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Sail Date: November 2013
The cruise was well planned and well executed with well appointed and impeccably clean cabins; or "staterooms" as they are termed. With a few notable exceptions, the staff were friendly and efficient although slightly overly ... Read More
The cruise was well planned and well executed with well appointed and impeccably clean cabins; or "staterooms" as they are termed. With a few notable exceptions, the staff were friendly and efficient although slightly overly familiar towards what are fare paying guests. However, although the executive chef was committed and capable within what we feel to be limitations imposed upon him by Viking, be they kitchen size, support chefs or ingredients, the result was no better than 'fair'. Certainly, the "Culinary Journey" comprising "multicourse dinners" etc, were simply not experienced and Viking excuse this on the basis that ones dining experience is "subjective". This neither explains dry, pre cooked and bony fish, gelatine based mouse etc. etc. nor the repeated insistence that food orders are taken (and often served) before one can enjoy brief convivial conversation and glass of wine with those with whom one is dining. One could be forgiven for concluding that the anticipation of the promised dining experience is overshadowed by the need to suit the limitations and convenience of Viking and their staff which is disappointing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2013
We would give this cruise mixed reviews. By far, the best aspect of the week was our tour director, Marianne. She was friendly, knowledgeable, energetic and extremely helpful in all regards. Flights/connections- Our port of entry was ... Read More
We would give this cruise mixed reviews. By far, the best aspect of the week was our tour director, Marianne. She was friendly, knowledgeable, energetic and extremely helpful in all regards. Flights/connections- Our port of entry was Amsterdam. We arrived just in time for dinner so we had limited time to do a walking tour of Amsterdam...a must if you have never been there. We had Viking arrange our flights and we would have preferred to have arrived earlier so that we would have had more time to wander around the town. I realize that is difficult for them as they are busy doing the disembarkation/arrival process. Excursions- We felt that the extra excursions were overpriced for what they offered. The Alsasc wine tour provided very small tastings of about 4 wines. The cask room was interesting. Due to the time of year (November) we did not tour the actual vineyards. We were also very disappointed with the Black Forest excursion. The scenery and church that we toured were beautiful. We thought we were then going to a quaint village where they made cuckoo clocks. Instead, we were dumped at a major tourist trap on the side of the highway. A small corner of the store had a bench where a small demonstration of cuckoo clock making was described. The clocks, while beautiful, were pricy. Our biggest disappointment with the regular excursions was that they felt rushed. In particular, we were rushed in Heidelberg. Traffic was slow due to regular traffic congestion and road construction. The castle tour was interesting...not much to see, but interesting. We then had a long trip back down to the city due to the traffic congestion. Our tour guide was quiet during the bus ride. Once we got to town, we stood out in the cold weather while she gave a prolonged art history review of Heidelberg. Very interesting but could have easily be done while on the bus. When she finished, she informed us that we needed to be back to the bus in 45 minutes. None of us had eaten lunch and we were expected to eat and tour in 45 minutes time. We also had limited time in Strasbourg. After a lengthy tour of the church, we had limited time in what I felt was one of the most beautiful cities. Food- While the food was good, we felt that the food was far superior on the river cruise that we took with another company. The offerings for breakfast were exactly the same each day. I did like that they had a fish dish for supper and they were all expertly prepared. The German lunch buffet was also excellent. Room/Cabin- As the Atla is a new ship, the rooms were more than comfortable. As stated in another review, it would have been nice to have more options on the TV. As we were cruising in mid-November, it was too chilly to be on the top deck and we probably spent more time in our cabin and would have liked more options. Follow up- We completed the evaluation on board at the end of the week. One of the boxes I checked was that I would like a Viking representative to contact me. Well, that was 2 months ago and I have not been contacted. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
We stayed at their top level suite on the third level. The room was nice and decent amount of room. The tours and guides provided very good information and were overall very good. The staff took good care of us and our only real issue was ... Read More
We stayed at their top level suite on the third level. The room was nice and decent amount of room. The tours and guides provided very good information and were overall very good. The staff took good care of us and our only real issue was the food was just subpar and not what we expected at all. Tauk is promoted as a quality luxury river cruise but the food was very poor quality. We have cruised on Silver Seas, Crystal and we dine out at least two days a week with a wide palate. The quality of the ingredients was not fresh and it seemed to an attempt to cook more American dishes rather than using fresh local ingredients and cook more local fare. We had consistently poor lunch and dinner meals with one evening so bad that our entire table sent the main veal dish back as it was just plain bad with the meat looking grey in color. Salads listing grilled fresh artichoke hearts were straight out of the can uncooked and bland. We met many other guests complaining about the food. Many of those other guest ended up dining on the same boring chicken or cheap 1/2 inch steak as the other options were so bad. We plan on trying Tauk one more time as they offer a trip to the Holly land but if the food is this poor again then we will have to look for another option. Their food really was a shock as they promote themselves more like the Silver Seas for river cruises but so far they are barely above a Uniworld or Viking river cruise which compared to an ocean cruise line are more like cheap Celebrity cruise ships. One other complaint is that quality hotels and restaurants generally tell sick employees to go home and not work but at Tauk they had a tour person very sick with a cold whom got me and many other guests sick with a terrible cold during our precious vacation. That might be expected on a low end cruise line but I thought Tauk was higher quality? We plan on trying them out possibly one more time due to they offer a tour to the Holly land but if the food is this poor that will be our last Tauk cruise. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2013
First river cruise with APT. The cruise embarkation was well handled from the hotel to ship. Welcome and cabin allocation all ok. First night cruising the Danube just wonderful, however that was the best part overall. Unfortunately the ... Read More
First river cruise with APT. The cruise embarkation was well handled from the hotel to ship. Welcome and cabin allocation all ok. First night cruising the Danube just wonderful, however that was the best part overall. Unfortunately the vessel had an outbreak of gastro which wasn't surprising as we did notice that hygiene e.g. mandatory sanitizing of hands wasn't enforced. One guest was actually transferred mid river to hospital so not a great impression. The dining area can be very crowded at all sittings and breakfast can see ques at toasters and serveries. Waiter service was good but the menu, although brandishing fancy names, just didn't measure up in comparison to other 'luxury' cruise dining. Actually it was pretty bland. The scenery is lovely on the trip but the little town ports can be the usual tourist traps and if you've seen one old church.. you know the rest! However Wien was very good as was Neurenburg with excellent guides.= and the concert very nice. However, at other places one was left to wander around towns for ages waiting for buses and sometimes in the dark. You also go through 60 or more locks so it can be somewhat stop and start. The entertainment was one chap playing the same songs every night with his European accent. One or two nights would have been OK but over 14 it gets to be boring. Also the visiting entertainers were only on for very short periods between locks and all were intent on flogging their CDs. Look some guests loved it but we're Aussies and we don't necessarily want to be on an international cruise consisting of 95% other Aussies so that may have tainted us from the start so beware if that is of concern to you as well. The cruise director and staff tried hard and were pleasant. The drinks variety were good. We got a 2 for one deal but had we paid full fare I honestly would have felt short-changed.. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2013
My husband and I and three other couples recently sailed on the Viking Helgi from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Here is the good, the average, the bad and the ugly. The good: The food was consistently very good to excellent. The lectures by ... Read More
My husband and I and three other couples recently sailed on the Viking Helgi from St. Petersburg to Moscow. Here is the good, the average, the bad and the ugly. The good: The food was consistently very good to excellent. The lectures by the guides on the boat were also very good, as were the ports of call. We enjoyed both St. Petersburg and Moscow as well as all the stops along the Baltic-Volga Waterway. The weather was amazing, with the only rain coming on the very last afternoon. Everyone is in a better mode when there is good weather! The Wi-Fi was great everywhere we sailed. Our housekeeper was amazing. The room was always made up and ready when we out. We tipped her generously, although we never saw her! The average: Our guides gave great lectures on the ship, but they rarely led us off the ship. The local guides were very uneven. We were suppose to tip our Viking guides $10 per day per person, but at the end of the cruise, we only did this for days we were actually with her. Some days we never saw her or any other guide from the ship, only local guides. Somedays she just rode on the bus with us. Unlike our China trip, our Russian guides had no interest in the passengers. One of the three main guides got on the bus everyday and promptly fell asleep! Very unprofessional. The bad: The ship docks in both cities are far from the center and main tourist sites and since the traffic is horrendous you will spend a lot of time on buses traveling, even in the evenings. In St. Petersburg you cannot even walk to a metro station. In the ports along the river there is rarely time to go off on your own unless you skipped the guided tour. The exception was Mandrogi. Service in the dining room was very uneven and not friendly. The crew often acted liked the passengers were inconveniencing them. The cruise director was poor in that he did not have answers to many questions, and on several occasions he turned out to be wrong. I gave up asking him anything as his answer was usually "I don't know." Not "What is your cabin number and I'll check for you?" The A/V equipment on the ship rarely worked so the presentations were often done without a visual. They said (as they did about many things during the cruise.), that it was "the end of the season." The wine for lunch and dinner was okay, but it never changed for 12 days. We did a river cruise with a different cruise line in Holland and they changed the wines all the time. Viking has too many optional excursions. You spend a lot of time figuring out what you want to do. Viking should include more and charge more if necessary. There were numerous days when no excursions were included. Yes, we knew this going in, but didn't realize how difficult this would actually be. Again, comparing Viking's China trip, where the only optional were evening events. Also, there is no exercise room or walking track, so on the days along the river there is no place to walk on the ship. (I've noticed Viking did not put exercise rooms or bikes on any of there new "longships", which is a deal breaker for us in the future.) The remodeled cabins are still small and the walls paper thin. We were lucky because our neighbors were quiet, but our friends complained. We did hear the music every night from the lounge above our room, but it did not usually keep us awake. The ugly: When the Viking ships in Russia were renovated last year, they did not enlarge the lounge area (Sky Bar) and it could only hold about half of the passengers on board. Most of the talks and parties were there, but unless you came early there was no seating. Everyone on board complained about this. There was only one table for eight in the dining room, so one of our party had to be early to line up for dinner or we would not get it. If we did not get it, we had a waiter make a table for six into a table for eight. If Viking wants us to bring friends and/or a group they should have more larger tables. Also, we were told tables could not be reserved, which was an out right lie. One night my husband and I were the first ones in line. We went to a table we knew was "reserved" and sat down. We were immediately told to get up that someone was sitting there. We said we the first ones in the door! The server was embarrassed, but said we had to move. 30 minutes later the "usual group" came and claimed their "unreserved" table. It was apparent that you had to pay off the dining staff to get a specific table. It became very ugly at dinner. The singer on the ship was outright awful. Our group was thinking of paying her to not sing! In the end, we felt that while we throughly enjoyed Russia, we will look elsewhere for any further river cruising. The unprofessional staff on all levels, the layout of the ship, the lack of an exercise room and/or bikes, and numerous optional tours will not have us returning to Viking River Cruises or recommending it to friends. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2013
We sailed on the Viking Magni (the newest of the long ships) from Budapest to Amsterdam on it's second voyage. This was our second river cruise, but I cannot compare it to the one I took 20 years ago. We have cruised on Holland ... Read More
We sailed on the Viking Magni (the newest of the long ships) from Budapest to Amsterdam on it's second voyage. This was our second river cruise, but I cannot compare it to the one I took 20 years ago. We have cruised on Holland America, Cunard, and our last two were on Regent 7 Seas. Comparing a Viking river ship to Regent is not a fair comparison. Viking does not claim to be a 5 star line, and it is not one. The new long ships are very nice, and larger than previous Viking ships. We paid for one of the suites which gives you a larger bathroom, and a sitting room with a couch, larger second TV, and is double the width, so you have a walkout, and a French balcony. For the significantly higher price, we did not see the value in the suite after looking inside the regular rooms. We also upgraded to the silver spirits package which is 598 euros for the two of you. It is not worth it. You can drink what you what whenever you want when you want it. Liquor selection is good, and you have about 5 beers instead of one to drink. The wines were a big disappointment. The ad says you are upgraded to premium wines from around the world instead of just wines from Hungary, and Germany. We tasted the complimentary wines that everyone can have at lunch, and dinner, but would rate them as one buck Chuck, yes lower than the Charles Shaw you get at Trader Joe's. The premium wines were in the $7-9 dollar price you find in a store. Their highest rated one (only California wine) was 2011 Hacienda Cab - check out it's price online $7.99 - $8.99. You have the option of buying wine in each city on your stops and bringing it on board with no corkage fees. For 11-12 Euros we found wines that would have been far superior to the German, and Hungarian offerings. If we cruise with Viking again I would buy my wines at each port city, and not get the silver spirits package. BTW two others told me they bribed a bartender for free drinks. Breakfast and lunch offerings were fine and as expected. Dinners were an issues on numerous evenings. The first and third nights fish offerings were way overcooked. They gladly would bring you a different selection from the menu. Again we were spoiled by the quality of the food on Regent 7 Seas, but the dinners were way below what even had on Holland America. A lot of the older passengers felt the food was fine, but to those of us under age 65 the quality was not very good. This was the opinion of 10 people in our age bracket. The first 10 days were great, but starting with four nights to go the electrical issues started in the middle of the night. Room lights came on for about 10 seconds, five minutes later the TV in the bedroom came on displaying a computer reboot screen, and you could not turn it off. It went off after a few minutes, followed by the second TV coming on. This cycle repeated a second time. The climate system shut down for about 2 hours. Only emergency lights were in in the hallways. NO ANNOUNCEMENT WAS MADE. The next morning we tied up to the side of the river 25 miles from our destination. We were told after breakfast that the state of the art energy management system was having issues, and an electrical engineer would arrive at lunch time. We were bused to our tour for the day. A second pair of engineers from the shipbuilder arrived at 7PM. They claimed to have it fixed, and set sailed at about midnight. The next day we were bused 2 hours to Heidleburg (not our scheduled stop in Koblenz). Upon returning to the ship it had not moved, and the issues started up again. I finally cornered the captain and had him tell me that they only had enough power to run one engine, but the hotel manager, and cruise director only stated that they were working on the issues. The next morning still moored in the middle of nowhere we were told to pack up, and the cruise was ending two days early. We were bused to Frankfurt for a one hour city tour (nothing to see), then bused to Mainz for a night in the Hilton. The final day we were bused two hours to Boppard for a 2.5 hour cruise on the Rhine in an older day ship, then bused 5 hours to Amsterdam for our final night in the airport Sheraton. We encountered 16 hours of unscheduled bus rides, lost three days of our stops, lost half a nights sleep, and lost a lot of time cruising the rivers especially the Rhine. The next cruise was going to be disrupted until the ships issues were resolved. In all fairness management had to work with corporate to arrive hotels for 190 people, reschedule some tours at the last minute, and try to make the best of the situation Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2013
It was 42 degrees Celsius (107 F) the day we arrived in Venice for the cruise. We were told that night that one of three air conditioners was out, and that the Po River was too low to cruise, and the only cruising would be in the Venetian ... Read More
It was 42 degrees Celsius (107 F) the day we arrived in Venice for the cruise. We were told that night that one of three air conditioners was out, and that the Po River was too low to cruise, and the only cruising would be in the Venetian Lagoon. The A/C was "fixed" 5 days later, they said, but the temperature in our room was high enough that even my wife, always cold, was laying naked on top of our bedding until 2 in the morning hoping for sleep. I, on the other hand, soaked the bed with sweat every night and got at most a couple of hours sleep. Due to increased drive time required on the bus excursions all being from Venice, one agenda item was skipped (not too bad, actually). The crew busted their behinds for the passengers - I was going through 2 or 3 shirts each day, they had to be wringing wet since they were working in hot kitchens, laundries, and bustling around the boat. They were troopers, and everyone on the cruise was extremely impressed by them, especially the way they kept a positive attitude and a smile almost always on their faces. On Friday, a fan did appear in the lounge, which helped a lot during the port talk. If we had not been told every day that the a/c would be fixed "today", I would have purchased a small fan for our room and maybe gotten a little more sleep. I guess that is the real point of this ramble - we felt that the management of Uniworld was not upfront with us, nor were we treated with the respect I try to show my customers when confronted with difficult issues that are beyond my control. Honesty and transparency are always appreciated, but did not happen here, or at least not until after the fact. They had to know in advance the Po would not be available, but we were not informed - same with the A/C. Uniworld did offer a 13.4% rebate (not an instant one, as I still owed for drinks and an optional excursion at the end of the week - so I don't know when I might get the credit) and an equivalent amount off a future cruise, which we are not sure we would want to take with this company after this experience. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
The greeting at the ship was efficient and very quick. Luiggage moved immediately to our room and a short tour of the public areas (all 4) provided. We then hasd a nice buffett and unpacked. The dinner was good with some interesting ... Read More
The greeting at the ship was efficient and very quick. Luiggage moved immediately to our room and a short tour of the public areas (all 4) provided. We then hasd a nice buffett and unpacked. The dinner was good with some interesting choices. The good part was a wonderful filet of beef was always available. The problem was several dinners including overcooked salmon and lamb that was not ebidle were served. That combined with what seemed to be a continual overuse of salt made dining a challenge. Viking included many wonderful port tours. Catherines Palace was good despite pouring rain. The optional journey to Peterhof should not be missed. The exclusive tour to the Hermitage conversely was sort of a yawn. Spend the rest of the day there touring on your own instead. Generaly try to make all of the included tours. The ships guides were well informed and educational. the local guides were uneven. Some excellent and others not so good. The ship as other have said has a bar on the upper deck at the bow and another bar and sun deck at the rear. Both areas are fairly small and could only accomodate about 1/2 the cruisers at any one time. The front dsk was always staffed and very helpful answering any questions. The main issue with the cruise is spending several nights in a "floating hotel" in both St Petersburg and Moscow. The docking point in St Petersburg is far from anything and getting to town is either an expensive cab ride or a bus and metro ride. With no signs in English this is more than most would care to do. The main issue was we went to sleep with a view of the river and woke up looking into another cabin about 10 feet away. This was repeated in Mocsow. I understand the limited places to dock but did not ever imagine I would be looking into another cabin from my balcony for about 1/2 the nights on board. If this is what river crusing is all about then I will go elsewhere in the future. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
We went on our first river cruise in August choosing the Amerceto as it had a small plunge pool and sit on private balcony. The ship is very smart and immaculately kept by the hard working staff. The cabins were well thought out, the ... Read More
We went on our first river cruise in August choosing the Amerceto as it had a small plunge pool and sit on private balcony. The ship is very smart and immaculately kept by the hard working staff. The cabins were well thought out, the shower the best I have had on a ship. We had the top floor thinking that there would be less noise from above which is inevitable if cabins are above you. However the running track is just above and although a not before 8am is a rule, an afternoon nap is difficult. Also as the staff are not allowed to use the corridors so they have to use the top deck to reach the rear of the boat for their coffee breaks, does not seem much but as there is little white noise, its significant. The breakfast and lunch were ok if a bit of a scrum, the dinners were disappointing and of bland motorway services quality. The waiters did a stirling job but were overworked and stressed and did not make for a relaxing time. Trying to take orders, serve food, clearaway without the help of an assistant. One day the salad course was 8 pieces of iceberg lettuce tomatoes and cucumber in a pool of wet, it made me laugh as it took me back to the 70s when my Mum made it and salads were still basic. I thought they could open the specialist restaurant for breakfast, say for the suite cabins or for a fee, so that breakfast could at least be a bit more relaxed. People would also have an alternative place to eat if they so wished. For those who like to do a bit of gym work, there is one rowing machine, two recumbent bikes, one running machine, a ball and 2x1kg weights and 1x5k- hardly adequate for the amount of people on board. Get the food right and extra staff to serve it then you are on to a winner, otherwise I think we will stick to Azamara where each meal is an occasion. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2013
The August AMA Waterways Danube Discovery cruise aboard AmaLyra was underwhelming even though AMA Waterways is supposed to provide a higher end experience than its competition. The AmaLyra was built in 2009 & therefore does not have ... Read More
The August AMA Waterways Danube Discovery cruise aboard AmaLyra was underwhelming even though AMA Waterways is supposed to provide a higher end experience than its competition. The AmaLyra was built in 2009 & therefore does not have all the "bells & whistles” of more modern ships (e.g. it has French balconies which allow passengers to open a sliding door to the outside but not a true balcony which permits passengers to actually sit outside on a balcony). It carries fewer passengers (ca. 143) than most (ca. 160-190) of its competition. Cabins: Although there was plenty of closet & drawer space, mid priced cabin floor space felt somewhat cramped. The bathroom was remarkably spacious with a modern fully enclosed shower. Linens were high end. The bed was uncomfortably hard even with two duvets used for cushioning. There was good climate control & soundproofing. The TV, which provided entertainment & information, was small, ornery & navigation was not user friendly. The free internet/Wi-Fi in one’s room, & throughout the ship, was, to be kind, not state of the art. Capturing & maintaining a usable signal was frustratingly slow and not as reliable as it should have been even while docked in a reasonable large port city where one would have expected a better signal. And, at speeds of 9 mph the ship doesn’t cover huge swaths of geography that might account for such problems. River cruise ships often do not have their own berth in port. In nearly every port, 2-3 ships from the same cruise line tied up to one another. When nested in this manner, one had to walk across one or more ships in order to get to your ship. Depending upon where your ship is docked in the nest (outside or inside), cabins of different ships are across and within a few feet of one another privacy concerns requiring closed curtains and therefore no view and limited natural light. Public Space: When relaxing on deck was undesirable (too dark or weather issues), there was little interior quiet space. Other than a multi-purpose lounge (bar, entertainment, dance space &/or lecture hall), the one interior space that could have been used for reading was also used for games and socializing as well as adjoining a tiny fitness area with an extremely noisy fitness machine. Too often one’s cabin was the only place for quiet space. At those times, a true balcony was missed. Dining: Everyone was required to eat at the same time. Seating was comfortable and tables were well spaced. One did not have the feeling of being crowded as friends have described on other river cruise lines. Menu choices were much more limited than on ocean cruising. Food was generally mediocre with occasional flashes of "good.” We found at least one of the meal time wine offerings was good. Bar prices were on the high side. After some just adequate service, we discovered, & stayed with a waiter, who was excellent. Although tips were pooled, passengers were advised that it was acceptable to tip additionally. Waiters (and cabin attendants) understood what was required & behaved appropriately. With one or two exceptions, the entertainment brought onboard was forgettable. Unfortunately, the one man keyboard/vocalist who was supposed to provide in house music for dancing and general entertainment was musically challenged in addition to having some language issues. Ports: The slow pace of river cruising (about 9 mph) means that not much distance is covered in a 24 hour period. The ports are relatively close together and notwithstanding significant differences among them, one has a greater sense of homogeneity (architecture, food, general culture) compared to ocean cruising where ports are generally much farther apart exposing one to much greater diversity. Tours: Free bus or walking tours gave an overview of each port. The bus tours were mostly drive-by’s. Tour guides were knowledgable with lots of esoteric commentary & forgettable detail. Optional tours were limited and marginally interesting.   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
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
Sail Date: June 2013
This is my first review of a cruise via Cruise Critic, so fellow cruisers here is my opinion of what our cruise on the Yorktown was like. I have identified good points, bad points and where I think they could make improvements. The ships ... Read More
This is my first review of a cruise via Cruise Critic, so fellow cruisers here is my opinion of what our cruise on the Yorktown was like. I have identified good points, bad points and where I think they could make improvements. The ships generator went off line and took out the second because of an overload. We sat dead in the water for awhile, but I keep forgetting about this. Seemed like a non-issue. The Yorktown is an American Registered Ship and also contains an all American Crew. It is owned by Travel Dynamics. I do not know if this is a good thing or not, but the ship went to places I wanted to visit and with only 110 other passengers. We booked our cruise through The Museum of Natural History. Other cruisers booked theirs through Our Gang Travel and the Smithsonian. There was a group from France who had their own interpreter and all french lectures were provided. Booking was a little difficult but with E-mail and phones we were able to get through it. The ports visited were really great and I felt I could have spent longer in each but the time was adequate. The lectures offered on the boat were really interesting, they were varied and applied to the trip. Temu, the Cruise director, was informative and there were never any questions on what was going to happen next. Getting off and on the boat at each port was handled as expected without difficulty along with changes in time or rain events like the Dune buggy ride in Saugatuck, which was off and on again and rescheduled. On smaller cruise ships schedules are flexible so things just seem to work well. Some ports visited: Montreal start of the trip. We got to Montreal a few days early, since we have not spent any time there before. We stayed at the Embassy Suites which is a short walk to the ship with our luggage. There is plenty to do in Montreal, great restaurants, easy to pick activities and an underground train. Get the AAA or CAA book and pick from the Gems. Detroit. We took the tour to the Ford Rouge plant. The guide on the bus was not informative and pretty much showed you things we were passing just because they were there. Like this church or that building. However, what was inappropriate, was the off color jokes he was telling! The plant was not running but it had a nice over view of what happens Niagara falls. Yes Maid of the Mist, Everyone has to do it once, Get the Blue Ponchos and everyone looks like Smurfs! After this event the buss takes you to the ship which has moved to a new location, it is a good opportunity to see more of the area. Here too the guide was telling off color and in appropriate jokes. Yes I laughed at the jokes but they did not consider that the youngest person on the bus was an 11 year old. Alpinia. This small town really rolled out the red carpet! They met us att the boat gave us maps water and had a bagpiper playing for us. The Marine Museum is really great too. WE will revisit this town. Macenack Island Fudge is the first word here! There are more places to buy fudge than I think horses on the island. This island does not allow cars or any motorized vehicles. Taking a carrage tour to Fort Henry and the Grand Hotel were highlights of this stop. This was our third visit to the island and once you get by the fudge and tourists it is enjoyable. Other stops in Michigan included, Saugatuck, and Charlivoix. These are small mostly occupied summer towns. Really unique and fun to visit. Anyway, back to the boat! All of the ships servers were properly trained in correct table service other than big Tony who seemed to always be rushed and bringing multiple courses to our table at a time. Micha and Kate on the other hand were the best, we just picked our table locations accordingly to get good service. Note, every meal event on the Yorktown is similar to Open Seating on a larger ship. There were no issues with cabin service and Sherry was very adept of taking care of our cabin on our schedule not hers which is great. Free bottled water was always available in our cabin. Oh and no towel animals! I really like these all inclusive cruises! Well not everything on the ship was great. The galley was staffed by 9 folks and the food they prepared was really bad, not bad like not good to eat, just from what is expected on a cruise of this type! I later found out that the chef was new, so maybe he is just getting used to the galley (benefit of the doubt) I don't know if he is better or worse than the last. I just know that a number of us passengers did not enjoy the food. Breakfast and Lunches were buffets and dinners were table service. The food at breakfast was pretty much the same every day, cheese, canned fruit, some fresh, lunch meat that was cut much too thick. Pate (think of spam) of some smoked meat. Cold smoked salmon was served only once followed by creamed herring in a mustard sauce then more herring was added to the dish but it was salted and was not prepared properly to go into the same dish, too salty. It was also served over and over again. These items were followed by cold overdone dried out scrambled eggs, cold potatoes, cold french toast or pancakes, some days both. Bacon and sausage in the same pan again cold. Biscuits that were really small made in a muffin tin?. Very thin sausage gravy. What happen to the leftover sausage? Also one or two days ham was added to the menu. Getting cold toast or english muffins was not a problem since you could pick one and a server would toast it and bring it to your table. After the week progressed I figured out a method! Request an omelet (It may or may not come out with the requested ingredients) but it was hot. Also you can request poached eggs they needed to be cooked by request, but again they were hot. Lunch had pretty much similar issues. Cheese, canned fruit. Cracker plate which was usually empty (they were just Keebler crackers anyway) and pate from breakfast. Lunch meat again cut too thick, green leafed lettuce and several toppings for a salad bar. Following was a hot pasta with various leftovers (we had flank steak a previous night now we had pasta and flank steak. Reheated breakfast potatoes and peppers and onions for a vegetable. Usually the last two half pans were of a food that had been left from a previous cruise or dinner. Such as some BBQ ribs or airline chicken breast (the way a chicken breast is cut) or fish. I believe the Chef thought not enough for a dinner service but for lunch maybe and if I run out I could plug in another leftover. Oh and that night for appetizers before dinner in the lounge we had left over bbq ( w/bbg sauce this time) on crackers. Or ground up pate sandwiches with the crusts cut off, fancy? Another example was the chicken. It was called airline breast and was served at our table as a lunch choice (a lot of passengers took a train trip), so no buffet this day. It appeared the 2nd time as a lunch item in one of the half pans with some gravy and a 3rd time as Coq au vin for dinner! We had the legs and thighs another time at lunch. Another example of reused, leftover food preparation was pork roast. Served as a roast entree and then as another entree with a different name later in the cruise that still looked like and tasted like a leftover. Soups are offered for lunch and some dinners as appetizer courses most were too thin, with no body, and no flavor. Appeared to me to make more soup , water was added. The best thing were the salads served as the salad course during dinner. Same lettuce but different ingredients added and dressing, very enjoyable. I usually tried to pick fish but one night my wife ordered Blackened Drum, hers was much to much blackened and a fellow table mate had hardly any spice or blackening on his. What I am saying is there is no consistency between the plates. Most of the time, the main item on the plate was a least warm, but the vegetables were usually cold and the potatoes gaggy. Another time I ordered a vegetable cannelloni (stuffed pasta noodle with tomato sauce) because the other items appeared to be created with other leftovers. It did not appear fresh. Just reheated from frozen, maybe from another trip. I was fooled here too. All in all, the food quantity and preparation was horrible! Having a galley staff of 9 is not an excuse for poor food. Basic culinary practices, food preparation, temperatures are not being followed or adhered too. I am sure that proper food safety temperatures on the buffet were also not correct. I never saw anyone checking to make sure it was being kept at a serve safe temperature. I am surprised no one got sick. I would believe that the chef can buy and use products that he wants to as long as that he stays within a budget. I feel that the cruisers on this trip got the short end of the stick on food and I feel that most meals were created with some sort of leftover from something else, not that leftovers should not utilized, I just don't want to have it be so apparent and in my face that they are. I did not see new food come aboard other than when we got to Chicago at the end of the trip, however I saw plenty of other opportunities for new food at other ports we visited. THE ABOVE ISSUES SHOULD NOT BE ISSUES ON A CRUISE OF THIS CALIBER, THE MEALS SHOULD BE UPSCALE AND SIMILAR TO OR BETTER THAN A HOLLAND AMERICA TYPE CRUISE LINE! One other point on food. Not nearly enough vegetables. Broccoli was served once I think with a Fillet Mignon early in the cruise and only one small floret with the the gaggy potatoes. Where I think the Yorktown can improve: Food They could consider some theme meals such as a Taco bar or Hamburger, Hot dog Cookout or a stir fry oriental night or lunch. Have more upscale menu items including for example Veal Chop, Whole lobster, Fillet Mignon. Have a grilled steak available when other menu items do not satisfy the passenger. Create menus before the cruise so that the chef can stock to the menu and not 1 hour before as I was told the chef does. Other We have cruised Holland America and being active boaters know how to read charts Rather than have a road map posted with sticky arrows, where we are going to and from, a nautical chart would be more appropriate. Or a small LCD TV with a charting program running showing our real position with distances traveled and distances to go. Disembarkation: Having a tour bus at the end of the trip to take folks and their luggage to the airport would also be real nice so everyone did not have to take their own taxi. This is also the first cruise we ever received a FREE CD with Photos of Ports visited along with excursions along with a list of fellow cruisers. Really a nice touch! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2013
My family and I recently came back from our 21 Day Romantic Seine & Rhone Paris to Barcelona APT tour in June 2013 on board AmaLegro and AmaDagio. We all had a wonderful time there and I would like to use this opportunity to share my ... Read More
My family and I recently came back from our 21 Day Romantic Seine & Rhone Paris to Barcelona APT tour in June 2013 on board AmaLegro and AmaDagio. We all had a wonderful time there and I would like to use this opportunity to share my experiences and thoughts with everyone. Hopefully, people would find my article useful in their decision making and preparation for their trips with APT and/or AmaWaterways. There are 2 parts of my review: part 1 covers 3 days in Paris and 7 day on board AmaLegro, and part 2 covers 7 day on board AmaDagio and 3 days in Barcelona. This is part 1 of my review. Our trip started with 3 days in Paris where APT organised various tours. After 3 days in Paris, we were transferred to Seine River on Day 4 late afternoon where our luxury river ship, AmaLegro, awaited. Compared to our previous experiences with AmaBella and AmaVerde travelled from Amsterdam to Budapest in 2011, AmaLegro is very similar to those 2 ships but a few years older. There are public lounges in the front and back of the ship, free internet and Wi-Fi access, and gym. The cabins are well equipped and reasonably spacious. The food and shore excursions were certainly the highlights of my cruises. The quality of the food (3 meals, morning tea, and afternoon tea) was excellent and services from the restaurant and bar staff were very attentive and always do their best to anticipate customers’ needs. For example, unlike AmaBella and AmaVerde where I always had to ask (or should I use the word “beg”) to have my water and non-alcoholic drink refilled during my meals, AmaLegro is the only the ship where my drink always being refilled before it ran out, I never had to ask. My favourite shore excursions along Seine River were (1) Giverny where we visited the home of Claude Monet and its famous gardens; (2) Rouen, heart of Normandy region; (3) picturesque Honfleur; (4) beautiful Les Andelys and Chateau Gaillard built by Richard the Lionheart; (5) Chateau de Malmaison, home of General Napoleon and Josephine. All passengers on walking tours were accompanied by Quietvox and people could join different groups to suit their fitness level. There was daily information session every afternoon by the tour director informing everyone the details of shore excursions for the next day. We had a really bad experience with the night walk to the Rouen cathedral for Rouen cathedral light show at 11pm. On the way walking from the ship to cathedral with our tour director Peter Whitehead gave us no information about where to meet after the light show and he didn’t organise any torch for us. So after the light show, all of us were very confused with what to do next, and it took us a while to find Peter Whitehead because there were many people and limited light in the square, then we had to walk back to the ship in the dark by ourselves. There is a critical safety concern associate with the design of the spiral staircases to level 1 cabins. Compare to all other stairs in the ship, the tight construction of these stairs with narrow staircase width, steep gradient, and handrail on only one side, they are not easy for the elderly passengers to use. With majority of the passengers on board over the age 50, every day I saw elderly passengers struggling with these stairs. I am a much younger person and even I found the stairs gradient very challenging. I felt climbing up these stairs was like a rock climbing exercise because these stairs are too steep. When we raise our concern about the stairs to level 1 cabins, and asked if we could have an upgrade to upper level cabins e.g. either we paid extra or for free, given the ship was not at its full capacity. Tour Director, Peter Whitehead said that he would investigate but he didn’t think upgrade would be possible. He never got back to us. During the same conversation, Peter Whitehead also indicated that “we got what we paid for” and we should already know there are stairs to level 1 when we booked our trip. I found Peter’s comments quite condescending. Later, I found out tour director’s room is on level 2, so he might not aware of how difficult these stairs are to elderly passengers. We were aware of the existences of the stairs at the time of booking, but we didn’t know the design and shape of the stairs to level 1 is so “elderly user unfriendly”. There was neither information nor photos on APT brochure providing any indication on the shape and design of the spiral staircases to level 1 cabins. If we were given clear information (e.g. photos) about the design and shape of the level 1 stairs at the time of booking, then we would be able to assess the situation accurately and make an informed decision, e.g. we would not have chosen level 1 cabins. All other stairs in the ship are quite easy to use. I filed a formal complaint to APT after the tour to raise my concerns. APT addressed my concern about the night tour swiftly. APT told me that because the night tour to Rouen cathedral was an informal tour, therefore our tour director, Peter Whitehead, thought there was no need to do any coordination. APT was initially sceptical to my concern about the level 1 stairs and told me that these staircases comply with European safety standards and since nobody ever complaint about the stairs and have been no accidents recorded, then it must be an isolated problem. Our tour director, Peter Whitehead, declined any wrong doing in telling us “you got what you paid for”. So I had no choice but to liaise with other level 1 passengers and encourage them to contact APT and tell APT what they thought about level 1 stairs. In the end, APT agreed to pass on my suggestions regarding a second handrail to AmaWaterways for future consideration, and APT would encourage anyone who has disclosed their mobility concerns to book cabins on level 2 or 3 in the future. APT refused to refund us the portion of gratuities that would go to tour director, Peter Whitehead, because that was already included in the overall fee. I was very disappointed with their decision because I thought gratuities were supposed to use to encourage good performance, not insulting customer. Overall, we had a lovely time in Paris and on board AmaLegro. It could have been perfect holiday for us if it wasn’t the dangerous stairs and humiliating experiences with the tour director, Peter Whitehead. We do not hold any grudge or vendetta against APT or AmaWaterways, but we want to share our experiences with people who are considering taking the European river cruise with APT / AmaWaterways, so people would be much better prepared than us.   Read Less
Sail Date: June 2013
We were advised that Avalon would to a ship swap because of the flooding on the Danube. We sailed from Budapest to Prague. We scheduled to sail on the Expression. We had chosen a cabin at the back of the ship and on the east side during ... Read More
We were advised that Avalon would to a ship swap because of the flooding on the Danube. We sailed from Budapest to Prague. We scheduled to sail on the Expression. We had chosen a cabin at the back of the ship and on the east side during the trip. Prior too our departure we were assured that the Panorama and Expression ships were exactly the same, except the Panorama was 2 years older. Our embarkation was on the Panorama:, older ship, very clean, amazing crew, can't say enough about them, the food was well prepared, served hot, and very good. The day before embarkation we were "informed" that our cabin had been switched to middle of ship on the west side, because " that all that available, our cabin choice was not available on the Panorama" No one knew that before we sailed? The weather was very warm and we had to keep our door and curtain closed during the afternoons. The countryside and excursion were absolutely wonderful. We it came time to move to the Expression, where we had the stateroom we had booked (spent part of an afternoon packing) instead of being bused to the Expression, we put on a day boat , in a room with windows that did not open, dirty toilets and spent over 3 hours on small metal chairs with the only water available was buying it at very expensive price. Again we had no choice. Could Avalon not have used an air condition motor coach instead...The Expression is an absolutely beautiful and well appointed ship. Unfortunately the crew is exactly the opposite of the Panorama crew.. They are cold, indifferent and the food mediocre at best. The evening entertainment was wonderful.. At one point there was no docking space we docked to another ship...that meant the windows/doors and curtains had to be closed at all times, since we were inches away from the people in the other ship's cabin. On the second day we had to complain since the smell of diesel was overpowering in our room because the air conditioning was always on. On the transfer from the Panorama to the Expression our luggage was misplaced etc. Our pre and post embarkation were at wonderful hotels the Sofitel in Budapest and the Hilton in Prague. Pre embarkation was did not go very well since, again in the heat, we had to wait in the lobby where there was no water or chairs for everyone so a lot of us had to sit in the stairs...Avalon was offering an optional tour that afternoon. Was the co. trying to make those of us who did not buy it as uncomfortable as possible? The highs was great and lows almost unbearable...and no the $200.00 refund promised did not .help. I would have a lot more questions to ask before traveling with Avalon ever again... .The rating below is for the Expression.. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2013
My wife and I had booked a cruise on the Viking Neptune from Chalon sur Saomne to Avignon starting on 1 May 2013. We were surprised after we landed at Lyon airport to be taken not to Chalon sur Saone, but to Lyon where the Viking Neptune ... Read More
My wife and I had booked a cruise on the Viking Neptune from Chalon sur Saomne to Avignon starting on 1 May 2013. We were surprised after we landed at Lyon airport to be taken not to Chalon sur Saone, but to Lyon where the Viking Neptune was moored on the Quay Claude Bernard in the Guillotiere area of the city. Sadly not the more interesting Presqu'ile or Fourviere areas as far as sighteeing was concerned. The reason was the ship could not move either upstream or downstream because the flooding river was too high to allow our ship to pass under the many bridges across the river. An "Act of God" maybe, but it was enough to ruin our holiday. I am 83 and somehwat disabled, thanks to old Rugby football injuries, so can only walk very short distances with the aid of my stick, or at home my electric scooter. Our intention was, as with previous Viking cruises, to sit on the sun deck or in our cabin and enjoy the scenery as it passed by and perhaps to take a slow walk into the towns we moored at on the way down the river. We did manage atrip, whilst in Lyon to Paul Bocuse's brasserie Le Sud. This at least made up a little for our disappointment in Lyon as the food was superb and the wine just as good. I can well understand why his main establishment, a little way out of Lyon, merits 3 Michelin stars On board ship the crew did their best; they were all very helpful and very pleasant with Susann, the Programme Director, and the equally charming Concierge going out of the way to hep us in a difficult situation. The food was edible apart from a so-called Salad Nicoise, which was a travesty with not a trace of green leaves, french beans or anchovies in sight. The wine was a pleasnt surprise because on previous cruises it was expensive and bore no relation to the area we were cruising through. On this cruise the wine at lunch and dinner was free and was mostly competent Cote du Rhone with no apparent restriction on the amount we consumed. There were however major problems. For the first two and a half days our cabin had no view whatwsoever other than the side of an Avalon ship moored alongside us. Then the two shipes changed places and we had a view from our cabin of a swiftly flowing river. After two further days were were told we were all going to be taken by coach for a 4 hour journey down to Avignon to spend ther last 2 night in the Grand hotel, Avignon. I protested that 4 hours in a coach was longer than my injuries would permit so I was informed by the Hotel Manager of the Neptune I could take the TGV from Lyon to Avignon. This we did, but it all added to the considerable expesne I has already incurred with taxis in Lyon, more taxi to Lyon station, the rail fares and taxis from Lyon TGV station (well outside the city) to the Grand Hotel. The Grand Hotel Avignon, despite its name, turned out to be an apartment Hotel just outside the city walls. Our room was fine, spacious, with a pleasant view of the city walls but no toiletries in the bathroom and we had to buy our own bottle of water from the Hotel bar. Lunch was provided on the first day at Brasserie Cintra but it was dreadful. As the Grand Hotel did not do meals, apart from a so-so breakfast, dinner was at the "83 Vernet" some distance from the Hotel and well beyond my walking capabilities so I had to take a taxi to and from the restaurant(not provided by Viking so further expense was incuired on both evenings). We cheered ourselves up whilst in Avigno with two splendid lunches (at our own expense at the "Cloitre Saint Louis" 20 Rue du Portail Boquier and "La Cour d'Honneur" at 58 Rue Joseph Vernet. I can heartily recommend both restaurants to anyone who enjoys good food and wine - and especially to the organisers of Viking River cruises as they were vastly superior to what Viking provided in Avignon. All in all a very unsatisfactory holiday with considerable additional expense incurred so I shall view any further Viking river cruise with considerable caution. I consoled myself on my return home with a very much superior bottle of wine than any consumed on the holiday! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2013
We did the 3 week cruise tour with Viking River Cruises in late April/early May of this year. The experience was exhausting but in a good way - it was a good way to see to much of China and Tibet in a very short time.Our group of 66 was ... Read More
We did the 3 week cruise tour with Viking River Cruises in late April/early May of this year. The experience was exhausting but in a good way - it was a good way to see to much of China and Tibet in a very short time.Our group of 66 was divided into to two groups of 34 and 32 people with each group having their own guide throughout the tour as well as having 'local' guides at every stop. We had great access to many of the museums and temples. The highlights for us were the Terra Cotta Soldiers and Tibet. The other highlight was a rural school in China that Viking River cruises supports through donations. The children there were the same as everywhere and as most on the cruise were grandparents, a great time was had by all.Luggage was never an issue - porters took care of all the larger bags and once we arrived in China, our responsibility was to have the larger suitcases packed and outside our hotel rooms by the designated times. Weight was only an issue flying out of Tibet. But be aware that you are not allowed to carry previously opened liquor in your larger suitcase. Dear hubbie had his Crown Royal confiscated and one of our fellow travellers lost his expensive scotch. This is not a tour for the faint of heart - it's go, go, go with very little down time, even when you get on the river cruise part of the trip. There is a lot of walking involved, much on uneven ground and with many steps up and down the various museums as well as to and from the river boat. Personally, I suffered from mild altitude sickness when in Tibet so my participation there was somewhat limited to level ground, slow walking. My husband was able to fully participate and for him, the highlight was the climb up the Potela (the winter palace of the Dali Lama).The positives were the hotels we stayed at, the guides and the staff while on the Emerald. They were great. Once they knew your name and your preferences in the bars and dining room - these were not forgotten while on board the Emerald. Special kudos to "Lois", the bar manager, whose memory for names and preferences astounded us.The down side - the food - we had read some negative comments about this previously but took it with a grain of salt. However, the ongoing 'family style' meals in local 'restaurants' got old very, very fast. This meant round tables with lazy susan delivery of various dishes of unknown origin to be shared - nothing wrong with the concept but the food was not inspired and seemed to be the same at every meal. Considering what was paid for the tour, I would have expected better food and restaurant choices than Viking provided. Our best 'local meal' was on our own in Shanghai where we went into a local establishment and ordered by pointing at the menu. Food was good, service was fast and polite, despite the language barrier.As well, many of the stops involve what we jokingly refer to as the 'jewellery factory' - a compulsory factory shop. While I don't mind shopping, I prefer to shop in the markets and buy from local artisans in the local market places. On the discussion board I had read that the tailor on the Emerald would make anything you asked for if you asked early. I took a pattern with me and asked - No, was the answer. Only willing to make traditional clothes - no variation from what was being displayed.That being said, breakfasts in the hotels were good (we were put up at two Fairmonts, a St Regis in Lhasa and a Hilton in Xi'an). Best supper (other than on the Emerald) had to be the fixed menu supper at the Fairmont Peace in Shanghai. The worst meal - well, we didn't go but stayed back at the hotel and had a very nice supper in the dining room at the St Regis - sorry, but I wasn't feeling well and the last thing I wanted to face was another 'interesting' (our guide's word not mine :-) )meal.Also, word of warning regarding the flight to Lhasa - you have to be up by 4:30 AM to get your breakfast and catch your early morning flight!I did enjoy this tour but think people should made aware that there are things Viking could do to improve things - more free time in the cities visited and less structured time, better restaurant picks and better flight times to Lhasa (0430 wake up call - UGH!!!). And if this is a trip you're considering, start exercising now. Lots of walking, lots of steps (uneven in many parts). Great trip but exhausting. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2012
Onboard staff are brilliant but can only work with what they are given. Staff kept everything spotlessly clean. Vessel is ageing and it shows. Cabins (staterooms???) are tiny - bathrooms tinier still. A litany of small complaints ... Read More
Onboard staff are brilliant but can only work with what they are given. Staff kept everything spotlessly clean. Vessel is ageing and it shows. Cabins (staterooms???) are tiny - bathrooms tinier still. A litany of small complaints (problems?) leaves a bit of a sour taste -small things that build up to spoil what could have been perfect. Shower that did not drain properly - some days it flooded, some days it didn't. PLEEEEEEEZ get some new salt grinders in the restaurant!!!!! These are mostly well past their use by date and the grinding mechanism no longer works. Not enough information given to guests - we did not find out some things until day 5 Mattresses are generically terrible. A pillow menu would be good or at least some firmer pillows. a variety of wine at meals instead of the same cheap generic red or white - after 7 days they start to leave a sour taste. Raffle prizes of Viking merchandise looks cheap. Allowing obviously sick passengers onboard (to infect others) is extremely poor. Very poor value for optional tours - the best part of 100euro for a winetasting of 3 wines is extremely poor value when the rest of this optional tour consisted of a drive to and from the winery concerned. After this fiasco we refused to take any further optional tours and after speaking to others who did take them, we knew we had made the right choice. The meals were always excellent. The wait staff were excellent. The bar staff were better than excellent. Cruise director - very good. Cleaning was excellent. Tour guides were generally very good - some have better English than others. We are younger and more adventurous and independent travellers and will probably not river cruise again for around 15-20 years. For us, this was kind of like being on a bus and being herded around like sheep. It was an interesting experience but not one we wish to repeat as it is extremely limited in scope. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
The idea of a river cruise was new to us and we did enjoy the scenery, although only two of the days involved sightseeing from the ship. Otherwise we sailed overnight. PROS: The towns of the Rhine Valley. Gorgeous and amazing even on ... Read More
The idea of a river cruise was new to us and we did enjoy the scenery, although only two of the days involved sightseeing from the ship. Otherwise we sailed overnight. PROS: The towns of the Rhine Valley. Gorgeous and amazing even on cold, rainy winter days. They must really be stunning in the spring time. The breakfast oatmeal! Everyone, including the crew, said it was the best thing on the menu. Breakfast and lunch were fine. New ship! Fit and finish was immaculate as you would expect. Getting on and off very easy. Nice itinerary (Basel to Amsterdam). CONS: Not much to do on board. Dinner quickly became tiresome. Didn't open dining room until 7pm. Didn't eat until 8. Didn't get out of there until 9:30 most nights. The whole evening was wasted in a very loud and uncomfortable atmosphere. The food was as good as you can expect on a cruise ship, meaning good but not gourmet. Although they said up front that you could always get food in the lounge, there were only five rather dull, unhealthy choices on the menu. No comfortable furniture anywhere. The four of us wanted to play cards at a normal table. Sorry! There were only three and they were out on the cold afterdeck. Rest of the furniture was modern, low and slouch-inducing. Our room also smelled bad. Other guests also complained but they were unresponsive. Finally, I returned after an excursion half-asleep on the bus and managed to leave my pack with glasses, hats, Kindle, etc. Discovered my mistake about an hour after leaving bus. They said they called bus company but never got my stuff back. What bus driver doesn't check his bus after a tour for lost items?   Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2012
My wife and I had Cabin 220 on the Avalon Vista.This cruise is expensive & we were disappointed that our cabin noise was never rectified.We did not sleep well. The noise sounded like it came from the timber fittings installed ... Read More
My wife and I had Cabin 220 on the Avalon Vista.This cruise is expensive & we were disappointed that our cabin noise was never rectified.We did not sleep well. The noise sounded like it came from the timber fittings installed (wardrobe,bedhead,drawers etc.) but I may be wrong.I reported it twice to reception but was never told what was done about it.After the first time I complained I asked the cruise director what was done about my complaint & he said the person responsible has looked at it & I will send him again to look at it. The noise continued & we gave up. The noise sounds like timber rubbing & stretching against other timber it sounds like a creaking & screeching & on 3 nights a drumming noise.Our friends had 2 cabins nearby & they said they had similar noises but they did not complain.Maybe we are lighter sleepers. There are 68 locks on the river but the noise from the cabin bothered us much more than the noise of using the locks.Perhaps Avalon should check if further complaints are made about cabin 220.Apart from this noise the cabin is big enough,modern,clean,comfortable bed & pillows.Flatscreen TV with a range of good movies.Bathroom was lovely & big enough. On the positive side this is a beautiful ship on a beautiful river.The large lounge room with big glass windows was a delight.The dance floor at night was always used and our one-man band musician played lovely dance music.The ship sails smoothly & there is no noticeable movement.There is also a small lounge area at the back of the ship seating perhaps 30 people,with a coffee machine,biscuits,fruit,fruit juices etc. Ship's entertainment was mostly good. The 4 girl string quartet from Bratislava,the Oomp-Pah-Pah man,the zither music we really enjoyed. The embarkation procedure was faultless. We met at the Intercontinental Hotel at Budapest & mixed with other passengers in the lounge.After one or two hours we were bussed to the ship. As we entered the ship we were welcomed by the Captain & his senior crew. Avalon excelled with it's choice of tour guides;they were all excellent, informative & amusing. Durnstein was a pretty village & we enjoyed walking around it.This is what we enjoyed most about this cruise walking around lovely villages with our friends. In Melk the abbey was amazing but after seeing 5 or 6 rooms in the building I had had enough. Passau we walked & shopped after our included walking tour. Regensburg we had a lovely German sausage & sauerkraut lunch in a restaurant with one of the friendly local residents. In Wurzburg the Palace was absolutely magnificent.We did not expect this.It's done in a Palace of Versailles style but on a smaller scale.We bought some nice clothes for my wife in Wurzburg. Miltenberg was another nice village to walk around. In Rudeseheim we visited Siegfried's Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum.This was a highlight and is a "must see". My wife & I walked & shopped but our friends who went to a coffee making session that the ship arranged said it was very good. Back on the ship in the afternoon we went on a cruise down the Rhine Gorge.This was spectacular with many castles. Cologne we felt was a more commercial type city rather than the type of lovely village we grew to love.However it was the best for shopping & the prices seemed very good. We arrived in Amsterdam to complete our cruise & were given a tour of the inner city and a boat trip of the canals. Both tours were excellent.We stayed a few more nights in Amsterdam ( at our own expense)& went to a diamond cutting exhibition,red-light district & shopped. The food on board was good although a little too salty for our taste.But the wine served at dinner was not very good & not much was supplied anyway.You could buy a bottle of wine but it was about 38 Euros.However the lovely French wine in the cabin's mini-bar was only about 2 or 3 Euros for a small bottle & we used that a few times. Breakfast was pretty good & had everything you wanted with eggs cooked to your liking. The Happy Hour preceded dinner & cocktails were cheap & good.This was a lovely meeting lounge. Overall a lovely cruise,with friendly staff on one of the world's magnificent rivers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
Pre-Cruise and Embarcation: We started our Cruise on the Avalon Affinity with an overnight in Zurich, and stayed at the Moevenpick airport hotel, which was a good choice, since the bus transfer to the ship left from the hotel. The hotel ... Read More
Pre-Cruise and Embarcation: We started our Cruise on the Avalon Affinity with an overnight in Zurich, and stayed at the Moevenpick airport hotel, which was a good choice, since the bus transfer to the ship left from the hotel. The hotel was easy to reach from airport, with a great buffet breakfast in hotel included in price of room. All hotel personnel were helpful, professional and pleasant. We enjoyed a nice lunch on their patio while waiting for tour bus to take us to Basel for departure. There was a meeting room available for waiting and luggage storage prior to boarding the transfer bus, and the hotel had carts for the luggage. The bus trip to the ship was short and comfortable, taking about an hour. Ship Comments: Once on board the Avalon Affinity, we checked out our room: We had one of the Suites, and it was very nice, with plenty of space for luggage and clothes and a great bed, but looking back we're not sure it was worth the premium over the regular room. The room safe was small and in a dark corner of closet, which made it hard to find small things and to read the instructions for passcode setup. The bath area was very good.and had adequate water pressure in the shower at all times and no shortage ever of hot water. There was plenty of storage available there, also. Our housekeeping attendant was wonderfully compulsive and the room and bath were always spotless. WiFi was available on the boat, but frustrating to use, necessitating multiple log on and password entry attempts each time for every device. It was reasonable fast for text, but horribly slow for photos. There were the usual English language European TV channels with an additional movie channel on a nicely placed flat panel TV, though we rarely watched anything. European plugs were plentiful throughout cabin making recharging of all electronic devices easy-but bring a Europe/US adapter.Food: There was a good breakfast buffet daily. Lunches were buffet style with a variety of pasta, salad, meat and dessert options, though the choices grew monotonous during the trip. Poor food placement stations for lunch resulted in gridlock amongst the diners, and long waits for the food. Dinners were always sit down and slow paced -- usually it took about 2-2.5 hours to eat. Food level we felt was barely cafeteria quality, though often artistically presented. Fish dishes and bread were extraordinary disappointments, and eventually we skipped them entirely. Regional wine was poured with dinner at no charge, and there were usually 2-3 wine choices per evening meal. There was never a charge for the house wines poured in the evening, though any wines at lunch were always extra. Beverages and pastry for early risers was available most days in the lounge and a coffee/cocoa/hot tea machine in the aft lounge was available 24h. There was no provision for room service. Itinerary: Our trip looked lovely in the brochure, but it became apparent after the first day that it was not designed for any type of independent exploration nor to offer any chances for off-boat dining in the wonderful cities where we docked. It was common practice on this trip to disembark in the morning often far from the advertised city, get on a bus, to be transported into the city, then return for lunch by bus to the ship (which had now moved further along the course of the river), then board another bus at another point and drive for optional afternoon excursions, then meet up after another bus ride to the again moved boat. With one exception, (Bamberg) it was never possible to enjoy a lunch in any of the towns visited. Only in three towns (Miltenburg, Wertheim and Durnstein) did we dock close enough to the center of the village that we could walk about and return to the ship at will. Otherwise, you were totally at the mercy of the bus schedule for transport to and from the ship, and there was always only one departure time.Added Cost Excursions: We took a wonderful optional trip to an Alsatian wine producer and then got to explore the beautiful town of Obernai.. I could also recommend the Danube Gorge excursion and the all day trip to the Salzkammergut lake region of Austria. We also chose the Vienna evening program for a concert, and though the audience was mostly other river cruisers, it was most enjoyable. I think we were lucky in our excursion choices, because our fellow travelers had varying experiences with the other tours. Please note you have no flexibility in the tour bookings-- once you sign up, you are charged, even for reasons of illness or bad weather. Annoyances: Depressing, dirge-like sail away music- every time the boat moved. Maps handed out were the worst for any shore excursions we have ever seen. Often the position of the docked boat was not included on the map, nor was the site of the return bus pick up ever marked. Major local sights were often omitted from maps, as were major areas of shopping interest. Daily activity programs were often incompletely described and frequently inaccurate. We felt the tour director was disorganized and aloof. Room safe was too small for an iPad or a laptop . Suggested gratuities at the end of the trip were in our view excessive for most of the services provided. In summary, if you want a very regimented tour with the security of all meals on the ship, the company of English speaking fellow senior travelers, and passive touring with furnished guides and busses, this is your tour. However, we grew rapidly weary of the continual early morning tour departures, and perpetual bussing to city center sights, when a different docking location would have provided easy in-town walking access. Overall,for us this trip was a huge disappointment, and a poor value. It was a much less satisfactory experience than another tour we took along a similar route in 2009 with a less expensive company. In my opinion, this tour did not deliver an upgraded experience for the significant extra cost.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2012
Overall I must say my wife and I were happy with the cruise and the stay in Shanghai and Beijing. We got to see everything we wanted to. The cabin and service on the Viking Emerald were very good - no complaints at all. The restaurant ... Read More
Overall I must say my wife and I were happy with the cruise and the stay in Shanghai and Beijing. We got to see everything we wanted to. The cabin and service on the Viking Emerald were very good - no complaints at all. The restaurant staff were very good, service was good (if you stuck to the menu) and loved our waitresses. We sat in a different area one night where the experience was totally the opposite so you have to watch. The meals were all well prepared and very filling. The only downside was if you ordered some of the alternate choices people found most of the table were done eating before their main course arrived. The ship staff were all excellent and very helpful. Since English is not their native language there were a few minor challenges but we were always able to solve that. The entertainment was primarily done by the staff and were worth going to. Typically fun and a good way to end the evening. We stayed in a category A room and couldn't have been more pleased with it. Very comfortable and roomy, nice sized bathroom and comfortable beds.The negatives: While the hotels were all excellent, the were not in the best parts of town for seeing things on your own. The tour was split into 2 separate hotels and the others stayed near the Bund in Shanghai, Forbidden Palace in Beijing which had lots of local color, flavour and markets. Also, the food, once on shore, was marginal at best. It was all large "family" table style and very similar in presentation - often in presentation centers. Would have appreciated noodles or dim sum in Beijing. We ended up striking out on our own a couple of times for something different. Note: we love oriental style foods so that wasn't an issue. The other thing missing was really getting a chance to see the people and culture. We were taken to many standard places (jade shops, ceramic shops) but no markets or chance to experience the people. This was the most disappointing aspect. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2012
Viking Danube Cruise Embla-- Explorer Suite We would rate this experience at 3.5 stars. It had the potential to be worse. The underlying problem is that the business model is wrong for the upmarket traveler. Despite advertising, it is ... Read More
Viking Danube Cruise Embla-- Explorer Suite We would rate this experience at 3.5 stars. It had the potential to be worse. The underlying problem is that the business model is wrong for the upmarket traveler. Despite advertising, it is not a luxury cruise. Our reference level is large suites in luxury ocean cruise lines such as Seabourn, Silversea or Regent, with whom we have done a dozen or more trips of 1-2 weeks duration at comparable prices. Booking the Explorer Suite (the most expensive ) on the Viking Embla falls short in four respects and it is not clear from the advertising. First, the accommodation at the largest suite level is at least 40% smaller than a comparable priced ocean accommodation, somewhat imposed by the restrictions of the riverboat itself and the lock system through which it must pass. The bedroom in particular is extremely tight. The ceiling is very low. In the Explorer, the largest suite on the boat, which lists for $33,000 for seven nights for two and sells for just over $20,000, the bedroom when closed off is about 10 feet by 10 feet making it feel like a tomb. The suite is advertised as 440 square feet, but that includes the balconies (some two feet wide) so the interior space is about 375 square feet. It is cut up into two tiny rooms plus a nice bathroom, a hallway, and quite large closet. There is no table and chairs to dine in the suite nor is there room for them. Seabourn, for example, lists the interior square footage and the veranda square footage separately. Second, the service level is much lower. There is no room service available and certainly no butler service. No stocked refrigerator with drinks is included. Tips are not included. The dining room guests are herded into a crowded room filled with big tables allowing little privacy. It looks like a high school cafeteria with table cloths. There is no reserved seating and no tables for two. There is no distinction made for guests in a suite that cost $7000 or less...for the trip from those that cost $20,000 for the trip. That is fine if you paid $1000.00 per night or less, but the Explorer suite costs almost $3000.00 per night. At that level one has the expectation of elegant dining. Officially there is no alternative to the dining room except a sandwich menu on the deck behind the bar, which does contain tables for two and four. On our trip we were able to get served on the deck by a very concerned and professional staff that was unbelievably accommodating. Actually , they were among the best teams I have ever known in more than 20 years of cruising.... Pavel, restaurant mgr...Michael, hotel mgr...Radostina Alexsieva and, Kristin Krauss, tour assistants, Vivien Kiwitt, front desk, Timea Stit (head of tours and entertainment) and wait staff Jackie and Alan. They worked in what is basically an almost impossible situation. Other guests complained of slow and poor service; this is probably because the boat did not have enough kitchen/dining room staff, with the economics determined by passengers paying a third or less than Explorer suite category. Third, the intrinsic quality of the food and beverages was disappointing, especially the meats, cheeses, and the sparkling and still white wines that were included with the meals. The chef, Karl Heinz, was actually superb, and did the best with what he had. We saw his efforts for us on the back deck, Aquavit Lounge, but trying to serve an elegant meal to 188 people who all enter one room at once is almost impossible, especially when one offers a menu with choices. Fourth, and most importantly, the itinerary is highly dependent on water conditions in the Danube. These can affect the advertised destinations either because the water is too low (not enough under the keel) or too high (in order to pass low bridges). Viking's solution is buses and hotels, for the inaccessible sites, which can amount to one or more nights of a seven-day trip. Thus you may miss your first night on the ship and are put up in a hotel room instead. On our trip most people spent the first night of the cruise in hotels in Nuremberg and then were bussed to Valshofen for the second night of the cruise. They thus had six nights on the ship, not seven. This gets you to most (but not all) of the advertised shore excursions, but falls far short in value of the $3000/couple/day of the Explorer suite. You could do better paying for chauffeured transportation, private guides, great restaurants, and luxury hotel suites and still pay not much more than $1000/day for a far superior experience. Even ocean liners blow the itinerary once in a while owing to weather or mechanicals, but the risk in the riverboat environment is higher and is too well-hidden in the advertising brochures. The Danube Cruise is especially prone to bussing instead of sailing and the company ought to provide a history of completed versus incomplete sailings before you sign up so that each passenger is aware of the risk and how that risk is typically handled. Substitutions evidently happen quite regularly. When you are paying $3000.00 per night for a suite on a ship, a $150.00 hotel room and a two hour bus ride to the ship at another port down the Danube, missing sights on the river that are important is not a reasonable exchange. In general the service staff mentioned above made a real effort to address some of the shortcomings, and we are grateful to them for salvaging the trip. However, we conclude the underlying problem is that the business model is wrong for the luxury travel market.. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Having been on 7 Windstar cruises, and this cruise costing twice as much as any of those I was expecting great food. I was very disappointed in the dining on this ship. The breakfasts and lunches were practically the same every day. ... Read More
Having been on 7 Windstar cruises, and this cruise costing twice as much as any of those I was expecting great food. I was very disappointed in the dining on this ship. The breakfasts and lunches were practically the same every day. Dinner had few options and choices compared to the Windstar. The execution and preparation of the food was mediocre at best and bland at worse. The dining service was fine as long as you didn't want anything exceptional. I did not find the service to be accomodating of special requests. Whenever they had late night snacks if the food ran out too bad. They would not replenish it. There was a feeling of the cruise being frugally managed and cheap when it came to dining and food. Not generous. The itinerary was superb and I would recommend it. Since this was a charter we had two days in Vienna which was fantastic. The room was wonderful expecially the bathroom and spacious shower. We had a twin balcony cabin which in retrospect was not necessary as a french balcony would have been just fine. The point is to have the open view and to be able to open the balcony to let in fresh air. We practically never sat on the balcony because most of the day time we were in port and docked. Our cabin steward was excellent as was the cruise manager Cheri. She was the highlight of the trip. Too bad the rest of the staff did not measure up to her standard. Bottom line: If you want to try a River cruise you would enjoy this ship but be forwarned that the dining does not compare to Windstar or other luxury ocean ships. So my feeling is why pay twice as much for less? Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
We selected our cruise on Scenery because of the dates available suiting our timetable. We have previously travelled on Uniworld for a river cruise. The cruise was for 11 days 10 nights starting with a night in Monte carlo and the joining ... Read More
We selected our cruise on Scenery because of the dates available suiting our timetable. We have previously travelled on Uniworld for a river cruise. The cruise was for 11 days 10 nights starting with a night in Monte carlo and the joining the ship at Port St Louis to sail up the Rhone and Saone rivers, then finishing with two nights in Paris. There were daily ports of call some of them multiple calls in one day. We found calls to Vienne, Lyon and Avignon to be particularly enjoyable. We were disappointed with some of the Avalon spin in their brochures. A prominent feature in the 2011 brochure was an on-line service called my Avalon where passengers could book tours and other packages. After paying for our trip we tried to make use of this feature to be told that it was not available in Australia but we could join up to globus and make bookings that way. We tried this to receive Emails back from Globus that this is not so.( Aussies beware). Another prominent promoted feature was free Wi-Fi on board. This was true but hardly ever worked and often neither did the on board vessel terminals. We feel that in this day of modern communication this is not good enough. Travellers from Australia don't duck over to Europe for a week and maybe a little more. Travelling 12500 kms from home it is normal to go for on average at least 4 weeks and during that time there is a need and desire to remain in contact with family. we were hoping to have regular contact with ours and to be able to see our Grandson on Skype. Generally the food was good but not much variety and did not match the gourmet level suggested.The cruise was pleasant but in no way matched our expectations from the promotion material. We were booked for a second Avalon Cruise in early September on The Avalon Luminary on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Basel in Switzerland which will be reported separately. We would say the scenery crew were superior and more customer friendly than the crew on the Luminary. Again a pleasant cruise but unlikely to do another. We would dearly like to port reports but the river cruise ports are not included on the list of ports. Trips to the old Roman aqueduct, 'Pont Neuf" out of Avignon and Vienne during 700 year celebrations of the Knights Templar were standout tours. Read Less

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