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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.

Reality versus Advertising

Viking Embla Cruise Review by O1dT1mer

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: May 2018
  • Destination: Europe River
  • Cabin Type: French Balcony
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.
Viking Cruises, Community Team has responded
Your thoughtful acknowledgment of our hard-working crew is well appreciated, O1dT1mer. We’re pleased that you found the musical activities in Vienna enjoyable, even though we recognize your disappointment in several aspects of your Grand European itinerary, including the docking locations and dining. Though we have taken note of your post-cruise comments for executive review, should you like to share more about what could have enhanced your Viking experience, we would be happy to hear from you at TellUs@vikingcruises.com. We appreciate this opportunity to collect your comprehensive feedback, O1dT1mer, and wish you the very best.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of The Independent Traveler, Inc.
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Cabin Review

French Balcony
Cabin D 204
The cabin was small, but had full floor to ceiling windows. The railing outside of the room had been broken and not repaired and there was also some damage to the window. The shower leaked constantly.

The shower was small, but since it had two doors, it was usable. Unfortunately, the door system and seals led to significant leaks. The closet space is also quite constrained and there were not enough drawers. The drawers were also very flat and didn't hold much. There was a large-screen Sony TV on the wall. We only used it to watch the safety briefing which they pestered you with until you watched it. Quite irritating and not very informative.
Middle Deck Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews