Viking Embla Cruise Review by mellomd
- Sail Date: October 2017
- Destination: Europe River
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.
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