For years I have wanted to do a small ship cruise in the USA. We embarked in New Orleans and disembarked in Memphis. The ship is small 185 passengers but this allows people to get to know each other. The cabins are much larger than on ... Read More
For years I have wanted to do a small ship cruise in the USA. We embarked in New Orleans and disembarked in Memphis. The ship is small 185 passengers but this allows people to get to know each other. The cabins are much larger than on ocean cruises and very nicely appointed. Dining is everyone at one time which is nice. It starts at 7:30 am for breakfast, 12:30pm for lunch and 6:30 for dinner. The food is outstanding with "different" and better recipes than the ocean cruise lines. Entertainment is a little lacking but understandable. Service was excellent. The ship is manned by mostly college aged people. They did an outstanding job and I was impressed. I do not believe I would do any part of the Mississippi river again but I think the Snake River would be interesting. The Mississippi lacked scenery for one thing and the river is mostly commercial traffic. The shore excursions provided at no cost by the ship were very interesting. Read Less
Smooth pick-up at Munich airport and transfer to hotel in Nuremburg as we couldn't board until around 5pm. We received a warm welcome and we were delighted with our cabin - Panoramic Balcony Suite - comfortable, plenty of storage ... Read More
Smooth pick-up at Munich airport and transfer to hotel in Nuremburg as we couldn't board until around 5pm. We received a warm welcome and we were delighted with our cabin - Panoramic Balcony Suite - comfortable, plenty of storage spaces - compact but up to the standard of a 4 star hotel
The food was excellent - from the great range of breakfast choices through to the 4 course dinner menus. Always plenty of choices and found the "Chef's Favourites" for dinner was usually a good choice. Whether you wanted a continental style breakfast, or hot breakfast, there was a great deal of choice and self-service was easy. Lunch had a variety of choices which changed every day, usually including speciality dishes from the region. Best to do a complete circuit of the lunch table first to see all the offerings, before deciding what to choose.
The four course dinners always had plenty of choices and the seating of 2, 4 or 6 meant that you could choose how many to sit with and offered a great opportunity to meet other people and strike up new friendships.
The shore excursions were always well organised and the local guides and the "Quiet Voice" units meant that you could really see and understand all the interesting parts of the tours. Also a good balance between guided tours and free-time meant that you can also explore on your own.
The service was excellent, everybody, including the Cruise Director (Wes), Head Chef, waiters, bar staff, cabin stewards were polite, helpful and professional.
I liked the well-organised aspect of the cruise - at all times, we could relax and enjoy the cruise as all the staff worked hard to keep everything running smoothly and ensuring that you had an enjoyable time.
This was our first river cruise and we will definitely be booking again with Emerald Waterways (just can't decide where to go next!) Read Less
This was our first river cruise and understood Viking was a top provider. BUT, we were very disappointed. The crew/staff were excellent, but after that things fell down. Getting a balcony is a waste of money as many times we were moored ... Read More
This was our first river cruise and understood Viking was a top provider. BUT, we were very disappointed. The crew/staff were excellent, but after that things fell down. Getting a balcony is a waste of money as many times we were moored next to another Viking ship's balcony which was just 2 feet away. No view or privacy! Breakfast was fine but other meals were poor. It became the joke many times to see what was served compared to what was ordered. Many times when we docked at a town we then had to be bussed. We were not able to simply get off the ship and walk around. A couple times we docked in industrial areas. On included tours guides were friendly and knowledgeable, but we were always rushed. Numerous times we had to move along as there was a group behind us. No time for questions (later) and photos. A typical tour was bussing, see a cathedral/palace/castle listen to some history/stories & then some free time. When you combine the amount of ships of Viking & it's competitors, tours become a herd! For the price do not recommend Viking. Will not use again. Viking may have been a class outfit, but possibly have lost control with expansion. Deep research needed for any river cruise. Have taken over a dozen land trips with success, but our ages require a more leisurely experience. Read Less
This cruise had been on our bucket list for the last couple of years. My husband and I with another couple had done European river cruises and thought that this would be similar. No way can ACL be compared with them. They may both be ... Read More
This cruise had been on our bucket list for the last couple of years. My husband and I with another couple had done European river cruises and thought that this would be similar. No way can ACL be compared with them. They may both be small boats as far as passengers but that is where the comparison stops. On this cruise the excursions were large bus trips where you stop only at highway rest areas. If you are on the wrong side of the bus you never see the point of interest. Dining options very limited and not up to other cruise lines. The young people in the dining room made the week with their friendly, helpful ways. The dining room itself needs an overhaul. The fabric chairs are stained as is the carpet. Our cabin was not luxury at all. Everything on the boat closes down at 9:00 pm, and no movies offered on the tv. I am sorry that this did not work out for us in our mid sixties, maybe we would have enjoyed it more fifteen years from now. Read Less
This cruise had a great variety of large cities and small towns and 4 countries to visit. The High speed train ride to Paris was what clinched it for me. The cruise went like clockwork. Avalon took care of everything. Our cruise director ... Read More
This cruise had a great variety of large cities and small towns and 4 countries to visit. The High speed train ride to Paris was what clinched it for me. The cruise went like clockwork. Avalon took care of everything. Our cruise director Mark was superb. He was extremely thorough, smart, and had great sense of humor. He is also fluent in 6 different languages.
The crew was mostly young. They all worked very hard and we enjoyed getting to know them a little bit. The ship was "just right" in size and scale. We had 85 passengers and 40 crew. This created a very intimate and comfortable environment. The total opposite of the monster cruise ships with 3,000+ passengers on board. The excursions were well thought out and went like clockwork. We would highly recommend Avalon to anyone that asks me for a cruise line. A river cruise is definitely the way to see Europe. Read Less
We were disappointed with our late April, 2018, Danube cruise and would not recommend Viking to others. First "problem": we paid more for a Veranda room with an outside deck and found that Viking has SO MANY boats traveling the ... Read More
We were disappointed with our late April, 2018, Danube cruise and would not recommend Viking to others. First "problem": we paid more for a Veranda room with an outside deck and found that Viking has SO MANY boats traveling the Danube, at the same time, that it STACKS its boats when it docks, side by side, leaving us with "a view" of ANOTHER Viking boat's outside deck one foot away from OUR outside deck, at EVERY docking. Secondly, our boat "cruised" in daylight hours, where one can see the sights, only ONE DAY, along the Wachau Valley. It was "in port", docked, during other daylight times. Thirdly, all of Viking's "docking locations" are a LONG walk, along a narrow passageway, to GET TO a street and access where one can catch a cab or other transportation in order to "independently see/tour a town" on one's own time, for which Viking provide sufficient time. Finally, our "Tour Director", and a few other staff members, noticeably and continuously outwardly displayed a "very overpowering/aggressive/obtrusive so-called friendliness" in their attitudes, talks, and personalities. Informally, I think of that as their "coming on" WAY too strong, to the point of making the trip "uncomfortable". Also, Viking's excursion leaders were, generally, not very good. These negatives far outweighed the ship's cleanliness and good food/meals provided, and made it a trip I wish I had NOT paid for, and made. I would NOT make the mistake of making a Viking river boat trip in the future. We have travelled with two OTHER river boat companies in other areas of the world, and BOTH those trips were MUCH more enjoyable. Read Less
This was our third Scenic river cruise. All have been great but this one was the best. Great boat, friendly crew, fantastic food and excellent day tours. Portuguese food and wine is superb, and the cruise focus on local dishes, ... Read More
This was our third Scenic river cruise. All have been great but this one was the best. Great boat, friendly crew, fantastic food and excellent day tours. Portuguese food and wine is superb, and the cruise focus on local dishes, ingredients and wines was well placed. At each daily brief the chef and tour director highlighted that night’s recommended local dish and wines. As always with Scenic there was lots of choice on the menu, but the local dishes were our favourites. We had a little trouble with high water given the heavy rains before we arrived and were required by the Portuguese authorities to dock at unplanned locations. But Scenic did a great job of keeping us informed, arranging for day trips when we were docked unexpectedly, and making sure everyone got to the airport to get on to their next destination.
I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone who likes history, food and wine. Read Less
WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, ... Read More
WE are a retired couple that loves to travel. When we were offered a chance to visit the Amazon with Viking, we immediately booked our cruise. This was our first cruise on a Viking ocean going vessel. Having been on three river cruises, we expected the best, but were surprised to find it even surpassed our expectations! I can tell you now, that we can't wait to book another ocean cruise with Viking. We have been on many other ocean going cruises with a variety of companies... but this was the BEST! The entire crew from room attendants up to officers ingratiated themselves being so helpful, happy, while also very professional. The numerous restaurants had not only quality food, but choices beyond our belief!! Even with a 22 day sail, we could not experience all they offered. We enjoyed the he excellent guest lecturers- all had very interesting programs. Entertainment aboard was varied and very much appreciated. There was always a variety of choices, and all very professional. Read Less
I will begin this by saying, this trip was booked for the sole purpose of visiting the Christmas Markets. My mother had been to Germany several times, and I was anxious to see the wonderful sights she had seen while visiting the Christmas ... Read More
I will begin this by saying, this trip was booked for the sole purpose of visiting the Christmas Markets. My mother had been to Germany several times, and I was anxious to see the wonderful sights she had seen while visiting the Christmas Markets previously. We have traveled on several cruises together through the years, but always pn ocean liners. We researched the trip. We researched the destinations. We definitely did our homework.
That being said, I will refer to a particular evening when our Cruise Director was going over the following day's itinerary. I heard a passenger lament that we were going to "Another Christmas Market" with a groan and eyeroll as she said it. I turned to my mother and said, "How could she be upset about that? This was advertised as a Christmas Market Cruise!" I heard many of these rumblings throughout the trip. I was somewhat offended, because I will cherish the trip, the memories and the people we met for the rest of my life. I had an awesome trip, so I found it a little hard to stomach the ones that were saying such rude things.
I found the ship and crew warm and welcoming. The staff bent over backward to make us feel at home. Many of the crew members filled multiple roles. They did so with efficiency and kindness. As I said previously, we had been on several cruises. They were ocean cruises. This was the first river cruise I'd been on. I knew that the grandeur of a ocean cruise ship would not be found on a river cruise. I knew there would be no casino, no nightclub, no nightly shows. I knew there would be no midnight buffets with ice sculptures. I don't care about those things. We booked this trip to add to a lifetime of memories that my mom and I have been making together. We were not disappointed.
I found the ship to provide for every necessity we had, and provide well. The ship was well kept, it was lovely and when I compared it to other ships we saw cruising the Rhine I was pleasantly pleased that our ship was amongst the nicest.
Dining. I heard quite a few people complaining about the fare. I heard some rather needless and unkind things being said. So here is my assessment of the food and dining experience. I found the food to be good, plentiful and very tailored to the passenger pool. If we were to take a walking trip around the meal bar you would find: fresh cheeses, sliced meats, salad options, fruits, bread, desserts, hot and cold cereals, soups, rice, fish, sandwiches, hot veggies, meat choices, usually a pasta choice, omelettes to order at breakfast and the list goes on. If you want a lighter fare you can visit the lounge and enjoy a pancake, french toast, soup, pasta or sandwich at breakfast or lunch. At dinner the menu also plentiful. Typically there were 2 choices of appetizer, a soup, a featured item as main course and a dessert. If you did not care of the featured main course there was a choice of chicken, steak, fish or Ceasar Salad every night, as well. No, you will not find the vast array of food you'd find on an ocean cruise. That being said, if you find fault in the food on this cruise then I would say you should have booked a Cuisine Cruise instead. I found the food to be delicious, and I thought the Chef was wonderful.
Entertainment and Activities were not a huge priority to us. We did not book this cruise to be entertained and party. We were on this trip to enjoy time spent with each other and any new friends we would meet, and we did meet some wonderful people. We thoroughly enjoyed the glassblower, the cookie making, the musical entertainment, the movie nights, disco night and trivia. They were wonderfully presented and fun to attend.
Service. The ENTIRE staff bent over backwards to help us. If I were going to say anything on the downside, it would be that my mother and I are not alcohol drinkers. I found it a bit difficult at first to get a soft drink. The wait staff have to go to a different location to get a soft drink so it throws off their service rhythm. Which I totally understand. Dining on a smaller scale ship is like a well thought out ballet. Everything has it's place because of limited space. They are super organized and efficient. I felt I was inconveniencing them to ask for a soft drink. They are pronto with the alcohol, but soft drinks not so much. I worked it out by mid cruise, I began ordering my soft drinks two at a time so that I wouldn't have to ask for a refill later in the meal. Ironically, the majority of the ladies we sat with began doing the same so we became known as the soda drinkers. We also made sure to sit in the areas of the dining room that we knew the waiters were a bit more flexible. From the Captain on down to the room stewards, everyone was wonderful.
Ports, docking and excursions. Ports were wonderful. Transportation from the ship to our destinations was quick and efficient. I enjoyed the all the places we visited. I absolutely LOVED Rothenberg, which in our package was an excursion. It was my absolute favorite. If we had thought it through more, we would have gotten an earlier flight to Nuremberg and visited the Market there before boarding the ship. We enjoyed a diverse choice of stops with the commonality of the Christmas Markets, which we loved. If I was going to find a downside, I would have to say the arrival times to the Market locations. I had anticipated this experience for so long. After researching the destinations and seeing pictures of the marketplaces at each, I had a very clear vision in my head. I was mildly disappointed that the majority of the markets we visited weren't even open when we arrived, because we arrived in the mornings. I was excited to experience the markets in the evening when they were lit up to get the full effect of Christmas time festivities. I was grateful to get to see them, but would have loved to see them all at night. I understand we were at the mercy of our port time and sail schedule, but that would be the only thing I would say was disappointing.
Overall, this was the trip of a lifetime and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I would do it again and again, and I would sail with Emerald again to do it. It was a great way to "sample" some locations to possibly revisit so that I can spend more time in the places that truly stood out to me.
In an nutshell: I loved the entire trip. What I didn't love was the bashing being done by some of the other passengers. Read Less
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time ... Read More
After several longer river cruises (i.e., Budapest to Amsterdam) we thought that we might like what would be a much shorter trip (Douro river is only what, 125 miles long?) and kind of quirky itinerary; small towns and wineries with time to walk and explore.
Wow did we like it! Beautiful countryside in Fall colors, visits to often tiny towns, and so on. Castelo Rodrigo, for example, is a hilltop hamlet with about 48 residents. We had time on our own in some very small towns to just wander. Very restful, actually Quite different from say, Vienna!
I don't recommend this for one's "first cruise". Take a longer one, or several, with Viking and then try The Douro. Doing that really helped us notice the differences and fully appreciate the laid back leisurely nature of this trip. It is very well thought out and complete. I think you'll find it wonderful.
As always with Viking there are little extras; to be met back at the ship with a Port wine toast, local foods acquired almost every day, and some unique entertainments. Portuguese Fado music. for instance.
I HIGHLY recommend the post-river add-on trip to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. The shrine of Saint James is not only the ending point of "The Way" pilgrimages, but also a UNESCO Heritage center. We loved the city and its foods. Tapas three times a day! Read Less