1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
I am amazed (or maybe not) by the people who complain about things over which the cruise line has little control. Water height, water depth, bridge clearance, weather and even peoples' inability or unwillingness to make new friends ... Read More
I am amazed (or maybe not) by the people who complain about things over which the cruise line has little control. Water height, water depth, bridge clearance, weather and even peoples' inability or unwillingness to make new friends seem to be issues and Viking can do only so much. We left cool and windy Amsterdam only to arrive in cold, windy and rainy Kinderdijk. That's it for the bad weather. If you visit a country known for centuries of windmills you should expect wind. From then on it just kept getting better and better until we finished up in gloriously sunny and warm Bucharest. Dining was perfect, with tables seating anywhere from four and up. If you want a table for two get your own boat or dine upstairs in the Aquavit lounge. No assigned seating but you can meet new people every meal (or avoid people if you want). The serving staff were going 100 miles per hour but always had time for you. It was impressive how well they worked together and enjoyed working together. Nobody was slacking, that is for sure. We had our favourite servers and sat in their area whenever possible. We even got "special" menu items, exclusive to our table. If you want more of something just ask for it and it will happen. The city excursions were great, the kind of preliminary introductions to each stop you need, including the most famous sites. The local guides, and they were local, knew what they were talking about and were willing to engage us rather than recite scripted facts. Every day when we returned from breakfast our room was magically back to perfect. Every evening when we returned from dinner our room was remade and turned down. We had two different cabin stewards and they both kept our room looking like the brochure. Everyone, from the Captain down had smiles, greetings and conversation for the passengers, wishing you a good time in the cities and welcoming you back to the ship for departures. For me, a sign that I am enjoying myself is when I remember peoples' names, and I remember them all from this trip. Lenard, the Program Director, was an unbeatable combination of personality, knowledge and fun. One thing in particular which impressed me was the way the onboard staff worked together. More than once I saw the restaurant servers, the cabin attendants, the reception staff and the ship's crew moving supplies onboard the ship forming a "human chain" down the gangway. When I talked with some of them no one complained about doing the work, they just mentioned that it's not easy carrying supplies onto a ship. Another instance when a decision was made for the benefit of the passengers was when we swapped Vienna and Bratislava days so we could avoid being stuck in Vienna on the Sunday of their marathon. The place is closed down and access limited so we slipped past Vienna to Bratislava (home of the world's best hot chocolate at Bon Bon!) and then sailed back to Vienna so we could have the Monday with the whole city open. Never heard of a ship doing that before. Anyway, for us the Embla and its magnificent people made for a perfect three weeks. We were sad to say goodbye and head to Bucharest, but the staff at the Intercontinental were like a real cruise extension, treating us like royalty. We are already looking at future cruises, but we want "our" Embla and in particular "our" Embla staff with us next time too! The one piece of advice I would suggest anyone planning on this long itinerary consider would be taking the cruise from Bucharest rather that from Amsterdam. The so-called Eastern countries are dealing with challenges that most of Western Europe coped with and recovered from fifty years earlier. As such it might be better to go from East to West, since it is hard to compete with the reconstructed beauty of Amsterdam, Cologne, Vienna and Budapest. That being said we have zero regrets about our trip and if we did do this trip again we know the ship and we know the staff with which we would like to sail. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
This was our first cruise on Viking. From the first night (when Program Director Leonard loaned us fleece pullovers to watch departure from Amsterdam), through snow in Rothenberg and our bike ride from Melk to Krems (Concierge Michal ... Read More
This was our first cruise on Viking. From the first night (when Program Director Leonard loaned us fleece pullovers to watch departure from Amsterdam), through snow in Rothenberg and our bike ride from Melk to Krems (Concierge Michal suggested and helped us coordinate), to the last night in the hotel in Bucharest, this is the best cruise we have ever taken. We participated in everything that our energy level allowed, because it was all so much fun! We like the smaller ships rather than the huge ocean going liners we have experienced in the past. After just a few days, we had met many of the other passengers and felt like longtime friends of the staff. We were thrilled to wave from the ship with Katja, our Hotel Manager, as we passed her husband on the shore waving to us from their home town. Food and dining room service was extraordinary. We made it a point to dine with our favorite dining room waiters, Gabor and Oggy. We liked that the wine came from the regions we visited. The food menus were varied and met our needs and preferences. The open seating dining encouraged us to meet new people at every meal. Our stateroom was on the main deck—large porthole, no balcony or French balcony. We loved it. Swans came up to our porthole and looked inside. Plenty of space for everything. The included tours normally had two options—walk more or walk less and more slowly. We were happy with the guides, who all spoke excellent English and provided a wealth of history and current events about the locale and country. Program Director Leonard’s daily briefings, occasional history lessons, and narrative through the Iron Gate were exceptional. We were amazed that Viking could make major itinerary changes. Because of a marathon in Vienna we headed to Bratislava that Sunday and Viking bused us back to Vienna for the concert on Sunday night. We had paid extra for the optional concert, but Viking comp’d everyone wishing to attend. We were highly impressed by the energy level of the entire staff. They were up before we were, working all day, and in bed after we were. And they all maintained their smiles and took such good care of us. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
We have been on a number of European bus tours and enjoyed each one to the fullest. But this river cruise was more relaxing while still providing the sights and a wonderful variety of excursions that we enjoy. The nightly pre-dinner ... Read More
We have been on a number of European bus tours and enjoyed each one to the fullest. But this river cruise was more relaxing while still providing the sights and a wonderful variety of excursions that we enjoy. The nightly pre-dinner routine was calming and gave a sence of home and stability to the trip. On board entertainment was excellent in variety and quality, as well. Our program director, Leonard, was fantastic for this job. He was a rock! Patient, funny, smart, reliable and fun to be around. The food was fabulous! Well prepared and beautifully presented. Plentiful in amount and variety. The staff was warm, friendly, courteous in the highest degree.We loved each one! We cannot say one negative thing about this trip. We enjoyed it thoroughly. Thank you! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2015
From the moment we were met at the airport and driven to the ship and welcomed onboard by such friendly staff, my two wonderful weeks had begun. The service was amazing, the dining room staff so friendly and humorous. We took all the off ... Read More
From the moment we were met at the airport and driven to the ship and welcomed onboard by such friendly staff, my two wonderful weeks had begun. The service was amazing, the dining room staff so friendly and humorous. We took all the off shore excursions, learned so much history about each community. The entertainment on board was excellent with different people from each community. Vienna was spectacular. We chose our own concert, took the subway to St Charles Church to see Mozart's Requiem, it was a beautiful night and the concert was spectacular. I really don't know what I can say about what I enjoyed the most as every day was a new place and experience. I enjoyed it all. Our tour director Leonard was informative, very friendly and a great sense of humour. All the staff were very friendly and accommodating. I felt pampered for two weeks. I loved being on the rivers. All the guides were excellent and very informative. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2015
It was a good deal financially -including cheap airfares. It offered a chance to visit lots of varied places. The cruise went from Budapest to Amsterdam. The cabins were roomy with good en suite facilities. There was a wide selection ... Read More
It was a good deal financially -including cheap airfares. It offered a chance to visit lots of varied places. The cruise went from Budapest to Amsterdam. The cabins were roomy with good en suite facilities. There was a wide selection of films available for viewing in the cabin. Every day passengers received an information sheet describing the whole day's events and times plus interesting local information. The nightly entertainment was very good and varied from a classical concert to dance demonstrations. There was live piano music every night. The outdoor dining area was very nice and spacious. The food served was of an exceptional standard throughout. The crew were exceptionally helpful and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble. We were all made to feel special guests. Our waiter Alex was charming and very helpful. Our Guide/MC Leonard was both funny and knowledgeable. He was extremely helpful and was a great part of making the cruise such an enjoyable experience. The on shore excursions were very interesting and optional excursions catered for individual tastes and interests. I have only a few complaints .Firstly the internet connection was very poor and unreliable. This problem should be addressed urgently. Secondly there was not the opportunity to do daily exercise. For the first two mornings I went for brisk early morning walk/ run around the walking track on the top deck,as is my habit at home but was unable to continue doing this due to complaints from passengers in cabins below about been disturbed. Leonard requested there be no early morning walking from then on. This was very frustrating given that the walking track was a lovely place to exercise. Thirdly, I would have liked to have a copy the USB containing all the photos taken by crew of the whole trip but was told there were very few of these and they should have been ordered at the start of the cruise but no mention was made about that at the initial briefing. The poor internet connection was annoying and frustration as it made it difficult to check emails and complete internet banking transactions. However all in all it was the best holiday I have ever had. I enjoyed the cruise so much and everything was of such a high standard that we are going on another Viking cruise this year and recommending it to our family and friends. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2014
Many comments on this Viking River Cruise were very much like our recent cruise with them. We traveled from Bucharest to Budapest. I won't provide as much detail as most of you have done but briefly try to 'compare notes'. ... Read More
Many comments on this Viking River Cruise were very much like our recent cruise with them. We traveled from Bucharest to Budapest. I won't provide as much detail as most of you have done but briefly try to 'compare notes'. Pre-cruise: Since we have extensive experience in cruising we felt Viking was very over hyped to us and made all pre-cruise experiences as unaccommodating as possible. This includes giving me a hard time in making our regular travel agent our agent of record, requiring we not contact them about anything and only get information from our agent, not working with us to obtain satisfactory air transport via their resources we were using. Like you, our Viking hotel representative at our 1st hotel was also not properly trained in customer relations. The person in front of my wife in line for information from this person had a substantial complaint and was not picked up at the airport. Instead of just apologizing and trying to make up for this, the Viking hotel person arrogantly and loudly made it this woman's fault totally and worse she carried her bad attitude into my wife's questions. Our 1st night hotel of the cruise was quite nice, available at 1:00 PM and service was extremely good. We were not so concerned about the ships exterior as you but found the interior design poor. We have done a lot of 'luxury' level cruising and weren't expecting that but found the 'sliding' door to the bathroom very noisy. The closet door was very difficult for my wife to use and not having an electrical outlet near the cabin's mirror was very inconvenient. Dining is such a personal matter and saying what is good really reflects one's own tastes and cultural background. We did not expect 'luxury' level dining but what we received was satisfactory. Just not much special to talk about other than the waiter, Jorge, who I surfaced early on with a little interviewing. Jorge, made sure our wine glasses were always kept full during dinner. I should note that this cruise was the last of the season for the ship and crew and was only half full. Your comments on inappropriate timing hit home with me. During the cruise we were awoken at 3:30 AM to be ready for a mandatory face to face passport check going into Hungary. Why couldn't we have waited a couple of hours so this could have been done during breakfast? Also, most all of our scheduled excursions were also inappropriately scheduled, often so that during the last hour or two of our excursion we were in total darkness. Yes, really! Our departure times were much like yours, extremely inconvenient, but this sometimes is just because scheduled airline departure times seem to run early going to the USA. In conclusion, I can say that Viking does an excellent job on the destination part of cruising. Their concept of sort of putting all the excursions together that you would find on an ocean cruise into a 1 day longer excursion is really a great way to immerse yourself into a new adventure. We particularly liked the excursion we had with a 'local' family. Their tour guides were excellent. However, we have found that the more we travel the more we savor the "journey" to a "destination" as much as seeing more new destinations. Since Viking did not help us do this, in fact, made it difficult for us, we also do not think we will travel with them again.   Read Less
Sail Date: August 2014
The ship was clean, attractive and the crew outstanding. That said, much was negative. The dining experience was dreadful. One seating for 180 people in a crowded, noisy room made for a rude crush when the dining room doors opened. There ... Read More
The ship was clean, attractive and the crew outstanding. That said, much was negative. The dining experience was dreadful. One seating for 180 people in a crowded, noisy room made for a rude crush when the dining room doors opened. There was one table for 4, none for 2; the rest were for 6 or 8. If you weren't with an already formed group it seemed like you'd have to beg for 2 empty seats. We gave up on dinner in the main dining room and ate in the Aqavit lounge nightly. In addition to the space disaster, the food was only fair. The ship closed the sundeck for 6 days! This caused crowding in the already busy lounge. With this large group, there was nowhere else to go except your cabin. The noise level was awful. How nice it would have been to have more lounge spaces. We will not take another River cruise no will we recommend Viking to others. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2014
We booked the two week grand european cruise and looked forward to what the brochures called, "scenic cruising" and "lovely walks" in cities along the way. What we got was one day of scenic cruising with the rest of the ... Read More
We booked the two week grand european cruise and looked forward to what the brochures called, "scenic cruising" and "lovely walks" in cities along the way. What we got was one day of scenic cruising with the rest of the time being bused to an itinerary with 180 other people and when we returned to the boat the sundeck was closed for six days straight because Viking built these boats too high to go under the bridges. False advertising on both of these important items. Information was given out little by little in an attempt to keep people from getting too upset, but in reality, at each meal as soon as we sat down the complaining would begin with people angry. The first three days the captain could not go through a lock without knocking everyone around almost knocking us out of bed a few times. The staff acted like the passengers were unwelcome and in the way. Then, after ten days, we were told we had to pack up immediately put our luggage out and get off the boat to be bused to a hotel for a two night stay and then bused to the next to the last stop. What Viking did was kick our group off to put on another group from The Aegir. Their luggage went on when ours went off. The food on the boat was also not any better than an all you can eat buffet but it was truly horrible in the hotel basement where there was no choice in menu or wine. All along this trip there was never any evidence that the customers were valued. Instead, we were treated like children and lied to repeatedly. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We had two different Viking ships because of low water above Vienna. They didn't tell us of the river conditions on the last day. Also, the Captain of the 2nd boat kept us from going upstairs while in at least one port. However, those ... Read More
We had two different Viking ships because of low water above Vienna. They didn't tell us of the river conditions on the last day. Also, the Captain of the 2nd boat kept us from going upstairs while in at least one port. However, those were the parts that were not adequate, but the service was great and it was a great value overall. We enjoyed it so much, despite a few issues to book another with them. We had a great time. I congratulate to staff on both boats. They were wonderful, not grumpy or distant at all. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
We enjoyed good weather, a great crew, super Program Director, excellent food, nice accommodations, and minimal hiccups. Viking has obviously worked very hard to address issues posted in previous reviews, with one exception: they could ... Read More
We enjoyed good weather, a great crew, super Program Director, excellent food, nice accommodations, and minimal hiccups. Viking has obviously worked very hard to address issues posted in previous reviews, with one exception: they could still be more forthcoming regarding potential issues (i.e., need to change ships or busing). We booked the three-week European Sojourn cruise from Bucharest (Giurgiu), Romania to Amsterdam, Netherlands. We made separate arrangements for our three-day pre- and post-cruise experiences in Romania and The Netherlands. Although we determined all of our accommodations, our travel agent finalized all of our lodging and travel arrangements, which (in listening to some of our fellow passengers) saved us considerable frustration and expense. And, after learning about the frequency and levels of flooding along the Danube and Main Rivers in the past, we were glad to have had travel insurance (even though we didn't need it, this time). Our assigned Veranda Stateroom on the Upper (third) deck was quite comfortable. We had hoped to be upgraded to Veranda Suite, which would have given us a separate sitting room that would have been handy when our waking / reading schedules diverged; however, we learned that those rooms did not have as much drawer / storage spaces as ours did. We did have a bit of noise from the Sun deck when there were track walkers or passengers playing shuffle board; but, since the management asked everyone to limit those activities to mid-day, it was only a minor annoyance. Our room stewardess was extremely efficient and accommodating. We have often told friends that the "best thing about the cruise was the food" and that the "worst thing about the cruise was ALL of the food." We both had to learn some restraint in selecting from the buffets and ordering. The menus were nicely varied, only repeating a few items over the course of 21 days. Of any of the offerings, only the soups could use some improvement. The open seating plan led to our getting to know many of our fellow passengers. The evening "stampede" for desired tables and servers even became a bit comical. We took this cruise on the Danube, Main and Rhine Rivers because we had never been to this part of Eastern and Central Europe. We were fascinated by the history and relative economies of the various countries and regions. From our perspective, Viking has done a nice job of balancing organized tours, free time in the various ports of call, and daylight sailing through the picturesque countryside. That is not to say, however, that they don't need to continue to refine some of the excursions to get away from some of the corny, staged presentations like the Puszta horse show. A couple of observations regarding shipboard technology: (1) The free wi-fi was appreciated; however, Viking needs to enhance its bandwidth. When everyone was onboard and attempting to connect on-line (uploading photos, etc), their wi-fi slowed to a snail's crawl. (2) The various presentations in the lounge could be transmitted to all of the passenger rooms--however, only from the ceiling-mounted camera. Several of the presentations included photo or PowerPoint visuals that could be projected onto a screen in the lounge. The system needs to be programmed to allow for displaying these presentations on the stateroom TVs, as well. We definitely recommend a Viking river cruise to others. However, as with all travel planning, do your homework ... know what your are getting, and whether that meets your expectations. Having a few hiccups along the way is what makes travel an "adventure." Viking simply needs to keep in mind that it is charging a five-star fee ... and owes a five-star experience. All-in-all, we think they are doing a pretty good job at doing so.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2014
Having just completed my first Viking River Cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam I can only say it was an awesome trip. The Viking organization did a tremendous job. Their service and attention to passenger needs went far beyond what I ... Read More
Having just completed my first Viking River Cruise from Bucharest to Amsterdam I can only say it was an awesome trip. The Viking organization did a tremendous job. Their service and attention to passenger needs went far beyond what I expected. I dont know what to say about the food other than I now have to lose several pounds which tells you it was pretty good. We decided to go with a full balcony and though it was nice I cant say we actually used it very much as we spent more time up on the top deck. The other thing is that when you are in port you may be tied up to one or more ships and you never know whether your ship will be on the inside, middle or outside and so your view may be blocked. On our next trip I might just go with the French balcony. Another positive for Viking is the fact that they have a lot of ships. After reaching Vienna we were told that there wasn't enough water in the river to proceed for a short stretch but it proved not to be a problem as we simply switched ships with one going the other direction. The day of the switch we proceeded as normal with our tour of Melk and then took a bus to Regensberg. While this was happening the crew moved all our baggage and installed us in the same room number on the other side so it was pretty painless. The next day they took us back to Passau so we wouldnt miss any ports or tours and actually gave us a credit of 25 euros per person for lunch since we couldnt get lunch on the ship. There is not much you can do about Mother Nature but Viking really handled it well. The only negative I have is that the flight home was through the States which made it a much longer trip than necessary. It would be nice if they could route the Canadians through Canadian gateways but then again this might be a pricing issue. Other than that we saw a lot, learned a lot ( they had interesting lectures and performances along the way), ate and drank a lot (oh yes and the wine and beer with lunch and dinner was unlimited), and made some new friends. For anyone thinking about a river cruise I would highly recommend Viking. We definitely plan to go again once we pick an itinerary--who knows maybe China or one of their ocean cruises combined with a river cruise Read Less
Sail Date: June 2014
First things first: I was traveling with my 82-year-old mother and 18-year-old daughter (I'm 50). We are all very experienced and fairly independent travelers but decided to go on our second cruise (our first was with Seabourn two ... Read More
First things first: I was traveling with my 82-year-old mother and 18-year-old daughter (I'm 50). We are all very experienced and fairly independent travelers but decided to go on our second cruise (our first was with Seabourn two years ago) in part because my mother has a hard time walking long distances and in part because the itinerary of this particular cruise would take us places we had never been and probably wouldn't go alone. The best thing about this cruise was in fact that itinerary, taking us to places in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and Croatia like Belogradshick, Veliko Tarnovo, Arabanasi, Belgrade, and Vukovar. We ended up in Budapest, an absolutely fabulous city where we would happily have spent several more days. The least good thing about the cruise was the way it was structured but that's why I titled this review "know before you go" because our experiences definitely aren't a knock on Viking per se. We just were unprepared for the dock-get-on-a-bus-go-on-a-tour-get-back-on-a-bus-get-back-on-the-boat daily grind, the lack of independence, and the forced togetherness both of the tours and the evenings. The rooms are great, the staff amazingly pleasant, efficient, and accommodating, and the food mostly quite good. But the group of people traveling -- mostly people between about 55 and 70 in couples or small groups, mostly from the US but almost all English-speaking, mostly not particularly curious or well educated about the history of the areas we were traveling in, and mostly people who don't do a lot of independent traveling -- were not really our speed and the traveling in a herd was not something we would ever choose to do again. Because the group was almost exclusively the 55 to 70 set, it also just wasn't the right trip for three generations to take together. So ... know that's the deal before you go. Unlike the Seabourn cruise we took, Viking doesn't publish when you'll arrive in various ports so its impossible to book independent tours. Also unlike Seabourn, there just aren't a lot of alternatives to being together in the lounge and the main restaurant because there just isn't a lot of other public space. If you do choose to go on this trip, here are a couple tips: 1) bring mosquito repellant because you are, after all on a river; 2) get a little bit of each local currency from your bank at home before you go in small denominations because there isn't a lot of opportunity to change money and not everywhere takes Euros or dollars; 3) have a lot of Euro coins for tips for tour guides and drivers; 4) do some reading about where you're going because the Viking folks aren't great at any real history and what they do share is pretty cheerful (as opposed to the real stories of these places that are pretty dark); 5) learn how to say hello and thank you in the languages of the countries you're visiting, as just these two words will go a long way; and 6) take every possible opportunity to go out and walk in the ports when you aren't scheduled to be somewhere. If you're traveling with someone who has a hard time with stairs or with walking distances, also know that Viking is really not set up for that ... several of the tour guides were really insensitive to my mother's needs and just getting up the sometimes quite steep gang planks and up the high steps of the buses was a real challenge most days. Finally, spend your day in Vukovar visiting the local museum and walking around town rather than going on the pretty dreadful trips to Osejik and a rural fisherman's home-turned-crap shack. The museum is fabulous (and not listed anywhere!). Read Less
Sail Date: May 2014
We planned on spending several weeks touring Europe before taking the cruise. While we were still home and making final checks on paperwork and schedules, we found that our boarding papers would be mailed only three weeks prior to the ... Read More
We planned on spending several weeks touring Europe before taking the cruise. While we were still home and making final checks on paperwork and schedules, we found that our boarding papers would be mailed only three weeks prior to the cruise. That was a major problem for us since we would not be home. A call to the Viking office determined that we COULD NOT pick up our boarding documents at our point of embarkation and they didn't think they could have them ready for express mailing to us since our departure from the US was too early for them to prepare. After considerable pleading and an additional charge for express preparation and mailing, we were able to get the required paperwork prior to leaving the US. Upon arrival at the ship, the crew was very friendly and helpful and basically treated us like royalty. The tour schedule was fantastic as were the guides. One of the most enjoyable tours was with the head chef to visit the local market for supplies. The arranged schedule is a very busy one, so be prepared! Coffee in Europe is an art and it was a bitter disappointment to find that the coffee on board was really bad. That was general point of discussion at most of the tables we sat at. The other disappointed was that the menus did not showcase local cuisine except for a few nights. The evening programs were marvelous. Overall, our disappointments with good and coffee are minor but compare yo the excellence of everything else, they stood out and were quite memorable. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Our cruise started with bus tours even before arriving at the port of Giurgiu to board the ship. Each day included more bussing, sometimes 1 1/2 hours to get to the site(s) selected for the day's visit. Upon arrival we were given very ... Read More
Our cruise started with bus tours even before arriving at the port of Giurgiu to board the ship. Each day included more bussing, sometimes 1 1/2 hours to get to the site(s) selected for the day's visit. Upon arrival we were given very limited free time to use the restroom, take photos and possibly shop. I felt as if we were cattle being herded on and off the bus in order to change locations for a repeat of the previous stop. However, the tour guides and drivers were very knowledgable, pleasant and helpful. We traveled in 5 countries and needed 5 currencies, however I was only guided to an ATM one time! Many of our tour guides and drivers did not get a gratuity from me because I only had large US or Euro notes and no local change. Viking was no help on the currency matter and in my mind is remiss for not having some funds on hand to assist the passenger on this matter. Viking's corporate position on this matter seems to be it is the passenger's problem, not ours. They encourage us to tip but provide no assistance in changing small amounts of local currency. Viking should have a small amount of local currency available for passengers at each port. Electronically they could monitor and limit each passenger to something like 20 euros, including coins, each day. One of the last days I was finally able to change, on board, a 50 euro note for a 20, 2 10's and 2 5's. Nothing smaller and therefore again no tips for drivers and tour guides. We had lunch on our tours several times as Viking arranged stops with food, music, dancing, demonstrations, etc. At those stops were were again expected to tip, but no local or small denomination euros were available. We had previously used all of our change including US dollars and/or euros and finally resorted to the few US quarters my wife had left in her purse! Viking is economically hurting their tour contractors as well as their onboard staff by not having some form of ATM available. Viking corporate management is very aloof on this matter!! The busses used were modern and nice; the rides were often quite long and boring. For the Prague extension we had a 9 hour bus ride from Budapest which included 2 stops. I feel that there should have been an option of a train or plane for this connection. Upon arriving in Prague we were housed in the Corinthia Prague, a very nice hotel, but not close to the city center. Transit busses (more bussing!) ran every hour but we did not enjoy the city center in the same manner as if we were housed there. This hotel was quite remote and not in an area with a multitude of local restaurants from which to choose. This is a critical issue and limited our enjoyment of Prague. On board Embla we were quite pleased. Our bathroom had a distinct sewer odor, the bathroom door squeaked and banged back and forth several nights and it was impossible to shower without getting the bathroom floor wet. Our cabin(235) attendant was very responsive in keeping us clean and nice, the dining room staff were wonderful and the staff at the business/tour desk and the concierge were always ready to assist. The wines served were marginal, the coffee lukewarm and flavorless and the food was very bland. Not a 5 star experience! Each meal was nicely presented and served, just very bland. On 2 occasions I opted for the New York Steak which was stringy, gristly and tough; the provided knife made it a battle to cut a piece to eat. However, we did not let the mediocre food ruin our trip; food and beverage was plentiful and some dishes were spectacular. Breakfast was probably the best meal with the exception of the undercooked and limp bacon presented each day. The trip on day 7(?) in Kalocsa, Hungary was a mostly a waste. The traditional Puszta horsemanship performance was, at best, marginal. Here, again, the locals wanted to be tipped and made many items available for purchase. Viking seems to be intent on focusing our shopping on businesses they have preselected rather on giving us time to shop in the various areas that we have visited. My overall impression of this trip is 3 of 5 stars. The ship is nice, the staff wonderful, the food marginal and the side trips tedious. I will not recommend this trip to anyone as I feel Viking management is aware of these issues that I have identified and is aloof and unwilling to make responsible changes. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
We have taken nine cruises (this was our 10th) with Viking. We had not traveled to this part of Europe and we wanted to see these former Communist countries. Of course, Viking was superb however, the countries visited were for the most ... Read More
We have taken nine cruises (this was our 10th) with Viking. We had not traveled to this part of Europe and we wanted to see these former Communist countries. Of course, Viking was superb however, the countries visited were for the most part very depressing to see. Some of our fellow travelors were first timers with Viking, and were expressing their dismay. We tried to tell them that this was not the norm and to try another cruise before making any decisions about river cruising. It was very sad to see these beautiful countries falling under such corruption; to see wonderful old buildings decaying before our eyes because of corrupt governments. Roads, schools, buildings, etc., were in terrible condition and the impact of the Community regime is still very much prevelent. We saw bombed buildings that are left to crumble, from 20+ year's ago. Then, we saw the people, with smiles, greeting us, welcoming us to their country. Quite a difference. Several of us on the cruise talked about how the people would react if they could travel to the US and see what could and should be possible for them. The one cruising item that has changed for us over the years, is the huge number of river boats cruising European rivers today vs. when we started. I counted 17 different cruise ships in Budapest, when we were first in Budapest several years ago (our 2nd cruise) there were four (4) ships on the river bank, two of which were Viking. Also, the boats are larger now, and seem to be much more formal (i.e., crew does not interact as much with passengers as in the beginning), being more formal may appeal to some, but to long-time cruisers, this is not nearly as much fun and the atmosphere on the ship is somewhat strained as well. One of the best times we have had on Viking is when the crew becomes your "friend!." We have traveled more than once with the same crew members, and on meeting them the second time around, they remembered us, but were hesitant to interact with us as they did the first time due to "new rules." This is really unfortunate for Viiking, as this is what first attracted us to the Viking Cruise Line. I sincerely hope the management will re-think this change. We have scheduled another Viking cruise in 2014, a repeat of our very first cruise Tulips and Windmills. Not sure if we will continue with Viking, but we will see. We have always been treated fairly by Viking and I woundn' hesitate to recommend them, but would also tell them about the large number of river cruise boats currently occupying beautiful European rivers. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2014
Sailed from Bucharest to Budapest; visited former Communist controlled countries. Many of these countries are struggling, still, due to corruption in governments, unemployment, little to no infrastructure, etc. However, found people were ... Read More
Sailed from Bucharest to Budapest; visited former Communist controlled countries. Many of these countries are struggling, still, due to corruption in governments, unemployment, little to no infrastructure, etc. However, found people were wonderful. It was depressing to see so many "left-overs" from the Communist regime, i.e., falling-down buildings, little to no new construction or housing, etc. Cruise ship, Elba, is one of the new long ships. She was beautiful. But, we have been cruising with Viking since 2005; this was our 9th cruise, and we have found, that over the years, Viking has changed, some to to better, some not so much so. In the beginning, there were smaller ships, much FEWER ships on the rivers, and we felt like a part of the Viking family. Staff, in the beginning, interacted more with passengers, and it was more fun. There were fun activities on-board with the crew. In fact, we have since sailed with some crew more than twice. We have seen a definite difference in how the crew and staff are allowed to interact with passengers. One instance, one of the staff wanted to show us a picture on the cell phone, but he said he had to be careful not be seen doing this by his "boss." This would not have happened in the beginning. When we docked in Budapest, I personally counted 17-different cruise ships docked. In the first few years, we were lucky to see one or two ships docked at our same location, and more often, they were Vikings. I understand that Viking needs to catch up, but in so doing, Viking has also lost the intimacy of the cruise that first attracted us. We have scheduled one more trip, Tulips and Windmills, a repeat of our very first cruise with Viking. But, I fear this will be our last. We like the smaller ships, more interaction with staff and crew, and also with Captain and his staff. I remember one cruise where the Captain actually came into the lounge and sat with us for quite a long time. Never happen on the long ships...   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2014
Background: My husband and I have done one other river cruise – Viking’s Imperial Jewels of China which was excellent. We have been on 18 ocean cruises. We are in our middle 60’s, very active and avid walkers. Itinerary: The cities ... Read More
Background: My husband and I have done one other river cruise – Viking’s Imperial Jewels of China which was excellent. We have been on 18 ocean cruises. We are in our middle 60’s, very active and avid walkers. Itinerary: The cities of Budapest and Bucharest were amazing. The other ports in between were not very exciting or interesting. If I had it to do over - I would save this itinerary until after I’d cruised the more scenic rivers in Europe. The included excursions in Budapest and Bucharest were well done. Viking did a good job with their excursions in the smaller ports under the circumstances but there were several ports that we felt were not worth getting off the boat for. Boat: The Embla was beautiful and in excellent condition. The Aquavit Lounge and the other public rooms and areas were comfortable. The dining room was lovely but very noisy and as others on this board have suggested – we tried to get a table at either end of the dining room where the noise level was not so high. Wi-fi worked well throughout the ship in the public rooms. We were in cabin D208 which was fairly close to reception but I could only get a signal by our door and in the bathroom. The two coffee/tea/cookie stations were very convenient. In addition to oatmeal and double chocolate cookies, the pastry chef would also feature “local” cookies which were excellent. There were ice machines on each floor. Cabin: Our French Balcony stateroom was small – tiny compared to ocean cruise ship cabins – but quite comfortable and had plenty of storage. I’m a bath person and dreaded having only a shower during the cruise but the shower was great. The shower was a reasonable size and had glass doors instead of flimsy shower curtains. The water pressure was excellent and we never ran out of hot water. We found the beds quite comfortable and we enjoyed the in-room entertainment system with on-demand movies, TV shows and music. The 110 volt outlets at the nightstands allowed us to easily recharge our electronics. There is also a 110 outlet by the sliding glass door to plug in a hairdryer or curling iron. I’m always warm so I was impressed at how well I was able to control the temperature in our room. While I’m sure everyone else had their heaters on – I was able to turn on the a/c and set the temperature to a comfortable 68 degrees. Food: Food is very subjective. We are good, happy and not picky eaters. The food was pretty good but not great. The dinner menu always included 3 entrees – one meat, one fish and one vegetarian dish in addition to the always available items of salmon (very good), steak (very good) and chicken breast. We were impressed by the selection and quality of the appetizers each night. There were a total of 4 to choose from. There were several nights when we would have liked to order more than one but there just did not seem to be enough time for the wait staff to handle multiple first courses. The one occasion my DH did order 2 appetizers – the second one was never delivered. Rather than keep the rest of our table waiting – we ordered only one each night. Dinner took a full 2 to 2 ½ hours every night. Service was very slow the first four days but improved by the end of the cruise. The soups (except for the New England Clam Chowder and Chili) – were very good. We enjoyed them especially for lunch in the Aquavit Lounge. There was a pasta station each day for lunch in the dining room along with a salad bar and several miscellaneous items like pre-made sandwiches. There was also a menu for breakfast and lunch that you could order from in addition to the buffets. The breakfast buffet featured an egg station that you could custom order eggs and omelets from. There was always bacon, different kinds of sausage, cereal, breads and fresh fruit available. Entertainment: I believe 5 out of 8 days/nights we were treated to folkloric shows both on board the boat and on shore. On several nights we had lectures and not very interesting ones at that. Really? I know the average age of the passengers was over 70 but there must be other forms of entertainment available for us “age-challenged” passengers. The one night we played Name That Tune was great fun. The pianist was excellent and had a great voice but he was under-utilized throughout the trip. Hotels: The hotels Viking used were excellent. The Budapest Marriott Hotel and the Bucharest Radisson Blu were beautiful and within walking distance or metro to many attractions. The included breakfasts were wonderful with many choices. Miscellaneous: The staff were friendly and very accommodating. Our cabin steward did a great job. As previously mentioned, the dining room staff got off to a really slow start but improved as the cruise progressed. Since this was the first cruise of the season for the Embla, it was understandable that there was a learning curve.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
We had heard very good things about Viking River Cruises and we anxious to give it a try. Our travel experience has been with luxury and premium cruise lines and we love to travel independently, making our own way via rental car, and ... Read More
We had heard very good things about Viking River Cruises and we anxious to give it a try. Our travel experience has been with luxury and premium cruise lines and we love to travel independently, making our own way via rental car, and private guides. We found the experience of Viking on their Bucharest to Budapest route to be closer aligned to a bus tour on a boat. The itinerary was less than wonderful - no way to get into a town in some places unless you took the long bus tours. Everything is done as a group: Excursions that lasted many hours on packed buses. Dinner with everyone heading to the dining room at 7pm - and no ability to have a quiet table for 2. Very loud dining room because the ceilings are so low. Unlike larger ships with 300-700 people, there was no attempt on this ship to learn the names of passengers or learn their likes or interests. Everyone is treated as a member of "the group". Corporate could initiate some low or no cost amenities that could make this a better experience for guests: 1. Encourage staff to learn some of the guests names. We were told by one officer who we had just handled our shore card with our names, on a day when we did not go on the tour, that "he couldn't be expected to know all 175 names of guests" 2. Encourage officers to mingle with guests when they have time. Especially if the ship is empty, when most are on a tour. 3. Provide a morning coffee or afternoon tea in the lounge for those staying on board and not going on the tours. Make it special - This would be a welcome activity for those guest who choose to stay onboard. Have officers who are not doing anything sit and talk with guests during this period. Simply bring the cookies near the coffee machine into the lounge and serve the coffee or tea. We found no fault with our cabin, it was comfortable and well decorated. Food onboard was quite good, but the buffets at breakfast and lunch were so crowded with people moving constantly. And the buffet area is right in the middle of the dining room. Overall it was a very disappointing experience for us. But then again, most people onboard enjoyed the trip and the Viking Experience. Just not a good fit for people who like independent travel   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
The Embla is one of Vikings newest cruise ships, known as 'long boats' Our Embla cruise was from Budapest to Romania (billed as "Budapest to Bucharest", but not strictly speaking to Bucharest itself since it is inland). ... Read More
The Embla is one of Vikings newest cruise ships, known as 'long boats' Our Embla cruise was from Budapest to Romania (billed as "Budapest to Bucharest", but not strictly speaking to Bucharest itself since it is inland). This portion of the Danube is less developed than its upper reaches and this cruise was leisurely, but not packed with memorable experiences. Rather, the pleasure was in getting to know other passengers, in becoming acquainted with the crew, and in spending time together, something our every day lives does not always permit. Our precruise hotel was the Budapest Le Meridien. I've reviewed this hotel for Trip Advisor and will not go into detail here other than to note that it was excellent and was about four blocks from where the ship docked so we were able to walk to the ship (baggage was transferred by Viking). We arrived early because my partner had heard that a glass blowing class was being offered on board and she wanted to ensure a place for herself. There was no class (the crew explained that the glass blowing class was offered only on the longer cruises offered up river) so we had some lunch on the glassed in after deck and then walked around Budapest's pedestrian mall for a while. We boarded in the later afternoon and the ship departed around dark. We had a truly spectacular sail down the river through Budapest with the lights along the river providing a wonderful display (there is also a laser show from the roof of one of the buildings). The Embla is a very well designed ship that offers efficient public spaces and cabins, although both are quite small. There was a total passenger group of less than 200 and one seating only for dinner. A buffet is offered on the after deck for lunch and dinner, but essentially the same food is provided at both locations. The Embla is a new ship and so everything is fresh and functions very well. Cabins are of a modern design, although at times the design is a little too cunning for its own good. It took a day or two, for example, to figure out how to use the shower without getting water all over the floor (the trick: close the doors after entering the shower and bring them together simultaneously to make a tight seal. The shower has two levers, one an off on with one below it to regulate heat. Set the heat dial to the preferred level and then just turn the water on after closing the doors). Service on the Embla was superb and actually better than on better ocean cruise lines. The passenger group is small and it was very easy to get to know the crew as individuals, which I believe resulted in better service.. My partner's birthday was just before cruise departure. The Maitre D independently found out about that and approached me the first night of the cruise to offer her a cake in celebration. We found this very thoughtful and symbolic of the level and type of service offered by the Embla crew. Dinner is provided with table service. Lunch offers a buffet with served entrée options. Breakfast was buffet but pancakes were available on order. All of the food was excellent. Wine was included at both lunch and dinner. There was one red and one white choice, both very nice Hungarian wines, with more expensive options available for purchase by the glass. Beer and whiskey were also available. There were very few on board activities and limited shore excursions. Generally there was a single excursion included in the cost each day with optional excursions at some stops. As this cruise was off the beaten path few of the ports were noteworthy visits for positive reasons. Vukovar in Croatia still suffers from the results of the wars in the 1990s, has war damage in many buildings, and has a 40 percent unemployment rate. Belgrade, once the capital of Yugoslavia, remains stunted by the war and was generally shabby. Bulgaria and Romania were much more interesting. Disembarkation was handled smoothly via a motor coach trip to Bucharest. We stayed at the Radisson Blu in Bucharest, which I also reviewed on Trip Advisor. In general embarkation was handled much more smoothly than debarkation. The Viking staff in Bucharest seemed disinterested and lacked knowledge. There was little information provided about the process of getting from the hotel to the airport and if we had not proactively made sure our luggage was in the lobby and that we had arrived well ahead of time I am not sure that we would have caught the bus to the airport. As an example, we paid for room service for breakfast because there was no information provided that we saw concerning a bag breakfast provided by the hotel. In summary, we really enjoyed our vacation on the Embla and are looking forward to another Viking cruise on another itinerary another time. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2013
The crew was great, very accommodating in all aspects. Cabins are smaller than ocean cruise ships, but very efficient with all needed amenities including refrigerator. Veranda added additional room, but upper deck verandahs not necessary ... Read More
The crew was great, very accommodating in all aspects. Cabins are smaller than ocean cruise ships, but very efficient with all needed amenities including refrigerator. Veranda added additional room, but upper deck verandahs not necessary as you are often rafted to a ship next to you in port. On the river, views are the same on either deck. There are many many towns you pass while cruising, and a verandah is well worth the additional expense. Included tours are similar in each town, visiting the main church and a few other sights. Guides are sometimes hard to understand due to listening device and accents. Sufficient time to explore towns after included tours (usually about 90 minutes). We participated in only two optional tours, opting instead to wonder through the town ourselves. Dinning was very nice (all casual) usually with two options, the dinning room or the indoor/outdoor terrace. Meals were very well prepared with appropriate size portions. Note the sun deck is closed while on the Main Canal (about 4 days) due to low bridges. Entertainment is limited to a piano, but numerous talks on the canal and other subjects added to the voyage. Expect to learn the names of most of the 190 passengers aboard as the ship is relatively small and you are almost always dinning with more than 2 people. The captain and crew reacted very well to lock strikes and other challenges to reschedule excursions to ensue we had the full experience. If departing from Budapest, consider several days on your own prior to starting the cruise. Great city with lots to offer. Hotels can easily get you to the ship at minimal cost. Departing we used the ships transportation which made the final leg of the trip easy.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
We joined the ship in Bucharest for originally a 21 day cruise to Amsterdam but had to vacate the ship in Budapest due to the flooding of the Danube. It it s beautiful ship and the general operational organisation of the ship is ... Read More
We joined the ship in Bucharest for originally a 21 day cruise to Amsterdam but had to vacate the ship in Budapest due to the flooding of the Danube. It it s beautiful ship and the general operational organisation of the ship is fghenerally very good. We become very disappointed with both the service and food onboard. Because we were going to be onboard for three weeks we decided the take one of the Panorama Suites, the most expensive cabin on the ship. This came with an all inclusive premium wine and beverages package if we booked by a certain date with we did. The bar was always manner by the same staff. On the first night, I ssked them to fill the glass with ice when making my gin and tonic and give me a slice of lemon not lime. Every time there after I ordered my drink of the same guys I had to go through the same process. They got it wrong every time without fail. On every other ship I have been on (and I have been on plenty) when I go back to the same barman he has remembered my request and in most cases as I have walked into the bar for a drink before dinner he has seen me coming and is already preparing the drink. Now to the dining room, well the staff were busy taking orders and serving as you could imagine. As they were asking the individuals if they wanted red or white wine I pointed out that I was on a premium wine package so could I see the wine list. Well, first of all they appeared to not knwo what I was talking about, then I was told they lost it and finally the found it and presented it to me. Seven wines were on the list mainly from Bulgaria and Romania. Hello!! has anyone heard of these wines? If you had to buy them they were 22 euro a bottle. Not too premium in my view. Anyway there was one bottle of Bordeaux wine a little loweer down seperated by from the others by a line. I picked that one which I was prompty told was not part of my package. Having spoken to the hotel manager I was told I could order as many bottles of this as I like in my cabin but not in the dining room. Are you serious? Accordingly he immediately sent one to my cabin which I did not open. I thinked him the following and advised that I now only had to arrange transport of the bottle to the dining room tonight to which ne promptly obliged. Are you serious? So the nonsence of ordering wine to my cabin and having transported to the dining room continued. Food, well whilst there was nothing wrong with the quality generally is was minimal in size and very limited in variety. Breakfast and Lunch became very boring and very ordinary in presentation. Overall I think Viking have to educate themselves about the top end of the market if they are going to try and compete at that end. They need to understand what they demographic expect and receives on other ships. As a mass market product where you get the punters on at a low cost and then charge them for everything that move, they havea great product, but when you deal at the top end where the price is up at the front and then everyhting else is to flow faultlessly and above expectations , they have a bit of work to do. And finally there were the flies in the dining Room that I referrer to the hotel manager. I said to him one day, "is there any chance of fumigating the dining room one night as we all have a conversation with the flies buzz around and land on the glass rims every meal" his answer " yes it is bad I know, it the rural area we are in (meaning Romania, Bulgaria, Serbis and Croatia)" I replied, "well, I have sailed on a lot of ship even in China and I must say I have never had flies in the dining room before" It's a pity because if they got it right it would be a great experience on their beautiful new ships. Maybe we just truck it unlucky with some nom so good staff But is has put us off. W were happy to get off at Budapest due to the flooding Danube. And if you are thinking of taking a Panorama suite, don't. The soot from the engine stack landsall over the balcony at the rear of the boat so you cannot sit outside. The carpet in the suit is already ruined at the balcony door. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
This trip was one of the most expensive cruise vacations we have ever taken and was generally disappointing. Before I begin this review, let me say that we contacted Viking many times prior to leaving on our trip due to reports of severe ... Read More
This trip was one of the most expensive cruise vacations we have ever taken and was generally disappointing. Before I begin this review, let me say that we contacted Viking many times prior to leaving on our trip due to reports of severe flooding on the rivers we were to cruise. We constantly went to the Viking website for updates on river flooding conditions and impact on cruises. Many cruises just prior to ours were being changed or cancelled. We were willing to reschedule our trip if we were to have any problems in completing the trip as planned. Viking repeatedly reassured us that we might have to bypass Passau due to severe flooding and start on the Embla before switching to the Skadi, but otherwise our trip would proceed as scheduled from June 16 to June 30, 2013. When we arrived in Budapest, we were informed we would cruise as planned with just the Passau change to an alternate city. We were not told there would be any delay or change of type of transportation. We talked daily the days before boarding the ship in Budapest to the cruise representative in the pre-cruise hotel and were not give anything in the way of different information. The actual trip turned out to be quite different. We were supposed to cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers. Due to flooding damage to locks, the better part of 5 days of our 14 day cruise were interrupted and we were instead put on a bus trip through Austria and Germany. We missed some of the most beautiful parts of the Danube which had led us to want to do this trip in the first place and missed the Main River entirely. Upon arriving in Vienna (3rd full day on ship), we were informed we would have to leave the Embla, and would be housed for two nights in Bavaria at a resort and 2 nights in Nuremberg….with assurances that both would be 5 star, air conditioned hotels (the weather had been in the high 90’s and even over 100 for days). The first resort in Bavaria was attractive but had no air conditioning of any kind in rooms or dining rooms, making a miserable stay in 100 degree temperatures. The second in Nuremberg was not 5 stars but supposed to be air conditioned but it hardly worked. Luckily the temperatures broke on our second night there and we could open the room windows. Sites we were to see were abbreviated to short tours in favor of long bus rides (some days we spent four to six hours on buses). During this five day/four night land odessy, we were only told each night before what we would be doing the next day. Relaxing days on shipboard were exchanged for packing, unpacking, long bus rides and “forced” marches through sites on days when we checked out of one place and didn’t check in to the next till evening. No alternatives were available to tours for those who couldn’t walk all day or didn’t want to do an excursion. We at one point were told to purchase our own lunches while on the bus trip and told we could get up to 25 euro per person reimbursed for this purchase since we had already paid for lunches on the ship and were unable to access those. When the cruise ended the last day, the 25 euro “reimbursement” turned out to be credit toward shipboard purchases and many on the cruise had to use their 25 euro to purchase Viking trinkets/shirts in their onboard “gift shop” as their reimbursement. I believe we were not given the full picture by Viking prior to our cruise nor were we given any choice in whether we wished to be hauled around on buses. I feel Viking should have informed us of what we were facing and allowed us to choose to continue the land “cruise”, fly or train to the city where we could wait to next board the ship, or leave at the point the cruise as scheduled was no longer possible and have a refund of the price of the remaining days. We were only given enough information to plan from day to day while off the ship and to me, the goal of saying they took us to scheduled sites and completed the cruise contract of delivering us to Amsterdam was their plan…..which according to their contract is what they agree to do in any way they see fit. There were many other disappointments with this cruise. The food was mediocre; we felt their dining rooms were understaffed and meal service was extremely slow. We often waited 30 minutes between the salad and main courses. ”Wines of the regions” advertised turned out to be one choice of white wine and one choice of red which was served nightly on every night we were on the cruise unless you cared to pay for more choices. Poor communications and confusing instructions from program staff were the norm. A persistent and very unsatisfactory experience was the lack of air conditioning in our cabin on the 3rd floor. Within 2 hours of check-in to our cabin on the Embla, we reported the air conditioning to not be working. The cabin temperature hovered around 80 degrees. Our traveling companions in the cabin next to ours reported the same problem. We repeatedly asked for the air conditioning to be fixed as the outdoor temperatures were in the 90s and over 100 two days. We had 3 sleepless, hot nights before they were able to “fix” our air conditioning…….they finally got the temperature down to 72 at night and around 75 during the day. Finally the 4th night on the ship the temp went down to about 68….then the last night on the Embla the entire ship’s air conditioning went out and we again had a hot, uncomfortable night until it was repaired. I will also say that a balcony cabin seemed to be of little use. 50% of the time, when the ship was docked we were side by side facing at touching distance another river ship. Evenings after day time sightseeing was generally when you’d want to be on a balcony…….we would be looking directly into the ship windows next to us and at arm’s length in closeness on many nights, so we did not use it most of the time. Also, if so inclined anyone could hop over the adjoined railings and into your room's open balcony door when docked. I wouldn’t bother paying for this. So far, our shipmates have received notice of a 50% reduction in a future cruise if booked in the next year. This is not a refund and not a bargain, as 50% off Viking Cruises are routine and we receive tons of brochures with these advertised regularly to the public. Also, it in no way compensates for the travel expenses of airlines, beginning and ending hotel stays, and other expenses associated with taking such a future trip. I talked to several people who had saved and not taken other vacations in previous years to be able to afford this expensive trip. A credit to make up for what happened on this trip will do them no favors as the other costs of taking another Viking Cruise will not be possible for them. I have friends who in the past had great Viking experiences. I can only surmise that things with this company have changed. The weather is not Viking’s fault, but how they handle their passengers and whether they are truthful about conditions and changes which might be possible demonstrates their company’s values. I for one will not be traveling on Viking River Cruises again and would not recommend it to friends.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2013
My wife and I flew from Australia in Business Class on the 10th of June 2013 as part of four months travel throughout Europe beginning with a two week Viking River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and the Viking River Cruise formed the ... Read More
My wife and I flew from Australia in Business Class on the 10th of June 2013 as part of four months travel throughout Europe beginning with a two week Viking River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest and the Viking River Cruise formed the beginning of our journey which was supposed to allow us to relax onboard for two weeks, before embarking independently, for three and a half months throughout Europe and everything was booked and paid for accordingly prior to leaving Australia. Six days prior to flying out of Australia, I discovered on SBS news on the 4th of June that there was flooding occurring in and around Bohemia so I emailed both Vacations To Go (who we booked the river cruise with) and Viking River Cruises to get an up date as to what was going to happen as a result and that my wife and I were not interested in an altered bus and river cruise scenario at the last minute, so we wanted information sooner so we could have the time before flying out of Australia to plan an alternative cruise which was not going to be affected by the floods, for example, sailing through the Fjords of Denmark, Sweden and Norway as we were going to be in Amsterdam. We were offered a last minute cancellation or a 50% credit voucher of the total amount paid which is not transferable to be used within 12 months off any future Viking River Cruises which we made both Viking and Vacations TO Go very clear, that we were not in a position to look, at as my wife has Melanoma Cancer and this trip, was the trip and was planned accordingly. We asked both organisations if we took up the cancellation offer, what was the actual amount that we would be refunded, who would be refunding the money and when would the refund amount be actioned so we could plan alternative arrangements as we only had few hours before having to check out of our hotel in Amsterdam, leaving us with a two week hole in our itinerary in the middle of a European summer with no place to go and a $13923 hole in our budget. All along we emailed both organisations wanting to know who was going to refund us the money, how much was the actual amount going to be and when was it going to hit my credit card or bank? We have even gone to the Vice President of Viking River Cruises as we were instructed to by Vacations To Go and to date, haven't even got a reply. Viking wanted to know from Vacations To Go what amount we had paid even though the amount was paid via AMEX directly to Viking? Consequently we did not get answers regarding the cancellation so we were left with no option but to board the Viking Skadi on the 22nd of June 2013 and sail to Frankfurt before being bused around which was not part of our plan. All of this email dialogue was taking place after 2 a.m. Amsterdam time and we were due to board that day! Still to this day we are none the wiser and in fact got an email from the Customer Service Manager of the Australian branch of Viking River Cruises on August 23rd which stated that as the cruise proceeded in a modified form, had we in fact cancelled, we would have forfeited all monies paid which amounted to $13,923. So our decision to board the vessel was totally justified, what else could we have done? We have subsequently asked both organisations to consider giving us the credit voucher amount back in monetary terms but they have ignored our requests and the sensitivity of our situation. We both feel that we were given a false sense of a credit when in fact they had no intention to cancel as they were only ever going to do a combination bus and river cruise and as they had a captive audience, they had all the cards stacked in their favour and used them accordingly. The modified land portion of the river cruise (four days & nights), which included a bus tour, with accommodation and food were appalling and of a two star rating as we had paid for a five star vessel with cabin that included a private balcony. All my wife and I wanted was the actual information regarding money back so we could make the decision earlier and avoid what was and has been the worst travel experience both of us seasoned travellers have ever endured. Fellow travellers: " You have been warned"....If travelling with Viking "travel at your own peril" Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
We took the long European Sojourn cruise, Amsterdam to Bucharest. We made a great choice; seeing Europe from the river is fantastic. Unpack once and let Viking take you to see wonderful ports, sights, ways of life. One word of caution: ... Read More
We took the long European Sojourn cruise, Amsterdam to Bucharest. We made a great choice; seeing Europe from the river is fantastic. Unpack once and let Viking take you to see wonderful ports, sights, ways of life. One word of caution: we initially booked a lower level (100 series, riverview) cabin. On the 1st night the noise of water rushing by the ship's hull and any passing ship's propeller noise was going to be a "show stopper" for us. No way were we going to have this for the 23 day duration of the cruise. I immediately snagged an upgrade to the 2nd level cabin (#206) and gladly paid the extra cost. This saved our cruise from being a disaster. We moved cabins at 1AM that first night... thank goodness there were cabins available. We tried everything: pillows over our heads and ear plugs. Seriously, we considered leaving the ship and cutting our cruise short. That's how bad the noise was. Cabin: small but quite adequate, good storage space & ample closet space, well appointed, French balcony is nice, bathroom is roomy and well equipped with large shower. Bed very comfy but squeaked a little but I just pulled the beds apart a tiny bit and all was fine (when they're together they tend to rub and squeak). Both 110 and 220 volt electic outlets were available; fridge was nice and we kept our bottled water cold for the hot daytime tours. Dining was great... breakfast and lunch sit-down or buffet was perfect and dinner was just perfect as well. The single dinner seating at 7PM with all passengers was catered flawlessly. Internet WiFi connectivity was spotty depending on ship location. Our connectivity was not the best so I took my laptop up to the internet center and had better WiFi connect speed. In the center, two computers are available for passenger use at any time. I'm a coffee drinker and having it (& capachino, hot chocolate, etc) always available, especially with the home-made cookies and muffins was really appreciated. Remember, there's no "all-day dining" as on ocean liners Ports of call and the accompanying tours were well organized and the guides were knowledgeable and spoke English well. We had a slight detour as one of the locks was still under repair but Viking took care of us very well considering the situation. Two nights in Nuremburg & 2 nights at a lovely resort outside Paseau was the extent of our detour. Viking made sure we had 5-star accommodations and saw all the sights we were scheduled to see. To see the countryside from the river, to visit all the various ports/cities/towns/historic sites was nothing short of wonderful. Ship was super, meals were great, service was exceptional, fellow passengers were in our age group (55 thru 75) and tours went off like clockwork. We highly recommend Viking and this European Sojourn cruise. We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise, seeing 10+ countries, traveling in deluxe comfort and experiencing Western & Eastern European ways of life. I also suggest that booking a 2nd or 3rd floor cabin be seriously considered... I haven't read a review that mentions the noise, but I can say that the noise we encountered dictates no more 1st level cabins for us. If anyone else experienced similar noise, please let me know. We are advocates of river cruising and we're planning another Viking cruise for 2014... perhaps the Russia or Portugal river cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2013
While there were a few minor glitches in our 17 days with Viking on the Embla and then on the Prague extension, the overwhelming majority of our experience was wonderful! The ports of call were outstanding, coupling small towns with major ... Read More
While there were a few minor glitches in our 17 days with Viking on the Embla and then on the Prague extension, the overwhelming majority of our experience was wonderful! The ports of call were outstanding, coupling small towns with major cities, but everywhere the ability to experience history and grandeur from the comfort provided by the ship made the experience something that will always remain one of our best vacations ever! Before going further I'd like to direct you to my day-to-day report/review on our trip that I posted daily from the ship. It's a lot more detailed than I can manage here, but may be a bit long and wordy for the casual explorer. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1834574 Our first real negative involves the fact that we were actually supposed to be on Viking's Idun and not the Embla. We were never informed of the ship substitution and were actually unaware of the change until our transport bus pulled up in front of a strange ship. No adequate explanation of the change was ever offered other than the fact that the two vessels were sister ships and identical. While we had no problem with the ship itself and in fact believe that we lucked out due to some amazing personnel that obviously the Idun couldn't share at the same time, the change DID inconvenience some passengers who spent time and energy looking for a ship that happened to be cruising the reverse itinerary and was nowhere to be found. We found the food on the Embla to be wonderful, and a large cut above that which we've experienced on the host of ocean cruises we've taken. You cannot eat "continually" and if that's your draw for cruising, this may not be the best venue for you. The meals here were excellent with sit down or buffet choices at breakfast and lunch and excellent, many times local choices at dinner. Entrees were somewhat smaller than Americans may be used to, but after an appetizer, soup and in prep for a dessert, I found them to be perfect and I'm a big eater. Great cookies and coffee/tea are always available, but the main point is that with the included excursions you really don't have a lot of time for snacking. The rooms (ours was a balcony) are somewhat smaller than the same category on an oceanliner, but there's a ton of storage and we managed nicely even though we were on board for a full two weeks and I top out at about 240! Couple of negatives: the bathroom door is the pocket type. It doesn't offer the best of privacy, can be noisy at night and opened itself on occasion. In my opinion a significant design flaw. The beds were comfortable, but squeaky - again if you get up at night between the pocket door, the bed and a pretty loud toilet flush, it can wake your partner! The personnel on this ship at this point in time were outstanding. The cruise program director, Lucia was nothing short of outstanding! She was ably assisted by Mercedes (who would name their daughter after a car?! - Sorry, old joke!) who's the concierge. The wait staff was superb and the bar guys were as good. A point here though is that these folks change ships frequently (Lucia was subbing for a vacationing PD) and so the comments in this regard may be "temporary" as well. Still, they were great and contributed in a very large part to our enjoyment of this cruise! There is entertainment. The piano player (Neil, I think) plays almost continually and is there in the lounge until the last passenger packs it in. Not late in our instance. There's also local entertainment that they took aboard on a few occasions. They weren't spectacular, but good and solid; much like you'd find on a ocean cruise. Beer and wine are included with lunch and dinner and both choices were generally pretty good and flowed freely. Drinks are a bit steep in price, but the pours are liberal. We tend to opt for premium martinis by choice, and we found that they were huge here and that made them worth the tariff. The passenger list is ... Not young! We're in our early-60's and felt like the "kids". There were probably 3 or 4 other couples our age or younger, but the rest of the list was 70's plus. No problem though. Made for a smaller crowd at the bar at night and a slower exit off some of the buses, but the folks were all very nice, friendly and most were experienced travelers. I can't say enough about the ports of call. Each one was different enough to make the stops varied and interesting. Some, like the Cathedral in Cologne, the Melk Abbey, Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, the Lobkowicz Palace in Prague and the night entry into Budapest take your breath away! Even the smaller stops like Regensberg and Bamburg were delightful and historic. WW2 buffs will love Nuremburg! I thought the 14 days would leave me a bit jaded after all the palaces and churches. Not so. Even with my back acting up, we made every excursion and most of the optionals. A word about the tours. The included ones are excellent with informative, English speaking guides and there's one per stop. We found the optional tours to be every bit as good - some even better, but they are pricey and with the number offered, that can add up. Almost a grand for the two of us. Worth it, but you have to budget for it on the top of a pretty expensive cruise to begin with! Research your options beforehand because there are two opportunities to sign up, one comes early, and some of the tours can fill up. All the tours are conducted in English using a device called a Quietvox. You wear it around your neck coupled with an earpiece and the tour guides can talk into theirs delivering a clear commentary completely separate from the guide a few feet away. It's your constant companion on the cruise and each room is equipped with 2 complete with chargers. There are two computers in the upper lobby area for "no extra charge" passenger use. Personal device connectivity can vary between good and none depending on where your stateroom is located. It's good in cabins near mid ships and wains the farther out you get. We were in 329 about 70% aft from center and had none in the room at all. This is something Viking should be able to fix easily to make the experience equal for all their passengers. The top "sun deck" is a nice experience with chairs, tables, lounges a putting green and shuffleboard. Some of the area is shaded with an awning and umbrellas. Note that when the ship is going through areas with low lying bridges (with us it was most of the Main and the Main-Danube canal) they have to clear the sun deck because clearances can be in inches. This represented about 6 days on our 14 day cruise. We did not miss it that much because most of the days we were off the ship the majority of the time and the lounges were generally not crowded at all. (With the exception of the daily briefing at which just about everyone attended. Chairs were at a premium if you came late.) A note here: the ride up the Rhine on the sun deck in the sun with castles and the Lorelei Rock was a real treat! A great ship; a great time; wonderful people and crew coupled with 6 beautiful countries! Even with a couple of little glitches, who cares!? We loved it! Bill 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 2.8
Family 1.0 2.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 3.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.7

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