Viking Lofn Cruise Review by cruisingcaker
- Sail Date: November 2015
- Destination: Europe River
- Cabin Type: Veranda Stateroom
Firstly embarkation - forget lining up with the hoards - we arrived at the cruise terminal in Amsterdam about 3pm and were taken to the ship. No lines - straight onboard and greeted warmly by the reception staff. We were taken to our cabin and given an overview and our luggage was delivered promptly. We booked a full balcony cabin and my first impression was that it was extremely small - much smaller than any ocean liner cabin I have ever been in. However, it was well equipped and had plenty of storage space for the both of us. The heated bathroom floor was a nice touch in the chilly weather.
After unpacking, we acquainted ourselves with our home for the next 14 nights. Both the Skirnir and the Lofn are beautiful new ships and very well appointed.
Due to low water levels in the Rhine and Danube, we faced the possibility of 3 ship changes during our journey. However, luck was on our side and we only had one change after 3 days from the Skirnir to the Lofn. This was handled beautifully by the staff and when we arrived to board the Lofn, our luggage was in the same room as previously and we just had to unpack once more. The ship was identical in every way except for the name on the side.
My Mother has very limited mobility and uses a walker. In hindsight, although this cruise was her dream, it was really not for her. River cruises are far from a relaxing journey. You are in a different port every day and most of the tours are walking tours. With the low river levels, the gangway was very steep and just getting her to the top was a major effort. All of these old cities have cobblestone streets which are not conducive to walker or wheelchair use. Consequently, she had to stay onboard many days and missed a lot of the tours.
Our cruise director was amazing. He arranged for us to use the onboard wheelchair so that I could take her onshore to have a look around at some of the ports. This was not without resistance from the hotel manager who insisted that the wheelchair was to stay onboard for emergency use. I am fairly fit but it was not an easy task negotiating ancient cobblestone streets with the wheelchair.
The food onboard was amazing - much better than on any ocean liner I have been on. The variety was fantastic and we did not have any dish repeated in the 14 days. The staff were wonderful and nothing was too much trouble. They took wonderful care of Mum.
There was an elevator onboard that took us from deck 2 (where our cabin was) up to deck 3 where the lounge was situated. There was no elevator to the top deck but it was really too cold to go up there anyway.
As I said previously, most of the tours are walking tours. They do have a 'leisurely tour' each day for those who are not as able as others. However, these tours still involve a lot of walking and I heard complaints from many people who struggled with them. We finally decided that Mum was not going to see much at all, so arranged for the Concierge to have a taxi waiting for us in each port to show us around. This worked out very well and we had excellent drivers who spoke English and were very knowledgeable. These cost us around 30 euros per hour each time. As a tour is included each day at no extra cost, this was an added charge for us but the only way that Mum was going to experience any of the towns at all.
Wine, beer, etc is included with every meal including champagne with breakfast for those who wish to partake. I did not always like the wine so tipped the waiter 5 euros and was able to have anything I wanted. Drinks outside of meal times are reasonably priced and I found them substantially cheaper than our previous Celebrity ocean cruises.
Entertainment is lacking with just a piano player in the evenings. One day we had a glass blower on board and he was very entertaining. We also had opera singers one night (totally not my cup of tea) and some German dancers (ditto).
Again disembarkation is totally different to the big ocean liners. Our flight out of Budapest did not leave until 3pm, so we were able to stay onboard until noon (after vacating our room at 9am) and use all of the facilities. We had breakfast and also a light lunch before our taxi driver came to collect us.
So to summarise - these cruises are not everyone and particularly not for anyone with mobility issues of any kind. You are on the go every day and it is quite tiring. Don't expect to be entertained onboard. Most of the cruising is done at night but if you cruise during the day, just expect to sit and watch the world go by.
This is just my personal opinion but river cruising (at the moment) is not for me. I will continue to do ocean cruises for many years to come.
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