of the ship were spic-and-span actually. All the Viking crew were very welcoming, shout out to Nelly, Gil, Michael and of course to Morgan, our cruise director. Though we had to swap ships on the 3rd day due to low water levels in the Rhine, we still didn't miss out on anything because we took a day boat to cruise the middle Rhine and have lunch there as well. The view from the top deck of our day boat was truly amazing, with castles and vineyards lining the mountains and Fall colors at its best!! Will never forget this experience. After this, we had to take a motorcoach for 2 hours to embark on the other ship, Viking Altuna, which was exactly the same as the Tialfi. Luggage transfer went smoothly and we kept the same cabin. The V Altuna crew greeted us warmly, with music and hot cocoa. Shout out to Evelyn, Mark Anthony, Suzana, Michael, Judy, Ben and the rest of the crew who spoiled us all with good food and wine, made sure we were safe whenever we left and came back from excursions. Chose an optional excursion in Alsace --went for wine tasting in Mittelbergheim but got a bit disappointed as we only went to 1 winery. Expected to go to at least 2. However, we were able to go to a vineyard and enjoy the colorful landscape. This review will be too long if I reviewed each included excursion. Overall though, the experience my husband and I got from this trip is priceless -- great weather, peak Fall foliage, less crowds and meeting new people, who vary from experienced cruisers to first-timers like us. Thanks to all that Viking has done to make this trip a memorable one. Will definitely go Viking river cruising again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Overall the cruise was very disappointing. Due to the low water in the Rhine, the ship was not able to dock at any of the ports on the itinerary. We were bused to all the cites which took away from the convenience of getting on and off ... Read More
Overall the cruise was very disappointing. Due to the low water in the Rhine, the ship was not able to dock at any of the ports on the itinerary. We were bused to all the cites which took away from the convenience of getting on and off the ship during the day. We did a ship swap on the 3rd day and spent 8 hours on a bus getting to towns and the next ship. For 4 days the ship was docked at a commercial area near Cologne, Germany along with many other ships. The ships were all joined side by side together – at one point we were 4th in a group of 6. When we opened our cabin curtains all we saw was the side of another ship, or the inside of someone else’s cabin. Could not use the balcony! I know that Viking is trying to do their best with the low water situation, but in my opinion the best would be to cancel the trips until the water levels are back up. Its not right to pay for a cruise, but receive a bus tour. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
I recently took the Viking Rhine Getaway Riverboat Cruise, sailing Oct 20-27 2018. Thought I’d share my impressions and experience on this cruise. Some background information. I am a 52 year old married gay man. I offer this because ... Read More
I recently took the Viking Rhine Getaway Riverboat Cruise, sailing Oct 20-27 2018. Thought I’d share my impressions and experience on this cruise. Some background information. I am a 52 year old married gay man. I offer this because it was a non-issue, on Viking. We happened to celebrate an anniversary, and were treated just the same as the many other people who had birthdays and anniversaries. This was the third Viking riverboat cruise we’ve taken, although the first on the ‘Long Ships’. My overall impressions of Viking, and this cruise in particular, are extremely positive. So much so that we came home and immediately started considering a Viking Ocean Alaska cruise. That said, I thought I’d be honest about how things went, and where we did, and did not, enjoy things. That way everyone would receive my honest opinion of the cruise. We cruised from Amsterdam to Basel. We arrived in Amsterdam 5 days before the cruise, and visited Amsterdam on our own. It’s a beautiful city, so I advise taking the time to visit it. Viking sent out multiple emails about problems with the low water on the Rhine. We were forewarned that we would have to do a ‘Boat Swap’. A ‘boat swap’ is when you pack up and are taken to another boat, and continue sailing on the new boat. The two boats are mirror images of each other. One of the emails was a mistake, but it was quickly corrected. On the day of embarkation we very easily found our boat, without help from Viking. The stops: Our first stop was Kinderdijk- a historic group of 18th century working windmills. We also added the optional ‘Cheese Making’ excursion. The cheese making excursion was great, and we still were able to get the full free excursion of the windmills. Guide was great and it was not a lot of bus traveling. Day three was Cologne. We took the standard Tour of the city, with some extra time. I have to say I was a bit disappointed with Cologne. The cathedral is beautiful, but we only had 15 minutes inside, and the guides were not allowed in with us. That was not enough time. The rest of the tour was primarily talking about current events, and the fact that most of cologne has been rebuilt, or replaced with modern features. I wish we could have had a guided tour of the cathedral, and less time wandering. We had some free time, and took a later bus back to the boat. That worked out ok for us. We also did the optional Kolsch Dinner excursion. This was a lot of fun. Lots of beer and great, silly, young guys as guide. Really got the feeling of what it was like to go out on a beer crawl. I have to say I thought the price was very expensive, especially since we were giving up a paid for dinner, on board. Otherwise I really enjoyed this. We did have a bus problem – the bus was late. This was cleverly mediated by the guides using their power to secure some additional Kolsch to drink on the streets until the bus arrived – really felt like a German, after a football game!!! Thanks, guys. Day four was supposed to be Koblenz. Here’s where the low water of the Rhine made it necessary to do a ‘boat swap’. This mean much longer bus rides (like 5 plus hours total), BUT, Viking was able to mostly salvage the day. Yes we did have to pack and leave the boat very early, but we still visited Marksburg Castle and do our scenic cruising through the Rhine Gorge (lots of castles). What we could not do was any optional excursions and we did not stop in either Koblenz or Rudesheim. We did not choose any of these optional excursions, so we were ok. Others may not have been so happy. We were bused to Marksburg Castle, and then to a day boat, for Rhine Gorge cruising. There were two upsides to this: 1. The Rhine Gorge was virtually free of traffic, so the speed of travel, and the views were pristine. 2. We ended up in Strasbourg for an extra day (more later). The down side was that it was an exhausting day (5 plus hours of bus rides), started far too early, and the lunch and quality of the day boat was nowhere near up to Viking’s standards. That said…we did get our scenic Rhine cruise! Good for Viking. Day 5 was Heidelberg. We opted out. We did this for two reasons. The bus ride to get there was increased by an hour because we were not docked in Strasbourg. Also, Strasbourg was the number one reason we booked the cruise, so an extra day in Strasbourg was a very big PLUS, to us. We also don’t always like to follow, so a day on our own was exactly what was called for. Viking did a good job at accommodating buses to and from Strasbourg, since we were not that close to the historic portion of the city. Boy did we have a good day. We were primed with information, and the crew was very helpful with providing a few choice shopping and eating recommendation. It was a great day!! For our particular needs and desires, this change in plans worked in our favor. Day 6 was our planned day in Strasbourg, and we did the full day, optional, food tour. This was a very good tour. We tasted our way through gingerbread, kougelhoph, macarons, cheese, bread, pretzels, tarte flambé, wine and pastries. It was fun. There was some free time, and a tour of La Petite France, and the Cathedral. Our guide was very good. When we returned to our boat, it had moved, and was far enough from the bus that they had provided taxi’s to get us the rest of the way. Nice touch. Day 7 was Breisach, Germany. In the morning we took an optional tour of the town of Colmar, France. This was well organized and timed. I was disappointed with Colmar which is not as charming as the brochures would want you to think. La Petite France, in Strasbourg was more charming. Not Viking’s fault, just my opinion. In the afternoon, the tour was a bus trip to the Black Forrest, and to an inn, where you watched demonstrations of Cuckoo Clocks, Glass, or Cake making. It seemed a bit too commercial, and at this point we had had enough of the bus trips. So we stayed on the boat and walked up the big hill to Breisach. This is a charming town, with great views, a small gothic church, and a lovely sense of how real people live. It was a nice option to the standard tour. The last day we arrived in Basel Switzerland, and were taxied to a hotel, where we spent 4 days on our own. Some comments on the Viking: The staff and crew are really well prepared and excellent at their job. Our Cruise Director, Morgan, worked like mad to make everything as smooth as possible. He really helped steer the group past the few bumps really well, and should be commended. There was some sense of detachment to the crew, because we switched boats. Morgan came with us, but we otherwise had two crews. Usually, Viking is amazing at getting to know the guests. Here we had two crews, so we didn’t have the usual bonding. The food is generally quite good. Better than I remember from previous cruises. My only complaint is there are only large tables in the restaurant, and the guest are forced to all eat at once, at appointed times. We opted for many meals in the Aquavit Lounge, where a few small tables were available. IMHO, it is a much better option to the raucous atmosphere of the main dining room. I acknowledge that my opinion might not be the norm. Judging from the number of people that wanted to eat in the quieter lounge, there should be a bit more space for that. The rooms: We had a Veranda Stateroom, with a balcony, on the third floor. The room is small, but sufficient. The balcony would have been nicer if we had not had to switch ships, but we liked it a lot. What boarders on unacceptable is the bathroom. While decently appointed, it is WAY TOO SMALL. The shower especially. Nothing you can do, I suspect – it will always be a problem. Just be aware that this is the trade off if you want to do a river cruise. The low water did cause some issues. The ship swapping meant a very long day, and having to pack and unpack an extra time. This, of course, negates that best reason for riverboat cursing- not have to pack/repack in between each stop. It was out of Vikings control, and they did the best they could. Also, the docking locations were VERY industrial, and in one case we were docked where Viking leaves their ships, over the winter. There were some really precarious stairs to navigate. My guess is that the disruption, due to the low water levels, made it difficult to secure the best, and closest docking locations. I was glad we got to where we needed to go, but there were some lousy docking locations. Regarding the optional excursions, they were excellent, however, I did feel they were overly expensive. We did a number of them, and generally really like them. I would always recommend that a guest do as many as they can afford and interest them. I suspect the high costs causes some people to not book them. Finally, we met a number of people that seemed annoyed at the amount of activity, and the early starts for some of the excursions. The Viking Longboats are beautiful, but the purpose of a riverboat cruse is to get out and do. Sometimes there is a slight feeling of a forced march, but that’s what riverboat cruising is all about, I think. So buyer beware! So to recap, we had a trip interruption, due to water levels, which Viking handled about as well as they could. It caused a tiring day, and some excursions and stops were not possible. That said, I think the overall trip was really great. Looking forward to our next Viking cruise – maybe a switch to try the ocean ships- maybe Alaska? Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
We booked this trip as it was the first part of a river/ocean joint vacation. The first part was the river cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, we then transferred to the Viking Sky to go from Amsterdam to Barcelona. Both parts of the trip ... Read More
We booked this trip as it was the first part of a river/ocean joint vacation. The first part was the river cruise from Basel to Amsterdam, we then transferred to the Viking Sky to go from Amsterdam to Barcelona. Both parts of the trip were excellent. Service, food, excursions, everything was well done. There was some concern that we might have to change river boats due to low water levels, but we lucked out. We were told we cleared the river bottom by 6 inches. Before we left the ocean cruise, we booked another Viking river cruise from St Petersburg to Moscow in fall 2020. Only possibility of a problem was only a one hour layover in Heathrow. Our flight out of SFO was 30 minutes late leaving. We just made the connection to Basel, but I would never go into Heathrow without at least a 2 hour layover. Be advised that you need to book tours of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in advance. We were unable to book a tour there. Our fault, not Viking. Overall, an outstanding vacation. Even the weather cooperated. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2018
This trip was taken by a group of friends that have vacationed together for 35 years.It was everything we imagined. The food was exceptional, service A+++, room accommodations very nice (my husband felt the internet was too slow at times, ... Read More
This trip was taken by a group of friends that have vacationed together for 35 years.It was everything we imagined. The food was exceptional, service A+++, room accommodations very nice (my husband felt the internet was too slow at times, but hey - we are on VACATION!). I liked the fact that all excursions were exactly at the time scheduled. Most all of the tour guides were great; a couple were moderate, but none of them bad. We got to see places that we never would have on our own. Our group is looking to do another cruise in a couple of years. When we got on the boat, my bag got misplaced - I had not put on my "Viking" tag, but was going to do it when we got off the bus from the airport. But, I was told I didn't need to since my name was on my suitcase. However, it got misplaced and it took a few hours before found. the crew, however, was very concerned about it and went out of their way to be sure it was found. So - next time - make sure the tag that is given to you is put on your bag, even if they say you don't need to. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
Our group of 3 couples, all friends from college, are in our mid 50's. We chose this cruise because of the destination and the fine reputation of Viking. We loved every minute! From the moment we stepped on board, I knew this was ... Read More
Our group of 3 couples, all friends from college, are in our mid 50's. We chose this cruise because of the destination and the fine reputation of Viking. We loved every minute! From the moment we stepped on board, I knew this was going to be fun! Their attention to detail was so impressive. Our favorite Bar staff extraordinaire, Martin, knew what we wanted before we asked! He was exceptional! All the staff was wonderful! We could have had less time in Cologne. The city was not so great. Other excursions, like the bike ride in Kinderdijk, was amazing! The Black Forest trip was also a highlight. We did an easy hike into the forest and would have loved more time here. I thought the food was very good. I didn't have a meal that I did not enjoy. One of our friends had a 24 hour virus and one of the staff(Martin) went out of his way to get him a special meal sent to his cabin. We ended our trip in Basel with a very early departure. Breakfast was served at 4:45 with with a genuine smile from all who were up to serve us! Viking is the only way I will Cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We are a middle aged same-sex couple. From the moment of arrival we were made welcome. The service was impeccable. Although we had booked the lowest priced stateroom it was spotlessly clean with very comfortable beds. And although we ... Read More
We are a middle aged same-sex couple. From the moment of arrival we were made welcome. The service was impeccable. Although we had booked the lowest priced stateroom it was spotlessly clean with very comfortable beds. And although we were in the middle of a heat-wave our room was always at a comfortable temperature. Meals were excellent; I think the best of all was the "German Evening". We were also given a guided tour of the kitchen - how they managed to produce such wonderful meals in such a small space I have no idea! Evening entertainment included a superb performance from two young musicians. There were also two quiz evenings but we gave them a miss. The included excursions were well thought out and interesting. This was our fourth Viking cruise and we have already booked the next! Viking aren't the cheapest going but the quality is so good it i more than worth spending the extra. One other thing - although the water level in the river was very low, our splendid Captain and his crew navigated even the shallowest parts of the river without mishap. I understand that vessels following us had to turn back. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Saw advertisements, looked like fun. Great service, Friendly, good and excursions all top of the line. Crew and all related employees always there to assist you. No problems. English spoken by everyone. Really enjoyed the shore ... Read More
Saw advertisements, looked like fun. Great service, Friendly, good and excursions all top of the line. Crew and all related employees always there to assist you. No problems. English spoken by everyone. Really enjoyed the shore excursions all with great guides. A very personal and friendly service by all, many crew members remember you and name as well as your favorite food and drink. Daily updates on what to expect and do while onboard or your next shore excursion. Love having the local history for the various ports plus while on the shore excursions. Your airline trip is always set up in advance and with great assistance to start and/or end your trip. Easy travel at the immigration/customs. You are issued an ID card for all onboard needs, room door, drinks and food. Spot on room service when needed plus your stateroom is kept in super clean condition for the whole trip. Overall, a great organized experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
My husband and I chose this cruise for our 30th anniversary and I wanted to go somewhere in Europe! This cruise checked all of our boxes! The crew and the people on the ship were absolutely fantastic! We made lots of new friends and even ... Read More
My husband and I chose this cruise for our 30th anniversary and I wanted to go somewhere in Europe! This cruise checked all of our boxes! The crew and the people on the ship were absolutely fantastic! We made lots of new friends and even put money down on our next cruise! The food was spectacular but the best part was the friendliness of the crew!!!!! They made it magical!!!!!!my husband is gluten free and the chef and his staff made sure he had not only gluten free meals but they were home made!!!! I also loved the excursions and the guides were knowledgeable! I could hear very well with the headsets which was a genius idea!!!!! Morgan our cruise director made sure we were having a good time! I liked the fact we got a preview of what was to come the next day!!! My husband and I are still talking about it and are trying to decide on the next cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We wanted to be on a ship with fewer people than the large cruise ships. Our experience was one of perfect harmony with the people we met, the sights we photographed and the food and drinks provided by this amazing group of people. We have ... Read More
We wanted to be on a ship with fewer people than the large cruise ships. Our experience was one of perfect harmony with the people we met, the sights we photographed and the food and drinks provided by this amazing group of people. We have never been on a cruise before so we studied a long time to see what we could afford and the services each line would provide. We decided Viking was a perfect fit for us so we took the chance and paid for the trip up the Rhine river. We also added two days to our trip to stay in Amsterdam for a longer period of time to get to see and know it better than just landing there and having just a day to explore. After learning how to use the trams, we had the city to ourselves. The restaurants were cozy and served wonderful food and I had a lot of time to photograph the city and its inhabitants. The rest of the trip was perfect and we are now thinking of taking another Viking trip in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise because Viking was rated #1 in river cruising and it’s so true. We had an amazing time. From great staff to amazing food and awesome excursions it was fantastic. It was our first time on s river cruise and we ... Read More
We chose this cruise because Viking was rated #1 in river cruising and it’s so true. We had an amazing time. From great staff to amazing food and awesome excursions it was fantastic. It was our first time on s river cruise and we didn’t expect to have this much fun. The onboard entertainment was great. Our cruise director Morgan was awesome. We met people from all over the world and made new friends for life. We are planning to take another Viking cruise in 2020 to Bali. The food was so delicious. We never had a problem of knowing what to eat. The selection was always new and interesting with every port of call. Definitely missing our afternoon tea and sweets. Looking forward to making more memories aboard a Viking cruise ship. See you again in 2020!!!! Thanks to our amazing friends for recommending Viking and joining us on this trip. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
Went on a Rhine cruise July 2018 with my husband and our two daughters, 14 and 16. It was a great introduction to multiple countries and towns/cities with all the hard parts taken care of! Food, lodging and major excursion decisions were ... Read More
Went on a Rhine cruise July 2018 with my husband and our two daughters, 14 and 16. It was a great introduction to multiple countries and towns/cities with all the hard parts taken care of! Food, lodging and major excursion decisions were covered. And the crew of the Tialfi went out of their way to exceed all expectations. The food was amazing and they always made something extra or special for the girls. The rooms were very comfortable and more than roomy for us. And the included excursions (as well as the extra excursions/adventures that were offered and that we took advantage of) were a big hit with everyone on the family. All our tour guides were well informed and entertaining. We also had plenty of time to go exploring on our own each day to make our own excursions, become more immersed in the culture, try some local delicacies etc. A great family vacation. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
I have always been interested in trying a Viking cruise. The organization was very impressive. From the flight arrangements, transports to and from hotels, transportation to and from excursions, to the way guests checked in and out at ... Read More
I have always been interested in trying a Viking cruise. The organization was very impressive. From the flight arrangements, transports to and from hotels, transportation to and from excursions, to the way guests checked in and out at ports, EVERYTHING was timed perfectly! There was a lot of attention to detail. The food was amazing! The service was above and beyond! The rooms were always super clean, and set up in an extremely efficient manner. The excursions were excellent! The tour guides were so informative! I loved the way we used the Quietvox system on tours! You could clearly hear what the guide was saying no matter how many people were around. The dining room seating was not assigned, so you could sit with different people at every meal. It was interesting to meet people from so many places. It’s the best thing that I have ever done for myself. I can’t wait to go again! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
I had planned a two week trip to Scotland the year before our Viking Cruise. It all worked out great and we loved it but it was SO MUCH work making all the arrangements for everything! When I've seen the Viking advertisements on PBS ... Read More
I had planned a two week trip to Scotland the year before our Viking Cruise. It all worked out great and we loved it but it was SO MUCH work making all the arrangements for everything! When I've seen the Viking advertisements on PBS they've always looked so wonderful and carefree - everything included and taken care of, no moving from hotel to hotel, but seeing so many beautiful and interesting places - and all very classy, no big crowds, plenty of time to explore on your own. We decided to try it, having heard nothing but good things from people who had been on a Viking cruise. It more than lived up to our expectations, and those of the younger generation who traveled with us (our daughter and her husband). We would all definitely go again! Most people I know who have been on a Viking cruise, including those we met on the ship, said they have been more than once, or if this was their first time, they plan on taking another River Cruise on Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this cruise to have the opportunity to spend time in Amsterdam. We had 3 days in Amsterdam prior to embarkation allowing us to see the Anne Frank haus, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum as well as many other sights. ... Read More
We chose this cruise to have the opportunity to spend time in Amsterdam. We had 3 days in Amsterdam prior to embarkation allowing us to see the Anne Frank haus, the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh museum as well as many other sights. Viking booked us into the Radisson Blu in the Center City. The central location meant we could walk to many attractions. The small ship experience is wonderful. We'd met most of the passengers by week's end. Shore excursions are guided by locals providing personal perspective on each locale as well as extensive history. I can't say enough about the local guides and their expertise. Viking service onboard ship is impeccable. We felt quite pampered no matter where we were on ship. Dining is first class. We so appreciated the "tasting menu" which provided regional foods and changed daily depending on our location. Highly recommend Viking and would travel with Viking again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
It was our 50th anniversary and this cruise was recommended by friends. It met and exceeded our expectations. The scenery was spectacular. The food was excellent and provided a diverse menu with great options. The other passengers we ... Read More
It was our 50th anniversary and this cruise was recommended by friends. It met and exceeded our expectations. The scenery was spectacular. The food was excellent and provided a diverse menu with great options. The other passengers we met and dined with were, without exception, wonderful and friendly folks from various places. We thought that the shore excursions were less satisfactory. There was often not sufficient time to enjoy the sights. Some leaders were more informative and better organized than others. On German night in town, the dinner was German but did not offer any options for entrees. This seemed to be due to efficiency, with everyone given the same menu. We had assumed we could choose bratwurst, kraut, and red cabbage since that is what we think of when we think of a traditional German meal but that is not what was on the menu for all of us. Need more choices and more time! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
It was a family cruise from kids to grandparents. We had some issues with our embarkment because our flight was delayed. However the cruise line waited for us and reimbursed us for the transportation from the airport. The crew worked ... Read More
It was a family cruise from kids to grandparents. We had some issues with our embarkment because our flight was delayed. However the cruise line waited for us and reimbursed us for the transportation from the airport. The crew worked mightily to insure our ease and education. It was a truly amazing experience for my first time in Europe. My wife and I fully intend to go again multiple times to see other parts of the world. The cabin was relatively roomy for a cruise ship with a nice balcony. We had two teenage girls traveling with us who enjoyed the trip, but were a little “cultured “out five days in. The nightly entertainment was varied and mostly enjoyable for a wide range of age groups. We enjoyed all but one of the shore excursions, and that was due more to the guide that’s the excursion. The food was varied including a menu every day from the local region favorites and a standard fair for those not willing to venture out of their culinary comfort zone. We will definitely do this again Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
OK, this was a great vacation with Viking, our first using Viking! It was tough getting to our embarkation point. Germany and Switzerland had increased security at the airports. So may sure you check with the airlines before you leave. If ... Read More
OK, this was a great vacation with Viking, our first using Viking! It was tough getting to our embarkation point. Germany and Switzerland had increased security at the airports. So may sure you check with the airlines before you leave. If this is the case, you will need to take a deep breath when you land at these countries airports. Now, when we landed in Basel Switzerland (this is funny), we followed the exit signs and ended up in France side instead of Switzerland side. Lucky for us that a Viking rep was waiting for us to make the mistake and got us on the right side of the border. Once we had our bearing, Viking reps were they to help us with bags and getting on the correct bus to deliver us to the longboat. Once to the boat, we checked in walked about Basel before having to report back to the boat for departing. As for the boat, she was only two years old, very comfortable along with the cabin. The dining experience was unbelievably great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I would highly recommend having a diet plan in place when you return home because you will not be able to help yourself. As for the staff, it did not matter, if it was the room, dining, or excursions, you were taking care of. If you had an issue with anything, it was taken care ASAP! Now shore excursions, we greatly enjoyed all of them. The only negative would be to work with Viking when selecting them. There are some you have to pay for that are not included. I made the mistake of not speaking with Viking when making the selections. There were opportunities where you could have done the included excursions in the morning and included one of the paid excursions that afternoon. I did not know this, by the time you are on the boat and I found out, it was too late. The paid excursions were full. So, work with Viking when selecting. You may be able to do multiple excursions per visit. Now for disembarking, pay attention to what's happing at that disembark point. You may be going to the airport instead of seeing the city you disembark in. You may have to add a day(s) on the end to see the disembark city. This could be ending your great vacation on a negative note if you are not paying attention during booking. As for Viking, we highly recommend them. We have already booked another Viking river cruise in 2020 and we are looking forward to it! You may think, what about 2019, Ireland won out! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
Everything about this cruise was first class. Meals were excellent, the eating areas were always clean and well maintained and the staff was great, looking after your every need. We enjoyed our views from our balcony as well as the deck ... Read More
Everything about this cruise was first class. Meals were excellent, the eating areas were always clean and well maintained and the staff was great, looking after your every need. We enjoyed our views from our balcony as well as the deck seating. The was always ample space to sit and relax and enjoy the beautiful European landscape. The shore excursions were well planned and informative. We purchased two extra shore excursions and they were both wonderful. We especially enjoyed the windmill biking excursion even though we experienced a little rain that day. We were able to add on a couple of days in Amsterdam prior to the cruise and it was well worth it. Our walking guide was very knowledgeable and we were able to see many parts of the city that we probably wouldn't have seen on our own. We're looking forward to another river cruise with Viking soon. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
We were looking for a special trip for our 35th wedding anniversary and decided on the Rhine Getaway cruise with Viking. A coworker of my husband recommended it. This was our first time traveling overseas and Viking made everything so ... Read More
We were looking for a special trip for our 35th wedding anniversary and decided on the Rhine Getaway cruise with Viking. A coworker of my husband recommended it. This was our first time traveling overseas and Viking made everything so easy. They greeted us at the airport and then escorted us to the ship. When we arrived our room was ready and our luggage at our room. The cabin was spacious and we loved our veranda deck. It was perfect for enjoying the beautiful views along the Rhine. We even got to enjoy an excursion the day we arrived in Basel. The city was enchanting. We enjoyed dining on the ship for most of our meals. The food was fantastic and some days were themed to the areas we were visiting. We enjoyed excursions every day. Some of these experiences we will never forget. The castles especially. The morning we cruised the Rhine to view the castles was one of the highlights. We even enjoyed just exploring on our own in some of the port cities. One of the most memorable parts of the cruise was the wonderful cake the chef prepared for our anniversary. It was beautiful. And we even received a bottle of champagne. Both were delicious. We celebrated with the new friends we made on the cruise. And finally I can’t say enough about how wonderful the service and staff were on this cruise. They called us by name and made us feel special. We tell all our friends how wonderful the service was. In fact the wonderful service is what has made us decide that we will definitely take another Viking cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
Wow! Viking TV ads set a high bar in regards to our expectations. The actual experience far exceeded those expectations. The entire staff was always cheerful, attentive, so well informed and made every interaction an experience from our ... Read More
Wow! Viking TV ads set a high bar in regards to our expectations. The actual experience far exceeded those expectations. The entire staff was always cheerful, attentive, so well informed and made every interaction an experience from our room steward to the captain. The excursions were perfect: great local guides, focused and just the right amount of time that allowed for us to spend time exploring on our own each day. Our long ship was spotless and designed so that every window and deck offered a great view. One never felt crowed on board yet there were inviting places to sit and make new friends. Evening entertainment was great. Our program director was so well informed, cheerful, approachable and seemed to be working 24 hours per day! The food was excellent with a wait staff that was worthy of a 5 star hotel. After the first day when we sat down for a meal they remembered how we liked our coffee or what we preferred. Our steward the first day must have noticed my cpap machine when he turned down or room so when we came back to the room for the night he had delivered distilled water. What great service! We cannot imagine every going on a river cruise other than Viking. After the second day Linda exclaimed out of nowhere, “We HAVE to do this again!!” Needless to say we are already planning our next Viking cruise. Jim & Linda Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
Our Travel Agent Dottie O'Callahan recommended Viking to us. She said all of her other clients were pleased and always returned to Viking. Now we know why. We were met at Basel Airport and taken to the Tialfi. We were invited to have ... Read More
Our Travel Agent Dottie O'Callahan recommended Viking to us. She said all of her other clients were pleased and always returned to Viking. Now we know why. We were met at Basel Airport and taken to the Tialfi. We were invited to have lunch while rooms were cleaned after previous guests disembarked. The ship was modern, clean and there were beautiful deck spaces to sit and watch the Rhine go by. The food was wonderful. They had time in the lounge every night for the tour director to explain the next days schedule.We had quiet piano music in the lounge every night too so we could talk to each outer and not have to yell. Each of the stops were in quaint old European cities and we had guides at each stop who narrated the tour with the aid of small face microphones that we accessed with ear pieces so there was no distortion from ambient noises. We ended in Amsterdam and Viking had already made arrangements for our pick up.In our case, a taxi to take us to a hotel. Others went directly to the airport to fly home.The crew was outstanding from the people who cleaned the cabins to the waitressesand waiters. My wife wanted to take one home with her. This speaks volumes since it must be a taxing job and some travelers are probably less than civil to them, yet they maintained smiles and positive attitudes. We can't wait for our next Viking adventure. We have our reservations for June 2019, this time the Danube. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2018
I always wanted to visit Germany, and a Viking cruise was on my "bucket list". So happy we went, we went with an old friend from school and her husband and a couple that we have been friends with for over 30 years. It was so ... Read More
I always wanted to visit Germany, and a Viking cruise was on my "bucket list". So happy we went, we went with an old friend from school and her husband and a couple that we have been friends with for over 30 years. It was so relaxing cruising down the river , stopping at sights and hopping off ship right into a town, very little busing to the sights. The tour guides were wonderful as were the personnel on the ship. We wish we had planned to spend a night in Amsterdam, because when we arrived after long plane flight, we were too tired to go sight seeing. We did spend two nights in Basel, it was wonderful, again wonderful guides and nice hotel with good breakfasts. We took a trip to Lucerne, beautiful!!!! We cruise a lot on big ocean going vessels and this really spoiled us, everything included, no fighting photographers getting off ship, no long lines, no cramped bathrooms. The room was very nice, spacious with plenty of closet space and a bathroom as big as in any hotel. The staff was friendly and helpful, we had a good time in the lounge with the entertainment director and games. All in all, I hope to be able to make another river cruise on Viking, as I have nothing but happy thoughts of our trip! Read Less
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