1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Viking River Cruise on “Embla:” Bucharest to Budapest w/ 3-nt Prague Add-On Overall: Terrible experience with Viking aboard their boat Embla due to major maintenance issues known to them before our cruise started. Half speed at ... Read More
Viking River Cruise on “Embla:” Bucharest to Budapest w/ 3-nt Prague Add-On Overall: Terrible experience with Viking aboard their boat Embla due to major maintenance issues known to them before our cruise started. Half speed at best; little to no air-conditioning with room temperatures ranging from the high 70s into the 90s. The dining room felt even hotter with everyone assembled. This was a boat maintenance issue, NOT a river problem. We did not have a river cruise; the boat stayed in Russe, Bulgaria for 3 days. Then we were on buses for the rest of the trip. No choice/options as to what we ate. Viking gave minimal refund and never answered my emails to Customer Relations and several senior management personnel. Specifics: Immediately after boarding we were informed that: • The boat would be going slower than normal because the river level was low and that caused the water to be warmer which had a negative effect on engine cooling. A crew member later told us that the boat had previously hit a submerged object and had to travel slow coming to Bucharest because of propulsion problems. We saw other longboats passing us (on the one day we “cruised” from Russe to Lom); the “warm” water did not affect them! We also saw tugboats pushing loaded barges which rode much lower in the river than our boat. – We were misled from beginning!! Viking was aware of problems with Embla before we even boarded. Viking could/should have told us in Bucharest that the ship could only sail at half speed and that we would not be able to make our ports on time. They could have offered to cancel our cruise, receive a full refund for the cruise and Prague portion, and given us one more night in a hotel in Bucharest to make travel arrangements. Instead, Viking elected to hide the problem and have us board a ship that could only travel at a very slow speed with 50% a/c capacity, and sent us to spend 3 days in the small town of Russe. • We should not open our balcony doors, especially during the evening & night, as the mosquitos were very bad. This was also the case on the open upper deck. Thus, outside air was not a solution for the 80-90 degree (F) temperatures in our staterooms. The first day in Russe we elected to stay on the boat and not walk into town. We went to the dining room for lunch and were told lunch would only be available in the small eating area in front of the lounge. This “meal” consisted of a buffet of soup, cocktail sandwiches, and Bulgarian meatloaf; not exactly what you expect on a cruise. The next day we were told that we could stay on the boat, but there would be no a/c for several hours. We opted to go on a 3-hr tour of the old and new city squares of Russe. Once on the tour we were told that we would be eating lunch in Russe after the tour. Following lunch, we were informed that we must not return to the boat. We would tour 3 museums, attend a piano recital (at least it was in an air-conditioned room) and then have dinner at the same restaurant where we had lunch. At both lunch and dinner we were given what they wanted us to eat; no menu to select from. Again, not what one expects when traveling on a cruise. The boat set sail from Russe after midnight that night. The next day (Saturday, 27 July) we cruised at a very slow speed all day. This is the day we were supposed to be “scenic cruising past the Iron Gates.” That is one of the reasons we selected this Viking itinerary; we wanted to see the Iron Gates – this did not happen! We had lunch and dinner in the dining room. There was no ice cream available for dessert at dinner; the chef said the freezer was turned off. We were told before dinner that we would be getting off the boat the next morning in Lom. We were told that we would be driven by buses to Belgrade and then to Budapest. Keep in mind, temperature in the staterooms was 80-90 defrees (F). The rest of the boat (lounge, dining room, etc.) was even hotter. Sun, 28 July: After sailing over 36 hours and not even getting to Viden, we boarded buses in Lom and less than 3 hours later stopped for lunch with a distant view of the Belogradchik Rocks. That’s as close as we got to them and the Fortress (tours touted in the Viking literature). The lunch was a small buffet, no “ordering from a menu.” After a 12-hour day on a bus we arrived at the hotel in Belgrade. We had dinner around 9pm (more than 9 hours after we had lunch). Mon, 29 July: Spent the day in Belgrade. Had lunch in Old Town and dinner at the hotel. Again, we did not get to order from a menu. Tues, 30 July: Departed Belgrade via bus. Had noticed on the internet that it was a 4-to-5 hr bus ride to Budapest. Instead, Viking bussed us through Croatia where we had lunch in various private homes. We did not choose this; Viking did. When given the option prior to the cruise to have meals in private homes, we declined. This is not something we preferred to do. We, once again, did not get to select our meal. We were not offered the choice of a 4 or 5 hour bus ride vice a 12 hour bus day! After arriving at the hotel in Budapest around 9pm we had another buffet dinner. Wed, 31 July: Following two 12-hr bus ride days, two of our party were in poor physical condition and could not attend the included “Panoramic Budapest” tour. We were not meeting the objectives we had when we selected this itinerary. Since two members of our group were not on the tour, they were not provided lunch by Viking; the rest of us ate, once again, what & where Viking prescribed. Thurs, 1 Aug: Spent the day recuperating at the hotel. Note: Since we arrived in Budapest a day earlier than planned, we could not stay at the InterContinental Hotel as originally planned. This hotel is very conveniently located to Old Town, the river, and most the popular tourist attractions. Instead we were assigned a hotel that was not within walking distance of the tourist areas. Fri, 2 Aug: Took a 9-hr bus ride to Prague. Had this been our first “bus day,” we would have been in much better physical condition upon arriving in Prague. As it was, taking this 9-hr ride after the previous two 12-hr bus days was too much. This whole trip was a miserable, painful, terrible experience. As disastrous as it was, the Embla Captain never addressed the passengers and apprised us of the situation; it was like he was hiding. We were not consulted about what we might have wanted; we were not given any options. It was strictly, “Do what Viking says!” This was supposed to be “the vacation of a lifetime.” When we planned it, we did not choose a bus tour of Eastern Europe. We have several reasons for NOT wanting to spend hours riding a bus. We did not get to enjoy any of the advantages of a cruise. The few days/nights we spent on Embla were extremely uncomfortable. We chose a balcony room, and upon boarding, were told not to open the balcony doors in the evenings or nights! We only had a few meals in the Embla dining room where we got to select our meal from a menu. The rest of the time we had no choice as to what we ate. We all ate more meals consisting of chicken and potatoes than we ever thought possible when on a “cruise vacation.” We spent $13,494 on this cruise (two were refunded a small amount since they used their frequent flyer miles for the air travel), four of us paid an additional $50 each so we could choose our airline flights and seats, and we paid various amounts (average was approximately $1000/couple due to differing age) for travel insurance. Each couple spent approximately $15,000 to spend a miserable two weeks on a poorly-functioning boat and a bus. We were unable to enjoy places like Budapest and Prague because Viking’s choices had us so exhausted and physically impaired. To make matters worse, Viking has refunded $3,999 and claims that is 50% of our cost. Viking can most likely justify this with some “creative accounting.” $4,000 per couple does not come close to compensating us for our expenditures and the pain and suffering we endured. If you do book Viking, I recommend that you ask for a maintenance record of the boat. Specifically, for Embla: ask for the maintenance they performed after July 28, 2019 in order to fix the problems that led to our ‘bus tour”. I would also ask for the exact cost breakdown that they show for the trip to be sent directly to you, not just the travel agent so you are aware how they are pricing it. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
I don't know where to begin with this review. Before we started the cruise we understood that low water levels may sometimes affect the itinerary so we were prepared for that. What we were not prepared for is what actually did ... Read More
I don't know where to begin with this review. Before we started the cruise we understood that low water levels may sometimes affect the itinerary so we were prepared for that. What we were not prepared for is what actually did happen. From the time we boarded the Embla to the time we got off the buses in Budapest the trip was a disaster. Viking knew before we ever boarded the ship that it was broke but wanted us to board so they could still get their money for the cruise. We could tell something was not right when we went to our room and the a/c was not working properly and all the other passengers were complaining about it as well and the common areas were just plain hot. We departed that night at 11pm and literally crossed the river and docked again. We were then informed that the boat had a generator problem and they were bringing in a technician to repair the problem. After 2 days stuck there with no a/c or toilets we finally attempted to sail further. The ship made it 1 day and traveled only a short way so we docked again in a small town where we were put on buses and bused to Belgrade a 12 hour bus trip with just 2 stops. 1 bathroom break and 1 stop for lunch. The toilet on our bus was broke and backed up making our bus smell awful. By the time we reached Belgrade it was after 9pm and they offered a buffet dinner at 9pm at night. After 2 nights and 5 buffet meals later we were again loaded on buses and this time it was 13 hours on a bus to get us to Budapest. During the trip one of the buses broke down and one of the Viking crew members used his belt to make a temporary repair. Our bus was leaking very bad during a rain storm and a passenger actually used a umbrella to stay somewhat dry. We finally arrived in Budapest after 9pm and again they served us a buffet dinner late at night. The next 2 days were again all buffet style meals that you can get at Golden Corral. We were told by a Viking represenative that we would be contacted by Viking shortly after we arrived home. That did not happen. They just refunded a portion of the cruise only amount back into our bank account without ever discussing this with us. The amount was not even close to what we actually paid for the cruise and when I called customer service he explained that it was for the river portion only because we were provided the hotels precruise and post cruise. We were refunded 50% of the river portion and a 25% discount on a future cruise. Why would we ever consider a future cruise. Ridicoulous. The representative told me Viking considered this a very fair offer but they would up the 25% discount to 35% for us if we signed a disclosure agreement to keep our mouths shut. Vikng from start to finish was never honest with us and could care less about the safety of the passengers. They knew from the very beginning the ship had issues and we should not have ever boarded the ship. We never received a safety drill prior to sailing which we only did 1 day of. When we returned home we reseached the Viking Embla and saw that on a previous cruise in June just before our cruise the ship had been involved in a accident that damaged the generator. The same problem we had which apparently never was fixed properly. This cruise was supposed to be a trip of a lifetime and we had heard many good things about Viking in the past but they apparently now only care more about the money than the safety and experience their passengers receive. My wife and I have been on many Ocean cruises, some good and some great but this trip was a disaster from start to finish and beyond. If Viking had done the right thing and refunded us 100% of the cost of the cruise we would have absolutely considered cruising with them again. If you are one of the lucky ones who had a great cruise with Viking congratulations but if you happen to be one of the ones that the cruise turns into a disaster do not expect Viking customer service to do the right thing. Beware. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
We had a good experience on a Viking Ocean Cruise and had not done a river cruise before. Viking gets high marks in that category, so we were excited to try it. However, we have been very disappointed. Our ship, The Embla, has been ... Read More
We had a good experience on a Viking Ocean Cruise and had not done a river cruise before. Viking gets high marks in that category, so we were excited to try it. However, we have been very disappointed. Our ship, The Embla, has been experiencing severe mechanical issues, that Viking was well aware of, prior to our boarding. In the interest of “the bottom line”, they didn’t disclose this, they put us on the ship anyhow. Our stateroom and all the others, had no air conditioning on our arrival and throughout the few days that we were kept on the ship (Tim sent you a photo of the thermostat in our cabin, showing 96F degrees ). We sailed, literally, across the river, and with no transparency, Viking strung us along in an ugly, smelly dockage for more than two and a half days. We could all, quite literally, give tours of Russe, for as much time as we spent there. The Embla finally sailed at 11 pm on the 3rd night, at a crawl, (less than 4 knots we figure), not making it even half way to our first port of Vidin. We were disembarked in Lom or Silistra, Bulgaria. We then had a bus trip complete with 11 and 12 hours on the bus with en mass bathroom breaks at malls and gas stations, (not fun when only 4 stalls and 5 buses worth of passengers) buffet lunches, hot sandwiches that were meant to be cold, and water on the bus only the first day. Our bus driver’s skills were questionable and our bus broke down. Excursions were abbreviated and virtually, all by bus or eliminated completely. They took us hours out of the way to make a brief lunch with locals in Croatia, that added at least 4 hours to our second day on the bus and added an unnecessary second border crossing, which took in excess of an hour in itself. We felt like going hours out of the way for 1 hour off the bus lunch, was probably an attempt by Viking to go through the motions of making it to Croatia. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We just come back from a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam with Viking and after reading all the opinions of other travellers we decided to have our input too. We travel with them exactly when the low water in Europe affected everybody ... Read More
We just come back from a cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam with Viking and after reading all the opinions of other travellers we decided to have our input too. We travel with them exactly when the low water in Europe affected everybody cruises and I think is fair to identify two different aspects of the issue. On one hand a big disappointment: you except Viking to be honest and transparent with their customers and inform them in advance about this type of issue which will bring ship changes, long bus rides, in general a discomfort for passengers. The only e-mail we got 8 days before the cruise was regarding the change of the ship: Viking Embla instead of Viking Lif. We contacted Viking office and we were told that will be no problems, that “everything is like was mentioned in the itinerary” and the “water is not a problem anymore”. Is it right Viking to lie to your customers just to avoid cancellations and compensations? On the other hand when we were on the boat and we started to experience problems with the water everything was perfectly organised smooth and with no stress and we reach Amsterdam after a 2 amazing weeks. In this case, when everything on the boat is so well planned and organised, having a minimum impact on our journey, was it so difficult to find the same level or respect and transparency when we call the Viking office? We travelled on 2 boats: Embla and Lif which supposed to be identical, but the reality was a little bit different. We liked Lif more being a newer ship, more comfortable and more spacious. But the massive difference was the service and the staff: while on Embla everybody was very professional on Lif we had the feeling that we landed on a “training vessel” with everybody trying to do their job but failing almost every time. Katja, the hotel manager on Embla, was always in control, always with the passengers and always efficient and smiling. Her leadership abilities reflected positive on her entire crew who was brilliant. On Lif Jeronimo, the hotel manager, was very arrogant, never interacting with the passengers and more interested in having a “good time” with the rest of the staff then acting to achieve a good service. We tried to speak with him about some on-board credit issues, but he was always busy, avoiding us and passing the problem to the reception. Not the expected level of customer service from Viking. George the restaurant manager was superb and everybody in Embla restaurant was perfect: remembering our names every lunch and dinner, impeccable service (we fall in love with Martina) and delicious food. On Lif we never had the chance to speak with the restaurant manager, the waiters giving us the feeling that they just learn the job, making mistake with orders, speaking in front of us in their own language and never check if an extra service was needed. We ended on Lif to have dinner in the lounge were Christian and Ivan were far more attentive and professional then others. The reception on Embla was extremely helpful, booking a lot of trips for us and helping everybody to find their way around. Especially Lucia was always kind and smiling and when she didn’t know the answer didn’t have a problem to ask the cruise director for the correct information. On Lif the two young men at the reception (didn’t make the effort to remember their name) were very unprofessional and arrogant with an attitude more appropriate to a cheap hostel than a Viking ship. At every question they were giving us the feeling that we were stupid, and this patronising way to answer was always topped with the wrong information. They were the worst receptionists ever!!! On the positive side the housekeeping on Lif was amazing with our steward Ivan very helpful and professional. While on Embla we never meet the Capitan, on Lif the Dutch Captain was a pleasure to meet and talk to and his evening presentation was informative and funny. The only constant exceptional experience for us on these two boats was the Program Director – Leonard. From the very first moment when we embark Embla in Budapest until the moment when we left Lif in Amsterdam Leonard was far above any expectations. His was an excellent organiser managing perfectly the guides, the coaches, the time tables, everything and everybody involved in changing the ships so well that for all of us was just a normal day not a major trauma or drama! During the long bus rides he was jumping from one coach to another, from one group to another to check if everything was fine and to solve any problems and he manage to find time during the transfer to buy to all of was a chocolate hart … how sweet! One day he was assisting a passengers with reduce mobility while he was giving information about best shopping in town and locating a lost cell phone and another day he was helping very professional (my husband is in ER) with a medical emergency (quite a ugly wound on somebody leg) while he was trying to help a passenger from another Viking ship left behind his group. Really ??? How many things you can do so well Leonard! Leonard knows the history, culture, tradition of any stone, city, castle and church on our itinerary and sometimes his explanations were better and more accessible than the guide’s ones! Each evening briefing and lecture was a unique opportunity to access in an easy, interesting and entertaining way complicated stories about history, art and culture. He had such a versatile personality: a strong organiser in the morning during the excursion, informative and efficient in the evening and fun and charming in the evening. What a joy to have him on board! For sure we will go back to Viking…they know how to make every moment special despite the fact that they still need to work on some issues (do something about Lif…is a beautiful ship with such low standards). And by the way we want Leonard as a Program Director! If anybody from Viking read our review, please send our massive “THANY YOU!” to Leonard for making this a vacation of a lifetime. He really is a “ Rockstar “ who made this so much fun and so Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We really enjoyed our river cruise, as always. There is no other way to travel! Looking forward to new itineraries and cruising more!, I would like to have available a stretching, Pilates or yoga class. As a Pilates instructor I have had ... Read More
We really enjoyed our river cruise, as always. There is no other way to travel! Looking forward to new itineraries and cruising more!, I would like to have available a stretching, Pilates or yoga class. As a Pilates instructor I have had numerous fellow passengers want to join me when I am doing my exercises. I would gladly teach for a few dollars off our trip. After all the walking some stretching feels great! We enjoyed the excursions. One problem I see is there were some people who had trouble maneuvering stairs etc that were in our group for the excursions. They should put the more active people together and have another group for the people that can’t walk as far, as fast, etc The food was great and the waiters and waitresses are so accommodating! A lot of good choices for food and of course the wine was really good also. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2018
We were interested in seeing more of Eastern Europe after having been to Prague on our last river cruise. We knew before we left that river levels were low. We did have to leave our ship early and were bused into Budapest. It would have ... Read More
We were interested in seeing more of Eastern Europe after having been to Prague on our last river cruise. We knew before we left that river levels were low. We did have to leave our ship early and were bused into Budapest. It would have been lovely to have cruised into beautiful Budapest! Food was not quite as good as our previous river cruise. I celebrated my birthday on the first day of the cruise. My husband had called Viking ahead and told them this. He also asked one of our servers at dinner about my birthday. He was told they were aware of it. They still managed to forget to acknowledge my birthday. The next day something showed up in our room. I was very disappointed and my husband was not happy. Not the service we expected! Budapest was the highlight of the ports. Beautiful city with lots to see! We have another river cruise booked for 2019. It will most likely be our last. We have done one Viking ocean cruise, and we much prefer the ocean to river cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
This was our 6th River Cruise on a Viking ship. We wanted to re-visit some of the cities in Germany and the Netherlands that we had been to previously. The Grand European Tour offered us just the right route. We loved the food on board ... Read More
This was our 6th River Cruise on a Viking ship. We wanted to re-visit some of the cities in Germany and the Netherlands that we had been to previously. The Grand European Tour offered us just the right route. We loved the food on board the Longship - always a good variety and tasty options, and the "sit where you want to" policy suits us just fine. All of the other guests were well-traveled and offered suggestions as to what to see in various cities, and what other Vicing River Cruises we might enjoy. We love the staff - always warm and friendly and helpful. We found the included panoramic city tours by bus to be a good introduction to the cities. We signed up for a number of optional tours to see sights that we had missed during prior travel. It was a great trip.The cabin was comfortable for us. The evening entertainment was enjoyable after a busy and tiring day of travel. We highly recommend this trip to all travelers. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2018
The cruise went from Budapest to Amsterdam. We normally never do tours, we always travel on our own. We Really loved this. We felt very taken care of. It was a really Super fun boat. People were the best including the Staff and the ... Read More
The cruise went from Budapest to Amsterdam. We normally never do tours, we always travel on our own. We Really loved this. We felt very taken care of. It was a really Super fun boat. People were the best including the Staff and the guests. We Made great friends. We Got completely spoiled. We had Great tour guides who were very knowledgeable. They had Fast and slow groups which accommodated all. There was Fab live music. The menu had Local foods and other great tasting meals. There were Excellent bartenders. Outside decks were breezy and comfortable. The Inside lounge areas had with plenty of room to relax. There happened to be a medical emergency and it was handled well. All the buses for the tours were very comfortable. I would have chosen another month because it was too hot for me in the port cities. I already have my eyes on other Viking tours. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Heard many great things from many past Viking Guests. Wanted to go to Europe , Germany etc, thought I would give Viking a try. Our first week we were on another ship, then midweek we had to transfer to another ship Due to the low water ... Read More
Heard many great things from many past Viking Guests. Wanted to go to Europe , Germany etc, thought I would give Viking a try. Our first week we were on another ship, then midweek we had to transfer to another ship Due to the low water of the river. Really hated leaving the 1st ship. Loved the staff. The second ship the Embla was a little smaller stateroom. We were never on the Aegir. I forgot the name of the first ship. The transfer was painless and everyone was very professional. I give credit to our tour guide Stephen. Food and dining service fantastic and friendly. The only negative thing I have to say about the dinner, was that the dinners all started at 7 p. M. It would have been nice to have an earlier dinner, because by the time you were finished dinner, you had to go right to bed because you had to get up so early in the morning for the excursions.Ship clean and attractive. River Cruises are different from sea Cruises There is nothing to do on the ship of you don't go on the excursions. A small library, relaxing on the top sundeck where there is a walking track and a small putting green. The top deck is not accessible when the ship has to go under bridges for height restrictions. The only nightly entertainment they had was a lady singer who was very nice and a electric piano player. Every night everybody would gather into the lounge, where the tour guide would discuss the plans for the next day and the excursions. Sometimes they would have lectures the day before on specific details of the area that you were going to see the next day. They also had a couple of demonstrations, making Turkish coffee for instance. Beware of the excursions, where they say or easy or moderate, it's not exactly true to form. There are times where you have to walk up steep hills on cobblestones for quite a while just to get where you have to meet your guide. These excursions are for very healthy fit individuals that can do a lot of vigorous walking, at least three to four miles per day. Europe especially has lots of uneven cobblestones streets which can wreak havoc on your back. You are not allowed to bring any type of scooter on board. You are allowed to bring a wheelchair, someone even brought a motorized wheelchair but no scooters are allowed. I had a hard time keeping up with the groups. I am in my 50s, and unfortunately I could not keep up as much as I'd like to. Some excursions were better than others.My advice, if you wish to do excursions with any type of river cruise, is to make sure you're able to walk 3 or 4 miles on cobblestone streets which are prevalent in Europe. I'm glad I went on this Viking tour, however regarding the excursions, I don't think that they were very accommodating to people with any type of mobility issues. The walking tours that were included with Viking we're Fair. The ones I would recommend in Europe specially Germany is to go to all the Palaces. The interior of these palaces were tremendous. Unfortunately due to the restrictions you are not able to take photographs inside. would I travel with Viking again, yes I would if there was a particular place that I would like to go see, and also the price. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2018
We wanted to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in a special way, and had heard of Viking's excellent reputation through friends. The idea of a river cruise sounded appealing, and the ports were all new to us. We expected to ... Read More
We wanted to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary in a special way, and had heard of Viking's excellent reputation through friends. The idea of a river cruise sounded appealing, and the ports were all new to us. We expected to receive good service on the Elba, but what we experienced was so much more than that. Everything, from the port tours to the on-board special presentations, were so varied and well organized. And the staff were amazing. The housekeepers consistently smiled and said hello, desk personnel were always professional and helpful, wait staff were so accommodating and pleasant, and our Program Director, Violeta, was such an attentive and hard working representative for Viking! It was so obvious that all had the same goal...to make this voyage a wonderful and rewarding experience for their guests. And they succeeded! We loved the special touches too, such as a champagne toast upon our arrival and the offer of a wonderful piece of chocolate on our return from the Vienna tour. Dining was exceptional, and we truly enjoyed trying the delicious regional offerings. We are so impressed with Viking that we have convinced 2 other couples to book trips with them, and we have already booked another Viking cruise for ourselves! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
There isn’t a moment that I can think of that wasn’t superb: great food (especially the breads and breakfasts), wonderful varied entertainment (folk dancing and music); excellent meaningful lectures on Balkan politics and history on ... Read More
There isn’t a moment that I can think of that wasn’t superb: great food (especially the breads and breakfasts), wonderful varied entertainment (folk dancing and music); excellent meaningful lectures on Balkan politics and history on the boat and through the port excursions: nice people to meet through the open seating at meals; beautiful and varied scenery; knowledgeable guides on the port tours; friendly helpful staff- what more could one ask? My husband and I and our daughter and son-in-law found enough things to do together and other activities that we could do separately that made for a truly memorable trip. I never thought. I’d want to know that much Balkan history but I enjoyed each of the presentations and appreciate the level of understanding I gained that helped me understand world history and even international politics today. Highlights for us included the visit to the violin maker’s studio in Serbia and learning how one creates an instrument like a violin; the home visits to “B&B’s”; and the cooking class where I learned to make great Feta Cheese and Phyllo dessert. There were some surprise concerts from young people at some of the churches- an extra treat! I enjoyed the informality and the reasonable size of the boat. Every day was different but also relaxed. The Program staff on the Boat and Guides on Bus and Walking Tours we’re honest with their comments about a very contested history and certainly seemed honest with their interpretations of their excellent local knowledge. For example, I particularly enjoyed the two young girls just completing the “Gymasium”(High School) education who talked about their lives today and goals for the future. But the first specific story I keep telling was the Violin maker’s studio. The trip was so good that we have already reserved another trip next May with our other daughter and her husband. Traveling intergenerationally with our children gave the trip a double benefit for we shared experiences and created memories that will go beyond our own lives, Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
This was our first river cruise and understood Viking was a top provider. BUT, we were very disappointed. The crew/staff were excellent, but after that things fell down. Getting a balcony is a waste of money as many times we were moored ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and understood Viking was a top provider. BUT, we were very disappointed. The crew/staff were excellent, but after that things fell down. Getting a balcony is a waste of money as many times we were moored next to another Viking ship's balcony which was just 2 feet away. No view or privacy! Breakfast was fine but other meals were poor. It became the joke many times to see what was served compared to what was ordered. Many times when we docked at a town we then had to be bussed. We were not able to simply get off the ship and walk around. A couple times we docked in industrial areas. On included tours guides were friendly and knowledgeable, but we were always rushed. Numerous times we had to move along as there was a group behind us. No time for questions (later) and photos. A typical tour was bussing, see a cathedral/palace/castle listen to some history/stories & then some free time. When you combine the amount of ships of Viking & it's competitors, tours become a herd! For the price do not recommend Viking. Will not use again. Viking may have been a class outfit, but possibly have lost control with expansion. Deep research needed for any river cruise. Have taken over a dozen land trips with success, but our ages require a more leisurely experience. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We selected this cruise because we lived near canals for two years and it looked like fun. The advertising promised convenient, in town docking locations, small tour groups and excellent dining. Instead, we discovered that there were ... Read More
We selected this cruise because we lived near canals for two years and it looked like fun. The advertising promised convenient, in town docking locations, small tour groups and excellent dining. Instead, we discovered that there were usually four to six Viking ships in town at a time. We often docked 20-30 minutes from town in a cargo area and were bused into town and back. This meant that the tours involved around 1,000 people - more if you included the ships from other companies. The next to last stop was supposed to be in Kinderdijk. Instead, we docked in Doordrect and rode on buses for 30 minutes each way. The food ranged from good to terrible. Several of the meals were inedible. They were bland beyond belief and often poorly prepared. The standard "always available" lunch entrees were a hamburger (overcooked and dry) or a hot dog. The local menus on the Danube were good. From that point on, the local menus ranged from standard sausage and kraut (good) to incredibly bland, and definitely not representative of local dishes. The Dutch ones were particularly horrible. Unlike anything available in the Netherlands. We also did not appreciate the overdone drinking culture. There were no non-alcoholic options available at the "free receptions" and the whole cruise seemed to revolve around alcoholic beverages. I guess that is one way to keep some gusts happy. The included shore excursions were mostly 1 1/2 hour walking tours through town. Some were interesting. The guide for the Vienna city tour was irritating. The two optional music activities in Vienna were the highlight. I would never do this itinerary. The four days cruising the Danube-Main Canal were the worst and mostly a waste of time. I would recommend choosing either the Rhine or the Danube (preferred) but not the Grand European. The entire environment was geared towards relatively untravelled Americans. It was too structured for our taste and lacked the international flavor we have enjoyed on other cruises. The crew worked incredibly hard and were efficient and friendly. The Program Director had to work constantly to compensate for Viking's disorganization and oversold activities. He was knowledgeable and certainly among the best in the business. Our French Balcony cabin was small, but worked fine, especially since we spent little time in it. The internet service was simply awful by any measure. The free internet on European trains works 100 times better. It was incredibly slow when it was semi-functional. Most of the time it was not, unless you tried it before 6:00 AM. The onboard WiFi system did not provide adequate coverage, the authentication system was buggy. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose this cruise because of the timing that worked out for our younger daughter and son-in-law as well as for us (mid-May), the discounted cost ("two-fer" in terms of cabin costs) and because it covered a part of Europe we ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the timing that worked out for our younger daughter and son-in-law as well as for us (mid-May), the discounted cost ("two-fer" in terms of cabin costs) and because it covered a part of Europe we had not yet visited. (We had been in Budapest but not any of the other Balkan countries we visited). We had high expectations, and the trip exceeded them. I cannot remember any bad or even difficult moments (except perhaps for the heavy rain on the Budapest day - but that's not under the control of the Viking planners). The food and service were superb, varied, interesting and with more than enough choices. I cannot believe it was cooked so well in the small kitchen we toured. The chefs and helpers obviously work together very closely and very well! The entertainment and lectures were excellent. I learned more about Balkan history than I ever thought I'd want to know, but enjoyed the lectures/presentations, and now have a better understanding of WWI, WWII, and even the Balkans today. The entertainment, especially the folk-dancing, in Romania during lunchtime, and other times on the boat, were a delight. My husband and I enjoyed the Port trips we could take (he has some walking limitations) and the optional trips we added. One highlight was the cooking class in Bulgaria. "Ramona's Banitsa" will now be added to my cooking repertoire. A second highlight - and probably the most interesting - was the visit to the violin maker in Kovacica, Serbia. I seem to talk about that particular afternoon, and show the pictures I took of Jan Nemcek that show how he made violins more than any other part of our trip. Two other highlights were visits to homes in Croatia (actually "B&B's") where we met and enjoyed talking with the hosts in our small groups, and the Hungarian "horsemanship" show in Puszta. We had been to Budapest before, so on the second day (now with good weather) we hired a "TukTuk" and had a 2-hourguided trip to revisit the important and meaningful "Shoe Memorial" along the river, and Chris, our guide, then took us some small parks and meaningful sculptures that we would not have known about without him. We enjoyed the trip so much we have made reservations for another Viking Cruise next May - and this time we will share it with our other daughter and her husband! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
This cruise was a dream come true. It was our first cruise and one we will always remember. My husband wanted to show me Eastern Europe where he worked many years. We decided to fly into Budapest two days early to recuperate from jet ... Read More
This cruise was a dream come true. It was our first cruise and one we will always remember. My husband wanted to show me Eastern Europe where he worked many years. We decided to fly into Budapest two days early to recuperate from jet lag and to walk around the city on our own. When we walked onto the Embla we were warmly greeted with smiling faces by the entire crew, and it remained that way throughout the cruise. The crew was first rate and many were from the countries we were visiting. Many of them had interesting stories to share if you asked. Violetta, our tour director, was amazing and put together tours and lectures that enriched and enhanced our Eastern European experience. I learned so much about this part of the world. All of tour guides were quite knowledgeable and obviously chosen with care.We loved the food, particularly the foods of each country we visited. Dinner was always special, but breakfast time was a great start with chef Jiggs serving his fantastic omelets. ( I did gain a few pounds, but it was worth it!) We also met some very interesting people and made some wonderful new friends. I would certainly urge anyone wishing to take a river cruise to travel with Viking. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
Viking did everything right to make this trip even more special for us. We knew we picked the right cruise company for our river adventure when we found out that we were going to be in Amsterdam on "King's Day". Heck, we ... Read More
Viking did everything right to make this trip even more special for us. We knew we picked the right cruise company for our river adventure when we found out that we were going to be in Amsterdam on "King's Day". Heck, we didn't know what "King's Day meant until they told us. All roads in and out of the city are shut down by 8am for motor traffic and don't open again until the next day. King's Day was the day we were to meet our ship, the Embla, to start our 14-day voyage! Our Amsterdam hotel learned about our predicament and arranged a special driver to take us to our riverboat, but we had to leave the hotel about 7 am and we arrived at the EMBLA about 7:30am, almost 5-hours before we were to check in. What happened next was incredible. The tour director for our cruise actually was waiting for us on the dock, and just said "Welcome Home"! She then told us to just leave our bags on the dock and they would take care of them, go on board, have a coffee or breakfast and mingle with the guests who hadn't yet departed. We were "Home"! We continually had those same type of experiences throughout our two-week journey on the Embla. The hotel accommodations on board the Embla were great. The food was consistently incredible and yummy. The entertainment, music and exhibitions on board seemed to be just about perfect to meet the needs for almost anyone and either prepared us for places we were going, helped reflect on the places we just visited, or just to have fun. The staff, in every part of our Embla experience, were absolutely WONDERFUL (friendly, courteous, and always ready to help). We actually wanted to adopt one of the crew (Dani). He was one of the servers in the lounge who also helped at lunch time on the forward terrace and during dinner in the main dining room. He made us feel special every time we saw him. The local tour guides also provided unbelievable history and ambiance to always set the right image for the specific experience. We loved everything about our experience aboard the Embla and we are already planning our next Viking trip in 2020. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
The ship was wonderful. We were picked up at the airport in a wonderful bus and taken to the ship. Once we arrived and got on board we were given warm towels. We then proceeded to the lounge area where we waited for our rooms to be ... Read More
The ship was wonderful. We were picked up at the airport in a wonderful bus and taken to the ship. Once we arrived and got on board we were given warm towels. We then proceeded to the lounge area where we waited for our rooms to be ready. When we got into our rooms they were wonderful. The staff were always there to help you with anything. The food was excellent and the waiters would give you anything you asked for. The excursions were very informative and just long enough. Did not want to go home but disembarkation was great. We did not have to wait for hours to get off the ship. They took us right to the airport and there was no problem. We enjoyed it so much we are going on a cruise December 2019. We are looking forward to going on the Rhine again to Budapest Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
My husband wasn't too interested in traveling abroad except for in Germany. So this met his criteria. I am willing to go anywhere so it met my criteria too. The flight from Detroit was direct to Amsterdam - long and tiring as ... Read More
My husband wasn't too interested in traveling abroad except for in Germany. So this met his criteria. I am willing to go anywhere so it met my criteria too. The flight from Detroit was direct to Amsterdam - long and tiring as expected. Just a hop from Amsterdam to Basel. I slept the arrival afternoon; my husband took the walking tour and enjoyed it. The cabin was fine - not elegant but well arranged and clean. Neither of us are "foodies" but we did enjoy all of the meals on the ship - especially the 5 course meal on the front deck. We did that the first night which was smart as there was only one other couple there. As word spread about how enjoyable it was people could not get reservations and it was probably not nearly as "special" as it had been for us. Of all the tours we enjoyed the Colmar World War II tour the most. Our guide was fabulous...so knowledgeable and passionate about the subject. He made us feel like we right there with Audie Murphy and his troops. Also enjoyed the museum in town. Cannot recommend it highly enough. Our second favorite tour was of the windmill in Kinderdijk. We did not do the bicycle tour - only the included tour. Our guide for this tour was also special. He was from Kinderdijk and thus knowledgeable and passionate about his town and the windmills and their significance. The rest of the included tours were fine...driving through the black forest was great; and seeing all the vineyards in southern France was very interesting too, Viking was very successful in mixing up "cruising" and "touristing" - we did not have a boring minute. We also especially liked the cruise through "castle country" as I call it. Recommend that you get a guidebook for the Rhine to assist in identifying and learning about all the castles you see as you cruise. Very organized in the way Viking handled leaving the ship/bussing everyone to their destination/and the return. As well as being able to hear the guides. Our cruise director Boris was fantastic - seemed to know everything about everything - and no matter what when on, always pleasant. The whole staff was great. Seemed to know everyone's name within 24 hours - how they do that I do not know. The entertainment was good....we were pretty tired at the end of each day so turned in early. Slept very well whether in port or cruising at night. Viking is great. We would go again in a heartbeat Read Less
Sail Date: April 2018
After talking about the Viking river cruises with a few people, who said they absolutely loved them, we decided to try one ourselves. It surpassed our expectations! The trip was very relaxing. We saw beautiful scenery and really enjoyed ... Read More
After talking about the Viking river cruises with a few people, who said they absolutely loved them, we decided to try one ourselves. It surpassed our expectations! The trip was very relaxing. We saw beautiful scenery and really enjoyed learning about the history and cultures of the people in the areas that we visited. The staff treated us like royalty; they were always ready to talk, listen, and answer any questions we might have. The food was delicious! Our stateroom was roomy and comfortable. We especially enjoyed sitting on the top deck and viewing the beautiful scenery as we cruised down the river. One night we stood on the top deck as the boat navigated through the locks. Very interesting! We also enjoyed meeting other passengers. Everyone was very friendly and always eager to share a table at mealtime. At first glance, when we were deciding on the cruise, the price looked a bit high. However, when we took into account the complimentary beer and wine at meals and the included shore excursions, as well as the very low price of our flights, we felt that it was a good deal. We have taken several other cruises, and all of those things (drinks and shore excursions) were added costs. We are already planning a Viking cruise on the Mediterranean next year! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2017
We had day tripped the Rhine near Rudesheim in the Summer., wanted to see old Europe along the Rhine, Main, Danube, Chritmas Markets.It was enchanting! Saw the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, walked the Riverfront sights in Cologne, Had ... Read More
We had day tripped the Rhine near Rudesheim in the Summer., wanted to see old Europe along the Rhine, Main, Danube, Chritmas Markets.It was enchanting! Saw the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, walked the Riverfront sights in Cologne, Had Coffee and Sacher Torte in the heart of Vienna, saw Rudesheim, the Loreli, Christmas Market setting up in Neuremberg, two separate Chrismas Markets in BudaPest. We added a day in Amsterdam, 2 days in Budapest. (Use the hop-on-hop off canal ride in Amsterdam, the Hon-H- off bus in BudaPest. The Embla veranda staterooms are great, and we had 24/7 coffee and tea with am rolls and pm cookies near the library. The lounge/dining room was a central meeting point, with a pianist/ singer, and excellent lectures each day about what was next to tour or spot from the ship.The meals were good, with a chance to try local dishes in each area. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2017
It was an amazing trip. The service was impeccable, with all the staff being friendly and helpful, basically perfect. Our room was much better then anticipated. While very small the design was such that we were able to use it like a much ... Read More
It was an amazing trip. The service was impeccable, with all the staff being friendly and helpful, basically perfect. Our room was much better then anticipated. While very small the design was such that we were able to use it like a much bigger room. The French Balcony was ideal, with the bed only a few feet from it (enough to slide between it and the bed) and I felt like a balcony would have been underutilized and a hinderance to the view from the bed. I spent most river cruising time on the sun deck so I could get the 360 view I would not have seen by sitting on a balcony. The front of the boat is great, so when it was cold I could sit behind a wind screen and have an unobstructed forward view. I noticed most boats had the front terrace behind an anchor. It did get a bit cold and windy after Regensburg so I was happy to have that. While no one else spent as much time on deck as I did, people would come forward to take pictures as we got to locks or other sites and being right on the front made for a great picture. We also go lucky in that the router for the wifi must have been near our room because we could get on line (very slow internet) while others had to go to the lounge. Room 226. The bathroom was also tiny but well designed so we could wash and dry our cloths each night. The included tours were also very good though in Bucharest and Budapest we got stuck in traffic on the bus. We always had at least an hour of free time and often more, which I initially thought was short but it turns out to be about right, there is no way we were going to see everything so we just had to accept that. Viking had two issues while we were on board. One was a bridge that was going to be repaired and they had to close the river for five days. We needed to get past that bridge by Monday. Because of that we had to sail all night through one of the most scenic parts of the Romanian Danube - the Iron Gate. The reception desk offered to wake anyone up who wanted to go on deck to see it at night and they flashed flood lights on the cliffs as we weaved up a narrow gorge. The other was two generators blew in Budapest so we could not sail full speed. The only effect this had on us is that we went through the Wachau Valley slower. The docking sites were pretty good, in most cases where we could not dock in town it was because the river does not run by the old part of town. We were right in town in Vukovar, Nova Sad (just past the closing bridge and instead of Belgrade - where we would have been in town), Budapest, Melk, Passau, Regensburg, Wertheim, Koblenz and Cologne, not in Nuremberg, Bamberg or Wurzburg (I guess I should not complain :-) ). In Vienna it was a 1/2 mile walk back to the boat. In Vidin and Russe we took an hour bus ride through Bulgarian countryside to the sites we visited. The food was good, and sometimes really good. We ate on board every meal except two lunches. The portions were perfect and the wine never ending during lunch and dinner. Breakfast had lots of options for custom omelets, Eggs Benedict, French Toast and pancakes, to bagels and cream cheese and lox, yogurt and lots of pastries and fruit. The soups at lunch and dinner were always a treat, and the two theme nights, Balkan and German were a great sample of the regional foods. Otherwise there was usually a fish, meat or chicken and vegetarian dishes as well as a always available prime rib that was pretty good and a chicken dish I did not try. The other guests tended to be 70 or older but there was one family group including 30 year olds on the first leg of the trip and a few young people like us, in their early 60s. Everyone was considerate and timely, the Program Director was on top of us all and herded us to buses as needed and popped up in the middle of cities whenever we seemed confused. We did not go to most of the evening entertainment but local artists came on board at least 5 times and music and other games were organized a few nights. A lot of people spent a lot of time in the lounge, and while we did not bond with a group of guests, it was pretty clear others did and socialized, played cards and hung out in the lounge. Everyone we spoke with on board loved the trip. 47 of us did all 23 days. Many guests were repeat customers, some multiple times on the river and ocean cruises and they all only had great things to say about Viking. We too had a great time but at least for the foreseeable future we will not do another river cruise. It was just as we expected a sampling a of a lot of places, but only a sampling and we often felt we did not get to explore the ins and outs of the towns we visited. However, one goal was to find places we would want to return to and we totally succeeded in that. The Wachau Valley was amazing and a crew member told us that Linz, where we did not stop, is his favorite city. We could see returning there to bike, hike and visit other close by sites we missed on the boat. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
Overall trip was great. The arrival was handled with such ease and made it the start of a great trip. Ship was very well appointed and crew and staff did a great job of welcoming and very nicely setting boundary's. Ports of call ... Read More
Overall trip was great. The arrival was handled with such ease and made it the start of a great trip. Ship was very well appointed and crew and staff did a great job of welcoming and very nicely setting boundary's. Ports of call were very interesting someday's we wished we had more free time in cities, but we have made a list and are looking at how we can go on our own make this work. Service on board was beyond anything we had expected. Staff and crew were always neat, clean, friendly, and always willing to help. Who ever handles this for your company is outstanding. Dining was a fun time we like most settled in with "table mates" which almost included the wait staff.Food was very good the only thing I would have changed was when we went into Germany the wine was changed to a very sweet Riesling. Wish we had had choice. My wife and I are talking about other Viking trips we can take, Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose this cruise because we were able to see so many beautiful cities and travel down three rivers in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, most excursions were included--which is not the case on most cruises, and the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were able to see so many beautiful cities and travel down three rivers in a relatively short amount of time. Additionally, most excursions were included--which is not the case on most cruises, and the excursions were wonderful! Since the ship was small, in most cases we were within walking distance between our ship and our destinations, which made it easy to go back and forth between the port and our ship. Buses and shuttles were also included, so we didn't have to worry about getting lost or left behind. Since the ship was designed for only 190 passengers and 50 crew members, we got to know most of our fellow passengers and crew very easily. Having less passengers also meant that we never had to stand in line for meals or wait for seating. The crew was outstanding...catering to all of our needs. We ate gourmet meals with most drinks included. Our cruise director was outstanding--presenting informative programs, demonstrations, and small scale entertainment, which made the whole experience more personal and enjoyable. Finally, we felt very safe and secure traveling on a river cruise, where we could see the shoreline! Our captain and the riverboat crew were excellent navigators. The cruise was wonderful! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
Coming from Hawaii I wanted to see as much of Europe as I could and I like the idea of unpacking one time. The smoothness of the river journey made the trip even more enjoyable. When we on board we didn't even know we were moving. ... Read More
Coming from Hawaii I wanted to see as much of Europe as I could and I like the idea of unpacking one time. The smoothness of the river journey made the trip even more enjoyable. When we on board we didn't even know we were moving. Except for the stunning scenery passing by. Visiting the towns, castles and countryside were exhilarating. The meals on the boat were exceptional. It made coming home and having to cook painful. LOL We were very impressed with the crew. Working with the public is not easy, but the Viking crew was delightful. They were always so friendly, helpful and personable. We stayed on the second level and since we were not in our cabin that often it served its purpose. Mainly sleeping. I was totally amazed at the cleanliness of the boat at all times. We really had to schedule time for the various activities on board. Like the glass blowing demonstration. All the activities on board were well Every time we reached a new port we were amazed at how easy the disembarkation and embarkation went. Even when we had to pass over another ship. Read Less
Viking Embla Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 3.0 3.6
Public Rooms 5.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 1.0 2.9
Family 1.0 2.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 4.0
Service 4.0 4.5
Value For Money 3.0 3.8
Rates 4.0 3.7

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